Look, this is going to be a short, my opinions and views, not a psychologist’s definition. But as I have been in the trenches for 30 years, I have some experience with this.
An enabler is one who undermines the goal to a healthier lifestyle, especially for an addict.
- I told my mother I was an alcoholic and was fine with her drinking, but did not want to drink, and she consistently offered, “forgetting.” One does not forget when one’s daughter tells you news like that.
- You explain to your family that your brother is in detox, and they should mind the rules of sobriety with him — NO non-alcoholic beer (has trace amounts and sets up a psychological ease with beer again), and no offering him a safe haven that includes drinking. And they ignore and do both, because they think this is no big deal. It is a HUGE deal.
- You drink (smoke pot, snort cocaine, etc.) with someone new to sobriety, EVEN IF YOU DON’T OFFER THEM ANY. Of course, this is hard if you, too are an addict.
- You look the other way with a KNOWN child-beater / wife beater / etc., when the police should be called. Instead you go have a beer or glass of wine with mom, dad, husband, wife.
- You bring cake to a 300 lb diabetic on a diet for their life.
Enabling is creating an environment or situation whereby the other person is supported in screwing up their goals. It is not the same as codependency, though sometimes (not always) the two go hand-in-hand.
In a lighthearted way, I guess it extends to the times when Mitchell or I want to cut back on Elephant’s Apple Pie or Giant Oatmeal Cookies, and the other brings it home. . . SURPRISE! and this is EXACTLY what happened tonight — Carrot Cake from Elephant’s. Yummo. For a celebration, several days OFF. But we make do with these things, as they are minor infractions — our life is not on the line with either.
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