The Road To Enabling Recovery

christie 5

My name is Christie, and I’m a recovering enabler.

It is something that I work on every day, every moment, one step at a time. My first step to recovery was acknowledging that I had a problem. Most of us get to that first step with a breaking point.

My story is no different. My breaking point was 6 years ago, when my son was almost 2 years old. My son has Trisomy 21, in other words, Down syndrome.

When he was born, I had a huge range of emotions to work through. Friends and family around me also had a huge range of emotions surrounding this diagnosis. Some were happy, some were sad, some were angry, and some just stood there not knowing what to say or think. And, here I was in the middle of it all, trying to figure out how I was going to make everything ok.

Ahhh, there it is, spoken like a true enabler.

At the beginning, I was in enabler-recovery preschool. I was throwing out enabling behavior all over the place without even realizing it, and without any thought for the consequences. It was just how I was, I was just doing what I did. I knew my son needed a lot of attention very early on. I knew he would need therapy and medical care, I just didn’t know what kind or how to start. I had all these people around me with varying emotions, and I didn’t know how to handle it. So, I just plowed forward on my own. I called the schools and found excellent support, and my son was in therapy at 3 months old.

Wil and I zipped around to varying doctor appointments his first year including cardiology, endocrinology, ENT, Ophthalmology, and weekly general pediatric visits. I found a local Down syndrome support group, and surrounded myself with proactive parents, and soon became very involved myself. It didn’t take long to discover having a son with Down syndrome wasn’t so scary. It was busy, and it was challenging, but that little smile of his lit my world. I also saw first-hand how many families rejoiced in their children, and I found myself rejoicing in Wil.

Wil hadn’t changed, but he had definitely changed me in a short period of time. The problem was, not everyone was rejoicing at the same level around me. They hadn’t gone on all these appointments with Wil and me, hadn’t gone to all the support group meetings with me, and hadn’t seen Wil progress in therapy as I had.

Being the enabler I was, and protecting those from the struggle, I had also protected them from earning the rewards. As Wil got older, and I grew with him, the gap grew bigger, and the pain grew stronger. I finally hit that breaking point 2 years after Wil’s birth, and made a conscious decision to change.

I started talking to my son’s social worker about my experiences, and she identified my enabling behavior, talked me through it, and gave me some tools to help myself. I began reading lots of books(you can find just about anything you need in a book) and writing out my thoughts. I started to recognize the enabling behavior in myself and began making choices to change it.

It’s almost a lifelong habit, so I find myself doing it without even realizing it. When I do, I stop, and restart. I know I formed this enabling habit, so I’m very capable of forming a new, self-empowering habit. 6 years later, I’ve worked my way up from enabler-recovery preschool to 9th grade. In this travel from preschool to 9th grade, I’ve had to have some very difficult conversations with people. Some have been extremely helpful and resulted in growth for all involved. Some people just aren’t ready, or aren’t interested in going on this journey with me at this time, and maybe never will be. That is ok, it’s not my place to pave the road for another. If and when they are ready, they’ll know where to find me.

My name is Christie, and I am a self-empowerer. Every day I move forward, one self-empowering step at a time.


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