“There are wounds that never show on the body that are deeper and more hurtful than anything that bleeds.”
Laurell K. Hamilton
Enabling makes it possible, or even encourages, your loved one to remain stuck - in immaturity, irresponsibility, addiction, or another dysfunction.
Sharon Martin LCSW
If we are enabling then we too are not behaving as a responsible adult. It’s incredibly easier to remain in a relationship, be it as a parent, sibling, partner, married, friendship, and not address issues.
In order to adult and stop enabling we need to face why we won’t draw a line in the sand and say to the other adult these are the consequences of your actions if they continue AND then follow through when the behaviour is repetitive. And I completely understand why we don’t do this.
We barely dare to recognise our own thoughts and emotions around the pain we know is coming if we follow through on drawing a line in the sand. We can barely breathe at the thought of the unknown of how am I going to make it through the pain? Let alone contemplate what our lives will look like on the other side of that pain. We definitely have no personal map that says this is the road through the pain, this is how to manage it and this is the blossoming life after the pain is worked through.
Here’s what we do know though. Doing the same thing, the same way, repeatedly, expecting different results is stupid. For those walking in faith it takes an incredible amount of courage to draw the line in the sand because your family and your faith community will likely not support the decision you have to make. Even without a faith walk we are challenged by our families who don’t want to get involved in any of the emotions we’re going through because for many generations everyone has always silently conformed to the non verbal family rules that we don’t talk about the real mess our lives can get into.
We’ve all experienced the family lets all get together for Sunday dinner and pretend every week no one in the family is suffering, then go home and spend another week in the haze of family “keep it secret, we’ll be safe” unspoken rules. It’s just not good enough any more that our own family insists we suffer in silence.
For the silence to cease we ALL must be willing to get on board and LEARN news ways through our challenges, do our own self reflection work and OWN our previously hidden unexpressed thoughts and emotions and map NEW roads. Having done this it gives me a new appreciation for the road workers who when I drive by are seemingly standing around doing nothing. Building new roads can be exhausting, but over time they do get built.
We are the only one who can determine when we are ready to begin navigating a new map. I’ll be the first to affirm new roads are costly. Especially with family. No one likes it when you draw a line in the sand and say no more. No one. It cost me a relationship with my closest sibling because after many years I drew a line in the sand and said until you’ve been clean two years we won’t be talking. Their anger at me is still running strong nearly ten years on and all I can do is love them from afar.
That’s another aspect too. Other people get angry at us for ceasing to enable them. That’s a really tough and painful process for us. Who wants to go through life knowing your own family can’t love you (but expect you to love them)? None of us do! With Complex Ptsd we have to be prepared to develop our own sense of self. Then as we grow life becomes more about helping others, loving others, choosing life, than it does about the one person, who’s an adult, and is still refusing to take adult responsibility for their life.
Does it mean our wound is healed? No, but it makes the wound understandable that as adults we have choices, and I can’t make choices for other adults. I can only make a choice based on the healthiest vision I can for my life. For those living a faith based life we make a decision based on the belief there is a plan and purpose for our life and we seek to fulfil that plan and purpose. We won’t fulfil the fullness of our plan and purpose without charting new roads.
The work it takes to chart new roads means it impossible to try and stay on the old road too. We can’t do both. So what do we do when we’re facing the fork in the road between old, known roads and having to create a new road?
Take it just one step at a time.
Communicate, Communicate, Communicate
Walk by faith not by sight
Have professional help to chart your new road
Be gentle on you
Do everything terrified, but do it
And join a group who understand what you’re going through and learn from those who’ve already walked the journey as they’re priceless.
Blessings and dreams,