image from Poudel Pradip

I grew up in an alcoholic household.  My dad was a blackout drinker who could not quit.  My mom drank too, but mostly struggled heavily with the issues that pertain to living with an alcoholic.

(PS: Both my parents are long dead, so it isn’t going to bother them that I am sharing this.)

As I got older I found myself struggling, too: at work and in my personal life I found myself caring too much about certain people, or tortured by situations that I knew I could not control. I found help in a lot of places but one place in particular really made a difference in my life. Al-Anon.

I am posting some advice from a wonderful pamphlet I have been carrying around for almost 20 years. I found it at an Al-Anon group and I am sharing it in the chance you or someone you know might find it as useful as I did.

Al-Anon is an anonymous, non-profit group that helps the families living with the disease of alcoholism.

Alcoholism is a family disease. Living with the effects of someone else’s drinking is too devastating for most people to bear without help. In Al-Anon we learn individuals are not responsible for another person’s disease or recovery from it. We let go of our obsession with another’s behavior and begin to lead happier and more manageable lives, guided with dignity and rights; lives guided by a power greater than ourselves.

In Al-Anon we learn:

Not to suffer because of the actions or reactions of other people; not to allow ourselves to be used or abused by other’s in the interest of another’s recovery; not to do for other’s what they could do for themselves; not to manipulate situations so other’s will eat, go to bed, get up, pay bills, not drink; not to cover up for anyone’s mistakes or misdeeds; not to create a crisis; not to prevent a crisis if it is in the natural course of events.

Detachment is neither kind or unkind. It does not imply judgement or condemnation of the person from which we are detaching. It is simply a means that allows us to separate ourselves from the adverse effects that another person’s alcoholism can have upon our lives.

Detachment helps families look at their situations realistically and objectively, thereby making intelligent decisions possible.


7 thoughts on “Detachment

  1. It took me years to figure out why I wanted to control situations and events in my life down to last minute. My brother and I had to pick our parents up when they fell in the house and drag them back to bed somehow. We have a 13 yr older sister who did not have to live throughout this event but she understood enough to say once “you don’t own that situation-let it go”. It then finally dawned on me that it was their choice to live their life that way, nothing I could do would ever change it. Today I still try to be in “control” of everything around me but with age and forgiveness I have gotten better. I have also read and re-read the book “Adult-children of Alcoholics” – please read it if you are an adult child of parents that drink. Thank you Cady for reminding me that my destiny is not their legacy.

  2. i grew up in a alcoholic household too. in fact my dad and 2 out of 4 brothers are still alcoholics. i stay away from my family, because it is so bad. my dad would rather drink then have anything to do with me or his grandkids. they are in denial that they are.its very sad and takes a toll on my life hard to deal with.

  3. Thanks for sharing Cady. I grew up in an alcoholic household myself, it sucks. I can relate about situations I coudn’t control either.

  4. Thank you for the wonderful article, Cady. Someone very close to me has stuck with the program for 23 years, he said that “AA got me sober but Al-Anon gave me peace.” He was dealing with a lot in his marriage & finally realized he was only going to make it on his own. He has come such a long way, I’m really proud of him.

  5. “Detachment is neither kind or unkind”. I love that phrase. It echoes the notion that I have written about in my blog that walking away is a sign of strength and not weakness. Detachment has helped me deal with many personal situations which were adversely affecting my life. Stepping away and viewing things from a different perspective definitely gives the situation more clarity.

  6. Thanks for this, Cady! I also had an alcoholic father who finally got sober, remarried, had two more children and died at 60 from the effects of the alcohol. My sister overdosed last year after being sober on and off again. Her body was so ravaged by drug abuse and the prescription pills her doctors gave her just helped to bring her to her end. My son is a meth addict. My niece is a recovering addict. I found my help in Naranon, same as Alanon, but for those who love drug addicts. I now facilitate a group which is growing every single week. It’s bittersweet. But detachment is the key. We must learn to live our own lives as God intended and to let the addicts and alcoholics find their own path to God and sobriety. Thank you for sharing and I’m going to pass this along to my group this week.

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