Love addiction recovery is about reclaiming our own lives. One part of our path to recovery is learning and owning our right to focus on, and take care of ourselves, build on our strengths, and ask for and accept help with our limitations. Many of us find it difficult even to begin this self-focused process because we've carried impaired boundaries in all our relationships, which too often been blurred (or invisible) and have lost track of the separation between ourselves and others- especially a relationship partner.
Having placated, giving more and more and much too much of ourselves, and abandoning our own needs and wants in relationships, we too often have taken upon others responsibilities that don't rightfully belong to us. The result is that we lose the sense of where we leave off and the partner begins.
We have become so enmeshed and smothered with a relationship partners life and problems that we have lost the knowledge (and right) that we are separate and valuable individuals. When asked about ourselves, we often respond by talking about our partner or our relationship as a whole. We so perceive ourselves to be extremely connected that, if something happens to a partner we are in a relationship with; it seems only right, only natural, for us to respond.
A core issue I discuss in my book, The LOVE ADDICT in Love Addiction , is that we confuse this absence of personal boundaries with love and caring. There is no healthy middle ground. For example, from the moment a partner walks out the door, we sit, immobilized, unable to do anything but think obsessively about him or her. We lose the ability to distinguish between the partner and ourselves until the partners past, current, and potential actions become our sole focus. This is not love; it's obsession and very destructive to you and a relationship. When we cease to live our own lives because we are so preoccupied with the life of another person, our behavior is motivated by fear, largely the fear of abandonment. Genuine, healthy love is not preccupation or obsession. It isn't self-destructive or other destructive. It does not diminish us or strip us of our identities, nor does it in any way diminish those we love. Love is nourishing; safe; and has balance as it allows each of us to be more fully ourselves. The enmeshment that characterizes an addictive relationship does just the opposite.
Detachment is one of the most valuable we can do as love addicts in recovery to reclaim ourselves. Detachment means to separate ourselves emotionally when to engage emotionally is not in our best interest for our well-being. Detachment is a mechanism of a healthy boundary.
Detachment is a key to recovery from love addiction. It strengthens our healthy relationships - the ones that we want to grow and flourish. It benefits our difficult relationships - the ones that are teaching us to cope. It helps us!
If someone we love became resentful and angry with us because of something they expected us to do (like plan a dinner date); and they did not communicate this expectation to us- by not specifically asking us if we wanted to plan a dinner date together at a specific time instead expecting we would read their minds and do it. We wouldn't take it personally, feel guilt or shame, or feel responsible that ?somehow' we should of read their minds and it was our fault for their lack of communicating. This is an example of detachment.
In other words, by detaching (a healthy boundary), we in our minds would separate the persons lack, or unwillingness to communicate to us what they wanted. We would separate emotionally their resentment and anger is not from something we did- we would understand their feelings are coming from their mistake that they did not communicate to us and expected us to read their mind (an unrealistic expectation). This is detachment.
By seeing a person's behaviors, choices, feelings, or emotions as separate from ourselves- by detaching, we can stop being hurt and self-victimized by feeling as if we have ?ownership' or responsibility for their behaviors, choices, feelings, or emotions.
If we can learn to step back from another person's unacceptable shortcomings (certain behaviors, choices, feelings, or emotions) and effects in which we are not responsible for, just as we would from someone with a cold sneezing near us, we will no longer have to take another person's shortcomings and effects to heart.
Detachment is not about being cold, unloving, or uncaring?it is about self-care. And when we engage in self-care, we engage in self-love, along with engaging in one very important characteristic of healthy relationships.
Detachment is not something we do once. It's a daily behavior in recovery. We learn it when were beginning our recovery from love addiction and adult children issues. And we continue to practice it along the way as we grow and change, and as our relationships grow and change.
Learn more about the Core Issue of Love Addiction by downloading and reading my book, The LOVE ADDICT in Love Addiction.