Early in my son’s recovery, I bought a toy shield from a local toy store. It was mottled gray plastic, identical to the one he used as a child for protection against the dragons and demons in our back yard, the monsters in the closet. I made a Gothic banner that says “Genuine Shit Shield.” Just say “Oh” and taped it to the front. In the dark old days, the Shit Shield helped me fend off the crap that addiction hurls my way. Incoming! He’s got bills, tickets, debris from his addiction?? I just say, Oh or Oh?? and hope that he figures it out for himself. Car accident? Oh. No food? Oh. His wreckage is not mine to remove.
And the real beauty of the Shit Shield is that it is portable and versatile—I can carry it in my mind and use it anytime my co-dependent button is close to being pushed. My niece could use a pinch of help paying her Nordstrom bill. Oh? My less industrious teammate would like me to pick up some of her unfinished work. Oh.
We get in the way of our children’s recovery when we solve their problems for them. The only way my child will ever get better is if he suffers from the damage he incurs and decides not to incur it again. My mother’s instinct is to protect him from himself, and that doesn’t work. Every time I put a pillow under his butt, I keep him from feeling the fall. We can love our children to death as we try to keep them safe from themselves. It’s tempting to do, especially when the crap hurtles towards us at warp speed. And that is where the Genuine Shit Shield gives me the protection and backbone that I need to stay strong in my resolve.