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.

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The addiction maze.

800px-Longleat_mazeSometimes my own best interest includes the best interests of others.  But how do I know the best interest of another person?

Eyes wide open?  Or not?

Al-Anon’s CCC.  I didn’t Cause it.  I can’t Cure it.  I can’t Control it.

Can I help at all?  Can I live with myself if I don’t try?  Can I try to help and still take care of myself?  Can I accept the results of my effort?

I am aware that I’m rambling here.  Please bear with me.  This is how I make sense of things, and sometimes make profound decisions.  It’s a type of brainstorming, I suppose.  I think that’s usually a group activity but I am all I have right now.

F.E.A.R:  Face Everything And Respond.  I read this acronym recently on a blog called Almost Spring.  The post cited here is not about addiction, but divorce.  In my experience, both produce a great deal of fear.  The acronym grabbed my attention because I believe that fear may be the greatest motivator humans have at their disposal whether it’s divorce or addiction or clowns or the dark or…you get the picture.  Fear has often caused me to look the other way.  Or deny the obvious.  Or convince myself there’s nothing I can do that will make a difference.  Fear can pump the adrenalin and give one the strength to escape danger, perceived or otherwise, as it did eight-year-old me when my older brother told me someone was following us one night as we were walking home after dark.  It seems to me that adrenalin-producing fear is preferable to fear-induced lethargy.  As the acronym above suggests, face it and then decide how to respond.  Turning away and denying are responses, but are there better ones–for me?  now?  today?

Helping?  Or enabling?  According to most 12-step groups we are helping if we do something for someone that they are not capable of doing for themselves, and we are enabling if we do something for someone that they could, and should, be doing for themselves.  Sounds simple, straightforward enough.  But who am I to determine what another person can or cannot do for him/herself?

Eleanor Roosevelt said, “Do what you feel in your heart to be right–for you’ll be criticized anyway.  You’ll be damned if you do, and damned if you don’t.”

She did what she could…Mark 14:8