Thursday, February 10, 2011

??? Detaching With Love ???

I have received many comments and personal e-mails asking me to explain exactly what or how do you detach with love. The other day I was again ask for an example of exactly how do you detach with love and I answered with a typically philosophical answer. That evening it bothered me because here I was answering the question again and I am not being clear to what people are asking. It finally stuck me to use the KISS it methodology. (KISS, keep it simple, stupid)

So I wrote about when detaching, enabling, boundaries, values, rescuing and a whole bunch of other things began to click with my wife and I. Below is how one step by step transformation occurred for us and our son.

My son shoplifted to support his addiction. Needless to say he got caught several times. The first few times when he was a minor we'd get a call to come pick him up and he'd get a ticket and we'd pay a big fine and take him to court services for his probation and take him to a psychologist. This went on for a couple years.

When he turned 18 he was no longer a minor and with his record they'd take him to jail. He'd make that phone call from jail, "Please come and bail me out. I'm never going to do this again." Off we'd go. After a while this was getting expensive and no one was learning their lesson. I mean, Darlene and I were not learning our lesson. ;-) and by the way neither was our son. We were doing the same thing over and over, and our son was doing the same thing over and over, nothing was changing. He'd make the same promises, we'd take the same action and we couldn't understand why HE kept using!

This is where the idea of detaching and setting boundaries started with us. We are no longer going to pay bail. As a mom and dad it is very hard to think of your child sitting in jail. In Jackson County, MO jail he witnessed a person get stabbed. The food is universally bad at all jails, without money on your books you can't even get a toothbrush to brush your teeth, he had food stolen and had to fight at times for his food, spent 2 days in solitary for defending himself against another inmate that attacked him. Some jails they put the crazies in with the criminals like rapists and murderers, in with the drug addicts, makes no sense to me.

It's hard to think of yourself as being a loving parent when you know that for just a few hundred dollars we could get him out of those situations, but if you don't pay the bail are you really a loving parent? Finally the day comes when you don't pay the bail money. Once we let him sit in the Johnson County Resort for 11 days because we wouldn't post a $50 bond. Sounds mean doesn't it?

This is about detaching with love and not enabling.Your boundaries must match your values. It works for us this way. Overriding all is the value that we love our son. When you sit down to think about and discuss boundaries this goes at the top of the page. Every single boundary is tested against that value.

Another value we hold close and taught our kids, Stealing is wrong. Stealing carries consequences and it should. Bailing him out removes or minimizes the consequences. Contrary to our values we were bailing him out. But we hated what he was exposed to in jail. However, we had established a pattern, he got caught, he called, we jumped with cash in hand. It's not fair to change the rules without telling all the parties.

So Darlene and I sat down a determined where we would go and where we would no longer go. This began to establish our boundaries. You will never cover all of the situations, you just cover what you can and know that once you learn how to judge behaviors and rescuing against what it is you believe inside the exercise becomes easier and more natural.

Then you must sit down with your child, an addict that may or may not be high at the time and explain where you will no longer go with him. In fact you can even start each sentence with, "Because we love you........... we can no longer bail you out of jail. All your life we taught you that stealing was wrong and you know that in your heart so we cannot support your actions by bailing you out of jail when you do something you have been taught all your life is wrong. I hope you understand this and can accept our decision."

Each boundary that we had discussed the conversation went like that. Our son hated it when we turned off the TV and ask him to sit down at the table to talk. This satisfied our need to tell him our expectations and it told him what to expect from us. Yes, he still called begged, pleaded and cried from jail but what we had been doing in the past didn't work and was bad for us and him. We had to change the rules, but that didn't mean we loved him less. It meant we loved him more because it hurt us terribly to let him sit in jail.

Even with his begging and pleading we were still able to sleep at night and have a moment of down time. He was in jail and we knew jail was safer than being on the street shooting more heroin. We then began to see jail as "protective custody."

We detached from Alex's crimes and actions, we did not detach from him. We still loved him, took some of the $10 for 10 minute collect calls from jail. On those calls we always ended with that we loved him and please help yourself. We were doing all we could and all we knew to do. Detach from the actions, crimes, drug use, lying and every other terrible thing a drug addict does to himself and others. Love and support the person inside not the addiction controlling the life.

Does this help explain what detaching with love and how it works for us? Then you begin applying the same formula to all other areas in your relationship with your addicted loved one.

ps.: Another mom just starting to blog with a daughter addicted to meth. Please visit.

Parental Hades


MomofMethAddict said...

My boundary was that there be no drugs or paraphenalia in my home. When I found it last week, I told her she would no longer be allowed here until she got help. It is killing me thinking about her out there. But she was out there before this happened.
I also had to shut down the cellphone I was paying for as she was using it to score and I believe, sell, drugs. I will not support that. There is currently a warrant out for her arrest for probation violation. I pray she does something stupid to get picked up. I will not bail her out. It will be nice to get a peaceful night's sleep knowing she is alive. I love her with all my heart and soul and she will never realize how badly this is killing me. But I know I am doing all I can to not block her from hitting bottom. Before, I made it easy for her to use. I see that now. :(

Gledwood said...

American jails sound less druggy than the ones here where dealing goes on right in front of the staff. The drugs are paid for by a person outside who meets a go-between and hands over the cash. You can also pay of course in "favours" which probably aren't sexual but are the sort of thing that will get you in deeper and deeper into stuff no rational person would want to be involved in.

I've never heard of this stuff in America so you're probably right, he is safer. If he has a genuine desire to stop (and it does sound like that desire is growing) then there are far worse places he could be than jail. (In a crackhouse, for one!)

You know of everyone in your situation you seem to have the most strength, balance and serenity ~ despite everything. You have done something pretty wonderful, you know that?

I'm in 2 minds whether or not to delete paragraph one... I suppose I'm leaving it in as a point of comparison. We do have drug-testing here, but the attitue inside prison and outside is far more laissez faire. One reason our country is in such an almighty mess.

Take care. I would say "carry on being strong" but you're doing that anyhow!

Mom Letting Go said...

very good explaination. I think the examples will really help those people who are in early recovery. Detaching is so hard and yes you are so right sometimes it feels so uncaring. But that's what we do as parents of Addicts we HAVE to love them enough to let them suffer or we all stay in the craziness. thanks for sharing

Tori said...

Ron I take to heart all you write and the emails I have been blessed to receive from you. This is the best example for Parents like myself that want to detach but still want to have contact with their children. I am simply not ready to not speak to him at all even when he was using and even when he is out and statistically he will be using again. But just one of the things that I gained from these blogs is that if we are lucky enough for him to go tojail we can't bail himout. Had I bailed Blake out he never would have go to Rehab and he would have gone straight back to using. I hope every new Parent dealing with this read that explanation.

yaya said...

Great post Ron

I have a daughter 17 years into her addiction. I am raising her three kids. And we can maintain a civil relationship because I learned to detach along long time ago.

She is currently couch surfing with a warrant out for her aresst. Do I lose sleep? No. Do I worry what will happen? No (I know what will happen, they will catch up with her and back to jail she goes).

She doesn't ask for anything. And I don't ask her questions (she would only lie). Our relaltionship revolves around the kids. I let her see them once in awhile on my terms.

Detachment has set me free to to focus on the kids I am raising now ... not the one I already raised.

ChaiLatte said...

Very well said, Ron, thank you!

Fractalmom said...

You and Darlene were able to do what I was unable to do. Detach with love. I detached, but the love, well, it was just too late by then. There were the babies, and, it gets alot more complicated when there are babies.

But detachment is the KEY to actually helping your addict realize the consequences of their addiction. Regardless of how you arrive, detachment is the key.

Dawn said...

Excellent explanation Ron. It's not always easy to do but, very necessary to survive in life with an addict. We have not heard from our son since he left in anger on Dec. 25. It's not always easy and some days I am sad (many days I cry...) but, I will not call him this time.

GG said...

Good job....

Barbara said...

This should be one of the main articles in "The Parent's Manual for Living with a Drug Addicted Child" (of course there is no such thing, but there should be).

@Gledwood: There are not drugs in the jails as much as there are in the prisons (here in California). One of my boys was in prison and they knew which guards were "dirty" so could do anything in front of them. He also got so in debt to his dealer in prison that he had to go into protective custody, which means he has to look over his shoulder for the rest of his life.

Syd said...

Ron, I applaud you and Mom for detaching with love. It is difficult but so necessary. I remember one of the dad's in a meeting sharing that he let his son stay in jail in spite of the pleas. I understood that it was the right thing to do because the addict/ alcoholic will make every promise in the world to manipulate a situation to their advantage. Thanks for writing this.

Kristi said...

WOW! Best explanation I've seen thus far! Best news is that it appears that what I've been doing is actually a pretty fair job of detaching with love and I didn't even realize it. My therapist and I talked about this today (before I even read this post). She said to me, "lots and lots of love, support in recovery, do not abandon and NO MONEY!! Got it...I think I'm getting there...there's hope for my son and myself! Thanks Ron, really, really good post!!

LisaC said...

Great post! It gives all of us something to think about and compare to our own situations. Thanks, Ron.

Anonymous said...

Very interesting reading- thanks- I am new to all this and trying to grasp the "what is right and what is wrong" I did the detach without love for the first 2 months of my daughters incarceration- mainly for my own sanity- having been her victim for so many years. Today is court day and I am going- it will be the first time seeing her in the dreaded jumpsuit and handcuffs- I know it will emotionally drain me, I feel so much stronger after reading all the above. - Thank you for that!

Judy Herzanek said...

Great article! I just reposted it to our Private Changing Lives Foundation Facebook Group. Ask to join and someone will sign you in.

Anonymous said...

I am really sorry you can not understand meth. I can not understand meth either. I am an alcoholic. Alcohol is my meth. That is how it works sister. A person is addicted to a chemical, and it screws up their life. You can detach; I understand why you do. The best of them do not detach, yet stick by the most disgusting parts of the alcoholic/addict and attempt to work through all the terrible issues that got there. Issues most likely to be chemically related by the way...

Ted Williams said...

My sister gave her daughter a wonderful life, the neighbor girl, always said i wish i was your kid,shoot me too, but she also tought her with love, about right &wrong,the lord,how to be a lady and to always want what's best for heself,she was also understanding and forgiving,her daughtet was a good student,happy baby,funny,and beautiful,but now she is a Holy terror, this is to put very mild,she breaks down doors,theatens to take a hammer to your car,dropped out of school,robbs us even when we are home,stold her grandpa's truck,got cought in it,a day later with drugs,even kicked in the minimart window with her foot to steal smokes,this was very sudden,yea she was always bossy, never a follower, and new just how to push the right button, but she got really bossy and pushed a buttons more often, we thought teenagers tring tk act all bad ass....but the the above all happened i like six months, in oregon,she never even went to jail but for 4 hours, & no probattion!! If we where to leave her in jail the jail sent us the bill? She is physically abusive too,but if we put her out, we can go to jail,for my sister to send her to rehabilitation is a joke cause she would leave,a.lock down is over a thousand $ a day!!! Whatbisba good parent to do when the kid abuses them,what is my sister to do?? She cannot afford that,we help her with what we can,but leaving for work is really stress!! She might come home to an bare house,police make u let them back in,so they can break ,rob ,and make your life miserable, how do you help your kid in this and what to do for my abused,worried,greiving sister? She cant have her be so abusive and police... nothing,