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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