Support is tricky.

When is support real? When is it enabling?

Support is complicated when dealing with addicts and martyrs. It can be especially difficult when dealing with yourself.

  • Is my help enabling the addict to get one more?
  • Does my compassion swell the martyr’s sense of pity and entitlement?
  • When do my time-outs and breaks become indulgent avoidance?

When is support enabling? When is it misguided validation? And when is it lazy or evasive? These are thorny questions and the answers are not always intuitive or prescriptive.

In the moment, providing the support that the addict, martyr, or your psyche asks for can be easier, less resistant, and less uncomfortable than stepping back to dig deeper and wider for mindful acts of support. Stepping back, we might discover what we already know deep down.

  • Negotiation with the addict is fruitless.
  • Boundaries with the martyr are expedient.
  • Resolve to pick yourself up is crucial to move forward.

Knowing these things doesn’t make it less tricky. We can read and study all the Al-Anon and self-help books for guidelines, set intentions, and even attend (gulp!) support groups, but the decision in the moment is a hot one-off that carries the risk of being blinded to a genuine need for help, compassion, or a nap.


We deserve grace. Even when we’re succumbing to demons of addiction, self-pity, and fear, we all—all of us—deserve grace. And we need to give others—all of the others—grace. How? Sometimes it looks like support, but sometimes support looks like the opposite.

Support—financial, physical, and emotional—is the tricky part. I struggle with when to send money for the light bill, when to lean in and listen to the litany, when to allow myself to retreat from hard things.

How do we hold others and ourselves in grace, compassion, and support without enabling? How do we give grace without evading the challenges that need to be faced?

Thoughts and Prayers


But what if I don’t know what to pray for? What if my thoughts are not aligned with real support and true grace? What if I can’t sort out when to give in, give over, or give up versus stand firm?

When I don’t know what to pray or how to pray, I pray for clarity and guidance. If my prayers are troubled with anger, I pray for poise. When my prayers are disturbed with impatience, I pray for compassion. If my prayers are borne of fears, I pray for courage. But even on the other side of the prayers, I might be uncertain and frightened, because every decision is a one-off.

Best One-Offs

The decision I make in the moment might not look like the one I made for the last. Every morning I pray that I can be and do the best I can for the highest good of all. I reset that intention every day, because each day, even if it feels like most of the others, is a one-off.

This day, I ask for clarity and guidance as I move through dark moments. I ask for grace for my myself and for all. I ask for light.

©Pennie Nichols. All Rights Reserved. 2022