I avoided this subject for a while because it is so misunderstood.
I need to make sure I am clear with my message and don’t add to the confusion about detaching with love.
The other day a mother asked if it was OK for her to text her addicted child to say she loved them.
I felt heat broken for the mother that feared telling her child she loved them was enabling. I also felt angry that so many well-intentioned people add to the misunderstanding of the concept of detaching with love.
YES, it’s OK to love your child and tell them you love them whether they’re abusing substances or not.
As mothers we just want to love our kids. Substance abuse steals a lot about our kids, but it doesn’t get to steal our right to love them.
Detachment is from the drama of the situation and stopping the rescue missions only super hero mothers can pull off.
It isn’t detachment from the person.
I’ll say that again.
It’s detachment from the situation, not the person!
Detaching from someone with anger is easier than doing it with love.
It’s often easier to turn off the relationship and avoid the pain than it is to detach with love and set boundaries.
Detaching with love is very vulnerable.
You have to be willing to feel all the yucky feelings that come up when you say I love you, but no.
The important thing to see is there’s discomfort either way.
There’s the discomfort of feeling like you turned your back on them because you had no idea what else to do, or the discomfort of working through how hard it is to say no with an open loving heart.
Detachment is the opposite of control.
It’s the realization that you’re the only thing you can control.
Detaching with love moves your focus from your child to you.
By the time you have been through enough with your substance abusing child that you’re ready to detach, you and your life could probably use some attention.
If you don’t start creating emotional independence from your teen and getting support for yourself to deal with your child’s substance abuse, detachment will be painful and hard to stick with.
You will be stuck between the discomfort of saying no and the discomfort of wanting to say yes because it seems easier, but you know you shouldn’t.
Detachment is not one size fits all either.
It’s looks different for a teen than an adult.
There could be co-occurring disorders involved.
Each mother should have enough support for her and her child and knowledge of substance abuse that she can decide what detachment with love and boundaries looks like for her.
You have to build the skills you need to deal with your child’s substance abuse.
It’s worth the work though.
I learned more life lessons from my daughter’s substance abuse than anything else.
I wish I learned them another way. The pain from those lessons has turned into a passion for helping other mothers though. I don’t want them to go through their child’s substance abuse alone.
Are you struggling with boundaries? Here’s a post that explains boundaries in an easy way to understand and implement.