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Old 06-30-2003, 10:01 PM
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Detaching

Hi all, I've been struggling a lot with detachment lately. I was searching around for some helpful information and wanted to share this with others if anyone is interested. I hope this is OK to do, if not, I won't do it again. I'm not sure what protocol is on here about sharing info from other websites so I won't name the actual site name.

What is detachment?
Detachment is the:

Ability to allow people, places, or things the freedom to be themselves.

Holding back from the need to rescue, save, or fix another person from being sick, dysfunctional, or irrational.

Giving another person "the space'' to be him or herself.

Disengaging from an over-enmeshed or dependent relationship with people.

Willingness to accept that you cannot change or control a person, place, or thing.

Developing and maintaining of a safe, emotional distance from someone whom you have previously given a lot of power to affect your emotional outlook on life.

Establishing of emotional boundaries between you and those people you have become overly enmeshed or dependent with in order that all of you might be able to develop your own sense of autonomy and independence.

Process by which you are free to feel your own feelings when you see another person falter and fail and not be led by guilt to feel responsible for their failure or faltering.

Ability to maintain an emotional bond of love, concern, and caring without the negative results of rescuing, enabling, fixing, or controlling.

Placing of all things in life into a healthy, rational perspective and recognizing that there is a need to back away from the uncontrollable and unchangeable realities of life.

Ability to exercise emotional self-protection and prevention so as not to experience greater emotional devastation from having hung on beyond a reasonable and rational point.

Ability to let people you love and care for accept personal responsibility for their own actions and to practice tough love and not give in when they come to you to bail them out when their actions lead to failure or trouble for them.

Ability to allow people to be who they "really are'' rather than who you "want them to be.''

Ability to avoid being hurt, abused, taken advantage of by people who in the past have been overly dependent or enmeshed with you.
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Old 07-01-2003, 05:57 PM
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Detachment is a wonderful thing

It took me years to learn it's value, and I am still a student in that class. Letting go of the things we've been clinging to for years is an aquired art form. Once you let go, it's a free fall experience. Suddenly, you are not "required" (by your internal law) to grasp onto things that you can't control. You just let go of them, like helium balloons, and watch them float away.
Homework:
Go to your local helium balloon store and buy five or six balloons. (More if you need them). You'll need a black magic marker too, so buy that while you are out; if you don't already have one. Make sure that you get the balloons with the little plastic weights on the bottom of the ribbons. When you get home, write one thing on each balloon that you need to detach from or let go. Take your balloon bundle outside and set those suckers free one by one. Say goodbye to them as they float away.
"Goodbye resentment" (Launch a balloon)
"Goodbye controlling behavior" (Launch another one)
"Goodbye worrying things I can't control." (Laugh as that one floats away.)
This is really theraputic and it doesn't cost you much. It's also a whole lot of fun.
Peace,
Gabe
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Old 07-01-2003, 06:59 PM
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Thanks for posting this Rainy. I just put the link up in the powerpost thread.
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Old 07-01-2003, 07:04 PM
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What a nice thread! And Gabe what nice suggestions...

Personally for me it is about knowing that there is a plan and getting out of the way. That all by it's self is detachment.

Keep it Simple,
JT
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Old 07-01-2003, 07:40 PM
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(((Rainy))

all the things I needed to hear this afternoon !
unfortunatly its evening now.
But..I can try to drill them into the subcranial
corners of this thick skull !
((Gabe))
I need hundreds of balloons ! what a neat visual for
letting go !

Hugs
liddy
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Old 07-01-2003, 08:04 PM
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Thank you rainy!!!
What a wonderful post and at a great time for me. I needed to rehear this one.

Hugs to all,
2many2count
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Old 07-01-2003, 10:13 PM
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I am having some horrible issues with detachment right now...H and I had a conversation on Sunday where I asked him his thoughts on what will happen when he is out of the recovery house this month...I'm not sure I'm ready for him to come home yet...he has mixed feelings too...then I said something that he reacted to anger with, I said he needs to do what feels right to him b/c we have to both be sure this time before we try this again...he said he would do whatever his counselor told him to do..I said that was good but wanted to know what his thoughts were..he got angry and hostile with me, told me I was being pushy...I didn't feel like I was b/c I'm very in tune with what my motives are when I talk to him now and I was really talking purely out of love for him and his recovery. I ended up telling him that I don't like the way I feel when he reacts to me like that and doesn't listen and interrupts me. I told him I want him to listen to me and respect me even when he disagrees with me. I haven't heard from him since, and I called him tonight, only to be told he was unavailable. So, I'm feeling pretty sorry for myself right now...thinking that when things seem to be going well, something backfires and makes it all miserable again..all day today I was dwelling on what I'd said, trying to convince myself that I must have come across wrong, but I know my intentions were sincere. Detachment is what I need to do. I'm really tired of feeling pain, even though I know our feelings are our own, it still sucks.

Gabe, the balloon idea sounds great, I'll have to do that when my spirits are a little better, right now I can't wait for my alanon meeting tomorrow.
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Old 07-02-2003, 04:54 AM
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Hi Rainy,

At some point I finally realized something - I have no idea what it's like to be an addict and my husband has no idea what it's like to live with one. And for us to try and get the other to see how life is from our sides of the street is damn near impossible. I used to try to get a bird's eye understanding of what he was going through and would ask him questions all the time about how he was feeling, what he was thinking, etc. It drove him crazy and it drove me nuts too b/c he wasn't giving me the insight I was looking for. My motives were sincere, but I was still being pushy.

That's the first thing I really learned to detach from - his recovery. I don't ask any of those probing questions anymore. I let him deal with his demons and I deal with my own. It wasn't easy until I just gave up out of sheer frustration. But things sure became a lot more peaceful after I did.

Hang in there - you're doing just fine.

Oh and Gabe - awesome idea with the balloons. I'll be going to the party store!

Hugs,
JG
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Old 07-02-2003, 05:17 AM
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Originally posted by journeygal

That's the first thing I really learned to detach from - his recovery. I don't ask any of those probing questions anymore. I let him deal with his demons and I deal with my own. It wasn't easy until I just gave up out of sheer frustration. But things sure became a lot more peaceful after I did.

Journeygal, you made me chuckle with that. I am SOOOO frustrated with dh's recovery that I am about to give up, too. Of course, part of me thinks chaos will follow.

Thanks for reminding me peace will follow.

Cat
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Old 07-02-2003, 06:24 AM
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Hello All,

I am struggling with detachment. I am in a slightly similar situation as Rainy, only my A husband just started attending AA meetings. We have only just admitted to ourselves that he is an alcoholic. I am always interested in what he thinks and what is happeing to him, but he sometimes gets angry with me when I ask. I don't know what is safe and what makes him upset. I ask about the meetings because I want to know if he thinks they are beneficial for him. ( I really would like to ask if he plans on keeping in the program but we all know I can't ask that) If I can't be part of his road to recovery does that mean I won't be with him if or when he puts his life back together? He doesn't want to hear at all about me being here and talking to everyone about what's happening. So what's left for us but to heal apart..and what does that mean? Am I trying too hard? I don't know.
Its a battle.

Hug to all
Liz
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Old 07-02-2003, 07:08 AM
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((((((Rainy)))))))

Wow! This is an awesome post! So much information--Glad you tacked it to the top, Smoke.

Journeygal: Profound statement! : I have no idea what it's like to be an addict and my husband has no idea what it's like to live with one--man that is so true! I never thought of it that way! And you mean I don't have to analyse this guy, and this situation and try to figure out the best way to "fix" it? Gee, I'll have to think about this one.

Gabe: Great idea about the balloons--Since we're all going to the party store to buy balloons, I think we should pick up a few more "party" things, and have a party to cheer Rainy up! She was so helpful and all, with the information she found. We can all let our balloons off at the same time!

Lyn
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Old 07-02-2003, 07:12 AM
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Hi Liz,

There's a lot of healing that has to happen, some of it apart and some of it together. But the road to recovery is a solo journey. He's trying to save his life. You really can't help him with his recovery, other than to be supportive.

I used to ask my husband all the time about going to meetings, getting a sponsor, all that good stuff. But I wasn't asking for his benefit, I was asking for mine. I wanted the reassurance that he was working his recovery the way I thought he should be working it. I wanted my worry and anxiety to go away. Oh sure, I really wanted him clean too, but most of all I just wanted to feel better. Instead of working my own recovery, I was trying to help him work his.

That's why we detach. Because we can't work their recovery for them. It's between them and their HPs. All we can do is try to keep our side of the street clean.

Hugs,
JG
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Old 07-02-2003, 07:40 AM
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It's really hard to know what to say and what not to say to them. It's very frustrating and I have to hold back and not ask him stuff, I don't even know why I even consider asking him about recovery, etc anymore because I mostly know how he'll react. He usually will say nothing or get angry. I guess that's what detaching is about... we have to remember to Let it Begin with Me and keep the focus on ourselves and not them. It's hard but it does get easier the more you do it.
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Old 07-02-2003, 09:59 AM
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Thanks to all

To all who responded,

Thank you so much for your kind words, shares and encouragement. I understand that although what I say may be said out of love and care for him, he may see it differently. JG, what you said about us not having any idea what it’s like to be an addict, and them having no idea what it’s like to live with one, made perfect sense. After reading all of your replies, my initial feeling was, “oh, I need to apologize to him for what I said!” But I know I don’t need to apologize, only if I had said it with malicious intent.
I still feel sad and depressed today but not as bad as yesterday, so that is a good sign. Life is hard, I’m finding that I have a lot of moments that I want it all to just go away for good. What really gets to me the most is I watch him show so much compassion and love for the other addicts when they are struggling or needing to share, and yet I get this feeling from him that I am supposed to be miraculously cured overnight and never have any complaints, thoughts, feelings, other than sheer joy for him. He seems to forget that I am out in the real world struggling to keep ‘us’ going each day while he is there. I get jealous when I see him treat others with so much respect and kindness when they are hurting, but can’t do it for me. I suppose this is normal too, in fact I read the other day that the addict when he/she first enters a recovery program, often becomes very egotistical and domineering, but usually that phase is short lived. Does anyone have any insight to this?
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Old 04-20-2004, 06:49 AM
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Re: Detaching

Thank you for the information, I guess I am not that far into my AH recovery to understand the concept. I am afraid by detatching myself from the situation, 1) he will feel like I do not care enough to ask or that I am not being supportive. * someting he says all the time* and 2) how do you let go of your hopes dreams and family you have worked so hard for? How do you have faith that after 12 years of drinking this REALLY is the time?
I'm not sure I understand this at all. PLease help. :heart
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Old 04-20-2004, 07:21 AM
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Re: Detaching

Hey Dazimae,
First, the alcoholic's recovery is theirs. We didn't cause it, we can't cure it, and we can't control it. But we can stop contributing to it. There are no guarantees of sobriety, no matter how much they get. That is why detachment is so important. Relying on someone else for our happiness is a sure bet we will not be happy. The Alanon program is designed to help us find our own self. I always believed that if I could make the people in my life happy, I would be ok. What I finally realized is that I don't have the power to make someone else happy if they can't make themself happy. I can appease someone, I can do what they want, but it never seemed to be enough, and I always felt like a failure. Now I know I am not responsible for some one else's actions, decisions, or consequences. I have learned to focus on my actions, decisions, and consequences. The alanon literature, and meetings has helped me to be able to detach with love. I needed a lot of help to do it. Thank goodness there was a lot of help available. Hugs, Magic
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Old 04-20-2004, 10:09 AM
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Re: Detaching

you know, for me, it was important for me to stay in this place that my A had to be out of denial that there was, indeed, a problem. That's not to say he's conquered it by any means, neither have I conquered mine. But I had to live in honesty for myself and to know we were "on the same page" even if we sometimes felt stuck on that page. But, having said that, I read posts from "veterans" of the program that clearly indicate that they still live in the battle field and somehow have mastered so many skills to thrive in that environment..... those are the ones I so respect. And it reminds me that there is no reason I can think of to not live with serenity in my situation if they've been able to achieve it in theirs'. It gives me hope to see the program and the support, and the sharing doing just what it's supposed to do... move us all along together toward health and small tastes of heaven, one day at a time!!!!! Thanks all of you so much for being my friends, teachers, fellow travelers, companions!
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Old 04-20-2004, 10:14 AM
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Re: Detaching

Hi! Welcome to Soberrecovery.

I see by your profile you're new to this board. Take a read around and slooowly let the messages come through. Detachment is a hard behavior for me to keep and I've been practicing a while now.

I have never seen anyone in recovery *get it all at once* so be gentle with yourself. I came into the program at 45 and tried to get it asap and soon found out for me it would be a life changing process that would require daily maintenance on my part. I still don't get *it* on my bad days, the trick for me is that I need a support group who will give me a hand UP when I am down, a reality check when I need one, and love and caring when I can not love myself.

So you have come to right place. We here at SR have been where you are and understand as few others can.

Love and prayers from one who cares,
Daffodil
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Old 04-20-2004, 12:42 PM
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Re: Detaching

Rainy--THANK YOU-THANK YOU-THANK YOU!!!You don't know how much your article on detachment has helped.
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Old 04-22-2004, 05:49 AM
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Re: Detaching

I have a question or for anyone that can answer for me.
How do you detatch from your A's drinking and not detatch from the life you live being he drinks every day
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