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  1. #1
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    Default Dealing with an enabler

    My mom is an enabler. I always knew this, but this past week I realized the full extent of her behavior and how it has affected my family.

    I believe that my father is a textbook narcissist. He and I are no longer speaking as the result of his behavior. It's sad and I really wish things were different but it is what it is.

    When all this drama with my father erupted I thought my mother would be imploring me to forgive him from day one. To my surprise, she didn't. She made some excuses for him, but for the most part did not bug me about him. That is until last week when she came to visit. My father's birthday is coming up and she want me to call him to wish him a happy birthday. I don't want to talk to him and told her that flat out. That's when the "he's your father, he's not perfect", "he's suffering and is sorry in his own way", "haven't you punished him enough?", "fine, but remember we're getting older, we may not be around for much longer" isms began.

    The more I think about what she's said, the more angry I get. WTF? How dare she guilt trip me!!! Aside from guilt tripping me she give me advice me how to deal with him (just put him in his place and tell him what he is doing wrong.) Why the hell to I have to discipline my own father on his behavior? I have a hard enough time doing that with my three-year-old! It's sad because other than the issues with my dad, she and I have a great relationship.

    Just writing about it this raising my blood pressure. Do you have an enabler in your life? How do you deal with him/her?
    God is great, beer is good, and people are crazy. - Billy Currington.

  2. #2
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    Well, my mother is insane and thinks she shouldn't have to work. She never has, and the only reason she pays her bills is because people let her "borrow" money. She used to guilt trip me into giving her money, and I'm betting I've given her 10 grand over the years (while I was a college student working low-paying jobs, it's not like I was well-off!!). A few years back I said ENOUGH and stopped enabling her, and she guilt tripped me about that, too. She still calls me crying for money but I've just had to build a really strong backbone and not let the BS get to me. It's taken a lot of time for me to get to the point where I just block it out. And really, I communicate with her as little as possible, maybe once every other month. I have BEGGED the people I know give her money to stop because all it does is make my life more difficult because I have to hear how so and so helps her out but her own daughter refuses to help. If everyone would stop giving her money, she would have to work because she's not going to starve! And if she is that unwilling to help herself then that's HER problem! I'm terrified about what's going to happen when she gets old. She has no savings, no plan, nothing. Okay now my blood pressure is rising. But all of these people who enable her just assume I'll take her on, and that's not happening.

    Anyway, I'm rambling, but here's what I've "figured out" about enablers - they aren't going to stop. These people know how my mother is, I'm sure your mother knows how your father really is, but that doesn't matter. I don't mean to be offensive, but I think enablers are really weak people. When I was enabling my mother it was because I didn't want to deal with her BS. It was easier for ME to just placate her than to stand up to her. I will say, when I finally put a stop to it, there was a huge blow up, she screamed and cried, accused me of being hateful, said it wasn't fair because my husband is rich (as in, we pay our bills), and on and on... maybe your mother just doesn't have the strength or desire to tell your dad the truth about his behavior. I really don't know what you can do or say to get her off your back without dealing with drama.

    Personally, I would just tell her that you have cut ties with your father because his behavior is (insert the feeling it gives you here) and that's the situation. Tell her that he knows why your relationship is strained, and unless he changes his behavior, your relationship will not improve. Tell her it's hard enough for YOU to not have a relationship with your own father, so you don't need her trying to make you feel worse. Let her know that from now on you don't want to talk to her about him anymore, so if she wants to keep a relationship with you then she needs to respect you enough to knock it off. I'm going to warn you, she will likely freak out, so you really have to decide what is necessary for your sanity. What will be worse? Telling her that you can't deal with her behavior or dealing with her behavior?

    Okay that was really long, but this is something I've dealt with for so long, it bugs the crap out of me to hear about other people dealing with it!
    Last edited by imagirliegirl; 10-18-2009 at 09:20 AM.
    Why do people kill people who kill people to show people that to kill people - is bad?

  3. #3
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    I agree with imagirliegirl. My mom is a narcissist and an enabler and I know the guilt-trip game all too well. Ultimately there is a pathological need for drama and that is where we fit in. So it won't stop and nothing you can do will stop it. Maybe 30 or 40 years ago but not at their age. If there are still in that mess for all that time they sure aren't getting out. Being in that role for so long changes their cognitive structuring so deeply no one person can really do much. I'm sure enabling started for your mom in her family growing up. It is all she knows. For me, I stopped all verbal communication with her and only talk to her via email. When she leaves me voice messages I respond to them in an email. That way I have more control and the sound of her voice doesn't set me off. She had a huge emotional reaction to this (going on anti-depressants because *I* was causing her to be depressed, etc) but I stuck to my guns and now she doesn't say anything anymore. My life is SOOOO much happier doing this but I did have to seriously mourn not having the mom that I deserved and needed. That ideal just was not and is not going to happen. Since then I have a sort of "foster" family that is much happier and healthier and my son has a much healthier sense of extended family. Those are boundaries I really had to fight for and it paid off even though emotionally it was pretty tough to go through.
    "It's so easy to laugh, it's so easy to hate, it takes guts to be gentle and kind" ~ The Smiths
    DS1 6.29.06 ~:~ DS2 10.7.10

  4. #4
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    I agree with the ladies above. My sister (and I am using that loosely) has used her woes to get what she wants. She paints a tiring story about how our mother had the nerve to leave her father (he was cheating on our mom, it was the 60s and it was a big deal to get a divorce back then). My mom has always hoped that she would "get it" at some point, through all of her bad behavior and refusing to share with her parents why my sister really moved out. She didn't want to break her dad's heart by telling him that she was drinking and doing drugs, running with the wrong crowd. When my sister deems her time is worthy enough to even utter a few sentences to my mom, my mom is right there. You need money to come to Popa's funeral. No problem. You need this or that, no problem. After his funeral, she point blank asked for the money, didn't say thank you or let's get together for a meal. She instead opted to continue her sad tale of how she was kicked out of our house, that she didn't get to go to college and that I got everything. Me? I was done. I finally got it, she didn't care for anyone except herself. She left her son with his adoptive father when she got everything she wanted out of him, sharing a story of abuse to those that would listen all the while she had already moved into now husband number four's home. I don't normally question someone when they share their story of abuse but when you leave your bio son at this man's house because you need to be on your own? I question it.

    My mom from time to time will ask me to talk to her and I simply say that I made my decision. That after years of racing after her, hoping for a relationship I was done. She knows that I am right in my decision, one that was not taken lightly. Luckily my dad is supportive and just says that mom still has that small glimmer of hope that one day all will be right in the world.

    I also have an ex that I enabled and again, it is one of those things that you have to build up to and then say, I am done. He was into drugs, drinking and cheating. I allowed it all because I didn't think I could do better. The sad thing is his parents have always enabled him and his brothers. And it has not helped them in life. My ex is a much better person now but he still has flaws, ones that one deep due to how his mother in particular raised him. The middle one? He bounces from mental health institutions, jail and their home. He has threatened them many times and yet they still allow him to continue. The youngest? Being coddled his entire life has created a very lost, incapable person. He continues to live with them and should anything, God forbid, happen to them, I don't know who will take care of him or his brother. It is all a very sad story because they each would have a great life had there been rules, guidelines and unconditional love. . . but sadly none was given.

    Sorry to ramble, but like the others have said, it gets the blood pressure up.

  5. #5
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    My MIL, with my SIL. I know I've talked about her from time to time here, but I never realized that a lot of this fell on MIL's shoulders. SIL is almost 20, and was married this past summer to a guy she dated only a few months after taking a 2 month break between her now DH & ex, who she was with for over a year and was discussing marriage with. Ever since I've known SIL she's been a brat. I put up with it for years, mostly whining here (:embarrassed about it.MIL has always made excuses for her, but I never saw how her behavior contributed to it. SIL was 14 when she sent out one of those mass email surveys to everyone including the pastor who was marrying us. In it, she answered the question of who she thought would get divorced first with DH & my names, along with a few other sentences. MIL played it off as 'she's only 14', and it's been that way ever since.

    Things have been coming to a head in the past year, since DD was born. SIL is no longer the baby girl of the family, and attention is not on her, especially when we visit, which is not often. She had no respect for others, often blames her problems on me, and MIL always finds reasons to excuse it. To make it worse, she calls DH and uses him for her support when there is a problem. He has been pushing her for YEARS to get her help, to seek psychological evaluation, but she always refuses. She always says she has no idea why SIL acts the way she does, and has never known what to do. Our last encounter with her was Labor Day weekend. DH has told her she can not take pictures of our kids because she refuses to take them off of facebook. We were at a playground with our kids when he again asked her to put the camera away. DH went to the car to change DS and MIL decides to start a conversation as to why SIL, is pouting. I heard screaming and turn to find SIL in the back seat of our SUV screaming and cussing at DH while MIL & FIL were standing there, DS in DH's arms. We stopped to eat, SIL still pouting, staying in MIL's car. MIL tried to justify the pictures since I had posted them 'all over FB'. She would not have a conversation about it. MIL was so upset the next day because her kids just could not get along. She pressured DH to talk to SIL, inviting her to go along with us, which she declined, while making snotty side remarks about me, never using my name.

    So now, SIL is having seizures, and apparently the part of the brain they are coming from affects mood and behavior. MIL had the audacity to try to justify her behavior at the park and the entire weekend on this. I never realized until then how much of an enabler MIL was and that it will never stop until she stops, which she won't. I know I can't push DH too much into seeing what is real, but he is starting to, and has told MIL that we will never be in that situation again, where we are staying at the house when SIL is there as well. I want to be mad at SIL, but I also know that with out MIL, she wouldn't be like this.
    1+1=5! Baby #3, Aug 2012!

  6. #6
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    Thanks everyone - it's both sad and comforting.

    The one thing that gets me about my mom's last visit is that she kept on making statement such as "you must forgive" and "you have to understand..." or "you've punished him enough". Look, I love my father dearly. I know his history and understand how he became the person that he is today. I accept him for who he is and have forgiven him for the hellish past. However, I am not going to put up with his childish behavior in the present. My mom can' t seem to get that forgiving does not mean us becoming one big happy family in denial again.
    God is great, beer is good, and people are crazy. - Billy Currington.

  7. #7
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    This is a pretty relevant article When Parents Are Too Toxic to Tolerate

    I can understand that line of feeling pulled or guilted to please and to keep your own sanity and personal boundaries. My mom and her side of the family are just like that too. Unity in the face of any circumstance. You are supposed to accept the person for whatever misgivings and still go over for holidays and suck it up in the toxic goo that everyone puts up with for some insane reason.

    The thing is that it is only our generation that has actually stopped playing all the bullshit games and self-sacrifice. Our parents really don't understand that and it goes against the very grain of their culture. When you stand up for yourself it really brings the problem to the surface and then you act like your mom *should* act. This is very threatening. You are basically being stronger than she is and more self-preserving than she is on top of saying your dad's behavior is unacceptable. All of this could be reality shattering for your mom and causes her a lot of anxiety. So to make herself feel better she wants you to kiss and make up. Saying all that, screw all the reasons why...good for you for standing up for yourself! And don't feel bad for distancing yourself from both of them.
    "It's so easy to laugh, it's so easy to hate, it takes guts to be gentle and kind" ~ The Smiths
    DS1 6.29.06 ~:~ DS2 10.7.10

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Soulmate View Post
    The thing is that it is only our generation that has actually stopped playing all the bullshit games and self-sacrifice. Our parents really don't understand that and it goes against the very grain of their culture.
    So true. Family through thick or thin, physical and emotional abuse, alcoholism and drug use... Um NO!
    God is great, beer is good, and people are crazy. - Billy Currington.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Southlooper View Post
    Thanks everyone - it's both sad and comforting.

    The one thing that gets me about my mom's last visit is that she kept on making statement such as "you must forgive" and "you have to understand..." or "you've punished him enough". Look, I love my father dearly. I know his history and understand how he became the person that he is today. I accept him for who he is and have forgiven him for the hellish past. However, I am not going to put up with his childish behavior in the present. My mom can' t seem to get that forgiving does not mean us becoming one big happy family in denial again.
    This is my MIL. She does not even see the damage SIL has done, does not even want to see it. She does understand that while DH is not mad at SIL, he is just not dealing with it.
    1+1=5! Baby #3, Aug 2012!

  10. #10
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    My MIL is an enabler also-- to my SIL (her DIL).

    SIL is a friggin' lunatic who will throw schoolyard tantrums if attention is diverted away from her. She threw a fit at my wedding, at every.single family function I've ever attended with DH's family and also refused to come (and let her kids come) to our girls' baptism back in Sept.

    No one seems to realize that I don't give a flip about this woman and MIL keeps making excuses and looking to me to try and keep peace.

    Why isn't MIL going to SIL to resolve anything? Ugghhh, I could type a post so long my laptop will explode, but I'll just leave it at this.

    IMO, being an enabler is one of the worst character flaws a person can have.
    Sugar & Spice, and everything TWICE
    July 19, 2009

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