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Friday, September 24, 2010

The Enabler

What is an Enabler?

As defined by Wikipedia, enabling is also used in the context of problematic behavior, to signify dysfunctional approaches that are intended to help but in fact may perpetuate a problem.  A common theme of enabling in this latter sense is that third parties take responsibility, blame, or make accommodations for a person's harmful conduct (often with the best of intentions, or from fear or insecurity which inhibits action). The practical effect is that the person themselves does not have to do so, and is shielded from awareness of the harm it may do, and the need or pressure.

Ok so that is the technical description, for the rest of us, an Enabler is someone that helps the addict succeed in being addicted. Sound too simple? It isn't. An enabler is another part of the addiction in the family. Enablers tend to be addicted to the addict. They are ruled by fear. The problem is their perception of protection and help is warped. They are often holding the loaded gun to the addicts head, along with the addict. The addict uses this gun (addiction) to manipulate the enabler, the enabler uses the gun/addiction as a means to keep them safe believing they are controlling the addiction and the addict. The enabler is just as deadly as the addict.

Yes, it is a hard pill to swallow, but if you are giving an addict money, or offering them any assistance with money, paying their rent, giving them rides, you are helping them rush to the gallows. No one wants to be the enabler, but somehow our love for our addicted loved one blinds us as much as it does the addict. We are in a trap, right along with the addict except their condition has now become our drug.
Where do you separate the line between love and addiction? Love and help, love and letting go?

To the addict, One day your family will get to the point where they have prepared mentally for your death, and if you make it long enough to realize this, you will know you are now truly alone with your addiction. The day the family support has lost hope, is the day you either own your disease and get help or you run toward the finish line that is at the end of your life. You know who your enabler is, and guess what, they are dying with you.  It's not that they have stopped loving you, they just got tired of watching you stop loving yourself. It's not that they don't want to help you, they are just tired of you not helping yourself. They don't want you to die, but they are tired of being a witness to your death. There does come this day, where you will run through their fingers like sand, and instead of cupping their hands to stop you from falling, they will just let you go.

Is your story your crutch?
Some may hold on to the hope to the bitter end. Hold fast to them and pray that they bring your bottom to you, since you seem to never hit it. Pray they find help, because when they are gone, you are gone. Family may let go, friends will let go, you have let go. One thing you can let go of safely is the past that you may be holding on to. There is rarely an addict, without a story. There is rarely anyone without a story that could justify everything an addict has felt, however, there are other ways the story changes who they are. Your story has lead you to addiction.

You are not dying alone..
We can understand what brings some people  to addiction, however, at some point, you have to sit that baggage down and move beyond where it has taken you, because now, it is holding you back. It can be done. People get well every day. The problem is, most don't live long enough to find this out. Who is your enabler? Look closely, deeply and honestly, they are probably the one in the room, that have no joy left in their eyes. They are the ones that are forever exhausted, endlessly in debt, trapped by their love for you, and the fear of your death, and all the while, your enabler, is dying with you. Its a slow painful death.

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