"Don't take classes on not being an enabler", she told me. "You're too good at it."
I was cooking for the woman as she said this. My heart started beating a whole lot harder.
Had she just said this to me?!?
I took a few deep breaths and thought about how to approach this situation. I didn't want to be rude, but I sure as heck wasn't going to let this one slide. I had not come over to her house to "support her craziness"! Yes, I am a good helper, but no, I didn't want to feel taken advantage of or to be silent and walk away pissed.
I stopped cooking.
It's not good to cook when you're angry.
After a few more breaths and a little courage gathering for the one who hates conflict, I said, "I took personally what you just said to me." "What did I say?" she wanted to know. "That I am an enabler. I'm helping you because I want to."
She quickly explained what she meant was that my presence was motivating her to take care of some very uncomfortable tasks; things she had put off doing for a very long time. Her meaning came from St. Paul as he spoke to the Corinthians in the Bible. He tells them to enable each other. To bring out the best in each other.
I have taken a six-month cognitive therapy course to teach me how to set boundaries and embrace my emotions as valid. To me, "enabling" means to support someones unhealthy habits. A codependent who sweeps up the mess after the drunk spouse breaks something is an enabler. The parent who doesn't let their children face the consequences of their own actions is an enabler.
Her housemate sauntered into the kitchen. We drew him into the discussion. She asked him what his definition of an enabler was. His matched mine.
She got frustrated and blamed the people who have "ruined" the term.
My heart slowed down to normal. My self-righteous anger abated. My Cinderella complex sat back down in the corner to sew up someone else's ripped clothing for awhile. I finished cooking. It was delicious.