When to Hang on and When to Let Go


I’ve been dealing with two different issues that have remained unresolved for long enough that I thought I needed to make a decision:  either keep trying different strategies in the hope of enacting change, or let go of the situation entirely and decide that since it is out of my control, then I should remove it from my life.  Neither of these options was sitting well with me, so I figured I would sit down and write about it.  In looking for an image to correspond to this writing, I came across the one shown above.  And I am so glad I did, because it really gave me some clarity for both of the issues with which I’ve been grappling.

The two situations are entirely different, involving people from different parts of my life, but in the end the struggle I’ve been having involves the same thing:  I am putting myself, and my thoughts of what is right and wrong, front and center, when in fact I am almost completely immaterial.  In other words:  there is a God, and I’m not Him.  In both cases my motives are pure enough, I want what’s best for people who are struggling.  The problem, of course, is the idea that I know what’s best, and that I think I hold the answers to solve anyone’s problems.  Pure, unadulterated ego at work.

I have known for some time that my all-or-nothing thinking rarely gets me anywhere productive.  The notion, “well, I tried, you’re not listening, so I’m done” is an attitude that I have used, unsuccessfully, in the past, and I’m not sure why I hang onto it.  After all, what if anyone in my life had acted on that thought with me when I was in active addiction, where would I be now?  I shudder to think of what my life would be like today if that were true.

So the key for me (as it usually is) is finding the balance.  Balance between being helpful and supportive, but not being overwhelmed or consumed by the problems of others.  Balance between being there for people, but creating healthy boundaries for myself.  As with all matters, I am a work in progress, but the self-awareness and consideration before action are definitely areas of improvement for me!

Today’s Miracle:

A little more than two years ago, my husband had to cancel a business trip because of my active addiction.  Today, I am more than halfway through a week with him away on business, and all is well.  I am so grateful that my sobriety has brought back the trust in our family!


Posted on October 9, 2013, in Recovery and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. I need to print that chart up and paste it to my brain.

    Boundaries – this is big stuff for us folks. I am glad that you are finding your voice, your limits, your perspective turning to a more positive and loving way, and taking care of yourself at the same time. This is big Alanon kind of stuff, but certainly applies to us as well. Either we are controlling everyone or letting everyone walk all over us. Not much in between. God we ain’t, and that is something I need a constant reminder about. I can care about someone, but not care for them. Everything on that chart rings true, and some people often misunderstand the concept of detaching with love, but it’s about protecting ourselves, and allowing others to find the consequences of their actions. We aren’t the rescuers. We help, but not enable. We love, but not smother. We step back when needed. And I sometimes get my God Hat on and man it doesn’t fit and doesn’t work…yet again.

    Wonderful post Josie, and I hope that things work out for you. Patience, love and tolerance…those are the principles that help us 🙂

    Love and light,


    • I thought the same thing when I read it… is this Alanon? I was a huge “misunderstander” of the expression detach with love when I first heard it, but I have come to understand its importance. I wish I could say that since I wrote this post everything has been sunshine and lollipops, but I am still having disturbed dreams, so I know I still have something to work out. I did open up a bit to my husband this morning, and I plan on sharing about it in a meeting this afternoon. Progress, not perfection!

      Thanks, as always, for being here, Paul!


  2. This is great Josie! I especially love that picture you found. There’s so much freedom in just letting go and detaching with love. I used to get frustrated when others didn’t listen to me or take my advice, but then I realized I’m not always great about listening to others or taking their advice either–especially if I didn’t ask for it, you know?

    Hope you’re doing well!


    • Thanks, Christy, for the comment, and there is freedom in it, but you have to keep detaching with love, and that’s the current struggle. But I’ll get there, one way or the other!

      I’ll be heading over to your fancy new website in a minute 🙂


  3. Your post speaks right to me! I have found myself in this kinda of situations many times! I’ve had many instance of “I am done” attitude. And then i would grow a burps resentment! I love that list at the top – that is awesome! I have copied it to my phone!

    Recently I was telling my also sober friend about this issue I have had for a while and she said to me – you are not responsible for other people’s behavior. WOW. I somehow never though of it that way. But I really am not, and that helps me detach with love. This is definitely still work in progress for me too! Thanks so much Josie! Ps love your today’s miracle. Sobriety rocks!


    • That is EXACTLY what the light bulb moment for me was as well… I am not responsible for the behavior of others! When I read that, it felt like a load was lifted right off my back! Like I replied to Christy above… the trick for me is to keep on remembering that. I can have the light bulb moment, and then, 5 minutes later, start reverting to form and worrying all over again!

      Thanks for the comment about the miracle, it really was such a nice week just for that reason!


  4. Your key theme of finding balance seems to be a bit of a theme. I just read another blog who wrote about the same topic but from a completely different perspective. Plus I just had a conversation with my daughter yesterday about the importance of creating a sense of balance in your life. I think I am going to reflect on that idea and make sure I have it too! Thanks for the inspiration! ~Thea


    • Well, Thea, I can’t wait to read about your reflection on balance on your blog… that would be an awesome post! Balance for us “all or nothing” folks is probably the biggest uphill climb of our lives, but the payoff is definitely worth it. Thanks for the comment!


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