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The Insidious Madness of “Prison Reform”

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When grown adults are rescued from themselves like babies, they’ll continue to shit their diapers. If we keep doing what we did, we’ll continue to get what we got.

Continued health is not contingent on whether others make it or not. In fact, others can become more sick than the addict as the manifestations of co-dependency appear to be so honorable and virtuous. They are not. Wrapped in a veneer of pseudo-piousness, codependency stinks like rotting Carp on the banks of the Detroit River. The road to codependent perdition is paved with good intentions, wasted effort, shattered dreams, and frustration, leaving the paving operator adrift with post traumatic stress disorder.

If God’s will that all make it and none fall short of His glory doesn’t seem to be happening in the life of a meaningful other, it’s the height of codependent grandiosity to think we can “help” God. Until the negative consequences outweigh the perceived benefits of using, rarely will the addict quit using. That won’t happen until a bottom is hit sufficiently low enough to thwart any claims of man taking the credit for extricating oneself from the miry clay. God’s grace is bigger than anyone’s dependency or codependency. No human power can ultimately relieve anyone from the insidious madness of either.  Getting locked up may be the best thing that could happen to any addict…though I’d never wish it on anyone.  God’s grace is neither constricted nor constrained by concertina wire and walls.  In cell 117b at the Adrian Regional facility on Halloween day in 2009. He found me. I didn’t find Him. God is never lost. I was. At that point in my life, I’d burned out EVERY single relationship and was receiving no mail or visitors. The depths of admission to Adrian for a state-sponsored sabbatical didn’t occur at the end of a winning streak. It was not my personal coup de grâce, nor crowning achievement for a purpose driven life.

Today, by grace and the tools of recovery, life is beyond rich. Had anyone told me; “At the age of 60, you’ll be remarried to a wonderful gal Tim. Three stepsons will come with the package and you’ll be a stay-at-home stepdad Tim,” I might have replied; “Yeah, groovy. Now pass the bong.”

We as codependent parents/spouses, must detach from unhealthy enmeshment. The most we can do is pray for our kids and significant others while working an intentional, proactive program of recovery in fellowship with like-minded folks, separate from our significant others.

My two adult sons were making some unhealthy choices that I tried to “fix” while motivated by shame & guilt as the result of my failures as a Dad. It only made things worse…for all parties concerned. Encouraged to let go, they are doing just great. The youngest called the other day to share that he just got a raise to $27.00/hr as an IT professional. My oldest son just made “Employee Of The Month” at Home Depot. They did all that without any of my “help”.  As far as I know, neither one of them are getting loaded.

I’ll leave you with this because I get to go to the Spiderman Premiere tonight. Yippee!

It was another brother who had the balls to look me in the eye to share; “In all probability, you will be the last one to carry any kind of message to your kids. Adult children  don’t really want to hear squat from Mom & Dad until they are ready. In the meantime, they are watching us like hawks.”

That’s just the way it is gang. The Word (my sponsor likes to call it the Bigger Book) tells us we’ll know something by it’s fruit. 12 Step programs in all their incarnations have produced a lot of good fruit over the years. That someone would roll the dice and think they can independently come up with a better plan or a modality of treatment to arrest a disease with greater efficacy are full of shit. Ignoring time-honored tools of recovery constitutes a severe case of “terminal uniqueness”.



  1. Tammy says:

    Tim, this is a pretty good description of co-dependency, one aspect that deserves some blogging, is the the basic fact we can make a conscious choice to get well, whether or not our addicts choose recovery.

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