The concept of detachment was baffling to me when I first stepped through the doors of Al‑Anon. Were these people asking me to change the way I thought and viewed the world, the way I’d learned as a child? How could I detach from the alcoholics and still love them? How could I allow them to suffer the consequences of their actions—was that really loving?

Each morning before I left my bedroom, I read the readings on “detachment” in One Day at a Time in Al-Anon (B-6). This gave me some peace, even though those readings made no sense to my way of thinking. However, that peace evaporated quickly when I entered the fray of my day, and I reverted to behavior patterns I’d been relying on my whole life—controlling, nagging, manipulating. Nothing changed at first, but I kept going back to Al‑Anon.

Slowly, as I listened to others at meetings and worked with my Sponsor, I started to apply the tools for detaching that had worked for others. At first, I used them in my workplace, minding my own business and job description and allowing others to do their work as they saw fit. Gradually, I was able to apply the principles in my more emotionally fraught family life. And gradually, my relationships changed. I was able to give others the respect to live their lives without my interference. An unexpected benefit was that I found I could have an enjoyable life of my own when I focused on my own recovery.

By Laura B., Hawaii

The Forum, July 2022

Feel free to reprint this article on your service arm website or newsletter, along with this credit line: Reprinted with permission of The Forum, Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc., Virginia Beach, VA.