Even though my mind understood that I should not be doing for others what they could and should do for themselves, my heart could not tolerate the pain of watching them suffer. On a regular basis my heart kept saying, maybe just this one more time and then he’ll stop this self-destruction.

Finally, a friend said again, “If you keep softening the bottom, he’ll keep digging.” This time I was finally able to hear the message. By not allowing him to suffer the consequences of his decisions, I was depriving the alcoholic of an opportunity to grow and change. I finally learned that the magic word “no” is a complete sentence. The consequences were grim and potentially fatal, but he finally quit digging. He is not in recovery yet, but he is employed and doing well. He no longer only calls when he needs something.

I am busy living my life now and carrying the message of caring for myself. I am the only one I can change. I have learned to listen with compassion without feeling the need to fix him or others. I only offer suggestions when someone asks for them and let go of the expectation that they will follow them. I am now free to be me and so is he.

By Charlotte L., Georgia

The Forum, February 2018