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Loving Detachment 101

Started by Bamboo2, November 01, 2015, 09:44:38 AM

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Here are some wise words from Pen and Elsieshaye on a thread from about 2011 (I didn't write the date or topic in my journal, only the pearls of wisdom).

From Pen-
You don't want to slam the door shut, but you want to stop being hurt.  Let DD know you love her (directly) and let it go.  You detach, go about your business, and accept only kind, positive and loving communications from her.

If she contacts you with anger, demands, recriminations, etc., don't engage.  If you're on the phone and she starts in, you've got to go because someone's at the door or a pot is boiling.  If she sends an unacceptable text, don't respond.  If she is in your home and starts in, have something else that needs immediate attention; don't be a sitting duck.  Keep your hurt and anger out of it; be cool, calm, loving and detached.  Also with someone who is extremely manipulative, always have a witness, so you don't feel like an emotional dumping ground.

The next quotes/summaries are from Elsieshaye, talking about the difference between "medium chill" and compassionate detachment -
Medium chill is a technique used with people you don't care about, but you may still have to interact with from time to time, so maintaining a relationship is not a consideration. It is not a silent treatment; I'm not ignoring the person -  but any response I give is boring, neutral, non-reactive, calm as possible. When the other person makes a "clunker" comment (like a put-down), change the subject after some silent beats pass.  I can pretend I don't understand hints/subtexts/carefully-worded put downs by responding in a boring, non-reactive way.  I don't have to argue, infer meaning or defend myself. 

Compassionate detachment is aimed at people I care about (unlike medium chill), where abandoning the relationship is not the option I choose to take.  The big difference between compassionate detachment and medium chill is that I DO initiate some contact and I DO sometimes make statements like, "I recognize you're angry but I won't be shouted at." But for the most part I again strive to be consistent, boring, and non-reactive when attacked, although I make more of an effort to speak my piece in a calm, respectful way.  I hold the relationship loosely, and accept it may not be what I had planned, but it is what it is.
I am doing this with my son right now.  He has a drug problem, so in between the large stretches of silence, I'll occasionally get texts or Facebook messages that could be from angry Ds, high DS, needy DS or sad DS, never sure which.  Some of them I just let lie and don't respond to.  Some I answer the explicit question and ignore the angry subtext (the passive-aggressiveness or mean point behind the question).  Some I respond to honestly or with a question.  If it gets too bad, I'll say, "I don't want to have this conversation with you while you're being so aggressive with me. If you can't be more civil, we need to stop now" and then if it continues I hang up or end the conversation. The governing concept here is, " I love him and we both deserve respect."  The governing concept for medium chill is, "Not my monkey, not my circus."

Finally, this is Bamboo here adding a piece on detachment that a friend gave me from Al Anon - and I'm modifying it a bit to be more inclusive of any behavior or decision made by a loved one-

Detachment is neither kind nor unkind.  It does not imply judgment or condemnation of the person or situation from which we are detaching.  Separating ourselves from the adverse effects of another person's choices can be a means of detaching; this does not necessarily require physical separation. Detachment can help us look at our situation realistically and objectively.

We learn that nothing we say or do can cause or stop someone else's behaviors or decisions.  We are not responsible for them.  Detachment allows us to let go of our obsession with another's behavior and begin to lead happier and more manageable lives, lives with dignity and rights, lives guided by a power greater than ourselves.  We can still love the person without liking the behavior.

We learn to do the following:

1. Not to suffer because of the actions or reactions of others
2. Not to allow ourselves to be used or abused by others
3. Not to do for others what they can do for themselves
4. Not to manipulate situations so others will get up, go to bed, eat, go to work, pay bills, not drink, or behave as we see fit.
5. Not to cover up for another's mistakes or misdeeds
6. Not to create a crisis
7. Not to prevent a crisis if it is in the natural course of events

By learning to focus on ourselves, our attitudes and well-being improve.  We allow the loved ones in our lives to experience the consequences of their own actions.


I forgot to add the invitation to anyone to please add to these ideas about detachment, as I am sure there is much more to be learned from those of you who have put it into practice. 

Here is something I just found on a WWU search for "medium chill," posted by JDTM in 2011:
We interact on a very polite but superficial level.  If anyone was watching, they would think we had a good relationship. However, I don't divulge any personal details, opinions or commitments.  I appear to agree with everything that is said, while in truth I may not.  If a topic is one I can't discuss with them, I'll say, " You know, that's one topic that is off-limits in this house" and then laugh.  You'll be upset but with "medium chill" everyone needs to believe you're totally comfortable and calm.  Actually, after a time one really feels that way.


Bamboo -- thank you for posting this.   I am going to print it out and refer to it often.   


Thanks so much for preserving these priceless words! I have moved the thread to Helpful Resources because we have thousands of threads and such gold nuggets can get lost. Helpful Resources is a category we can point someone to that is loaded with distilled wisdom. Hugs to all...
Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. Dalai Lama


I found this excellent resource on Medium Chill with some useful examples and phrases:


thanks for this bamboo2.  some great suggestions


Hi Gettin' Gold,
You're welcome.  Actually, Monroe suggested it.  I had posted last month that I wanted to practice Loving Detachment with my DD, but then realized I didn't understand it fully.  I thought it meant simply to go no or low contact and loving from afar, which is what I've been doing now. Not initiating contact unless necessary and being pleasant when she initiates.  That alone has been very helpful, but there will be times when we interact again, like perhaps during the holidays, and it is likely that some of those "medium chill" phrases will be useful (especially if she brings up her abusive boyfriend and his large FOO),as well as the caveats about how to put detachment into practice.
Hope things are going well with you, GOAC.


Respect ... is appreciation of the separateness of the other person, of the ways in which he or she is unique.
-- Annie Gottlieb


These wonderful words are so helpful to me right now - and make perfect sense.  Thank you.