Endigar 731

From Courage to Change of January 05;

I was terribly confused about the meaning of “compassion ” when I came to Al-Anon. I thought it meant making excuses for the alcoholic or covering bad checks. Al-Anon helped me to find another word for this behavior: “enabling.” I learned that when I cleaned up the consequences of alcoholic behavior, I enabled the alcoholic to continue drinking comfortably and acting out without having to pay the price. A more compassionate way to respond to those I love might be to allow them to face the consequences of their actions, even when it will cause them pain.

How do I know whether a particular action is enabling? While this is not always clear, I find it helpful to look carefully at my motives. Am I trying to interfere with the natural consequences of a loved one’s choices? Am I trying to do for someone what they could do for themselves? Am I doing what I think is best for me? Do I resent what I am doing? If so, is it really a loving choice? Sometimes the most compassionate thing I can do is to let others take responsibility for their behavior.

Today’s Reminder

Today I will remember that I have choices, and so does the alcoholic. I will make the best choices I can and allow others in my life to do the same without interference.

“I must learn to give those I love the right to make their own mistakes and recognize them a theirs alone.”

Al-Anon Faces Alcoholism




It is difficult to separate the enabling from genuine compassion, particularly when the two have been a hybrid creature indoctrinated into my psyche from childhood. I learned to dance around trip wires, to attempt face-reading to understand what was really being communicated, to distrust outsiders, to play diplomat and keep the peace. We were different and isolated because we were superior as a family, and I was to champion that reality. This infected my spirituality as well, since I expected God to be in need of appeasement and that love and attention would be withdrawn if I inadvertently offended Him. I lived hidden inside an icon of acceptability, knowing that if anyone discovered the creature inside, I would be a source of disgust and disappointment.

The aggressive form of self-care necessary to recovery from alcoholism is also good in helping me sever the twin headed beast, that enabling-compassion hybrid. It also takes time as well as fearless and truthful self appraisal. I have to accept the fact that my guilt-o-meter has been damaged and I am going to need outside connections to help me correct my perspective. If this does not lead me to healthy connections, that is, others in my life who desire my most potent self-expression, then I must re-evaluate. If this causes me to gravitate toward isolating selfishness in its many forms of self-destruction, I must re-evaluate.

I do not want to get buried in the icon of appeasement for a severed ego, mine or anyone else’s.

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