Enabling and Caretaking - by Katie Decker
"How many times have you tried to help your addicted loved one and realized that your efforts to help backfired or were left unrecognized? This may be sign that you are indeed caretaking and enabling instead of actually helping. Enabling and caretaking are a destructive form of helping that prevents our loved ones from suffering the consequences of their actions and makes it easier for them to continue to use." ~ Codependent No More
We can often find ourselves trapped in a cycle of caretaking and enabling and not understand what is happening. The Karpman Drama Triangle explains this cycle perfectly.
1. An event happens that gives a reason to rescue our addicted loved one such as they need grocery money, go to jail, car gets impounded, can't pay their cell phone, need a ride, etc. We may suddenly feel this overwhelming anxiety to help them and control the situation and rescue them.
2. After we rescue them from their responsibilities we then get mad at them and persecute them because maybe they didn't appreciate our help how we thought they should. This is where resentment and anger come up and we become the victim who's hurt and unappreciated.
3. Feelings of shame and self- pity comes up and we usually stay there in those feelings until the next event happens that we need to rescue them from. Then we suddenly feel a sense of purpose and feel needed again and the cycle stats all over again.
If we are constantly keeping them from suffering the consequences of their actions we are keeping them from true and everlasting change. We are taking away the opportunity for them to grow and learn from their choices. When we caretake and enable it keeps our loved ones just above rock bottom. Just above admitting they need help.
The majority of the time we start out believing that what we're doing is in their best interest but as our codependency progresses along with the addicts addiction we unknowingly cross the line into caretaking and enabling.
When debating on whether to jump into a loved ones problems ask yourself these three questions.
1. What is my motivation?
2. Did they ask for my help?
3. Is this something they can do on their own?
If you cant answer those questions correctly then you need to stay out of their problem and allow them to solve it on their own. A codependents self worth tends to be wrapped up in the validation gained from serving, fixing, and problem solving. This is what makes letting others be responsible for themselves so difficult. With patience and practice you can slowly make the changes it takes to stop caretaking and enabling and let go with love.