Tag: Loving Detachment

What in God’s Name is Loving Detachment?

What in God’s Name is Loving Detachment?

Photo by Shaojie on Unsplash

Oh, there are so many definitions on the web of what loving detachment is. I first came across the idea when I really started to try to understand how to live in the same house as my father when I was older than young, but younger than old and he was still alive.

There were so many times that I just wanted to give up, to write off my father, and by extension my whole family, move back across the country and start over without all their drama and problems.

Guess what? I didn’t do that, although it came closer than I’d care to remember, more than a few times. Guess what else? I would have succeeded only in getting some personal space. His problems, their problems had become my problems. I didn’t know that at the time, but it was truer than true.

That is the doctrine of the alcoholic family. It was his drinking, but it was OUR problem by the end of it. The patterns we see as children, we tend to repeat as adults. In the alcoholic family, there is rage, temper, isolation, accusation, and all other manners of unhealthy coping mechanisms.

I learned them all, I was a good student.

Literal Definition:

Quite simply, and literally, Loving Detachment is the ability to care about someone, without being the one who cares for them. You are not responsible for the consequences of their actions. That’s it, as distilled as I can make it.


Leading or walking beside a partner? In loving detachment, you are walking with your significant other or partner; you can either be walking with them, or you can be leading your partner. If you’re leading, choosing, directing and guiding a person, you are not detached and supportive, you are controlling (or at least trying to control them).

Supporting child or doing it for them? Oh, parenting, almost as challenging as marrying an alcoholic, but the rewards are different. So, where does the loving detachment come in here? Children are naturally risk takers, and as parents we tend to defray those costs to our children. We literally keep them from harm, and shelter them from the consequences. But where does the point come at which it’s time for them to carry their own burdens? If I am waking my sixteen year old up every day and making his lunch, packing his books and chivying him into his seat at class, that’s probably too far, but to do so for my grade three boy? At some point we as parents have to come to the decision that our child is ready and it’s time to detach, with love, and let them carry their own books and schedules.


If you’re in a place where somebody else’s activities are affecting your ability to live your life. Well, then it’s time to step back, mentally that is. I know you that you still care for them, in my case Love is the correct term, but trying to disentangle your emotions and responses from those actions of your loved one is the key here. “Boundaries” is a great read and it was so very eye-opening when I was in that place when I needed to put up my walls. Still caring about a person while not totally taking care of them including their consequences, it’s tricky, really really a delicate situation. To find that balance between supporting and taking over, I’m still struggling with that one, but that’s the point you’re aiming for. Basically you’re going to try to put an over-watch on your own mind, keep vigil over your own self. I guess that’s at the core of this whole muddle, you need to look to your own self first, and have a second level care to what and how you’re thinking of all things.

In Conclusion?

The concepts in Al-Anon are big; bigger than big; and they can apply across your whole spectrum of life, not just in the recovery from Alcoholism frame of mind. Loving detachment is one such concept. To be supportive of a person means to lift them up. While the mess I so often find myself in is that of trying not to support a person but to save them from the consequences of their own actions. That’s the difference; supporting someone rather than protecting and saving them from the consequences of their actions.

I guess that’s about it. I’ll leave off and get back to the other things I am supposed to be doing today.