Is Tolerance A Breeding Ground For Enabling?

I might have mentioned a couple (or sixty) times in my past blogs, that I am intolerant. In addition, I am often perceived to be (even by myself at times….actually regularly), insensitive. I also seem to keep feeling the need to explain my intolerance every few hundred times a blog! I think that the reason I do this is because I prefer to see my intolerance as ”sensible” or ”practical”. I say this, because I have been known to be exceptionally tolerant when the need is called for. 

The insensitivity is not as easy to explain away, as I am actually super sensitive, but manage to completely block myself off to protect myself…..from myself, in that I am totally aware of what I can handle emotionally.

So, by way of an example, if someone was to give me a pitiful story about something that I know will hurt me too much, I immediately dive (ever so gracefully) into an imaginary ocean, where I am unable to hear or see anything further, other than the sights and sounds of the beautiful and peaceful ocean. Of course there are times, where the graceful dive is reduced to a belly flop, or I have been caught off guard and have heard or seen something, before I  have had the time to do my graceful dive, which then stings and aches immeasurably…..for a long time.

At the risk of being repetitive to my regular readers, I think the best way to explain this away, is to say that I am selfish and sensible with my tolerance and compassion. Now, truth be told, I was not always like that. No, in my youth, I was the polar opposite! I also used to be the naive and gullible overly sensitive person, willing to do for everyone, feel for everyone and just basically carrying the worries of everyone on my shoulders. But slowly, slowly, I got burnt, abused and taken advantage of. Not in that ”boo hoo, I need therapy to deal with my emotionally abused youth” kind of way. Nope, more in a ”lesson learnt…fool me once” kind of way. So, as with everyone, life happens, we live and we learn, and some of us just learn the lesson a little too well……that would be me. 

Now, in one of my inner circles, one of the members is a logical, calm, rational and TOLERANT somebody. I, on the other hand, am NOT!! I am so not calm, and can become totally irrational at certain times. The third member in this scenario is the member seeking a logical, calm, rational and tolerant somebody. So in other words, not me! For the last lots of years, I have been viewed as the insensitive and intolerant villain in the picture. Not by the rational somebody, as this somebody remains non-judgmental about everything and everyone….I am exceedingly envious of this somebody!!! No, the judgement comes from me, myself and I…..and I am almost certain by the third member and anyone who has been prepared to listen to their one side of the story!

Whenever a situation arose that caused me to erupt into a flaming volcanohot materials being thrown out of my mouth, while huge amounts of expletives go hurtling across the room at anyone in earshot distance, the logical and rational member would try and calm me down…..umm…well…logically and rationally. And while this never really succeeded, it did succeed in making me feel like a crazy and unstable super sinner. All the while of course, member number 3 plodded along…..blissfully unaware of what I had just allowed them to put myself through. Crazy right? One would think I would only allow myself to have made that mistake once in a lifetime, and then adopted the rational member’s attitude going forward. But nope….apparently not!!

So over the years, I managed to beat myself up REPEATEDLY about how I allowed myself to be affected by this person’s behavior. And, although I never thought I was wrong (rarely do b.t.w), I did feel bad about myself for having these negative emotions, at times questioning whether I was just a cold hearted and intolerant cow.

So a situation arose recently where I had an eruption, although, pat on my back, as it was a fairly self-controlled eruption….especially under the circumstances. This could be due to a number of factors…..shock…horror…COVID growth…acceptance that some things will never change….who knows. I did, for a millisecond think that perhaps I was wrong in being highly irritated and lacking even an ounce of compassion, and the way forward would be to try and be more tolerant and compassionate towards this third member. But then, as quickly as that thought entered my mind, it was replaced by another thought. I wondered….. at what point does tolerance become the breeding ground for enabling?

For me, the enabler is as guilty as the enabled. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am as guilty as the next person for enabling certain people in my past (and present). I am well aware of it, but it still does not make it right. Unfortunately, the enabled manages to emotionally manipulate the enabler into enabling them, and this is a very difficult relationship for the enabler to sever. 

In my mind, there are two reasons someone enables another.

There are those…….I am those….who are well aware that they are enabling the enabled, are aware of the long term damage and never ending cycle that they are creating, and fantasise about whacking them with a ten foot metal pole….repeatedly!! These are the people that choose to enable the enabled, because they would rather do that, than deal with the conflict, temper tantrums and drama, something the enabled manage to pull off so very well when things do not go their way.

Then there are the enablers who are totally unaware of the role they are playing in their enabled’s life. I assume this is because they are blessed with an abundance of tolerance, compassion (and naivety), and they just assume that they are helping the person, or giving them an opportunity to better themselves. Of course, there would be times where someone does manage to be part of a life changing moment for a person by showing compassion, and tolerance. However, if this has happened, the person he has managed to assist was truly needing a ‘’leg up’’ and not a lifetime subscription to emotional and financial support, aka ‘’the enabled’’.

Now, one can rightly argue that, even if one in two people that you have tolerance and compassion for, will land up having their lives changed for the better, would it not make sense to just trust the process at the risk of becoming an enabler the other half of the time? Probably yes, but I cannot take that risk, as I am way too selfish to feel like I have been taken advantage of! And think about how many enabled people you would collect in your lifetime?? Nope, I will leave it to the rest of the tolerant and compassionate people out there to attend to.

But, despite my self-confessed selfishness, I also think that, as much as the uber tolerant and compassionate person means well, they can in fact become part of the problem, as they are then an enabler. Becoming an enabler is almost like owning timesharing. It is yours for life, as no one else wants to take it from you (even for free), it drains you emotionally and/or financially and adds absolutely nothing positive to your life.

So in this ‘inner circle’ I speak of, I have decided that actually….again…I am right. The one third logical, calm, rational and TOLERANT somebody, has unintentionally become the second third’s enabler, and I have actually behaved accordingly!! Just nod and smile people…..nod and smile!

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