Discussion in 'Substance Abuse' started by exhausted, Mar 3, 2012.

  1. exhausted

    exhausted Active Member

    I have had issues with that word. I did not understand it. I was mad when it was suggested to me.
    My friend is going through addiction with her husband and she shared this with me. Many of you know, get it and buy into it. This is for those of us who are still struggling and any of us with minors who we are responsible for and this line becomes so foggy. And I just want to know how to turn off my own brain and heart. Why is this so hard?

    Definition of detach in the handbook:

    Detaching is letting go of worry, fear, obsessive behaviors, and to stop focusing on the addiction of others. To detach with love allows us to let go of any efforts to control, manipulate, or force the recovery of another. Detaching prevents suffering in our own lives by concentrating on our own recovery and healing. We let go and let God. We nurture ourselves spiritually, emotionally and physically, and let go of any thoughts and behaviors that can impair our spiritual and emotional health. (They should have included physical here as well as earlier in the sentence.)
  2. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    I believe it is incremental. You analyze each of the areas that impact you (and not helping to alter your difficult child's choices) and then focus on the "let go let God" for one step. After you have wrapped your head around changing that one area of too close move on to another. In my experience it is not turning off the faucet but it is decreasing the flow. Each step moves you closer to a healthier life and outlook. Some of us move fast. Some of us move slow. Staying in the same unhealthy place, however, doesn't help anyone.

    LOL, no I have not mastered detachment. I have taken multiple steps that have helped. on the other hand, I still have to repeat the Serenity Prayer to make sure I'm sorting properly. Hugs DDD
  3. shannonontheprairie

    shannonontheprairie New Member

    It is so hard because you care. Caring seems inconsistent with detachment, and that is not the case at all. I have had to work through this process with my toxic mother. It is MUCH different, in my humble opinion, with minors that we are responsible for. I am a peon when it comes to dealing with substance abuse in my immediate family, but I think that I would be as invested as I possibly could be in efforts to help a minor child or other minor under my roof and stewardship.
  4. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I know exactly what you are talking about. I had the same reaction to the word when it showed up as the solution for me. It went against how I perceived motherhood, caring, loving, being there for others, being a 'good' person, all of it. I had to make distinctions for myself about what giving and loving and mothering was all about. As DDD says, it is incremental, it takes time.

    My difficult child is 39 years old and I am still at it. For me, it helped to get help, and I soon realized that much of what I was doing and thinking was giving, was, in fact, enabling. I didn't know that, but now I do. Once I realized that it was within my power to change my own behavior, I began to focus my attention on myself, rather then on my difficult child. That is quite the process!!! I was very invested in the giving thing. Slowly I began to understand the concept of detachment, and the difference between giving and enabling. I am still at that too.

    I think it's more difficult when our difficult child's are still so young. Gosh, we are responsible for them for so long and then how do we let that go? Especially if they are unstable, mentally challenged, addicted, or any variety of challenges they can face.

    This is a very challenging parental road. We are all at varying degrees along the detachment spectrum. Plus, I believe you move forward and back along the way, and maybe even sideways, it's not a straight line like once you learn it you're good to go. These are our children, our babies, the people we love the most, and they are impaired in some fashion. We do the best we can.

    For me? I am getting through this with a lot of support. One of the biggest supports for me is a therapist lead support group about Codependency. We meet once a week. I get to vent, listen to others, learn tools, be acknowledged for the progress I make, given advice about options, and really, just feel heard and understood.

    You're not alone, we've all been there or are there. Hugs to you sweet mom.
  5. AmericanGirl

    AmericanGirl Guest

    Detactment becomes easier when your addict is driving you insane every moment you are with them. It beats you down. You become humble. You realize you have no control.

    At that point, it is easier because you are simply trying to survive.

    It's harder in those moments when you see the 'old person'...not the addict...emerge. Emotions rush in. You want to help. You want that person to stay.

    Just my two cents.
  6. Nancy

    Nancy Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I love you guys, you so get it. I have had a difficult time with the word detachment ever since I've been here. I couldn't see detaching from difficult child when she was a minor and I was still repsonsible for her and I read all the articles and posts on it and still couldn't manage to do it. I think there is a big difference between detachment when the are adults and acting like idiots, I can much better detach during those times. In my experience it's also much easier to detach when they are not living with you. When they are living in the same house as you are it's nealry impossible for me to detach because of the chaos created.

    And I agree it's much easier to detach when they being abusive than it is when their good side comes out, it sucks me in every time....well almost every time.

  7. wantpeace

    wantpeace New Member

    I remember the exact day I detached from my alcoholic ex husband. It was such a relief to no longer let his issues and abusive ways control me! It is totally different with a child. My son is going to be 18 soon and is experiencing legal issues as a result of drug use. I am doing everything I can to get him healthy so he can have a successful, happy life. At the same time, I know he has to feel the consequences his addiction has caused. Talk about a tough place for a mother to be in!! I keep telling myself that I will do everything I can to get him help until he's out of high school, and then it's up to him. I know that's easier said than done, and maybe even impossible. Having an addict for a child really defines the meaning of unconditional love!
  8. AmericanGirl

    AmericanGirl Guest

    Wantpeace, I understand. I walked away from my ex. My mother and brother were harder, mainly because their behavior was not directly hurting my child like the ex's was.

    Now, my child is 18 and an addict. Wayyyy different. However, sadly as he progresses it is easier for me to detach merely because of the emotional pain he causes me and the chaos my life has when around him.
  9. Kathy813

    Kathy813 Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I think that you need to think of it as you are detaching from your loved one's actions . . . not the loved one. It is not easy to do but brings peace when you are finally able to do it.

    There used to be a great link to a site about this very topic but when I went to post it I found that the link doesn't take you there anymore. I am going to keep searching for it.

  10. exhausted

    exhausted Active Member

    The most useful part of this for me right now and at her age is is letting go of obsessive behaviors, and worry. Those are what keep me awake and even sick. It has helped that she does not run off (or hasn't) in some time. I have stopped mentioning, pushing/forcing treatment. She has had so much anyway.
  11. Tiredof33

    Tiredof33 Active Member

    I did not realize that my marital nightmare was related to drugs until my difficult child started drugs at an early age. After going through both situations I agree it is much harder to detach when it is a child, although the spouce is hard too.

    When my 15 yo difficult child ran away at Christmas time I was going to cancel my plans to vist family because I didn't know where he was. My counselor mentioned detaching and go ahead with my plans because he got into just as much trouble when I was there as when I was not. With minors you are legally responsible for them and hopefully they will mature and start being responsible for themselves.

    At that time detaching to me was trying not to have a breakdown from stress (single parent no father around) and let him be accountable because I actually had zero control over his out of control behavior. It did not mean I was giving up or stopped helping him, but I stopped enabling by doing things for him. I went to school to stay busy and I found hobbies I enjoyed. Regardless how I tried to keep him from drugs and danger he always found a way. If he was arrested he stayed in jail, and I told him from the very beginning I don't visit jails. But I did accept collect calls and listen to his bull about if you get me out this time it is the last I promise.

    I would come home from work and every snack I had bought was gone in one day and I did not allow his friends over when I was not home. So who ate them?? I stopped buying drinks or snacks, they had water and sandwiches. I got the phone bill and had a huge amount of calls to the porn numbers, so I blocked everything but local calls. The next was the TV cable bill with a huge amount of porn so I discontinued the cable. It was just me and him so it would be harder to do if his sister was still living at home.

    After he left home at 19 it was much easier and he finally got tired of jail (it was bragging rights for some strange reason when he was younger). I worked for everything I have and if he wants things he has to work for them.

    I thought I was through with his chaos and drama and in August it started again. I did get thrown back into the negative life and I had to start again to detach. The books, this forum helps so much! I am reading Now I Lay My Isaac down by Carol Kent and it is faith lessons, God has a plan for us all and we have to step back and Let go, Let God.

    It is still difficult, because as was mentioned, it goes against every maternal instinct we have. I just remind myself of the times he stole, let his friends steal, lies, worry and now he wants me to start this all over NO THANKS!!

    It was hard to ignore his last 2 emails for money and we always think the worse, but he quit his job a year ago to go to college full time. I told him then I was retired and on a fixed income. Now I am told of the partying and it really doesn't set well with me. I told him if he had not been partying so much he would have money for food.

    My difficult child at 33yo very well may be homeless with no job, no friends, no money. His choice not mine. He still has not learned that for every action there is a reaction, good or bad.

    I pray, stay busy, mediate and believe that he is God's child and I have to let him walk his own path. Some of my family would be angry with me for not rescuing him. Rescuing him in the past did not work so hopefully this will.

    (((Blessing to us all))) hopefully they will find a safe, peaceful path!
  12. AmericanGirl

    AmericanGirl Guest

    Tired, thank you for this post. I needed to hear this. Have bookmarked it.
  13. toughlovin

    toughlovin Guest

    When I first heard the term detatchment I did not get it at all... how could I detatch from my beloved son who I was worried was going to do something that would cause him to die???? That just felt nuts to me. The first thing I had to realize is that detachment is not about no longer loving them, or even supporting them. I think I will always love my son no matter what, that is who I am as a mother.

    What I realized though is that detachment is really about me!!! It is the realization that I am not going to let my difficult children life or actions ruin MY life. I am not. I will feel sadness and grief but he will not ruin my life. And that in a sense his life is NOT my life. I have my own life, things that make me happy, other people who are also important to me like my husband and daughter. He is on his journey and I can at times accompany him by supporting him but I do not need to be dragged into the muck... and I can stop enabling his drug use and bad decisions. I can separate myself from him if that is what is better for me.

    I agree that it does not feel natural in our role as mothers... in fact it is really really hard. I also think it is a process... one step at a time... and it is a whole lot easier for me to detach when I am mad than when I am sad.

  14. Tiredof33

    Tiredof33 Active Member

    TL I agree so I remind myself what he has done to me when I start to feel weepy!

    Alabama you are welcome! It is hard to do and I bounce back and to, but having to call the police to get the nasty 37yo girlfriend to stop harrassing me and then my difficult child calls ME and leaves a nasty message because I called the police just reminds me to stay detached until he proves himself. That many never happen, but I'm retired and I agree with TL, I deserve to have a life too.

    I have to work on being calm and not arguing with him.
  15. AmericanGirl

    AmericanGirl Guest

    I understand Tired...I want a life too.

    He comes through here, even for a few hours, and my life falls to pieces. He leaves dirty clothes covering the dining table. Piles in the bathroom. Demands every few hours. I am trying so hard not to get angry with him and to maintain my boundaries. He saps my energy. It takes two days to get back on track.

    My stomach is upset. I cannot sleep without taking a pill (which I hate to do). I just started having heart palpitations.

    I have to detach more - which most likely means not be around him at all.

    While I understand and agree he needs a few days to tie up loose ends prior to entering rehab....if he doesn't go this week, I'm done until he is ready to go. And I mean ready to go as soon as they will allow him to enter.
  16. Tiredof33

    Tiredof33 Active Member

    Alabama only those who have gone through this can actually understand the stress and the feeling of hopelessness. difficult children are so intutitive that I sometimes think mine is psychic! They know exactly which buttons to push and try very hard to make you feel guilty so they can do as they please.

    You and I have the same background with the father and only son. I wanted this child so very much and I tried everything to get my gifted son a better life than I had. It breaks my heart so much it feels like a death, but I have to let him live his life. Actually there is no other choice, but don't keep running to me when you screw up!

    For your own health, both physical and mental, step away. Let the clothes and everything else pile up. He wants a confrontation, a reason to start a fight, don't bite. Take care of yourself!

    Just remember that this is not forever. You will feel so much better when he is out of your house. This is so unfair, we raised a child by oursleves and this is the thanks we get??

    (((prayes for us all)))
  17. vligrl

    vligrl New Member

    Exhausted...I tried to detach from my child a few months back by not checking his car, room, fb.....It was good for awhile but he just seemed to take it as anything mom doesn't care so screw it. He dropped out of college, quit his pt job and just spent most of his time out with his friends, especially over Xmas. Now that we got him to re-enroll in Community College and found that he was missing classes and not doing all of his work, again...I have been like a bug up his bum asking about homework being turned in, tests taken, where are you questions texted to him, checking his social networks and for what? I care more than he does so how does this help him? We drive him back and forth to school because of cutting school and drugs but what is the point if he doesn't like school and is doing it half assed, as usual? I need detachment big time and don't know how to with him here. I am obsessed with trying to protect him and help him and I am exhausted. Why haven't I learned to finally let him fall on his face, deal with it himself and clean up his own messes? Instead my husband pays for a deposit to go to Israel, buys him a new cell, drives him to and from school, and was going to buy him more mature clothes (his request)plus a gym membership with us until today when his father asked him to turn off the tv so he could work and asked if he could see the homework he implied he did, he insulted my husband and isn't going to show him his work and to F off. Out of nowhere! Things had been very agreeable for the last two weeks and respectful and then as soon as my husband asked him about homework and to show him what he did, my husband suddenly was turned on. My husband replied by telling him he wouldn't be buying him new clothes since he "doesn't do anything". That got another F you. Before he left the house, my kid came into my room as if nothing had happened and asked if we were all joining a gym or not? WHAT? Are you serious, after how you spoke to your father, I said.
  18. AmericanGirl

    AmericanGirl Guest

  19. exhausted

    exhausted Active Member

    VA,And that is how it always goes with our difficult children. entitled, not willing to be accountable until it is forced on them. And even then, the desire doesn't exist. And even when they are in recovery they lack perseverance and drive. They act fragile and wounded.Mine quit her job 2 weeks ago. She said she just didn't like the new location or the people, she was unhappy. Well welcome to the word of low level jobs. I asked her what she learned from the experience and got attacked! She has done 0 to get a new job. She does a little house work and thinks she has saved the whales! I have to begin the process of detatching sooner than she is 18 because she is done with school (GED) and thinks she wants an adult life(her words) and does absolutely nothing to get there. All my involvement, support and $$$ for treatment have meant nothing. I'm doing ok but it hurts. You hang in there. Take it from me-every attempt to be supportive or offer incentive has ended in vicous insults and stubborness.
  20. compassion

    compassion Member

    Being realistic is not that easy. I dropped my daughter's computer online class (one credit) this afternoon. It just was not realstic. What is realstic is reinforcing her being medication adherent,just the basics. It is trying to take care of me. It was a huge success that i took a nap today!!! For me, it is part of the greif/acceptance process. Nami tonight.