Reality of an Enabler

Each of us comes to terms with who we are several times in our lifetime. We change, we learn, we grow. However I believe that certain parts of who we are never changed with us. We may mask them, or pretend that we have somehow become smarter than the behaviors of our past, but in very specific ways we are who we are. What I have realized is that there is this inner conflict that comes when your mind knows better but your heart wont let you change. Your hearts wont let you breath that sigh of relief that you wont ever act that way again, or make that choice, or compromise yourself over something you can’t fix.

As my life moves rapidly forward past the loss of my mother, I have come to see how many of the relationships in my life have been modeled after the way I was with her. Raised to nurture and sacrifice regardless of the consequences of my own needs. I had always looked at my relationship with my mother as a reflection of myself. Like somehow if I had tried harder or helped more, her struggles would have become less. Now don’t get me wrong, in my very logical, social worker mind, I am aware of the realities of an addict. I am aware that nothing I did caused her addiction, yet my heart will always feel a certain amount of controversy with that reality.

The truth is I now see where I have allowed myself to have other relationships that were no different. It is not just the unwavering loyalty of a daughter but the complete disregard of self that comes with being an enabler. The willingness to let the choices of another dictate how much you give. While your mind reprimands you and screams no, you continue to weave a constant net of security for another. It’s like watching yourself through a window, the truth and reality are outside with you, but you can’t change what’s going on inside.

What any relationship with an addict boils down to is the person sitting next to them. It seems that those bystanders are three different kinds of people, the ones that join them, the ones that run from them, or the ones that enable them. The one of the three that seems to suffer the most is the enabler. With such a jaded sense of helping, saving, and loving. I don’t say this lightly or with any sort of judgment, because I am in every sense of the word an enabler. Left with disappointment as we pick of the pieces of another’s turmoil, will we ever learn?

My answer is no. Or perhaps, yes, we will learn, but we wont listen. We will continue to search out those who need the most love, and give them more than we have, trying to make them love themselves. In some ways it all sounds so selfless and noble. It’s not! You see its us who are left standing alone, sometimes the addict we love dies, and sometimes they destroy themselves and force us to watch, they live without living. The pain becomes self-inflicted, as we make a choice of what we allow.  I’ll never know who’s more wrong the enabler or the addict. We both know in our heads what’s right, and we still can’t change.

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