Today’s Pearls from AlAnon: Detachment With Love
I finally made it to my home AlAnon meeting this morning – hadn’t been since August 1st. So much has happened since then – most notably, Hayley entering medical detox on August 24th at a hospital 170 miles away, then leaving AMA (against medical advice) 4 days later and talking a cab driver in to driving her back here, to our home town. I’ve had no contact with her since then, except for this text on my birthday, October 6th:
Mom, happy birthday. I thought tom was the sixth. I know it could be better with all the stress and worry I am causing. I am ok. I love you so so much and miss u.
In my AlAnon group, we read, study, and discuss AlAnon literature. The book we’re currently reading from is Discovering Choices, and today’s chapter was entitled Detachment With Love. I really struggle with this concept – - – don’t feel I have good judgment, practice, or balance in achieving this slogan. I tend to either do too much for my addict, or completely shut her off, in a punishing and self-protective way. How does one detach with love?
In the Serenity Prayer, we ask the god of our understanding to . “. . grant us the serenity to accept the things I cannot change.” Here are some excerpts from chapter nine that help me better understand and practice detachment with love:
Alcoholism (addiction) is an illness we cannot change. Detachment with love is an application of this basic lesson. With it, we can let go of trying to change what is beyond our control without blaming ourselves or the person suffering from the illness. It is possible to love the alcoholic (addict) without loving the disease.
. . . detachment with love doesn’t mean that we cease to care about another person. It simply means that we let go of our attempts to change what is beyond our power to change. There is great love in accepting the alcoholic (addict) as a person trapped in an overpowering illness.
Detachment with love means letting go of unreasonable expectations for ourselves. We can continue to love people and care about them. Hurting ourselves by persisting in negative and stressful speculation, however, is not proof that we’re helping ourselves or anyone else.
It’s not wrong to hope for a positive outcome, but we also have to accept the limits of what we can possibly know. We don’t know for sure if the outcome we desperately pray for will prove to be the most beneficial result for ourselves or the alcoholic (addict). We do know from experience that failure and frustration often turn out to be the first steps in a process that ultimately brings more positive results. While there’s no guarantee that every negative will turn into a positive, there’s also no guarantee that things will turn out to be as bas as we fear. We just don’t know what the long-term results will be. They are out of our control. It doesn’t make sense to focus all of our attention worrying about something that may never happen – or if it happens, to worry about the consequences will be. Detaching with love also means detaching from the outcome that we – from our limited perspective – think will be the best.
We know that we can’t predict or control the future. Why are we so convinced that we know what will be best for everyone? What basis do we have for being so certain about what the future will bring? When we focus on a future we can’t know, we prevent ourselves from knowing the satisfactions that the present day could offer.
. . . we don’t have to have the answer to everything. There is wisdom in doing nothing if we don’t know what to do. We can find serenity by accepting what we can’t change.
Detachment doesn’t mean giving up on love. It means opening the door to the joy, hope, love, and kindness that are available to us every day. We can detach from old ways of thinking that make our day’s challenges appear to be unmanageable.
More pearls from the recovering addicts/alcoholics in my AlAnon group today:
•what someone says or doesn’t say to the addict is not going to change the outcome; the addict, themselves, is the only one that can initiate true recovery.
•”victims” willingly participate
•If you can’t help someone you love, then help someone else.