Enabling or helping?

With the understanding that addiction is a disease and the realization that we are powerless over it as well as over people's lives, we are ready to do something useful and constructive with our own.

Then, and only then can we be of any help to others.

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Enabling or helping?

Post by Ronni » Fri Dec 15, 2017 8:47 am

I struggled with enabling for a long time with my RAS. I was an enabler, the QUEEN of enabling, no question about that! But there's also help....y'know, that nice thing that we do for people on occasion to assist when they're struggling? ;) I've always been big on help, and so I had to find the line...that demarkation between helping and enabling.

Someone, a friend completely unrelated to Naranon, addiction, or anything resembling it, was chatting with me about her grandkid, and a phrase popped out of her mouth that gave me my answer. The phrase was "A hand up or a handout." Wow. WOW. Ok, that's it, that's the line of demarkation I was looking for!

Y'know that saying "Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach him to fish and he will eat for a lifetime." It's kinda like that for me. I was doing the equivalent of the first part of that....handing stuff to my kid every time he needed something so he never had to learn how to get it or accomplish it himself. By handing him stuff whenever he needed it, I was preventing him from ever getting to the point where he was working as hard as he could to step up to something better and making positive strides in that direction.

When I stopped enabling, he learned how to fish!!

I posted the other day about taking the day off from work to drive my RAS around while he took care of a bunch of stuff so he could get his driver's license reinstated. I wouldn't have done that a couple years ago. He was still learning to fish a couple years ago, and I wasn't going to interfere with that process. ;) But he's made so many strides, has some great forward momentum going, he's
been actively and consistently stepping up to something better, making positive strides in a forward direction. So, yeah, holding out a helping hand to him, offering him help for the day, that didn't feel like enabling. It felt like a boost, just a bit of assistance, an offer for him to get something accomplished just a bit faster and a tad more easily that he was going to get done anyway.

Of course, your mileage may vary greatly from this. We're all walking in the same direction here, though not necessarily on the same path. For me, this works. For my son, this hasn't interfered with his forward momentum, just given him a well deserved boost.

He knows how to fish now. I just added a bit of extra horsepower to his process. ;)
My son's addiction is something that happened TO HIM. It is NOT something he did TO ME.

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Re: Enabling or helping?

Post by vscook » Fri Dec 15, 2017 10:39 am

TYFS. I struggle with enabling my AD. I often think that it would not be a problem if she were not an addict. But I have done so much for her throughout her life, and I can see now that it did not help her. She is very immature and will just throw her hands up in the air when she has a problem rather than figure it out on her own. I am trying to back up from rescuing her - not just in issues regarding her addiction, but everywhere. I would love to come back in a few years and tell everyone that she has learned to fish! ;)
Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift, that's why it's called the present.

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Re: Enabling or helping?

Post by Claytonmomof2 » Fri Dec 15, 2017 12:31 pm

Thanks for your share. It's so encouraging to hear success stories and your journey to get there. I find the line between enabling/helping/living to be even more clouded when the dynamic is between a spouse. Obviously some things are blatantly enabling, but it's the finer details that become more blurry.

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Re: Enabling or helping?

Post by Jade11 » Sat Dec 16, 2017 8:26 pm

I love that: A hand up or a handout. I'm working on learning the difference because it's still kind of fuzzy for me. Sometimes I'm so afraid of enabling that I miss opportunities to help. I hope in time I can find that line between the two, also. TYFS

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Re: Enabling or helping?

Post by cdnstepmom » Sun Dec 17, 2017 10:37 am

THANK YOU for sharing!!! I was just speaking to my mother-in-law about this. She just let my step-AS back into her apartment after kicking him out not even a month ago. Her sense of "helping" actually hinders his chances or motivation. So thank you again! :)

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