I KNOW WHAT YOU NEED!
I can take care of you, but not myself
REMINDER: Use ACRONYM page for abbrev.
ENABLING is another term for co-dependent rescuing of other, in place of taking care of ourselves.
In Al-Anon terms, it is our compulsion to save the alcoholic or any other kind of addict (debting, drug, exercise, gambling, food, sex, under-earning….) from the consequences of their own self-destructive behavior.
A person who is acting out self-destructively has no reason to change if they don’t ever have to experience the outcome of their compulsion. If they don’t have to pay any price for their behavior, they’re enabled to continue practicing their addiction. “Helping someone to continue being self-destruct is co-dependency – not supportive & not Loving.
In more general terms, it’s any form of helping someone not take care of themselves when they really can. It may be —
— in the form of not doing or saying anything when we see others hurting themselves, OR
— actively providing the means for them to continue, actively or passively being irresponsible to themselves, their loved ones, their job….
EXP: Lying for others / making excuses when someone shirks their responsibility, is selfish or mean / clean up after a user / cover the addict’s bills / never stand up for ourselves or object to abuse / never notice or point out lies, inconsistencies, broken promises…..
ACoAs IRONY: Enabling/Rescuing is in itself an addiction (emotional, psychological), a compulsive pattern of interacting with others. On the surface it gives us a sense of control & superiority. Underneath, the real motivation is to suppress our own abandonment anxiety.
ORIGIN: Growing up in dysfunctional families, ACoAs were not allowed to fully develop their own personality & identity, attend to their own needs, or have their own feelings – about anything. We had no choice but to focus on our wounded parents and their needs, moods & demands: (see ‘Toxic rules’)
• We were expected to grow up too fast, not have normal child needs) – but only so we could relieve them of the burden of caring for us and so we could be there for them
• AND, any attention to our own tastes, opinions, & way of doing things was considered selfish, stubborn, overly sensitive, stupid and bad! (I was taught: S.P.S. – ‘Self Praise Stinks’ !!)
Result: ACoAs developed a ‘false persona’, one version being The Rescuer:
a. for many of us, this is a very active role – doing, doing, doing for others OR using others to motive our actions.
b. for some ACoAs, who seem to do nothing for others – this role is passive. It’s ‘taking care of’ the family by asking for little, not trying for anything, not risking, not being a bother… obeying “Don’t Need”, a toxic rule.
➼ The unspoken hope is that if we do a good enough job of rescuing (fixing them), they will, in turn, be able to take care of us. THIS NEVER WORKS.
DEF: A way to seem like we’re helping others BUT with hidden motives
a. from grandiosity
● Doing for others what they CAN & SHOULD be doing for themselves
● Being ‘one up’, giving the illusion of being powerful and benevolent, at the same time
● Assuming others need us (a not-always conscious belief that they’ll fall apart or even die – without us – based on our family experience)
● Assuming we know better what others need / want / should have, or not
● Preventing others from having to take responsibility for – & the consequences of – their own actions (to spare them pain)
b. from inferiority
● Using others to feel better about ourselves (to cover our self-hate, that feeling of worthlessness)
● Trying to ‘fix’ a wounded person, so they can be there for us
● Trying to have an effect on the world, since no one listened to us as kids
● Wanting to use our talents, skills & abilities – but not allowed to use them for our own benefit
● Minding other people’s business rather than our own (not allowed to focus on ourselves)
NEXT: Rescuing = False Helping (Part 2)