When I first came to an Enthusiastic Sobriety parent meeting, other parents said, “Take care of yourself.” I thought they must be crazy. My kid was the one with the problem; he was addicted to drugs, failing in school, and in trouble with the law. I had to take care of him first! Except for him, my life was fine.
Then one year later, having done my best to follow the advice, I had an experience which convinced me of the wisdom of taking care of myself. My son has been sober for almost a year and has gotten his GED. I have been supporting him by letting him live at my home and giving him gas and spending money. Yet, lately I have felt uncomfortable paying for his expenses while he stays home part of the day and plays computer games while I work. I decided to take the initiative—although a bit uncertain and afraid—and told him that he could continue to live at home and I will feed him, but I am going to stop giving him money two weeks from now. He agreed with me that it was time for him to do something! I felt great about taking care of myself. The resentment I had begun to nurse immediately lifted. Moreover, I believe that my son actually feels good about my encouraging his independence, something he wants, too. By stating clearly and calmly what I am willing and not willing to do, I am improving my relationship with my son.
If I start to feel a twinge of resentment for my actions toward my child, I will look at the situation. What do I need to take care of myself? Once I have a clear answer, I will take steps to see that my needs are met.