It is what it is.

photo(40)enable – to provide with the means or the opportunity; to make practical or easy

enabling (according to 12-step programs) – the process by which family or friends provide an addict with the opportunity to continue his or her addiction (money, shelter, etc.)

We were in the school library.  First grade.  We were about to check out our first book.  I noticed that a boy named Arthur didn’t understand what he was to do.  Little caregiver that I was, I said “Here, Honey, I’ll help you.”  Imagine my uncomfortable surprise when another child said with a giggle, “You called him ‘Honey,’ is he your boyfriend?”

It was early in the school year, but I had already figured out that Arthur was challenged in some way.  My natural instinct was to assist him.  Was that a bad thing?  Perhaps, but I don’t think so.  I didn’t do the job for him.  I simply reminded him to fill out the card the way the teacher instructed.  He did the work.

I think I recalled this incident recently because it was probably my first inkling that helping doesn’t always turn out well.  Good intentions can reap criticism at best and a disastrous result at worst.  The smart-mouthed child made me question my instincts, my heart.  That was the beginning of many years of wondering when to help and when to keep my helping hands and opinions to myself.  Examining one’s motives can be a good thing, but it was confusing for me as a child.  It still is sometimes.

I mentioned in my last post that I was preparing to help an addict who is dear to me.  I had serious questions about whether I would be helping or enabling.  I believe there was some of both.  I have no idea how to determine which carried more weight.  I don’t know that it matters.  I entered into this little experiment with a pure heart.  I was aware that I was probably enabling on some level. And I was.  Even though it ended less than ideally (an understatement), I’m glad I did it.

I seldom see things as black or white; I see many shades of gray with little sparks of color.  I don’t see one or two sides; I see multiple possibilities.  That’s who I am.  I will remember this time with some sadness and pain, but after a while my most vivid memories will the meaningful conversations, the hugs, the food we shared and the love we have for each other.  It is what it is, and what it is, is mostly good.

We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope. ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

Note:  Many thanks to those who wrote notes to check on me and to encourage me to write.  I hope I’m back for good.  I’ve missed writing, but I’ve especially missed the interactions with you.


14 thoughts on “It is what it is.

    • Hi Susannah. Thanks for your kind words. I just posted–finally! I’m digging out of the abyss. Doing much better now. I’ve been reading but not commenting. I hope you are well. I was telling my group of women friends about you this past weekend–your love of animals and anyone who appears downtrodden. You’ve a good heart. Thanks again.


  1. Beautiful. And bless you.

    It is my view that we are all “challenged some way”. The challenge may be that we are what is deemed perfect, but we feel void.

    This is a very relevant, and beautiful post, of humanity.



  2. Your post does not exactly reveal the situation that occurred yet i still feel the pain and turmoil that you went through in your decision.
    Thanks for sharing your wisdom of choices “I seldom see things as black or white; I see many shades of gray with little sparks of color. I don’t see one or two sides; I see multiple possibilities.”
    and the uplifting in your optimism of a positive outcome “my most vivid memories will the meaningful conversations, the hugs, the food we shared and the love we have”.

    Brave soulful post. Thanks for sharing.


  3. I’m so much like you, you’re just smarter than me. I see and notice everything. I want to help. Being a kid with learning disabilities I know what it’s like to need it. Just this morning I was at an Ala-non meeting reading the 12 and 12. The African American girl next to me, when it was her turn to read a paragraph, quietly passed. She’s dome this before. It suddenly occurred to me, maybe she can’t read, something that would blow me away loving it the way I do. I’ve been thinking about it all day. Should I gently approach her. Maybe I could teach her. I know enough to proceed slowly and the reason I bring it up is because of what you wrote. I think helping and seeing is a good thing. How we do it may be the thing to work on.

    That awareness is one of the best things about me even if it was born from an alcoholic upbringing. I think your kindness should be celebrated, not questioned. Welcome back.


  4. I’m here whenever and if you need to talk and not write. I think you know that and it’s why I didn’t open the door when we were discussing places for dinner. It’s totally your call. I hope you enjoyed the time with your neighbor and the show. Maybe it took your mind off things for a brief while. Love ya!


    • Thank you, Tish. I always know I can call you. I appreciate your being there for me. On another note–Les Miserables was magnificent. We loved it! Thanks for your dinner suggestions. As it turned out, everything was sold out so I couldn’t make reservations. I went out the next day and bought a thank you gift instead. I hope I can one evening soon eat at a couple of those places. They sound wonderful.


  5. You seldom see things in black and white, and I suspect you see many things in the same way as I do. We all make mistakes and have errors of judgement, but I am certain you acted withy a good heart, and that anyone who has you in their life is the richer for it.


  6. I’m sure you prayed before you began and acted as you felt was right. It’s out of our hands and we sre responsible only for ourselves, not for others. But “whatever you do for the least of these, you do for Me” still holds. Helping addicts without enabling them is very, very difficult because the addiction is usually so powerful. Glad you are back here, Pat – and don’t beat yourself up about something that is out of your control.


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