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Dec 022014



Throughout my lifetime, I’ve frequently felt compelled to “help” people, regardless of what type of help they might have needed. Given my dysfunctional and abusive childhood, that compulsion to “fix” or “help” became a personal pathology.

I truly believed that I could “help” others reach their true potential, because the responsibility to “fix” the world’s problems had been thrust upon me when I was 5 years old. My father, coming home from work and finding my mother drunk and passed out on the couch, he would say, “You let her drink, again.” Without any choice in the matter, I had been made responsible for the happiness, health, actions, and choices of others. This twisted thought process followed me throughout my life to include trying to “support” or “fix” two ex husbands and countless “friends,” associates, coworkers, and people, in general.

For example, I tried to “fix” the first abusive ex-husband, Victor. I truly believed I could “help” this abusive alcoholic to reach his full potential. Of course that was a miserable failure.

After the second ex-husband left, I spent time with my “friend” Gretchen and watched what was going on in her life. She was juggling demanding college courses, a full-time job, and raising a defiant son, while coddling and tolerating a manipulative addict boyfriend. After the boyfriend finally became violent with her son, she kicked him out. Shortly after she kicked the boyfriend out, her son moved out to live with his girlfriend, leaving Gretchen alone and desperate, on every level.

At age 50, Gretchen had graduated with a degree in her “new” field, but had not tested and taken a certification in the field so her degree was not enough to land her a job in that field. Her life was in a shambles, her house in foreclosure, and she began experiencing what I thought were PTSD symptoms due to her experiences with her former boyfriend, the “loss” of her son, and the core of her childhood traumas. She was becoming emotionally, physically, and spiritually unraveled.

This all began to become an issue about three months after I separated from the second con-man spouse and Gretchen’s issues began to overshadow my own. Even after I lost my home, my transportation, my job, and everything else, she sought me out for “help.” She would ask questions about why she was behaving a certain way, or feeling a certain way, or making certain decisions, and this went on, and on, and on, and on….for almost 3 years. I kept thinking that since she kept asking for my opinions and advice that she actually wanted it. And, when I say that she sought me out for “help,” I’m talking about spending hours on the telephone listening to Gretchen cry about how “horrible” her life was, is, and will be.

She would constantly reference that she didn’t want to wake up, but claimed that she wasn’t suicidal. She would call me, in tears, because her son had grown up and left, and I cannot recollect the number of times that I talked this woman down from the proverbial ledge, but I finally experienced the last straw recently, and I’ll try to explain what occurred, and the whole point of sharing these experiences. I realized I had been enabling her in her disordered thinking and behavior.

Recently, I finally threw in the proverbial towel with Gretchen, who though she “sought” my advice, was not looking for solutions but sympathy and pity. I had been enabling her for a decade, but not “helping” her.
Nearly everyone who has survived childhood abuse, neglect, or traumas will experience some level of dysfunction. To put it in a nutshell, their approach to life may be one where the view themselves as just a spectator waiting for something/someone that will either rescue me, or make everything okay.” Gretchen’s level this thinking began to present after she graduated with her degree and lost her then current employment position, at about the same time. I had encouraged her to apply for public assistance, on (literally) countless occasions. She went for 4 months without any income before she finally applied. Then, she spent the next several months wandering in circles before she decided to file for bankruptcy. She had stopped making mortgage payments on her large home, but somehow kept thinking she could “save” her house in some way.

In between all of this time, I metaphorically had tried to shove her into taking actions to help herself, and I take absolutely no pleasure in this fact. Gretchen had no intention of helping herself, and I enabled her to continue this dysfunctional behavior by continually advising her how to proceed to change her life. I own that, and I can’t change it. I can only learn from it. At no point did Gretchen’s carefully laid plans work out to her expectations – she entered a highly competitive job market that she was wholly unfamiliar with and had abandoned a potential career that she’d had over 2 decades of experience in with the expectation that she was simply going to float into a highly-paid position in her new field without any experience and at an age over 50.

Why she chose the new field that she did, only God knows, but she did herself no favors and complained that she could have earned a degree in the field that she had so much experience in, but that she didn’t want to have to take the administrative courses because they were………”.tedious.” It never occurred to her that she could have actually tested out of most of those courses and have been credited for her experience. Gretchen could have started a position in her current field at 60K per year if she had stopped, calmed her mind, and actually contemplated practical options. Instead, she hedged all of her bets on a Hail Mary attempt to change fields, and it’s not going to meet her overblown expectations. If I slap my forehead, at this point, it’s because cannot imagine what she was thinking, and I don’t believe that she could explain what she was thinking, either, except to say that she found her new chosen field…..”interesting.”

Gretchen had been heading towards a catastrophic meltdown for a while – I could hear it in her tone and the staccato cadence of her speech pattern. She hated the woman that she worked for. She hated the fact that she had been abused as a child. She hated everything…..and, she cornered someone who worked in the field that she had earned her degree in (but hadn’t obtained a certification necessary to get a job in that field) to get her a job. Her actual quote was, “Maybe, SHE can get me in and I’ll be able to keep my house.” Well, the “getting in” position only paid a couple more bucks per hour than her current position as a teacher’s aid does, and it was no guarantee that it would lead to a better paying position.

She did get an interview in the field that she got her degree in, but she went to the interview with such a chip on her shoulder that she did not get the position. The individual that interviewed Gretchen was later labeled by her as a biatch because Gretchen showed up to the interview obviously sick, wearing inappropriate attire, and unable to explain why she wanted to secure the position that she had applied for. Instead of telling the interviewer the truth, “I want to get my foot into the door of this profession, and this job will allow me to do that,” she rambled on about how the position for which she applied would enable her to “help people” – utter rubbish.

Shortly after this interview, Gretchen visited another medical specialist because she long ago refused to accept my explanation that her emotional meltdowns, behaviors, and “feelings” were symptomatic of her traumatic childhood. She had spent the better part of a year going from one specialist to another trying to get a diagnosis that would medically explain her behaviors and reactions, and she became more and more furious with each specialist that told her, “No. It’s not ____, it’s trauma.” It’s important to understand, at this point, that she had begged me to help her understand why “….life is so hard….” for her, and I did. Whenever she asked and I responded with facts and personal experience, she would say (again, I quote), “But, you’re not trained in that field. How do you know this?” Other times, she would lavish me with flattery by saying, “I’ve been in therapy for ____, and you’ve helped me more than ____ did.” But, when push came to shove, she would respond with, “Yes, but………” And, all of the talk about “hate” and how “terrible” her life was were all harbingers of another inevitable meltdown.
When she mentioned what the most recent medical specialist had to say, I thought about my response and said, “I tried to tell you this, Gretchen,” and she reacted (quote), “I had to rule everything out, so now I can start working on this.” I was confounded because, regardless of whether an issue is medical or emotional, the focus should have been on managing the symptoms, and it finally had come streaming out of her mouth that the past 24 months of her crying, threatening suicide, and moaning about her son leaving her had never, at any time, been about sorting out her life and helping herself. It had all been about an ongoing Pity Party, and I had enabled it.

The rage came down on me when Gretchen was recollecting (for the fourth time) what a biatch the HR person was that had interviewed her, and I said, “Gretchen, do you realize that this event is in the past and that it’s over with?” She flew into a state of rage, and let me have it with both barrels. Gretchen spun on me quicker than a cyclone and said, “WHY can’t you just BE MY FRIEND?! Why are you always judging me and analyzing me?!” I was very hurt, but not surprised because her vocal tone and cadence had already been enough of a warning – Gretchen wanted to fight someone – anyone. And, I was the target for her rage of the past five decades. When I told her that I was hurt by her accusations, her reaction was, “I’m sorry YOU’RE HURT!” Sadly, I cannot duplicate the vocal inflections or bellowing of this assertion, but I fully expected for her to finish her remark with, “….but, I don’t CARE.”

The whole point of this recollection is that there are some people that, regardless of their pleadings, have absolutely no interest in helping themselves or taking responsibility for their own actions. They live in denial. They wail, they cry, they moan, they groan, and they wallow in self-pity until they reek of it. People who are compassionate and empathetic can be drawn into their crazy making behaviors in an attempt to try to help relieve their obvious pain, while people who have a sociopathic agenda will use their own emotional/behavioral pathologies against these people for their own entertainment. The one constant that is unwavering is that Gretchen likes where she is. None of her problems are of her own making or a result of her poor decisions, they are always, to her thinking at least, the fault of someone else. Denial is her long term defense.


Denial is probably one of the best known defense mechanisms, used often to describe situations in which people seem unable to face reality or admit an obvious truth (i.e. “He’s in denial.”). Denial is an outright refusal to admit or recognize that something has occurred or is currently occurring. Drug addicts or alcoholics often deny that they have a problem, while victims of traumatic events may deny that the event ever occurred. Denial functions to protect the ego from things that the individual cannot cope with. While this may save us from anxiety or pain, denial also requires a substantial investment of energy. Because of this, other defenses are also used to keep these unacceptable feelings from consciousness.

Joyce has written extensively about the type of behavior that Gretchen is displaying. Dr. Eric Berne, in his book Games People Play, has termed the “game” they play as “Yes, but…” . These people won’t even accept what the professionals tell then, let alone someone who doesn’t “have a degree” in whatever field it is. They ask for advice, but always give reasons that the advice won’t work. “That’s good advice, but….” People who play this game are soul-suckers. They are thieves of our essence……they take and take and take, and then blame those who cannot (or, will not) give any more to them. I’m not talking about financially, though Gretchen has confessed that she actually “used” both her ex-husband (to produce an offspring) and her ex-boyfriend (to pay the mortgage), but I’m mainly talking about emotional robbery. If we enable them they will frustrate us, confuse us and suck us dry.

When we are in recovery, our vulnerabilities are more easy to abuse than they ever were because our emotions are raw and we are just learning (or, re-learning) how to protect those precious qualities. I was hopeful for Gretchen, but I finally “got it” about what her core issues really are. “Getting it” is 90% of the challenge when it comes to individuals who have survived the ravages of a convicted or un-charged criminal psychopath, and Gretchen’s parent was extraordinarily abusive and was, by definition, an abuser and didn’t face any consequences for her crimes against her own offspring. Gretchen has “magical thinking” and refuses to see the hole she is digging for herself.

Even our family members will beg for help, again and again, and, each time that help is rendered, it will either be squandered or thrown back into the faces of their loved ones who attempted to help. Nothing – no amount of money or percentage of our souls – will ever be enough to satisfy the “Yes, buts.” The “Yes, buts” are typically not sociopaths or psychopaths, but, they are wholly toxic and pathologically needy. The one thing that comes to my mind is Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Nothing that we give of ourselves will ever be enough. They beg for answers, and we give them the facts, and logic, but, our facts are dismissed. They ask for empathy, but there isn’t enough empathy in the world to fill their voids. They demand pity for their mistakes, but accuse friends and family of standing in judgment if we even HINT at personal responsibility. The only “safe” method of dealing with a person playing “Yes, but..” is to back away, very slowly, and to keep in mind that they tend to stampede if they are startled.

If we choose to interact with people who play “Yes, but..” the response to their demands for answers, etc., is a firm, “I don’t know. You need to speak to your therapist.” Or, attorney, or clergy, or whatever….but, we cannot “help” them. We can’t. Any attempt to help them results in a portion of our essence being siphoned away, and I have worked too long and hard to get where I am to give any bit of my recovery away to anyone else, no matter how much I might care about them. And, it is possible to continue to care about a person playing “Yes, but…., ” however, we don’t have to enable them or engage in their crazy making games.

Enabling is doing for someone what they should do for themselves. Wiki says about enabling

Enabling is a term with a double meaning in psychotherapy and mental health.[1]
As a positive term, “enabling” references patterns of interaction which allow individuals to develop and grow. These patterns may be on any scale, for example within the family,[1] or in wider society as “enabling acts” designed to empower some group, or create a new authority for a (usually governmental) body.

In a negative sense, “enabling” can describe dysfunctional behavior approaches that are intended to help resolve a specific problem but in fact may perpetuate or exacerbate the problem.[1][2] A common theme of enabling in this latter sense is that third parties take responsibility or blame, or make accommodations for a person’s harmful conduct (often with the best of intentions, or from fear or insecurity which inhibits action).

Each of us is an adult and we are responsible for the consequences of our thinking and our behaviors. If someone asks for advice repeatedly and always says in response some form of “yes but..” or if they continually blame others for the consequences of their own behaviors and choices, we need to recognize that we are helpless to support this person as they spiral down into the abyss, all the while shoveling the hole deeper and deeper. When you’re in the bottom of a hole. STOP DIGGING. When there is someone in our lives who keeps on digging, we are not able to “rescue” them from their own bad choices and for us to stand on the edge of the abyss and shout out “stop digging” we are only going to frustrate ourselves and waste our breath.


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  10 Responses to “Trying to help those who won’t help themselves BY BLOGGER TRUTHSPEAK

  1. Article up

  2. Thanks for this article Truthy, I can surely relate to the enabling…and denial. I ain’t Cleopatra but Ii am the queen of denial! LOL

    Seriously though, I can look back throughout my life and see many people just like your “friend” who pithed and moaned about their terrible situation, but never made any real effort to get out of the hole they had dug. Never made any real effort to look at REALITY and not stay in that magical thinking of denial that led them into the hole in the first place.

    I have also ultimately found that many of those people were also very narcissistic, and some even turned out to be dishonest as well..stealing from me…because in their mind I had much more than I needed and that entitled them to take some of it for themselves, because after all, they were entitled. Most of it was petty theft but still it was stealing. I imagine if I’d had more to steal they would have stolen more.

    I’m willing, more than willing, to help someone who attempts to help themselves to the limit of their ability. The problem is that many people are not interested in helping themselves, or making positive changes. Of course if someone is UNable to help themselves then that’s another thing. A person who is mentally deficient or severely crippled, I’m not going to expect them to get a job digging ditches to help themselves, but I would expect them to help themselves to the limit of their ability.

    People like Gretchen who will not take good advice and live in denial are not going to be helped by anything we do for them. They need psychological counseling and maybe medication, in order to get better, but unfortunately, many many times the very people who need it the worst will not have anything to do with either counseling or medication for depression, etc.

    Yes, they may have been traumatized as children, and have inherited any number of medical/mental conditions such as bi-polar or depression, etc but there is no way that you or I, no matter what we do, can convince these people they need to change. They are comfortable in their continual pity party and fantasy life. It’s a shame but it is what it is, and the SOONER we recognize what they are doing the sooner we can back out of their lives and let them dig their own hole, because no matter how many shovels we attempt to take away from them, they will keep on digging.

    • Joyce, it was helpful to vent about the experience with Gretchen, and it’s truly been a pattern throughout my lifetime. I’ve been addressing this in therapy, and I’m learning how to maintain my compassion WITHOUT letting myself get sucked in.

      Interestingly, when Gretchen realized that she wasn’t able to pay her mortgage, she began to heavily campaign for me to bring Bob and live in her house. Well………I didn’t realize how much her mortgage was until I finally asked her and I was floored. If she were paying her mortgage on her own, she would be left with $400 per month to pay for gas, insurance, cleaning supplies, pet needs, etc. And, her vehicle is over 10 years old and is beginning to fall apart in a big, big way – transmission, emissions, etc. MY job would have been to pay her mortgage if I had relocated to her home.

      And, yeah….this is kind of a vent, again, but she was really pressing me to do this. I don’t want to “share” someone else’s space as a tenant, again, especially with a “friend!” When Gretchen found out that I was applying for disability, she asked me a VERY inappropriate question, “How much will you be getting?” This was after the second time that she had blown up on me, and after she began pressing me to move into her place.

      The bottom line here is that Gretchen wants someone to rescue her. She wants someone to unload on. And, she’s 100% codependent. I am working VERY hard to overcome my own personal issues, and I cannot (and, WILL not) risk my well-being and recovery for the sake of helping someone else. Hayell, I can’t even help myself, most of the time, and I’m just sorting out how to do that! LOL

      When’ we’re dealing with someone who is a criminal (convicted, and never even charged), we cannot “help” these people, no matter what our good intentions might be. Certainly, we don’t want to see someone that we care about fall down the tubes, but we don’t have that kind of power to prevent that.

      I’ve got my own hole and my own shovel that I’m trying to deal with. And, I’m filling it in, one shovel-full at a time. 😉

  3. Truthy, I totally agree. Enabling anyone is digging your own hole and not helping them either. Plus, when you enable people (or try to) you end up frustrated and/or angry that they will not listen to “good advice.”

    I think in a way it is arrogance on our part that we think we can “fix” anyone else’s problems. We feel like we “know better” what they are needing than they do, and when they refuse to listen to our “good advice” we just don’t understand what WE are doing, which is, frankly just as disordered as what they are doing to themselves. We are wasting our time, our energy, on trying to fix someone else, instead of focusing on what we need to fix in ourselves.

    After I cut Patrick off, I started having these “dreams” that had “themes” that repeated and repeated. Now the dreams themselves were not the same, but the theme in the dreams was identical. In the dreams I was trying to help someone who was “helpless” like an elderly person, or an animal, and while I was focused on rescuing these “helpless” people or aniimals, the horse drawn wagon I had with me, was crashed when the horses or oxen wandered away while I was doing my “good deed.” LOL

    Eventually, after many m any nights of this dreams of enabling it finally HIT ME….and I talked to my therapist and she said “Yep, I think you’ve picked it up:” My subconscious was trying to break through to my conscious mind what I was doing.

    I had conversations with my mother and with Patrick in my dreams, and one night I was talking to my wonderful step dad about my mother taking patrick i nto their home when he was 15 and in trouble with the law where we lived, and I bemoaned to my step father that I would have gotten a lawyer and fought her for custody but I didn’t have the money. And in the dream, he said “You never asked me for it.” and he was right, I hadn’t and I think he would have given me the money to have fought her in court. It is odd but sometimes when I don’t know what to do on something, I can say “what would daddy have told me to do” and it is the RIGHT thing. He was a very wise man. He got it about my mom, but he also loved her in spite of it. He also got it about Patrick too. I didn’t really realize just how much he got it about Patrick until just before he died.

    I was programmed by my family to be the enabler to succeed my mom, who had succeed her own mother, whose mother had also been the family enabler, and you know, on that side of the family it went back further generations as well.

    I doubt if I will ever be completely free of that programming, it is my “knee jerk” response, but I am working on that, just as you are. I think the subject of this article is a great example of our experiences. Dr. Berne’s book “Games People Play” is a perfect book for those of us who are into “games’ that are dysfunctional. We must stop playing “games” and learn to live positively and to be able to spot the games that others are playing, such as Gretchen. We can’t fix them, but we don’t have to “play” and when we spot such a dysfunctional person, we need to be AWARE and act accordingly.

  4. Truthy,
    Your story about Gretchen makes me think that she has several different problems. One of them is that she has never been independent. She has depended on others to rescue her. Even when she tries to stand on her own two feet, she lacks confidence. It seems to me that she believes the old saying, “it’s not WHAT you know, it’s WHO you know, that matters.”

    Unfortunately, she’s running out of people to know.

    Her behavior also reminds me of one of my favorite “Peanuts” comic strip themes: the ones where Lucy convinces Charlie Brown to kick the football and she waits til the last moment to pull it away so that he lands flat on his back.

    Charlie Brown should have learned that if you repeat the same behavior, you’ll get the same results. But he never learns. He’s compelled to keep trying in the hopes that things will magically change.

    One might think of Lucy as a spath for tricking Charlie Brown, but I think that the theme is more about Charlie than it is about Lucy. Lucy could be replaced by anyone or anything and Charlie would repeat his mistakes over and over…kind of like his faith in the Great Pumpkin.

    I think there’s a little Charlie Brown in all of us. We were traumatized by events in our childhoods and, because we don’t know what went wrong, we keep trying to re-enact the events again and again. When we choose the same actors and the same circumstances, we get the same results.

    • Sky, at one time, I was 100% “Charlie Brown!!!” LOLOL!!!! I would keep taking whatever was thrown at me because I truly believed that, if I took it like a MARTYR, then the people who were doling it out would recognized “how much I cared” about them by taking their abuse….or, something LIKE that. LMAOLMAO

      And, it’s not only “okay” to make mistakes and errors in judgment, but it’s a human teaching/learning essential! Every living thing makes “mistakes,” and I make them and, finally, am learning FROM having made them.

      Re-enacting the events with different people is, indeed, a recognized symptom of childhood trauma – “normal” levels of self-confidence, self-worth, and all of the other healthy “Self-isms” are simply non-existent. So……yeah…….

  5. Skylar, some great points there. I also think about it like you are in a canoe and you are trying to “rescue” a drowning swimmer and you pull them into the boat and they keep jumping back into the water.

    Gretchen, like you said, is lacking confidence, but also I think you nailed it about her being DEPENDENT…she used her druggie BF to pay the mortgage, she used her husband to get her a kid, then when the kid wants to grow up and go out on his own (at an appropriate age) she goes into a tail spin.

    She’s afraid to make a decision based on logic, like trying to change careers in upper middle age, then getting a degree but failing to take the test to certify. Then trying to get someone to get her an interview for a job in that field where there was no possibility of being hired unless she had a certificate of compentency.

    I’ve known plenty of people like Gretchen, and I’ve tried to rescue my share. You see it when a person hangs on to an abusive person in their life (like I did with Patrick and others) and you want to warn them to GET AWAY but they keep on going back and back and back.

    I think what we can learn from this story is our own part in the situation and to be able to spot this kind of person and to NOT become involved with them or try to rescue them.

    A therapist told me once that “the ONLY LEGITIMATE RESCUE IS TO PULL AN UNCONSCIOUS PERSON FROM A BURNING BUILDING.” LOL I wish I had listened to her advice 30 years ago. LOL But we learn our lessons when we are ready to learn and not a moment before. Sometimes we never learn the lesson. But if we don’t then, like you said, Sky, we just repeat kicking at the football or staying out all night waiting for the “great pumpkin” Great points, Sky.

  6. I believe that I was groomed to be a codependent, as a child. Not that either of my parents woke up, each morning, and discuss new and improved ways to make certain that I would never be an emotionally healthy adult. Of course, not! But, the dysfunctions of the family dynamics and the actual words that I heard, as a child, left me no doubt that I was the sole individual in charge of everyone’s happiness, health, and well-being. Of course, this is not true, one iota, but that’s how I developed.

    Today………I am living in a completely different world where my choices and decisions are tempered and balanced between fact and feeling. Feelings are real, 100%, and it’s important to acknowledge what I’m feeling. But, most of my feelings aren’t really based upon “facts.” So, where “helping” someone goes, I must observe and make a judgment call based upon objective observations – I might care very deeply about that person on an emotional level, but would I want to conduct BUSINESS with them? Would I trust them with my finances? I am learning and working on finding that balance, and it’s quite a challenge, but it can be done.

    So, it may be that I interact with Gretchen some time down the proverbial road, but it won’t be on the same level. I still most certainly care about her, but I cannot devote any more of my Self in helping her because it appears as if she doesn’t want help, at all. It appears (by her OWN words and actions) that she is trolling for someone to rescue her.

    The inappropriate question of how much I might be receiving from a settlement was like getting slapped in the face with a frozen glove – that’s NONE of her business, nor anyone else’s. And, I believe that she was hoping to talk me into RESCUING her property by moving in and paying her mortgage for her.

    Sorry if it appears that I’m selfish, but I haven’t busted my a$$ to survive this far under the circumstances that I have to jump into someone else’s situations that they created for themselves. I won’t do it. Not for Gretchen, nor anyone else, and this would include ANY loved one that did something to get themselves into serious trouble without taking any responsibility for their own actions.

    I think that’s why this article applies to FamilyArrested: we cannot be expected to “save” or “rescue” offenders in our lives when they keep demonstrating that they are irresponsible and take no action to change themselves. If someone has the CAPACITY to rewire their thinking, excellent. I will stand on the periphery to lend a hand, if need be, while they are taking their own steps. But, I will NOT make myself available to anyone who has no interest or ability to help themselves. I just won’t.


  7. Recently, a man my son has known and been friends with since they were both 14 working at Boy Scout camp had the misfortune to have his home burned to the ground by relatives of his girlfriend, leaving him, his daughter and his girl friend and her two kids homeless. They had several dogs and some poultry that they needed to find a place for these animals to stay while they moved into the home with his mother.

    The man would come to the farm several days a week and help out around here with animal care etc. But things began to go south and over the course of several months I began to see that the relationship between the man and his girlfriend was extremely dysfunctional. He had also had two previous marriages in which it was extremely dysfunctional. I advised him to start some therapy which he did, but I also began to see some troubling aspects to this man, one of which was a rage attack and a suicide threat which was caused he said by his mother calling him “stupid.”

    An addiction to drama seemed to be the operating principle in the personality of both the man, his girl friend, his two ex-wives and even his mother. (his father being deceased) .

    While I realize that neither the friend nor his girl-friend were responsible for their home being burned by her family (who are being prosecuted for said crime) they are not making an effort to secure another permanent residence, though they have an income sufficient to support it, they spend their money in such a way that they are “always broke” at the end of each month, and they keep the drama going.

    The friend has departed leaving behind the family’s poultry and pet bird (a very large and loud bird) but I was unwilling to take on the responsibility for caring for their dogs and other animals for the long term. Of course the man became very angry at me because I expected HIM to be ultimately responsible for caring for his dogs and other animals.

    My attempt to “help” these people was a lost cause because they were unwilling to assume responsibility for finding a place to live where they could have the multiplicity of animals and dogs.

    The thing I am proud of though is that I did not become emotionally involved in this drama, but set firm boundaries (which he did not like) even though he became quite angry at me for those boundaries.

    It has taken me a life time to be willing to help someone without becoming enabling of them. Helping someone who has suffered something like their home burning is an OK thing, but assuming all responsibility for them from there on out is not in the cards. Setting boundaries of how much “help” you are willing and able to provide keeps us from falling into enabling.

  8. I recently received an e mail from a woman I will call “Sue” whose daughter has serious mental illness issues that the daughter, whom I will call “Ann,” self medicates with alcohol and possibly other things.

    Ann was recently arrested when she got drunk and/or high in a public place and acted out. The police were called and Ann struck at the officers, so she has several charges that could be severe felonies.

    Ann was placed at first in a solitary “mental” cell but wanted out in the general population.

    Ann’s mother asked my advice on what to do as this was the first time Ann had been arrested. Sue did not want to pauper herself with bail (and I agree that at this point bail would be a bad idea). Ann is now in General population and scheduled to appear before the judge.

    Sue and her husband are devastated and love and fear for their daughter, but Ann doesn’t want them to “control her life” which is a very typical response from the mentally ill toward those who love and want to help and protect them.

    Sue and her husband were allowed a visit with Ann through a glass divider. Ann is now saying she has found Jesus and doesn’t want to mess up her life like some of the women in the general population.

    Someone posted on face book the following statement today and I could so relate to it.

    “When our souls are hungry, we want to believe what we are told.”

    Many times my soul has been so hungry that I believed and “ate” what was offered only to find out it was not what it appeared to be.

    I advised Sue and her husband to take a “tough love stance” with their daughter and if the bail is reduced to where they can afford it, that they might speak to the judge and put some conditions on their daughter about her seeing a mental health professional and taking her medications, and if the judge does not impose these rules on their daughter that they will not take her home with them.

    First off I think this will impress the judge that their daughter is indeed mentally ill and though she did cause a public situation and struck an officer, she has no previous criminal record and the officer was not injured, and that the parents want their daughter to be a functional human being. Along with maybe daily AA meetings, and assign her some chores at home, and actually write up a contract with the daughter that she must sign if she is to go home with them.

    I hope and pray that this family is successful in getting life long help for their daughter and that they can actually help her, but in order for any help to succeed the person must be willing to help themselves.

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