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Enabling

Old 09-20-2010, 02:20 PM
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Enabling

AH has been out of the house for 8 days now, and today checked himself in for a 24 hour evaluation at the VA hospital in order to begin treatment again. It's a start, but we've been down this road before...

But I've been using this time to reflect and keep thinking about the subject of enabling. Of course I never realized until recently that all the things I was doing to clean up his messes was helping him to stay sick. I thought I was just picking up his slack in order to keep everything running smoothly, and needless to say I made myself a martyr and became bitter and resentful in the process.

But when I think back to all the enabling I've done, not all of it was to make life easier for AH. Some of it I did for my own personal reasons because I felt I had to "save face" in front of my family, friends and neighbors. I've kept all that I've been dealing with inside for my entire marriage, because I didn't want anyone else to know that things were anything less than perfect. My husband is handsome, clean cut, smart, and extremely charming and charismatic (aren't they all). Not the kind of guy you picture when you think of a "drunk." At least not until I learned that alcoholism affects people from every walk of life, not just the homeless guy sleeping on the sidewalk. I've always been a perfectionist and afraid of failure or other people's judgement, so having people know I married an alcoholic felt like the ultimate humiliation.

I've spent so much energy through the years following AH around, trying desperately to keep anyone from being unhappy or upset with him, because I felt like it reflected poorly on me. AH is famous for making promises to people that he can't keep, and I'd obsess with making sure he followed through on what he promised, just so that no one would be angry at him. I still remember staying up all night working on a project for my daughter's classroom, because AH in a moment of grandeur volunteered to take care of it. Of course, he never did, and when DD came home with a note in her backpack asking for the status on the project, I about died from embarrassment. I also remember one of his friends leaving a message on our machine telling AH never to call him again. AH had promised he would help with a construction project and never showed up or called, after the friend had already paid to rent the equipment for the day. The fact that I still remember this almost 10 years later and AH would have no clue what I was talking about if I brought it up to him should give you some idea of how sick I was.

Anyway, I thought it was an interesting subject. How much of the enabling do we do for them, and how much of it do we do for our own fragile egos??
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Old 09-20-2010, 04:46 PM
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Was in a small group fellowship years ago, when I was young. There was an older couple in our fellowship. He was quiet with a dry sense of humor --- and a recovering alcoholic. She was bubbly and outgoing. Something she said to me once always stuck in my mind. She said she used to work so hard to cover up for John, to protect his and HER public image because his behavior as an alcoholic mortified her. Then one day she realized that nobody judged her on his behavior. Her point to me was that other people judge us for ourselves so I must have had an issue at the time.
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Old 09-20-2010, 05:14 PM
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I think whatever that mechanism is you're talking about is exactly what has destroyed some of my mom's best qualities. She used to do the same thing for my dad, and now she does it for my A bros....

Hurtingagain- it is such a huge step to let the light in and start talking about this stuff! It is the first baby step towards change and healing!

Peace-
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