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Jun 032013

There were times when I felt like I was in a canoe trying to escape a flood, and my biological sons, Patrick and Andrew, were in the canoe with me. But instead of helping me paddle, they were chopping holes in the bottom of the canoe. Eventually the canoe sank and we had to swim for our lives, but instead of swimming for themselves, and they are both excellent swimmers, they demanded to ride on my back, sinking me to drown.

Andrew is not a psychopath like his brother, he is not violent or dangerous, but he is addicted to video games and though he works hard, he spends every spare dime he has on video games and computers to play them, leaving no money for even minor unexpected expenses, like his car breaking down, or medical bills. He is irresponsible with his finances because of his addiction to the video games. Since he is also ADHD this is a fairly common addiction with people who are ADHD it is no surprise, but he is unwilling to change his spending on “toys” so is continually in poverty. When his wife and her lover, Patrick’s friend he had sent to take over our family, and to kill me, Andrew was left not only an emotional cripple, but financially broke as well. I let him move in with me to help him out. We  had an agreement about his finances, he was to give me one-third of his take home as rent and room and board, much cheaper than he could have lived some where else, use one-third for his expenses and save one-third for an emergency back up so no matter what happened, a car break down, lose his job, whatever emergency came along he would be prepared.

Patrick, of course is a true  violent psychopath and guilty of every crime I can think of, including murder. He is in prison where he belongs.

I have told myself through the years when I let my sons “ride in my canoe” and tried to help them become responsible individuals, to work, earn money, and save some for emergencies. They both got their first jobs around 9th grade and my rule was that they gave me 1/3 of it “for room and board” (actually I was saving it for them) and 1/3 to savings, and they could spend the other 1/3 any way they wished.

When they were 16 and wanted to drive, I had my stepfather teach them to drive. Daddy had taught drivers ed at a high school for many years, so they got a good education in safe driving. When they got their licenses I didn’t buy them a car, but I did make them pay the increased insurance premium that I had to pay  because I had young drivers in the family. I was trying to teach them that there are COSTS to everything we want to do, and that we must work for and pay those costs.

I taught them how to manage a checking account, find the best interest returns for their savings, and modeled financial responsibility for them. I showed them how to save up money for something they wanted and not go into debt to buy something, but pay cash for it.

I, in short, tried to give my kids an education in life skills for managing money, working for what you want, and in homemaking skills as well. I taught them how to cook, clean the house, and expected them to participate in the family chores as long as they lived under my roof.

Unfortunately, I let them ride in my “canoe” for way too long,, even when they had repeatedly “sunk” the canoe. In short, I enabled them by allowing bad behavior and then pulling them out of the hot water they had gotten into.

When Patrick was arrested for his first adult felony, aggravated robbery,  I refused to hire him an attorney (at great expense) because  knew  he was guilty and I thought that he would do a couple of years in prison and that would “straighten him out.” So during those two years, I sent daily letters, commissary money and arranged with the State of Texas to allow him to come home to live with us and go to college. He did not take advantage of this because  he had NO intention of going straight, so he moved in with my husband’s crazy niece in Texas and convinced her that “his mommy didn’t understand him.” She rescued him from his “abusive mommy” and five months later a SWAT team descended on her house to retrieve the murder weapon. Patrick chopped a hole in her canoe in thanks for her taking him in.

Many families have irresponsible or violent members in their midst. Researchers believe that there  is mental and/or physical abuse to one degree or another in 46% of marriages. Yet many of those marriage hang together even if the abuser/offender is in prison at least for a while.

There is also a statistic that if an offender gets more than two years in prison and is married when s/he goes to prison that only 2% are still married when they are released. Actually, to me that is an encouraging statistic. That means that 98% of the wo/men who are married to an offender who gets some “serious” jail time most leave the relationship with that offender.

But what about those who stay married to a felony offender? What makes them patch up their “canoe” and have it there for the offender when s/he is released? With the recidivism rate very high there is an excellent chance that the freed offender will “chop a hole in that canoe” within a short time, and there is an 80% chance that over the next 20 years the offender will be charged with and convicted of another felony.

I know why I held on to the “malignant hope” that my sons would change…I loved them unconditionally, and I held on to that hope that they would change if I supported them enough. It was only after I had my “canoe” repeatedly sunk that I finally realized that if I didn’t want to “drown” in the flood of my tears.  I would have to stop letting them into my canoe. They have to learn to swim for themselves if they jump into the river of bad behavior. They are the ones who must get the consequences, not me. I cannot “help” someone who does not want “help” or to change their behavior.

Both of my biological sons have expressed “sorry” for what they have done, but especially in Patrick’s case I know it is a lie. All the while he was telling me how much he loved and appreciated me (what I wanted so bad to hear) he was writing to Hamilton, telling him how to manipulate me and my mother.

I finally woke up after many years and much heart ache. You can’t save someone who “chops holes in your canoe.” It is best to eliminate them from your life as quickly as possible. No matter how much you love a child (or anyone else) if they repeatedly violate agreements, commit criminal offenses, are abusive to anyone, engage in addictive behavior of any kind, not just drugs or alcohol, for your own sake and the sakes of any children in your family, you must eliminate the problem.  45% of the murders of women are committed by their spouse or significant other. That’s a lot of dead women (and a few men) who stayed with the abuser one day too many. Look at what Jodi Arias did to Travis.

Don’t stay until you become a headline, or your children become headlines. Whether you are male or female, you must protect yourself from these offenders and abusers, whether they are in prison or out and regardless of how much you love them or how much DNA you share.

God bless.

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 Posted by at 12:35 pm

  6 Responses to “Saving yourself from drowning Stopping enabling

  1. Joyce, thank you so much for such a poignant and truthful commentary.

    STOPPING the enabling is no easy task because those with toxic, disordered, and/or criminal family members truly believe that the individual WILL change, if they are just loved enough, supported enough, encouraged enough, and given second chances enough.

    I have spent over half a century enabling toxic, disordered, and alleged criminals and I finally made the difficult choices to stop enabling ANYONE who is toxic, whether they are “family,” or not. Again, this isn’t an easy task because it means that I have to take a stand for myself and what believe to be acceptable and appropriate.

    Aside from the tremendous financial damages that enabling creates, the emotional damages are far more costly. We begin to doubt our own beliefs, abilities, intentions, and morals because enabling means that I have to enter the camp of the toxic. Once I’m in that camp, it’s a matter of being used, abused, and dismantled BY the toxicity, and I cannot afford that cost, anymore.

    EXCELLENT article, Joyce.

  2. Joyce, I believe that there are a number of things that are a catalyst for enabling that simply “fly under the radar.” Enabling (IMHO) is based upon “feelings” and not “facts.”

    Whenever I started enabling, it began with the DIS-belief that someone that I cared about could be toxic. It continued because the disbelief had developed into a pathology – cognitive dissonance.

    Today, I try to identify enabling responses so that I don’t feed that Cog/diss Monkey. No easy task, that!

  3. Truthy, I am a (now retired) mental health professional and I SHOULD HAVE KNOWN BETTER, but while I sat on one side of the clipboard and gave advice to others to STOP enabling, I was doing it myself and saying to myself that I was not enabling I was “helping.” LOL

    “Physician, first heal thy self.”

    “take the beam out of your own eye before you take the splinter out of your brother’s eye.”

    It took me a long time to wake up and smell the coffee and stop enabling, to use the tools I had taught others and to find the strength to paddle my own canoe and not try to save others from the consequences of their own behavior. Enabling is when helping hurts, and another thing about enabling is that when we “help” someone and they are like Jesus said “a dog returning to iits own vomit” we become angry at them, resentful….because we figured they owed us for our sacrifice for them.

    “after all I’ve done for you, and you do this…blah blah”

    Toxic altruism .

  4. We should have listened to God’s truth before they pulled the rug out from under us. They all do the, deceive, take, destroy before they move on to their next victim.

    2 Corinthians 6:14  

    Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?

  5. Wini, that is very true, in many places the Bible tells us to avoid people who continually do bad things. Solomon advised in the book of Proverbs that “Evil companions corrupt good morals” and the entire Proverbs of Solomon advise to avoid offenders because the people we “hang out with” will influence our own behavior.

    When the offender is inside your family it is more difficult to “cut them off” but just as my analogy stated above, if you are trying to “save” someone and are doing all you can to save them and yourself, and they are chopping holes in your canoe while you paddle, YOU WILL GO DOWN WITH THEM.

    Why would someone sabotage their own lives? There are a million “reasons” (excuses) I can think of, but none are valid and it is important for our own health and safety to not associate with this type of person.

    Unfortunately, unless we go live on a deserted island by ourselves, we are going to encounter people who are toxic not only to themselves but to others and to us. It is a safe bet that if someone will steal from others, he will steal from you.

    My family and I had some “close friends” that had been close and beloved friends for decades, and I found out that they were stealing from me. It broke my heart, but I gave them another chance, and danged if they didn’t do it again! My son Michael and I finally cut them off, no contact. We warned some other friends about what they had done, and they didn’t want to believe us, so they “helped” these people who then stole from them.

    Finally the word got out among our circle of friends about these people and they have few if any friends from “the old days” left.

    But we are better off not associating with people like that, though it hurt to realize they were not the kind of people we thought they were.

  6. Joyce, we can’t choose our family members, yes, some of them do force us to strengthen our patience (smile) and faith in Jesus. As far as sabotaging their lives. They don’t see it that way, actually, they are blinded by their sin(s). Due to living in their ego (ego = Erase God Out) they have no eyes to see or ears to hear Jesus’ truth to give them the brakes to stop the evil. That’s why it’s so important to explain to them why they must humble themselves so they can ask Jesus for forgiveness, then, sin no more. Jesus will care for them. Man can not. Jesus will ensure the right(eous) people come into their lives to lead them to His righteousness. Family members can not help them during life on earth. We can only help family members during the Day of the Lord. .

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