I am sitting on the couch in my pajama’s listening to Christmas Carols on my IPAD. I love my living room this time of year. The Christmas tree is in here, there is a beautiful tray with candles and a poinsettia on the coffee table and my piano looks like a Christmas bomb exploded on it. Candles are lit and everything glows and smells of Christmas. Usually there are already piles of presents under the tree, which is reminding me that I better get my Christmas shopping rear in gear. But for now, I will try to stay focused long enough to write about 800 words. This morning I have been reading some of my recovery literature because tonight I get to lead a Meeting. This means that I get to choose the topic and a correlating reading to go with it. It took me about 2 and a half seconds to decide which one to pick. It’s a very powerful, effective tool called “Detachment”. Here is an example of how it has worked for me and how it might benefit you as you head in to the crunch-time of holiday madness (also known as “family get-togethers”).
I distinctly remember pulling out this “tool” a couple years ago. Maybe you have been in a similar state: sitting in the living room (the very SAME living room that gave me such joy in the paragraph above), needles rapidly covering the floor from the dried-out tree, feeling overwhelmed about un-decorating what seemed like a phenomenal to decorate a month ago, and wishing that you could return to life where kids are back at school and out-of-town guests would head home, like, yesterday. But my own attitude was only part of the problem. The bigger issue for me was that my husband was feeling the same way, and so, in my co-dependency, I was not only owning my own stress, I was taking on his. In fact, most of my actual anxiety was happening because I was worried about his emotions and frustrations. I knew I needed immediate help if I didn’t want to spend the rest of the season grouchy. So, I sat down and read every entry on “Detachment” I could find. There happen to be 14 of them, second only the the topic of “focusing on myself” which has 19. Both of these topics are sort of saying the same thing, really. The best definition of Detachment I have found is, “separating yourself emotional and spiritually from other people.” Now there’s a thought. I realized, as I read every entry on that particular day, that my “emotional emergency” could have been avoided if I had pulled this tool out at the beginning of the season. I could have walked peacefully through the previous weeks, even when those around me were not behaving to my liking or living up to my expectations of how the holidays should play out. Just in case you tend to be like Clark Griswold from “Christmas Vacation”, who had grand ideas and sentiments about all the grandparents staying with them to celebrate the holiday but whose serenity begins to slip as cousin Eddie pulls up in his RV, let me give you a few snippets from my readings on Detachment that might just save your life (or someone else’s!):
*”Detachment involves paying attention to my own mood before I have a chance to take on someone else’s…I don’t have to have a bad day just because someone I love is struggling.”
*”If I pause for a moment before focusing on someone else’s mood, I may find out that I have feelings of my own that deserve attention. I will look for those moments to check in with myself today.”
*”Detachment allows us to let go of our obsession with another’s behavior and begin to lead happier and more manageable lives.”
*”Detachment with love means that I stop depending upon what others do, say, or feel to determine my own well-being…I can love their best and never fear their worst.”
*”Detachment (with love) is a wonderful gift: I am allowing my loved ones the privilege and opportunity of being themselves.”
*Detachment means “I don’t have to like everything someone else says or does, and I don’t have to change them when I think they are wrong. I can continue to care without taking everything personally.”
One more for good measure:
*”When I am consumed with negativity over another person’s behavior, I have lost my focus. I needn’t tolerate what I consider unacceptable, but wallowing in negativity will not alter the situation. If there is action to take, I am free to take it. Where I am powerless to change the situation, I will turn it over to (God). By truly letting go, I detach and forgive.”
Well folks, Cousin Eddie has arrived. Christmas isn’t coming-it’s here. And you have control over how you approach it this year. Give yourself the gift of Detachment. Maybe, just maybe, this year you could be peaceful, happy and free amid the chaos.