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9 Comments to
Codependency and the Art of Detaching From Dysfunctional Family Members

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  1. Why do therapists always try to blame those injured by the self-centered “addicts?” And without knowing anything about the person, therapists brand the injured party codependent. Automatically told to go to 12 steps and receive the same “treatment ” as the perpetrator. What nonsense

  2. In theory, I think this article makes a lot of sense! However, it just isn’t that simplistic.
    For instance, my (half) brother is an adult in his 40’s. His life, up until a few years ago would have been considered mostly successful by many. He had a steady long term job, a live in and long term girlfriend who has a daughter that called him “daddy” because he helped raise her from age 4. He had a home, 2 vehicles, money in the bank. Not rich but doing pretty well. And then he wasn’t.
    Girlfriend broke up, he fell apart for a while. Met someone on the rebound, she was an alcoholic and a domestic abuser. He will not hit a woman or child! She moved in with him, the drinking got worse and he is now an alcoholic. They have a child together who is still very young. They split up about 9 months ago.
    My brother is now unable to work, lost his car due to repossession and his home is facing foreclosure. I believe he has a dual diagnosis of substance abuse and mental illness. He also has a lot of unresolved past trauma and some anger issues.
    All his money is gone. He literally has no food except for what I brought him the other day. I am disabled right now and can’t afford much. He has let the house deteriorate. It needs a lot of work. His elderly father lives with him.
    How does a person “detach” from someone suffering and live with themselves after? I can’t do it although I DO encourage him to contact social service agencies for help with food and also to seek therapy. He has been so depressed he seems totally paralyzed when it comes to helping himself.
    It is very discouraging, sad, concerning and even frustrating at times!

    • You are so right…loving an addict and trying to detach is not simple or easy! It’s very hard to see someone you care about making choices like this. Detaching doesn’t solve the problems of the alcoholism, unemployment, or financial problems, but it can save the sanity of someone who is tired of having someone else’s problems rule their life.

      Thanks so much for reading. I wish you all the best.

  3. I love this Sharon because detachment is such an important part of self-care! I really appreciate the connection you made between detachment and setting boundaries. That’s so true! Thanks for another amazing article!!

  4. I would just like to throw it out there that often if these peple do fail, it WILL effect yourself. That is why you’re involved. Still some people will affect you less than others. My wife? Yes I will continue to try to fix/change her problems, and she mine.

    My brother with the head injury that is slowly losing everything he had? I will and do help him to a point but when he doesn’t listen I back off and leave him to his own direction. I can only watch as he slip[s into the abyss of a wrecked life. A head trauma will change your life, in only a few seconds.

    • Hi Breezy,
      Thank you for bringing this up. I think a lot of people get hung up when trying to detach because other people’s problems do affect us. However, that doesn’t mean they are problems we can solve. Here’s an example: If my husband is depressed and out of work, those aren’t problems I can solve (no matter how hard I try, I can’t force him to get a job or go to treatment for depression), but they do cause problems for me. I might have financial problems and feel worried and frustrated. These are my problems and I should try to solve them, but getting my husband to treatment or a job aren’t the only ways to solve my problems.
      I hope that makes sense. Thanks for reading.

  5. This is such an important article. So many things stand in the way of detaching. But this is an important reminder that we can not change somebody else. We can only detach. With love.

    • Yes! It’s hard…but it’s the way to serenity when you’re caught in trying to solve problems or change people who don’t want to change!

  6. This is a great article and so important to understand and monitor within ourselves. What is often overlooked is the issue of co-dependency in the sense of ‘rescuing’ or ‘fixing’ clients for professionals as the consequences can be just as intense and potentially wider ranging when professionals do not reflect on these kinds of issues.


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