If You’ve tried to control them. That made it worse.
You’ve tried to get your partner to control them. That also made it worse.
You’re at your wits-end. You’re resentful. You want to run away and hide when they’re around. You’ve been told to detach, or disengage. You do so, pissed off that you can’t live the life you want, that you can’t have the family you want, that you can’t “blend” effectively. Maybe you feel like you’ve failed in some way. Maybe your partner doesn’t get it, and thinks you’ve given up or don’t care.
You’ve detached. You’ve disengaged, you act indifferent, because that’s what you were told to do.
It’s actually not easy. You feel like more of a failure. You’re unhappy. Now what?
If any of the above sounds like you, this post is for you my lovely.
Not sure what disengagement is? Check out this post first.
So you’ve detached… but have you detached with love?
It sounds counter-intuitive. If detaching means acting with indifference, then what’s love got to do with it? I see so many people miss the point on this one.
That’s exactly the problem.
When you detach by being indifferent, there is no love.
It’s cold, mean and selfish, and it doesn’t feel good. It’s not what you want for your family, this loveless indifference is not your ideal, but you’ve reached the point of having no other choice to make this family work.
Detachment & giving up.
I first learned about detachment in a support group for families of addicts. It’s the basic idea of letting go of control over someone else’s destructive behavior. Whether it be alcoholism or bad attitudes and comments of a stepchild or biomom towards you, the basic principle of detachment is the same.
After seeing many people “detach”, I’ve learned that the intention behind that detachment makes the world of a difference. Often times, we detach because we’ve given up. We’ve tried everything, nothing works, our lives are unmanageable, so we give up and detach. The energy behind this detachment is often desperate, sad, and cold.
But what if we can detach in a loving way?
We detach with love when we realize that letting go of control is the most loving decision we can make.
And we make that decision from an empowered place, never from a place of defeat and having given-up.
We’re not giving-up. We do care.
We care so much, in fact, that we are willing to respect the autonomy and free will of our stepchildren and partner.
We are willing to let them be, as much as it pains us to let go.
We are willing to admit that we don’t have all the answers. That’s a big deal.
It takes a big person to step back and admit they can’t single-handedly fix something. Admit that they aren’t a God. Admit that they need a higher power to intervene.
Admitting that we can’t fix it doesn’t mean that we’ve given up, it means we’re leaving space.
Space for our partner and his kids to be.
Space for them to figure it out.
Space for them to deal with the consequences of their actions and learn the lessons they need to learn, without rescuing them and preventing them from learning those lessons.
They may need to fail to figure it out.
We give them that space to fall or fail, trusting that they will be able to get back up. Watching someone we love fall when we think we have a simple answer is NOT easy.
We’ve come to the point of recognizing that sometimes our interference is destructive to their growth and learning, so we let go.
We trust that they have the capacity to figure it out. We pray for them and send them love and light.
That’s not indifferent, nor is it easy. It’s the utmost respect and love we can provide to our partners – the freedom to be, just as they are.
We detach and trust that our partner and his children have the capacity to see what’s right and wrong, heal their own past hurts, and make decisions for themselves.
We’re not giving-up.
We are lovingly putting into practice a tool that will be of benefit to our whole family.
We’re putting everyone’s best interests first. And we’re pretty awesome for doing this!
Inflicting control has proven to be destructive in our situation – it’s not helping and is causing everyone stress. Nobody will do as we tell them, our help isn’t working, so we’re left with this tool of detachment.
It’s not easy to detach. We love our family and want what’s best for everyone.
Some of us may not like our step-kids, and that’s OK. But we realize that what’s best for our partner’s children is tightly tied to what’s best for our partner and our relationship.
If we can’t detach with love for our step-kids, we do it out of love for our partner. We do it out of love for ourselves. Love has to be the driving force in order for detachment to be an effective tool.
We see that our intent to control is causing more suffering, so we choose to detach with love.
When the situation calls for it, detachment is the most loving act we can do.
It’s loving towards ourselves. It’s loving towards our partner and his children, and anyone else who may be involved.
If you detach with love, you’ll often see that everyone else, yourself included, is happier in the end.
Have you detached with love? What were the results?
I’d love to hear about it in the comments!
When should we detach? What if the behavior is affecting other kids in our household (like our biokids) and we can't detach? Check out my blog on part 2 of detachment! When should you detach and what if you can't? Subscribe to my email list by clicking the button below to get free resources and updates when new blogs are posted. It's free and you can unsubscribe anytime.