Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Freedom in Saying ‘No’ (Part 1)

I have had long standing issues with being an enabler. I had been an enabler in a past relationship, to the point of living in an emotionally abusive state. It was always easier to push life under the rug then to confront it. One day I did find my voice and said ‘NO’. No more pushing it under the rug, no more making pretend that all was ok. That relationship ended.

It must have set precedence in my subconscious that saying No means a relationship will end. Because although I stood firm in that relationship, and didn’t go back to enabling that person, my enabling just took on a new life in another relationship.

For too long I enabled my son, although I didn’t hand him drugs, I certainly caved to his requests over and over again. To which I am ashamed that I aided his addiction, by supplying him with money that didn’t go for his voiced intended need, like new sneakers or money to go to the movies… instead it would go to feed his habit.

I guess I could claim I was naïve…

But being naïve can only last so long.

Hindsight is always our best teacher, when we can see with clear lenses, looking back at our behavior and see how we acted, how we interacted, how we folded when we should have stood firm and learn from it.
It took me a number of years of counseling and insight into my past to see just why saying ‘No’ was so hard for me. And coming to the place where I was able to say…

My name is Susan and I’m an enabler…

It was this past summer when I began reading ‘Setting Boundaries With Your Adult Children’ by Allison Bottke

that I was finally able to say that. In the very first chapter it states…

“Many of us parents in pain dream about seeing our adult children live as independent, functional adult children instead of the dependent, dysfunctional adult children they have become. ..
The first step is for us to accept any part we have played in making our adult children who-and what- they have become. We also need a better understanding of the differences between helping and enabling and the wisdom and willingness to make the necessary changes in our own lives when at last we truly recognize the difference…”

It was in reading her book that I saw just how enabling I was and that there could be freedom in saying NO.

Tomorrow I’ll share the questions from her book that began my journey to The Freedom in Saying No.


  1. Being able to name the issue is a great beginning! Thank you for sharing your vulnerability with us! Praying for and loving you dear friend!