Whether I’m talking to clients or family members of clients here at Roy Nelson Healing, the issue of enabling always comes up. Wherever there is addiction and eating disorders, there always seems to be at least one person who is “enabling”. “Enabling” is a modern term used to describe when a loved one, co-worker or friend of an addict tries to help the addict by taking care of them in any number of ways; ways that the addict should be caring of themselves.
Why would they assume responsibility for the addict like this? The most obvious reason is because that seems like the best way to love the addict, or at least help them. Another reason may be that the “enabler” comes from a history of addiction, and as a child was forced into the position of “caretaker”; out of a deeply ingrained habit they assume an analogous role as an adult. Perhaps one’s perceived survival depends on keeping the addict propped up and able to get to work to make a living, or on making excuses when getting them to work isn’t physically possible.
There are more subtle forms of enabling; for example, giving money to a child who keeps spending it on binges, or simply looking the other way when the signs of addiction are clear.
Whatever forms your “enabling” takes, the bottom line is that enabling destroys the addict’s chances of overcoming the addiction. And it also destroys your own peace of mind and often your life.
I know you want to love the addict and prevent them from suffering. But you actually prolong their suffering when you allow them to comfortably continue with their addiction. When you stand in the way of the addict and the consequences of the addict’s actions, they will be forever oblivious that there is anything wrong with their actions. If they don’t know there is anything wrong, they will not be motivated to change. If they don’t change, they could easily die. And enabling a person to die is not something any of us want in our experience or on our conscience.
The purpose of our existence is to use life’s lessons as means to grow and become examples of the beautiful souls that God created us to be. If you interfere with the addict’s experience of these lessons, however, they don’t ever get to be all that they are intended to be. They miss out on the gifts: the abundance, love, joy and mental and emotional freedom that are sweeter than words.
But your enabling doesn’t only limit the addict’s good, it also blocks your own experience of these same gifts. When you are worried and knotted up because you are preoccupied with another’s behavior and trying to keep them from making a complete mess out of their lives, you aren’t living your best life. Not only that, but you are actually interrupting God’s work in the addict’s life. You are essentially playing God yourself, and keeping the addict from the growth lessons that will refine and improve them.
When you step aside and allow the addict to have whatever experiences they are meant to have, no matter how difficult that may be, they will ultimately have a shift in consciousness that will transform them and their lives; Spirit can finally mold them and help them become better than you’ve ever managed to do.
Letting go in this way takes tremendous faith, and it’s not at all easy. Let me warn you that the results may not be what you want them to be (that’s part of letting go). But ultimately you will be more peaceful when you stop managing and controlling, and that peace inside of you will have a positive effect on the addict you love and want to help (even if only energetically to begin with).
If this is an issue you want to learn more about, or if you need support in changing your relationship with an addict, please call us, we want to help. We want to do whatever we can to provide comfort and strength as you begin to recreate your life.