With addictions, there are often, if not always, people around who “enable.” We all know this. We all have seen it or lived it or read about it, and I never wanted to be an enabler. I did not see myself as an enabler before I knew addiction lived in my house. I was determined to raise strong, independent children who would grow into strong, independent adults so when they forgot their lunches? They ate the proverbial peanut-and-butter-on-white-bread sandwich and drank water supplied by the cafeteria – no running the forgotten lunch to the school for this mom. Didn’t get the permission slip signed? Missed the field trip – no frantic return to school to provide the missing document for me…or how would they ever learn? No way, no chance I was going to raise an enabled child – huh, uh. Not me.
Except there was one little problem in my plan.
I was an enabler.
See…an enabler can look kind of good in many ways. And when you grew up in that kind of home, it is all you know…your way of life…part of your DNA. Some of the things enablers do? And that I do, NO, that I did?
- Enablers act out of a sincere sense of love, loyalty and concern: I honestly loved HUSBAND. Adored my children. Had high levels of concern for all and was loyal – to a fault.
- Enablers step in to protect, cover-up for, makes excuses for and sometimes take responsibility for others: Even though I worked overtime on the obvious to NOT do this, over and over and over I did each of these things. When HUSBAND abandoned me during important times (story for another blog) I made excuses and covered up. When he treated someone poorly, I took the blame – he often even made me the heavy knowing I WOULD take the blame.
- Enablers avoid potential problems by working to keep peace…doing whatever they can to avoid conflict thinking this will actually solve problems: Funny that I could see this so clearly in my own mother and determined not to do it…yet upon close examination, I did the same. You know, avoiding subjects. Not saying how you feel to avoid conflict. Curbing your ask to make it more palatable. Yup, I was a master who learned from a master.
- Enablers have a hard time expressing their feelings, often keeping emotions inside: This one was tricky, because I acted like I had emotions. However, I stuffed my real feelings so deep inside that I didn’t even know what they were. I was STRONG. I was EMPOWERED. I didn’t need anyone or anything. Of course, that girl was impenetrable but really deeply wounded, deeply needing to be cherished and valued and loved.
- Enablers minimize situations thinking “the problem” will get better later: Over and over and over. Again, I acted as if I was facing issues. HUSBAND and I went to counseling from time to time. We went to marriage classes and family seminars and family groups and all that stuff. But the real meat of pain and sources of confusion? Just couldn’t quite go there even though I fooled myself into thinking we had and were.
- Enablers tend to lecture, blame or criticize the person they are enabling: This really doesn’t need more explanation. Other than it is tied to protecting, covering-up and making excuses. After doing so, HUSBAND would get a lecture to which he’d respond “I’ll do better.”
- Enablers sometimes take over the responsibilities of the person they are enabling. They will cover up for them, pick up their slack and come to the rescue – all to minimize consequences: Again…doesn’t need much more explanation. But if this is you, then you know you likely pay the bills, select and purchase the presents – even for his family, explain to others why you forgot the event/party/funeral/etc, complete the expense reports for HIS company/work, write the reports for HIS company/work…the list goes on. Interesting, though, how HUSBAND was fantastic about planning hunting trips, fishing trips, fucking trips…didn’t need any help there…
- Enablers are good at enduring…convincing themselves that this, too, shall pass: A life mantra…
- Enablers believe in waiting…often believing God will take care of this: He has a plan and all that…
- Enablers give one more chance. Then another one more chance. Then another one more chance… Story of my life with HUSBAND, pre discovery of the double-life.
So DDAY sucked. But it started me on a path of self-discovery like no other event or time before. My healing and journey and changes have been important no matter the outcome or state of our marriage. This…THIS is what I had to recognize, to grieve, to let go of and to change about myself. NOT to save my marriage…to save me. Whether I stayed married to HUSBAND or moved on, this would follow me unless I learned to see it, to purge it, to learn new ways to approach old things. I had to find my voice, a healthy, non-manipulative voice that could recognize and care for me – share my needs and hopes and wishes and dreams and allow myself to feel – DEEPLY – without fear. I have put that essential enabler in a grave, alongside my old marriage, and today am living in a freedom I never knew existed. The essential enabler has become a healthy human.