28 September 2014

Acknowledging the After Effects of Detachment

One year ago this October began the end of my Epic Detachment.  I had spent the summer working on emotional independence and had found a safe and easy place in my marriage that didn't require any risk or vulnerability and I liked it there.

But when autumn came Pete had some solid recovery under his belt and I started to feel a draw to engage into a relationship with him.  He wasn't so volatile and I could sense that he wanted to reconnect, and he was learning ways to have empathy and compassion and ownership of his wreckage.

It has been a year of ups and downs, as most years are, but Pete and I have been working to stay connected and I have been making efforts to be vulnerable and take risks.  Opening my heart means it might get hurt again, and that's scary.  I've heard women talk about living with open hearts without getting hurt but I haven't mastered that art yet.  (Suggested readings?)

It's autumn again and I'm finding myself stuck.  Pete has three months of sobriety, which seems to be the new length of his cycle and I'm feeling anxious about an impending relapse.  Is it my gut? Or is it fear?

The truth is- my place of detachment was safe, and I find that it's a daily effort to avoid going there.  I KNOW that risk brings reward, and that a physically and emotionally intimate relationship with my husband is  both risky and rewarding.

It used to be my default to rely on Pete, to NEED him, to long for him and crave his attention and validation.  But detachment, for better or worse, cured me of those feelings and now I find myself defaulting to emotional independence.  I think this applies in all relationships, when we are hurt or betrayed we shut down and withdraw and we do it to protect ourselves.  But then eventually we find that we are surrounded by walls and there is no one that can get in.  I want to let Pete back in, but I'm scared and out of practice. I don't know how to be vulnerable with him, naturally.  I am tired of being suspicious and jaded, I almost long for the naivete that I had when I married him and gave myself so willingly and wholeheartedly.  

I love seasons. I love watching the physiological and scientific processes of the earth unfold. I got to thinking about what the purposes are for each season when I discovered that the seasons don't fulfill a purpose so much as they make the best of the circumstances.  For example, winter wasn't necessarily designed to accomplish something, it is the effect of the earth's position in regard to the sun, and earth has simply accommodated.

Summer has become the season of growth, fall the season of shedding, and spring offers rebirth. I love fall- it is such a great reminder to me that change can be beautiful.

I've been naive, and that was okay. I've been vulnerable and it was lovely. Until it wasn't.  I've been detached and it was a season of peace.  It was the way I accommodated to my circumstances.  Until it was time for a new season.

I'm not sure what new hybrid of vulnerability and detachment awaits me - but something is coming and I am sure it will be just the change the earth of my spirit needs to continue onward, surviving, reinventing, thriving and then starting over.


  1. What a lovely post! I hope this new "season," brings what you and 'your world' need most!

  2. Thank you for sharing. I'm still in the season of detachment. Feeling safe, but not happy. Your post gave me much to think about. I hope the change of seasons goes well for all of us.

  3. We studied this lesson yesterday in R.S.. https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2014/04/bear-up-their-burdens-with-ease?lang=eng It's Elder Bednar's talk with the story of the man stuck in the snow in his 4 wheel drive truck. It wasn't until he had filled up the back with the load of wood that he could get any traction. This quote struck me, "Sometimes we mistakenly may believe that happiness is the absence of a load. But bearing a load is a necessary and essential part of the plan of happiness." Cuz, I wish I could just be happy without any load or struggle going on.

    Then DH and I had a tough night. Then this morning he said how although part of him wishes he hadn't missed so much sleep. Another part of him is grateful because through our challenges we grow closer as we re-affirm our love for each other.

    Being a WoPA is a huge load, and of course it isn't the only load we carry in our lives. This talk helps me keep a good perspective. I hope it might be helpful and not triggering to you. Lots of love!

  4. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=53CNJnmFr5I

    Just wanted to share my new favorite song. It reminds me of the WoPA community. I'm learning so much from you and others. I have felt so alone from day one. I'm still trying to master detachment since my husband is not in recovery, or even trying. Don't know where we will end up. I just hope to make friends and find SOMEONE to talk to.

    1. Hi Juliet , I know reading blogs has helped me feel heard and validated . Just wanted you to know I read your comment and understand the place your in , feeling alone. It does get better , you will too . Wish there was a safe central data-base for spouses in this , huh ??

  5. beautiful post! That's a great way to look at things; we're all trying to find our own balance of detachment and vulnerability for our season. - Jenn

  6. Dear Jane , Thank you for being honest and vulnerable about how this detaching thing went for you . Often I am told or hear I can " be happy " , regardless of if he is in recovery or displaying unsafe character for my heart to trust him . No trust - not happy is the truth for me . Some professionals call this co-dependent , I call it a wife . I try to follow closely what Gods Word defines as wife and that sure leaves me wide open for hurt if he's not in recovery . I totally get what you said in how detaching is a safer place. I have been going there a lot more , but it is definitely numbing . Exactly like painkillers - kills pain but the other feelings go out the window right along with it . Part of me being this human thing with those annoying things called emotions ! Part of me wants to love with complete abandon and FEEL again - but the other half says DANGER AHEAD watch out ! Hopefully more to this story in the months ahead . Somebody out there in the months ahead , maybe even years , that can see the future ?? No , of course not. No one has that guarantee so I may as well risk living and feeling today . Maybe " /

  7. Your post was written so beautifully, it expressed the way my emotions seem to be perfectly! Just like you mentioned the Earth having seasons, I think our recovery does as well. Recovery isn't a one time thing and at different points in our recovery we need different things. It's ok to feel less healed today than you felt yesterday, maybe tomorrow will be better. I totally relate to that feeling of impending doom that comes when my husband has had a period of sobriety. They have messed up so many times that you don't really have faith that it won't follow the pattern. I don't have an answer as to how to combat that other than do your best to turn it over to the Lord (which is difficult at the best of times). Thank you for this beautiful post!

  8. I enjoyed a season of detachment too. Looking back I realise that it was just another way for me to try to stay in control. It was a way of protecting myself from further it. It worked for awhile then I discovered that my detachment was fuelling my husband's addiction because he felt I didn't want or need him (which was exactly how I felt at the time). Unfortunately I havent found a balance yet. I seem to swing between detachment and enmeshment with little middle ground :-(