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It's been 6 days - trying to stay "detached"

Old 08-18-2010, 06:28 AM
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It's been 6 days - trying to stay "detached"

I'm in Chapter 6 of Codependent No More. And it has helped immensely. I'm sure I will get to a chapter called manipulation because that is exactly what he is doing right now. It has been 6 days since I confronted him (a few months after the 4 state troopers at my door, he dodged a bullet that time). Since last week, my AH and my 16 year old daughter have been best buddies. You may recall that I am doing everything I can to change her due to my codependency. I've detached, I think fairly successfully. Neither of them know what to do, so they've clung on to each other and I haven't seen them get along this way in years. I know my daughter is playing him because she knows he is doing everything he can to manipulate us so he is being the PERFECT father. He is a GOOD father, he is just active alcoholic one, a better father would be a RECOVERING alcoholic. I did tell him the other day that she was playing him, that I think it is great they are getting along, but I haven't said anything since. How does a codependent keep their mouth shut lol. I'm dying to say something! I know I need to have the talk with him about whether he intends to go down a recovery path or an active path. I'm concerned based on last week's conversation (when I didn't know any better!), when I kept asking what HIS plan was to resolve this. I've stopped asking, but how do I constructively coexist, do I approach him about whether he intends to actively recover or do I wait until he approaches me. I'm fearful that we will go back to business as usual, let time pass and then he will relapse. I know I should detach from that thought but it on my mind, especially since we are still married and I haven't talked to an attorney yet to know what my options are to protect our assets and my kids from a potential downward spiral. DO I speak or keep my mouth shut.....I also want to say to all of you that I am so grateful that I found this site. It has been a God Send along with your recommendation to read Codependent No More. Thanks in advance for your support and valuable advice!
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Old 08-18-2010, 06:40 AM
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One more thing...

Do I tell him that I've made steps toward learning/accepting my codependency and that I'm reading the book and working on myself and my own issues? I think the hardest part is not knowing how to communicate. I think I'm confusing detachment with not communicating at all. We are discussing day to day stuff and I'm treating his involvement more as temporary visitation, but not in a cold way, it's just my way of staying detached. My question is while I focus on recovery, do I communicate where I am in the process with him? I won't do it in a threatening way but more as an FYI. My former self would have been nasty by saying well I'm getting help clearly you are not. And I am learning in the book how to focus on myself, but not sure to what extent I should be communicating with him....
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Old 08-18-2010, 06:56 AM
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Actions speak louder than words....

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Old 08-18-2010, 06:57 AM
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I am fairly new to this site, but I can relate to your feelings. Detaching with love is a really difficult concept to understand, and even more difficult to put into practice, especially after so many years of doing things differently. With my children's father, my exH, I find it best to limit conversation to necessary topics like the children, the finances, schedules, etc. My recovery and/or the work that I am doing to get healthy are none of his business.

I have also found that with my ex ABF that my recovery does not in any way influence what he does or does not do with regard to his own. Wish it did, but I have to let go of that, and just focus on whatever I need to do to be as healthy as possible myself. Al Anon and its principles have also been very helpful to me in learning to detach with love, and to realize that I have absolutely no control over what anyone else does. It's been freeing, actually.
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Old 08-18-2010, 07:58 AM
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I think anything you say about your own recovery efforts, at this point, will only be perceived by him (and maybe unconsciously intended, by you), as a "reminder" to him that he better (a) appreciate your efforts, and (b) work on his own recovery and let you know what he is doing about it. IOW, it's a form of manipulation on YOUR part.

You still seem to think that unless you discuss it with him, it will be "back to business as usual, let time pass and then he will relapse." The discussion won't stop him from relapsing if he's going to relapse.

Life would be SO much simpler if we had a crystal ball and could know what was coming down the pike so we could prepare for it. Unfortunately, we don't, and we can't. We have to live and make decisions without perfect knowledge.

Keep working on the detachment. You don't need to announce it--that kind of defeats the purpose, anyway.
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Old 08-18-2010, 10:59 AM
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Originally Posted by Joslyn View Post
He is a GOOD father, he is just active alcoholic one, a better father would be a RECOVERING alcoholic.

How does a codependent keep their mouth shut lol. I'm dying to say something!

I know I need to have the talk with him about whether he intends to go down a recovery path or an active path. I'm concerned based on last week's conversation (when I didn't know any better!), when I kept asking what HIS plan was to resolve this.

For me detaching means to let go of the alcoholics recovery/drinking. The choice to continue to drink or choose recovery belongs with the person doing the drinking.

It appears from your post, that your A is still drinking and not choosing recovery. His actions are the best indicator of his plans. He chooses to drink.

Your choice is how you respond to living with an active alcoholic. Alanon and Codependent No More can guide you into keeping your focus on yourself.

I refer to it as putting down the magnifying glass that we used to observe and analyze everything thing the A does/says, and picking up the mirror to look at our own actions and reactions. It allows me to look at the only person I have control over, myself. It gives the other adults in my life the opportunity to control their own lives also.

By detaching, I allowed my A to experience their own consequences for their behavior without my involvement. I gave them responsibility for their own actions.

Congrats on taking steps to take better care of yourself!
Keep on keeping on!
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Old 08-18-2010, 11:02 AM
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Our situations are similar and I had/ have the same issues with detachment and communication etc. I felt that I have to communicate with him, but on most occasions my communication would open the door to trying to convince him of something. I have learned that there is a difference between telling him what I feel or what I need, versus trying to tell him to manipulate or guilt. For example, I can say I feel hurt when he drinks, because I honestly do. If I turn that into a guilt trip (I'm getting recovery and you're not) or trying to throw it in his face so that he does something, then my motives are unpure and I should really keep my mouth shut.

Even a few weeks ago, I still allowed communication and I ended up getting sucked into his guilt/ manipulation and came out feeling used. And the lesson there was that I don't really have to. His recovery is his business and mine is my business, so I don't have to discuss it, at all. And now I'm at a point where I think I've truly detached because I don't want to talk about it, confront him, or anything. I'm tired and those conversations get me nowhere. And yesterday he said a few things that were trying to hook me and I told him I didn't want to discuss it. And then I clarified that it's not that I didn't want to discuss (because that implies that I would like to discuss at some later point) - it's that I have nothing more to say on the subject. In our cycle, he'd screw up, then we'd have a 'discussion' or fight or whatever where he'd make promises etc and it always ended up the same. So If he's waiting for the 'discussion' after the silent treatment, there ain't one coming so not to hold his breath. I said that this is me right now, and where I'm at I cannot go further with him on this topic.

It's hard, we're like ships passing in the night, talking only about our daughter, household and small talk. I am within myself right now, working on me, working through all the feelings I'm going through and therefore all my energy is going to that and I have no leftover energy for him or his recovery or non recovery. When a natural opportunity does present itself I may speak further (in a healthy way) but it no longer matters to me if he will pursue recovery or not. His actions and my recovery will show me what I need to do next.

Your engagement or detachment will have nothing to do with a relapse if there would be one. As my sponsor tells me, when I have my strength then I can deal with whatever is thrown my way, and so I can life my life as I want/ need without worrying or catastrophizing and if something does get thrown my way (like a relapse) then I am strong enough to deal with it and be ok. So I don't have to live in fear. I'm exactly where I'm supposed to be and if something is revealed to me that requires action, at that time I will not kick myself for not seeing it coming or feeling duped, I will assess what I need to do, and move forward.

It is the hardest thing to truly leave their recovery to them and not ask, or want to know or get into their heads. One thing that helped me immensely was a member of Al Anon who said to herself in situations that it's none of her business. Sometimes I would bite my tongue and repeat until the urge to probe him passed. And it will get easier. As you continue down this road, and replace your impulse to get into his head with getting into your own head, you will find naturally that you will be less bothered by what he is or isn't doing. And if you are feeling extreme discomfort with the elephant in the room, that's ok. My sponsor told me that the discomfort is me feeling my feelings and coming to accept what is. Sit with the discomfort, feel it, don't attempt to fill that space. Once you feel your way through it, that's when next options reveal themselves. It's the way to a healthier road; making it through the rain to get to the sunshine. It's similar I think to the way the alcoholic acts - when they feel discomfort, they escape by drinking. We escape by trying to talk and fix. If we simply deal with the discomfort we can put it behind us. I hope this helps, I understand so well how you feel.
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Old 08-18-2010, 02:35 PM
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Maybe after a few more Al-Anon meetings, I will understand why detachment has any place in what is supposed to be a marriage -- or any committed relationship between two people.
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Old 08-18-2010, 02:52 PM
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Originally Posted by Daybreak View Post
Maybe after a few more Al-Anon meetings, I will understand why detachment has any place in what is supposed to be a marriage -- or any committed relationship between two people.
Detachment may not be a requirement in a normal marriage, or a healthy committed relationship.

However, a partnership that involves an active addict as one of the partners is not normal or healthy. There is usually a dynamic of unacceptable addictive behavior (denial, manipulation, lies, blameshifting) partnered with codependent controlling behavior in such a partnership.
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Old 08-18-2010, 03:24 PM
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Thanks for the clarification Pelican I'm still new at this so

I am confused because I feel great about detachment, but I'm not sure if it equates to a marriage separation/pending divorce. I am still struggling with the detachment vs. coexisting. I would like to take "addiction" codependency off the table, but not sure if that means taking myself totally out of the marriage equation. I was confused by that section in the book. It covers detachment very well, but I'm still struggling with "coexistence" while also detaaching, but not sure if that equates to working on an actual separation. So do people who detach stay married? I'm so confused LOL.
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Old 08-18-2010, 03:55 PM
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This is something each person must evaluate based on their own values and ideals. Detachment is a healthy coping mechanism for dealing with alcoholics (or others whose behavior causes problems in my life). It is preferable to the unhealthy coping mechanisms I learned growing up and being married to an alcoholic. (rescuing, controlling, enmeshment, etc.)

Whether you want to remain in a marriage with a 'partner' whose behavior requires you to detach is your own decision. For me, I couldn't see the point in it. Being married and detached seemed like an oxymoron to me. There are people who choose to do it, for their own reasons, and it works for them, though.

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Old 08-18-2010, 04:55 PM
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I'm so glad to find this thread! Thank you so much. I just posted on another topic my frustration with "detachment." I am actually doing a pretty good job "detaching" and it's helping me to calm myself down when I feel anxiety or even panic. It also helps me to "hate the disease not the addict." However, I was beginning to feel as though I am spending way too much time "detaching" and asking myself "Is this really normal?"

Working to "detach with love" has been very good and healthy for me, but at the same time I can't help but wonder why I have to work so much at "detaching" (w/ love) and this constant reminder to myself, "Am I working on myself?" and "Am I focusing on myself, not the A?" In "normal" relationships (not that I would know what that is), don't couples think of one another, support one another, make sacrifices for one another, compromise and negotiate with one another? give each other input and trust in one another's decisions (even if they diverge from our own) after it has been talked about together thoroughly? meet one another's needs? talk things out? hear each other out? Rather, I feel as though I spend most of my time detaching and giving it up to his higher power or my higher power. I wonder if we are ever going to get to work on nurturing healthy, supportive attachments?

The answer is, I am married to an A and therefore, our relationship isn't healthy and normal. (He has been in recovery for 5 months, but he is still an A.) I guess I knew that but deep down in the recesses of my codependent mind, I'm still wanting to believe and hope that I can have a "normal, healthy" relationship with my RAH. . . sigh.

Learning so much from all of you. Thank you!
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Old 08-18-2010, 06:12 PM
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I never have felt the need to "share" my entire being with anyone. I guess I am one of those persons who need their space, their own time. So, I worked on my recovery without discussing all the details with my exabf. I focused on me, not trying to justify why I was doing what I was doing.

As for him, you can ask him every question known to man and his verbal answers mean nothing...when he is ready to seek recovery he will...his actions will speak for themselves.

Keep posting. it will help.
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Old 08-19-2010, 01:43 AM
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For me, detachment wasn't about preparing for a separation/divorce. It was about stopping me in my codependent tracks. Just like an alcoholic starts recovery by putting down the drink, I needed to step back from my XAH and disentangle myself from the alcoholic/codependent dance. It saved me. Detachment meant I could take a long hard look at what was happening to me and my marriage without being drawn into the distracting and confusing interactions with my XAH. Staying with XAH turned out not to be an option for me.

But I am sure that there are others out there who manage to stay detached and married to their A's. At my one (and only) AlAnon visit, there was someone there who was a long time member and still with their A. It can be done.

I guess it all comes down to how you want to live your life. My XAH couldn't stand my detaching. Drove him (even more) nuts and his behaviour escalated to dangerous (to me) levels. Staying with him would not have given me the peace I craved. Other A's may not be the abusive, manipulating controlling types and this type of relationship could work with them.
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Old 08-19-2010, 05:48 AM
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Hi Joslyn,

I am confused because I feel great about detachment, but I'm not sure if it equates to a marriage separation/pending divorce
I was so confused too and still don't fully believe that is what should be done in a marriage.

I think initially detachment was for relatives of alcoholics, (daughters, fathers, child) not voluntary relationships like a marriages or b/gfriends, where we should just get the hell.

I think that is why most of the conversation here and in a-lanon is based on recovering from co-dependence. It is co-dependence that makes us stay or choose relationship that are so dysfunctional.

Marriage shouldn't have to be this hard. We shouldn't have to detach from our spouses, that's not a marriage.

But with alcoholics it's only way to survive if you choose to stay.
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Old 08-19-2010, 07:05 AM
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Marriage shouldn't have to be this hard. We shouldn't have to detach from our spouses, that's not a marriage.
I found detaching, the concept, the doing it, very hard, very confusing. It was a complete about-face in lots of things I had been taught.

However, we are detached from most people in that we do not allow their feelings or actions to rule our feelings and actions, nor do we take on responsibility for managing the course of their lives. and having come from intimate relationships where that was the norm, and it was miserable, I hope to be able to carry a healthy detachment into my future relationships, those of acquaintances, family, friends and partners. A healthy detachment where if my partner has had a bad day at work, I can listen to them, give them a hug if they want one and then not be spun into a whirlwind of pointless worry and futile action, telling them what to do, how to feel, trying to solve, solve, solve, where they do not blame me for their bad day and choices, where I do not seek to cure it imediately, riding rough-shod over their problem-solving and emotional skills, and where I do not beleive that caring has to be demonstarated by making their pain my own (effectively doubling it).

so I do think it has a place in good, healthy realtionships.

with an alcoholic: saying anything to my stbx AH never once, EVER, changed a thing. I thought somehow, if he wasn't changing stuff in response to my words that was because I hadn't explained it in a way that got through to him, so I'd try another approach. I tried all approaches (Thomas Eddison quote from summerpeaches thread applies here!). I didn't tell him anything he didn't already know, and he was incapable of hearing anything from me.

I remember some one here saying long ago that detaching means letting go of the outcome in this case letting go of whether he gets sober or not, because I was trying to detach whilst still trying to "help" him decide to become sober and that was a huge eye opener for me.

I never could perfect detachemnt whilst living in close proximity to an active (and in my case abusive) alcoholic, so I made the best of the choices available to me and left (....eventually) I am told that there are people who can detach whilst living with someone who is very chaotic and maintain happy, fullfilling, detached lives, but I'm not sure that I am capable of it, nor that I would want to remain in a relationship where that was tested on a daily basis.

Only you can make that decision for yourself.
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Old 08-19-2010, 08:15 AM
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I agree it's a difficult concept, and I think only time/ practice/ learning help us really understand this. Very early on in Al Anon I called a member because I just didn't get detachment. I said I was upset at my AH yesterday but today I felt better towards him and wanted to hug him and could I because wasn't I supposed to detach from him? I was very confused. She helped by clarifying that if I have to, take my day minute by minute. If I am angry with him, I can express it and deal with the situation. Later that day I am feeling better and want to hug him, so I can. The anger of before doesn't have to infiltrate every other moment of my interaction with him; shouldn't prevent me from all other aspects of our marriage. That's the beauty of living in the present.

Maybe it helps to define detachment in terms of the opposite - enmeshment. Unhealthy codependent interaction is more like meshing yourself with the person - you are in their business all the time - what they're doing or not doing, how they're feeling, letting their moods be a barometer for yours, trying to fix their every problem, blow their nose if they sneeze. Even in a relationship without addiction, that's not healthy. Detaching still means that you can be a caring, supportive partner but in a way that does not encroach on someone else's emotional and mental territory. You allow them the dignity and respect of having their opinions, feelings, personality traits, quirks, weaknesses just like you have. For example, my AH doesn't ruminate about what I'm doing; he's always given me room to be who I am, pursue my dreams, hobbies etc. But I don't give him that same room. I go further by trying to tell him what I think he needs to do, place expectation on him of the spouse I want him to be, impose my own thoughts and opinions on his; wanting to know what he's thinking and evaluate those thoughts. He wants to spend a beautiful sunny day at the computer and I'd be saying it's a beautiful day, let's go shopping and shouldn't we get some gardening done while it's nice out cuz you never know when it's going to rain? In that example I'm not respecting his desire to spend his free time doing something he wants. I can garden on my own, no? But I'd have a huge tendency to want to do these kinds of things - get my way because I think I'm right or that's what we should do.

Melody Beattie in Codependent no more calls this concept Undependence. You are still dependent upon people in your life and they on you; your decisions aren't made in a vaccuum but taking into account others. Detachment, for me anyhow, tells me there is a line where I go from being a healthy partner to an overly-interfering one. And because I have so many ingrained codie characteristics, it feels normal for me and feels distant to be the healthier way. But like I said, with time and learning, it actually reveals to be a much better option.

When dealing with active addiction it takes a bit of a different flavour where I may have to be a bit more aloof. If he walks through the door and he's been drinking, I may excuse myself and go to bed, with no fuss or drama or calling his behaviour out. This helps me get the break I need (and him too cuz there's no point discussing anything when someone has been drinking) to avoid engaging in my codie behaviours and next day I can emerge to have a healthier exchange. So detachment for me in this case is from the drinking, not necessarily from the partner.
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Old 08-19-2010, 09:48 AM
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When it comes to detachment, my viewpoint is narrowed by the fact that my STXAH and I met in middle-age and have no children and few joint financial interests. I can see that a woman who had children and whose husband was a functional alcoholic would be best served by a measure of detachment. A modus vivendi A lying, cheating, felonious drunk is another matter.
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Old 08-19-2010, 12:06 PM
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But I don't give him that same room. I go further by trying to tell him what I think he needs to do, place expectation on him of the spouse I want him to be, impose my own thoughts and opinions on his; wanting to know what he's thinking and evaluate those thoughts. He wants to spend a beautiful sunny day at the computer and I'd be saying it's a beautiful day, let's go shopping and shouldn't we get some gardening done while it's nice out cuz you never know when it's going to rain? In that example I'm not respecting his desire to spend his free time doing something he wants. I can garden on my own, no? But I'd have a huge tendency to want to do these kinds of things - get my way because I think I'm right or that's what we should do.
This just sounds like anyone who is married or something I might say to my children. Hey let's spend time together yeahhhh.

I am so confused as to what IS acceptable. If the above is NOT, then what is? "Hey you want to go the park with me it's a beautiful"

But what if he (the A) asks the same thing? Is he now a co-dependent?
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Old 08-19-2010, 12:22 PM
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Originally Posted by ChrrisT View Post
This just sounds like anyone who is married or something I might say to my children. Hey let's spend time together yeahhhh.

I am so confused as to what IS acceptable. If the above is NOT, then what is? "Hey you want to go the park with me it's a beautiful"

But what if he (the A) asks the same thing? Is he now a co-dependent?
I don't think it's the asking, it's the expecting. So, ask him to go to the park. But, if he doesn't want to, let it go.

At least in my case, that was the problem. Not that I would ask him to do things, but that I would get hurt, angry, or petulant if he didn't want to.

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