I want to qualify that. I do not want to give anyone a way out. By forced I mean you were actually forced. I mean you were in a position where you were forced to do something that was against what you would normally have chosen to do. I do not mean situations where you or I made bad decisions and we want to put that off on Bob, the bad guy that was with us, who talked us into this or that. No: Those are our own bad decisions. You cannot blame them on others. This walk we are taking requires honesty, so things like that have got to go. If you can agree on that we can make some progress.
I do understand the need to push off some of that responsibility, I have felt it. I have done it. Part of my life was spent on the streets and for the longest time that was my excuse for my bad behaviors. “Well, I grew up on the streets.” Or “Well, I didn’t have a father around when I needed one.” Or “I spent part of my life poor, living in the projects.” Yes those things truly did affect my life. They hurt me. They made me angry but they did not think for me did they? They didn’t. I did that. And because I didn’t really want to think about my life I adopted a workable solution. At some time in my early life I realized that I was a big kid. I also realized that when I raised my voice and came at someone they most usually became afraid: Even older boys and a few times men.
Raising my voice and being willing to bluff or even get into a fight became my first line of defense: In other words violence. It worked. It kept others away from me. It became my go-to response. I stopped worrying about solving problems or dealing with situations. I had a secret weapon, the threat of violence. I was safe. All I had to do was react, not think about it. And so I lived my life that way for a while and as I lived that way the person I had the potential to be drifted further and further away. And as I practiced the threat of violence to keep others away from me it was only a short leap until actual violence became another weapon in my response arsenal.
My point is we accumulate damage from the things we become or try to make ourselves into when we are not really dealing with life. When we are aimless, unconnected to society and the rules everyone else has to live by. When we enable others and are enabled by others to stay in our hatred and addictions. Ignore reality.
Prison: I had been in prison a few years, long enough to be transferred to a medium security prison. Two men had been at each other most of the day, back and forth, the larger man taunting the smaller man. I was housed in a dormitory setting, 40 men housed in one area watched over by one guard. No doors, no cells, those were in the past when I was in a Maximum security prison. The last count of the day was taken and the C.O. stepped out to wait for the sergeant to pick up the count slip. I caught a movement out of the corner of my eye as I began to lie down, a shadow raced silently past me, heading away so fast I was unsure I had really seen it. I stood and looked in that direction and caught the shadow slip into the end of the line of beds. That told me all I needed to know. A second later a man screamed, a second after that the one man was shadowed as he leapt up and both shadows began fighting. It was clear to see that the smaller shadow was making stabbing gestures as his hand rushed at the other shadow.
Maybe the entire sequence of events lasted ten seconds. I would be surprised if it did. The smaller shadow suddenly separated from the larger one and a split second later raced past me to the bathroom: Breaking up the home made knife, in this case a pen casing that had been shaped and flushing the evidence. The larger shadow stumbled to the open doorway. There had been so little noise that no one, not even the C.O. standing just outside that door had been alerted.
There are lessons here or I would not have told you the story. The events actually happened just as I said. I told you we had heard and seen the two arguing most of the day, yet none of us did anything. The bigger guy was a bully, stopping him would mean that we night get drawn into a fight, becoming involved in a fight means that we might have lost our parole dates, a thing an inmate lives day to day for. Sometimes that date is all that keeps you sane, and so it is always foremost in your mind. A few minutes later the lights came on and several C.O.’s rushed in. The entire company was locked down for several hours. During that time they found the pen which the smaller man had not broken up sufficiently and bloody clothes he had somehow managed to conceal in that brief time. They also questioned all of us, but no one had seen anything.
What does this have to do with enabling? It is clear cut. When you don’t speak up about the things that are wrong in your world, you begin to stop seeing them for what they are. Living in a violent society such as that one you are subjected to so much violence day in and day out that you become not only accustomed to it you do not even speak of it, and you then deny its existence in that way. You truly turn a blind eye to it. It didn’t happen. I didn’t just see that. Doing that enables the bully, gang members or whoever is perpetrating the violence to continue, and it will continue: Get worse, even more violent as it did with the smaller man being bullied by the bigger man. That is an example of enabling you may not have thought about.
For others it is a need to control others around them. If people can be unpredictable or have been unpredictable in the past they could be again, but controlling what they see, what they believe via what you tell them limits that possibility. It protects that person, not you, you are a means to an end. And of course there are people that have a need to control other people to get them to do what they want them to do. This could be as sinister as a pimp controlling a woman he wants to earn cash for him, or as simple as a man or woman manipulating their spouse or significant other into something they don’t want to do. In either case, or any others you might envision or might have seen, the issue is not the reasoning, the issue is that someone is being manipulated against their will. They may know it. They may even think they need it, but it is not free will.
Let’s say you do that time, or maybe you don’t, but you’ve made your mistakes and you are trying to pick yourself up and move past them. Admirable and that is not sarcasm. Moving forward in life is a big deal. Many people just bury their mistakes and they never deal with, acknowledge or learn from those mistakes so that they won’t do them again. They seem to skate through life, meanwhile there you are, regretful, doing what you can to make amends, sure that you will be forgiven if you do the right things because that is what you were told from childhood. But it isn’t true.