I don't understand

Old 12-17-2009, 08:39 PM
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I don't understand

I just read something I don't understand.
I was skimming through my other book from the library called Codependence and the Power of Detachment.

One part it explained how a women, after years of reacting in anger towards her husband at night after he became nasty with her, she just stopped reacting. She didn't respond in anger. No matter what he said to her, she went ahead with what she was doing.

Here's my confusion.
I'd have no trouble doing this. In fact I have done this in the past. Just said "Ok, whatever you say" even when he'd walk up to me and say with a smile "I hate you"....I'd smile back and say "Ok!" (on the inside I was a mess though!)
But....what about children? If the children saw him acting in a nasty way and I just sat back and accepted it all.....wouldn't that look bad? Isn't that teaching them that I'm accepting that behaviour from him?
What do we do about detachment when children are present?
I mean, I'm all for not arguing infront of my kids, it's awful for them to see/hear. But, I want them to know that thier Mom will stand up for herself, thier Mom isn't going to accept being talked to in that way.
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Old 12-17-2009, 09:01 PM
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Why are you staying with him?
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Old 12-17-2009, 09:58 PM
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I don't have much experience with the theory but I do have a few life miles under my belt, so I'll share what I think. I have read some of the most popular books, but a long time ago.

I'm going to guess that detachment does not equal acceptance. For example: I might not accept that what your saying is functional, fair reasonable or kind BUT I understand that you & I are separate people, not 2 parts of a whole. I am whole myself, not an attachment of yours. That is, I'm detached What you say is your responsibility, how I react is my responsibility.

Modeling healthy behaviour for our children is probably the most important thing we do in our lives. Healthy behaviour depends on having healthy boundaries. So if Mum is staying with Dad (& vice versa) & is constantly violating her/his own boundaries by doing so, it's demonstrating to the kids that it's OK to stay in unsafe/unhealthy/unpleasant situations.

Children very much learn what they live. I learned the hard way that no matter how open & honest & supportive the functional parent is, staying in an unhappy/unsatisfactory/unsafe environment speaks far far louder than any words. If you think you know what pain is now, wait till you're watching the consequences of staying unfold when your kids hit puberty. Better still - don't. Leave now & take my word for it you've missed years & years of horrifying experiences.

I wish you & your children & your husband all the very best, especially over the coming Christmas Season.
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Old 12-17-2009, 10:00 PM
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Elsie, in my opinion it is still all in the response that you are giving both verbal and physical cues that your children will pick up on. Your inner turmoil could show through no matter how pleasant your verbage. Working on acceptance and detachment helps to ease those inner butterflies.

Children may misunderstand your "Okay" as an affirmitive response in agreement, you're right. Would a lack of response at all be more appropriate for you? When he starts in with nasty behavior in front of the children tell him calmly but firmly that you will speak to him when he can be respectful. This is something you would tell a child acting out so you're kids should read this literally. Once stated, any continueing nastiness can be rebuffed with silence. If your kids are confused remind them of what you told him the first time.

I delt with some serious bullying as a child. I won't go into details, but I remember well my mother telling me to say this to them. When I would tantrum or be agitated with her, she would say the same thing to me, that she would speak to me when I could be respectful to her. I made the connection young (preschool age) that my behavior was bullying to my mom. I think your kids could make the same connection easily that his behavior is bullying and you will not engage him.

Detachment is tricky business and can flame things at home when addicts feel you taking a step back from the same old confrontations. Tough stuff. Stay strong!!

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Old 12-17-2009, 10:56 PM
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Hi Elsie, in the stickies somewhere it reads "turn off the volume, and you will see reality" so no matter how much peace you talk about, if you are not living it and creating a peaceful environment for yourself, it is not real, just "quacking".

It is like my country's money... it has less and less value because there is no gold backing it up. I guess when I got kids I will try my best to live the life I want for them. As they posted here "I changed no one with my words", you just see how someone lives their life and learn from that.

When I took theater lessons I talked too much lol and exaggerated... and the director would tell me I did not need to be so obvious. That a glance, a gesture, just FEELING something would be enough for the audience to get it...

I agree contentment and boundaries are hard to "fine tune" but if you got your goals clear it gets easier...

I know I want and need peace and silence.. if there is a noisy neighbor I will kindly ask him to be quiet.. if he doesn't care, I will put earlugs, shut the doors and play my own music or leave. There is no "well this one time I will accept it" no, I need to go for it...

Hope you can realize what is important for you and build boundaries/have them respected, a therapist helped me with that, I hope you can find one too.
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Old 12-18-2009, 06:26 AM
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Elsie you ask a great question - and one I also struggled with at the beginning of my journey out of codependency.

I needed to learn the difference between detachment and denial.

As I learned about detachment through AlAnon and reading I also would do what you are describing - smile in the face of abuse - which is basically to deny that unacceptable behavior is happening. Which I think does send the message that hey this is OK.

Once I realized that detachment was more about my boundaries and losing my attachment to outcomes it helped me change. And y'know I had to practice this stuff for a long time - I had to catch myself and keep using the "new" tools instead of the "old" habits of mind.

So for example, if one of my Abrothers would get in my face or say something unacceptable to me I would say what I mean, mean what I say, but don't say it mean: "That kind of language isn't cool with me. No one speaks to me like that, it is rude and unacceptable" and then i would have to enforce whatever boundary I had in place to protect MYSELF and my mental health. Usually this involved leaving the vicinity. Not in a huff, but because this was my boundary and so it was my rational plan all along. And detached because I was doing it to protect my sanity, to allow my mind to move back into the realm of my problems, and my joys, and detached from any expectation of him changing or being affected by my statements or behavior in any way.

A drag? Yes, sometimes. But with practice it became very empowering and it helped to paint the picture of reality! I began to see that it was better to front load my sanity. So sometimes, for long periods of time, I simply had to love the A from afar.

At the beginning I really struggled with these concepts - because when I dipped my toe into them it became obvious that I was going to have to change!! YIKES!! And that if I changed, my relationships would change. YIKES!! Luckily I was in enough pain that I chose to keep at it and embrace the change. The more I changed the less pain I felt - pain was replaced by peace, freedom, sanity, and the energy to go forward with the only "project" I can really shape: my own life!

peace & keep seeking answers to these great questions elsie-- and know that you're doing great and it all takes time and baby steps!

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Old 12-18-2009, 06:35 AM
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Yeah, what Bernadette said!
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Old 12-18-2009, 08:11 AM
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My detachment from my ex became a self determination to say 'I am not going to listen to you speak to me like that'. He would carry on, as he was of an abusive nature to which I would say none emotionally 'go away I'm not interested in what your saying', next time I would not react to him.

He would usually then try to be all sweet with me, to which I would still ignore, then finally storm off in a major temper throwing on a few bad names toward me, hoping to finally ignite my anger. It took all my strength to ignore him.

However I had gotten to the point where I was no longer prepared to live with abuse and was planning on splitting with him.

Why do you want to stay with a man, who is unable to love you without simultaneously causing you emotional, mental and sometimes physical pain?

Lily xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
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