I’m writing about detachment, my favorite topic. In the family disease, I was completely sure the problem resided with THEM and did not realize how attached I was to THAT. As we say, “turn the binoculars around!” A simple concept does not come easy, it takes work. DOING! It begins with thinking about detachment in a new way.
The first relatable scenario for me was realizing how attached I became to inanimate objects. Like the clothes in my closet for example. I’m attached to them and can’t begin to let them go! Never mind that they have not been worn or seen the light of day for years! Never mind that they won’t fit well or even be in style. Yet my closet is stuffed full, and there I stand with nothing to wear because I can’t see – too much clutter! There is a deep rooted fear (in my mind) that my “letting them go” will result in a definitive, almost instantaneous need for one of these articles I just gave away. It’s a common misconception that removing something will leave a dark hole which translates to a negative emptiness. I recall a time when I visualized an old article of clothing was just the right thing. After digging deep into storage bins under the bed, I found, upon closer inspection; it was not at all appropriate or accurate to my memory of it! Whatever the source or cause of my attachments, it tends to keep me NOT DOING, or holding on. Sound familiar? Doing or not doing.
And my attachment to dated clothing may trump the joy of new possibilities: NOT DOING has consequences! Oddly, we feel safer there, because there will not be a hole. Is the fear of missing something I bought years ago, worth holding onto? If it were, I might be buried alive with STUFF. So the seeds of detachment can begin with simple measures of DOING something, maybe different, but nonetheless DOING. There is a possibility the hole will be filled with light!
“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.”
- Anais Nin
We gain strength, and courage, and confidence by each experience in which we really stop to look fear in the face… we must do that which we think we cannot. Eleanor Roosevelt
I made a call to a long time member of the Al-Anon Family Group. He doesn’t know me but I have heard him speak at meetings; his story of hope with his son who is well over 40 years now continues to be a source of great comfort. My intent was for insight – I was anxious about another parent suffering through some tuff days. What, exactly, did I think this anonymous person would do for my friend I hadn’t considered when I made the call.
In my effort to seek help for another, I ended up getting help for myself!
This awesome conversation cannot be duplicated here. But there were key points for me. Like when he said “…this program teaches us rigorous honesty and we must ask ourselves what part we had in the crises we experience today. It is here true recovery begins. Our Higher Power shows us that we have the right to plan ahead; we just don’t have the right to plan an outcome.”
At some point I realized my own co-dependency was rearing its ugly head. I wanted to fix someone else’s
problem. Why? Because their suffering was uncomfortable for me and my reflex was an uncontrollable urge to do something…more. Like more is better or doing something is better than nothing! “Remember”, he said, “we learn in this program that unconditional love means you give it away but you don’t expect anything in return.”
This outreach helped me accept discomfort. And knowing when to do nothing is a wisdom
learned in recovery. It is often discomfort that reveals another opportunity to learn and grow. Like the addict, maybe we too have to feel the heat before we see the light!