When I was young, I was full of hope. I hoped for a large loving family with happy gatherings and swarms of adoring children, nieces, and nephews. Basically, picture the end (not the messy middle) of any Hallmark movie. Of course, my life stalled in the messy middle, but here's how detachment lets me redirect my hopes.
When hope is used as a verb, it means...
"To look forward with desire and reasonable confidence; to believe, desire, or trust." - dictinary.com
Proverbs tells us, "Hope deferred makes a heart sick," and my life was a walking billboard to prove it. I wanted a family to love me so badly that I blindly attached my hopes for happiness to anyone in my life. When that sibling got sober, I'd finally have the family life I longed for. Or, I'd finally have joy when this parent was proud of me. The worst was: when I have kids, I'll finally have somebody to love.
Those hopes were only half of the problem. I put my life on hold waiting for all of those things to happen. I ended up struggling with infertility for seven years and agonizing over my sibling's addiction for 17 more years. Deeply depressed, I was merely living until I died. My heart was truly sick. I had no hope.
Full-filled Hopes Didn't Help Either
Finally, after years of waiting for a baby, my husband and I adopted a beautiful little boy. He was nothing short of a miracle. Our first year as a family was fairy-tale worthy, but then he turned two. Children are difficult and life is challenging. Yet, I kept pinning my hopes to a child. I'll be happy when he gets potty trained, or when he quits biting me, etc.
That's the essence of co-dependency. My happiness, my peace, my fun depended on a toddler! And I was completely blind to see that this was a recipe for disappointment.
Don't Pin Your Hopes On A Teenager
Now my beautiful boy is a handsome, snarky teenager. I hoped we would be that one family who sailed through adolescence unscathed. We are not. Yesterday, my charming son went behind my back to do something I specifically said "NO!!!!!!!" to. He lied, connived, and manipulated into getting his very dangerous way. I shook with anger.
Detachment Isn't An Unleashing Anger
In a state of disillusion, I retreated to my bedroom. I stretched out on my yoga mat, reflecting on this betrayal and other events of my day. Except for this one "catastrophe", my day was lovely. It started with a time for quiet meditation. My Higher Power and I crushed our to-do list, and I had tons of serenity. So, I asked myself, "Did I really want to write-off the whole day as miserable because of one incident?"
Then I reminded myself: I will never be able to control this child. He will grow up and make thousands of choices I won't agree with. Do I really want to attach my serenity to him? Or do I want to quit loving him because he didn't do what I wanted? Absolutely not. This is an unfair expectation to place on any human, let alone my child.
I decided to unhitch my hopes from my son's actions. I was still angry and had to process my emotions. He still faced a consequence for his deception, but I was able to wait until I had calmed down. Detachment isn't dismissing or denying the offense. It only allows me to disconnect, so I can remain safe and independently in tact.
Detachment Redefines Hope
Today, my hope doesn't come from any other human, especially teenagers or those suffering from the disease of addiction. My hope, my trust in is my Higher Power, who will help me be OK in all of the crappy circumstances life throws at me. Truly - this isn't just a platitude. Since I've been in recovery, my Higher Power helped me through big crises like the death of my sister-in-law and financial ruin and little crises like setting boundaries and saying "NO!"
My Higher Power is the one true constant in my life. Hoping in anything human, including myself physically makes my heart and body sick. I can't avoid all of the things I "hope" won't happen, but with my Higher Power, I can have serenity, and that's always better than my human hopes.