Detachment is a lifelong process

Sunday, January 27, 2013

What are you addicted to? What do you need to let go of to reach your full potential? What do you need to relinquish for the good of others?

Whatever you're attached to that's unhealthy, even though it may be necessary, is something you need to pay attention to. John is an alcoholic, a condition well known to most; however, John is a functioning alcoholic. He performs skillfully at work, refrains from anger even when he drinks, and is inconspicuous. He conceals the beverage in a normal glass like he's consuming soda. John is a pleasure to know -- but he still hangs onto his dependency of the substance. Consequently, he's lost a great deal within his personal life, but he continues to be locked within the prison of alcohol.

Other attachments can be just as harmful. Jackie was a seemingly great mother of three children. She basked at being the model homemaker and mother of three children. Her husband loved her and went along with her outwardly normal actions. In delving into her persona of being the perfect mother, however, serious flaws reared their heads.

Jackie was overly possessive of her children. She wanted to be included in everything they did, even into their teenage and adult years. She tried so hard that she suffered a serious emotional breakdown. The children learned to accept their mother's dependency, even though her over-possessive manner affected them greatly.

Due to her role modeling the children became insecure as well, and as young adults they took negative paths to find security. Jackie's attachment was her desperate relationship toward her children. Consequently, she hindered their personalities and emotional well-being. In addition, she dug herself into a deep hole. When the time came for the three to leave home she pretended to be happy for them outwardly, but she was crying inside.

Her addiction of being overly attached to the children continued to cause intense emotional trauma. Eventually though, through the aid of therapy, she overcame her dependency on controlling and manipulating her children. Jackie realized that when they finally went their separate ways she was left with no one to lean on. She had sought an identity through crippling and holding on to the three. Jackie needed to become detached so she could be free to move on with her life and find out who "she" was.

Everybody possesses problems or insecurities of some kind, but it's often difficult to recognize how you're dealing with them. Have you noticed what defenses you're using to survive -- food, sex, anger or drugs and alcohol?

Elizabeth lost a husband and Jack a beloved wife. The two experienced different situations though. Elizabeth was much older than Jack and her husband had been ill for many years. To Elizabeth, it was a loving relief of sorts and she now seems to be faring well. She has no children nearby, but she takes advantage of invitations to various functions. She's attempting to detach herself from her familiar but past way of life.

Detachment will be more difficult for Jack because the couple had been able to enjoy their togetherness more normally. Jack is unsure how he will deal with the loss of his mate. I wager that he'll draw from the support of his large family and many friends, but regardless he, too, will have to deal with the issue of forced detachment.

A treasured pet dies, a loved one leaves, divorce occurs and you lose a job, all instances when you must give up something you love or embrace. It's a process everyone must encounter throughout their lifetime. Just remember, with God's help you can survive any detachment you must deal with. Find your security within you and God. Scripture tells people to "Entrust your cares to the Lord and he will support you." (Psalm 55)

You don't need people or things to validate your worth.

Ellen Shuck holds degrees in psychology, religious education and spiritual direction and provides spiritual direction to people at her office.

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