Tuesday, June 3, 2008


Detachment came to be the topic at a recent Al-Anon meeting. When I came to talk I spoke of detachment meaning to me, that we - I - became codependent. That is I started working my qualifier's life and starting to try to guess what they were going to do next when it came to drinking and not drinking.

Just a side note here: I was so embroiled in the alcoholism, I did not know when she was drinking or not. I look back at the events and the pictures I have found and see NOW, that she was drinking. I was lulled into a sense of not knowing when she was drunk or not - so everything that was abnormal, became normal, because the craziness became a standard of living over a long period of time.

Anyway, what I have found very useful is NOT to get into my qualifier's business. Now this is easier said than done, especially when you are living in the same home as the person who is drinking. Also, if the drinker is a quiet drinker, versus one that loves to engage by pushing our buttons, it is much more difficult to detach.

But when we are getting our buttons pushed - it serves no purpose to engage, instead it only feeds the addiction. You actually make it stronger and YOU get sucked into a vortex - or a tar pit of anguish, frustration and anxiety. THIS IS WHEN YOU MUST detach, even without love, and even if you have to take the kids and leave the house for a while. Detaching can be as simple as leaving the room. Detaching can be not saying anything. I was told when someone pushes your buttons or tries to hook you, to say, "Interesting." Period. Stop. Say no more.

Detachment can also be as simple as not thinking about the future or the past. AND staying in the moment.

Detachment can also be, realizing we are not our children and that they are separate from us. This includes, our spouse. THEY are separate and they have their own lives. If things are screwed up for them and they are over 18 or 21 - pick the year, but what I am saying is that they are grown-ups at this age and we must stop doing for them what they can and should be doing for themselves. Once we start doing this and this is hard because we have spent years taking care of everyone and the world, we can stop judging, evaluating and therefore, detach more easily.

Detachment is also not seeing yourself in the job or the shoes you bought or the car you drive. You are not these inanimate objects. Yet we allow ourselves to be "insulted" if someone says something "wrong" or critical about these types of things. The same is true for sports teams. A sports team is not us. Hard to believe, especially if we are rabid fans of some football team or baseball team or some other sport. Same is true today about politics - we are democrat or republican or independent, and we get insulted about our favorite politician.

When you think about it - isn't it pretty silly that we would identify so much with things that make no real difference in our achieving peace and serenity?

Anyway - I hope this note finds you all well this day. Stay in the present!!!


maresie said...

I think for me detachment is all about practive. I've been in al anon a few years now. I am not drowning anymore yet I can find myself caught in reactivity in a second. When I am its so important for me to get grounded someway. One way is to detach from the situation, another is to see the big picture (such a big part of al anon). I have to remind myself to take care of myself but taking care of myself is indeed in my vocabulary these days.

Julia said...

I struggle with detachment in every sense of the word. I let my mom's alcoholism dictate my feelings, and coming to terms with that she is the only one that can determine her fate is hard. I cannot keep her from drinking unless I give up my life and husband and move in with her and never leave her side. Thats unrealistic so I am going to have to relent my feelings of having to take control and have faith in God. I can't wait for my first Alanon meeting this Friday. It can only get better from here...
I've completely ignored myself, I have to take care of me or I will lose my identity. No matter what happens, I am a seperate person with a completely different outlook on life. I pray for strength every day.

Syd said...

I keep the focus on myself as much as possible and not on the alcoholic. And I do my best to detach with love and not spite.

Anonymous said...

I think detachment is hard for me right now. I have been in Al-anon for less then 2 months... and my struggle is not liking him. He drinks every day, some times not in excess, but his behavior and attitude are alway affected. I try to walk away, not say much, but the next day he wants to know what he can do to make the situation better between us... I have told him to get help for himself, but that isn't happening so I said I am trying with the help of al-anon to accept things the way they are and to change some of my attiudes and reactions. I just wonder how long it will be before I like him again.

Julia said...

I know EXACTLY how you feel. In fact while my mom was drying out I texted my best friend and said that I hated her. I still dislike her right now, but I do love her...its weird not liking someone but loving them all the same. I haven't been to Alanon yet (tomorrow is my first meeting) but I am also hoping to learn these skills. Anything is better than the way I am feeling now. Good luck with everything, and pray. Its good for the soul and I really think God listens. Best of luck to you.

Anonymous said...

Detachment is a very difficult for me at times.

I don't necessarily WANT to, but find that I NEED to.

I am learning that detachment comes from a postion of strength, not weakness, and can douse the fire, rather than add fuel to the fire.

Peace this Thursday.


Anonymous said...

"with the help of Al-anon to accept things the way they are and to change some of my attitudes and reactions"

Good for you! Stick with Al-anon, I can tell it's helping you already. I had the same problem and it took a while but I had patience. Things eventually worked out for us. He got help and even with the "set-backs" but with the help of Al-anon and my God, I can handle it a lot better.

Anonymous said...

"Good for you! Stick with Al-anon, I can tell it's helping you already."

I have to disagree. She has a lot of work to do with Al-Anon, and might even want to look at other issues causing her to feel this way. Maybe even marriage counseling as well. If he has few drinks every day and she hates him for it, maybe she just married the wrong guy to begin with. If that's the case, she'll never achieve the serenity though detachment since she has no incentive. Try detaching yourself from a husband of 15 years that comes home late every night drunk and wants to fight with everyone? Me, the kids, the dog! Talk about "not liking". I've been with Al-Anon for 1 year now and I've come to realize that my only option is to leave him. I wish you better luck.

Catherine said...

Joe, I'm really glad you added that part about politicians and teams and other non-personal entities that stir people's emotions. I would add creative elements in there (TV shows, movies, art), too, because some people really bond over those kinds of things. (My qualifier actually gets very bent out of shape if I mock Paul McCartney -- heh!)

But more importantly I would add work stuff: people letting the personal habits or eating patterns or speech style of others get under their skin. Messy desk? Slacker? Gossip? I used to really let myself get dragged in. DEE--tach.

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