Detachment was the topic of my very first Al‑Anon meeting so many years ago. My son was 18 years old and I was frightened for his health, safety, and future. He was living on his own, renting a small room in a household of young people who partied all the time. I had distanced myself from him because it hurt too much to watch him slowly kill himself with alcohol.
I was angry and resentful that he was turning out like his father. I remember feeling stunned to learn at Al‑Anon that I had been detaching from my sick son in a very unloving manner. The kind members of my new home group very gently let me know that I could learn to practice detaching with love. This was a new concept that took many years for me to understand. At the time it hurt too much to even spend time with my son and see him drunk.
I have learned that instead of cutting my son off from my life and my heart, I can love him without loving the disease of alcoholism. I used to think he was weak and selfish. I lost respect for him. Today, I no longer judge him or criticize his drinking. I have turned him over to his own Higher Power, and I can just be his mom who loves him unconditionally.
He has had periods of sobriety, sometimes even years, but at the moment he is drinking again. I simply have to detach with love (and not even think about changing him). I know that no one would choose the disease of alcoholism, and that gives me compassion. I pray each day for peace, using the Serenity Prayer as my guide.
By Liah H., Hawaii
The Forum, August 2020
Feel free to reprint this article on your website or in your newsletter, along with this credit line: Reprinted with permission of The Forum, Al‑Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc., Virginia Beach, VA.
We have two adult children that are alcoholics, the oldest one said he stopped drinking but has anger issues, the younger one still drinks, he went to rehab for a month he is back and things are the same he still uses and drinks. Unfortunately we bought a big house so they can rent from us and it’s been more difficult living together, we don’t know what to do, we are Christians, we don’t drink at all, our parents didn’t drink either we don’t understand this disease. I recently joined Al Alon And I pray that I learn how to… Read more »
Detaching with love is one of the most difficult things I have done in life. It was easier when we were geographically distant from each other. Now we’re living closer and I allowed my son back into my life with good strong boundaries in place. All these tools I learned from Al-Anon. Things aren’t great today. He’s had a relapse but I haven’t. Thank you Al-Anon for being here. I can detach from expectations as well.
Al-Anon is part of caring for ourselves. However, the way in which we interact with our son or daughter CAN influence them and give them enough hope to seek recovery. We can be the example by practicing the 12 Steps, inviting them to healthy practices, and not taking things (words or actions or lack of) personally. We can trust our God to use us in His plan, and to care for them and use people in their lives.
We have an adult child who is an alcoholic. He lives with us. He has lost his license. He still drinks, although we haven’t seen him drunk. We really have no idea of how to stop drinking.
When first coming in to program, I thought detachment was mean and not being there for my child and spouse after all I did everything for them. I was afraid they would feel unloved. I learned detachment was not only for me but them also. I wasn’t allowing them to live their lives and was too wrapped up to live my own. I learned that detachment was neither mean or cruel but an act of love.
I just took a pause from my daughter who agreed to go to rehab but left after 3 weeks, I’m listening to Al-Anon meetings and waiting for my books. How will I start a conversation with her again? She lives out of town and said she can do it with AA, I don’t believe her.
I too was surprised to learn of my unloving manner of detachment! I had been doing it that way for many years! Thankfully with the gentle loving example of lovingly detaching from those of the fellowship sharing with me I am making progress! Thanks!