Ted’s essays

letting go

Parents, grandparents, siblings and good friends often enable destructive bahavior. Letting go is quite difficult, but more often than not is the right answer.

The Declaration of Independence jumped into my head:
…a long train of abuses and usurpations…

We forgive, cover-for, assist, fret, lose sleep and so-on while they flit in and out of acceptable behavior.

It is a show I watched from ringside a generation ago, though then I missed darn near every clue while I struggled to make my business feed and house us all. I am one row back today, but able to play reruns in the face of similar behaviors.

Most likely, there was nothing I could do then to change the trajectory. I’m pretty sure there is nothing I can do now, but let her go.


Your footprints on my back are begtinning to wear.

Walk somewhere else. I will try not to care.


You have to choose your path.

All we are allowed is a choice of seats in the stadium.


Ours is not an uncommon story today. That is exactly why I am sharing it here. If you or someone you care for is enabling themselves into a muddle, help them out. Al-Anon, Narc-Anon and others have plenty of advice for enablers. Help them find it.

Here is a websearch on “enabling”, followed by a quote from the first site that came up on my list.


Mothering or Enabling?

When I first came to Al-Anon, I spent a great deal of time wrestling with the term, “enabling.” I am a mother. Surely a mother’s role is to enable her children, is it not? It has been a struggle to understand, let alone accept, that the behavior I viewed as that of a good mother was actually unhealthy! All my life I have held the belief that a good mother encourages her children, fixes their problems, fights their battles and cooks and cleans for them. Surely a good mother is in service to her children.

With the help of Al-Anon, I have begun to learn that being a good mother means loving my children but also allowing them to live their lives. My children should have the right to learn life’s lessons in their time, their way. I owe them that. Doing everything for them, unintentionally or not, would do more harm than good! By placing my children’s lives ahead of my own, I was doing everyone a disservice, especially myself.

What a phenomenal moment when I realized that what I was doing for my children was actually the opposite of why I was doing it. Wow—the freedom of that weight being removed from my shoulders! Not only could I stop the exhausting experience of doing it all for everyone, but it opened the door to self-exploration by allowing my children the freedom to live their lives. I found I now had the time and desire to look at myself, take care of myself, and define myself.

Life / Art

While in the mood depicted above, I saw a potted plant of mine in ‘failure to thrive mode’ as a metaphor for moms enabling their kids. Look at this plant. It is dead. It knows it is dead. Yet its last dying breath produces offspring that looks and, barbarian that I am, tastes good.