Do you run to the aide of loved ones, keeping them from paying the consequences for their actions? Do you feel that without your help they would surely parish? You my friend are a rescuer. A more appropriate name, but much harder to hear, is enabler. Please don’t take that personally. It takes one to know one. I spent the better part of my life enabling people that I love.
It pains me to admit that despite facing and dealing with my codependency and enabling behavior with my husband years ago, I continued to enable my son. As a matter of fact, I didn’t put a stop to it until last year. I continued to do things to help him even when I knew in my heart that I needed to stop. My husband and people that knew and loved my family repeatedly chastised me because I refused to cut my son off. “How long are you going to let him take advantage of you?” they would ask. I poured more of my heart and money into that boy and his problems than I can begin to say. Before his 40th birthday last year I felt as if God was rapping me upside the head and yelling, “STOP”. We had a chat and I promised God that I was done helping my son. Telling others and myself that I was done hadn’t done the trick in the past. However, when I make a promise to God there is no turning back. So I told my son for his fortieth birthday I was giving him his independence. “I’m not giving you another penny,” I said.
I’m sure that my son thought, “Yeah, right. How many times has she said that?” I don’t blame him either. I was just watching my mentor, Joyce Meyer, today and she asked, “Are you being taken advantage of? Could it be that it’s your own fault?” It wasn’t my son’s fault that he came to expect my help every time he had a need. And it wasn’t his fault that instead of working hard to get what he wanted he’d hit me up for it. It was my fault for letting it go on for so many years. I’d been doing it since his birth. I’m not kidding. The boy had a fake cough from out of the womb. If he wanted my attention he knew all he had to do was cough or cry and I would run and pick him up and pat his little back. I’d kiss him all over his little head and walk around the room with him, rocking him and telling him that everything was okay because mamma was here. Help me Jesus! Mamma was still there taking care of him when he was 39 years old.
I’m happy to tell you that I’ve kept my promise to God, my son and to myself. I left him in the Lord’s hands and said no when he asked for help. And you know what happened? He got a real job. I can honestly say that if I hadn’t stopped helping him he wouldn’t have that job. He managed to get his own place with no help from me too. And he probably feels better about himself. I can’t say for sure. Sadly, when you stop helping loved ones they may distance themselves. My son did. I’d be lying if I said that it doesn’t hurt. It bothered me a lot for a while. Then I put my big girl panties on and got on with my life. And the peace that I’ve experienced by letting go has been life transforming. When you hold yourself responsible for other people’s happiness it’s draining. It can suck the life right out of you.
Do I have any brothers or sisters out there? Are you enabling a loved one? Are you so busy taking care of their problems that you neglect yourself? Does your mouth say yes when your heart says no? Are you kicking yourself in the butt because you agreed to do something that you don’t have the time, money, or energy to do?
Folks like us are called rescuers or enablers but the clinical name is codependent. I hadn’t even heard the word until my aunt, who was married to an alcoholic for many years, introduced me to a Joyce Meyer video on the subject. It was January 2002 and my husband had asked me for a divorce. Since I was the one paying ALL of the bills while he drank himself into oblivion it came as quite a shock. Sadly sometimes God has to allow bad things to happen to us in order for us to face our issues. It is not fun and it’s not easy. The good news is that when you get through the rough stuff, peace, joy, and a great life are waiting on the other side.
My husband has been sober for over twelve years and our relationship is better than it ever was. We are enjoying a great life together. It wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t hit the wall and turned to God for help. My enabling behavior almost robbed me of my marriage and quite possibly my husband’s life. Alcohol had taken a serious toll on his health. Not to mention what the stress and worry was doing to mine.
Since things were so much better for my husband and me when I quit enabling him, why did I continue to rescue of my son? I know that God will never give us more than we can handle. It’s quite possible that He knew releasing my husband and my son to his care at the same time was a bit above my capabilities. Or maybe it wasn’t time for my son to stand on his own two feet. Crazy, huh? What I do know is, I am so much happier and less stressed since I stopped making myself responsible for the world.
If you are dealing with codependency and you’d like some help I’m here for you. I’m a Christian freedom coach. I’d like to save you from years of misery by helping you to escape the rescuer mentality. I wish I’d had someone with the experience that I now possess to walk along side of me in my journey. It’s my passion to help codependents get free. It’s why I wrote my memoir Born Again in a Biker Bar available on Amazon and it’s why I became a coach.
If you’d like my help sign up for a free 30 minute strategy session and let’s talk.
God bless, Charisse