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Author Topic: SELF-AWARE: Are you supporting or enabling?  (Read 21087 times)
united for now
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« on: May 19, 2009, 02:47:26 PM »

What is the difference between being "supportive" and being "enabling"  

Being supportive is doing something for someone else that they are unable to do for themselves. Ex. picking up the kids from daycare because your partner is stuck in traffic.

Enabling is doing things for someone else that they can and should be doing for themselves. Ex. calling in sick for them, doing more than your fair share of chores.

When we enable people (addicts, children, friends or family) we prevent them from experiencing the consequences of their own actions. We are also preventing them from realizing they have a problem and depriving them of fully reaching their own potential. Our efforts to help them wind up contributing to them staying sick and dependent on us. The relationship gets worse as both people respond in more and more unhealthy behavior.

Over time  the enabler (us rescuer nons) become resentful and angry over how much we wind up helping others. We lose site of how to break the cycle of “helping others”.  Also, the “help” provided to others (especially those lacking the motivation and determination to stand on their own two feet), can become a long-term expectation and even an outright demand, where the other person now expects us to "do" everything thing for them. They essentially play the helpless needy victim while we portray ourselves as the self sacrificing martyr.

So why do so many of us engage in enabling behavior?

* Because we confuse helping someone with doing it for them.
* Because we are pressured and manipulated into believing that we should do things for others.
* Because we fear the consequences if we don’t do things for them.
* Because we base our self esteem on helping others.

We tend to want to rescue and protect our loved ones from experiencing any pain or getting angry with us or pull away from us.

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Of course, it is easy to see how the Rescuer can become the primary enabler for an addict or alcoholic, but she can also become the primary enablers for the Big Baby, the Victim or the Runaway. Enabling is what the Rescuer does. The definition of enabling here is the unconscious encouragement of another's dis-ability. Not another's disability, but another's dis-ability. In other words, whatever it is that the other person is refusing to do for him or herself, that's exactly what the Rescuer will do. This encourages the other person to continue to refuse to do it for him or herself.


ypically, the first question the Rescuer will ask when this information is given to him is:  "Well, how do you know they are refusing to do it; how do you know that they simply can't do it?"  The answer? Stop doing it for her and watch what happens. Typically, he already knows what happens because he's seen it several times by now: "She pitches a holy fit!"  Or, "She gets really pitiful." Or, she ups the ante by getting sicker or more needy in someway--even sometimes going as far as to threaten or even attempt suicide. It is interesting that the poor Victim, now turned Bully, can put all of this enormous energy into pitching a fit, getting pitiful or upping the ante, but can't find one ounce of energy to save herself.

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/traversing-the-inner-terrain/201104/the-rescuer-identity

How many times have your kids told you they were too tired to help out, yet found the necessary energy to go out and play with their friends?

How often have you listened as they complained about their sore back lying in bad all day, while you get home from work, take care of the kids, prepare dinner, clean the house, etc?

Have you been the subject of emotional blackmail, where they tell you to fix/solve/save them or else?


What does support look like to you?

What does enabling look like to you?
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« Reply #1 on: May 19, 2009, 03:30:55 PM »

Support: 
If you are married and your spouse develops a problem with alcoholism, you support them in seeking treatment, setting clear boundaries around what you will and won't tolerate, and do what you can to help them to get healthy; and do what you can to maintain your health, too, inlcuding, sometimes, what may feel like tough love if you feel it's necessary for your own health or the health of your children and home life.  That also mean letting the person experience the consequence of their decisions/actions/addictions.  this person would say they are supporting the person becasue they love them, even though it's hard.  You stay as healthy  as possible, the family stays as healthy as possible, the person with the alcohol problem has a choice to get healthy or not.

Enabling:
If you were marreid and your spouse develped a problem with alcoholism, you would call his work for him on the mornings he was too drunk to go in explaining that he has the flu again, if he was verbally or emotionally abusive when drunk, you would hide the results from family/friends or make excuses for him, and rationalize it to yourself, you would go to great lenghts to maintain an air of normalacy and work overtime to help compensate for a partner who is unable to contribute their part, and you would do so becasue you love them and care about them...but you would be building up a huge reserve of self-rightious resentment and bitterness, too.  Both of you get sicker, and the family gets sicker.

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« Reply #2 on: May 19, 2009, 05:39:36 PM »

Money  barfy

My 19S is horrible with money.
He used to ask me for laundry money (he's in college), but I knew it was actually for ciggs.
Enabling him is giving him money to smoke  for laundry.
Supporting him is allowing him to use my washer and dryer.

any others?

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« Reply #3 on: May 19, 2009, 05:57:05 PM »

Hmmm, this one is tough. I still somewhat struggle with how much to support my H without enabling him. To me supporting somebody you love means being there for them to listen to them when they're having problems, if they're trying to work on something being there for them when they struggle with it, encouraging them when they're doing good, etc. Enabling means allowing them to continue their bad behavior/habits. I know we can't force someone to stop doing a certain thing but we can definately set boundaries about what is tolerated. Also, let them suffer their own consequences for their actions without "saving" them from their mistakes. I don't know, might be wrong on this one.
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« Reply #4 on: May 19, 2009, 06:14:53 PM »

What does support look like?
Telling my kids "gee I am sorry you forgot your assignment again.  I would be upset too knowing I was going to get an "F".  Let's go get you a "planner" so you can write down your assignments and we can go over them each night"

What does enabling look like?
Telling my kids "gee I am sorry you forgot your assignment again.  Don't worry I will call the teacher and tell her the dog ate it this morning"

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« Reply #5 on: May 19, 2009, 07:06:30 PM »

Support:

 "Yeah, it does suck not having money to do fun things.  I wish we had some more options too.  Maybe we can figure out a few fun things that don't cost much."

Enabling:

 "OK, we'll ask for a credit line increase so we can charge some fun stuff."
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« Reply #6 on: May 19, 2009, 09:48:05 PM »

 i have another good one
 okay my daughter i use to enable her all the time i would do the laundry then take it upstairs and put it away and clean her room okay she is 17 

now i support her i will do her laundry if she brings it down stairs but i will not enable her by cleaning her room putting away her clothes.  you know this took a while to learn .. her room is just a real mess knee deep in clothes..

 she is good with me also with school stuff.. she wants me to call the teacher tell them a reason her paper didn't get done make up something to give her a few days more to get it turned in and i use to do this... boy i was an enabler

 now i am supporting her and understanding okay this will give her an F but all i can do is let her know i am sorry for this but can't lie to a teaCHER  and arjay  my daugher one time actually wanted me to call the teacher to tell them the dog ate the paper, she knew otherwise they wouldn't beleive it.. and you know what i actually did it... but only once...i was horrible and i knew it i needed help.. This wasn't long ago, i am learning...
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« Reply #7 on: May 19, 2009, 11:00:51 PM »

Mom! I forgot my project at home, and it needs to be turned in today. Can you bring it to school for me? if you don't, I'll fail the class. Please mom! You have to save me!


enabling parent brings in project so child doesn't fail.

supporting parent empathizes with child on how you hate when you forget things too. Boy, your boss would fire you if you messed up like that. Isn't it great that you have a parent that loves you so much that they do the right thing for you?  angel
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« Reply #8 on: May 21, 2009, 03:12:30 PM »

Enabling ends up "spoiling" the other person to expect unreasonable things from us.

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« Reply #9 on: May 31, 2009, 10:24:43 AM »



Support
Okay, since you now want a joint account while I have worked to build a savings and you previously did not want one and you're having difficulty staying employed, we can go and open up a joint account.  You save "X" amount and I will contribute double that amount so that we can build a balance together.

Enabling
Okay now that you have lost another job you want access to my cash whereas before you lost your job you wanted nothing to do with opening a joint account.  Okay I'll give you legal access to half of everything I have saved and earned to keep you happy with me.

(I did the first one.  She didn't like that idea...lol)

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« Reply #10 on: July 31, 2009, 04:57:18 AM »

Wow! What a great thread. Interesting. And it's keeping my mind off my stbxh. Not bad for 3:45 in the morning. :D
Enabling: my son wrecked my car the first time. Ran it off the road. Cost $1600 (
part insurance money). He ruined the radiator. I enabled. Dealt with the insurance company. Told him accidents happen. Then 11 months later, he totaled the car. Must have been texting. (maybe this is supporting). I told him I would let him have insurance $ to buy 1998 jeep (had been driving 2005 neon) and I would never help with another car again.
Now. Insurance was cancelled. Will take my name off title. Had done that to help hi
 get insurance. Sigh. No wonder I enabled my stbxh to stay where he was emotionally.

Ok. Now support.
Left my marriage to DbpdH. Told him I loved him. I will always love him and that I cannot live with him unless he and I get help. I am already getting help - therapy is what I mean. Yuck. Yuck because I thought if I laid it out so wonderfully clear like that , demonstrated my own desire to work on the marriage, he would follow suit. I was wrong. But...
I have identified what I need from my husband and not deviated. Now I need to identify what I need from my son and not deviate. smiley
love this thread. it's making me think.
BC
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« Reply #11 on: July 31, 2009, 04:21:46 PM »

Support:

To BPD family member (not sure who has fleas/enmeshed or just plain BPD)...but anyway...

"I will support you in counseling..I will come with you and you can say whatever you want with the therapist present and we will work through things with the therapist"

Enabling: "You don't have to come to counseling...I forgive you for yelling at me and spitting in my face...I know you were stressed and tired..."
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« Reply #12 on: August 01, 2009, 08:00:23 AM »

Good question - one I still struggle with, especially since I come from a FOO where rescusing people is held is such high regard.  But, I'll give it a stab...

Support:

Helping, along with others, to carry the dirt away while they dig themselves out of the hole.

Enabling:

Trying to dig them out of the hole ourself
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« Reply #13 on: August 03, 2009, 07:19:05 PM »

I can give one very strong example with one bpd in my life:  my neighbor.

She kept threatening to commit suicide.  I would always run to her aid.  On a day when I needed support because my dad was in ICU and I was getting very sick myself from all the pressure and exhaustion of caregiving, I told her I could not help her.  She sent her child to tell me that if I did not drop everything (my father was in ICU - how can you drop that) to come over and rescue her that she was going to kill herself.  That pissed me off that she sent her child with a suicide threat, especially when I was pretty sure it was invalid as she's been threatening it for months, only when she wants more attention, yet has never tried and has sent the authorities away when her family sends them over.  I told the girls that day that I could not make her the priority, that I was going to call the authorities and that if she kept threatening it that they needed to learn to do the same thing.

Now, she won't talk to me, see's me as black whereas last week I was shining angel white, and is spreading rumors about me all up and down the street.  And, it is a relief that she went away.  I don't feel badly at all.

In a nutshell, when you give them what they want (attention) you are enabling.  When you give them what they need (calling the authorities in this case), you are helping.  They usually get mad when you help.  You usually get relief when you help.  I feel so relieved this week.  I've had a whole week of sleeping through the night (no knocks on my door all night long) and getting my work done during the day (no kids running to me every half hour with her sick messages).

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« Reply #14 on: August 07, 2011, 11:01:42 AM »

I appreciate this topic being "revived", as it is the crux of the whole underlying problem for those of us in a relationship with a person with BPD or other personality disorder.

My own journey from attaching too quickly to my uBPDh ran me through the horrors of co-dependency I thought I had left behind.

Facing our own weaknesses or FOO roles starts with setting boundaries, accepting the emotions that result until we awaken to the realization that we are creatng those emotions inside our own heads.

Setting boundaries works; removing the props from under our BPD spouses works; and continuing to make ourselves less the victim and more the healthy individual also "works".

It works in terms of pushing the BPD to make choices and initiate change (something they are loath to do).

It works in allowing us nons to feel happy inside our own lives and mental constructs as we make healthy choices and changes that work for us, too.

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« Reply #15 on: August 11, 2011, 07:27:45 PM »

This issue is huge in my family right now. My sister is dBPD (waify/hermity) - I think my mother is uBPD (raging type). My sister and her boyfriend have a special needs child. My sister's boyfriend moved to a certain city, then my sister and their child moved, and then my mother moved there. I live about a 15-hour drive away.

Support: My mother babysitting my nephew as any grandparent would
Enabling: my mother taking my nephew in and caring for him full time for the last three months because my sister is negligent, so is her boyfriend

Support: my nephew runs out the door when my sister is chopping vegetables; my mother's near the door and goes after him
Enabling (this happened constantly over a 5-day period at my recent family reunion): my sister has her face buried in a book, completely ignoring her child, including when he runs out the door and up to the road; my mother goes after him, saying nothing to my sister.

My sister is a blob in a chair. She has never had to face consequences for her actions, and is now at age 35 incapable of caring for herself (or refuses to try). My mother enables them at every moment.

I do not. I am painted black for not living there and "helping" - it would last five minutes, because I won't enable. Earlier this year I called child services on my sister and her boyfriend. My mother and the boyfriend will never forgive me. My sister has...because she believes she's incompetent.

Enabling = tragedy.
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« Reply #16 on: December 12, 2011, 03:17:13 PM »

I hope there will be lots of discussion on this topic, i am the poster child for enablers, do it all the time with my SO, i do it for all the reasons listed above, but mainly fear. Fear of her flipping out which she does masterfully and for some stupid reason when she starts to rage i can't stop myself from engaging, i'm starting to think i am as bad as she is, maybe worse sometimes. I am really looking forward to reading others input on this topic as it is dear to my heart.
Thanks for starting this an0ught !   
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« Reply #17 on: December 12, 2011, 04:08:14 PM »

I have stopped what I feel was 'active' enabling - doing his homework, nagging about responsibilities, making excuses for both outsiders and his own ego for things he chose not to do... I know I have a ways to go, but I like to think I'm doing better as a recovering super-co-dependent.

About 5 years ago I got to where I felt I had to just let him fail at things - I could no longer feel responsible for his grades, whether he finished college, or even took care of his student debt.  Things that would affect me adversely, like paying rent and utilities and groceries, I took care of.  Anything else was his responsibility.  So I let him fail out of school, let him deal with the annoying calls and letters, let him deal with the shame of having me be the breadwinner and our friends see me paying for everything and exhausted from working so many hours to make ends meet.  I stopped making excuses.  After a while, he decided he needed a job, and got an kept one.  And after working four years, he decided he needed to finish school, so he went through the steps to re-enroll, and is passing the class he signed up for this semester.  He's still waiting till the last minute to do all things, and freaking out like the big paper he has to write was a surprise, and he still neglects speaking with his adviser, expecting them to call him ( rolleyes), but I am not feeling this is my fault or duty anymore, and his own self esteem has been bolstered by doing things he knows he should ahve for a long time... some of his shame was addressed and a solution for it was found, by him.

So by letting him fail, I think in a way I let him find a way to succeed, too. 

As for housework, I clean because I like things clean.  It frazzles me at times to care more about it than him, but I think this is a living arrangement problem that has existed from the dawn of time - one person will care more, and therefore do more work, than the other.  In regards to things like housework and repairs, I pretty much live as if I am single in this regard in most cases.  I clean as though I am single and just have some extra dishes to wash, I'd still ahve the pets to care for, the trash to take out... It's be great to have help, but it's a battle I've chosen to not fight every week.  I mow the lawn, tend to the garden when it's not dead from drought, put up holiday decorations to please me, and take care of small repairs on my own because simply it's not worth my time to go through the crazy dysregulation of him attempting to do anything.  Seeing things get repaired, cleaned or tended makes me feel good and it's easy to feel you accomplished something when you ahve a new bed of flowers planted, or a clean kitchen. 

I can fix a toilet in 30 minutes, alone, with the right parts and tools.  It's take him a few hours of not looking up how to fix it, getting mad and throwing perfectly good parts around, breaking them, making one of us (me, I was the one who could 'behave' in public) go buy new parts. He'd rather spend extra $$$ to call a plumber for something I can learn to do from YouTube.  He wanted to call an electrician to install a $5.00 switch to a ceiling fan.  So I waited till he'd be gone a few days on business, looked at some videos, read a lot about it, and after I was assured the power was off I got it done in less than half an hour. 

Is this a type of enabling?  Or is it just me taking myself out of a bad situation (repairing something together) and taking care of it myself?  I have always been very independent, and so this 'solution' feels very comfortable to me (meaning it's probably not the best thing to do).  I do not resent doing these projects - I feel proud of my ability to replace faucets and change tires - as a woman I like knowing I can do these things on my own if needed, and call a professional if I can't do what needs to be done. 

Back in October, he decided to do a woodworking project himself one day while I was very ill.  Usually this would mean me getting some clothes on and standing around feverish waiting for the shoe to drop and the rage to start, and then trying to 'fix' it.  This time I stayed in bed - he didn't freak out about me staying in bed, and he got the job done... on his own.  It took a long time, he got really angry and frustrated, but I wasn't there to be a target, so I didn't absorb the bad feelings into myself.  I made sure to let him know I felt he did a good job on his project (lots of cutting and sanding and beveling of a large piece of wood for an art project), and then rubbed some icy hot on his sore shoulders.  I felt proud he did it on his own, without coming into the house to pester me, especially when I was sick, as was his usual MO. 

So I guess I am happy to find as I make attempts to stop enabling, as I can spot it, I think I am giving him chances to succeed as well as fail - and him succeeding on his own, without feeling I did it all for him, or his mom did, has GOT to be good for him in some way.  I was even surprised two weeks in a row - he went and drove to get take out ON HIS OWN.  He never drives, and often resents being asked to pick up anything on the way home if he has the car for a change, but I asked him to do it last week and he did it on his own this week smiley  Little things other couples can take for granted are really big things to me smiley
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« Reply #18 on: December 13, 2011, 12:23:30 AM »

Yes, I am enabling. A lot.
* Because I ampressured and manipulated into believing that I should do things for others.
* Because I fear the consequences if I don’t do things for them.
* Because I base my self esteem on helping others.

There are a lot of little things in the household witch I do in his manner, otherwise he starts blaming oder yelling.

There are bigger issues like I work constant 80%. He hates my employer and he has forbidden to me, to talk anything about my work (Long story for what reasons). I follow this rule. Now he blames me that I tell him nothing.

Big issue also sleep: He has a very thin sleep in certain hours. He weak up very easily. But its my fault. It took my a while even thinking: hell on earth, he could speak to a specialiste about his sleep... why me (sometimes snoring)? But until now I do not speak about it.

I am not proud of it. I face it one by one now.
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« Reply #19 on: December 14, 2011, 09:23:50 AM »

Hi moonunit - thank you for breaking the ice  Doing the right thing

I hope there will be lots of discussion on this topic, i am the poster child for enablers, do it all the time with my SO, i do it for all the reasons listed above, but mainly fear. Fear of her flipping out which she does masterfully and for some stupid reason when she starts to rage i can't stop myself from engaging, i'm starting to think i am as bad as she is, maybe worse sometimes.   
A pwBPD can be overpowering, summoning rage out of nowhere and throwing it against us. But we have a powerful trick where we have an advantage - executive mindset. We can plan ahead  smiley. Boundary planning (see workshop section) is an effective means to have build the resolve before the storm suddenly attacks us.

About 5 years ago I got to where I felt I had to just let him fail at things - I could no longer feel responsible for his grades, whether he finished college, or even took care of his student debt.  Things that would affect me adversely, like paying rent and utilities and groceries, I took care of.  Anything else was his responsibility.  So I let him fail out of school, let him deal with the annoying calls and letters, let him deal with the shame of having me be the breadwinner and our friends see me paying for everything and exhausted from working so many hours to make ends meet.  I stopped making excuses.  After a while, he decided he needed a job, and got an kept one.  And after working four years, he decided he needed to finish school, so he went through the steps to re-enroll, and is passing the class he signed up for this semester.  He's still waiting till the last minute to do all things, and freaking out like the big paper he has to write was a surprise, and he still neglects speaking with his adviser, expecting them to call him ( rolleyes), but I am not feeling this is my fault or duty anymore, and his own self esteem has been bolstered by doing things he knows he should ahve for a long time... some of his shame was addressed and a solution for it was found, by him.

So by letting him fail, I think in a way I let him find a way to succeed, too. 
Sounds like you had some good sense of what his duties were and stopped enabling here. And it had a huge impact - him holding a job, going to school etc..

As for housework, I clean because I like things clean.  It frazzles me at times to care more about it than him, but I think this is a living arrangement problem that has existed from the dawn of time - one person will care more, and therefore do more work, than the other.
Are there areas in your home that are fully under his control? Where you accept that he fails?

Quote
Is this a type of enabling?
There will alway be some specialization and there is nothing wrong from learning something from youtube and just get it done. But are you clear what you leave for him and is his stuff really his stuff?

Quote
Or is it just me taking myself out of a bad situation (repairing something together) and taking care of it myself?  I have always been very independent, and so this 'solution' feels very comfortable to me (meaning it's probably not the best thing to do).  I do not resent doing these projects - I feel proud of my ability to replace faucets and change tires - as a woman I like knowing I can do these things on my own if needed, and call a professional if I can't do what needs to be done. 
Working together can be a great bonding experience. But in an enmeshed relationship with someone struggling with their emotions it can be an experience we dread. But in the long run it may be nice to shift back where one started - provided one can maintain respect.

There are a lot of little things in the household witch I do in his manner, otherwise he starts blaming oder yelling.
Getting all the things his way tends to maintain his sense of control. Weaning him off that takes boundaries.
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« Reply #20 on: December 14, 2011, 11:57:01 AM »

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Are there areas in your home that are fully under his control? Where you accept that he fails?

Sure - his laundry, his paperwork, his personal bills that don't affect my life (student loans) or credit rating since we're not married and I don't think I'll ever merge finances even if we made it down the aisle.  His school work, his job performance.  Calling his parents and siblings to find out holiday and other gathering info.  I'm still struggling with him understanding he has actual power over the vents in his life and his choices determine how much power he has - he still gets confused about making doctor's appointments (I admit I used to do it) and so has found himself in a bad place regarding his contact lenses - I looked up our new eye doctor for myself, and went ahead and passed him the number to call himself months ago.  Admittedly, we've both been busy and time off hasn't been easy, so neither of us has gone, yet.  But he still seems to think it's some mystical force that determines when he goes, not himself.  I'm planning on going next month (It takes that long to make an appointment) - he just wants to walk-in today - won't work, I know it, but after telling him that, he's free to try.  I try to encourage him to do things in a sensible manner, like calling ahead to make sure the person he wants to see is even at work, but he's decided to just head over and waste his time plenty of times and I 'let' him do it (don't try to stop him).  He DID do his taxes all on his own last year - I know this sounds silly, but believe me, it was a BIG deal.  He did them online April 15, but he did them, without trying to force me to sit beside him and then getting more and more angry about not knowing exactly what he's doing and expecting me to tell him (I do mine in February - have for years).

He's in charge of sorting the myriad of boxes of stuff and clothes he's held onto forever but is now pissed about taking up too much space.  I admit to trying to 'lead by example' and letting him know when I'm filling up a Goodwill box of old clothes, or that I'm going to drop off a box on XX day and if he has anything he wants cleared out, to put it in there - he's actually gone with me the last few times to see how I drop it off and where. 
 
I think a lot of things he doesn't do still stem from a panic about doing it wrong and being afraid he will look or feel dumb.  He doesn't drive, and he has expressed fear (in the form of anger) about not knowing how to use a credit card in a gas pump.  He had to rent a car and drive to a business trip (he can program the GPS just fine) and was afraid of looking dumb in the gas stations.  So apply that to many little things I've known how to do forever, since I was parentified, and toss in a fear of looking dumb or unmanly admitting you don't know it, and you have him just give up and not try unless forced.  Things from how to fill a prescription, to calling a repairman - he won't admit it, but he feels I have this magic knowledge of how to make things work in the world, and that I withhold it from him, or that he can't/shouldn't have to learn it.  I've posted on the Family boards about how I really just think I'm good at winging things.  Heck, I had two BPD parents who expected me to learn about how to do everything, from cook dinner to balance a checkbook by osmosis.  So I learn from doing, and make it up as I go - BF can't understand this.  He thinks I ahve some step-by-step set of instructions in my head, and of course gets mad when I tell him I figure things out as I go along - read what I can, ask what I can, but always have to improvise in RL. 

I do things like take out the trash and dishes because frankly it makes me sick if I let it go too long and he doesn't take the initiative and do it himself.  We don't have a dishwasher appliance, so if I haven't done dishes regularly, from being sick, it affects and bothers me far more than him - he can still feel just fine doing the bachelor thing and eat cereal out of a cup or mixing bowl with a serving spoon.  This is not comfortable for me, so I have taken the responsibility for doing it to manage my own comfort level.  I enjoy the feeling of accomplishment for myself, and who doesn't like seeing a kitchen with clean counters and a non-smelly trash can?  He grew up in a hoarding household, and I don't think he had chores, so the connection between regular chores daily for a few minutes at a time hasn't been made yet - cleaning is for a frantic period hours before guests arrive, or not at all, and I've heard plenty of women (and some men) complain about slobby mates, and so I know it's not 100% a PD thing - it's a big ol' mess of things about being messy.  O_o

The same goes for the yard - I feel better for getting the exercise by mowing it, I know I'm lazy about exercising for exercise's sake, and so having a 'reason' to be outside, get some sun and sweat for a while helps me do just that.  Also, thought it's still rare, about 25% of the time, he'll come out an use the weed-eater (it's too heavy for me to use easily - pushing a mower is easier) while I am mowing or weeding by hand.  Telling him, asking him, pleading with him never works.  Just showing him I'm going to do it regardless seems to be the best method for encouragement. 

I'd love to have him be as willing to help me or do things with me as I see our couples-friends interact - but he's got a PD, so in many aspects I accept it's a pipe-dream - he will never be able to guarantee he won't rage when using power tools (yay sad).  He will probably never realize him passive aggressively refusing to clean is 'revenge' on his hoarding mother projected onto me.  I use the "if I were single analogy" as a way to let go of resentment when it can feel like a lot... honestly if I lived alone, the amount of chores I'd be doing to keep my place neat wouldn't be that different 0 I'd be more successful because I have less than half the stuff he does, and use half the dishes and so forth, but even then the floorspace for moping is the same, the toilet and sink aren't any larger for having a second person around, and changing the sheets has always been about my comfort - he could not care less.  And I'm not dating him to get 'free' labor.  So the comparison of having a not-always-helpful partner and being single in this respect helps me realize there are plenty of other things more important to address.  In the act of giving up and deciding to just do it myself, and letting go of resentment as I can lets me usually just feel good it got done, AND it seems to be the best encouragement, somehow. 
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« Reply #21 on: December 14, 2011, 12:28:02 PM »

This is a tough one for me.  Enabler?  Supporter?

By nature I am a supporter and was from the beginning.  “You can give a man a fish and he will eat for a day or you can teach a man to fish and he will be able to eat for a lifetime.”  I always believed in teaching someone how to fish (so to speak). 

In my marriage as time went by, my support was expected.  And over time I became resentful of that.  If I did not step up as quickly as I was 'supposed to' or just the exact way expected I became the target of the anger, comments that I did not love her (manipulation), accusations of things not even related to the needed ‘support’ at the moment.

I learned, to my disadvantage, to give in and just do whatever she needed.  Through the years and through the many experiences and episodes I lost myself (trying to take care of me now).

The other factor here is she has many health issues severely limiting her capabilities so I feel guilty.  Yet at the same time when she really needs to get something done and I just can’t, she finds a way.  Sometimes doing it herself, but she pays for it for days as her health problems become aggravated.  I am working 70+ hours a week and not around much so these days she has ‘replaced’ me with our son.  He takes care of her now in ways I did in the past: getting her this or that; going to the store; taking her to the doctors… I am concerned for him. 

Just to say I only found this site about a week ago and am blown away by the stories and resources.  My goal is to get myself healthy first, and then learn the skills and tools I need to repair my relationship, marriage, and family.
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« Reply #22 on: December 14, 2011, 02:34:55 PM »

Hi my name is Sam and I am an enabler.

Over the last few years in my relationship with my uBPDw have been learning that this does not work. It simply leaves me resentful, and her continuing in her unhelpful behaviours and thinking.

It feels as though my life is often whittled away doing things that she wants me to that I don't necessarily want to, while she can continue to live 'unhindered'. Then I will have periods of self-correction that I try to enforce better boundaries for myself. But this is difficult to maintain and requires some perseverance. Which I also am in short supply of.

But I'm realizing that I need to keep at it more, to stop enabling, even if it means more work/instability in the short-term, and keep in mind that in the long-term it will be better.
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« Reply #23 on: December 19, 2011, 01:29:14 PM »

The other factor here is she has many health issues severely limiting her capabilities so I feel guilty.  Yet at the same time when she really needs to get something done and I just can’t, she finds a way.  Sometimes doing it herself, but she pays for it for days as her health problems become aggravated.  I am working 70+ hours a week and not around much so these days she has ‘replaced’ me with our son.  He takes care of her now in ways I did in the past: getting her this or that; going to the store; taking her to the doctors… I am concerned for him. 
Is she really paying or is she letting you all pay for days? A weak person may need help. And exercise then even a little can exhaust too. But even after a heart attack one got to rebuild strength. And part of that is doing something. Help can be support but it can also lead to a person staying ill. Supporting her and especially following professional medical advice is important - just be sure that it is the advice and not some distorted advice.


Over the last few years in my relationship with my uBPDw have been learning that this does not work. It simply leaves me resentful, and her continuing in her unhelpful behaviours and thinking.

It feels as though my life is often whittled away doing things that she wants me to that I don't necessarily want to, while she can continue to live 'unhindered'. Then I will have periods of self-correction that I try to enforce better boundaries for myself. But this is difficult to maintain and requires some perseverance. Which I also am in short supply of.
Good point. We want to keep them happy and help them lead an 'unhindered' life. No problems to deal with - we take care of them. Until we can't anymore for reasons of resentment, resources or physical exhaustion. What would happen if they were hindered once in a while? Most likely a temporary end of the world as we know it - until the extinction burst is over and a lesson was learned...
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« Reply #24 on: December 19, 2011, 04:40:42 PM »

Nice workshop.  I think the big key is figuring out what our loved ones need to do for themselves and what things do WE need to function.  I think sometimes that we are so focused on our loved ones "doing their part" that we end up trying to rely on them for things we should do for ourselves.  Just as it's unhealthy to do for others what they can do themselves, it's also unhealthy to expect others to do for us what we can do ourselves.

In my case, I make sure she can't reasonably do some things.  For example, I have no issue with the grocery shopping because my wife can't drive.  Of course, I have to drive to the supermarket.  However, she can walk to the corner store for her own junk food.  I maintain the common spaces, my child's bathroom and my den because my daughter can't clean for herself (She's 2, for the record) and I prefer a certain level of cleanliness.  However, I leave the bedroom alone because that's her space.  Plus, it helps that most of my clothes aren't in the bedroom.  smiley 

That said, she had to care for her clothes, keep up with her possessions, get up in the morning, handle her business and, after she gives me money for her part of the bills, handle her finances.  I had to fight hard to separate her finances out from mine, but we managed to get it done.  Also, I had to let her oversleep, mess up her bills and generally screw up.  It took me a while to stop enabling, but I managed to get it done.  It doesn't mean she's right, but I had to make it clear that her happiness was not my responsibility.
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« Reply #25 on: December 20, 2011, 05:49:54 AM »

Hey All!
   I really like this thread. It has made me think about what I do/don't do and how I could make some changes. I think for the most part, each of us is pretty self sufficient. We are both busy, so we both have found a happy medium as far as who does what for ourselves, and for each other.
   That being said, a funny thing happened last night. We both have different Christmas shopping styles, so to strike a balance, we agreed a few years ago, to each do our own shopping, with our own style. I shop all year long, as I travel, or attend art shows etc., and will buy things for my friends and family. H shops in December, and will buy things for his family. It works, and nobody feels slighted. The first year we were married, I asked H about sending Christmas cards, and he said he never does it, so I said, ok, I do, so I'll just continue doing so for my own friends and family. No problem, until last night. H says to me, did "WE" send out Christmas cards? I stopped what I was doing, and looked at him and said, as always, I did, I don't know about you. He said why didn't you send any for me? (Deep breath) I replied, I never have done that, per our agreement to do for ourselves. He huffed and said whatever, and I left the room before he had the chance to say anything else. I had to laugh, but until a few months ago, I would have felt guilty, but not today!

Best Wishes,
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« Reply #26 on: December 20, 2011, 06:47:14 AM »

Val78
 Doing the right thing

What I try is for the moment is to avoid new enabling habits. To stop the old ones is another thing. I think it is better one by one, not all in once.
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« Reply #27 on: December 20, 2011, 08:51:58 AM »

Surnia, i agree, trying to tackle them all at once is too dawnting of a task and would most likely trigger a backlash from our SO.
When i look back over the past 2yrs, i have changed some of my behaviours with my SO, i used to help with the dishes, laundry, cleaning in her house, i don't do any of that anymore, on rare occasions i do, but it usually when she is too sick to do it herself. For the last 6 months or so she would give me her weekly lottery tickets to check at the store, it takes about 5 min or so to check, i don't recall how i started doing it, but it got to be a habit for her and for me. We got into a fight about 2 weeks ago and this was brought up and even though this was not the right venue the behaviour has stopped. Amazingly, she has managed to check the tickets herself and there has been no further comments about it.
There is a laundry list ahead of me of things to change, i will take them one at a time.
Great advice on this thread.     
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« Reply #28 on: December 24, 2011, 06:35:24 PM »

I believe the difference between supporting and enabling is honesty.

For better or worse, the approach I always took regarding enabling my exBPD gf was that I would never hide the emotional cost of her BPD behaviour.

What I mean by that is that I would support her, but not approve of the behaviour.

i.e. when she cheated on me, my response was generally along the lines of

"That hurt, I still love you, but I am worried about *insert specific concequences*, what ever you want to do it is up to you, I will never stop you because what you do is your responsibility. For your information, this is how your actions have affected me *insert personal feelings here*"

That is how I have handled it for the past 5 years or so. All things considered, I don't regret anything, but the net effect of this approach is that she began to feel like she was constantly disappointing me, and became unable to dissassociate being with me, and having to face her BPD (until the day she is ready to do so, this will cause her to run away and feel terrible about it). On my part, things were somewhat maschoistic because I would be hurt, but I would never avoid it (unless of course, it were something that was my responsibility to begin with).
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« Reply #29 on: January 09, 2012, 01:48:34 PM »

This is really challenging and so relevant. Glad this thread is alive.

When udBPDw ideated about wanting a job so she could have spending money.   Support: I said she could bet a job but didn't enable: I made it clear she would have to contribute to child care and other house hold expenses.  She didn't get a Job.

This year Christmas week.
Support: Telling her ahead of time I was taking a me day to shop and relax after a grueling work year.
Not Enabling:  When she called 4 hours into my me day saying she needed me to come home because she needed to do last minute shopping, that could have happened over the weekend I said no that my day wasn't over.

For New Year:
Support:Continuing to pickup after myself, help with the kids, laundry and cleaining.(My house was not great when we married and moved in. It needed a lot of improvement but that is still held over my head when she doesn't want to clean after two years, cleaning up and new carpet. Thanks to my MIL for helping)

Not Enabling anymore:
Expecting her to pick up the stuff she throws on the floor of our room.  At least vacuum or help me do cleaning once a week.   We have two asthmatic children. Its not optional.  She was doing a lot of shopping, talking to men online and other unproductive activities when the children were home and at school.  The consequences of this have been anger but she needs to accomplish things. 
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« Reply #30 on: January 11, 2012, 11:50:45 PM »

Butterflies




It takes a lot of time and effort for a caterpillar to change into a beautiful butterfly. Scientist tried to intervene in the process, with tragic results. Nature is unforgiving and is designed so that only the strong survive.

Before a butterfly can emerge from it's cocoon, it has to first break a hole in the cocoon and wiggle it's way out of this small hole. This can take hours and hours. Once fully out, the butterfly hangs to not only dry off but to also regain it's strength.

To speed this process along, scientist experimented and cut a small incision in the cocoon, allowing the butterfly to emerge faster and with less effort. Sadly, few of these butterflies survived long, since it was the struggle to emerge that gave them the strength to evade predators.

When we step in and "do" for others what they can and should do for themselves we are contributing to keeping them weak. We are sending the message that they aren't capable of doing for themselves. That they need us to survive. This need of ours to save/rescue/fix/do for others is our side of the dysfunction.



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« Reply #31 on: August 03, 2012, 06:25:39 PM »

This is a tough one for me.  Enabler?  Supporter?

By nature I am a supporter and was from the beginning.  _
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« Reply #32 on: August 24, 2012, 10:46:49 PM »

Great thread.

In my RS with my BPD ex I was an enabler. I thought stupidly I was a supporter and love or patience or understanding or kindness would eventually lead to improvements. No they were just enabling her.

It still remains an issue I have to fully address. I still am an enabler as opposed to being a supporter. Yes I support in all the correct ways but enable in much too many other ways and must stop myself and change. Reading this thread has helped and honestly have to take action so thanks.

End result was being a doormat and not actually resenting it at the end of the BPD RS was even more telling of what state of mind I was in after being dumped and having enabled almost totally the whole relationship. Not a good thing.

Time to go make a plan and take action
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« Reply #33 on: September 10, 2012, 04:01:06 PM »

great topic, another poster mentioned resentment...and i know i harbor alot of it, probably cuz of my silly enabling, thinking that would help and it only did harm.

I think this topic can make me stronger...I like to feel that i can "be real" with me, NOT enable, yet support and be fine with the results.

I just sometimes feel my bf is like a kid, he doesn't like to clean out his cooler after work (eating lunch, with empty scraps and soda cans) well, i am not his mom, and he is an adult, so when he puts his cooler on the counter, I "used" to clean it out, and now stopped, its up to him. Something that minor, he can do on his own.

I think lil' steps each day, to be true to YOU makes a world of difference.
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« Reply #34 on: February 14, 2013, 05:27:30 PM »

I find it hard to separate supporting from enabling in our situation as our grandchildren's welfare is at stake, not just our relationship with our daughter, their mum.  For instance we recently had an order from the court (which we fought hard to get) to have contact with our grandchildren twice a week - however we are the ones who have to collect and return the children as we'd never see them if it was up to her even though she has more time and is capable of bringing them. Also she has asked us to have them more than the ordered time for her own reasons (whilst before the order she was keeping them from us), and we agree to having them as often as possible for their sakes. It feels like enabling as it does infringe on our lives, but we have read a lot about mitigating the effects of BPD on small children and we want to do all we can for them (there is no Daddy around.  huh  I don't find it at all easy  tongue
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« Reply #35 on: February 21, 2013, 08:18:28 PM »

quote from Gary Chapman's 5 language's of love:Acts of Service
Can vacuuming the floors really be an expression of love? Absolutely! Anything you do to ease the burden of responsibilities weighing on an “Acts of Service” person will speak volumes. The words he or she most want to hear: “Let me do that for you.”
Where would this fit in between enabling or support?
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« Reply #36 on: July 09, 2013, 11:52:12 PM »

This is often very murky for me.

I am a great rescuer and do have resentment at 'doing it all'. Sometimes I let others know what I need them to do and I stop doing it - housecleaning, yard work, scooping poop. It doesn't get done. My tolerance level gets reached, and I do it. Lots of resentment there.

When I can choose to find a sense of self-fulfillment with having a clean house, green lawn, unstinky dog run, etc. then that resentment reduces.

This is what I consider the more 'normal life choices'. Not supportive of anyone but myself - mostly damaging to myself. I am learning to set solid boundaries -- each person has their personal space and I do nothing to take care of that. gd8 - if there I cannot walk a clear path into her room than I do not sit with her at bedtime to read a book. So her room is messy, but there is a clear path. If she is asked to put toys away and I pick them up, I get to choose where they go. Often in the shed for days.

I can apply these new skills with gd. She responds to these 'normal' ways of avoiding enabling. DH example - I order his med refills. HE does other things for me. We have learned to talk about this as shared care-giving with each other. This communication piece has evolved over past 6 years in coping with raising gd8 and coping with dd27 increasingly messy life in and out of our home. I am less resentful with dh as we have become more supportive with each other.

So I have been practicing lots of skills. to be continued. my computer is locking up.
qcr
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« Reply #37 on: July 10, 2013, 12:09:55 AM »

Now with BPDDD27. Much harder to discern what I do that is enabling and what is supportive. This thread is much needed for me to sort this out a bit. She is sooooo hard to tolerate when new boundaries being enforced. Defiant, raging, being in house when unable to manage self-control...  But we stuck out the 'no overnight friends, no pot smoking' rule. It took 3 months, but she seems to get it now. She chooses to not be in the house when behaving badly, though not perfect.

Sometimes I think there is some PTSD that pushes me to react to her from a place of fear from past responses with her. And then I get distressed and become non-functional in all areas of my life. This is something I have to work on with myself. Supporting myself - not enabling my own emotional craziness. Then I am inconsistent in how I react to DD. She is actually trying harder, making baby steps toward accepting she owns some of her issues and they are not all my fault.

Supportive: calling mental health crisis line when she is acting suicidal - cracks in her shell of toughness. I drive her to appts. she allows me to talk to T's.

Enabling: driving her to appts. when she can get there on the bus.

Supportive: looking up the bus schedule for her, reassuring her when she calls fearing missing the bus that it will be there in 5 minutes. She really cannot read the schedules - her learning disability is real.

Relief if I accept it: she is asking for help with bus. she is asking for help with her meltdown and going to appts.  she is using the bus to see her friends unless it is on my way to work -- my convenience -- and doing this with a 'thanks mom'.

So things are much better in so many ways. Why am I such a mess!  I do not expect the better times to last - a down cycle always comes. At least until she chooses to accept the dual-treatment that is soon to be offered to her. So the fear of my triggering her to turn away from treatment can get in the way of being consistent with the supportive boundaries...  

qcr
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« Reply #38 on: July 10, 2013, 01:01:08 PM »

You driving her to T appts can be a fair trade for her being willing to go. Why are you speaking with her T? Is it maybe you have a need to know what's going on there being a way to alleviate your fears?

Noticing our motivations for why we do things for someone is good. A good way to help decide what's ok and what is too much is to think of it being either to help you or help her. We do things to help ourselves, that may not really be helpful, more than we realize sometimes.

Learning ways to step back is difficult however doable. You are an example for her even at 27 and most definitely for your gd. Taking care of you, taking breaks now and then, is seen. You are not invisible. Working on some healthy coping strategies and following through with them when you start feeling stressed will help. You say you talk to your H when your stressed, what about a brisk walk? Or go to the gym? Expelling some of that energy.

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« Reply #39 on: July 11, 2013, 08:59:12 AM »

I am talking to the T for a couple reasons.

These are new T's and DD does not share her history honestly = not getting the services she needs. I observed that after I spoke to thme, they were asking validating questions that got DD to ask for what she needs. This is partly due to her NLD, and partly due to her sense of stigma, embarrassment and denial. IMHO.

When I mentioned the testing back in 2009 when BPD dx given, outside of their facility, the T responded "well those are paper records burried in storage." She was not willing to waste time looking. I offered to get her copies, she declined. DD has been going to this clinic since she turned 19 and went on medicaid when pregnant with gd8. It is amazing how many times her records have been lost.

I have commented to DD's case manager - when advocating for her to get housing - that they do not even have a line in the water for her. THeir expectation that she will 100% independently and with motivation pursue the services she needs is letting her down. She is willing to come in -- they need to reach out to her a little more assertively. I think my exact words, "DD is drowning and not able to swim to shore and you do not even have a line in the water for her to reach out for". He acknowledged this, and things have stepped up a notch.

And DD was so dysregulated that she was being a more whole picture of self with them in the recent crisis.

I am trying to be an advocate for her - and yes the line is fine between what she can do for herself and what she really is unable to do on her own.

Geez - I hate excercise just for the sake of excercise. And I have lots of pain that is made worse if I am not very cautious about how I go about it -- even walking. Trying to take in our beautiful sunsets though.

qcr love
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« Reply #40 on: July 11, 2013, 06:14:40 PM »

Thanks for this, all.  It's an eye-opener to see how much of an enabler I was to my BPD.  Yikes! 
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« Reply #41 on: October 04, 2013, 02:35:23 PM »

I haven´t known for long that my uBPDH has what he has (is what he is). This is relatively new for me, but what caught my attention to his self-awareness thread was how I realised somethign was wrong. My uBPDH was always tagged as difficult, and peopel elft it at that. So I always thought I had to do more to have a meaningful realtionship. 

 I would never have classified myself as co-dependent. Ihave always had a strong persoanlity and was very independant. I would like to be by myself even lived in a different ohitry by myself for a year. One day I was crying in the middle of the night, in the bathroom after a long argument about something I can´t even remember. I would cry there so he wouldn´t hear or see my tears. In the middle of the night, crying by self I thought: what in the world am I doing? To what extent have I come? Why am I so afraid of crying infront of him? Why do I have to hide my emotions and feelings - so yes, I have crawled down the ladder of being so self-assured and confident to someone I don´t even recognize. So yes, now I am co-dependant and enabling.

I have been in this relationship for 16 years, and it doesn´t hit you at once - it´s bit by bit. Letting go of something I want to avoid conflict... Letting go of my wants to fit his desires...   Then 16 years latter wham - I´m in a pit so deep I can´t get out. I´m hidding my tears at 3am because he can´t understand why I´m so upset. It´s irrational to him why I would even have complaints, since he´s the provider, caregiver and so perfect!

So co-dependency has been a real part of this dysfunctional dance. When and where I started doing it - I can´t remember. How to stop? I´m still scared that if I confront him I´ll wind up in the bathroom again. huh
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« Reply #42 on: October 06, 2013, 09:36:28 AM »

Update on how DD in jail has helped dh and I work on our supporting vs. enabling.
First, we cannot do anything for her in jail except her daily phone call, and put money in her commissary for personal hygiene items. We suggest she ask for what she needs in response to her complaints. She is doing this.

Second, she is forced to take some classes in her pod. She is also doing required therapy, and has asked me to do therapy with her when she transistions to probation outside of jail.

We are solid in not allowing her back in our home. We are planning on helping her with housing with some boundaries, but this will not happen for a couple of months after her release. She has to choose the transistion housing options or be homeless again. For the first time in 4 weeks she said yesterday "I am thinking about this".

Time away from DD, with her in a safe environment that includes mandatory recovery resources, has given us the time, quiet, space to work on the changes we need to make in ourselves before she is released. We accept this will be hard, but feel more confident that we can be successful. Also gd8 is adamant that her mom not be in our home for her own sense of safety. This keeps us on track.

qcr
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« Reply #43 on: November 01, 2013, 04:14:31 PM »

I agree with this in principle.

But I don't think the line between what should be considered "enabling" and "supporting" is always as clear cut as it may seem.

I definitely agree, I here some shocking stories of people blatantly enabling highly unacceptable scenarios.

But it must be remember, that a person who has BPD (of varying severity, and may have other co-existing disorders), has a fundamental impairment in managing their emotional state, and controlling their impulsive behavior. To some degree, and in regards to capacity to tolerate stress they are less MENTALLY capable than a "balanced, high functioning" person without any such disorders.

If a person has a physical disability, or limitation to a degree it is natural for the partner to try and compensate. Why is it always different with BPD?

I have helped a lot of my friends out with BPD and children, because they simply could not cope with the full demand, you could say I was somewhat enabling them I guess, but the truth is they would not have coped otherwise, and overall it was beneficial to the situation.

Various times, BPD people are often notorious at managing money, when I am reasonably able, I will still help them with things they need to afford, to what I consider a reasonable agree. This improve the situation, you can view it however you want, but if the person is not going to change and start functioning in the absence of support, then how can you say it is not a good thing?

Indeed my brother, is much better off financially than me. I am not very good with my money. If he did not help me, I would probably starve at times. If he withdrew all financial support would I change? Evidence does not suggest I would. I used to frequently go hungry (once for 9 days in a row without food) when I was younger.

Helping to a degree, in REASONABLE matters, not enabling bad behavior, but helping with a person maintain reasonable standards in their life and environment, that you have reasonable confidence would not be maintained if you did not help, well I think that can often be justified.

Yes if my BPD friends are especially upset over something, say something has happened, they are down and upset, then yes I will probably to a degree be supportive. That is good as long as not taken too far.

One young BPD woman that does not live with me, has a highly abusive boyfriend.

He has beaten her and choked her seriously various times.

She keeps going back to him despite my advice.

A couple times recently I have gone over to protect her- physically stopped the guy- from hurting her, when he was threatening to seriously harm her.

I am enabling her? Should I have just stood by and let the man beat her?

That is an extreme example, I agree certain types of behavior should NOT be enabled, but I don't agree with a general philosophy which assume total independent self reliance. I help the BPD woman that lives in her house, when I truly judge things are beyond her mental capacity to deal with, and it is a reasonable thing that should be done in the better interest of either her, both of us, or the house.

I guess I just have trouble fully applying this concept to complex scenarios.

I am willing to take some degree of weight off her shoulders, and I am quite certain it is overall doing good.

As I said however, I DEFINITELY believe, you can be supportive of the WRONG things, or foster an unhealthy level of dependence on your CONSTANT support. I have seen people become dependent on others at the cost of basic responsibility but I think that is different to what I do.
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« Reply #44 on: November 03, 2013, 11:12:39 PM »

... I agree certain types of behavior should NOT be enabled, but I don't agree with a general philosophy which assume total independent self reliance. I help the BPD woman that lives in her house, when I truly judge things are beyond her mental capacity to deal with, and it is a reasonable thing that should be done in the better interest of either her, both of us, or the house.

I guess I just have trouble fully applying this concept to complex scenarios.

I am willing to take some degree of weight off her shoulders, and I am quite certain it is overall doing good.

As I said however, I DEFINITELY believe, you can be supportive of the WRONG things, or foster an unhealthy level of dependence on your CONSTANT support. I have seen people become dependent on others at the cost of basic responsibility but I think that is different to what I do.

I have read in several places about validation to be cautious about 'validating the invalid'. This is like validating the untrue or distorted facts or behaviors instead of the emotions underneath. A safety issue always calls for intervention of some kind. It might be providing the woman in the abusive situation with contacts with a safe house or other domestic violence advocate, being available to help her choose to get out of the situation - holding some funds or emergency clothing, keys, etc for her along with the contact info for the domestic violence advocates. Being willing to call 911 for a safety check - they are trained to deal with the violent abuser - even though the woman may not appreciate this 'interference'. Being able to support these actions without any judgement if she chooses to stay in the r/s.  Putting myself at risk of harm - I would be very cautious with this. I have known of family and friends injured or killed trying to save someone else directly. It was their choice to get this involved, I have to accept that.

I used to allow my DD27 to harrass me, threaten me, push me, follow me when I tried to leave... without calling the police. I was in a severe place of fear and triggered emotional state. I could not think clearly, just as she was not thinking clearly. I have learned to reach out for help, for myself and for her. My first concern has to be to take care of myself and others in the family.

The enabling also comes with bailing her out of jail, when the best result has now come by the judge 'forcing' me to leave her in jail. He set the bond the 3rd time too high for me to accept. And the judge personally intervened in the legal system to offer her the best they had for probation and advocacy. To be sure she does not fall through the cracks. She failed his initial sentence within about 15 minutes of walking out of the courtroom. He heard her harassing me in the hallway. And DD's lawyer asked the sheriff to walk her out of the building instead of arresting her, because the consequences would be harsh. Within 5 days she had violated the no contact order with exbf, in my house, in front of my gd8 who had a very very intense reaction. I finally got it how distressing a traumatizing this was for gd. I stepped up to protect gd, filed a complaint, DD spent 45 days waiting in jail for her hearing, and is not allowed in our home or in contact with gd until she accepts and procedes with therapy in this program. We are providing temporary housing (month to month) for 6 months, while program works to find longer term housing (or she fails probation and ends up back in jail), and we pay for her cell phone (a safety issue for me). The case manager has asked me to 'stay out of DD's way'.

I needed this support for ME before I could really step back and see things clearly enough to stop enabling DD's bad choices. I continue to need this support around me to daily shift from ruminating about her situation. To fill my mind with other things, to make space for other parts of MY LIFE to evolve.

As a parent here, and not a partner, this letting go while staying connected is especially hard to endure. Support is detachment with love instead of abandonment. When I have tried to cut off all contact, to disconnect instead of detach, I have failed over time. I need to keep a relationship with my DD.

Does this make any sense? How have others found the self-validation and support to convert the enabling to supportive actions?

qcr
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« Reply #45 on: November 21, 2013, 08:58:27 AM »

This is such an important topic for me! I struggle to see the difference in enabling and supporting, especially raising a child.

S12 has expressed how uncomfortable he is with me dating new guy (we've been seeing each other for a year now). Reading the difference between supporting/enabling made me realize that I am enabling S12. I told him that I am going to continue dating new guy, and that S12 does not need to like him, although he does need to be respectful. But whenever new guy comes over, I tell S12 in advance so he can get whatever he needs from downstairs so he doesn't have to come down when new guy is downstairs. A couple of times, S12 forgot new guy was here, and came downstairs, and kinda froze, and everything felt very awkward

I think I'm enabling S12 by trying to prevent encounters.  huh

A few times, I have even taken food up to S12 so he doesn't have to eat downstairs when new guy is over.  huh  

I feel awkward when new guy and S12 are in the same room together, so I think the enabling is as much to prevent my own negative feelings as it is for S12.

I'm also guilty of over helping S12 with homework. I've "rescued" him a lot, and am trying to be better about supporting him instead of enabling. Maybe picking him up from school is enabling too. He sometimes takes the bus, and has missed it a few times, gone past our stop, etc. Which ends up creating a headache for me -- but he's 12, so sometimes (maybe to convince myself) I think not supporting = neglect.



 

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« Reply #46 on: February 03, 2014, 09:27:00 PM »

This is a great workshop! 
I have a question: what if the task is expected to be done by both of you and affecting both of you, but pwBPD freaks out and use all kinds of traits (projection, rage) to avoid her part of duty.  Should we totally fail the situation to avoid enabling? 
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« Reply #47 on: February 04, 2014, 12:55:30 AM »

Hi Quantendynamik

difficult to answer without knowing details about the task. Sometimes total failing can be a solution, given there is no third party collateral damage. Or too much damage falling back on you later.
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« Reply #48 on: February 04, 2014, 01:15:18 AM »

This may well be about your values, their priorities and your boundaries. Can your afford failure? And if yes it may be worth questioning your motivation - is it about you or is it about the pwBPD? How do you balance additional unfair investment to save vs. writing off your own sunk investment. Can your course one which you can sustain? And are there other concerns like intermittent reenforcement?
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« Reply #49 on: February 04, 2014, 03:47:02 PM »

It is really timely for this workshop to pop to the top of my reply window today. I am puzzling with my BPDDD27's situation.

She has avoided doing her court ordered treatments under probation on harassment charges.
She was kicked out of detox for her unrelenting, escalating behaviors and refusal to wear bandages on contagious infections on her face. (she did not want to be in this program)
She missed her meeting yesterday with probation officer (PO) - there is warrant for her arrest on probation violations.
DD has great fear about being in jail, yet refuses to do probation stuff. Yes, there is a substance abuse problem I try my best to be in denial about along with all the mental health issues.
We have provided a room for her in local hotel to live in this winter while she is in treatment based program (outpatient until detox, which failed). She got released into probation treatment program after 2 months in jail end of October last fall.

It is really really cold and snowy outisde (in Colorado). Her room rent expires on Saturday. Do we renew her room for another week if she is not in jail by then?

How do I tell her she is on the street homeless again? Note: being homeless did not motivate her to make any changes in her life, as my dh and I had so hoped. She is certainly not like me - I would be in a transitional housing program ASAP! She lived homeless full time for 2 years and part time for past 2 years.

Do I tell the PO where she is? I spoke to PO today as I asked for verification if she showed up at her appointment yesterday. She confirmed the warrant was issued, and did not ask if I knew where she is. If I am asked directly, I will state what I know.

It is so sad for me to experience the level of avoidance of taking responsibility my DD has for the choices in her life. I have accepted that this is who she is at this time. All I can do is love her with my whole heart and stay out of the way, allowing the consequences to find her.

Her living in the snow right now feels intolerable to me. We will reach our financial limit, stated last fall, in about another month at weekly hotel rates. What do you think about the hotel room for next week?

Or do I turn her in and not have to worry - she would be safe in jail?

qcr
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« Reply #50 on: February 04, 2014, 07:28:39 PM »

Thanks for your reply, Surnia and an0ught.
Here are a few examples about both of us:
1. Whenever we do our tax together (oh, no she won't use an accountant, and she won't do book keeping at all even if I found tools and show her how to do it, so her part is always a mess in tax season.  I am actually doing the book keeping this year to void the mess, I guess I am enabling!), she would freak out and focus on blaming me (yeah, she will find something to blame at anyways) rather than do the work or even provide information of her own.  If not enabling means I go ahead filing my own part alone, she will definitely NEVER get it done, and the fine would come to me, unless I would  separate with her financially, which is a huge move.

2. We are on vacation out of country.  She freaks out on the day we needs to be back.   Should I just leave her alone?

3. Preparing a party, or going out camping with friends, or some important event.  Freaks out when too late to cancel, or even in the middle of it.

For this questions.

Can your afford failure?

Well, I can survive the failure, but I do not think I can afford the failure.

And if yes it may be worth questioning your motivation - is it about you or is it about the pwBPD? How do you balance additional unfair investment to save vs. writing off your own sunk investment. Can your course one which you can sustain?

I think I do not like to write off my own sunk investment.  I did bail out once on one of our camping plans including our friends. 

And are there other concerns like intermittent reenforcement?

Yes, sometimes I have trouble letting things fail. 
One example is the tax, here is another one about her:
she put her cell phone, keys any where in the house, but then forget about the location (and the phone is muted sometimes).
When she has to leave in 2 mins, she will ask me to help her finding her stuff. 
I feel she is justified as the situation is urgent, although this happens a lot (and I told her being more organized like putting stuff in a fixed location would help).



This may well be about your values, their priorities and your boundaries. Can your afford failure? And if yes it may be worth questioning your motivation - is it about you or is it about the pwBPD? How do you balance additional unfair investment to save vs. writing off your own sunk investment. Can your course one which you can sustain? And are there other concerns like intermittent reenforcement?
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« Reply #51 on: February 04, 2014, 09:28:11 PM »

QC, I am so sorry to hear about this situation.
I read that we should not assume the role of care taker, but sometimes, it feels cruel to leave them to consequences.  Maybe we should start stop enabling only at small incidents as a start.   huh

It is really timely for this workshop to pop to the top of my reply window today. I am puzzling with my BPDDD27's situation.

She has avoided doing her court ordered treatments under probation on harassment charges.
She was kicked out of detox for her unrelenting, escalating behaviors and refusal to wear bandages on contagious infections on her face. (she did not want to be in this program)
She missed her meeting yesterday with probation officer (PO) - there is warrant for her arrest on probation violations.
DD has great fear about being in jail, yet refuses to do probation stuff. Yes, there is a substance abuse problem I try my best to be in denial about along with all the mental health issues.
We have provided a room for her in local hotel to live in this winter while she is in treatment based program (outpatient until detox, which failed). She got released into probation treatment program after 2 months in jail end of October last fall.

It is really really cold and snowy outisde (in Colorado). Her room rent expires on Saturday. Do we renew her room for another week if she is not in jail by then?

How do I tell her she is on the street homeless again? Note: being homeless did not motivate her to make any changes in her life, as my dh and I had so hoped. She is certainly not like me - I would be in a transitional housing program ASAP! She lived homeless full time for 2 years and part time for past 2 years.

Do I tell the PO where she is? I spoke to PO today as I asked for verification if she showed up at her appointment yesterday. She confirmed the warrant was issued, and did not ask if I knew where she is. If I am asked directly, I will state what I know.

It is so sad for me to experience the level of avoidance of taking responsibility my DD has for the choices in her life. I have accepted that this is who she is at this time. All I can do is love her with my whole heart and stay out of the way, allowing the consequences to find her.

Her living in the snow right now feels intolerable to me. We will reach our financial limit, stated last fall, in about another month at weekly hotel rates. What do you think about the hotel room for next week?

Or do I turn her in and not have to worry - she would be safe in jail?

qcr
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« Reply #52 on: February 11, 2014, 05:32:52 AM »

Wow..thanks for this. In the black and white of this I am an enabler. Completely.

It's finding that line between, supporting and enabling that i continually find so blurred and stuggle with.

I do stand by not validating behaviours in any way, though.

Hmmm I need to give this more thought, such an eye opener.
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