I am thinking today about how much I enabled my qualifier over the years. Enabling to me means the things that I've done that might make it easier for the alcoholic to continue in the progression of the disease.
In many cases, enabling means that you cover for the person who is drunk by making up excuses or fixing things when they make a mess. My qualifier has always had a great job and has been functional. There wasn't any binge drinking or staying out all night. It was more of an internal rage that resulted in the need to have several drinks. This was especially bad at parties where I had no "control" over the person. Now I realize that my anxiety and embarassment was enabling. What I could have chosen to do is not go to the party or go without the alcoholic. I never felt comfortable after I saw the third beer or second drink consumed since I knew that many more were to come.
I probably did many other things to enable the alcoholic, over and over again. It really took a major shake up for the alcoholic to take notice and get some help. I no longer try to rescue the alcoholic nor do I feel stifled in doing the things that I like to do.
What I now realize is that until the alcoholic's drinking, thinking and behavior becomes painful enough they will not reach out for help. If I try to help diminish their pain then I am really preventing them from feeling that "pain" that would be a natural result of their own actions. I am effectively cushioning their downward spiral and if I make things cushy enough then they won't even know that they fell. If they never face the pain their drinking causes, why should they ever quit?