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Post Info TOPIC: How to Detach


Status: Offline
Posts: 17
How to Detach

I am new to the forum but have been attending al-anon since late June. My AH joined AA in June and has been working his program. I have been working through al-anon and was just beginning to think that things were getting different before they get better.  My AH told me there weeks ago he was quiting AA. And he did. Over the last week I thought that my AH was drinking again. Last night after returning home from my meeting he was clearly drunk. 

I am trying so very hard to use what I am learning inthe program and keep repeating to myself that i didnt cause it, cant cure it and cant change it. BUT my feelings are hurt and I am still taking this personally. Another broken promise. There are so many of them! I know that I need to DETACH and after the meeting last night a woman shared with me that her husband is a relapser and she knows he has been drinking but she is just staying otu of it and not searching for his bottles or all the other crazy stuff. She seems so happy.  She said she is going to have a great thanksgiving even if her husband is a drunk ass.  How can she do this? She said it is a process and she worked for three years to get there. I said "what should I do? how can i get through this?" She said focus on me. Focus on having the thanksgiving I want.

My problem is that I need a method or something to keep my head clear. I am off work and goign to be with him for four days and although it is wrong to assume this, I am sure he will be drinking the whole time. And then all the family will be wondering why he is drinking again and asking questions.  I know this is my thanksgiving and I want it to be a good one. For me and my daughter.  I need to be strong and stop thinking about him and the lies and everything else I could possibly get lost in. 

I am tired of thinking about it all but am not sure what is the best method to stop doing it.

I am new to the program and dont have a sponsor yet. Can somebody PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE suggest a method I can do to keep my head clear? Like what should i do when I start getting crazy thoughts and crazy hurt feelings? How can I make them stop? 

To thy own self be true

~*Service Worker*~

Status: Offline
Posts: 1667

Sometimes it takes me a lot of effort to focus on myself, but I always do better when I can pull it off.

I try and keep a number of choices of things to do to keep myself busy, regardless of what some one else is doing.

When my thoughts stray, I try and picture a stop sign in my head and try and think of something pleasant.

First, I tell myself that it is ok to have the feelings that I have- whatever they are. Then I tell myself that they will pass.

Next I ask myself if the underlying issue belongs to me. If it does not, then it is easier for me to let go.

What does belong to me needs to be processed- is there another perspective / possibility that evokes less emotion; or what is it really that is bothering me- how important is it. I'll come to MIP chat room or make a phone call to get it sorted out. Many times I cannot do that alone.

I give myself permission to not be perfect or for things to not be perfect. I realize we are all human, the A included.

Up until today, I have had the belief that I created good memories for my daughter for the holidays. She informed me today that they were fraught with tension, despite my best efforts. I asked if it was just her Dad, and, she said no, it was myself included. cry.gif She did say that the past few years were much better. All I can do is move forward.

My prayers to you and your family for a wonderful holiday.


~*Service Worker*~

Status: Offline
Posts: 4599

i feel for you.  I endured many a holiday dealing with someone on a binge.

Detaching is a real art.

Do you have a plan b.   Some of us make plan's if a situation gets too bad what is the option we can do.

You are in the right place being here.

Holidays were hell for me for years on end.



~*Service Worker*~

Status: Offline
Posts: 524

I have been in program since July of this year. I have been here at MIP since the end of July. The first thing I can say that really helped was when I asked someone with serenity I wanted to be my sponsor. She accepted and if I didn't have her to call, some days would be quite awful. She is helping me learn to apply the slogans and work the steps.
What I am learning is that I take everything personally so I am working on applying the slogan QTIP (quit taking it personally) in my life. It is so hard but I am working on it. I also remember that nothing changes if nothing changes. We can all have relapse or days we slip, but we can do better the next time. I read courage to change, another book for codependents called The Language of Letting Go and the book Getting Them Sober. They all help. Focusing on me is a conscious effort. And happiness is an inside job, I have to work on being happy all the time, constantly. Keep coming back and take care of you :)

You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.  -Buddha

The past has flown away.  The coming month and year do not exsist.  Ours only is the present's tiny point.  -Mahmud Shabistanri

~*Service Worker*~

Status: Online
Posts: 15504

Hi and Welcome to MIP

I see that you have been given so many very great suggestions and just wanted to add that i know how painful a relapse can be.  The pain and sadness that you feel is very normal and will pass.  Coming here sharing, reading the courage to change helps.

What worked for me when my mind and feelings were running wild was to repeat the Serenity prayer or a slogan like Let Go (of the obsessive thoughts) and Let God over and over in my mind 

When I  rode to work on the subway (NYC0 I  discovered that my mind raced and was already in work and "Fighting" with everyone before I was even in the door.  No wonder when I arrived I was in a terrible mood and angry with everyone  Interrupting that pattern saved my sanity, serenity and eventually my job.

  It required that I really focus on what was going on in my mind, then pray or use the serenity prayer over and over until the thoughts lifted and I could think of my  next right move.

This worked with detaching in l different ways and it is now an automatic response.  When I sense that i am about to go-into mind racing i start my slogans or dialog with HP

You do deserve a good Holiday  If family or friends notice he is drinking and ask why , simply say I really cannot answer that you should talk to him and then change the subjec.  t  Keep the focus on you and your serenity

You can do this and you and your serenity are worth it

Good Luck




Veteran Member

Status: Offline
Posts: 68

We celebrated Thanksgiving early with family this past weekend.  My AH is actively drinking as well, and I was filled with fear about a few things regarding the weekend celebration.  I knew alcohol was going to be involved because his brother included it on the menu.  However, he had no idea (as did anyone else in the family except me and AH's mom) that AH was actively drinking again.  I just knew that having alcohol in the house was going to be a recipe for disaster.  But, as usual, my fears were worse than reality.  

I am very new to alanon, only been going for a month and a half, so I still have lots to learn, but what I have learned so far, I was able to put into practice this past weekend.  One thing that I did a LOT was say the serenity prayer many times throughout the day, especially when I was struggling.  I also kept in mind Step 1, which is that I am powerless over alcohol, as well as the 3 C's, which is I didn't cause it, I can't control it, and I can't cure it.  It really helped me to stay busy interacting with other family members to keep my mind from focusing on AH and his drinking.  Of course there were times when I would be having a conversation and AH would join in the conversation, and would be drinking while having the conversation.  I noticed a few times that I became distracted and consumed by his drinking, and noticed I would try to figure out if he was getting drunk or not, based on what he was saying in the conversation.  I noticed when I did this, I naturally excluded myself from the conversation.  Once I realized what I was doing, I would get up, go into my bedroom, and either come here to the MIP message board, or would log on to the chat room, so I could recenter myself.  I would allow myself to notice how I was feeling once I was alone, and would allow myself to feel those feelings without getting consumed by them.  Then I would say a short prayer asking for HP's help to help me to focus on myself instead of AH, and to guide me in the direction he wanted me to go.  Once I felt strong enough to go back into the other room, I would, but only when I was ready.  If I went back before I felt strong enough, the feelings of being consumed by AH's drinking got stronger, which told me I wasn't centered enough yet.  There were also times that I would go outside for a little while to take in the sunshine and get some fresh air, which also helped with my state of mind.

Another thing that definitely helped me is when my niece and nephew got there.  My nephew is 3 years old, and due to some speech delays, he is finally learning to talk some, and he sounds adorable when he does talk.   Even though he doesn't talk much, the kid definitely has a sense of humor.  He is a very happy little boy, and brings so much joy to everyone he is around.  Once he got comfortable with his surroundings and started opening up and playing, I started playing with him.  I had so much fun playing with him because like I said, he has a great sense of humor, and constantly had me laughing.  I realized after my sister-in-law, niece, and nephew left, that playing with my nephew completely made me stop focusing on AH and his drinking.  I was totally oblivious to any and everything AH did during the 3 hours that I was playing with my nephew.  Looking back now, I have no idea where AH even was during that entire time.  What a relief to be that detached, and to allow myself to have some real fun.

During the times I would go off and be alone, there were a few times that AH noticed.  When I would come back out, he would ask if I was ok, or if something was wrong.  I was honest with him (and a little vague at the same time) and told him I just needed a few minutes to myself.  Then I would give him a hug or a kiss, and would get back to getting busy doing whatever I could do to keep my mind off of his drinking.  I knew that sharing with him that his drinking was bothering me wouldn't accomplish anything, so I was shared with him the bare minimum, and then detached with love as best as I could.  I have learned that it is pointless to tell an alcoholic that their drinking bothers me because all that does is causes the A to become defensive which causes an argument, and then the spotlight is on me.  If I don't say or do anything to get the spotlight placed on me by my AH, then AH is left to look at his own issues because I am not saying or doing anything that gives him reasons to put the spotlight on me, which doesn't give him a reason to blame me for his drinking, or any other undesirable behavior he is displaying.

Definitely the thing that helped me the most is asking my HP (whom I call God), to help me through every moment of every day and to guide me, no matter what is going on at the time.

I hope that sharing my ESH has helped you.  As the saying goes here "Take what you like, and leave the rest."

Glad you found us.  Hope you keep coming back.

Take care,



What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

~*Service Worker*~

Status: Offline
Posts: 1237

First thing to remember, you didn't get this way overnight, and there are no overnight fixes... unfortunately. We suffer from a disease too... because we're sooo focused on someone else that we forget to take care of ourselves. It hurts because our egos are being crushed, we have to admit we have no power!

To me, in one word, the program is about SURRENDER.

What works for me is a 12 step program. First, I need to admit my powerlessness over alcohol, as well as people, places and things (this is the bedrock for the entire program.) Then I need to rely on a power GREATER than myself because on my own, my life became unmanageable! I rely on a Higher Power to get me through every thanksgiving, and every minute of the day, quite frankly.

My first suggestion is to get to a f2f meeting to be with people who are just like you.

And then, I would practice sitting in stillness. Close your eyes, quiet your mind and just sit with a power greater than yourself, your HP. As thoughts come, try to let them go with your out-breath.... practice turning over all your thoughts to HP in this way.... just surrender. Sit as long as you can until you feel more relaxed and peaceful. Then open your eyes and give thanks. Practice it again tomorrow.  I found that with meditation practice, the stress in my life has less power over me, my mind and body "remember" how to get back to conscious contact with HP, I automatically become mindful of my breath again...  I stay more calm than I ordinarily would on my own.  It works well for me.

Sometimes I use a visual for turning it over... I imagine my loved one wrapped in a blanket and I am handing them over to God.... surrender.

Sometimes, I imagine staying on "my side of the street", or in my "own little circle" around my feet... We are ONLY responsible for what's in our circle. Give everyone else the dignity to live their own lives. When I think I know what's best for someone, I am playing God, and that is insane. Surrender.

All you can do is change yourself and your attitude about it... that is why that woman was so happy. And you can be too. I promise... it works. (((hugs)))

-- Edited by glad lee on Wednesday 24th of November 2010 02:56:26 PM


The prayer isn't for Higher Power to change our lives, but rather to change us.

~*Service Worker*~

Status: Offline
Posts: 3489

I don't know whether what's worked for me will work for you, but here's what I've done.  It helps that I get very stubborn and sometimes I just can't bear to let people "win."  That has a real down side in many situations, but as long as I have it, I might as well benefit from the up side!

I've read about the thing known as "emotional contagion," which means that when someone has a strong emotion, other people tend to "catch" it as well.  This is why we like being around someone who's bubbly or happy, because we catch some of their happiness.  Conversely, if someone's angry we tend to get angry in response, or if they're grumpy it tends to drag us down.  When I realized this, I saw that my A's alcoholism is a way of being emotionally unhealthy.  And then just by being that way he usually dragged me down into emotional "unhealth" too.  When I saw that, I thought I'd be darned if I'd let him "win" by having the stronger emotions!  So when I feel myself getting dragged down, I try to remind myself that even if he's going to be unhealthy, he doesn't have the power to suck me into it too.  I can triumph by taking care of myself healthily and living my life well and happily.  Of course this doesn't mean that he automatically "catches" emotional health -- the addiction is too strong for that.  But the mood of the place does sort of get healthier as a whole.  And I think with self-satisfaction, "Ha!  You can't make me into an unhealthy person like you, no matter how unhealthy you can be."

I think this probably works best for terminally competitive people like me!  But maybe it might be of use - it's helped me in some dire situations.  Hugs to you.  It's a tough situation to be in -- keeping yourself balanced even part of the time is a wonderful thing.



Status: Offline
Posts: 17

Thank you so much> I am thankful that each of you have shared your techniques with me.
Obviously, it is going to take a lot of practice and I am committed to practicing.

I want to have a nice Thanksgiving.

I am actually looking forward to trying your suggestions.

A few hours ago I was feeilng so hopeless and now I feel I can make it through.


To thy own self be true


Status: Offline
Posts: 12

Stomoxys and everyone...wonderful sharing. As for detaching personally from a family member, I try to keep myself busy with activities and friends I enjoy and who are supportive people in general. Not that I have to tell them what's going on, but I've found that when I am happy with me, doing what I love - whether activities or friends - I'm a whole lot better off and can "live and let live". I know this from experience because until a year ago I lived with a man (7 yrs) who wasn't an A, but was a super-control freak, very abusive mentally and emotionally. Thank God I'm out of there and on my own

Tonight I'm attending a live Al-Anon meeting...snow and all.  I need a meeting.  Yippee!

Happy Thanksgiving!!

-- Edited by Emi on Wednesday 24th of November 2010 06:12:20 PM

Gratefully recovering today with the experience, strength and hope of my fellow travelers.

~*Service Worker*~

Status: Offline
Posts: 3856

First if the family wants to know why he is drinking again its not up to you to answer for him ,direct them to him  by saying I dont really know you will have to ask him and walk away or change the subject . Your not responsible for his  behavior to drink is his choice it has nothing to do with you .
Relapse i was told can be a positive thing they just might figure out they cannot do this alone and will return to the program . Keep going to your meetings get the focus back on you where it belongs and enjoy your holiday .
There is a page in our literature that says  What would u be doing right now if this werent happening ?? that always stops me from not getting involved in his stuff . if you have our ODAT  ( one day at a time daily reader ) go to page on July 14th do what it says to the best of your ability and at least one of you will have a great day .YOU
Go to WSO official site and print a copy of the detachment pamphlet has some great suggestions on how to detach with love . pick one and practice it all day.
Eat lots and enjoy family .


I came- I came to-I came to be

Senior Member

Status: Offline
Posts: 449

Great thread with lots of wonderful ESH.

For me, I step outside, take a really deep breath and look at myself (not literally).  I look at how I am feeling, examine why I am feeling that way, and what I can do to resolve it with NO expectations of others.

This is a great time for the serenity prayer.

I hope you have a wonderful holiday.


To be trusted is a greater compliment than being loved.
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