Guest Author - Kathie LoMonaco
I have been pondering the thought that there is a fine line between being a nurturer and being an enabler. Nurturing has always seemed to come naturally to me. Of course, once you become a mother that is when your nurturing side really kicks in and you realize you could have had a wonderful occupation as ‘Florence Nightingale’. All joking aside, at what point would a person be considered crossing over that nurturing line to then start being seen or labeled as an ‘enabler‘? I found this very curious and interesting.
Okay, then, let’s see. If I was raising a child, and being not only a responsible parent but also being loving, kind and considerate in my parenting, I would say that is being a nurturer. However, at some point, as the child is growing older, say teenage years, and they adopt some bad habits, i.e., smoking or some other less than favorable habit, and I as a Mother aided and abetted it - such as picking up a pack of cigarettes for them while I was out to the store, that would be ‘enabling’. That, I guess, is a simple example.
Another case in point - on a more serious note - recently, someone I know (living in another state) wrote to me telling me that a woman they had befriended and known through emails suddenly and without warning decided to act on some things that this man I know had told her about in an email - I would say he ‘confided‘ to her in an email. He had complained that his landlord was not doing the right thing by him - such as, taking advantage of this man’s good nature while he has been a tenant renting a cabin up in the mountains, would go above and beyond the reasonable scope of services to keep the property in good shape, which included doing any repairs himself (as he is a very handy guy), in order to save his landlord some money.
This woman, who he thought he knew as harmless by now, apparently took matters into her own hands without being asked and she reported his landlord to some branch of the government, even filed a formal complaint with them - her words went something like “I have filed a complaint with (whomever) on YOUR BEHALF“. Say what?? The man involved was shocked and stupefied by her unwanted, unwarranted and unnerving actions. She also called 911 as he is recuperating from a bad fall and has been having a difficult time being so isolated and laid up for a while. If he had needed help, he certainly knows how to dial 9-1-1 on his own. He said two police cars showed up at his door!
She sent him an email advising him of what she had done - also saying she was not going to ‘enable’ him any more and that she was blocking any further emails from him! Wow, talk about your fruitcakes. She saw herself as ‘enabling’ him simply because he would tell her what was going on in his life in the course of their emails. Uh, Duh, this poor man is way up in the mountains with no one around for miles - he thought they had become friends after emailing back and forth - then whammo - she goes and does something totally off the wall - I would even say it was cruel.
The term ‘Enabler’ denotes something different to me. To me it means when someone starts to take advantage of another person, maybe even manipulating them - a person they know who is caring, kind and considerate - possibly taking care of that particular person in some way or another - i.e., a Caregiver, a Mother, a good Friend - usually over time some of the dynamic starts changing and in a gradual process the Nurturer becomes an Enabler; as in ‘Nurturer’ = good, “Enabler” = bad.
I’m still trying to wrap my head around what made this woman sort of snap. She did something uncalled for - not to mention something which could wreak a tremendous amount of havoc on a man who is convalescing and didn’t need any more drama and chaos in his life. I don’t see how she saw herself as ‘enabling’ him simply through reading and/or answering his emails. He thought they were friends. He felt comfortable telling her his thoughts, concerns, ideas, etc.
If anyone is guilty of crossing the line, I feel she did. She could have simply told him she didn’t feel comfortable with their conversations - and, of course, she was within her rights to end the (email) friendship. To go to the lengths she did, sends me the message that SHE was unstable. But, that is my opinion. I did not know her, only of her.
Apparently, we all have different ideas as to what the word ‘enabling’ means. Drop me a line, I'd appreciate your thoughts on this.