As I continued on in the book I thankfully found that Allison gave us the way out! It’s only the first step to admit you’re an enabler, that was hard in and of itself, but to…
… as much as I wanted too, I had no idea how to.
Her Simple Acronym SANITY gave me 6 action steps to take to STOP the enabling.
• S = STOP, your negative behavior; enabling, blaming, and STOP the flow of money
• A = Assemble a Support group
• N = Nip excuses in the bud
• I = Implement Rules and boundaries
• T = Trust your instincts
• Y = Yield everything to God.
The S in Sanity would be the hardest to tackle. When you set a norm and start going against it to set a new one, it more than rocks the boat. And I will tell you when I began this process it got ugly. Saying NO when your asked for money for things you always caved in for in the past, you best be ready to implement the N and the I and laden it with the Y, and be sure you have A ready to call when you have.
What I’m saying here is this an all or nothing process. You can’t just Assemble a Support group and not take the plunge to Nip excuses in the bud (his as wells as yours). Or Implement Boundaries and not STOP enabling.
I wish I could say that after reading this I instantly began saying NO and sticking with it. I’d be lying to you and to myself if I even tried to breathe that as truth. What I can tell you is I already had A in place. I have an amazing husband who has loved me in-spite of being an enabler who has stuck by me in it all and through it all,and a group of girlfriends that had my back, that held me accountable, that cried with me, laughed with me and had no problem asking me the hard questions (or handing me a book to read that I needed more than them at the time).
And I had Y in place. I had a strong walk with my God, and I had been lifting my son up to him for quite some time. (Problem was I kept taking him back to fix myself.)
I slowing started saying NO, each time it got a little easier, less scary. It would be three months into this process when I had to firmly and with all the tough love I possessed to tell my son He could no longer live with us. That was August 2010, which is when I wrote “Letting Go of the Prodigal”. Over the next six months I got good at saying NO (S), staying accountable to my friends (A), not listening to his excuses when he’d call and start telling me why he couldn’t do something. (N) putting firm Boundaries in place, (I), I knew in my heart I was moving in the right direction (T) and my walk with God seemed better than ever (Y).
So why did it take two more times of letting him in and watching him fail miserably to finally (oh I hope it’s finally) to draw a line in the concrete? I went back and re-read some of Allison’s book, and in Chapter 8 she tells the story of her son’s court case, and how it got back to her that her son felt she sat there and cried just to be the center of attention. It was like a lightning bolt hit her, how little he cared about her and her feelings. That all that she had done out of a mothers heart truly meant nothing to him.
“Clearly my son was unaware of the depth of my pain and therefore the depth of my love for him. All the years I had come to his rescue out of love for him-out of a desire to keep him safe, to help during his trials and tribulations- all for naught. He didn’t get it. He never got it. Not only didn’t he get it, he didn’t appreciate it, Not only didn’t he appreciate it, but I suddenly realized with crystal clarity that instead of helping him, my actions had hindered him.”
Tomorrow I will end this series of post with my own Ah-ha moment and how I have gained my Freedom in Saying NO.