While out on a drive last Saturday my thoughts drifted to enabling behaviors. Growing up with an alcoholic father, I recognize the signs of condependency and understand my own immediate “run fast, run far” reaction when I observe it in others.
Which is not to say I do not find myself participating in such behaviors, even now.
M is a rescuer; he is afflicted with white knight syndrome. He keeps it in check 99.99% of the time with others, and I periodically have to keep it in check for him with me. I love that he is there for me, but I do not always want or need to be saved. There are plenty of occasions when I want or need to work out a problem all on my own and need him to listen and make appropriate supportive noises in reply.
There are plenty of occasions when we enable each other, and it is not always healthy. In my seemingly life long quest for better health and fitness, I have grown weary multiple times of M suggesting supplements or natural alternatives to help my endurance, my flexibility, my appetite for or tolerance of sugar and carbohydrates. Those are just illustrative examples; the things he has read about or tried with regard to supplements and natural remedies would take a lot of time to recall and list here. I appreciate that he has found things that help him, but I hate taking pills, I cannot stand the smell in a GNC or other vitamin store and feel certain that any supplement sold there is tainted with the same, yucky smell. On top of all that, I am skeptical of the claimed results. M knows this and now only occasionally brings it up with me. But I know he is aware of my weaknesses when it comes to diet and exercise, and I find it curious and frustrating when I am diligently counting carbs and he is coming home with my favorite chocolate cake or a freshly baked loaf of bread from the bakery. Or worse – whipping up an entire pan of scalloped potatoes (OMG – SO GOOD on the smoker!) when it is just the two of us for dinner and he is not eating carbs. Seriously M? Is this you being passive-aggressive because I refused to even try the chromium supplements?
I do not believe my husband wants me dead or suffering unfortunate diabetes-related complications. He knows there are certain foods I love and he brings them home because they will make me happy … until I have to test and be unhappy with my latest failure to exercise any self control. Sugar is my addiction, so is M enabling me? Technically yes. Am I terribly worried about it? Probably not. M knows I appreciate his efforts to please me, but he also knows I struggle mightily. When I feel defeated in my continual failures to control my blood sugar the urge to give up and just binge is huge. Making me happy by preparing a pan of favorite food (scalloped potatoes) when I am the only one eating it is not the kindest or most loving thing he has ever done. Providing comfort food is really no comfort at all. And me, beyond my delight with the supreme yumminess, recognize that I am participating in this addictive charade by not letting him see how ruined I feel when I’m staring down at a 300+ reading on my meter a couple hours later from binging on fat and carbs.
So we had another of our long heart-to heart conversations about these things and have agreed that we need to stop. If he wants to make me happy with food he can clean the broccoli for dinner or make one of my favorite bbq chicken recipes. Or ensure we have ice for iced tea. I know he loves me, and I appreciate any and all he does to make life better for us. M wants to empower me to be the best version of me, not enable me to continue poor impulse control. It’s hard to see someone you love unhappy. I point out it’s harder to see me even unhappier when I test and the consequence of poor choices are displayed onscreen.
Outside of life with M, though, I know it feels like I become overly involved with other people whose paths cross my own. Surprisingly, blogging helps me restrain and refocus these efforts, even though I periodically feel myself becoming too emotionally invested and caring more than I should about the outcome and consequences of another person’s choices. While I do not always comment – usually because I have nothing constructive or helpful to contribute – I find myself obsessively returning to read what others might offer.
Where is the line between being supportive and encouraging and simply nodding yes and providing comforting platitudes instead of constructive advice that may not be popular or well received? I have read, and been on the receiving end, of hyper-critical comments as well. Somewhere in between the two extremes is a comfortable middle ground that is a constantly moving target.
I suppose I am finding my way to my own sense of balance in being supportive and constructive with my thoughts and opinions. In life as well as in blogging, I am unsure if I ever hit the right notes. My practical realism creates minor frictions with M’s more imaginative dreaming, yet for us it work most of the time. In the wider scope of people I come in contact with, sometimes it works and sometimes it does not. My intent is never to be mean or tear others down, because that’s just wrong. But there are events going on all the time that make me feel out of tune and as if I swimming against the tide and making no discernable forward progress. And I hate that. But I will get over it, again and again and again.
The moments of feeling empowered are too few and with too much time inbetween. I know they exist, though, and I know it will be sweet when I find it. Maybe it’s today. I always have hope.