I have happiness in my heart and a thorn in my soul

When does supporting become enabling?

on September 8, 2014

It’s amazing what you can learn about yourself from observing those closest to us. Recently, as my two girls have merged into ‘tween’ territory (i have great disdain for the word “tween” but it is what it is) and i have found myself navigating their moods much like a minefield. I empathize with their plight i truly do, they have these immense moods where they simply can’t control themselves, they are sad for no particular reason or aloof and distant just because, difficult and bitchy – a lot of which i am myself at times, and i consider these traits those of my ‘bipolar self’. Either way, i get what they’re going through and try to be as supportive as i can be, but then there comes a time where sweetness isn’t what’s called for, sometimes you have to get a little tough and call them on their bullshit. Not often, but sometimes. All this makes me question the relationships that people have with their mentally ill loved ones.

I’m not claiming that all mentally ill people are bitchy and aloof and distant, i can only speak for myself and my observations of loved ones but there are definitely some parallels between a lot of mental illnesses and the effects of puberty on the young brain.

My chappy and i have been dealing with my illness together for over 13 years, i have always wondered if i would have the strength to stay with me if i were him and i probably wouldn’t but he has stayed with me through my lowest of lows and haziest of craziest days. He isn’t an emotional person by any stretch but he does his best to support me, but it has occurred to me that support can very easily slither into enabling a person not to try or be better or be brilliant. Sometimes we need our loved ones to kick us in the arse when we’re unable to see our own silliness, which then poses the question: when do you decide to stop supporting and start well, ‘motivating’?

I know for myself, that at times my mental illness means that i simply can’t function very well. I do the basic bare minimum and just get by. Some days it takes all my strength to just exist, it may sound lame but it’s true. Sometimes the sadness and grief and emptiness compounds so desperately that i feel i might not make it.
Then other times, i’m down but not out but i lack any semblance of motivation. I could quite easily stay on the sofa for a month at these times, if i wasn’t a mum and partner, if i lived by myself i sometimes wonder what state i’d be in at times. So basically, i think we need to learn what is what with our loved one. We need to figure out when they are just so low that they need nothing but our love and support, and when they are just down and need us to help pull them out with some form of motivation.When we need to hold them and tell them it’s ok to be sad, it’s ok to cry, it’s ok to be whatever you need to be and when we need to say ‘hey, get your butt off the couch’. It may sound almost impossible but it’s amazing what can be accomplished with communication and observation, i most certainly don’t always get it right myself but i’m trying my best and that’s all any of us can do.

peace xo

8 responses to “When does supporting become enabling?

  1. words4jp says:

    i fight this terribly – i just wish i had someone here to pull me off the couch. i know what i need to do, but i struggle doing it alone. i need someone to literally pulling my ass off the couch.

  2. There have been so many times that, after the storm clouds pass, I have a discussion about how I acted. He will tell me things he recognized and I ask him why he didn’t say anything! His response is always, “I didn’t want to upset you”. Over and over again I remind him that I may get mad but I do get over it and apologize and thank him. It’s something we are working on but there have been an unfortunate number of times that as I stand there crying in the mirror, telling myself to snap out of it, I want him to just hold me and remind me that I will be ok.

    • mckarlie says:

      Sometimes i want the same thing, just to be held and told that everything will be ok, in fact i’m going to tell him that i want that. It’s hard to figure out what we need sometimes, and i guess we end up relying on our loved ones to help us when we can’t help ourselves but it is so tricky to figure out just what we might need at any given moment. My man also keeps a lot back because he doesn’t want to upset me, it must be hard for them to know when we are too fragile and when we can take it.

  3. This is interesting. I always hate it when the tough love card is pulled on me, but sometimes its what i need… hmm

    • mckarlie says:

      Yeah the tough love card can be your worst nightmare if it comes at the wrong time, but it really can be something awesome if done right. I don’t get called on my crap nearly enough, and i hate it when it happens but then if it’s necessary i really should just suck it up and realize it’s for my own good 🙂

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