Detachment? Is detaching mostly external/public?

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by Signorina, Dec 21, 2011.

  1. Signorina

    Signorina Guest

    difficult child is home and we are skimming along the surface of things. Slightly awkward, slightly cool now (warmer when he first got home) but no in depth conversations or more-than-superficial interaction (yet-it will come) I almost feel like he is a tolerated in law here for an extended visit.

    So, I think I am doing a decent job of detaching on the surface and/or in my interactions with him...

    ... EXCEPT that i am still antagonizing internally. And trying to figure out what it all MEANS??

    But not so much that I've resorted to snooping...

    Frankly, I am trying to avoid popping this situation like it's a big ole zit
    Am I a detachment FAIL?
  2. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip


    Detachment is mostly NOT external or public. It's within.

    It's REALLYREALLYREALLYREALLY hard to do, too. Sometimes I can, sometimes, not so much.

    There's a good post on it somewhere here, I'll go dig it up.
  3. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

  4. Signorina

    Signorina Guest

    Ahhh -- I am at the "fake it til you make it stage". I get it, I am working toward it but have to admit I am partially faking it. Deep inside me - the mother who rocked him, and read to him and dreamed with him starts screaming NO- but that part is not taking over and not gonna. (Except in odd moments like this between me and my computer when then tears come quickly and unexpectedly. D@mn, I didn't see that coming.)
  5. CrazyinVA

    CrazyinVA Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Detachment is a constant practice. Sometimes it comes easier than other times, but it does get ever so slightly easier, the more you practice it. (Or maybe you just become so jaded and numb that you get better at it?! lol) It does have to come from within, though, in order for you to find peace for yourself. But again, it takes.. practice. Years, for me.

    If things need to stay on the surface for now, let them. That's ok.
  6. toughlovin

    toughlovin Guest

    StepTo2 - Thanks for posting that link. I had not seen that before. And Star thanks for writing that originally, it is helpful.

    I really think, like so many things, detachment is a process. Ultimately I think true detachment (with love) happens within us and changes the way we are but it can start off being external in the beginning with a lot of inner turmoil. As you say faking it til you make it.

    So for me the process started with me taking a stand and trying to stop the enabling behavior.... and keeping calm in my interactions with difficult child.... even when I was raging or sobbing inside. Sig - it sounds like you are doing a wonderful job of showing detachment even when you arent feeling it. I think that is the start of the process.

    Now I am at times getting further along in letting go... so this weekend as I posted I was worried because of various things. I was sorely sorely tempted to call the cell number I have for the guy at the sober house. I decided to wait until Monday.... I mean I really didnt need to bother him on the weekend. When Monday came I decided I could wait until Wednesday when it would be time to add money to my sons grocery account so I didn't call. And my son called me on Tuesday... and so I don't feel a need to call the guy at all!!! At least not right now. 6 months ago I would have called on Saturday!!! By waiting i let the process play out without mom havinig to interfere. That is a good thing. So that is what it looks like externally.... mom didn't jump in and interfere and check on him. She is letting go.

    On the internal side I was ok with waiting. I stewed some, but kept repeating to myself the part of accepting what I cannot change and letting go. I did not let it take over my weekend and make me miserable. That is an internal change towards detachment. I am enjoying the holidays this year (at least to some extent as there are other stressors, like work being done on our house, and my daughter getting a concussion, and trying to get ready for Xmas).

    So detachment is a process.... and just take it step by step.

  7. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    The way I understand it (and I had to...I had a child we adopted at six years old walk out of our lives) letting go. If you believe in God, a good way to look at it is to make it God's worry now. There is nothing we can do. I always thought of it as moving away/moving on emotionally. If my son walks back into my life (unlikely and I'm not sure I'd welcome it) then I will have to focus again. Right now I have detached enough emotionally, inside, that I don't think about him and my thoughts stay with the others in my life.

    I do not know if this is how other people see detachment. This is how I do though.
  8. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    The way I understand it (and I had to...I had a child we adopted at six years old walk out of our lives) letting go. If you believe in God, a good way to look at it is to make it God's worry now. There is nothing we can do. I always thought of it as moving away/moving on emotionally. If my son walks back into my life (unlikely and I'm not sure I'd welcome it) then I will have to focus again. Right now I have detached enough emotionally, inside, that I don't think much about him anymore and my thoughts stay with the others in my life. It took five years to do it, but time was my friend with each day. That little boy I hugged when he ran off the airplane and into my arms is not the man who has no real connection to any of us anymore. I don't look at his old is too hard. I had to see him one last time to realize that the little boy I loved so much no longer exists. Now it is much easier, but I wouldn't expect you to be there yet...and hope you never have to go there.

    I do not know if this is how other people see detachment. This is how I do though.
  9. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    I like that, MWM...
  10. Nancy

    Nancy Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I think you are doing great Signorina. I forgot he was coming home this week. Detachment is overrated lol. For me it is being patient and letting things happen instead of trying to force something. So I try not to ask anything and I try not to snoop or confront. Of course it's easier because she isn't physically living here. If she were and it threatened my serenity I'm sure I would flunk.

    Let us know how the rest of the week goes. How long is his break?

    Last edited: Dec 21, 2011
  11. toughlovin

    toughlovin Guest

    I agree it is letting go but it doesn't have to mean not having a relationship with them... although as MWM describes if they don't want to have a relationship with you it is letting go of that and moving on with your own life. So for me it means letting go of trying to get my son to do the right thing... trying to direct his life. It means realizing he is the pilot of his own life and if he goes way off course then that is his choice, it is no longer up to me. There really is nothing more I can do if he chooses to make bad choices. However I can still let him know I love him, and I can still do things for him that feel good to do to ME and help him when he is helping himself. It does mean trying to keep healthy boundaries and to not enable his drug use or bad behavior. I still ask him questions but I no longer demand answers... if he doesn't want to tell me something then I let it go. For me this also means not making things I do for him conditional because that always brings us back to control issues. I guess the exception to this is that we are paying rent to a sober house and adding to a grocery card for groceries. So rent is conditional on him being at a sober house... but I am not giving him any money directly.

    And Sig as far as conversations go... that is tough. I find it very hard to spend a lot of time with difficult child because i don't know what to talk to him about. It is not easy between us and I personally find that really hard. I know he is not like that with everybody but he is still like that with us.... although now and then I see a glimmer of hope in that too.

  12. hearts and roses

    hearts and roses Mind Reader

    For ME, detachment is a focusing behavior. I try to focus on myself and my needs as opposed to the other person's needs. Not in a cold way, not in an unfeeling way, but just very matter of factly.

    Detaching is NOT about not feeling. While trying to remain detached from difficult child/easy child/H in the sense of emotionally or verbally REacting to them and their behaviors, I may still feel things within. How I handle those feelings within is the key for ME. I can choose to obsess on those feelings OR I can choose to do something else. It is VERY difficult to divert my attention away from obsessive feelings I may be experiencing, but with practice it becomes second nature.

    I have become adept at tuning out certain people - namely difficult child and my loco sister - when they are giving me their old song and dance routine: it could be difficult child telling me about some sort of drama in her life (I nod pleasantly or excuse myself so I don't react unpleasantly or against my better judgement)/or my loco sister will always belittle my feelings or perspective about a don't really interact with her if I don't have to and when I do, I am cordial and kind and respectful, but I don't bend over. I'm like that with my mother in law also. She's an unpleasant person to be around, but out of love for my H and simple humanity, I am pleasant and cordial - but that's IT.

    So, detachment is about US, not so much about them. Be pleasant when you can, excuse yourself kindly when you can't. Talk about superficial things if that's the only way you can get through this time. Make CERTAIN to do things and see people that feed your soul and bring you joy. Place the focus of how you want this time to be for you, not everyone or anyone else. If it's unacceptable for them/him/her/whatever, oh well. As hostess, of course, we do things for our guests, but difficult child is like a quasi-guest, Know what I mean?? So, you can be accommodating and hospitable, but don't over do it. Don't exhaust yourself.

    Bug hugs, you are doing well!
  13. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    For me it's a long long road. I liken it to addiction recovery. Slowly (in my case very very slowly, lol) I have been able to distance myself from many of the most worrisome aspects of difficult child. The first part was the hardest for me. I don't know how long it took for me to accept that he would never become what we had every reason to believe he would be. That was the most "teary" stage for me because I just didn't want to accept that our easy child had evolved into a easy child/difficult child and then a difficult child. Then there were pretty consistent steps toward detachment.

    I am lucky that we never had violence or confrontation. The two of us can spend hours and hours together shooting the breeze, laughing etc. husband and I actually miss him when he is not around but we are hoping and praying he can find life that is safe away from our home. I'm not sure whether it is easier when the relationship is volatile but I tend to think it may be a bit easier to separate from a difficult child who is really disruptive. Either way, you can't rush yourself to a degree in Detachment just like you can't sign up for college and fast forward to the diploma. Just do your best and eventually you'll find peace. Hugs DDD
  14. Signorina

    Signorina Guest

    Thanks's the update that prompted my post:

    difficult child arrived home at 1:00pm on Saturday. He was warm and friendly. He spent most of Saturday unpacking a box that had been in his room (packed) since we moved here 3.5 years ago. It was filled with old sports & participation Trophies, a few baby things, his 1st Communion Certificate, a "Welcome Baby XXXX" my sister in law cross-stitched when he was born, his favorite baby rattle, a few framed family pics from his childhood (Baptism, Halloween etc), his ceramic baby cross, football & swimming plaques, etc....

    He hung EVERYTHING that was hang-able on his previously bare walls and placed the other items (even the sweet star rattle that made him chortle outloud as a baby) on his bookshelves. I have NO IDEA what it means. He seems to think it's because he misses his family. I wonder if he is just "marking his territory." Most of this stuff had been packed away since he was 9 or so, the rest since we moved...WHY NOW? Things that make you go hmmmmm

    He spent Sat night home, ate with us, did dishes, we all went to gma's fancy Christmas Brunch on Sunday - including difficult child's girlfriend and pc1s girlfriend. He was well dressed and well behaved, polite to a fault.

    There have been NO behavior problems. However, his mood seems to have gotten a little more distant - not unlike the way we were all summer. (When I made the mistake of placating EVERYTHING just to keep the peace) This time it's been different just because the ground rules are in place and he has been meeting them without a fuss. He's also pitched in - emptying the dishwasher when full, etc.

    We haven't gotten much insight into his life away at school. He did tell us about some new cuisine he likes and apparently eats regularly - Thai food esp Drunken Noodles, Chinese from XX place but the other place has better dumplings, etc. Which begs the question - where the heck are you getting the $$ to pay tuition, rent, AND EAT OUT? Of course, unasked.

    He's spent some time snowboarding with his friends.(again-how are you paying for lift tickets?) Yesterday, he was telling me about the "Free Board" he and his buddies are building. Showed me video online of "freeboarding" - basically a snowboard/skateboard highbred with 360 wheels that is used on pavement and can reach high speeds. (GREAT-JUST WHAT MY KID WITH 2 CONCUSSIONS in his past NEEDS TO BE DOING!!!) I asked him to wear a helmet and bit my tongue. At this rate, my tongue will be amputated soon.

    We will have to have "the talk" about tuition, school, plans and likely "where are you getting the $$?" H and I agree, no sense in having that talk until final grades are obtainable. And I am thinking we will likely delay it until the easy child's go back to school on 1/3/2012 - I don't want to subject them to family unrest while they are on break. So far, difficult child intends to stay home until school starts again on 1/22/2012 - I was expecting that he would go back early since he has an apt there. I think he may go back for a weekend or a few days, he mentioned needing to get some things - like his winter jacket - which he left there.

    So, I am likely "disengaging" more than I am "detaching". But it's a start...I'll let you know if anything changes.

    So many things unasked...that will wait until after the new year...
  15. Kathy813

    Kathy813 Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Hi Signorina,

    For me, detachment started out external but slowly I was able to internalize it. I realized that trying to micromanage my difficult child or control what she was doing was not working so I had to let go. Like Nancy said, it is easier when they don't live with us . . . out of sight out of mind really is true.

    This past Monday, when husband and I were out of town, I got a text from difficult child saying that her original roommate at the halfway house had killed herself. I texted back that it was very sad. I did call her and asked how she knew and she gave me a convoluted story about someone who knew someone who knew someone who knew the girl (20 years old). I again said that I was sorry to hear that someone so young could be so unhappy and asked difficult child how she was doing.

    She said that she didn't want to talk and didn't want to be there anymore. I just said that I understood that she didn't want to talk about it and suggested getting a job so she could move out of the halfway house. She hung up on me.

    In the past, I would have gotten worried that she would do something drastic and called back or let it ruin our trip. This time I was able to set it aside and let it go.

    It takes time but does get easier.

  16. Nancy

    Nancy Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Sig just an idea, do you think his mood changing could be that he is not using whatever substance he is on regularly since he is at your house? The unpacking. the memorabilia does make you go hmmmmm. difficult child did something similar last year when she got out of rehab, but of course it didn't last. I think inside they want those memories back.

  17. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    Learning detachment is a process...........and for many it requires getting "burned" enough times you just forced yourself not to go there anymore. I disengaged long before I actually detached......then there are different levels of detachment too depending on situation and the person.

    At the moment I'm totally detached from katie. I'm sure this is mean to "punish" me.......only it isn't because frankly, I just don't care that much. I do care about the grands but no sense in driving myself insane over something I have no control over. In truth, she's punishing herself and the grands. Maybe one day in the distant future she'll figure it out. But I doubt it.

    To me detached is when you stop letting their decisions and actions have any control in your life or your thoughts. Their life is theirs, yours and is yours.......and you go on living yours to the fullest.

    But it's a process, don't expect to get it all at once. It doesn't quite work like that.

  18. New Leaf

    New Leaf Well-Known Member

    Just learning about detachment here and finding in my viewpoint with difficult adult children it is both external and internal. External meaning that I cannot have them living in our home with the choices they make. With that said there is so much internal work that I need to do to recover from my patterned response to try to rescue them when they call, as well as the damage control I need after initial contact-acceptance into our home, ensuing drama, etc., etc. I have after several years of this learned to try not to get too emotionally involved in the chaos. I often wonder if that coping skill also led to my downfall in allowing my adult children to return home, when clearly in retrospect they were not ready to make better choices and follow house rules. They have made a great initial effort, but have rapidly fallen into old habits.

    It is difficult when grandchildren are involved, because the focus was on trying to provide stability for them, more than what their parents were going through. It must be equally hard to detach when the hardship is with minor children. My heart goes out to all facing issues with their children.

    After nearly three weeks of an abrupt, chaotic, explosive departure with my daughter and three grandchildren in tow, I have reached an epiphany. All along, I thought I was coping quite well, but in reality, the scope of the mess has been literally, figuratively, spiritually killing me. I have spent hours scouring the internet trying to understand our situation, trying to learn. I have gone through an emotional roller coaster of ups and downs, and examined, reexamined history, myself, relationships,to try to come to grips with what has transpired through all of these years. I was physically sick and downtrodden for four days after the latest event.

    I am no good to anybody if I cannot function. Loving detachment is necessary for my health and wellbeing. It does not mean I do not love my daughters and grandchildren. I love them. For now, with the choices they make and the life they choose, that love equates to prayers for them. I have no control over them, they are adults, they are responsible for their children.

    Loving detachment for me, means that I must physically and emotionally separate myself. It means that I have to find the strength and the time to refocus on being self nurturing.

    It is a long process, and I think it has different meaning for different folks. I think everyone has to figure it out in their own due time. The exchange of stories and thoughts that are expressed here in this forum have been very helpful.

    Hugs to you, and I hope you are able to have some healthy me time away from the turmoil.

    Just a thought, through my own experience- the "mystery money" to pay for things is alarming.
  19. New Leaf

    New Leaf Well-Known Member

    Good Lord just read the dates here-old post! I hope things are better for you and your son after nearly 4 years! I will look at dates from here on!