I really like repetition. It comforts me. I love to dance to songs over and over again. If I love it, I really love it and want to do it over and over. The more you know choreography, the more energy and expression you can put into it, the more present in the moment you can be, the more you sweat, the more endorphins are released, and on and on. I read books I love over and over. I have a very high “reprise threshold. “ I’m embarrassed to admit how many times I’ve read Pride and Prejudice. It’s like I’m a child sucking my thumb; it just makes me feel better.
I guess repetitive behavior is okay on the level of dance and reading books and watching movies; I repeat these things because I love them. But I found that in loving a person with a big problem, repetition is not at all comforting; not for me or the person in question. In fact, in this situation, my repetitive behavior (enabling) was based on fear. Fear of not being loved; fear of not being a nice person; fear that I’m just not good enough (that’s a new one).
So I was guilty of being an enabler. It was my pattern and I couldn’t diverge from it. I derived comfort from doing the same thing; even though doing the same thing (clearly) was not helping. I thought, “I’ll just do this or that one more time” because I couldn’t stand the anxiety of not doing it. It became an addiction. Only enabling stopped me from “jonesing.”
But there comes a time when, as with all of the enabled, the stakes keep getting raised (with your “help”) and the situation becomes unbearable. In therapy, I realized that my behavior, though on the surface seemed “kind,” was really anything but kind. My enabling helped the person stay in a bad situation. My “kind” behavior was really about me feeling like a “good” person. It was anything but helpful to the person I loved. It’s like being Neville Chamberlain. “Go ahead, take Poland. Then all the bad stuff will stop, right?”
I had to practice stopping that behavior. It was hard. But I learned that repetition based on love is one thing; repetitive behavior can be disguised as “love,” but is often fear. Fear is being attached to the outcome, as though I had any control over that once events were put in motion. I could only control me. So every time I was faced with another opportunity to “rescue,” I could ask myself whether what I wanted to do was based on fear or love.
Love is when you allow another person to make his or her own life. Love is when you trust your loved one to find what’s real and true within. Love is when you are connected and not attached.
So now I repeat: “Is it love?”
“Is it love?”