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Codependency and Detachment - A Book Review

I love to read more than anything in the world and because of that reviewing a book is difficult for me. Why? Well, when I read something I really want to share with my readers, I am anxious to give you the entire story as well as my opinion about the subject matter and I go beyond review.

In the case of this particular book, “Codependence and the Power of Detachment” by Karen Casey, I didn’t know as much about the subject matter as I thought I did and so I was not only reading but absorbing and remaining teachable. The subtitle of this publication “How to Set Boundaries and Make Your Life Your Own” spoke more to me than the title.

The book consists of 22 short chapters, each chapter a personal story of a person who learned how to detach. Each person who told their story was either the alcoholic/addict or the family member of an alcoholic/addict. Some of these were in AA but all were involved in Al-Anon. The stories are divided into two to three parts, the last part entitled, “Insights”. The insight section of each story tells how the person took charge of their own life and how they had grown and continue to grow once they could detach. Codependency and detachment are much more rooted in Al-Anon than in AA and in Ms. Casey’s own words about being a part of both, “My personal recovery has been doubled by this decision, one I think every other AA member should make.”

Many of the people in the book that Ms. Casey writes about and some of my own AA friends, learn of their disease of alcoholism because they attended Al-Anon first for a family member. This brings to light the fact that alcoholism is a family disease and you are either the addict or not but everyone in the family practices codependency, or the wrong form of detachment in some way or another. When you read these stories, you will find a part of yourself in most of them and may find all of yourself in at least one of them.

Codependency is something all of us see even in families that we consider functional. One particular woman (Rose’s Story) says “she had been raised to think it was her job to take care of others, children as well as husbands.” “…..Caretaking was a key part of her identity”. Men can certainly be codependent but women have traditionally been so set up for this kind of thinking. Instead of focusing on the word “codependent”, Ms. Casey focuses on detachment which is so much easier to understand. Detachment described in the book as “stepping back and leaving room for God to do God’s work.”

There are other parts of this book that I enjoyed immensely and the first was Ms. Casey’s explanation of “Attaching versus Joining”. I would invite you to read this yourself because, truthfully, I wouldn’t be able to do it justice in a few words. The other part I enjoyed was her personal explanation of the Twelve Steps of Al-Anon. Now for those of you like me who are not in the Al-Anon fellowship, the steps are identical to the Twelve Steps of AA. What was interesting to me was how they are read and worked from the Al-Anon point of view. My personal experience is that I know of men and women who practice the principles and work the steps of Al-Anon much more seriously than some of us who do the same in AA.

There are few books I read and use a highlighter. For some reason, it seems a sacrilege. I feel like I’m defacing it. I used a highlighter quite a bit when I read this book because there were such wonderful words, phrases, sentences and paragraphs that describe so perfectly my codependency and detachment issues. I want to be able to pick this book up when I want and have those words, now in florescent green, jump out at me!

“Codependence and the Power of Detachment” is an easy but enjoyable read. I think that you, like me, will find that you will identify not only things about yourself but also that person(s) in your life who remains your codependent attachment. The real message in this book is that each and every one of us whether we are in AA, Al-Anon, any other 12 Step program or a combination of these can lovingly detach and that in doing so, “our freedom is guaranteed.” Buy it! Read it! Share it! Make sure it comes back to you, though, because you will want to keep it on your bookshelf.

Namaste’. May you walk your journey in peace and harmony.

Karen Casey, the author of “Codependence and the Power of Detachment” (Conari Press) has authored nineteen books. These include “Each Day a New Beginning”, “It’s Up to You”, and “Change Your Mind and Your Life Will Follow”.


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