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.
- Do you have excessive worry and preoccupation with others?
- Do you have obsessive attempts to control?
- Do you react with intense negative outbursts and emotion?
- Do you depend on others to determine your feelings?
- Are you always taking care of others, rescuing, or enabling irresponsible behavior?
- 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.
- 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.
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.