Discover the Art of Detachment

Your heart must become a sea of Love

Detachment. Synonyms include aloofness, indifference, and disconnection. These words sound harsh when linked with relationships. However, detaching with love can be the greatest gift we can give ourselves. Learning to detach with love sets us free.

Detachment is not detaching from those we care about. It is detaching from the agony of over-involvement. We liberate ourselves from excessive worry, preoccupation with others, and a false sense of control.

Detachment is freeing us from the responsibilities of others. It enables us to stay true to our individual life and responsibilities. Unconditional love for ourselves sets others free from our tight reign of control.

The opposite of detachment is attachment. When we are enmeshed with codependent behaviors, we are overly involved. Codependency stems from childhood trauma, abuse, and emotionally unavailable parents or caretakers. Codependency is an unhealthy form of attachment to others. We need to feel needed. It is placing outward focus to gain love or affirmation. We adopted this behavior in childhood when our parents or caregivers discarded our thoughts and feelings. Abandonment presented itself through emotional unavailability, neglect, divorce, or preoccupation with work, shopping, drugs/ alcohol, sex/ relationships, or gambling just to name a few.

We learned to be reactors rather than actors. Neglect and criticism drove us to react in defense as the mascot, hero, caretaker, people pleaser, and scapegoat. The roles we took on maintained the homeostasis yet denied our true self. We believed we are not good enough and lost our sense of self to gain attention. Love became associated with abuse.

Our unquenchable thirst for love and safety caused us to tolerate cruelty and abandoned our personal values, friends, or career. Our childhood experiences gave us the message we have to do something to gain love, attention, and safety. This self-destructive behavior hinders our adult relationships.

6 QUESTIONS TO ASSESS IF YOU ARE CODEPENDENT.

  1. Do you have excessive worry and preoccupation with others?
  2. Do you have obsessive attempts to control?
  3. Do you react with intense negative outbursts and emotion?
  4. Do you depend on others to determine your feelings?
  5. Are you always taking care of others, rescuing, or enabling irresponsible behavior?
  6. Do you obsess and can’t get your mind off the person or problem?

We can learn new ways to cope. Detaching with love has many rewards. We can learn to love and care about others without hurting ourselves. We can understand how to live without guilt or resentment. We can discover that detachment may motivate and free people around us to begin to solve their problems. If not, we can still live without the entanglement of obsessions and worry.

The Solution

  • Twelve-step groups
  • Individual or Group Therapy
  • Social Learning

There is hope for recovery. It is possible to have healthy relationships. It starts with support from other recovering codependents. Twelve-step groups such as Codependents Anonymous or Adult Children of Alcoholics or Alnon are very helpful. Regular attendance at meetings provides a safe place to meet and interact with other members who exhibit similar characteristics and work together to support, encourage, and contribute healing experiences.

Individual or group therapy provides more in-depth healing than twelve-step programs. A therapist who specializes in addiction, attachment issues and familiar with the twelve-step principles and solutions solidifies the skills learned in twelve-step programs.

A good therapist utilizes a combination of various treatment modalities. She investigates with open, nonjudgmental curiosity, accountability and provides psycho-education, empathy, and compassion. Eventually meaningful connection and healthy boundaries are maintained in all relationships. A better life begins.

The skills and therapeutic healing created through twelve-step groups and personal therapy provides social learning. Social learning gives us maturity to improve our relationship with our self. We can interact with others while maintaining self-love, respect, and self-protection. We have a robust sense of personal identity and values. We treat ourselves with care, kindness, compassion, and are able to acknowledge and validate our thoughts and feelings and tame the inner critic.

Conclusion

Being codependent is a learned behavior due to unhealthy attachment to our parents or caretakers. They adapted their style of relating to others from their parents. It’s a generational disease passed on. Our parents’ lack of trust to make decisions, blame, make excuses, and irresponsibility projected onto us. It was just too scary for them to take ownership when they lacked any sense of self. There is no wonder we came out as adults the way we did. We learned as children how to attach as adults.

Understanding our present is passed on generational abuse can help us find compassion for our parents, ourselves, and open the doorway to healing and recovery. We can learn to love honestly, protect, care, and take responsibility for ourselves. We can formulate healthy relationships. Regular reflective inner work at a Twelve Step program, therapy, and allowing ourselves to take risks and make mistakes, we can choose to open our hearts, be vulnerable, and let our real self explore the beautiful gifts of the world. We can confidently care and protect our self-love.

Denied Emotional Abuse in the Narcissist and Sociopath Relationship

sad woman

Label them as you may, Narcissists or Sociopaths, we have all encountered their traits and been blind-sighted by their destructive personality.  Narcissists and Sociopaths are aggressive, violent emotionally and/ or physically, and lack remorse or empathy.  Both invent outrageous lies about past experiences and other people to impress and gain admiration.  They place blame on others for their behavior, ignore to avoid conflict, unable to be honest and set limits.  They can’t say “No”.  They lead you on without commitment.

Narcissists surround themselves with people who admire, praise, and depend on them.  He/ she feel powerful, all-knowing, and extraordinarily special.  He/ she need constant validation, recognition, and reassurance from others.  If their sense of grandiosity is threatened they will punish those with neglect, emotional outbursts or physical abuse.

Sociopaths have little concern for another person’s feelings, desires or needs. Their main purpose is to get what he/ she wants, regardless of how it may harm other people. He/ she know how to play the victim.  Nothing was ever his/her fault.  He/ she have a knack for twisting events around so that you believe that it was somehow your fault.

What is the attraction?  The appeal is in what I call the three C’s; Charm, Childhood, and Confidence.

Charm

Narcissists and Sociopaths are charismatic, charming, and extremely intoxicating when they want something.   Their alluring behavior continues until a sense of trust is built.

Childhood

Childhood is important to assess because our parents mold what we determine as normal.  If we grew-up with Narcissistic or Psychopathic parent(s), then we are attracted to similar personalities.

Confidence

Growing-up with caretakers who have no empathy, personal responsibility, or boundaries had its consequences.  You didn’t have the chance to develop your own identity, trust in yourself, and ability to express your thoughts and emotions.

Such children grow into adults who are attracted to Narcissists and Sociopaths like mice are to cheese.  The attraction is due to your childhood circumstances and lack of confidence.  The push/ pull stems from childhood confusion of our caretakers.  There was dependence for safety, shelter, and nurture yet the abuse denied our natural feelings for what we know innately as love.  We grew-up learning that love is attached with hurt, neglect, and unhealthy boundaries.  The volatility engrossed the cycle of abuse as the norm in our adult relationships.

Phase 1.  The cycle begins with charisma, charm, laughter, childlike giddiness, kindness, and connection.

Phase 2. Trust and reliability are established.  Such behavior persists long enough so that you feel some sense of security and safety.  This may take several weeks.

Phase 3.  Closeness and dependency causes too much anxiety for Narcissists or Sociopaths.  Distrust follows emotional and physical distance, name-calling, blaming, and lying.  The attacks from Narcissists or Sociopaths are guise with blaming, lying, avoidance of questions and withholding information.

Reactions during this phase are intense.  Present feelings awaken the past.  Unresolved emotions from childhood neglect and abuse are resurfaced.  The current moment triggered unacknowledged childhood pain and creates an overwhelming response.  Feelings of helplessness, longing, desperateness, rage, hurt, and confusion are normal responses during this phase.

Phase 4.  Healing and reconnection returns the cycle to the first phase.  Love and affection are reunited.  Intimacy calms anxiety and the sequence continues.  Round and round it goes until help intervenes.

Awareness of the past and understanding of the present cycle of violence provides the opportunity and choice to stop the series and get help.  As denial of childhood circumstances is released, self-compassion, loving kindness, and self-validation can begin to develop your own sense of identity, self-esteem, and inward trust.

Even if you have not intimately encountered Sociopaths or Narcissists, understanding your childhood and how it affects your present relationships plays havoc on your emotions. During this phase, a skilled counselor who remains compassionately calm and composed can help you feel safe to vent your frustrations, learn to listen and trust your inner workings, and make rational decisions for developing healthy relationships.

You can contact me at www.therapywithapril.com/contact.  I am happy to provide a free 15-minute consult to see if I am the right fit for you.

Grief and Loss

A sudden loss is like being ran over by a Mack truck. You are left shocked, paralyzed, and dead in your own tracks. It can lead to disorientation, disbelief, anxiety, outrage, and tremendous sadness. When you learn to stay with the resulting emotions, over time a new reality can slowly emerge.

Some endings are marked by celebrations and happy congratulations while others are met with sad departures and disappearances. Mark endings regardless of their circumstances with symbols of remembrances, memorials, services, or celebrations. It helps to carry you forward into the future while retaining the value of what ended.

I lost two very special people in my life within a one month time span. It is coming up to the first year anniversary of their abrupt death. Thus I am reminiscing of the events that took place over this past year. During this time, I maintained many rituals that have helped heal my heart and maintain their existence to my soul. The established pattern of observances helped to ward-off total devastation with their loss.

Cherish Past Communication:dove

I reflected upon old times when our communication was expressed with warmth, nurture, and support. I recollected on their values and character.

I saved all forms of correspondence including voice messages, text messages, and emails. I reflected back on their words numerous times to reminisce and allow myself to cry and bask in my love for them.

On a daily basis, I wrote about shared experiences. I wrote about the lessons I learned from their presence and admired morals that I aspire to become.

I bridged the gap between past communication to the present by reaching out to them and asking for their guidance and wisdom. I brought their feelings to life by handwriting my experiences as thoughts of them came to mind. I developed a new relationship with them as I opened my mind to a spiritual realm of connection to the present. My connection served its way through symbolic forms while I encountered pairs of animals, plants, and rainbows.

Connected with Nature:

I hiked the same nature trail weekly and sought signs of their existence. I watched for birds since they were pilots and loved to fly. Given that they were identical twin brothers, I became more conscious of things in pairs as I walked up and down the trails. I saw two branches that stood out from the rest of the vegetation, two birds flying together, or even one large majestic bird gliding high in the sky. I followed their direction of flight with my eyes and heart until I could no longer see their existence.

On one of my walks, a rattle snake crossed my path. It was the first of such a sighting upon my many brisk strolls along the gravel pathway up the mountain. I took the sighting as a symbol of new beginnings and rebirth and of course turned around and walked the other way. While on another hike, I walked to a secluded area on the top of the mountain and arranged a memorial of similar sized rocks in the impression of their names.

Upon another nature outing, I walked along the shoreline and again looked for birds flying in pairs. On a couple of strolls, I saw imprinted in the sand, “I love you” or “I miss you” and I believed it to be a message from them. Whether it is true or not, it comforted me to think that they found clever ways to communicate with me.

One day while walking along the shore, a playful sea lion surfed the waves in and then back out. He continued his surfing in the same direction I was walking until we came upon the end where the rocks block the channel. I instantaneously thought it was Alex who wanted to learn to surf. I believed he found his way.

Another encounter of nature happened while I sat in my office with a client. And out of the corner of my eye, I saw a double rainbow. It was such a long time since I had seen a double rainbow. I immediately knew they were communicating to me their new found relationship and continuance in my life. With the height of the building’s window, I could see the beginning and ends of each rainbow. They were beautiful and glorious to see. My client and I stopped in mid-session to stand up and peak out the window. At that moment I knew one was looking down protecting and guiding me from the sky and the reflection was caring for me from beneath the earth. I was surrounded in a protective bubble by the wisdom, strength, and courage of two fellows whose lives were to serve, protect and honor.

Shared Continuity:

I reached out to an old professor who has a PhD in Thanatology. She listened openly and with understanding. Due to her professional background working in a hospice and personal communication with the deceased, she provided a unique perspective and insight that enlightened and opened my own spiritual pathway. Our long talks and emails comforted me in my confusion, sorrow, and feelings of abandonment.

I increased weekly therapy sessions from one to two meetings a week for several months. The added support and safe outlet to express my sorrow was met with compassion and empathy. I cried openly knowing my tears were presented in front of a comforting and accepting soul. My experiences were validated and normalized which is extremely important in the healing and grieving process.

I remained in contact with family members of the deceased to have continuity and continued connection knowing we have a common bond and love.

Permitted Unrestrained Emotions:

I let go of anger by taking a boxing class. I punched sparing pads as hard and as fast as I could. I vigorously struck left to right as the poor girl holding the pads braced herself from my rage. I continued to beat the bags until I fell limp with exhaustion. Afterward I felt relief and lighter as the weight of my anger was let go.

I often had cyclical bouts of anger, sorrow, and appreciation for their existence in my life. As I deeply missed their living body and nurturing voices near me, I bargained to have their return to what I once knew of them and to take another instead. I felt horrible in the thought but eventually understood the thought process and was compassionate to myself. I allowed myself to cry profusely on many occasions. I endured and accepted my tears to freely and forcedly flow without judgment or ridicule.

It has been a difficult journey grieving their loss. I am reminded of their departure every day but my pain has lessened over time. I have accepted they are no longer here as I once knew them to be. Yet I remain grateful for the short time we shared and their new found presence in my life. Their death prompted the fact, we are all here temporarily. I am reminded to live my life fully, gratefully, and with compassion. I am encouraged to nurture relationships and maintain close bonds. I let people know I care, treat them with kindness, and with an open heart. I have now embraced that every ending marks a new beginning.