by Chris
(Antioch, CA)

I am 60 years old and my mother has enabled my 52 year old brother since he was born.

He started getting into trouble when he was about 10 years old by breaking into the homes of nearby neighbors. My parents were so embarrassed that they eventually sold their house and moved out of the area.

My brother went into the Army and got into trouble and was given a General discharge and came home. He nagged my parents for months about some Korean girl that he was madly in love with and my mother forced my father into paying for my brother to go back to Korea and bring the girl back to the U.S. That relationship lasted only a couple of years. Long enough for my parents to spend a ton of money supporting their son and his new wife. The girl was not stupid and realized that my mother and brother had a sick relationship and she left.

Then my brother got more involved in drugs and petty crimes and was in and out of trouble. My mother was always the one to come to his rescue and to make excuses for his bad behavior. My father died in 1984. He had a massive heart attack at age 50. Way too young to die.

Well, my mother was on her own and kept bailing my brother out of trouble. He broke into her house and stole jewelry and other valuable items and she made excuses for him.

My brother starting hanging out with more dangerous people and got involved with armed robbery and was caught and went to prison. My mother sent him money and care packages all the time. That was just the beginning of 30+years of crimes, drugs and going in and out of many jails and prisons.

I found out from my mother's oldest sister (before she died a couple of years ago) that my brother had stolen a coin collection and diamond jewelry from her and my uncle. That is when my uncle refused to allow him in the house. My mother never told me any of this.

Over the last 30+years I can only imagine how much money she has spent on this ungrateful idiot. She was paying on two storage units full of his crap and things that he stole for over 15 years. I was able to get her to let me clean out one of his storage units a few years ago that was basically full of garbage and she had the nerve to say it was valuable and thought I should keep some of it!

Over that last 3 years he has only been out of jail about 10 months and refuses to get a job and lives off of stealing and dealing drugs and my mother refuses to believe that he is guilty of anything and says that the cops just have it out for him and that they are being mean!!!

When he is in jail my brother writes all these long letters about how he has learned his lesson and he is going to do this and do that when he gets out and life is going to be wonderful and my mother eats it up with a spoon. Then he gets out and goes right back to his scummy friends and gets right back into trouble.

He has been to rehab and half-way houses and has had many people try to help him and he always ends up in trouble and back in jail. Then he starts the cycle all over again. My mother supports him in and out of jail.

He has been out for about 6 months now and has been picked up 3 times. He is too lazy to show up at his probation officer's office so when he did show up they threw him in jail for several days and my mother was so upset she made herself physically ill.

Then he got picked up again for being in the area of a stolen car and spent several days in jail. Again, my mother was beside herself with worry.

My mother is on a fixed income and has a little savings and a couple of credit cards and she is always going to the bank and taking money from her savings to make ends meet. She lets my brother charge his gas when he is around. She has bought him 2 cell phones that he sold for drugs. He said he lost them but I know he is lying. She just activated a 3rd phone for him.

She was giving him a little money for bridge tolls and instead of paying the bridge toll he stole a license plate from someone else's car and put it on his car and went through the Fast Trak lane where pictures of his car were taken. Well, they finally caught up with him and my mother paid the fine and all the tolls - bailing him out of trouble again!

I have told her for years that she has to stop bailing him out of all of his problems and she has to set boundaries and tell him "no" but she won't stop. She is going to spend her last dime on him.

It absolutely drives me nuts because my brother doesn't give a damn about my mother or her feelings. When he leaves her house and disappears to be with his scum bag friends he never calls to let my mother know he is okay. He won't answer his phone that she pays for and then she gets so worried she makes herself sick. He only shows up when he needs or wants something from her and she won't say no!

When he did work she would set her alarm clock so she could call him to get up for his job because she did not want her baby boy to be late for work. That was 8 years ago.

He was shot by a druggie a few years back and I thought that would open his eyes but he went right back and got into trouble and was not able to finish his physical therapy and almost lost the use of his left hand and arm. But that didn't stop him from getting into trouble and going back to jail.

The last straw for me was the license plate deal. She only told me after that fact because she knows how mad I get about him using her and when I asked her why she continues to put up with his crap she said "well, he is my son." - ugh!!! She just will never get it. She is stuck on stupid when it comes to him. So, I told her I could not talk to her anymore and I hung up.

I feel like I have been enabling her bad behavior my threatening to cut myself off from her if she kept up this sick behavior of hers and then always caving in later on. So, this is it - put a fork in me because I am done. I am not going to call her nor am I going to take any of her calls. I have caller ID and will know when she is calling.

As far as I am concerned she can spend her last dime on him. She might as well have "Door Mat" tattooed on her forehead the way she let's him walk all over her. I have told her over and over that he is never going to change and that if he cared at all about her he would never do the stupid things he does. But she just knows that if she gives him one more second chance that he will change. And she keeps calling him a "kid". I tell her he is not a kid. He is a middle aged man that doesn't care about you or anyone else but himself.

I hope we can all find help with these postings. I cannot put up with these two people any longer. I have high blood pressure and an elderly husband who is not well and I still have to work and I am so tired of her self-centered nonsense and the fact that she will not go out and make any friends because she wants to fixate on her wonderful son and spend all of her time worrying about him and she won't get involved in any outside activity. She can't be bothered. That is her answer for everything that doesn't concern my brother. She can't be bothered. Well, I can't be bothered by her constant nagging about how bad my brother is but how she feels it is her duty to continue to help him.

Thanks for letting me vent - wow...I feel better just putting it all in writing. Let's cut out enablers from our lives and not let them make us feel guilty for their bad behavior and let's not enable the enablers - God bless you all!!


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Mar 20, 2016
Sibling support needed
by: Anonymous

If only there was a narcotics abuse program specifically for the responsible siblings. I'm so sick of hearing my mother's excuses, and the implict blame in the statement, "you're so capable," and "you do so well for yourself." Sometimes I feel so overwhelmed by the elephant in the room, so fatigued, I just don't want to pursue this relationship any longer.

Sep 23, 2014
I am in the same boat. You must let go.
by: Anonymous

Well, this is almost, word-for-word, action-for-action, the events in my mother's 84-year-old-life, except that she enabled my brother, (now nearly 60), and then enabled his son, who is the 27-year-old addict with a son, who is now in work-release. Right down to getting shot in the head. (His companion in the car at the time actually died-he managed to survive. You'd think that would have been a wake-up, but my mother stops any reckoning that he might ever have before he realizes there are consequences and then makes excuses for why she does it.) I have had to decide that unless she is in imminent danger, I cannot control what she does for him any more than I can control what he does. He has a young son whose mother won't allow him to see him, and I have every sympathy for her. He's not a great role model, and honestly, neither was my brother, who when pressed, went and scored his heroin for him so that he didn't have to endure his vial temper. Hugs to you-this is a terrible position to be in. My own stepdaughter has also been addicted to heroin, and my husband and I are at odds right now, because I am unwilling to obtain a loan for her, since she just ran up a bunch of tickets for bridge crossings, didn't pay them, and the car was in her mother's name. She couldn't agree on whose fault the fees were, so he mother just returned the car, and is responsible for the fines. My husband wants to now get a loan for a new car for her so that she doesn't have to feel the brunt of this mistake. What do you do? Now we argue because I am worried about our own credit being at risk. She has a pattern of using up whatever resources she can from family, then leaving them high and dry. I am thinking for you and everyone who has to struggle with the clean-up after all the drama and problems the addicts cause in families. My best wishes for you.

Jan 07, 2014
by: Anonymous


Nov 16, 2013
To "Daughter of 80 yr old enabling mother"
by: Anonymous

Thanks so much for taking the time to share your situation, and I agree with you...something therapeutic happens when putting pen to paper - it is usually very beneficial! When thoughts and feelings come up and then down through the arm and out of the hand - when the words flow out through the pen and onto paper, where we can see them --it has a way of lightening the load.

My sponsor (in recovery) has said many times "A problem shared is halved and a joy shared is doubled" I encourage you to get a journal and a feelings list (a compiled list of all the feelings words available)and then whenever you have a situation that causes you to become overwhelmed or flooded with feelings you can go through the list and circle up all the feelings you experienced as a result of that event.

When you have all your feelings word circled up you can write out what each feeling is connected to (the specifics of the situation) and the meaning you made out of it. Example: I feel insignificant and unimportant when you didn't respond to my attempt to talk to you and the meaning I made out of that interaction was that you do not care about me or that this relationship is not valuable to you.

Doing this kind of work helps us identify all of our feelings connected to a specific situation, and the specific thing that prompted the feeling and then the meaning we made from it. You can take it a step further and analyze whether that meaning is rational or irrational, true or untrue. Typically it turns out to be untrue but it FEELS true.

The issue concerning your mother and brother is long standing deep seated. Codependency is a very real and debilitating issue. They are both sick with addiction (one is addicted to drugs and the other is addicted to the addict).

I have been involved with a Families Anonymous for a very long time (you can go to their website and look at the materials they have). They have some great resources and can help parents of addicted children. But at this stage your Mom may not be able or willing to do much - it's not impossible, but just like late stage drug or alcohol addiction, it is gets harder to recover at that stage than if it's in the early or middle stage.

But I would encourage you to ask yourself if you would severe the relationship with her if your mother had a different kind of illness (yes, codependency is an illness, a very destructive one)but with that being said I whole-hardheartedly agree with you that you need good, strong boundaries and limits. You don't want their addictions to be sucking up your life either. But there is a way to do that without cutting the relationship off.

Best of luck to you, and please continue to learn about this disease of addiction, how it impacts you, and what you can do about it.

Angie Carter

PS> We added a new video for people struggling to learn how to stop enabling: Click here to watch it

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