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Enabling hurts everyone involved — 33 Comments

  1. Joyce, thank you so much for posting this powerful article. In my recovery, I took this triad very seriously, especially with regard to the abusive nature of the first marriage.

    “My kids come first,” is something that I said along with every other victim of domestic violence where children were involved. The perception is that my role of victim appeared unrelenting TO ME. But, what actually occurred was precisely what is reflected in the diagram, above. It’s emotional Musical Chairs, and every victim of domestic violence must, at some point, allow the ball of sh*t to roll downhill onto the children. Literally, it’s impossible for the children to be “protected” by the intended victim BECAUSE of this behavioral triad.

    Now, before anyone begins huffing and puffing over my words, above, keep in mind that this is NOT an indictment of the intended victim, at all. It’s just a fact of human behavior that is, for all intents and purposes, immovable. This behavior exists, and it revolves around the dysfunction, whether it’s DV&A, alcoholism, gambling, psychopathy, etc…….it’s an inevitability.

    My task to facilitate my recovery and healing processes was to “own” my roles in all matters. I will say, without hesitation, that it was THIS task that caused the greatest source of FEAR for me, personally. Throughout BOTH marriages, my intent was to appear “perfect,” if that makes any sense. Now, I wasn’t “perfect” in my housekeeping – absolutely the WORST housekeeper on the planet, me. But, I wanted to appear to be The Most Loving, The Most Caring, The Most Understanding wife and mother. So, I took everything and PRETENDED that I was tough, resilient, and all of the rest. But, I changed from “victim” to “abuser,” myself……..and, I will say that there isn’t one former “victim” that I’ve ever spoken to that didn’t do the same thing. Often, I would take the beatings for my children – a very few times, I just couldn’t bear to take anymore and dropped what I perceived to be the ball into THEIR laps. Additionally, I also tried to fight back with Victor, at times. I tried to cause HIM pain in the vain belief that he would STOP his campaign of abuse if he “got it” about how painful our lives were. Did it work? Of course, it didn’t! But, this is the reality of this triad of behaviors.

    Until I engaged in marital counseling with Victor, I did not realize that I had options on how to respond/react. I wasn’t obligated to argue, defend my views, or fight back. I didn’t have to do these things. And, I did not know this.

    With the second marriage, I will say that I had not recovered and healed from my previous experiences with Victor, and made a terrible, terrible mistake by marrying the man-child that I did. If I had sorted out my experiences and processed them, properly, and redefined my boundaries and self-esteem, I would NEVER have married the Good Time Charlie that the second exspath presented himself to be.

    But, hindsight is forever 20/20 and I am not going to beat myself up about past decisions. KNOWING that the information in this article is 100% true and accurate is something that gives me hope that others who are in the middle of their own struggles might identify with the information and realize that they have choices and options. No, the choices and options are not always pleasant or warm-and-fuzzy, but choosing the PRACTICAL options is primary.

    Excellent article, Joyce, and I really appreciate the affirmation that I’m not alone in this past life. It’s a relief, in a way, to know that it’s documented and typical behavior, and that there ARE means to disengage from the behavioral triangle.

  2. STRICT aside, here: I don’t know what was tweaked with the blog site, but all new comments and articles are 100% visible without having to login!


  3. Truthy, my IT person tweeked it for me. Without her I couldn’t even have the blog. LOL

    Yes, Truthy, I went to counseling several times before I “got it” that I was not 100% victim, that I too moved to the rescuer, persecutor chairs in the game of dysfunctional musical chairs.

    I went to get the therapist to tell me how to CONTROL my abuser and get him to stop. I went to get the therapist to tell me how to CONTROL my son and make him see the light of what his behaviors were doing. Of course I didn’t accept or internalize the TRIAD IN MYSELF until many years later.

    Owning up to our own part in the dance, the drama, the dysfunction is not “victim blaming” it is simply that being abused we DO have options, and changing someone else is NOT one of those options. We can only change ourselves and our own reactions to the abuse and the best choice is to GET FAR AWAY FROM ABUSERS and STAY away.

    When the abuser is our minor child, though, society wants us to ‘fix it” and blames us if we are unable to do so. Even when the criminal or abuser is an adult child, we are told we are being harsh and mean if we cut them out of our lives. These people are well meaning but mistaken about our (or anyone’s) ability to CHANGE SOMEONE ELSE. Even a child has a will of their own and if they are NOT WILLING to be guided and taught, you cannot guide them or teach them. My son Patrick is a perfect example of this. His psychopathy didn’t “hit” full blown until puberty, but nothing could make him willing to conform to society’s rules.

    Many well meaning people tried to get me to never give up on him and to keep on trying because he was my son. Well the truth is “My beloved son” died when he was about 12 or 13 and the psychopathic man that inhabits his body almost like a demon is NOT my son. I grieved for the loss of my young son and all the aspirations I had for his life. Once the psychopathy hit full blown Patrick did not share those aspirations, his were different. He wanted to be a big shot thug.

    I did enable him for many years by writing him letters, trying to get him out on parole, offering him a place to live (which he did not want) and a college education he also didn’t want…I sent money for commissary after he was arrested for Jessica’s murder I wrote letters and again tried to arrange him to come home and go to college when I should have known he had no intention of coming home, because after the first time he got out after the robbery conviction, he lied to us about wanting to come home so we’d keep on sending money) but when he did get out, he didn’t come to our home, and the one visit he made before he was arrested for Jessica’s murder he told me “The reason I didn’t come home is because I knew if I got into trouble YOU’D CALL THE COPS” and I told him that he was right, I would have. And yet, I still kept on enabling him, being manipulated by him to send him money. Much as he is doing now to my mother.

    I didn’t want to see the TRUTH, truth that was right before my eyes, my son was a psychopath who had no remorse or conscience until FINALLY he told me so himself, told me he was proud of his crime that was “worse than the cops even knew” At that time it was like a bucket of ice water in the face….but…it was also a blessing and kicked me out of the DELUSION and DENIAL I had been in all my life and I started to APPLY TO MYSELF what I knew about enabling and the drama triangle. It wasn’t easy, it was painful, but the journey has led me to EXAMINE MYSELF AND MY ROLES in my own victimization.

    My choices were poor, and I also realize I was trained from childhood to be an enabler because that was the role assigned to the wives and daughters and mothers in my family for generations. But I finally “saw the light” and quit participating in the musical chairs of dysfunction. Now, I no longer fall for the “pity ploy” of an abuser who is posing as a victim,

    Although I am willing to HELP others, it is no longer an UNCONDITIONAL help over and over and over paying the piper for someone else’s poor decisions on how to dance. If a person is not actively trying to help themselves, it is NOT my responsibility to lift them out of the hole they dug for themselves.

  4. Clarification on the last sentence above:

    If someone’s house is blown away by a storm, I will help them to the extent I am financially and physically able. If a friend is ill I will stay with them at home and nurse them if needed. If someone gets drunk and wrecks their car, it is not my responsibility to give them a ride or loan or give them money to buy a new car.

    • Joyce, you are so spot-on about the interference by well-meaning people who insist that the connection be maintained. Same thing happened with Mike. After all of the bad choices and deceptions that he was responsible for, I couldn’t take any more of the drama/trauma. It was killing me, literally.

      And, I went through an intense period of attempting to rescue Mike, as well. I switched roles with Mike in nano-seconds, literally. One moment, I was the “rescuer,” and the next moment, I was the “persecutor.” I had NO idea that this was recognized behavior, but I knew that it was taking a terrible toll on me, physically.

      “Owning” my various roles and participation in all facets of my lifetime was probably the toughest challenge that I ever met, to date. It required me to acknowledge, understand, and accept not only these roles, but the fact that I had been pretending, and doing so to my own detriment. Once that was gotten out of the way, then the journey of recovery and healing continued with leaps and bounds.

      I’d gone to therapy a number of times before 2011 in order to “fix” my son, or “fix” Victor, or “fix” my relationship with my husband and children. That was the superficial reason that I went. I never went with ANY intention of being the one in need of work, because (in MY head) I had done as much as I could to “fix” all of these things, and nothing was working.

      Well, this last time that I engaged was after I’d physically attacked the second exspath after finding irrefutable evidence of his nefarious, deviant, and depraved activities. Thank goodness I didn’t yet have the evidence of his forgeries or frauds at that time, or I could have killed him in my rage! But, after the attack, I was well aware that something was broken within ME, and that I had to “own” my behaviors in my attack. Certainly, it was a visceral response to his lies, but violence had been something that I had not entertained in almost 15 years. I had believed myself to be a peaceful and calm person, and I was anything BUT those things, deep down.

      I have absolutely no issues with helping someone who is accepting of that help in order to HELP THEMSELVES. The gal that I often wrote about that filed the restraining order against her boyfriend who was essentially paying her mortgage, was forever crying, “VICTIM!!” When her son moved out in the middle of her being unemployed and, most likely, unemploy-able in her new medical field (at 54), she just gave up. She refused to do ANYTHING to help herself. Oh, she wanted to get into therapy so she could tell the therapist all about it, but she was not going to take action to help herself. The last time I spoke to her, she was going on about how she was going to “lose everything” and that I “…have no idea what it’s like to lose everything.” It was with the utterance of THOSE words that finalized my decision that this person was not healthy for me. I don’t hate her and I do not wish ill upon her. I hope that she sorts it all out, seriously, but, I needed to take care of myself, FIRST, and then reach out to people in need who are going to take the steps to help themselves. Sometimes, it takes a little while for this to sink in, and the PITY-PLOY has always, always, and ALWAYS been the one that I’ve found most difficult to resist, personally.

      In response to another thread, my mother was 100% narcissistic and actually attempted suicide – and, she meant it. Her sense of shame, guilt, and powerlessness was so overwhelming that she carved up her wrists in such a way that it would be a miracle if she didn’t die. For years, she wore very thick bracelets and cuffs to hide these awful scars. So, I can’t imagine what would take someone to that brink, but I’m pretty sure she was on the low end of psychopathy if narcissism is, indeed, only a symptom and not a diagnosis, in itself.

      I’m just grateful that I”m in recovery and healing……..I never want to be the person that I was 4 years ago.

  5. Truthy, the self cutting and the other things you describe speak to me to be Borderline-personality disorder which is right up there with psychopathy. More women who exhibit these behaviors are diagnosed as BPD but they also exhibit many of the classic signs of psychopathy.

    Read up on BPD and I think you will see what I am talking about. BPD, Narcissism, alcoholism and Bi-polar go along together and are also seen in Psychopaths. Just from what you have told me about your mother, I think she is definitely BPD or more P than you may think. But you were the one who experienced her bad behaviors so educate yourself on BPD and see if you don’t think I may have something about her.

    Knowing a “diagnosis” isn’t really all that important, but it does give us a way to internalize what we have been dealing with and FOO things definitely impact on us long term.

    My own mother had “issues” but I have never been able to pin point an exact “diagnosis” where she is concerned as she doesn’t conveniently fit into any one “mold” for a diganosis, but I know she is dysfunctional, has always been dysfunctional, and she is enabling and filled with rage if you don’t go along with her agendas.

    I realize that even though I saw some of these things even as a child, realized by the time I was 4 or 5 that she didn’t like me, didn’t have my back, I still kept trying to win her approval and tried to be “perfect” so she would love me and like me, and of course nothing mattered, if I succeeded she was jealous and if I wasn’t perfect she was the first to point it out.

    Trying to be perfect or to APPEAR perfect is an energy sapping task and of course we are doomed to failing at being “perfect.” But of course if there was someone unhappy it was my fault. LOL

    But now I am much more realistic, and realize that some folks will like me and approve of me and others will not like or approve of me, but I no longer draw my self worth from what others think of me. SELF VALIDATION is the key I think. We must value our own judgment, our own worth and not depend on someone else to give it to us. We are always insecure if we depend on others for our assessment of our worth.

    In today’s world to many people are “offended” by this or that word or flag, but those people who are constantly “offended” by others and want others to cater to their every whim or they want to treat others poorly and blame it on their “culture” or their “religion” those people are IMHO users and abusers. If someone is offended by my culture or religion, that’s too bad, and I’m not going to be offended by theirs unless they try to cram it down my throat.

    Enablers give in to the whims of others, but then they grow to resent it that the others they gave in to don’t change or appreciate them for their “sacrifices” I also can look back and realize that I sat in all three chairs of the TRIAD of dysfunction, and I dont want to play that game any more so I had to stop helping those who didn’t want my help, and I had to stop being a persecutor and a victim. I could walk away from the musical chairs and refuse to take part in any of the dysfunctional dance.

    I still have to laugh about the time I caught my “friend” stealing from me and I cried for three days because I was so upset that I MIGHT HAVE EMBARRASSED HER for catching her stealing. LOL But at the end of the three days I realized that I WAS NOT THE PROBLEM that SHE WAS. My tears dried up and I learned to set boundaries. It was like trying to learn to walk, I kept falling down, but I kept on until setting boundaries is now pretty easy, but until that time I couldn’t set them. I also fell for the PITY PLOY over and over and over, but I am less inclined to do so today.

    • Joyce, I’ll go along with Borderline, as well – my mother’s behaviors were always at odds. She desperately wanted to please people, and she tried to “love” me in whatever way she could, but the other side of the coin was dark, distant, and abusive. She stopped drinking, and a great deal of that changed, but she was always “off kilter,” if that makes any sense. So the “dry drunks” were an occasional thing, but she KNEW that something was wrong with her – she knew it, said it, and tried to sort it out. She even tried talking to doctors in the ’50’s about her impulses, etc., and they just told her that she needed to “calm down.” LMAO!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      My belief is that it’s vital to understand this Dark Triad of behaviors because it demonstrates how people, families, and the dynamics involved can create an absolute maelstrom of dysfunction that will grow, exponentially, if offspring marry, reproduce, etc. If we KNOW that there is a dynamic that we are drawn into, we can recognize it and make the decision to either continue playing musical chairs, or to stop. There’s NO “in-between” with this behavioral triad. There isn’t. You’re either IN, or you’re NOT. I prefer being NOT involved since being a participant didn’t result in favorable outcomes, either. 😉

      • …….and, I can completely identify with your experience of catching the former friend stealing from you and crying because you thought that YOU had offended HER by catching HER in the act of stealing from YOU! I “get that,” 100%. I also used to feel responsible for the hurts of the world, and I am OUT of that role, now. LOL!!

  6. Yea, Truthy I can look back on it and see that that was the HEIGHT of having no boundaries. NONE. I can LAUGH about it now because it was INSANE on my part. I caught her when she came back out to the farm later, I do believe to steal something else, she had expected I wouldn’t be home and I WAS home. So I did not let her out of my sight and you could tell she was really FRIED though she tried to hide it. But it no longer hurt me if she was offended because I caught her BEFORE she could steal something again.

    This woman was also dysfunctional to the max and I think she was OCD and a kleptomaniac because she did not steal things she needed, or in many cases even used, just hoarded them. There was a patient once on an inpatient ward where I worked who was a kleptomaniac and she was able (and sneaky enough) that she had 50 toothbrushes she got out of the storeroom on the unit, and dozens of pairs of scrubs. Once she had gone on a cruise with her sister somewhere and as she was getting off the ship her suitcase fell open and there were TONS of things she had stolen off the ship. It really is a sickness, but you know, none the less it isn’t something I am going to tolerate in my life.

    My friends don’t have to be perfect, we all have our issues, but I am pretty picky about some things. One is people who lie and steal and are hateful to others (me or someone else, it doesn’t matter who they abuse, sooner or later they would turn on me) I know a lot of people that are pretty dysfunctional but I keep them at arm’s length from me, not inside my inner CIRCLE of friends that I love and trust. It is just too much chaos and drama to let them up too close if they don’t pretty well play by society’s rules.

    There are people I would morgtage my house for and give them the money, but there are others I’d say “sorry” if they wanted to borrow five dollars.

    The thing is with the woman I caught stealing, the WORST part, is she had stolen from me before and I KNEW IT and I gave her another chance….and well, she reverted to type. She and her husband did not manage their money well, they’d lost their home because of that and I think that she resented the fact that I had a home and somehow she felt entitled to share it, I would have given her the meat she stole if she had asked, I had plenty and more where that came from, but she didn’t ask, she just took it upon herself to sneak into my freezer when she thought I was asleep.

  7. You know on the subject of enabling, I got to thinking today about the ONLY PEOPLE I knew who had a family member in prison were those I met in the visiting line at the prison. I actually got to know some of these people pretty well, even saw them outside of that visiting line, and looking back I can see that they were in the same boat I was….trying to be “supportive” of the offender they cared about, but in actual FACT they were simply ENABLING this offender to continue to have the consequences of his/her bad choices dampened down by having visits, commissary money etc.

    And I’m not talking about people who were in prison for “jay walking” I’m talking about people who have killed others, people who have robbed banks at gunpoint.

    The “support” groups for the families and friends of incarcerated offenders ALL (as far as I can tell) encourage the families to “be there” and “support” the inmate even when there has been a LONG HISTORY of repeat offenses, or offenses so heinous that they are on death row.

    Even admitting that there ARE some people in prison who are innocent of the crime they are incarcerated for, if you look at their past history most of these people are not “choir boys” to start with.

    A friend of Patrick’s that I corresponded with for years is most likely INNOCENT of the murder he is doing life for now, BUT through the correspondence with him, I have found out about MANY previous and VIOLENT crimes that he WAS guilty over. The INNOCENCE project has taken his case on and had some DNA tested that may prove he is innocent of the crime of beating a man to death over some drug quarrel. The Innocence Projects have proven many people, dozens, are innocent even ones on death row. They don’t take on cases that there is not a GOOD likelyhood that the person IS INNOCENT.

    But for the rest of us who KNOW that our loved one has CHOSEN to kill someone, or repeatedly rob people or other bad choices (NOTE: I did NOT say “mistake” because our actions are CHOICES) if we are “supportive” of this person, we are engaging in not only Enabling, but we are living in a chaotic fantasy world that we can “fix” them by “helping” and loving them.

    Some kids get into trouble because of bad companions, and we CAN guide them, but there are others like Patrick who are the LEADERS of the bad companions, and they grow up to be the kind of people I wouldn’t let them play with as kids.

    Recognizing my part in playing this fantasy “game” of enabling, the lengths I went to emotionally, physically and financially in retrospect amaze me that I could have been so blind to what was going on. Blind to the fact that Patrick knew how to manipulate me as well, he knew how to play on my love and my concern and my guilt like a fine violin.

    We can’t change them, but we can and we must educate ourselves and change our behavior where the enabling is concerned. Even if others accuse us of being “heartless” and “uncaring” or even “mean” to “desert” our son or other loved one.

  8. >>> We also eventually come to resent those we enable because it never does any real long-lasting good for them. We are unable to get the psychopath or the alcoholic or drug addict to stop drinking or drugging and making bad decisions when we cover up for them or assume the consequences for their bad choices. Each time they reoffend we become resentful of their lack of gratitude for “all we’ve done for you.” << Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and more recently Fukushima.

    >>> The thing is that people high in psychopathic traits are unable to be grateful for anything you do for them. They have no compassion, no empathy and no gratitude for anything or any one. <<<

    Amen to that. Add to that, nothing is ever "Good Enough" to please them either. Give them an inch, they want and will take the mile, the first chance they get. One mile turns into five, then 10 and so on. Theirs is a world of take, take, take…. The only time they "Give" us anything is to appease us or shut us up for a while. Then they are right back at it. Yuck!

  9. Let me try this again….

    –> We also eventually come to resent those we enable because it never does any real long-lasting good for them. We are unable to get the psychopath or the alcoholic or drug addict to stop drinking or drugging and making bad decisions when we cover up for them or assume the consequences for their bad choices. Each time they reoffend we become resentful of their lack of gratitude for “all we’ve done for you.” Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and more recently Fukushima.

    —> The thing is that people high in psychopathic traits are unable to be grateful for anything you do for them. They have no compassion, no empathy and no gratitude for anything or any one. <—

    Amen to that. Add to that, nothing is ever "Good Enough" to please them either. Give them an inch, they want and will take the mile, the first chance they get. One mile turns into five, then 10 and so on. Theirs is a world of take, take, take…. The only time they "Give" us anything is to appease us or shut us up for a while. Then they are right back at it. Yuck!

  10. Joyce, if you would delete the other two previous posts please. I’m trying to figure out this HTML stuff…. Many Thanks.

    “We also eventually come to resent those we enable because it never does any real long-lasting good for them. We are unable to get the psychopath or the alcoholic or drug addict to stop drinking or drugging and making bad decisions when we cover up for them or assume the consequences for their bad choices. Each time they reoffend we become resentful of their lack of gratitude for “all we’ve done for you.”

    I can only hope the spath’s parents see this article and figure things out for themselves. They have put out a lot of money, time and effort in enabling their son. There is no doubt in my mind that they will continue to do so as long as they can and as much as it takes. In their case, it may be because they don’t want to admit defeat. They have failed as parents, failed in raising him right and failed in getting help for him then and even now. I’m sure they don’t want to admit that to their friends, (What would the neighbors think????) even though their friends already know. He was arrested, he was living with them for a while and he is still bleeding them dry on a number of levels.

    They did recognize he needed help at a young age, they got him help, but failed to recognize the depth and severity of the issue. They threw money at it then and throw money at it now. They are as “highly likely” to continue throwing money at it, just as he is “highly likely” to reoffend…..

    Looking at the way his father behaves, there is no doubt in my mind that he may be just as high in spath traits and therefore a “kindred spirit” to the cause and trying to cover it up. There is clearly “No love lost” between his family and I and for obvious reasons. The whole lot of them are about as toxic as every nuclear explosion site combined-> Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and more recently Fukushima.

    “The thing is that people high in psychopathic traits are unable to be grateful for anything you do for them. They have no compassion, no empathy and no gratitude for anything or any one.”

    Amen to that. Add to that, nothing is ever “Good Enough” to please them either. Give them an inch, they want and will take the mile, the first chance they get. One mile turns into five, then 10 and so on. Theirs is a world of take, take, take…. The only time they “Give” us anything is to appease us or shut us up for a while. Then they are right back at it. Yuck!

    • Phoenix, one of the most challenging things that I’ve faced in my own recovery is finding the will and courage to call a spade what it is. For me, it is no easy task to “accept” that a person cannot be “redeemed,” or salvaged. That a person is willingly evil and engages in chosen activities that harm others isn’t an “illness.” It’s a matter of choices – the exspath doesn’t suffer from anything that would cause him to set me up for a 12 year con, take my investments from me through coercion AND fraud, and hide behind my cloak of respectability while he engaged in his depraved and violent activities.

      Hindsight is always 20/20, and looking back at the exspath’s FOO, I can clearly see how dysfunctional his family is, particularly where his idiot uncle is concerned. The man KEPT getting DUI sentences and having to pay outrageous fees to be able to drive his vehicles – it can cost up to 10K in their State to drive after a DUI. His parents, both in their 80’s, would actually PAY his surcharges, each month, and make his child-support payments FOR him, pay attorneys, pay fines, pay insurance, and allowed him to live in their home without paying a red cent for rent, utilities, or groceries. They went into TERRIBLE debt because of their choices to enable that man, and it never, ever ended.

      With the exspath, even if his parents or family members saw any of these articles, the information would not make any impression upon them, whatsoever. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, so the old saying goes. Where the exspath is concerned, his entire family lives in a dreadful state of denial and will continue to do so until the day that each of them casts away the mortal coil.

      After I attacked the exspath in a fit of rage, I went to his parents’ apartment because I didn’t know what else to do, or where to go – I had no friends, no family, and nobody to turn to in my desperation. The mother explained that, “You hit him, you hit me,” after I told her why I had flown into the rage – expensive fees for s-exual bondage parties, acting-out his violent fantasies with a co-worker, taking my pay to DO it, lying about his activities, and having been engaged in these depraved things since before we ever met. She knew what he was. She also knew that he was seeing someone else and had been enabling him to do it because she said, “He should have ended it before it came to this.”

      They are all depraved, and the enablers are either themselves JUST as depraved, or living in a fantasy that they can somehow FORCE the bad seed to change. “Accepting” the fact that someone is “bad” from the gate and incapable of changing is often too hard for many people to bear. For others, it’s what they have been taught to do by their own FOO. Still, for others, the enabling is THEIR effort to appear that they somehow “care” about the person in question. Whatever way it’s sliced or diced, I have no more time for enabling, and I have to be VERY cautious about my own vulnerabilities, at all times.

      • To clarify: when I attacked the exspath in a fit of rage, it was because I had found actual proof in the dipsh*t’s own words (a letter) to a woman who had been acting as his dominatri-x for a long, long while. The jacka$$ denied that he had been involved with anyone else for 5 weeks, and kept pretending that nothing had happened and that everything was literally “just fine” between the two of us.

        I am thoroughly grateful that I did not know about his financial frauds until AFTER he left the home, or I would likely have put him in the hospital in my rage.

        And, I am not proud of my actions, whatsoever, and that is why I sought therapy – I NEVER wanted to attack a person in a fit of rage like that, again.

  11. Truthy- I’m not quite sure what FOO stands for and I’m also not sure I want to venture a guess either… lol What I AM sure of, is that I might be waaaay off base with what it means.

    Fit’s of rage are much like knowing if you could actually pull the trigger and shoot someone. None of us ever knows what will happen when we are pushed to our breaking point or how we will handle it (to read: IF there will be any hostages/survivors) until we are in that situation. I know what you mean about your anger and yes, sometimes it is a real struggle to maintain some composure and not. just. blow. up.

    There have been a few times in my life when I have felt like I was about to lose it. I knew I was reaching the breaking point and did the best thing I could. I removed myself from the situation. I told the person in no uncertain terms to “Get away from me” and I went into another room. Of course there was a LOT of colorful language, slamming doors, flying objects, name calling and everything else that goes along with it, but I knew I needed to get out of there, calm myself down, take a deep breath and ‘reset’ things, even if it was just for me.

    I realize this is not always possible and the person pressing the issue followed me into the other room. Of course they were screaming and yelling the whole way, trying to keep the argument going.

    That’s what they do. Am I right???
    Were they provoking me? Sure.
    Were things escalating? Yes. At a very rapid pace.

    Again I just kept stating “Get away from me. Just get the hell-o away from me.” Eventually it became yelling “Get the fark away from me” to get my point across.

    But the person kept pushing, kept badgering, kept yelling, kept bickering, kept at it, and I could feel my anger levels skyrocket. I’ve never lost control and started wailing on someone and I hope I never do, but I have come really close to just blowing up and know the signs that it’s about to happen…. I’ve been in that situation and now I know the warning signs of when I need to back out.

    People can only take so much. It depends on the day, what else is going on in that persons life and where their head is at. When they blow up, the person they lash out at may be lucky and only struck a few times or about to be pummeled, culminating from everything the person has suppressed in life, leading up to ‘that day’. Of course the one provoking the attack will cry FOUL and throw the victim card. We all know that right? Not like that’s a surprise…. *rolling my eyes*

    Sorry for us hi-jacking the thread and going a little sideways off topic Joyce. My apologies.

    • Phoenix, “FOO” is an acronym for “Family Of Origin.” LOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      I don’t think that the discussion of anger and rage is “hijacking” the thread of enabling, at all. Enabling, in and of itself, generates anger because I kept letting things “slide,” so to speak, in the vain and foolish belief that my “understanding,” support, and encouragement would result in the person (whomever it was) in taking stock of themselves and making an effort to do better BECAUSE of the “limitless” understanding, support, and encouragement. Well……………la-di-dah………..this was never realized, of course.

      And, my anger issues were a result of choking down flawed beliefs and giving everyone a “second chance,” even when the facts and my own gut instinct said, “This person is a waste of time, Truthspeak. Get AWAY from them.”

      This is literally the “anniversary” of my discovery that shattered my system of beliefs, and brought me down to a low, low point. It’s also almost the exact time, come to think of it! LMAO!!! But, 4 years ago, I made the first of many discoveries that brought into question a number of things. But, the initial discovery was what brought my fury and rage to a head.

      Anger is “normal.” It can be a healthy emotion if it’s processed properly and safely. In nurturing environments, anger is taught as just another feeling RATHER than a fault – something to feel ashamed of. In environments where secrets are kept and doors are shut against the light of truth, anger is NOT allowed and it is always something for the victim to feel ashamed of – bar none. I have not yet met a single survivor of childhood or adult abusive trauma that has NOT felt ashamed – literally shamed – that they felt anger.

      SO………..for me, it was a matter of processing my past and moving into the present in order to not only deal with the anger, but also the grief. The grief of not having a healthy family, of having been abused and neglected (as a child), and choosing abusive partners and friends (as an adult).

      There’s a lot of discussion in various circles about the “Law Of Attraction,” and it attempts to theorize that whatever we throw out there, we get back. Good vibes and positive outlooks supposedly result in “good” outcomes. And, vice versa with “bad” vibes and outlooks. To some extent, I think that this is true. But, I also believe that I have the ability to pick and choose the people that are allowed around me. That meant that I needed to take a look at my own behaviors, actions, and decisions to determine HOW I made such a perfect target for all manners of psychopaths and offenders. Other people weren’t surrounded with the types of people that I was, nor to the degree that I was, either. So, what made ME so different? Well……..it could take volumes to explain how this went with me, but I’m going to try to put it into a nutshell: I gave everyone whatever they needed to exploit my vulnerabilities. Either with my own Life’s Story, sharing my beliefs, my goals, my hopes, my fears, my nightmares, my childhood, etc……..all of these things about ME were absorbed, filed, and kept handy by male AND female psychopaths to access at a particularly perfect moment to exploit those precious vulnerabilities. I gave people the information. Period. So, I’ve been working on keeping my mouth shut, keeping my reactions neutral, and being as BORING as humanly possible (Gray Rock Method), until such time as the person has demonstrated, through actions correlating with their words, that they are WORTHY of my trust. Before, EVERYONE was worthy until they gave me a reason NOT to trust them. I would even SAY this, in conversation to be interpreted as, “I’m trusting you to NOT hurt me, otherwise I will stop trusting you when you do.” Well……….what a crock of sh*t that was! LMAO!!

      Sorry for the long response – it’s been a while since I’ve been on and thinking about these things, in depth, and it’s always a very, very good thing for me to contemplate what enabling allowed others to do to me. Today, it’s a completely different story. And, for some, I might seem like a very cold fish – I don’t CARE what other people think about me, anymore, and that is one heck of an accomplishment for me to have made, I can tell you. At one time, what people thought of me was paramount. No more, thank goodness! 😀

      Anger coincides with enabling. RAGE is the result of unprocessed anger. It all fits, Phoenix. 🙂

  12. I knew I would be way off on FOO. Always better to ask than not.

    When I think of enabling, I think of one of two things 1) someone who either allows the person to do something they know they shouldn’t (drugs) while sitting by and watching and doing nothing to stop it. Or 2) that gives and gives and gives, (money or things- clothes, jewelry, cars, trips, etc.) hoping to see a change and they just don’t stop. This giving is what the spath parents are doing now, have been all along and will continue to do so to their end- be it physically, financially or both. They are enablers by default, because who do we typically go back to when sh!t goes wrong? Family. His parents have always thrown money at things and ‘made it right’ so why wouldn’t he go there? He whines, they pay. He whines more, they pay more and so the cycles goes.

    Do I think rage can come from enabling? Yes, especially when we finally ‘see the light’ and come to our senses, putting a stop to the support we have given another with no results of change. Some people are seething with rage, as it has built up for a while before the lid finally blows off. With an ex-boyfriend before the spath, there was a LOT of hostility when we split up. I wasn’t sure WHO I should have been angrier with? Him for treating me the way he did or myself for allowing him to cause the damage he caused?

    In the end, it was a lesson learned and I realized that we BOTH played a part in creating the mess. I was the one left cleaning it up. This is when I decided it was worth every penny NOT to have to deal with him anymore. Dave Ramsey calls it the “Stupid Tax”, the cost for being stupid or making bad decisions. Someone here had likened it to paying the exterminator for getting rid of the PEST the spath truly is. There are many ways to look at it, but we each need to find the one that makes sense to us, helps put a stop to it and lay it to rest where it belongs. Once we recognize what we allowed or where we didn’t put our foot down, putting ourselves first, then we can recognize it, if it begins to happen again later on. Same song, different band.

  13. Yea, phoenix, if we don’t RECOGNIZE our parts and CHANGE our ways, we will fall back into the ENABLING with others as well. Searching ourselves and our choices and seeing a PATTERN in them so that we can change the results. “Insanity is doing the same thing over and hoping for different results.” I know I REPEATED the enabling with various folks and the result was ALWAYS the same and I danced from chair to chair in the Rescuer-Persecutor-Victim game of musical chairs until I EVENTUALLY saw the results were not going to change until I QUIT ENABLING with EVERYONE.

    Now that doesn’t mean I don’t help folks out, but I DO NOT DO FOR THEM WHAT THEY ARE RESPONSIBLE TO DO FOR THEMSELVES.

    The snarky comment “Not my monkey, not my circus” pretty well sums it all up, if it is NOT my responsibility, then why would I assume it? One small example is my son’s room. It is always a MESS…but I neither clean it nor nag him to do it, it is HIS RESPONSIBILITY and if he chooses not to do it, and I go in and do it FOR him then I will be pithed off cause he didn’t do it and I “Had” to do it. Well of course I am NOT RESPONSIBLE for his room, I recognize that and we have no problem over it.

    On the other hand, we have a division of household and farm labor that we have worked out where I do the cooking and dishes and both our laundry, and he does most of the outside chores and empties the trash. If I ASK him, he will do anything cheerfully, but unless I am for some reason UNABLE to keep up with my end of the divided labor I never ask him to do my part. But at the same time, he eats what I cook, or eats cheese and crackers and never complains. So actually, he is the best “roommate” I’ve ever had and we’ve never had a cross word about house or farm. We are honest with each other and don’t enable each other, don’t victimize each other, or persecute each other. We recognize appropriate boundaries etc.

    If I had played the TRIAD with him, he would have been out of here years ago,. as it is, he is here because he wants to be and pulls his share of the weight in keeping our ship afloat both financially and emotionally.

    You are right though Phoenix, the “stoopid tax” is VERY real and I’ve paid a bunch of it in the past, but I am determined not to do it again.

  14. Yeah Joyce, a few things come to mind on this one.

    Learn from the past or you are bound to repeat it.
    The Lord helps those who help THEMSELVES.
    A hand UP, NOT a hand OUT.

    I have no problem helping people out when they truly need it. BUT!!! That comes with the caveat that I remind myself before extending anything. They have to be willing to try and get themselves out of the mess and be working towards getting out of it. Otherwise, don’t look at me….

    It all sort of falls together in a happy neat pile. Sure we all need help once in a while. But before I offer anything, I look at things as objectively as I can. How did this person get where they are now? Was it something preventable or not? Was there things they could have done to scale back before it all went wrong? Did they try? I guess this one is the biggest one for me. DID THEY TRY? ARE THEY TRYING NOW? Are they willing to let things go to stop the hemorrhaging and restore balance in their life? (Caps are merely for emphasis, not shouting.)

    If someone isn’t willing to get up and at least try, then it’s every man for themselves and I have no problem walking away. If they are injured, weak, elderly or whatever, I take this into consideration. We all have issues to deal with in life. I get that.

    • Phoenix, rage was what resulted in MY case of enabling when I could finally take no more of the second exspath’s deceptions and betrayals – and, that was even BEFORE I discovered that I had been defrauded of, and coerced OUT of 300K of my own, private investments. It was a long, long con on his part – he waited about 11 years to gain access to my funds and disappeared them within 2 1/2 years. P-OOF!! Gone.

      So, without a doubt, anger and rage can be a result of enabling because we are met with the same disappointing outcomes, REGARDLESS of what we do to “help” or “ignore” someone else’s behaviors. They get into trouble. We bail them out. They get into trouble, again, and we bail them out, again. And, so on………

      For me, I truly didn’t “know” that I didn’t need someone to rescue me. I had never really stood on my own 2 feet, alone, and without a partner for nearly 3 decades. When I aligned myself with the second exspath, it was after a 15 year marriage that was abusive, violent, and dreadful, and I was easy, easy pickings for anyone with a smile, a compliment, and who acted as if I were valued. EASY pickings, me.

      When the exspath left, I was destitute, I had a very low-paying job, and I was very, very sick with the auto-immune disorder that I had developed. I didn’t ask for help because I couldn’t afford to pay anyone back. A couple of people became angry at me because I hadn’t reached out to them for help – turned out that those people were suffering from a narcissistic disorder, themselves, and “helping” someone really meant causing the person being helped to FEEL indebted, for life. I wasn’t going to go that route.

      Now, I don’t offer anyone anything. If someone is in desperate need through no fault of their own, I will do something without asking – food, clothing, etc. But, I will also take into consideration who the person is and everything else.

      And, the trick to avoiding these types of cons in the first place is to observe their ENTIRE situation. Do they live in their own space? For how long have they lived there? Are they in good shape at their place of employment? Do they have good credit and keep track of their own finances? Are they “spontaneous” to the point where it could cause them to lose their job? Do they romanticize everything? Separating the emotions from the observations is no simple task, especially when one is coming out of a very bad relationship and entering into one that hasn’t been tested, yet. I did not observe anything. I was in a bad state when I was baited with the fantasy of being “rescued” and “saved” by the exspath – I was placed on such a very high pedestal that I fell miles when it finally toppled.

      Never, ever, ever again.

  15. Phoenix, no apology necessary you made some excellent points about button pushing, and how people can be backed into a corner and see no way out but THROUGH the aggressor and will take action to get out….been there and dun that myself. So has Truthy, I think many of us are like the cat backed into the corner by the dog, and we retreat and retreat and when there is no way out we go for the dog hissing and spitting, clawing and biting.


    The anger, rage etc that we feel toward a person we have enabled and they have NOT CHANGED is in response to the DARK TRIAD, and we feel like a victim and are angry about their lack of change “after all I did for you” etc. Victim, persecutor, rescuer over and over and over until WE stop the dance. We quit enabling (rescuing them) and we quit persecuting them (harboring anger and resentment that they won’t change) and we quit being a Victim of their taking advantage of us or abusing us, because THEY are enraged that we are trying to change them, and/or stop enabling their bad behavior.

    Sometimes that anger, rage, can escalate into what my therapist would call “tissue damage”

    As for “helping” others, I do try to do that when I am able, but I DO NOT EXPECT gratitude or anything else in repayment. If I “loan” money to someone I am aware I may or may not get it back and it is an amount that I can “afford to lose” and if I never get it back, okay.

    I also consider if the person is doing the best they can to help themselves. The women from the domestic violence shelter that I used to work with frequently went back to the man that had broken their arms, etc. and that was tough for me to see happen, I wanted to shake them and say “are you crazy????” But we must accept that people will make bad decisions for multiple reasons or excuses and that no matter what we DO we cannot FIX them unless they want to be fixed. But when we do “help” someone and it turns out not to have done any good, then we need to back off.

    My ex father in law had a saying “You can give people things but you can’t help them” and that was pretty true and I still think it is, we and they must help/fix ourselves.

    Being supportive and understanding with someone who is trying to fix their own life is a good thing, but they still have to fix themselves, we can’t do it for them. I was in therapy for a while back years ago, and the therapist taught me about the DRAMA TRIANGLE and showed me that I was an enabler, but though Ii remembered the words, I didn’t get the MESSAGE, and continued to rinse and repeat my enabling and playing musical chairs of victim, persecutor and rescuer for another 30 years….I could SEE it in others’ behavior but not in my own life and behavior and thinking, but EVENTUALLY I recalled those words and got the MESSAGE behind them and started to heal myself, to change my own behavior, to cut out the people who were disordered in my life.

    All the KNOWLEDGE in the world won’t help you until you APPLY it to your own life. And having worked as a therapist myself I felt really STOOPID that I had no applied it to myself that I had not seen it in myself, the same things that I could see clearly in the lives of others.

    Now, I continue to try to learn more, apply more etc in my own life, and associate with people who are not disordered. Fortunately, I am retired so don’t have to be forced to associate with either disordered patients, disordered coworkers, or disordered “friends” and that helps a great deal to keep my life drama free.

    Also I am aware of my feelings and thinking more, and when I feel the anger/rage rise in me I realize I have stepped off the high road and fallen back into the LIFELONG PATTERN of the Triad. I think I will always revert to that if I don’t keep a close check on myself but I intend to continue to work on myself daily, to live peacefully, with gratitude, altruism, and acceptance.

  16. Joyce- Good analogy about getting backed into a corner. However, I have always made sure I don’t end up in that position. I guess once you have been there and pushed to your limits or mighty close to them, you tend to be more aware going forward and keep yourself from doing it again. At least I have or try to anyways.

    I know what you mean about trying to fix people. If they aren’t ready to be ‘fixed’ they’re simply not going to be. No waving of a magic wand, words of abra-ca-dabra, wishing on falling stars or daily prayers will do it. Not until they are ready to accept it, can someone be ‘fixed’ and 9 times out of 10, it has to come from within.

    As far as the anger issue goes, there is only one person who sends my vitals thru the roof on sight or sometimes even the mere mention of his name. Thankfully I haven’t been around him in a very long time. Long enough that if I were to run into him on the street tomorrow, I may or may not recognize him. I doubt however, that I would not know he is in my midst. I’m sure the energy alone would likely set my hair straight and put me on edge. May the Lord help us all if that day should ever come. LMAO!

  17. Phoenix, I definitely understand…I ran into a family member unexpectedly in a store a few years ago and I about “lost it” I tried to run away and she grabbed my arm and tried to restrain me, with this piteous voice and look on her face and it “flew all over me” and I mouthed off when I should have just kept on running. I think it was the SURPRISE of it all that got me.

    Well, in any case I definitely understand. I do think though, that being surprised by an encounter and not expecting it hampered my keeping it together. I think (and HOPE) that in the same situation today I would just keep on walking and not mouth off. LOL

    The SNUB of NO CONTACT is the most devastating thing we can do to them. RESPONDING only gives them more fuel.They get ATTENTION when we respond and attention is crucial to them and their self esteem.

  18. ps NO CONTACT is the opposite of enabling…and it gives US the upper hand because WE are in control of how we behave, because without NO CONTACT, NO RESPONSE, the INDIFFERENCE to them we are demonstrating “busts their bubble!” And yet, that Gray Rock or NO CONTACT is the hardest part for me and I imagine is for others as well. I want to TELL them what I think of them (like they don’t already know! LOL) so I have to go against my instincts to remain CALM cool and collected.

    • Joyce, “No Contact” is the only way to escape the webs of the offender and of enabling them. Period. There is no other means to maintain contact with these predators and remain “safe” from their ploys, games, and manipulations. Period.

      There is a gal in our support group that maintains contact with her mother – I am NOT a professional, but her mother sounds Borderline, to me – and she is in a constant state of anxiety about what “could” happen, etc. But, she chooses to do this rather than let her mother go. The gal has gotten a great deal of recovery over the past 3 years, but she hasn’t begun healing and won’t likely experience this until her mother passes. Why? Quite simply, the traumatic childhood experiences created a dreadful fear of abandonment, and she has applied this to her own husband and daughters. In the back of her mind, she honestly believes that each member of her family could just “walk,” at any given moment if she “does something wrong.” This mind-set is 100% trauma-based and had been created, rather than being something “organic.” Because she maintains contact with this wicked-witch-of-a-parent, she is constantly reminded BY the WWOAP that she (the gal) could “lose” her loved ones, “…at any minute…” Now, the likelihood that the gal’s husband or daughters would just abandon her is pretty close to NIL because the gal isn’t the same as her mother is. However, her own personal interactions and beliefs are SO rooted in “perfection” and trauma that she doesn’t have a moment during the day when she doesn’t “worry(her own word)” about “losing” a family member.

      “No Contact” was the first “rule” that I put into place when the second exspath left. Although I was horribly traumatized by the whole reveal and my subsequent behaviors, I knew that there would be nothing that HE could say to affect a change, erase his actions, or return the hundreds of thousands of dollars that he coerced me out of or took from me without my permission.

      “No Contact” allows for a buffer to develop between the offender and the victim. This buffer, in turn, allows for the natural processes of grief and loss to occur. In due time, when we have been out of contact long enough, we can separate the “fantasy” from the realities. I could clearly SEE how the exspath had manipulated me in no uncertain terms, and identify that he is, indeed, a psychopath. I NEEDED that time to form a frame of reference for my own intuition and perceptions, and to allow them to reveal themselves as qualities and capabilities that I could rely upon to be truthful, even when the “truth” was painful, repugnant, or unflattering to my own image.

      Remaining calm, cool, and collected is one of the greatest upsides to “No Contact,” Joyce. The further away from the emotional mayhem that I traveled, the easier it was for me to call the spade precisely what it was: a spade.

  19. There has been a determined hacker trying to hack this site for some time now, a month or more, and they have tried to hack the IT person’s log in, fortunately unsuccessfully so far, so if the site does go down, please contact me at the e mail address on this blog and let me know ASAP so that I can contact the IT person ASAP. Thanks. Not sure if it is a random thing or if it is someone with a grudge against the IT person or against me personally. They are bouncing the attacks all over the world to different countries IP addresses.

    • Joyce, that may explain all of the weird anomalies with the blog site that I experience. Inability to “see” new posts or articles, logging in and “seeing” the posts only to have them disappear when I click on them, etc.

      Sadly, the world of technology (in general) and the interwebs (specifically) have allowed for the very WORST in human behavior to flourish with little-to-no consequences.

      I will certainly keep this in mind, and thanks for the heads-up about this hacking business. :-/

  20. Well another attempt at logging in as my IT person has failed today so it is still going on. The blog will have trouble from time to time just “naturally” but here lately it has really been going strong. More than ON the blog though, it seems to be behind the scenes in the IT where the hacker seems determined to get the password of the IT person, and tries and fails and gets locked out, rinse and repeat.

  21. That’s pretty sad when you think about it. Someone who comes off (or tries to anyways) as being “Oh so smart” about computers and technology, spends their time trying to hack into a blog? WOW! That’s productive and useful…. (That’s sarcasm in case anyone missed it)

    Imagine what they could do if they used their ‘mad skills’ at making something good? Probably come up with a program that would be popular and make them some money. What a concept?!?!

    • Joyce, thank you for sharing the link and it is a pretty good article. I truly despise the term, “people pleaser,” because it glosses over what someone is really doing when they try to smooth things over for EVERYONE. The article stated, “When you are too nice you make your way through life by placating, making you vulnerable to being dismissed by others. When you fear that you will be seen as overbearing, domineering or bitchy by having your own opinion and a clear sense of direction you shrink from your value and lose your belief in what you are capable of achieving.” Whomever came to that conclusion is 110% spot-on.

      I know I’ve mentioned this, before, but there’s a gal in our support group that insists upon maintaining a relationship with her very, very toxic mother. She has come a long, long way in her recovery and healing processes, but she is incapable of relaxing around people and still maintains that she MUST be cautious about what she says, how she says it, etc. She is a people-pleaser of the most damaged kind. And, it’s not her fault, obviously – her overbearing mother traumatized all of her family with her behaviors, manipulations, and ridicule, and this gal is just trying to sort out her issues so that she can hear here phone ring without flying into a panic.

      When we try to “please” or “appease” people, it’s not successful because we cannot be ALL things to ALL people. We simply can’t. For 51 years, I was unwilling to accept this fact and I didn’t realize that my core beliefs were based upon childhood shame.

      Whatever it’s based upon, knowing our limits and accepting them as aspects of our humanity, rather than FLAWS, takes time and patience to achieve. That knowledge, once it’s finally accepted as fact, is probably the most important thing that I’ve learned, to date: I cannot (and, WILL not) be responsible for the happiness or success of anyone else. This is such a relief to me because I don’t have to feel ashamed or guilty if someone isn’t happy, content, sober, or recovering. I can feel compassion, absolutely! But, I am not responsible.

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