You can detach without leaving
addiction coaching self care

You can detach without leaving

Detach – it’s not really a concrete thing…

I knew the people in the rooms would tell me to detach. Detach with love they’d say. Focus on you. Repeat the Serenity Prayer and realize the only thing you have the ability to change is yourself. It was all so abstract though.  I just wanted someone to tell me HOW.  


How do you let go without letting go?


I was so enmeshed that letting go, to me, mean that I had to physically, emotionally, and financially be apart from him. It didn’t make sense that I could be a separate person when I was married.  In hindsight I believe I never really did develop that part of myself that was able to BE a separate person from the man I was with until we started the journey of recovery.  Today’s post will share some of what I’ve learned so you don’t have to spend years wondering like I did!


You have to start small.


One can not go to the gym after being a couch potato and expect to lift 800 pounds, right?!  Why do we expect that we can just wake up one day and be this healthy, mature, non-codependent individual?  We can’t.  We have to start by walking into the gym. In the case of being married to an addict, “walking into the gym” might be going to a meeting, or reaching out to someone who’s got some experience with addiction/recovery/marriage to get a trusted perspective.  


Sometimes you can’t (or don’t want to) leave.


It was part pride, part fear, and mostly love.  I didn’t want to have a second marriage down the tubes – I wanted to be able to say I did everything I could.  But it was so hard to feel validated and supported in that decision.  I wanted to know there was hope. I wanted someone to tell me that it was going to be OK. That I was going to be OK. That I had choices, and that I could always change my mind. Then there’s times when financial, or other circumstances prevent you from “just leaving”… But that’s another post.


If you are looking for some concrete, practical tips – here they are:

  • When he’s not using tell him (and/or write it down and post it on the fridge) your boundaries.  For example – groceries come first (or diapers, etc).
  • Decide what is truly your responsibility.  Will you be providing transportation? Calling out for him? Making appointments? Start small with something that you can say “no” to. *You may have to SHOW him how to do it himself – that whole ‘teach a man to fish thing’.
  • Determine in advance how you will respond to patterns that have appeared in the past.  If he usually comes home drunk and wants to try to pick a fight, is there a way to interrupt that cycle? Can you walk away? Can you have a friend who can put you up for a night if you need to get out and sleep somewhere else?


You don’t have to leave to detach.


You can begin to have a bubble of protection around you where his crap can’t get in – it just kind of bounces off like that old elementary come-back – I’m rubber and you’re glue.  

*Note – if safety is an issue, please seek professional help from a domestic violence group and/or attorney.  I believe in safety first, so please arm yourself appropriately for your situation*

You can work on YOU – and seek the support and training that you need to get better. You know what they say – Nothing changes if nothing changes.  The key my love is that you start working on your shit and it changes the dynamics.  You shift his responsibility back onto him.  It’s not an overnight fix.  It’s taken us years to get where we are right now – it’s not going to turn on a dime, right?  But you can’t do it alone either.


Do you have someone who can hold space for you?


I remember feeling so incredibly alone. I was afraid of judgement, ashamed of the chaos and madness that my life had become, and didn’t want to hear what seemed to keep coming up “Just Leave”.  While they meant well, it was incredibly frustrating because I wasn’t about to leave.  I wanted so badly for someone to just say “I can understand why you feel that way”. I wanted someone to say that it made sense why I was the way I was. That my intuition was never wrong. That I could learn to trust again. Not so much others, but MYSELF.


I can’t tell you it will be easy. Growth can be painful and messy. I can only promise you that it will be worth it – YOU are worth it. You can step into your power and grow and learn a different way. This is what breaks those codependent cycles.


Your turn –

Do you have an example of detaching? There’s power in our stories, and your experience could help someone else. Leave a comment below! If you’re struggling with detaching, schedule a complimentary coaching call by clicking here and we can process together.



Erin Hill is a writer, speaker, and healer. She resides on the Eastern Shore of Maryland with her husband and children, who are her greatest teachers. She is currently working on her first book.

2 thoughts on “You can detach without leaving”

  1. I live on Eastern shore too and would read your book. These are great tips. I have physically separated finally, but not mentally. Like you said it takes time. It’s been few months I have security in fact he is with his family so there is control and help from someone other than myself this time as he gets clean and sober again. But I’m at a stand still. Up and down daily. Still checking on him. Angry one day and want to let them know how I have felt reminding them he may do only enough to get by with them to get clean and another day I’m talking to him and see him for our son visits and I just want to hug him I remember good times and see glimpse of that good person. But won’t be sucked back in so I go back to being distant. Emotional rollercoaster. And it’s all about him and being positive. It irritates me if family is coddling him.

    1. Amen sister – it’s a roller coaster for sure. The thing is – we are in control of the remote – we can choose to get off the ride at any time. The mental toll takes a while to heal, and when you have a child involved, it’s all the more messy. I’d love to personally invite you to check out EMpowerME – it sounds like you’d be a great fit for the program. – I also invite you to email me or message me <3 - you can do this Renee! With the right supports we do heal, and we can recover. Much love to you! (((hugs)))

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