Tuesday, March 10, 2009

What Detachment Isn't.

- Icy silence, with either a refusal to make eye contact at all, or much pointed glaring.
- Deliberate and calculated disregard of the ordinary courtesies of daily life.
- Punishing the alcoholic for their behaviour when intoxicated, by withdrawal of our affections during periods of sobriety.

Many of us, as spouses or family members of an alcoholic, have done all of these, and more, in our attempts to mold the behaviour of the drinker. We have felt self-righteous: convinced that we are in the right, and feeling smug condemnation towards the alcoholic for their actions. (I will never forget my first sponsor saying to me, "Self-righteousness is delicious." She didn't say I was being self-righteous, she just tossed that comment out when I was, and it landed there, and I looked at it, and felt quite put out by that remark. Like all effectual sponsor remarks, it sticks in the head like a burr in your t-shirt, and you can't get it out, and it pokes at you forever after.)

We've tried our own version of behavior modification, and none of it, none of it, has had the slightest effect upon the drinking. It has, however, slowly turned us from temperate people, into those rather wild-eyed souls spoken of, in the Al-Anon welcome:

" Our thinking becomes distorted by trying to force solutions, and we beome irritable and unreasonable without knowing it."

We are angry. Furiously angry. Pissed off (at the world, the alcoholic, God, other people, ourselves,) about the situation in which we find ourselves. Because of this enormous rage and resentment, the whole idea of "detachment with love" can be just one more of those premises which cause us to snort with disgust and impatience. "Why should we?" we want to know. It can feel like just one more of those bits of ourselves we are chopping off and handing over to the drinker, and the disease, with no hope of ever getting anything in return We may carry the despairing belief, that at some point, we will chop off the last piece, and...disappear?
We are so mired in what program calls "short-supply thinking," we see everything in terms of - how much is this going to cost me, and what will I get for it?

Al-Anon teaches that if we are to truly change, we must take a leap of faith, and make choices because they are the right choices to make, and then let go of the outcome.
This means detaching with love, regardless of how the drinker may have transgressed against us.

That transpires when we are granted the clarity of vision to discern the following: when we choose the cold, hard, angry path, we live a cold, hard, angry life.

From COURAGE to CHANGE, page 100;

"The unconditional love I receive in Al-Anon helps me to rediscover what love is. As I learn that I am consistently lovable regardless of my strengths and limitations, I begin to see something consistently lovable in others, even those who suffer from an unlovable disease."

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