How to distinguish between Compassion versus Enabling Doormat?



Good morning ladies…
So my husband relapsed after 15yrs sober. However, the truth came out that he actually relapsed way back when our 2nd child was born 7.5 years ago.

He confided this to me in early November… then started talking to a few of his guys about it… then has closed off to me completely. Like… completely. Except of course he wants to be sexuality intimate. (Of course…)

My gut is that he fuming and in regret that he opened up about the past at all. He says he’s back “working his program”… but that it’s “none of my business”. Well. We met in recovery. We have 3 young children under 9. He’s been lying to me for over 7 years. And now, instead of being humble and open I’m receiving the angry backlash.
And yes it certainly is my business!

So… I guess the question is… how do you gauge being the enabler and turning into the doormat versus being loving and compassionate? In any relationship there must be give and take. And at some stages, we take more or give more. Right now I’m supposed to be a partner acting in love and healing compassion… but in return I’m getting the aftermath of the vile toxic disease. That doesn’t work for me… and I’m really struggling with that. And perhaps I’ve just answered my own question. …hmm.

For you…
What does it look like being compassionate to your active addict or newly sober addict? What does it look like to be the enabler whos playing a role in this ugly addiction cycle?



That angry backlash response is hard to ignore in my relationship. I tend to think it shows my husband is connected to the cocaine high rather than me. I find compassion when I’ve thought deeply about what I need. Previously that has been my partner accessing community services. He’s had a relapse and now requires a different intervention . If he agrees to this I can find compassion in my heart bc he’s on his sobriety journey. I always kick him out when he’s relapsed. He has been out of the house for 6 nights. It’s the first time I’ve discussed his addiction with our 8 year old. I’m strong when I focus on her needs and this strength helps me support my husband .
Thinking of you , you sound strong & brave


Thanks for the question @HeatherBeHereNow and response @Rixy it’s great to have you both here and I can relate to this a lot.

I believe connection is the opposite of addiction, but that doesn’t mean not allowing them to experience natural consequences of their use and behavioral deterrents to continue using.

We cover these principles that are evidence-based in our weekly digital topic meetups.
Sending lots of love. And I’d love to invite you to tonight’s group online meetup (Feb 5, 6pm EST) where we can talk and share more skills that are proven to help for determining enabling versus support, RSVP HERE


Agh such a great question! For me…

Enabling: Literally pulling my husband up out of bed every morning and feeding him his medications so he could get to work on time. Pushing, yelling, pulling multiple times before he finally got out of bed. He’d go to bed late because he’d spend his nights in the garage, getting high. I was so afraid he would lose his job by getting to work late. I resented him. I dreaded mornings.

Compassion: Helping my husband out of bed every morning. Understanding how he’s struggled with sleep his whole life, and seeing the work he’s done to try to get to bed earlier and wake up earlier. I nudge him awake, hand him his medications, and go back downstairs. He gets up on his own. He tells me “thank you for helping get me up,” every morning before I leave for work.

It took us a loooong time to get here. I always thought, he needs to be able to get up on his own. As long as I’m helping him, I’m enabling him. But I’m still helping him, and now it’s different. His behaviors make all the difference, and my perspective on the situation.

I hope that helps. :pray::sparkles: