Episode 6: The Harm of Denial and Enabling

It's harmful when we try to save another person from the consequence of their choices. If we are in denial of the truth and enable others we are hindering our progress as well as theirs.

Episode Transcription:

(This transcript was created using software. Please be advised that it won't be 100% accurate, and it may contain formatting errors.)

Today, we're going to be talking about a few different things. Couple of which are, we're going to be talking about enabling, as well as living in denial. And the reason we're going to be talking about those things is because we do a lot of harm when we don't accept the truth. And when we try to save our loved ones from their choices.

So to start out, I was reading today and found a post on counseling. And it says seeing a therapist doesn't mean there's something wrong with you. It means you may be seeking clarity in some areas of your life, wanting to work through complex emotions, working through a traumatic experience, challenging negative thinking patterns, learning new techniques to cope with difficult situations, focused on personal growth. Those are all such good things that counseling offers.

You know, I'm a huge proponent of counseling. It was life changing for me. In all the different avenues that I used it, it changed me and changed my family and we are now healthier individuals because of it. So when we start back and talk about enabling and denial, you've heard my story so far, a little bit of it, and how I was married for 17 years before I decided that I could accept the truth.

For the other 17 years, it doesn't mean that bad things weren't happening, or that I wasn't finding addictive behaviors or pornography throughout those years I was. But I was kind of in a place of denial that this was happening. I knew it was but I didn't really know what to do about it so I kind of had made that choice that I would just let it go. And I wanted to believe that it would just go away. I wanted to believe that everything would be okay that because I was just letting things go kind of that forgive and forget, even though I wasn't forgetting, it was harming me and harming my family.

Even though I thought I was doing a good thing by pushing it under the rug. So in that denial that made it so that we weren't healing. At the same time, I was enabling him in addiction, by not calling it out by not wanting to do the hard things by not wanting to say what was in my heart. And to find out the truth of really what was going on. Enabling The thing is, is that when a person is sick, the whole family is sick. And I didn't know that either.

My husband had an addiction. And I didn't know that the things I had learned my beliefs, my behaviors, were also not good. And I needed to recover from those things and heal myself as well. And so a lot of times people don't think that you think if somebody child is struggling with drug addiction, or alcoholism or pornography, that Oh, no, that child is doing all these things. But the family has a part to play. And so by going to counseling, you learn those things.

Now, some of the things I'm going to talk about today may feel maybe controversial in the way that you might think, ooh, should she be talking about these things. But what I have decided for me is that I am going to share the things that are part of my story, I'm going to share the things that I either saw for myself, or my husband at that time has shared with me, and what other family members have shared with me surrounding these types of things when I was in it. And so I'm not going to be sharing anything that wasn't part of my story and what made sense to me and my reality.

So as I share these things, this is only to show that a family needs help. As I share these things with you, this in no way is a reflection on all of these people. I was the same way. I was living in denial and I was enabling. This is normal for most families until we learn to do different things. It's really hard to see the truth and accept the truth. When you know that by doing that your life is going to change. It's going to be different from here on out. Once we accept whatever it is that's happening that isn't positive in our lives.

I was very familiar with that, as my story continued to really kind of get worse, where addiction was progressive, his addiction got worse. He was doing things that he hadn't been doing before. Addiction for him started when he was young, at 11 years old. And it started from a JC Penney ad. So something so simple that you think means nothing can really start that objectification of bodies. And it turns into obsession, where then his addiction kept going, obviously. And so later in life, as it started progressing to really terrible things, this is kind of where as I accepted the truth, that there was a problem in 2012, I've shared that already. From 2012 to 2015, when I filed for divorce between those years, even in those years, once I found out, the truth about everything was huge.

It's like it just kept uncovering more and more and more, and I got to see firsthand how progressive it actually is. And it became into things that were just very dangerous and putting people at risk. And so as I found those things out, as he went to rehab, there were some different circumstances that I want to talk about and share that I haven't shared before. They're not in my book that I think go along with enabling and denial. Now, again, these are not to harm anybody else, even though it may sound that way at first.

After I got through all the emotions of everything I felt during these situations, and as I was learning to accept truth, and see my own denial and my own enabling, I was able to come to a place of empathy and acceptance of family members that also were on their same journey of having to learn to accept truth. One point, my husband, I had, I had told him that he needed to go to rehab, or he needed to get out. And I've shared a little bit about that in earlier podcasts.

But at the time, I had that feeling, that inspiration. I didn't have any proof that he was doing anything wrong at all. And he was professing his innocence in his sobriety. And I knew though. I just knew deep within that something was very wrong, that things had gotten so much worse. I just didn't know what it was. And at that point, I had gotten to the point where I really couldn't do this one more day with him if he didn't get help. And so I had posed that to him that he would need to go to rehab or get out. It didn't go well.

He professed his innocence by yelling and screaming, and there's no way and you're crazy and you are wrong, and your inspirations are off. And, and I stayed calm, because the feeling I had was so sure that I could say I am sorry, I do not believe you, you will need to go to rehab, or you will need to get out. It really was a gift and a blessing that I felt so strong and so sure, without any evidence. There's something about wanting evidence to be sure but but our body knows.

If we just learn how to trust our body, we will know and we can do the hard things whether we have proof or not. So as I said that to him, and he said he was going to take a week to choose divorce, that he would not be going to rehab that he would tell our family, our kids, the following Monday that he was going to divorce.

I called a prayer intervention. I called his family and mine. Both families knew at this time that he was struggling with addiction. And I said, Okay, you guys, this is it. We have got to do everything in our power to try and help him. So we are going to pray and fast and attend our church and go to places where we can meditate with the spirit and with God, and really plead our case with God to help him and show him the way.

As I call this intervention. everybody was like we're doing this. We've got this. My brother was like, we are so on this. There's no way we're letting him go down without a fight. Everybody loved him. Everybody wanted to help him. And we decided to do this. I mentioned that this is something that because of the state of mind he was in at the time, this is not something we would mention to him that we would be doing this behind the scenes and that later we could tell him about the prayer intervention.

So it started it was a Monday it started. Every day I would get up in the morning and I would pray and be like okay, God, what do you want me to do today? What is the cause today?  He would tell me what he wanted me to do. And I'd be like, okay, we're doing this. Well, a few days in as I was on my closet floor, I was pleading again asking, okay, what do we need to do? Immediately the thought came into my mind that his dad was going to tell him about the prayer intervention.

And I thought, Oh, my gosh, I popped up off my knees. And I'm like, Oh, my gosh, okay. So I send a text message to everybody. Hey, just want to thank everybody for your prayers. Just want to remind you that this is a behind the scenes thing. We're going to try and help him without him knowing at this time. And as soon as he is feeling better and doing better, we can totally tell him about what we've done for him.

Within just a few seconds, my phone rang, and it was my then father in law. And he says to me, Roxanne, if you think I am not going to tell him about this prayer intervention, you have another thing coming. And I explained to him why we aren't going to tell him, he's not in a good place that he really needs to go to rehab. And my father in law started telling me that this is not okay, that he would never want to have somebody do this behind his back that he would never want his family to be doing this. And I said, you don't want people praying for you? And he said, No, not like this. And I'm gonna tell him.

I said, you will not tell him. And he said, This is my family. I can tell him, I can do this if I want to. And I freaked out. It was like a mama bear coming out and I started screaming, I said, You shut up, you shut up right now. You will not say one word to him. This is not your family. This is mine. I have spent the last two years day in and day out, praying about this, working through this, going to counseling, going to 12 step, trying to do recovery and trying to keep my family together.

You will absolutely not say one word. It was pretty crazy. Pretty empowering. And obviously, I was loud. So he stopped, and he calmed down and he's like, okay, okay. I won't say anything. For now. He said, I'm going on a business trip. And as soon as I get back, I will tell him if you haven't already. And I said, Okay. I said, Okay. Okay. Heavenly Father. We have one week, we have one week to do this. And so we did. We kept praying and praying and praying.

Well, Sunday night came the day before he was supposed to tell my children that we were going to be getting divorced, nothing had changed. And I'm in my closet, pleading and praying. And I'm like, Heavenly Father, this is so crazy. How can one person's decisions affect an entire family of good people? I cannot believe this is happening. I was so distraught and sad. And in that moment, I got a text. I look over at it, and it's my brother. And it says, Don't worry, angels are on their way.

All of a sudden, my body calmed, peace came over me, I had chills that round down my body. And I felt calm, I felt relief. And I got up and I got in my bed. And I laid there. And I knew I didn't know how I was going to be okay. But I knew it was and I just laid there. And I said nothing. I hadn't been saying anything to my husband at that time all week long. And I laid in bed, my eyes open, staring at the ceiling. It was dark. And all of a sudden my husband started to talk.

He just started talking, talking, talking until he agreed to go to rehab. Now he still was pleading his innocence. But he said he'd go to rehab. And I was just thanking God, like, Oh my gosh, you are so amazing. I can't even believe it. And so we made all the arrangements the next day. And by the following day, I was driving him to rehab. This was a day before his dad came back from that business trip that he was going to tell them about this. Now when I picked up my husband from rehab, I told him about the prayer intervention.

I told him about my brother in the closet. My brother when I called him the next day, I said to him, what was that last night? And he said I was in brushing my teeth. And all of a sudden I heard your sister needs you. And I jumped and I grabbed my wife and my mom was visiting at the time and I grabbed them. I said you guys this is it. We're gonna pray for them like we have never prayed before. And so it was they prayed, angels came. He came down off of whatever was hindering his heart. And he went to rehab.

And as I told him this after rehab He said, I felt it. He said, I had made a pact with myself at the beginning of that week, that I would not change that I was going to just take this to my grave, and I was going to live this way. And I was going to get divorced. That night, as I laid in bed, it was as if I could feel my hard heart softening. And isn't that just amazing to watch the way God works in our lives. And even though in the end, he didn't end up choosing recovery in the way that felt right to me, and we ended up getting divorced, God's still showed up, he still answered prayers, he still gave the choice, and it gave the option. At that point, my husband chose to follow it. And he went to rehab.

Now to go back on that story about my father in law. When that first happened, I was so angry. I was resentful and bitter, and just did not appreciate or even understand how he could be that way. But as I learned, how shame works, and how guilt works, and how, when we don't know what's going on, and when we haven't come to an acceptance of all of these hard things that are happening, we don't know how to deal with it.

And so for him, I can only imagine what he was feeling, when all of a sudden, all of these things were happening with his son. And so I came to a place after I started working my own healing and recovery, knowing that I had really kind of been in those same situations as well. Earlier on, I might not have yelled or protested against something. But I certainly turned my eye. I certainly brushed things under the rug. I certainly tried to start to deal with something and as soon as my husband would tell me everything's fine, I would no longer bring it up.

So in my way, I was doing the same kinds of things in that denial. As things went on, there were some other situations that showed me how sick a family is, when they don't accept the truth. A year before rehab, I had found a whole bunch of things that my husband was doing that was a new level compared to the year before. And at this point, I was so overwhelmed and didn't know what to do, I decided I would no longer keep his secret. And I would tell his parents.

I called them up and I shared with them everything I had just found everything that was going on. I also shared that I understood that this might cause harm. And I'm not trying to hurt them. And I know that it might be a sensitive subject, since I had seen over the years, some things that were happening in their home that weren't great. And my husband had shared with me things of his growing up years that were not good either.

I said to them, I know that this is a hard thing and I'm sorry about that. But it's time that you need to know because we can't help him unless we know. With sharing even those things with them, they were able to take the beginning of the truth about my husband's addiction. But they were not able to accept what I had shared or said that my husband had experienced as a child or what I had seen as I had visited their house.

And so that was just not where they were at. So as things continue to go on, and rehab came and went and now divorce was now on the table, I was able to talk with his mom quite a bit. And she wanted to learn things and figure out things she ended up attending 12 step herself, which was so great to gain education. She has a friend who works in that program, and she was able to talk with her and gain all of these things. But when it came down to it, and I filed for divorce, and that was a for sure thing happening, and all these things had come out after rehab of really vile things that my husband had been doing, his mom could no longer take it all in.

She told me one day, I get it. I know it happened, but but I can't do it. I just can't do it. This is my child and I just can't do it. I was shocked. And I said please do not save him. Please do not save him from all these things. He has to feel this stuff. So later I again could recognize that our heart and soul can only take in so much at a time. We have to come to an acceptance of what things are, where we're at and what it means to us. And we have our own shame to deal with and we have our own Demons to deal with.

If we find out the truth, and we didn't see it all long, it's hard not to turn it inward and say, What did I do wrong? or How did this happen? We just don't even know what to do with that new information. It's really scary and stressful. So I came to that place also where I could gain empathy and understanding for where they were. But what happens with enabling is it doesn't allow someone to heal. Now, over the years, all the years of our marriage, my husband was constantly being saved.

He would start a new business or spend a bunch of money on something that he wanted to try, he would get himself into a difficult situation, and his family has money. So they would bail him out. They might not think of it that way. But my husband would come up with a new idea, something that his his family could invest in, and they would agree, and then he would use that money to pay off all the debt. And we would basically start over.

He had no risk. He had no risk in doing anything because there was always some way somehow, that things were going to be okay, that he could make it and that he could get through everything. So that was a pattern that was normal for our family. I'm not going to lie, it felt good. It felt good to know that all is well and we're always going to be okay and we can kind of try things when we want. I didn't realize the codependency about that. I didn't notice or realize the enabling of that and how it didn't allow us to learn responsible habits and know how to choose wisely.

So now that we were going through divorce, things weren't really any different. And I pleaded with them, please, please, please, please do not save him. Please don't make his life easier. Let him feel everything that's happening. He really went off the deep end after they got divorced. And I just begged them, let him do this. That's his only hope of being saved and choosing recovery is to just let him do it. Well, a couple months after divorce, I don't really remember the timing exactly. But his parents came to visit him. And when my husband had left, he had sold his car and bought a two seater convertible.

When his mom saw that, she thought, we can't have this. This is this is not good. He can't even cart the kids around in this car. Now I was hearing this from another family member that she confided in. And this family member, she said, he doesn't want to cart the kids around. He would not have sold his car, if he wanted to have his kids with him. That's not what he's choosing right now. His mom couldn't handle that. She didn't like that. And so they gave him a car that they weren't using, so that he could take the kids around places.

He wasn't really seeing the kids that entire first year. They met him a couple times for dinner but that was it. It was a choice that he made and instead of letting him feel that choice, she wanted to make sure that if he did decide, he would have access to a car to take the kids somewhere. And that is enabling. That is wanting to save somebody from the consequences of their choices. Now, again, I totally understand it. It was mind blowing to me at that time, because I so badly wanted him to heal. But I understand the pain and devastation and just wanting to give them that chance.

But if they have it then when they really want it, they can do it. But it just doesn't help anything. It's just enabling, it is so unhealthy. And those are the reasons why it's so important for an entire family to have counseling. When there's an addict in the home, everybody needs counseling, so that we can all learn healthy habits. And I was enabling all those years. So I understand I was doing the same kinds of things. I was saving him from his choices all the time. I was saving him from his pain.

I was saving him from anybody finding out for so long, just keeping it to myself suffering by myself, all in protecting him. Now with that I've heard from so many people and I'm sure that his family felt the same way that Why can't you just be quiet? Why do you have to say stuff about all of these things? You're ruining the family name. But you know what? Somebody's choices ruined the family name. I just happened to be the one telling the truth.

And the thing is, is really if you look at it, if you think someone's ruining your family name, that's actually a prideful thought. That's pride coming in because these people all of us as we have issues and problems and weaknesses and challenges, we're just living a human experience. The addicts in our lives are having a hard human experience. Their choices aren't ruining a family name. Their choices are ruining their own life. And of course, it ripple effects to the entire family.

But it's not about a family name. It really isn't. It's really about a person. It's about loving a person that's struggling. Doing what the best thing is possible for that person and for a family. As we learn to accept what truth is, as we learn to stop enabling those behaviors and as we learn boundaries, and empowerment, and doing the right thing, we are helping individuals, ourselves included our children, showing new ways of coping, and managing stress and anxiety, and learning how to deal with real things that are happening in so many people's families and their lives.

As I went through my journey, I would flip flop back from living in truth, having my eyes open living in reality, to basically going to sleep, acting like nothing had happened and that I would be well. And I would do that over and over and over until I figured out the roots of why I was doing what I was doing. So as I went to counseling, and was learning how to heal, and even learning Oh, whoa, that's enabling. I had no idea I thought it was loving. I thought it was protecting and helping I thought saving was a really good noble choice.

When I learned that it was actually harmful and I figured out why I did what I did. And what was wrong in me that I would be doing those things, I was able to heal and see clear. And then that also gave me the empathy and love for other family members who were also enabling. So instead of having hate and resentment, I could have empathy for those people and understand exactly where they are. We all have a choice to make of whether we are going to eventually seek the truth or eventually do the work it takes to figure out even what that truth is.

But as I did that, I would heal a layer of it. And then it would show me how big the wound was underneath. I first had to accept that there was a wound that I needed something fixed. And as I healed the top part, the next layer would show up. And then as I would heal that the next one would show up. Sometimes I thought that I'm doing all this work, and I'm not even healing, I'm still the same. I'm still enabling. I'm still codependent, I'm still in denial. But I wasn't I was actually learning. I was actually doing new things.

It was just that my body was showing me you've done this, now let's do this. And then I would heal that layer. And then again, my body would show me how deep the wound was. It's about healing every day. It's about choosing it every day. It's about facing the demons every day. And as you do that all the trauma and the triggers and the heartache and the anxiety will continue to lessen until it's pretty much gone except on rare occasions.

And that is the most hopeful and wonderful feeling as all of that start shedding and you can wake up and live free and happy and you see clear, and you can see the people around you clearly and you can accept where they are in their lives. Also accept the fact that people are not going to be where you are. They're not going to do things the right way. They're not going to do in the way you wish that they would. And as you look back and look at your life and see if you were kind of the same way at one time, you can also gain that empathy for other people.

This was a lot of hard things that we talked about today. I'm sure there's mixed feelings on whether you feel that I should have shared those truths about my family. That was my family at that time. They no longer are now. But I felt really inspired. And that it was an important thing to show you and help you with because I would assume that if any of you are struggling with addiction, have addiction in your families, that you are facing some of the same things.

And if I can help you not hate them, for as long as maybe you will or show you another way to look at it, then that will help your life and it will help you in your own healing. Because as we hang on to those resentments and the, I wish they would do this. I wish they would accept I wish they were there for me. When we can let go of those things and just keep on our path of healing and recovery, we will be so much better off. And it frees us our heart and our mind and our soul from hate.

As we don't have that hate in our bodies, we feel better and we can function better and we are more clear and we can do the right things in our lives and we're able to move forward and Do more for ourselves. I challenge you to look at your life and see where you are choosing denial, and where you are enabling those around you. Are you choosing to save your family members, your children, your spouse, your friends from choices that they are making?  Maybe look into what that actually means. Maybe read some books on enabling, maybe check in with your counselor or get one if you haven't.

You can also always shoot me an email at Roxanne.granata@gmail.com. You can also follow me on my social media pages. You can find those links if you go to choose in podcast.com there is a link to my social media. So work on that. I challenge you to strive to see the truth to open your eyes and gain acceptance and by doing that you are going to continue on your path to healing. I look forward to meeting with you each week and we will see you next time.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai