I found this article on another site. Please take the time to read it, print it off and refer back to it whenever you have questions.
"What is detachment?
Detachment is the: * Ability to allow people, places or things the freedom to be themselves. * Holding back from the need to rescue, save or fix another person from being sick, dysfunctional or irrational. * Giving another person "the space" to be herself. * Disengaging from an over-enmeshed or dependent relationship with people. * Willingness to accept that you cannot change or control a person, place or thing. * Developing and maintaining of a safe, emotional distance from someone whom you have previously given a lot of power to affect your emotional outlook on life. * Establishing of emotional boundaries between you and those people you have become overly enmeshed or dependent with in order that all of you might be able to develop your own sense of autonomy and independence. * Process by which you are free to feel your own feelings when you see another person falter and fail and not be led by guilt to feel responsible for their failure or faltering. * Ability to maintain an emotional bond of love, concern and caring without the negative results of rescuing, enabling, fixing or controlling. * Placing of all things in life into a healthy, rational perspective and recognizing that there is a need to back away from the uncontrollable and unchangeable realities of life. * Ability to exercise emotional self-protection and prevention so as not to experience greater emotional devastation from having hung on beyond a reasonable and rational point. * Ability to let people you love and care for accept personal responsibility for their own actions and to practice tough love and not give in when they come to you to bail them out when their actions lead to failure or trouble for them. * Ability to allow people to be who they "really are" rather than who you "want them to be." * Ability to avoid being hurt, abused, taken advantage of by people who in the past have been overly dependent or enmeshed with you.
What are the negative effects not detaching?
If you are unable to detach from people, places or things, then you: * Will have people, places or things which become over-dependent on you. * Run the risk of being manipulated to do things for people, at places or with things which you do not really want to do. * Can become an obsessive "fix it" who needs to fix everything you perceive to be imperfect. * Run the risk of performing tasks because of the intimidation you experience from people, places or things. * Will most probably become powerless in the face of the demands of the people, places or things whom you have given the power to control you. * Will be blind to the reality that the people, places or things which control you are the uncontrollables and unchangeables you need to let go of if you are to become a fully healthy, coping individual. * Will be easily influenced by the perception of helplessness which these people, places or things project. * Might become caught up with your idealistic need to make everything perfect for people, places or things important to you even if it means your own life becomes unhealthy. * Run the risk of becoming out of control of yourself and experience greater low self-esteem as a result. * Will most probably put off making a decision and following through on it, if you rationally recognize your relationship with a person, place or thing is unhealthy and the only recourse left is to get out of the relationship. * Will be so driven by guilt and emotional dependence that the sickness in the relationship will worsen. * Run the risk of losing your autonomy and independence and derive your value or worth solely from the unhealthy relationship you continue in with the unhealthy person, place or thing."
Detachment is a control issue because: * It is a way of de-powering the external "locus of control" issues in your life and a way to strengthen your internal "locus of control." * If you are not able to detach emotionally or physically from a person, place or thing, then you are either profoundly under its control or it is under your control. * The ability to "keep distance" emotionally or physically requires self-control and the inability to do so is a sign that you are "out of control." * If you are not able to detach from another person, place or thing, you might be powerless over this behavior which is beyond your personal control. * You might be mesmerized, brainwashed or psychically in a trance when you are in the presence of someone from whom you cannot detach. * You might feel intimidated or coerced to stay deeply attached with someone for fear of great harm to yourself or that person if you don't remain so deeply involved. * You might be an addicted caretaker, fixer or rescuer who cannot let go of a person, place or thing you believe cannot care for itself. * You might be so manipulated by another's con, "helplessness," over dependency or "hooks" that you cannot leave them to solve their own problems. * If you do not detach from people, places or things, you could be so busy trying to "control" them that you completely divert your attention from yourself and your own needs. * By being "selfless" and "centered" on other people, you are really a controller trying to fix them to meet the image of your ideal for them. * Although you will still have feelings for those persons, places and things from which you have become detached, you will have given them the freedom to become what they will be on their own merit, power, control and responsibility. * It allows every person, place or thing with which you become involved to feel the sense of personal responsibility to become a unique, independent and autonomous being with no fear of retribution or rebuke if they don't please you by what they become.
What irrational thinking leads to an inability to detach?
* If you should stop being involved, what will they do without you? * They need you and that is enough to justify your continued involvement. * What if they commit suicide because of your detachment? You must stay involved to avoid this. * You would feel so guilty if anything bad should happen to them after you reduced your involvement with them. * They are absolutely dependent on you at this point and to back off now would be a crime. * You need them as much as they need you. * You can't control yourself because every day you promise yourself "today is the day" you will detach your feelings but you feel driven to them and their needs. * They have so many problems, they need you. * Being detached seems so cold and aloof. You can't be that way when you love and care for a person. It's either 100 percent all the way or no way at all. * If you should let go of this relationship too soon, the other might change to be like the fantasy or dream you want them to be. * How can being detached from them help them? It seems like you should do more to help them. * Detachment sounds so final. It sounds so distant and non-reachable. You could never allow yourself to have a relationship where there is so much emotional distance between you and others. It seems so unnatural. * You never want anybody in a relationship to be emotionally detached from you so why would you think it a good thing to do for others? * The family that plays together stays together. It's all for one and one for all. Never do anything without including the significant others in your life. * If one hurts in the system, we all hurt. You do not have a good relationship with others unless you share in their pain, hurt, suffering, problems and troubles. * When they are in "trouble," how can you ignore their "pleas" for help? It seems cruel and inhuman. * When you see people in trouble, confused and hurting, you must always get involved and try to help them solve the problems. * When you meet people who are "helpless," you must step in to give them assistance, advice, support and direction. * You should never question the costs, be they material, emotional or physical, when another is in dire need of help. * You would rather forgo all the pleasures of this world in order to assist others to be happy and successful. * You can never "give too much" when it comes to providing emotional support, comforting and care of those whom you love and cherish. * No matter how badly your loved ones hurt and abuse you, you must always be forgiving and continue to extend your hand in help and support. * Tough love is a cruel, inhuman and anti-loving philosophy of dealing with the troubled people in our lives and you should instead love them more when they are in trouble since "love" is the answer to all problems.
How to Develop Detachment
In order to become detached from a person, place or thing, you need to:
First: Establish emotional boundaries between you and the person, place or thing with whom you have become overly enmeshed or dependent on.
Second: Take back power over your feelings from persons, places or things which in the past you have given power to affect your emotional well-being.
Third: "Hand over" to your Higher Power the persons, places and things which you would like to see changed but which you cannot change on your own.
Fourth: Make a commitment to your personal recovery and self-health by admitting to yourself and your Higher Power that there is only one person you can change and that is yourself and that for your serenity you need to let go of the "need" to fix, change, rescue or heal other persons, places and things.
Fifth: Recognize that it is "sick" and "unhealthy" to believe that you have the power or control enough to fix, correct, change, heal or rescue another person, place or thing if they do not want to get better nor see a need to change.
Sixth: Recognize that you need to be healthy yourself and be "squeaky clean" and a "role model" of health in order for another to recognize that there is something "wrong" with them that needs changing.
Seventh: Continue to own your feelings as your responsibility and not blame others for the way you feel.
Eighth: Accept personal responsibility for your own unhealthy actions, feelings and thinking and cease looking for the persons, places or things you can blame for your unhealthiness.
Ninth: Accept that addicted fixing, rescuing, enabling are "sick" behaviors and strive to extinguish these behaviors in your relationship to persons, places and things.
Tenth: Accept that many people, places and things in your past and current life are "irrational," "unhealthy" and "toxic" influences in your life, label them honestly for what they truly are, and stop minimizing their negative impact in your life.
Eleventh: Reduce the impact of guilt and other irrational beliefs which impede your ability to develop detachment in your life.
Twelfth: Practice "letting go" of the need to correct, fix or make better the persons, places and things in life over which you have no control or power to change.
Steps in Developing Detachment
Step 1: It is important to first identify those people, places and things in your life from which you would be best to develop emotional detachment in order to retain your personal, physical, emotional and spiritual health. To do this you need to review the following types of toxic relationships and identify in your journal if any of the people, places or things in your life fit any of the following 20 categories.
Types of Toxic Relationships
* You find it hard to let go of because it is addictive. * The other is emotionally unavailable to you. * Coercive, threatening, intimidating to you. * Punitive or abusive to you. * Non-productive and non-reinforcing for you. * Smothering you. * Other is overly dependent on you. * You are overly dependent on the other. * Other has the power to impact your feelings about yourself. * Relationship in which you are a chronic fixer, rescuer or enabler. * Relationship in which your obligation and loyalty won't allow you to let go. * Other appears helpless, lost and out of control. * Other is self-destructive or suicidal. * Other has an addictive disease. * Relationship in which you are being manipulated and conned. * When guilt is a major motivating factor preventing your letting go and detaching. * Relationship in which you have a fantasy or dream that the other will come around and change to be what you want. * Relationship in which you and the other are competitive for control. * Relationship in which there is no forgiveness or forgetting and all past hurts are still brought up to hurt one another. * Relationship in which your needs and wants are ignored.
Step 2: Once you have identified the persons, places and things you have a toxic relationship with, and then you need to take each one individually and work through the following steps.
Step 3: Identify the irrational beliefs in the toxic relationship which prevent you from becoming detached. Address these beliefs and replace them with healthy, more rational ones.
Step 4: Identify all of the reasons why you are being hurt and your physical, emotional and spiritual health is being threatened by the relationship.
Step 5: Accept and admit to yourself that the other person, place or thing is "sick," dysfunctional or irrational, and that no matter what you say, do or demand you will not be able to control or change this reality. Accept that there is only one thing you can change in life and that is you. All others are the unchangeables in your life. Change your expectations that things will be better than what they really are. Hand these people, places or things over to your Higher Power and let go of the need to change them.
Step 6: Work out reasons why there is no need to feel guilt over letting go and being emotionally detached from this relationship and free yourself from guilt as you let go of the emotional "hooks" in the relationship.
Step 7: Affirm yourself as being a person who "deserves" healthy, wholesome, health-engendering relationships in your life. You are a good person and deserve healthy relationships, at home, work and in the community.
Step 8: Gain support for yourself as you begin to let go of your emotional enmeshment with these relationships.
Step 9: Continue to call upon your Higher Power for the strength to continue to let go and detach.
Step 10: Continue to give no person, place or thing the power to affect or impact your feelings about yourself.
Step 11: Continue to detach and let go and work at self-recovery and self-healing as this poem implies.
"Letting Go" * To "let go" does not mean to stop caring; it means I can't do it for someone else. * To "let go" is not to cut myself off; it's the realization I can't control another. * To "let go" is not to enable, but to allow learning from natural consequences. * To "let go" is to admit powerlessness, which means the outcome is not in my hands. * To "let go" is not to try to change or blame another; it's to make the most of myself. * To "let go" is not to care for, but to care about. * To "let go" is not to fix, but to be supportive. * To "let go" is not to judge, but to allow another to be a human being. * To "let go" is not to be in the middle arranging all the outcomes, but to allow others to affect their own destinies. * To "let go" is not to be protective; it's to permit another to face reality. * To "let go" is not to deny, but to accept. * To "let go" is not to nag, scold or argue, but instead to search out my own shortcomings and correct them. * To "let go" is not to criticize and regulate anybody, but to try to become what I dream I can be. * To "let go" is not to adjust everything to my desires, but to take each day as it comes and cherish myself in it. * To "let go" is to not regret the past, but to grow and live for the future. * To "let go" is to fear less and love myself more.
Step 12: If you still have problems detaching, then return to Step 1 and begin all over again."
Learning how to detach with love will revolutionize your life and relationships. People in difficult relationships have trouble separating themselves from other peopleís actions and reactions. Everything other people do affects them at some level: emotionally, physically, financially, mentally, and spiritually. They take the blame thrown at them. They feel responsible for the other personís choices. They are upset by the moods. They adjust their actions based on the accusations and threats. They allow their lives to be turned upside down by the crises. They bail the person out and attempt to fix things that arenít theirs to fix. They are constantly reacting to the other person instead of living their own lives.
Detaching is about separating yourself emotionally, physically, mentally, and spiritually from other people and what they do. Here is what you can learn to detach from:
Your life does not have to revolve around what other people say and do, no matter how closely intertwined your lives are. You are a separate person with the responsibility and right to live your own life and make your own choices and to experience the consequences or rewards from them. Other people have the responsibility and right to live their lives and to make their own choices and experience the consequences or rewards from them. You can learn how to detach from other people and especially from difficult people with this Christian relationship help.
Detaching will enable you to do the following:
Observe the relationship dynamics objectively See who is responsible for the problems in the relationship Choose how you want to act instead of automatically reacting Prevent you from becoming a part of the dysfunction dynamic Detachment doesnít mean you donít care about people. Only in extreme situations will you need complete physical detachment. You continue to engage respectfully in the relationship, recognizing that people are responsible for themselves and that you donít cause them to be like they are and therefore arenít responsible to fix them. You can even learn how to detach with love, treating people with courtesy and kindness while you give them the dignity to live their own lives.
I am struggling with this a lot this week, so I was glad to see this post. But while I understand this in theory, I have so much trouble figuring out how to do it at times.
My H lives with us, but abandoned the family as far as being a real husband/father in December 2013. I am deeply religious and totally devoted to standing for the marriage and developiing my relationship with and reliance on God alone.
I had to go through a mastectomy this fall, basically alone and with almost no help with kids. And now --- You know how they love to rewrite history and blame you for everything? Well his new tagline is about how I have never respected the life of the mind. I don't know if there is still an OW, but his dissertation is an OW of sorts, ALL he does, literally, is work on that and train for marathons. He barely looks up from his book, is furious if interrupted, and if he eats at the same time, he reads a book. I admit that my pride is struggling with not answering. I will paste an e-mail he sent me below -- but e-mail is easy to ignore. It's when he says these things in person, when I am cooking or cleaning or just in the house, and I have so much trouble not saying, "ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!!!" and providing a litany of how I have completely surrendered any expectation of his upholding any vow or participating in any way in family life for 15 months now, plus the year or two before bomb drop when things started sliding south (and to be fair, before I transformed myself).
I would love advice in the form of what exactly to say or do in those moments. I keep praying about it but then in the moment I get confused, I answer him, or don't know if I can just be totally silent if I can't leave the house (because of the kids, he doesn't watch them ever).
Here's the e-mail. And keep in mind that he has not spent time with his kids really since bomb drop in December 2013. He is here in the evenings but very out of it and rageful. They, especially my son, are very traumatized but we are making it day by day. Also, just an FYI in the world of MLC flip-flopping, he sent this about going to our cabin and demanded our weekend renters leave earlier than the usual check-out but then announced he wouldn't be going the day he was to leave, because it was going to be too cold though this is the warmest week we've had in months.
Is the cabin still open from Sunday morning till Thursday morning? I would go up early Sunday and leave the cabin 5am Thursday. My spirits can only but be unsettled and snappy with this doctorate undone, and always always some interruptions happen at Jones (that's our house). Not blaming you, but the ethos of that house is such that the dual offices of being a world-changing intellectual and a domestic parent are totally and mutually incompatible. This does not have to be the case. And yet it is and always has been, as it was in my parent's house growing up: the life of the mind is second fiddle. I want my kids to believe otherwise. A parent can be great who is not doing parenty things. I refuse narrow definitions of what a parent is. [D] called me a real dad the other day because I drove her to school. All other dads are not real. Sad. Let me know about the cabin.
Last edited by Gerda; 03/09/1501:07 PM.
I believe I will see the bounty of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord with courage. Be stouthearted, and wait for the Lord.
Gerda, First let me say that I am sorry to come here and read that you had surgery and I do hope that things are better now. I did locate your last thread and have it moved it up for others to post to you.
Detaching isn't easy and it takes some time to get the hang of it. There is no "one size fits all" for responses and posters have to learn what will and will not work for themselves. For example, if he's not happy about something, say "I'm sorry you feel that way" and then walk away. Do not get into a discussion w/him and do not apologize if it's not your fault.
I'm going to copy your posting and paste it into your current thread so that others will respond. In fact, someone has asked about you recently.
Gerda, In fact, someone has asked about you recently.
Job, I read your earlier posts to me over and over. (I also read the Book of Job all the time.) Reading that you wrote back and took all this time to get my post seen made me start to cry. And then to read that someone asked about me really made me cry. (Can you tell me who?) I guess it's hard to go this alone and so so nice to feel that there is someone out there who cares about me. THANK YOU.
I stopped posting for a while because I already sleep so little that I felt it was actually not good for me to spend time on this. But this last week or two I am desperately lonely.
Yes, I had a mastectomy in the fall. I think I mentioned that in my other thread but probably it was buried in there. I had a dream in which a voice came to me and told me where to find the lump, and I woke and felt it, and then I didn't even have to have chemo and have been able to mother my kids with almost no break from that cancer experience, so I feel so blessed in that too and don't talk about it in the way I would have thought I would have talked about having cancer. This year I had to face my three biggest fears (losing my husband's love, him having an affair, and cancer (not to mention the MRI!), and I have faced them all with God's help and love.
Can I just be silly and ask this in detail -- So if he is ranting about how badly I run the house or some other flaw or blaming me for something, I just no matter what say, "I'm sorry you feel that way." It seems that most of my responses cause him to rant that I think I am so saintly and so perfect, etc, almost taunting me, and unraveling my resolve to be kind. It seems that the only thing I can do is be silent and even avoid his eyes most of the time, but this violates all I try to do through the Rejoice Ministries/Christian approach. I think I am always confused because I want to enact Christ, loving my enemy and giving kindness back for evil, but it seems that any response to an MLCer causes more spew. And I often descend into the pit of wondering about OW or what he is or isn't doing, etc., and this makes me very short-tempered and resentful unless I remove myself totally by running down to church for a while. (It's one block away, very helpful!) I pray about this a lot and always the answer I receive is about patience and waiting and taking all my sorrows to God, but in the moment of encountering the problems at home I am always confused about what to say or do. I feel like nothing "works," and it's just a matter of bearing it and trying to minimize the contact.
Thank you for your love and kindness. Thank you so much.
Last edited by Gerda; 03/09/1508:17 PM.
I believe I will see the bounty of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord with courage. Be stouthearted, and wait for the Lord.
Gerda, You are always welcome to post here. Some only come here to post when they are desperate for answers or need a safe place to vent or talk about what is going on. Others come here every day. That is the beauty of the forum...you decide when you want to post.
If your h is ranting about the way you run your house just say "h, I'm really sorry you feel that way" and walk away. He's going to get angry and bait you into getting angry or saying something that you don't want to say. Why? Because he's trying to justify why he feels so miserable. Heave help him that it could something within himself that is making miserable so it must be you, the children the house, the running of the home, the way you do laundry or cook the meals or maybe, just maybe the sky is green w/yellow polka dots. He's not ready to look within and he won't be for a while.
It's normal to think about the OW, but she's really nothing but a band aid to his issues right now.
Maybe it's time to change the way that you've been reacting to his behavior. Sometimes we have to do 180's to help along the way. Start looking him in the eyes when you speak to him. You've done nothing wrong and if anyone should look away, it should be him. If he doesn't sit at the table and normally eat w/the family, then don't serve him his meals. He can get up and fix his own dinner or plate. It's time for him to start seeing what life would be like if you weren't there.
Gerda, you are not the paid servant in that house and the only way he's going to respect you is if you respect yourself. Allow me to ask you this...would you accept this behavior for a friend or another family member? God is there to guide you, but he also wants you to help yourself. He will be there is you stumble, but he also wants you to learn to walk and stand up straight. There is nothing wrong w/taking back your self respect. I don't speak of God lightly, as I was born and raised in the Catholic faith and believe that God wants us to grow, be independent and learn to help ourselves as well as others along our journey called "life".
I have been on here for over a year and just found this thank you so much for posting this. I am having the hardest time detaching a second time. I printed this off and will read it a few times to get into the right mindset. Thanks again.