June 3, 2006

Lessons learned from enabling

Are you a crutch for your addict? If you are new to breaking enabling behaviors perhaps some of my history will help you.

One time I put off a weekend of R+R in order to bail a family member out of jail. At the time, as I can recall, I was chomping at the bit to free him from that wretched place, County lock up.

What's utmost in my mind NOW is that I was in such a frenzy to bail him out that I gave little thought as to why he was locked up in the first place!

Was I in my right mind? Was I thinking clearly? Most surely not.

What was my problem? I had gotten into a cycle of enabling or "helping" him.

I often write on drug addiction, yet there is an addiction that a high percentage of us who would never touch drugs have a lifelong battle with - that of Enabling.

I cared more about my drug and law abuser's comfort than I did about him.

I cannot make it more plain.

He was in discomfort. He wanted out of jail. He didn't want to face the consequences of his actions and he wanted to use again.

I can see all of this much more clearly now than I did then. As a matter of fact, I don't think I had any clarity at that time. I had one thing on my mind, getting him his freedom.

I was in discomfort watching his discomfort.

Did I want him to go back out on the street and use drugs? NO.

Did I wish for him to escape the consequences (Jail) for his actions? No.

But I wanted justice and clarity to come to him in a way that was comfortable for him.

I wanted him to get better, and all I knew was jail wasn't the way!

What did I know?

I also kept replaying the same old line in my mind over and over again: "This won't happen again, "He's learned his lesson from this". Looking back, from how I've grown since those years, I cannot fathom that I would think and say those things and here's why:

How could he "learn from this", when I would run to his rescue and fetch him out of the hands of the very ones who could help him? He'd call me up and I'd come running.

But all it really adds up to is I thought I knew what was best for him. I was wrong.

Just as the addict must come to the end of himself, so must the enabler come to the end of himself. And this took me years.

Given time, we will get to the place in which we can say as I can now, "I was wrong". We have the best of intentions, true, but our good intentions doesn't mean it's in the best interests of the addict.

I know this now.

You can apply this to a drug addict but also to any type of person who is overly dependent and will refuse to face consequences in life and pull themselves out of their self made messes.

If you are the crutch they rely on, you must remove yourself and allow them to walk unaided and on their own. When they stumble and fall, as they most likely will, look at it as a giant step forward for them and not a step back.

I assure you, they will fall, the only question is how many times will it take before they have finally gained enough strength to walk on their own.

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