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Wondered if there was enough interest for a thread on this?


Came across this acronym;
Don't
Even
Think
About
Changing
Him/Her


Detaching means you stop trying to force the outcome that you want.


It’s letting go of controlling and worrying and untangling your life from someone else’s – so that your feelings, beliefs, and actions aren’t driven as a response to what someone else is doing.

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I first read about "detaching" from an alcoholics forum. I had to realize that I could not change my parents' self-destructive behavior. All I could do was limit the effects on my life. I knew there would be horrible effects, and there have been, but detaching has allowed me to deflect a lot, especially emotionally. I am able to avoid getting sucked into the drama or negativity. Also, realizing that what happens to someone as a result of their persistent behavior is not my fault. That limits the guilt.
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Beatty Jun 2019
Very well said, thankyou. Especially regarding someone's persistant behaviour is not your fault & that limits the guilt. Yes.
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Oh yes! This is so critical for me at the moment. I just became conservator for my dad last month and already I’m realizing how damaging this is to my mental and physical health. I live 8 hours away and going up takes a lot of orchestration. My dad is mentally ill as well as having serious dementia. He’s a hoarder living on 5 acres in a remote area where it’s difficult to get servives, deliveries , etc. He can be charming, but mostly he’s very difficult and to me abusive. This last visit he yelled for me to obey him and to get on my knees before him. He was so hateful and enraged he was near violence. My husband of 33 years had never seen this side of my dad. My brother, myself and his past two wives, I think, are the only ones who’ve experienced it. When hospitalized after totaling his car 4 years ago, the hospital had to restrain him, and have a 24/7 sitter. He’s 6.3 and physically strong, 80 but moves like 50. I HAVE to detach or or he’ll destroy me- psychologically. I am now seeing that I’m his care manager not his care giver. And that I will need to pass this ‘baton’. Which will mean a public guardian for him, the liquidation of his property (valued at 130,000) and likely being bounced around various locked facilities. ( my brother cannot take over). This sounds terrible, but I can’t make him less crazy, and can only do this for a very finite period. I’ve been managing his house, finances and medical/ dental and paying his expenses from my own money for several years— thus the conservatoship. I’ve hit a wall and have to back this bus up.
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Judysai422 Jun 2019
You've made the right choice. Bless you. You are a strong person to have survived and an even kinder person for all you have done for your abusive father. You deserve to have a great life. Hugs
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About to get referral for councelling to start this process...
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Excellent acronym. I've found that thinking "I'm doing the right thing" regardless of Spouse's responses or possible responses helps in making tough decisions.
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Yes, interest is here.  It is more difficult with a parent or spouse than it was for taking care of my aunt.  When DH number one had dementia from the high dose chemo, his behavior and words hurt me.  He didn't believe anything I said, till nurses verified it.  He got angry with me instead of the disease and treatment.  With help, I got enough distance to see the whole picture, and I needed support too. 

One day at home he yelled at me because I was 'not backing the car up correctly.'  I got out and asked, 'it's not the car. What's really going on?' He didn't know, and when he started yelling again, I yelled back - "Look....I did not cause your cancer, and I can't cure it." The anger left us both.  A few weeks after chemo his chemo brain got better.  I had to understand it was not me, then I could detach.
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I know it’s what should be done but I find that so difficult when my DH’s displeasure is aimed at me . When my kids were teenagers and would yell “ I hate you “ my DH would say don’t personalize . Well he was right but.....what is more personal than someone directly telling you they hate you .
Admittedly I knew they loved me and they are now the kindest most loving adults and the biggest help to me and their father so the right thing was to detach from miserable teenagers but it was so hard . Like now . I am lecturing myself constantly tho that he is just unhappy with life and IT IS NOT ME !
My wise mother’s motto was do the best you can . If someone does it better, good for them but you are doing your best .
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I really appreciate this and the meaning behind it. For most of my life (61 years) I have been trying to change my mom in one way or another. I "just knew" if I could make her happy all of her issues would change for the better, but no matter what I did or sacrificed it didn't work, but still I was not able to detach and let go to live my own life. (Such codependant behavior...just like dealing with an alcoholic.) Now when she is 83 and physically sick (instead of emotionally and mentally) I am just beginning to detach. I am definitely going to recite this in my head to help. Thanks!!!
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Glad you started this thread. Detaching with love is a survival skill for many caregivers. And difficult to master! I like the nifty acronym. Good reinforcement.
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Enough interest? - Just a bit!

I like the acronym very much, and it is certainly a good aide-memoire when you are dealing with "normal" people. People whose behaviours and personalities are within normal range, that is.

You run into trouble when you are dealing with people, though, who set their caregivers and family members the challenge of "making them happy." If we could help people see that "changing" someone could include, for example, transforming a career complainer into a contented little old lady, or a habitual critic into the loving, accepting parent they've always longed for... I think you might really be onto something!
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So true. Detaching gently is the only answer. Anything else becomes a dance of argument that cannot be won. It becomes a reason not to grieve, not to look at what is really happening, and it becomes a "story", a fable we tell people over and over in a search for help that isn't there, and sympathy that runs out the more we tell the story. Anger is almost always grief when the lid is raised off it. Grief is very hard for us, and life is just FULL of it. It cannot be avoided for the caregiver or for the one getting fear. We grieve that our parents were not the perfect beings we needed them to be. And we grieve that we ourselves are imperfect. Was just speaking with my bro yesterday who is in assisted living, and was heretofore such a quiet man, living with a small footprint upon the earth, contemplative and monk-like. Now he is sort of thrown into what comes to look like a bit of a 60s commune if he is out in the common areas. Everyone with their own opinions (a strong one) tossed in together. It often becomes an argument. "You didn't pull that shade because the sun is in your eyes; you wanted me not to see my art work". "No I didn't. The sun was in my eyes". "Well, you are a bully". "No I am NOT a bully". There is always another gentle answer to deflect argument, such as "Oh, I am so sorry I seem like a bully because I can't STAND bullies. I apologize. Let me get that shade up for you, and I will sit in a more shady spot." The more often you do it, it is so much easier to just disengage. It is so hard to fight with someone who has gently backed out of the fight. Everything could go SO much easier if we could just give up the right to being right; but it seems we have a kind of gene. The "right gene" I guess.
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Darlin Jun 2019
Well said! I especially could relate to “it becomes a "story", a fable we tell people over and over in a search for help that isn't there, and sympathy that runs out the more we tell the story. “ So true for me!

The gentle answer can work sometimes with my dad, but often not. Mental illness miced with dementia is a funky, sad and often toxic cocktail.
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Beatty -
Love the acronym! Put it(detach) on my fridge.
Started me thinking about things... And I realize that in my case, I can't be hurt /offended by the changes in mom's behavior. She has changed so much. And what I focused on, was that she isn't able to show affection, or show appreciation, or even notice how others are feeling /doing.
And ultimately, it isn't as offensive! If she was able and withholding those things, then it would be reasonable to be hurt.
But.... One other thing that is out of the skill set thanks to dementia -

Thanks for this thread.
Hang in there-
Sparkles
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