To detach is one of the most effective ways to regain your sanity and successfully deal with a loved one’s alcoholism and/or addiction. As founder of Strength and Hope, I commemorate my own experience with an addicted loved one. I specifically remember a time when I was so overcome with anger and resentment that it became obvious and unmanageable. At that time, I was advised to remember that my loved one is sick. I would not treat them with anger or resentment if they had cancer or another life threatening ailment, would I? I learned to detach myself from the incursion of the ultimate cause of my negative feelings. You can hate the disease, but you still love the person struggling with alcohol and addiction. This is some of the best advice I’ve ever received.
Detaching from a loved one is not kind or unkind. To detach does not mean you’re passing judgment onto the addicted person, and nor are you condemning them. It is merely the situation from which you are detaching. Liberation from the negativity associated with a loved one’s alcoholism, addiction, or abusive behavior through detachment does not necessarily require physical separation. Instead, detachment allows us to take a step back, granting us the time and space to take an objective look at the full scope of the situation. On the other hand, if we dwell inside the gauntlet, facing the ugly glare of the disease (not the person) we are constantly on edge and clouded by the fear of imminent crisis. Our exposure, characterized by instability and vulnerability often leads us to make rash and emotionally driven decisions.
When we detach we can feel safe and our good judgment may be restored, but the truth remains that alcoholism and addiction is a family disease. Living amidst the nature of the beast that is addiction, a beast that may have ravaged through our loved one’s life, will naturally want to barrage or create spillage into our own. As the non-addicted family members, we often become ill from the unmanageability and feel destined to a life of insanity. We must accept that despite our best efforts, nothing we do or say can or will stop our loved one from using if that’s what they intend to do. It does not matter where they are, if they want their drug of choice they will find a way to get it. We also cannot hold ourselves responsible for a disease that belongs to another person, nor can we force them to recover from it. One of the hardest things to do (that may feel like nullifying good intentions) is to “Let go and let God.”
Remember that you did not fail anyone. Keep the focus on yourself and your needs and soon find yourself free from the darkness and torment. Detaching allows us to let go of obsessing over another person’s behavior, and in turn we begin to live a happier and more manageable life. Remember, it’s normal to concurrently hate the disease and love the person. “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” It isn’t always easy but there are many tools, support and people available to help you detach and focus on yourself. We are here to help. Contact us at [email protected].