Enabling the Disabled

I’m sitting here on the banks of Luzernsee in Lucerne, Switzerland, and if there was ever a place to be heartbroken and confused, this is it.

The only beauty that compares to the Alps are the Scottish Highlands, a different sort of beauty. Dark and wild, rather like my soul.

I’m heartbroken and confused because I’m still sick with this virus, an affliction caught from a severely personality-disabled person who refuses to get help for either his mental or physical ailments.

…and I refuse to give up on him, but I must find a way to do just that.

I’ve heard it a gazillion times. “You can’t help someone who won’t help themselves,” but it’s never really hit so close to home for me as it has these past weeks.

Yes. The saga continues. It’s my pattern, after all.

After NJD left me again two weeks ago, he was back in contact days later with apologies and regrets. I told him I wasn’t ready for a reconciliation, not after being discarded twice. That I needed some time to think, and he needed to address some of his mental and physical health concerns before we could try a third time.

He agreed because he really can see a future together, and sometimes I can, too. I want to see a future together. I want to have a meaningful relationship again, and it was so so so good when we were together for those two weeks…

His kindness and vulnerability stays with me. His promises stay with me. The comfort I felt with him stays with me. After being without a home for nearly two years, he is my home. He is my hope, too.


Perhaps that’s what’s has infected my heart. Hope. That dangerous emotion that deludes one into thinking things could be different, be better.

Hope blinds us to reality, because the reality is this:

  • He has demanded I give up my travels, my life, and my dreams to come take care of him, repeatedly.
  • He has not offered one iota of support or comfort to me or my concerns.
  • He has not taken any steps toward recovery since I left for Europe, in fact he’s going backwards and getting worse.
  • He has lied to me, deceived me, manipulated me.
  • He has abandoned me, broken promises, and hasn’t once done what he said he would do. Actions != Words.

Yet he consumes my mind and fills my heart with hope.

He is delusional and living in a fantasy world, but then maybe so am I.

My therapist says I’m not delusional. She says I’ve been so starved of love my entire life, and especially after the recent traumas, that I hang on to any frayed piece of affection or love-crumb tossed my way.

Apparently I hold onto that frayed rope for dear life.

When a relationship obviously won’t work. When I’m faced with abuse and manipulation. When I’m tossed aside like garbage not once, but twice…I don’t leave.

I try harder.

I think if only he can get some psychiatric help, we can work.
…if only he can manage his pain, we can work.
…if only I’m patient and supportive and loving enough, it can work.

Then when he doesn’t take control of his health, when he doesn’t make an appointment with a psychiatrist, a therapist, or even a doctor, I try to do it for him. I say to myself:

If I can just help him out of this pit of depression, like I did when I was there…
If only I can give him a leg up, then we can work…


Here I am in one of the most beautiful places in the world, an intelligent, vibrant, compassionate woman, yet my mind and heart are with a disabled, dying man in Eugene.

I’m not talking about the physical disability. I’m not talking about the amputated leg or advanced neuropathy or the vascular damage. I’m not talking about the weakened heart or loss of muscle.

I’m talking about his disabled will to live or to even try anymore. I’m talking about his apathy and denial. I’m talking about drowning in depression, loss, and grief. I’m talking about creating fantasy futures because it’s the only way he knows how to survive.

During one of my enabling moments, I contacted a physical therapist who specializes in people with diabetes, including amputees and those with diabetic ulcers, hoping he could help my beloved out of his pit.

This was his reply:

The depression and self-isolation is the yellow flag that makes the possibility of improvement questionable…

If he wants to truly change this, put forth some effort, and start taking care of himself, then there is an opportunity, although slim, to bring him back.

He has a considerable problem list with the cardiac, diabetic, and amputation histories…

Without addressing <his diet>, in addition to the physical aspects of his care, there is no little to no chance for improvement…

Very often patients with advanced diabetes are very apathetic, despite their poor state of health, and therefore is difficult to motivate them to improve their overall health condition.

This was a dose of reality for me. Still, I don’t stop. Not a week later under my next rush of enabler delusion, I wrote to a therapist who specializes in trauma recovery, personality disorders, and grief counseling.


From what I’ve read about codependency and enabling, I’m hurting my beloved worse by trying to help him. The best thing I could probably do for him is to leave him alone, but I haven’t been able to let go yet. I keep trying to help.

I’m getting there. I keep setting boundaries and deadlines for myself, and each time I come closer. Again, I will try not to help until (if) he asks for it. It’s so very hard to see him in so much pain and do nothing at all. The hardest thing for me to do is nothing at all, but that likely is what will help him the most. Until then, I am a crutch. I am what’s keeping him from “rock bottom,” the place where change (if it’s going to happen) will happen.

My beloved has a deep case of learned helplessness. Someone has always done it for him, usually his mother. Now that she has passed, he’s been trying to “get his hooks in me,” to capture me in order take her place as caretaker and nursemaid under the guise of a romantic relationship.

Still, I hold on to hope. I know better, really. Hope and I have a love/hate relationship, and right now I hate it once again.

At the end of hope is life.
At the end of hope is me.

I’m looking deep within myself to discover why I can’t let go. Why can’t I tolerate walking away. What keeps me from going into NC and staying there?

Compassion? Pity? Love? Desperation? Guilt?
How much longer will I devalue myself by waiting for something that will never happen?

I recently found this list of how a healthy relationship looks, because apparently I don’t know, since the answer to every. single. question (but one) is a resounding NO in the case of this relationship. Of course, most people who have healthy relationships had them modeled for them as a child. The only kind of relationships modeled for me were dysfunctional at best and abusive at worst.

Does your relationship support your growth?
Do you feel better about yourself being with this person?
Can you really be yourself?
Are your needs as an individual separate from your partner supported?
Are your needs within the relationship accepted and supported?
Do you feel Secure, needed, and wanted?
Do you trust your partner?
Does s/he trust you?
Are your friendships respected?
Do you feel listened to?
Are your thoughts and feelings important to your partner?

…and yet, I think of him there in his room, alone with his cats, and I wonder if I should give up a year of my life to try and help him out of this pit of depression and self-isolation. I’ve actually considered canceling my petsits and going back to Eugene, to do what he demands in the hopes of helping him.

If I did that, I would not only hate myself, I would resent him as well, for it would always be on his terms, his needs, his desires, his everything. I would disappear.


It likely wouldn’t change anything anyway because he has chosen self-isolation and neglect for decades, so he will unlikely choose self-care now, even if love is at the other end.

Not me. I choose life, at least until it does me the kindness of ending. I will live as fully as I can when the jaws of depression don’t have me in their dark grip. While he wants to clip my wings and lock me in a cage, I want to fly. I rise, again and again.

I fucking rise.

My therapist says he is an anvil around my neck, and I think she’s right. In fact, he a better metaphor might be an albatross.

My friends say that he would suck everything out me, including the very marrow from my bones, and I think they’re right.

My Zürich host says that he is a virus, and I think she’s right.

The moment I let go of it was the moment I got more than I could handle
The moment I stepped off of it was the moment I touched down.

~Alanis Morissette, “Thank You”

….and yet —- I look at my phone to see if he’s written. . .

I’m getting there. . .and when I do, I will find myself again.


~ by omgrey on February 26, 2017.

3 Responses to “Enabling the Disabled”

  1. All I am going to say it HUGS! You are an incredible woman and the fact that you can love, time after time, with all the pain and rejection in your life is amazing and a testament to your strength.
    For this alone, you should be loved unconditionally and offered a safe haven no matter where you go.

    We have talked before and you know how and why I feel about you. It still holds even after all this time.

    Please take care of yourself and be loved.


    • Thank you, Clint, for your kind words! I do have a tendency to still love very deeply after everything I’ve endured.

      Today I sent a Farewell letter because he just kept hurting me too much. Day after day. I will do my best to stick to it, and I’ll be writing about it here very soon.

  2. […] farewell. Of course, he left me weeks ago, for the second time in two months. As you read in my last post, I was truly hoping for a 3rd chance, but it’s clearly not going to […]

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