The Enabler

Friends have often wondered aloud how I've arrived where I am—geographically, circumstantially and emotionally. In short, it's a consequence of having had my life shattered... multiple times. With respect to the one that finally pushed me over the edge, some have remarked that I'd over-reacted... until I filled them in on the ugly details. And while I'm not about to claim I'm blameless, more than a few people on the "inside" have assured me that I didn't deserve what I've had to endure.

I supported "her" through illnesses, diseases, surgeries, unemployment and far more. I cooked literally thousands of meals, paid for books and certifications and college degrees and Christmases and who knows what else. I cared for her family as if it was my own for nearly a decade—hell, I taught her daughter how to drive. How was I repaid?

It may seem trivial, but it became a big deal: I've always refused to argue. My parents had argued nearly every day of my life growing up. Long ago, a therapist advised me that, once someone raises their voice, the argument has ended, with no "winner." Yet my refusal to argue was declared by her as evidence that I had some serious emotional issues, and she proceeded to goad me into arguments. Over and over. If I said something was white, she'd claim it was black—even when it clearly wasn't—all just to raise my temper. Ultimately it forced me to argue, which was so very painful in so many ways. It also forced me to question which of us had serious emotional issues.

I'd also invested a significant amount of money (very nearly six digits) in a company she wanted to launch. It seemed somewhat risky, but, fool that I was, I believed in her. I advised her how to protect herself financially, yet my advice was ignored. Consequently, every cent was squandered and lost. Worse, in the course of her "business" activities, she began cheating on me. And when that folly imploded, she pursued yet another relationship with a man younger than her youngest child—in a foreign country, no less.

I'd vowed never to give up on her, even as her family told me I was an idiot. She resented the fact that I continued living with her even after it was over. Give me a break—I couldn't afford to move out. But then an inheritance changed all of that, and I was gone. A bit too late, I confess, but better late than never. Now here I am.

My biggest mistake? I was clearly the enabler, even when everything I did flew in the face of common sense. I need to own this and move on. But forgive me if I'm ill-equipped to deal with it effectively. Forgive me if it's taken longer than some might consider "normal" to come to terms with it. Forgive me if I don't know that I ever will. We're all different, and I can only handle just so much. Between a seriously ugly, abusive childhood and two prior divorces, I'm very much damaged goods. I suppose I'm the one with emotional issues after all.

I'm not looking for compensation or retaliation or sympathy or anything else; I doubt there's anything anyone can do to help aside from simply leave me alone. I just need to hide and heal. I've forgiven my former spouses for divorcing me—and indeed one of them is now a very good friend—but I honestly don't know if I can forgive again this time, let alone forget, no matter how long it's been. No one in my adult life has caused such pain. But I permitted it to happen... because I was the enabler.

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