Are You Enabling Your Loved One Like This?
“But he can’t help it”
“What’s the alternative?”
“We just don’t know what to do with him(her)”
“I don’t know how to help him(her)”
“This can’t go on”
Finding yourself repeating any of these, whilst your own life descends into chaos, as you attempt to support a loved one fighting addiction, is all too easy a cycle to get into. The thing is, it’s not your fault.
Loved One + Addiction + Enabling = Quickening Downward Spiral
In the busy-ness of everyday life, without realising the true extent of the problem, it’s extremely easy to make excuses and exceptions when someone’s having a rough time, needs a drink to get through the rough stuff of life, or any number of other excuses.
But when it becomes a habit, too often, it’s become enabling – consciously trying to help, while unconsciously making the cycle of addiction worse.
Maybe the problem wasn’t big enough to notice consciously at first, but now…..now it’s become too big not to notice.
Your loved one is too deep in the addiction themselves to be able to redraw (or even see) the boundaries, so you need to push the reset button yourself.
It’s not that difficult, when you know how.
To send the message, that we will no longer be part of the problem of addiction, we need to mix it up:
– Do odd things at normal times & normal things at odd times, e.g. If you used to habitually support (him/her) in some way, with a regular routine, *stop doing it*. And offer to help find the real resources needed to cope with their addiction instead.
– In your acceptance, be irregular, and uncertain. Make the times you do help, increasingly rare. You are sending a message here over time – that you can no longer be relied upon to provide the coping mechanism that used to be there.
– In your refusals, be vague. A simple “I’m unable to do that”, when said with authority, will not attract further questioning.
After all, don’t *you* need to get *your* life back too?
Resetting the boundaries and reclaiming your life is not a result of your inflated “me-time” or self-indulgence, but rather a determinant of:
– your ability to continue to help your loved one in future
– your own future emotional health and well being
Any immediate emotional pain of denying a loved one a short term fix will always be overcome by the long term comfort and satisfaction of knowing you helped them address the real issues, at the core.
This is the time they need to take responsibility, stick their hand high in the air, and say “I need help”. You can step in, in a practical sense, to co-ordinate rehab, counselling, detox, aftercare, 12-step sessions, mutual aid groups, etc.
But if you constantly have to be there at every stage, always pushing your loved one along, who is there at the end? Who is there when they leave rehab? When they’re back in the workplace? When they’re in another relationship?
Assisting him(her) temporarily, in practical ways, to help them take responsibility and get back on track, is fine. Helping them perpetuate a coping mechanism that’s steadily killing them, is not.