Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Enabler's Anonymous

It's not easy being an enabler. It must be addictive. As the first born in my family, I became the go-to person. While very young my mother told me that I was responsible to help her in the house and to help take care of my sister. She did it for her my mother, and it was my turn.

I've spent my life as the mediator, secretary, chauffer, and so on. All of my 1st born cousins are the go-to-people in their nuclear families. This is just how we are.

But I feel like of all the go-to people, I am the Alpha Enabler. There must some little green witch sitting on my shoulder whining, "you must help them, my pretty." All of the "elders" in my extended family are very capable of handling things on their own. I just feel like they know that I will come through and make their lives easier if I just help them. This can be a simple request or turn into an anxiety ridden rant on the phone that causes me to cave in.

I spent a few hours yesterday booking a flight for my mom, aunt, grandmother and great uncle to fly to florida to see my great aunt who is in hospice care as of today. Because of the gravity of the situation, I volunteered my travel agent services. I'd like to have gone to see her as well since I have known her all of my life, but I couldn't take the time off, so I made sure they all had a flight with the "right" seating (some want windows, some need aisles, blah blah blah) and a comfortable hotel within their price range (though most were sold out, so this was quite the task).

This was done from my office, instead of doing my work. Classic. I sacrifice myself for their sake. For what? If I weren't there they could and would do it themselves. But on with my boring story.

I then left the office with my work in my bag and drove them to the airport. They weren't ready and I had to get a 3oz bottle and clear bag for my great uncle who thought the 7oz cologne would be just fine to carry with him.  

That turned into quite the evening-o-fun since they were running late, and no one knew how to use the kiosk. I was coaching them over the phone while double parked outside. I did have to run in at one point, abandoning my car in the no parking zone.

When I think everything is kosher, I get a frantic call at 1:30am from my aunt, which of course I answer, asking "how do I use this UPS?" Of course, she meant, GPS, but I was too tired to care. I'd given them mapquest directions, from the airport to hotel and the hospice, but I'm sure they did not look at this. I told them to figure it out and hung up the phone (it actually went more like, "what? I have never seen this GPS, so I don't know. I'm sleeping, I have to go.").

I then get a text at 7:30am asking if the hotel has complimentary breakfast. FOR REAL?! UGH!!!

What is happening? Why do I allow this constant dependance on me to be ok? I thought I'd gotten past this in therapy, but like any addiction, if you don't constantly check yourself, well, you wreck yourself.

I can only blame myself, but why do I want to yell, in Shakespearan style, "All are punish'd!!!!" At the very least they all need to understand that I have boundaries and will be saying NO from now on. I hope.

Are you the go-to person in your family? How do you enforce your boundaries?