When I first sat down to write this book I was unsure how it would unfold. Ideas had been swirling around in my head off and on for the 20 years since I first began working with people affected by addictive relationships, but for various reasons I had not been in the position to commit them to paper2. While on study leave for the first half of 2006 I began writing these ideas down and to my surprise they emerged with more coherence than I had anticipated. Looking back, what appears to have held the work together is the focus on intimacy. The impact of addictive relationships on intimacy can be observed at every level: when people enter addictive relationships they take on an alternative form of intimacy, when they struggle to change they are struggling with very strong interpersonal processes, when they attempt to reintegrate they are faced with the challenge of rebuilding and mending intimate connections, and, most importantly, addictive relationships create distortions and asymmetries for surrounding intimates. This I find is the most disturbing aspect of addictive contexts. Those who live with a person in an addictive relationship are invariably affected and, for many, affected in profound ways that persist through their lives. The addictive relationship appears to cut through the connections between intimates, impoverishing the lives of most of those involved and leaving behind them a trail of alienation, hurt, and shame. In contrast to this destructive potential, I have also watched many people rally all the strength and courage they possess to take on the enormous task of disengaging from an addictive relationship and reforming their connections into a world of multiple intimacies. Their journey invariably involves the ups and downs of hope and disappointment and the heartbreak of separations and reversions. What’s more, the forming and reforming of intimacies is a very slow and fickle process and, as illustrated throughout this book, requires support at the level of individuals, family, community, and society.
KeywordsCollective Action Social World Social Orientation Social Approach Particle Orientation
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