Genuine love is about acceptance and respect – not control. I know we hate to hear that having “reasonable expectations” from a relationship should not make us controlling. Our needs are valid, and our boundaries solid and healthy. So what’s the problem? Well, the problem is not with what we want and need – the outcomes we wish for – it’s simply that we don’t want to admit that the other party either doesn’t want to, or isn’t healthy enough yet to give that to us.
Detaching Means Having Good Boundaries. You have a good sense about where you end and others begin. Others acting a certain way is about them. How you feel about that is about you. Whatever outcome you desire instead is about you. Your inability to grieve through and come to acceptance is about you. Not them. They’re fine being just who they are…it is you that technically has the problem. Unless and until they want to see it as a problem, and actually begin working on changing it, nothing will change. So it’s not really about what’s going on with them. It’s that you can’t yet accept that this will be the case – and perhaps never change. This can feel devastating if your identity is tied up with them being a good partner, a successful child, or a responsible employee.
Detaching is Not Pulling Away Emotionally or Punishing Them in Any Way. That is considered unhealthy avoidance. It is not a wall erected to feel safe. It’s about working through the grief around your attachment to a particular outcome, so can put your expectations away. It is what it is. You may feel sad, but no longer angry and anxious that they can’t be different. You own your grief around it, as well as perhaps the red flags you chose to ignore early on that tried to show you it would be this way.
Detachment Means Letting Go. Of the wonderful outcomes you had been hoping for, such as a loving, healthy relationship, for your marriage to be viable, for your child to stop struggling. And for yourself to NOT have to look in the mirror and make friends with reality. In other words, you are working on letting go of the fantasy you had built in your mind. With wonderful intentions and hopes of course, but part of the grief work is sifting through details about the other person or situation that point to foundational defects- that prevent healthier from happening right now. Only if and when THOSE change will it become different.
Detachment sounds so simple, yet it can be excruciating to do the work to get there. Let yourself learn how to grieve and get some tough-loving support around you as you walk through it. There is sadness, yes, but also tons of emotional freedom on the other side.