Thoughts on Detachment………..

Detachment is the gradual discovery of the truth about the family disease of chemical dependency.

It is the:

  • process of learning to see things objectively
  • learning to “unhook” yourself emotionally from the chemically dependent’s system.
  • learning at last to act in your own best interest – what’s good for YOU, instead of constantly reacting to whatever the chemically dependent does. The result is a new, life-giving attitude.

Steps toward Detachment……….

1. Go find the experts.

  • Make a commitment to Al-Anon. Get someone with experience and a positive, no-nonsense attitude as a sponsor.
  • Go to an open A.A meeting. A.A. members are the experts on how chemical dependency feels FROM THE INSIDE.
  • At these meetings pick up pamphlets and books. Get informed.
  • Once you start educating yourself, you will begin to see that you are dealing not with a moral problem, but with a disease that has predictable symptoms, and that’s a giant first step toward detachment.

2. Take an inventory.

  • Start looking at his/her drinking/using objectively, and learn to spot the patterns.
  • Document time, place, behavior: what you see, not what you interpret!

3. Report your findings.

  • Find a receptive, knowledgeable listener – friend, sponsor, professional counselor.
  • Your listener must be able to function as a calm, non-judgemental sounding board. Anyone who sees alcoholism (chemical dependency) as a moral issue won’t do. Once you start dumping the garbage, you will begin to gain objectivity about your situation. You must stop being a secret and “protecting” your alcoholic. YOU ARE NOT THE CAUSE, and you no longer have to bear the burden of tying yourself in knots in order to “make” him/her stop drinking or using drugs.

4. Focus on Yourself.

  • You may not be fully aware of the damage done to you.
  • Start working on your own recovery. Don’t hide the fact that you are attending Al-anon. Keep in touch with your sponsor. Work Al-anon’s 12 steps. The steps will chip away at your denial and allow you to focus on yourself. Don’t acknowledge a defect in yourself until you can balance it with an asset. Keep asking yourself: “What do I want?”

5. Discover Your Bottom Line.

  • Don’t rush it. This means making an honest, realistic determination of what you will no longer put up with and what you will do about it.
  • Examine alternatives very carefully, and go over them at length with an experienced professional person or an Al-anon member.
  • Think out possible bottom lines carefully, and don’t use them to manipulate the alcoholic. They have to be designed for YOU. Above all, don’t threaten anything you’re not prepared to carry through!
  • Consider bottom line for yourself. For example: “I will attend no fewer than 3 Al-anon meetings each week”, “I will talk to someone in the program daily” or “I will remember to do something good for myself everyday.”
  • Start by considering a small one you know you can stick to rather than one you might have to back away from later.

6. Make a Decision.

  • You are at least ready to declare: BEYOND THIS I WILL NOT GO, PERIOD! No one else, no matter how experienced or empathetic, can choose your bottom line for you. You’re the one who must live with your decision.

7. Take Charge of your Life.

  • Rather than saying: “How can I fix that?” ask yourself: “How do I choose to respond?”
  • The more you take charge of your life, the more your self-esteem rises and the more willing you become to take responsible action and to accept the consequences of your decisions.
  • You will begin to know when to act and, just as important, when NOT to act; when to confront and when to walk away.
  • You will learn the distinction between “help” and “enabling.”
  • When the alcoholic behaves self-destructively, you no longer believe his/her rationalizations and excuses, because you see his/her illness for what it is.
  • You will no longer feel enmeshed.