You probably know what an enabler is. The term is all too familiar to those who have been in therapy or counseling for their role in a co-dependent relationship, for their role in enabling the destructive behavior of an addictive and/or abusive loved one.
An enabler forgives, excuses, evades, rationalizes, being too fearful of what might be lost, too dependent on the relationship with the abuser to hold him fully and adequately accountable and responsible for his destructive actions. And so the enabler continues to support the abuser in a seemingly inescapable cycle, enabling the cycle of abuse, excuse, apology, the improved behavior until the worse behavior comes around again. The co-dependency and enabling is unfortunately common in relationships with abusive children, spouses, significant others, friends, parents.
Some exhibit a similar psychology in relation to what they believe to be their “heavenly father,” a parental figure praised and worshipped for whatever occasional joy, security, and affection he might provide – while whatever grief, loss, sickness and horror he causes or allows is suffered and endured. Any positive is praised and treasured, while all negatives are forgiven, overlooked, excused, rationalized away. Someone who is psychologically and emotionally dependent on such a parental figure believes he cannot afford to make the parent angry, cannot afford to reject the parent, must defend the parent, feeling utterly dependent on the parent for love and life, no matter how abusive or neglectful, no matter how deaf to the child’s cries the parent may be. In such a relationship, one endures all, justifies all, for the sake of the occasional demonstration of what is interpreted as love and affection, for the occasional “good day” between all the bad, for the parent’s protection, for the parental security. But it is a relationship of utter dependency.
The same psychology and behavior is exhibited by many towards a religious leader, an employer, a führer, a king – a president. The only full and lasting cure is independence: intellectual independence, physical independence, psychological independence, emotional independence. Until independence is fully achieved, the bruising will continue, the enabler finding it necessary to keep the makeup and excuses handy while hoping to keep the abuser sufficiently mollified and distracted, hoping that the bad never becomes worse, while the abuser never lets the enabler quite forget, by how he treats or threatens to treat others, how much worse it could be.
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