Enablers are people who do not engage in a harmful behavior but they make it possible for the people they “love” to do so. They will pay their daughter’s rent when she spends the money on crack. They will cover their son’s child support payments when his drinking makes employment impossible. You get the idea. They know what their money supports and they claim they don’t want their kids (or whoever) to be addicted. We have all probably seen someone who appears to be victimized by demanding relatives, friends, significant others who won’t stop bullying them until they get what they want. The pity you felt? That’s what the enabler wanted you to feel. They want you to be the public victims there are other characteristics I’ve seen that are common to enablers.
Enablers feel guilty
Something happened in the relationship that was their fault, like a mother who stayed with a man who abused her son. Now the son says the abuse led to his addiction. Mom let’s the son email@example.com at home. Or, the person provided money in the beginning of the relationship for drugs and now the person has a heroin habit. Are they really going to cut the person off and let them suffer, I mean hard core physical suffering, for 3 days? Of course not. The enabler feels like there is no choice.
Enablers are Resentful
Enablers are angry at the person whose very existence is a reminder of their guilt. They keep giving whatever is needed, secretly enjoying the destruction of the person they say they are helping.
Enablers are Controlling
Where else are you going to find someone who pays for your addiction. The recipient of the largesse has no choice but to stay within the sphere of the enablers control.
Enablers are possessive
I watched a show about people over 600 pounds who were so overweight they were bedridden. They needed people to bring them the huge amount of food necessary to maintain that weight. You can’t be that fat without an enabler. The enabler is aware of the undesirable state the of the other person. That’s what they want. They want to foster that dependence and decrease the chance that anyone else will want them. The enabler’s position as the irreplaceable one is secure. That person is, quite literally not going anywhere else.
The classic enabler
The enabler is a person who sees themselves as victimized for their kindness and they’d like others to see their self sacrificing ways. In truth enablers have a firstname.lastname@example.org/hate relationship with the person they support. They feel guilt over hurting the person and they want to punish the person for causing them pain. As much as the other person’s existence serves as a painful reminder of their failings, they can’t bear the thought of losing that person so they make the person so unattractive to others and so dependent upon them that the person cannot leave. Then the enabler feels guilty and the endless cycle resumes.
Enablers lack self awareness
Some enablers have insight into their own complex motives but many truly believe they are just being nice. The addict is addicted to the substance and the enabler is addicted to controlling the addict. That’s why they say addiction is a family problem.