“Nothing in this world lasts without protection.”
“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” -Edmund Burke
Enablers may be good and kind people, but it’s not good or helpful to enable toxic behaviours. It’s not empathy to be an enabler. You can acknowledge someone’s past without having to tolerate hurtful behaviours. You can love someone and hold them accountable for wrongs, in fact I argue that if you don’t you don’t love them or yourself or the person that needs your support, you may fear who is doing the damage so be unable to challenge them or you fear losing the attachment and if you lose someone because they have hurt you or another and you don’t like this and hold them accountable and the challenged person acts negatively then you are not in a healthy relationship or with a healthy person but a dysfunctional one.
Enabling bad behaviours isn’t loving, it’s dysfunctional and can be a product of co-dependency or people-pleasing.
People pleasing isn’t being nice or showing empathy, it is a trauma response named: Fawn. We developed it because we were denied our authentic selves, we may have been punished for being our authentic selves even with fear of being made to believe we would lose the attachment to our caregiver(s), because we learned that we had to earn love when we were being ‘loved’ only by what we did and what another wanted us to do and be like, hence on conditions of worth. To be accepted and to survive we had to adapt this.
It protects us from being rejected and abandoned and for a child to not feel accepted, loved, valued, seen or heard it is a death sentence, for we are wired for connection and dependent on parent(s) and caregiver(s), for our survival.
Codependency and people-pleasing go hand in hand and are the result of developmental trauma and injuries.
Like any survival strategies, it no longer serves us in adulthood.
Here is the thing, being an enabler (yourself or trying to fix another or ‘rescue’ someone) doesn’t serve or benefits anyone. People do not need to be fixed, rescuing someone doesn’t give them the tools they need to make the change and takes away their power to do it themselves, or making excuses for toxic behaviours is just playing right into that person’s hand. It just abolishes them of any responsibility and to never have to hold themselves accountable.
Children of toxic parents and caregivers (no matter how old even adult-children) need to be validated and heard and have their experiences and pain validated and taken seriously. Toxic and hurtful behaviours from a parent(s) or caregiver(s) are as serious as any other type of involvement or relationship we have, even more so damaging and destructive to our psyche.
Anything that affects or has the potential to affect our mental health should not be ignored or dismissed or downplayed because the world doesn’t want to admit that family members can and do hurt their families, mother’s do hurt and can hurt their child(ren) and victims and survivors should not be silenced to keep others comfortable in this illusion rather than face reality. Yes, it’s uncomfortable, it’s difficult and it takes great strength for the those that have been hurt to see through the fog, they don’t need to be dragged back into it.
Denial and enabling doesn’t create a safe place, it doesn’t lead to change, it doesn’t lead to healing because it doesn’t break those unhealthy patterns or behaviours.
It sounds like: “They love you in their own way”, “Just ignore them, you know what they are like”, or another classic “be the bigger person”.
Basically don’t rock the boat, you don’t matter, that person is above reproach especially if a parent like your mother. You don’t deserve to be protected is the message leading to your own gas lightening and cognitive dissonance.
If the abnormal is made normal by everyone including society and we are taught not to question things critically then the normal becomes the normal even when abnormal and morally wrong.
We need to note that having empathy for someone’s trauma isn’t an excuse for their behaviour and to let them off the hook and it doesn’t mean allowing them to act it out on you. As you go on to do your own healing through books, through sharing your story, counselling…so should they. It is not our responsibility to take the blame or the blunt and serve as a martyrdom to be sacrificed for the sake of others to our own detriment and to have our needs and existence erased.
Just know that you deserve the best and your well being (emotional, mental, physical, spiritual) is the most important. We can’t change others no matter what we do, they will have to want that and the main thing we can focus on is our own healing and self-love. To know it wasn’t our fault and it doesn’t make us worthless or unlovable.
It will take time and strength to make the right choice for ourselves but make sure that choice isn’t what others expect or what society deems right. Make sure that choice is what feels right for you and only you as you are your own expert, don’t let anyone invalidate your feelings or tell you how you should feel and become the parent you wish you had to that inner child of yours who is so lovable and deserves love including yours. First and foremost this is the most important, the rest will slot into place at your own pace.
It’s hard to have been able to see things clearly, so don’t berate yourself if this realisation that your parent(s) or caregiver(s) was toxic finds you later on in your adult life. Remember, as a child you couldn’t knew, if you learned this was normal or made to doubt and question your own judgement this played a part. If, society shames you or makes you feel guilt it kept you trapped in the fog. There are many reasons, you also need to be ready to accept the truth and face the pain and you will do when the time is right for you. Don’t berate yourself. It’s okay to grieve and feel frustrated that you even still have ambivalent feelings or that you may have found it hard to set a boundary again, that’s okay, like a child, you are learning to walk for the first time and stumbles are normal and natural.
Be a generational cycle breaker, be a social rebel because without this, we can’t keep ourselves safe, we cannot keep others safe, we cannot create and live in a world that will be and is safe. For you generational cycle breakers, you misfits, you social rebels with a cause, you critical thinkers who think outside the box, you individuals, you people with narcissists in your family who refuse to remain compliant and submissive and called the black sheep of the family because you are seen as a threat, thank you! You bloody amazing and awesome people.