Beliefnet
How Great Thou Part

I remember sitting in my marriage counselor’s office one day.

It is was one of the days I had what I refer to as a ‘shifting moment.’

It’s hard not to talk a lot during marital problems and divorce because the inability to leave a person who is this meaningful in your life overwhelms you. A ridiculous sort of conundrum since your emotional bond keeps you from realizing the idiocracy of hanging onto someone who is not fighting to hold onto you.

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“Colleen, your husband has been showing you who he is for a long time, only you do not want to believe him,” said my counselor.

And just like that, the world shifted. 

It takes a tremendous amount of counseling to overcome life-long behaviors. That is why there do seem to be (thankfully) the ‘shifting moments’ when something is said either so eloquently it finally gets your attention or at just the right time.

I knew my counselor was correct.

I have tremendous insight so I knew what I was doing every time I made an excuse for my husband’s behavior. I also have great respect for my marriage counselor and therefore, I was always listening to his words. In fact, when someone I love got frustrated that I was still having difficulty after this much counseling I replied by saying this:

“It’s not how long you are going to a counselor – a counselor can’t change you. They can only counsel you. They can only teach you about yourself in order to help empower you to have healthier relationships. I sat and listened each time I went. And then I opened the door and left the same Colleen I had been my entire life. I was there because I wanted to learn and to grow and to repair my relationship. I was not only attempting to change engrained enabling behaviors, I was stubbornly attempting to learn while still gaining the outcome I wished for – my marriage to be saved. In other words, I was tenaciously believing in my own determination as a ‘fixer’ while being counseled that I was indeed a ‘fixer’ and while professionally that can be a great strength – personally for relationships it is not.”

So back to what my counselor said that day.

It was a shifting moment because not only were his words direct and eloquent – Yes, you guessed it…

I was finally ready to hear them.

Because before that day I was still holding onto the ‘3 Signature Words of an Enabler.’

“I know, but.”

I would sit and listen and then respond:

“I know, but he’s really just a good person in a bad place and that’s why he’s acting this way.”

“I know, but I think he’s really a lot like his dad who was super caring he’s just not acting that way now.’

“I know, but he’s never really encountered any true difficulties in his life until now.”

“I know, but he’s just really angry right now.”

“I know, but he has had some things happen in his life recently that are upsetting him.”

And there you have it.

A true enabler will always be loyal and determined enough to believe the best of those they love even when that person is hurting them. 

That’s why an enabler will remain in a relationship long enough to use themselves up.

My marriage counselor had been trying to remove these three words from my vocabulary all along. I would not allow it. How could I? If I succumbed it would mean absolutely my marriage was over.

And me, a ‘fixer’ and ‘rescuer’ no more.

How much heartache I could have avoided if only I had been willing to hear his words sooner. 

I often like to quote my marriage counselor, “Kindness is forgiving bad behavior once or twice. Enabling is forgiving it over and over again.”

It’s difficult to let go of those ‘3 Signature Words’ which have ruled my life so I have found a new use for them.

I now tell people who seek my advice…

“I KNOW, BUT – there is zero excuse for bad behavior.” – Signed ‘A Reformed Enabler.’

 

(Photo courtesy of Pexels)

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