Climbing the Mountain of Enabling (a mountain that will never be scaled)


When not in check,

I will:

                Pick up your shoes

                                Carry your pack

                                                Lie to your boss

                                                                Do your homework

                                                                                Remove rocks from your path

And strip you of the joy of saying…

                “I did it myself!”

(excerpt from “The Enabler” written by Angelyn Miller, MA)


When I first started this blog, one of my chief reasons was that I had searched high and low on a variety of subjects that I was working on in my personal life.  I had been disappointed to find that in Christian circles there was very little practical help for people who had certain problems.

The subjects that I am referring to were hard things such as “how an adult woman should deal with alcoholism or drug addiction within her family in a Godly manner”?  “How does one who is/was a victim of domestic violence and child abuse recover from the horrors and learn to live a healthy, peaceful Christian life?”  “How does one deal with depression?” “ What is depression and what are the roots of it?”  “And what about the big no, no that no one would talk about but that had infiltrated a large percentage of Christian realms…addiction to Pornography?”  “What about divorce, recovery from divorce, blended families?” (not the fairy tale versions of how it “should” be, but the realities of blending a family with the reality of still having crazy ex-spouses to deal with.)

Life is hard and, honestly, the “American” version of church is failing!  Not just a little, but Big Time!  Some of you may not like what I am saying, but it is the truth.

True, there are some mega churches who are starting to effectively tackle some of the above issues, but honestly when you look at them, who is in leadership?  Mostly, those who are in leadership are the so-called “perfect ones” who although we all have flaws in our lives, have been able to hide theirs enough in order climb the power ladders.  We “peons” who have lived imperfect lives and made mistakes that cannot be so easily covered up make up more than 50% of every church in America but we take our marching orders from the “perfect” leaders.

Back to my original goal for this blog…  It was to share experience, strength and hope on a number of tough subjects that in my research, and in my opinion the Church had let me down with when I was looking for Godly advice.  I thank God, that He made me an intelligent woman with an understanding that not all advice given in the name of “God” is of God and that I can take “secular” advice and apply it to my life in a Godly manner.

Something that I have found is that most of the “secular” advice, when dissected, can be applied to a Godly lifestyle, although there is some that cannot be.

The next subject that I am going to be talking about on this blog and I will be talking about it for the next few posts is enabling.

Do you know what enabling is?  Well, enabling in the psychological sense is defined in 2 different ways; one as a positive aspect of psychological recovery and, two in a negative sense when played out as a role of behavior in a “codependent” relationship.

Here is a definition of enabling that I agree with, found in Wikipedia:

In a negative sense, enabling is…used to describe dysfunctional behavior approaches that are intended to help resolve a specific problem but in fact may perpetuate or exacerbate the problem. A common theme of enabling in this…sense is that third parties take responsibility, blame, or make accommodations for a person’s harmful conduct (often with the best of intentions, or from fear or insecurity which inhibits action). The practical effect is that the person himself or herself does not have to do so, and is shielded from awareness of the harm it may do, and the need or pressure to change. Enabling in this sense is a major environmental cause of addiction.

A common example of enabling can be observed in the relationship between the alcoholic/addict and a codependent spouse/parent/step parent. The spouse/parent/step parent who attempts to shield the addict from the negative consequences of their behavior by calling in sick to work for them, making excuses that prevent others from holding them accountable, and generally cleaning up the mess that occurs in the wake of their impaired judgment.  In reality, what the spouse/parent/step parent is doing may be hurting, not helping. Enabling can tend to prevent psychological growth in the person being enabled, and can contribute to negative symptoms in the enabler.

I have been guilty of enabling, I hate to admit it.  It is embarrassing, almost shameful toenabling me to make the confession.  It has been a long journey that brought me to the place of understanding that I had been an enabler.  There are many reasons, I believe, as to why I fell into this behavior, but still, cut and dried, it was enabling and very unhealthy behavior on my part.

As I write about this I will speak about some of the things that I have done to enable.

The greatest gift that was given to me by some who I was the guiltiest of enabling, was an excruciating 2+ years break in relationship with them that was initiated by them.  That period of time was in many ways the most difficult period of my life and in many other ways was the most enlightening period of my life.

Now that the break has ended, I have been and will continue to be very careful in the relationships because I do not ever want to play the enabling role that I did in them, again.

So, here are a few questions that may help you figure out if you are enabling someone:

1) Do you avoid potential problems by trying to keep the peace? Do you do whatever you can to avoid conflict because doing so will solve problems?

2) Are you in denial about your loved one being addicted? Do you think his or her drug or alcohol use is just a phase and isn’t anything to be concerned about?

3) Do you have a hard time expressing your feelings? Do you keep all your emotions inside?

4) Do you minimize the situation? Do you think the problem will get better later?

5) Do you lecture, blame or criticize the chemically dependent person?

6) Do you take over the responsibilities of the addicted person? Do you cover for and pick up his or her slack to minimize the negative consequences? Do you repeatedly come to the rescue — bailing him or her out of jail, out of financial problems or other tight spots?

7) Do you try to protect your addicted loved one from pain?

8) Do you treat him or her like a child? Do you enjoy taking care of your loved one and feel superior when you do? Do you still financially support him or her, even though he or she is an adult?

9) Do you try to control the dependent person?

10) Are you good at just enduring? Do you often think, this too shall pass?

11) Do you believe in waiting? That God will take care of this?

enabling312) Do you give him or her one more chance, then another and yet another?

13) Do you join him or her in the dangerous behavior, even when you know he or she has a problem?

(These questions were taken from

If you answered yes to even one of these questions, you may have a problem with enabling!  There is help for you, the first step to understanding your part in enabling is admitting that you are enabling to yourself within your own heart!

Love and blessings to you!



About Rhonda

Let me introduce myself to you who may not know who I am...I am an artist, writer, blogger, born again follower of Jesus Christ (I pursue Him on an ongoing basis with passion), I am a recovering codependent, survivor of childhood and adulthood domestic violence, an empty nester who still has a LOT of life to live and a LOT more places to go before I stop, the wife to Mr. John, mother, grandmother and I have a passion for being a part of the process of getting preschoolers ready for the rest of their lives! I have probably left something out but that's ok.
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2 Responses to Climbing the Mountain of Enabling (a mountain that will never be scaled)

  1. annambowman says:

    I always love reading your articles. Couldn’t agree more on the church issue you mentioned. I also have been guilty of enabling. Not in terms of addiction but in terms of allowing unhealthy behavior to continue. It’s funny that your intentions are to help the person you love. You don’t want to watch them experience negative consequences to their behavior. But I like what the quote said about preventing psychological growth in that person. Made me think about parenting and how it is our responsibility to help our kids gain independence. If I tied my son’s shoes every time and never let him struggle to learn how to do it on his own, I would be stunting his growth. The frustration he experiences through practicing to tie his own shoes may not be pleasant but the independence he gains and the lessons he learns through that struggle are priceless to him. That simple concept can be applied to so many situations. Love you guys and miss you! Hope you are doing well. We need to catch up!

    • EvieJo says:

      Thanks Anna, for your comments. I always love comments and although this blog has grown so much, I don’t get as many comments as I used to! They are always very encouraging. So glad that you already get this! I was rather dense and it took me a long time to understand my parts in the life of an addict and how destructive that they were to them as well as me! Love you guys so much and we miss you, too! We stay very busy nowadays and although the days go by quickly, I miss being able to be laid back in order to enjoy more of life. I look forward to being able to do it again! 🙂 I am also enjoying seeing your children grow up on FB. Time goes by too fast!

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