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Author Topic: 1.22 | Are You Supporting or Enabling?  (Read 42588 times)
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« on: May 19, 2009, 02:47:26 PM »

What is the difference between being "supportive" and being "enabling"   
 
 Bullet: important point (click to insert in post)  Supportive Being supportive is doing something for someone else that they are unable to do for themselves (e.g., picking up the kids from daycare because your partner is stuck in traffic).

 Bullet: important point (click to insert in post) Enabling Enabling is doing things for someone else that they can and should be doing for themselves (e.g., 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) becomes 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.

Excerpt
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.

Typically, 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.
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 

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? 
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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.)
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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. Smiling (click to insert in post)

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 ( ), 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 Smiling (click to insert in post)  Little things other couples can take for granted are really big things to me Smiling (click to insert in post)
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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 (click to insert in post)

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  Smiling (click to insert in post). 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 ( ), 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?

Excerpt
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?

Excerpt
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 »

Excerpt
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 ).  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.  Smiling (click to insert in post) 

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,

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 (click to insert in post)

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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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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