How I’m Detaching Tonight: Meeting and Chocolate

English: Sky Mirror, a sculpture by Anish Kapoor.

Today I find myself slipping from anger into sadness.

I wonder if I’m doing the right thing by not communicating with my now estranged husband. (What do you call the man you’re legally separated from, anyhow? I want to call him my ex, but as I chose not to go for a divorce at this time, that’s not exactly accurate). I worry about him, I worry that by not calling to check on him, but simply dropping the kids off for a (supervised!) visit with a “Hi, how are you?” I’m being cold and cruel.

I have a big heart. I love, and love hard. Detaching from Husband is taking every ounce of willpower and help from God that I can muster.

So tonight I marshaled my resources, paid a sitter, and attended a new Al-Anon meeting. There was a newcomer there, obsessed with her alcoholic brother. She begged the group to tell her what to say to him. How should she react? What can she do?

The advice, given over and over, was do nothing. Come to meetings. No one can tell you what to do, but come back to meetings, they are our (codependents’) medicine.

A woman said something that really resonated with me: “There’s nothing you can do, or not do, that will change the alcoholic’s brother. So, it doesn’t matter what you do. Nothing you say or do can make a difference.”

This was soothing at a time I needed it most. It doesn’t matter if I call Husband or not. He will continue to drink (or not) no matter what I say, do, don’t say, or don’t do.

And for my own emotional health, I really need to detach. I need to let go and let God. I need to take care of my own stuff–my house, my cat, my kids, my job, the laundry, dishes, see friends, talk to family–and let him take care of his.

The truth is, I don’t want to talk to him. I don’t want to call him. I don’t want to be sucked back into his mess of a life. I have no interest in being involved, on any level, with an active addict.

I will communicate with him about the children. I will hold to our weekly parenting meetings, by phone.

But that’s all I can do right now.

I need to find an Al-Anon sponsor because there are some things I really don’t understand. Everything I’ve read in my little blue book about detachment talks about keeping my mouth shut, staying cheerful, and not resenting the alcoholic, as it’s a disease, not a choice. I get that, I really do.

But when is it ok to say enough is enough? I believe I’ve done the right thing, but when I read some of the Al-Anon writing, I doubt myself, and worry I’ve been too harsh. The literature urges me to be kind and compassionate. I’ve been pretty kind. Even now, I’m courteous. I haven’t said one mean thing, yelled, or broken any dishes, this time around, anyway.

But I don’t want to live with him, and I don’t want to have a relationship with him while he’s using.  That’ s ok, right? Even now, with all I’m learning, I have trouble trusting my instincts.

So I will eat another cookie and tuck myself into bed with a book.

For tonight I will do nothing but care for myself.

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8 thoughts on “How I’m Detaching Tonight: Meeting and Chocolate

  1. Hi! ~becomingtawnya, here. What I have to say is “suggestion” only. Take what you like and leave the rest. 🙂 I don’t have all the answers. I can relate to your feelings of uncertainty. I was separated from my husband while he was actively drinking also. I gave those feelings of uncertainty to God, although it IS HARD. I had to give it over to God every day, at times.

    I also don’t have a sponsor, and I’ve prayed about that. It will come in time. I believe that it’s a good thing to set a boundary with the alcoholic/addict. It may benefit him later, but please have faith that everything is in God’s hands. He doesn’t leave or forsake us. 🙂 Events that are taking place can only work for all persons greater good! …that’s what I believe any way. I’m just trying to say encouraing things to you the best way I know how.

    When I was separated, books that I found GREAT comfort in were “Dilemma of an Alcoholic Marriage” and “How Al-anon Works”. When I was ready, I read page 552 in the Alcoholics Anonymous book. After reading and practicing the suggestions on 552, my life changed for the better. I hope you can get your hands on some of this literature.

    I am going to try and post links that have helped me here, if they don’t work and you’d like them, please let me know.

    http://www.aa.org/bigbookonline/en_tableofcnt.cfm
    http://www.livestrong.com/article/112160-four-stages-alcoholism/
    http://bendfeldt.com/alcholism.htm

    • Thanks so much for your advice. I am praying as much as I can but I haven’t thought to turn my uncertainty over to God. I still have much letting go and letting God to do. Your comments are soothing to me tonight. Thanks!

  2. My life has been one endless cry and try to fix for 6 years. I have lived being faithful for a long time. I have finally made the choice to leave and get divorced. Slowly the black cloud is lifting. It is still really scary but I don’t have to wonder what I am coming home to except peace and quiet now. Detaching for me has little with god and more to do with me making a choice not to try and fix what I can’t (him) and do fix what i can which is me. I even smile now and again. I know the road will be rough ahead of me but at least i am able to take the reins and start to live again.

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