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So what does detachment look like to you?

Old 02-11-2011, 07:49 AM
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So what does detachment look like to you?

Do you completely ignore the drinking and act as if everything is just fine? Allow them to enjoy the consequences of their drinking without reacting in pity or reveling in it? Quit participating in conversations which try to identify why they are unhappy since we already know why?
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Old 02-11-2011, 08:05 AM
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Well, I moved out. I knew after 8 months of practicing "detachment" that I had to get away and really work on myself before I could achieve true detachment. I am still working on it!

What I hear described is sort of a passive way of ignoring and removing oneself from the situations you describe above. Using phrases like, "Oh" and "I'm sorry you feel that way", things that are not defense provoking but neutral, non-threatening comments that are hard to respond to. My experience using those is for my RAH, they were easy to respond to because ANYTHING is easy to argue with when you are an alcoholic! So I ended up having to leave anyway when things would get heated.

But I also believe now that detachment is the Serenity prayer - accepting the things I cannot change (him), having courage to change the things I can (me), and seeking the wisdom to know the difference even when I have been backed into a corner by an angry, self righteously indignant man!

I still struggle with it everyday, but each day I get a little better.
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Old 02-11-2011, 08:20 AM
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Simply stated boundaries help. First you have to get them clear in your own mind. If your boundary happens to be "I will not argue with you when you have been drinking," then you don't consider the boundary crossed simply because the person is drinking. When the argument (or attempt to provoke one) starts, you simply say, "I will discuss that with you when you haven't been drinking," and walk away.

That's detachment--it is refusing to engage the drinking behavior.
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Old 02-11-2011, 08:41 AM
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Detachment for me was more of an emotional thing than anything. I didn't let myself get angry, surprised or sad that he was drinking. Along with detachment, I set boundaries for myself, such as "I will not buy him booze or give him money to do so", and "I will not be in his presence when he drinks". The result of this was that we spent very little time together, since he drank every night and all week-end. He started staying over a friends' houses, not coming home for days on end. In the end, we were like roommates more than anything else.

Leaving was the next logical step.
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Old 02-11-2011, 09:01 AM
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I believe I managed to detach from the alcohol fairly well. When he drank, I would be sad, but it was more "sadness from a distance," knowing he was destroying himself with all the self-induced medical issues that would follow. (He was already having panic attacks, it constricted his airways which complicated his COPD, he could never sleep at night, etc.) I did not feel like I failed him, because I knew he was doing it to himself.
In short, I had feelings, but they were not emotionally wrapped up in his feelings, and they were not feelings that he convinced me I should have, they were completely mine.

I was not able to detach from the abuse, because any attempt to not get sucked in made the reactions worse until I finally caved. It was ironic, the more I succeeded in not getting wrapped up in his emotional roller coaster when he was abusive, the more severe the emotions when I finally "had" to succumb to the roller coaster.
I am very grateful for his short-lived time in rehab, because it gave me the detachment I desperately needed here, and I was able to finally see that he was abusive, it wasn't my fault, and that I couldn't stick around to see the end of the story.
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Old 02-11-2011, 03:58 PM
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Originally Posted by HeyImme View Post
Do you completely ignore the drinking and act as if everything is just fine? Allow them to enjoy the consequences of their drinking without reacting in pity or reveling in it? Quit participating in conversations which try to identify why they are unhappy since we already know why?
You are on the right track. I can't completely ignore my AH's drinking. He drinks everyday. It's painful to see the person I've cared most about in the world destroying himself with alcohol. But I refuse to let him destroy me in the process.
I never talk about his drinking or admonish him for it. He's taken to drinking outdoors and away from me.

I'm not a religious person. But I think the serenity prayer says what detachment is in a nutshell. So, everyday I tell myself, I'm responsible for my own happiness. If I want to be happy then I must accept what I cannot change in this world. I will exercise my personal power and courage to make the changes in my life that I need to find fulfillment and peace of mind. I'm smart and I'm wise. I can figure out what I need to do for myself.

For several months I've been on a mission to take my life back. It's working quite well for me. I not only feel better but I've actually made great strides. And, over the last three weeks or so, I've noticed the following changes in my AH.

1. He's quit engaging me in conversations that revolve around him and his alcohol induced issues which include everything from the next door neighbors to national politics. Occasionally he'll forget but so far I've been able to shut off these conversations off with a few minutes. (rather than get cornered for hours).

2. He's stopped the verbal abuse (name calling etc) after I told him "You don't have the power to ruin my good day. We can argue later, but I have to get on with _____ or I'll get behind." I had to repeat this every few days over a couple of weeks but he got it finally. I think my AH senses me standing up to him and it frightens him.

3. I have a personal emergency cash stash that my AH doesn't know about. I have a file of all our important papers (copies) hidden away just in case. I also have an emergency overnight bag packed even though AH has never been physically abusive, I like knowing I can walk out the door within two minutes if I want to.

4. I'm familiarizing myself with separation and divorce laws in our state should I want to go that route.

5. This site has been a lifeline for me. I've taken the time to study and learn all I can about alcoholism from many different perspectives not just AA and Al-anon although they are good programs. You just never know where you'll find that special life changing piece of information that speaks directly to your heart.

Bottom line: I think detachment means realizing that you are powerful and doing what you need to do for yourself to live the life you want to live.
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Old 02-12-2011, 06:53 AM
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+1 for the serenity prayer being detachment in a nutshell
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Old 02-12-2011, 08:31 AM
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Originally Posted by LexieCat View Post
Simply stated boundaries help. First you have to get them clear in your own mind. If your boundary happens to be "I will not argue with you when you have been drinking," then you don't consider the boundary crossed simply because the person is drinking. When the argument (or attempt to provoke one) starts, you simply say, "I will discuss that with you when you haven't been drinking," and walk away.

That's detachment--it is refusing to engage the drinking behavior.
It's taken me a long time to do this - hard to do at first, but each and every time I was tested, my boundaries stood. While I can't stop him from drinking, I can ACT, not REACT to his drinking, as in arguing or engaging in those infamous circular conversations.

I walk away, go to another room, do what I have to do stop it from happening.

When ABF relapsed at Christmas, it was a test for me as well-to disengage from his drinking, keep the focus on my behaviour and not react to his. It's a learning curve for me, one that is ongoing, and one that I am getting better at each time it happens.
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Old 02-12-2011, 09:11 AM
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My detachment was simple.....I think almost TOO simple. I feel like I'm no where near my own recovery BECAUSE it was TOO simple.

My A is my son. He came back home to live with us after his DUI. We had no idea of the extent of his drinking until we lived it with him. It took me a month to realize this was not a simple issue of a person self-medicating to beat depression... I made excuses and I denied to myself what was going on. Then we started cleaning after him. Then he started fights which interrupted my job (I work at home, a full time job). Then he (back to square one) attempted to drive to work loaded again. That was it. I told him to leave and go back to his own apartment. You see, he's just at the tip of the rollercoaster that is alcoholism. He's got a long way to fall yet. I have "successfully" ignored him since he left a month ago. I don't know what he's drinking, when he's drinking or what he's up to. That's my detachment.

Come April 1st, his lease is up on his apartment and his roommate wants nothing more to do with him. Hopefully he'll still have his job then, but as to where he is going to live and be able to keep up bills is beyond me. He is not welcome back here. I think April 1st is going to force BOTH of us to work on recovery a little more.
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Old 02-12-2011, 11:19 AM
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Originally Posted by HeyImme View Post
Do you completely ignore the drinking and act as if everything is just fine? Allow them to enjoy the consequences of their drinking without reacting in pity or reveling in it? Quit participating in conversations which try to identify why they are unhappy since we already know why?
What you describe is not Detachment, but sounds like a good start to avoiding your triggers, and not allowing yourself to get hooked. Detachment is separating yourself emotionally from the alcoholic. For me, it began with not reacting. I was too enmeshed with the alcoholic and had to learn to recognize my codependency. Reading Codependent No More helped me a lot. Further on down the road, I had to learn to make myself 100% responsible for my life and my self. I big part of Detachment for me has also been examining my expectations of others and adjusting them downward.
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Old 02-12-2011, 11:31 AM
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Originally Posted by HeyImme View Post
Do you completely ignore the drinking and act as if everything is just fine? Allow them to enjoy the consequences of their drinking without reacting in pity or reveling in it? Quit participating in conversations which try to identify why they are unhappy since we already know why?
No, you don't act as everything is fine. You keep the lines of communitcation open, while at the same time refusing to be manipulated. That means rejecting their pleadings and excuses after having made a stand on what you will and won't accept and what they need to do in order for you to keep from leaving.

You act with love, yes. But also following through on what has to be done.
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