What are the signs that you’re enabling?
If you’re a family member of someone in the throes of addiction, you need to know the difference between loving that person and enabling that person.
It is hard to see someone we love make choices that are harmful to themselves and even those around them. We want the best for those we care about, even if it means doing things that in the long run are not helping them at all.
Enabling behaviors to be aware of
Common enabling behaviors include lying to help cover up your loved one’s bad choices, ignoring their harmful behavior or blaming others for it, and feeling resentful of your loved one for all you “have” to do for them.
Other signs of enabling are less obvious; you may not even realize you’re enabling.
For example, do you continue to help someone who does not even care that you are helping? That’s an enabling behavior. Enablers let themselves be taken advantage of, hurting themselves as much as they’re hurting the loved one suffering from addiction.
Regardless of the signs that you’re enabling, recognizing it is the first step to your healing. It is important to know that you are not responsible for the behaviors of your addicted loved one. The choices they make belong to them and only them; not you. It is also important to recognize that your enabling behavior prolongs your loved one’s suffering because it keeps them from feeling the consequences of their actions and getting the help they need.
The good news is that you are not alone.
Countless others have walked the same road you are on. It’s hard to know what boundaries to draw and when to draw them. But there are resources in place designed for you just as there are for the addicted individual. Al-Anon may be a great place to start. Hearing others’ stories can help you learn when you are enabling; having a support group can help you stop enabling and focus on healing and nurturing yourself.