Yesterday I talked about my failed attempts to avoid driving with a person in my family who drank and drove when we went out to dinner. For a variety of reasons, I prefer to not ride with someone who has been drinking heavily. So why was it so hard for me to stop getting into the backseat of that car?
For one thing, I didn’t have a great handle on “detachment”. Detachment means that I am willing to take the next right step without any kind of assurance of the outcome.
In this example, the next right step for me was to figure a way to not ride with an inebriated driver. But guess what? I was more focused on getting that particular driver to either (a.) stop drinking so much at the restaurant or (b.) let me be the designated driver. Those seemed like my only two options because I was failing to DETACH. I had desires/expectations that were beyond the scope of my control. I was trying to stop someone else from doing something I thought was wrong – driving after drinking.
Once I figured out that the desired outcome for me was not riding in a car with an impaired driver – as opposed to convincing a drunk driver not to drive impaired – a solution presented itself. I could always drive my own car to any event; I could meet the crowd at the restaurant rather than gathering at someone’s home first and carpooling. It turns out I had options.
But I had no options when I was confused and thought I could control another person. Is it good that this person drinks and drives? No. It is illegal. But I have no control over that, all I can do is take the next right step for me without any assurance that doing so will cause my beloved to change. This is detachment. And, FYI, it isn’t without its own “power.” Folks notice the different choice I am making. Conversations have been sparked. And yes, some folks think I am a silly goose. But what is important to me is being able to look myself in the mirror and not feel ashamed or embarrassed of the choice I have made. Detachment yes, but not without its own opportunity to incite the possibility for change.
Detachment is a principle that applies to parenting, marriage and even work relationships. It requires that we get clear about what is our business and what is not. It’s tricky to figure that out when someone we love isn’t well, but it is always important to figure it out. What frustrations are you living with that would be diminished if detachment was a tool in your relationship toolbox?