This weekend's On-line Weekend Al-Anon Meeting on; Enabling.
If you have found this website you are invited to join us in a weekend long, Al-Anon Meeting. The on-line meeting starts Friday evening 3/7/08 and runs to Sunday 3/9/08 evening.
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Our host for this weekend is me. I am one of my favorite people and yet at the same time, I am one of my harshest critics. I have had a tough time recently not knowing where my life will go, but I know that in my heart of hearts, that things always work out for the best.
This is where we start. I have posted the message below which will start our meeting on:
I am one of the most messed up on this subject. I thought I was helping all this time. Then I found out I was not only enabling, but I was also crossing boundaries by getting into other person is one of our regular visitors to this blog and provides a lot of good comments. She is encouraging and hopeful.
I find that enabling leads to codependence for us. How is this you might ask. Well, let's pretend you did ask. The answer dear reader is that we "help" so much, we become "needy" in that we need to help almost always. We offer to help and do for others, that which they should do for themselves.
People think this is great . . . . . . . . . that is, at first. Then it gets on their nerves. That is, if they are not an alcoholic or addict. It becomes, to the "normal" person, sort of, yucky. Like being too available. Too much "on."
So I am going to read from the Al-Anon approved literature, the book, "Hope for Today" from page 122; ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Today I know I was the perfect enabler. My autocratic behavior deprived my husband of responsibility. I tried in vain to control him and to keep him "dry." Eventually I felt only hate and disgust toward my husband and alcohol. My life seemed totally worthless, and the I felt deprived of a shoulder to lean against, a safe place to cry.
Then I was led to Al-Anon. . . . "I learned I could not save him, but I could save myself. This was my chance to jump off the merry-go-round called denial before I slipped under it and was crushed.
I especially had to learn that my way of helping was not really helping. I had to do something differently. At Al-Anon meetings in my country, they call detachment letting off in love." I was unable to let him off in love. However, I decided I could let him fall gently.
That's what I did, and slowly my life started to feel worthwhile again. I began taking care of myself. I practice thinking positively by using the Steps and slogans. Prayer and mediation help me become balanced and content. . .."
I believe we as children of alcoholic, or spouses or friends can learn from this definition of enabling versus helping;
Enabling;"is doing something for someone, that they could, and should be doing themselves."
Whereas, Helping;"is doing something for someone that they are not capable of doing themselves.
This spills not only over into enabling our alcoholic qualifier. But these behaviors manifest themselves in all of our relationships. You will see this behavior at work, with our children, with our boyfriends and girlfriends - past, present, and future.
By doing anything, and everything, makes us feel good at first. Our self-esteem becomes tied to this source of doing for people. But we begin to feel unappreciated over time. Why? Because by being "too there" - being "too available" - no one appreciates us because they become accustomed to our helping. And, frankly, people take advantage of us. They don't appreciate it, they just give us more to do and expect it from us. By allowing this to happen, we are sending signals, that we are not worth much, and we are allowing our boundaries to become trodden upon.
And this is all because by always doing for people, people do not value us. We become their personal lackey. This is due to the fact that a "new normal" has been set up in the relationship. The "new normal" is: You do. I do not.
When we stop helping, people are angry. People are not used to this "new selfishness" from us. And then guilt sets in. And, we sometimes give in, by continuing to do.
Some examples of enabling behaviors are:
Working regularly after hours at the office, by "helping" others, and they go home
Buying the alcoholic alcohol
Cleaning up after the alcoholic
Paying the alcoholic's bills (even the little ones)
Setting up appointments for the doctor's office for the alcoholic
Making the dinner, cleaning up after everyone, and washing the dishes and never eating because, that's "your role."
Picking up your kids, the neighbors kids and watching every one's children and no one returns the favor or says "yes" but acts like it's a real burden
Getting a good feeling when people ask you to do something you know you have to sacrifice time and other things you'd rather be doing
Getting angry/upset/slighted when someone asks someone else to do something, when you are perfectly able to it
Juggling 12 things, at the same time, and getting that rush
This is a good place to stop. Please provide ideas of how you have been brought up, or how you do too much, or how you are doing for people who should be doing it themselves.