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Author Topic: SELF-AWARE: Are you supporting or enabling?  (Read 24079 times)
isilme
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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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TiredandNumb
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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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shammick
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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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an0ught
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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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iluminati
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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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Validation78
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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,
Val78
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Surnia
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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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moonunit
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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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tzwong
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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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JamesInAtl
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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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