If there was a professional sport for manipulation, addicts and alcoholics would rule the league. We are good at it. We understand how to play the heart strings of the people we love the most, to achieve the result we are looking for. I know this from my own experience. I was a puppet master with my family. Easily arranging where I needed all the characters on the stage and directing how I needed them to act.
I remember the day when my puppets cut the strings and I lost the only power I had. In my addiction, I had multiple opportunities to seek treatment for my drug and alcohol addiction, but I never wanted to be sober. I never wanted to be sober because I never experienced consequences for my actions. Due to not experiencing consequences, I never hit a rock bottom. Every time I got close to a bottom, my parents would throw a pillow to prevent my butt from hitting the concrete.
We all do that. I am a father myself. As a parent, you never want to see your child hurt. To me, seeing my child feel pain, is the greatest pain one can feel. It is ingrained in us to give our children the best life that we can. Most of the time, we will do it at all cost. Often times experiencing both emotional and financial consequences of our child’s actions.
Having found recovery, in 2007, I have experienced both ends of the equation. The manipulator and the manipulated. My opportunity to live a life of recovery, only began when my rein as the manipulator ended.
On this day, it happened to be the umpteen time I had been arrested. Like every time before that, I would convince my parents to bail me out, get a lawyer and promise God the world if he got me off this one. Only this day was different. Upon throwing away my bologna lunch sandwich, my father asked me again if I wanted help. I desperately tried not to show I was laughing on the inside and responded with a firm declaration that I was not that bad and did not need treatment. Sound familiar?
Though this day was much different than the rest. The strings I had managed to hold so tight over the years, were cut with one might swoop. After my response, my dad said “Ok, but I am done experiencing the emotional and financial consequences of your actions. Only call me if you want help.” The he left. I figure his statements were half hearted and I could snake my way back in, but man he was stubborn. I think Al Anon taught him a few things.
My parents stuck with it. I would call and try to hustle some money from them, for some admirable unselfish volunteering opportunity, when in reality, I needed to pay the bar tab or something. Every time, he would not say no but ask me if I was ready for treatment. When I said no, he hung up. This scenario went on for about 6 to 9 months, until I had hit an emotional bottom. When I hit this bottom, only then, did I want to change my life. When that happened, the first step of my continuous sobriety since 2007, began.
You might be reading this and thinking my parents were jerks or playing hard ball. If you asked me 8 1/2 years ago, I would agree. The decision my mother and father made that day, was the hardest decision they had ever made. They did not know if they would ever see me again. I am sure they had many sleepless nights. Although it was the hardest decision they every made, it was the best decision they ever made as my parents.
Even though it was the hardest decision they ever made, it was also the best decision they ever made for themselves. By them making this decision, they took their lives back, from me. I was no longer in control of their emotions, or their finances for that matter. They ultimately experienced freedom, when they realized they could not control my actions. In addition, I did not need to change for our family relationship to change. All it takes is one person to change, and the whole dynamic of the relationship will change.
Their decision saved my life! When they stopped throwing the pillow under me, it finally allowed me to hit a bottom and for the first time in my life, have the want and desire to change. In essence they said No and showed me Love.