Many of you think you are detached—or simply getting better at it—because you are not being attached in a certain way.
Beg-n-Plead & Fear
Most of you start here. In the direct aftermath of Bomb Drop fear is a constant companion and it leads you to beg-n-plead and analyze your MLCers every thought, word and deed. These are perhaps the most common association we have with detachment. Beg-n-pleading is overt behavior that is felt emotionally. Fear enables beg-n-pleading. You are progressing when you are strong enough that even though your fear remains, you do not allow it to control you and you resist the urge to beg-n-plead.
Detached, your emotions are no longer connected and cycling with your spouse’s emotions. The Stander who beg-n-pleads or reacts with outbursts of high-energy emotion—such as anger—is not detached emotionally.
Usually when we think of detachment, we think of becoming reactive in an angry or fearful manner. You feel panic and anxiety and your functionality may be severely reduce. Maybe you have trouble leaving home, going to work, in crowds or for some of you it may be the opposite and you feel restless at home—unable to focus and stop analyzing. You may be depressed and on antidepressants. But there are other ways to fail at detachment and they are more covert—often because the Stander is stronger than a beg-n-pleader.
Do you think you’re detached because you can walk away or hang-up when your MLCer Monsters at you? Or because you remain calm, validate and maybe even placate Monster? Those are positive signs of progress, but they may mask another way you are still attached.
Sympathetic Empathy & Co-dependence
I want you to have empathy, so this does not mean a person is attached. Are you feeling sad and sorry that your MLCer is in pain? Are you hurting to see them spiraling in their depression? There is nothing wrong with feeling sad, bad, hurt…but what are you doing with those feelings and emotions? Do you want to fix your MLCer’s boo-boos? Are you their crutch or the shoulder they can cry on? Do you have a Rescuer Complex—are you a fixer?
Do you think poor-baby or worry about your MLCer not making it through their crisis—perhaps getting stuck in Liminal Depression? Does that thought tug at your heart-strings and activate your inner Rescuer?
Having a hand help you up or a shoulder to cry on is great, we are social creatures and we can’t do it—whatever it may be—alone. But are you the person who should be giving the hand or offering the shoulder? Sometimes the answer is yes. You’re Standing for your marriage; your goal is to reconcile and that means that at some point the main person your MLCer comes to for help is you. But during the crisis they will often be leaning on you instead of standing on their own two feet. You may fear that if it’s not you it will be an alienator and so you encourage them to lean or even insert yourself into situations so they are practically forced to lean on you.
That’s Co-dependence; if they learn helplessness, you will have a purpose in their life. This creates an excuse for attachment—and it is unhealthy. It enables cake-eating and boundary testing—since the boundaries are often inconsistent or two flexible. Sometimes the best way you can love someone is from a distance. Learning involves doing and being and experiencing, not rescue—which can instead interrupt progress and development.