Is it possible to have a genuinely loving, connected, intimate relationship with an addict? The simple answer is no.
No Mutual Sharing
Addicts are self-absorbed, so any mutual sharing of information, of their heart, or their interests doesn't exist. A lack of mutual sharing is a barrier to intimacy. That is because the addiction runs everything, so any sharing they do is manipulative.
With addicts, everything's intense. Therefore, addicts are completely impulsive and compulsive, which leads to a lack of stability. When there's a lack of stability in a relationship, it creates a high state of stress and fear and a massive amount of intensity.
Addicts lie, they manipulate, they steal. They'll do anything to keep the addiction going. They'll hide it from you. They are covert in their ways. Therefore, trust is not possible, and neither is intimacy and connection.
Inability to Connect
At the heart of addiction is intolerable emotional pain.
Addiction comes from self-loathing because every addict goes against their morals and values, needs and wants negotiables, and non-negotiables. As a result, they don't want to be an addict, even if they try and convince you by saying, "Oh, I'm not an addict," or "It's no big deal, I'm fine."
All of that is a lie, and the lies that they continue to tell are more self-loathing and more of the pain they project onto you. Since they cannot take ownership, they won't see that their lies aren't true.
Addicts operate from a skewed reality. But addicts are extremely convincing. After all, they've convinced themselves and most likely you that they need the substance or are not abusing the substance.
Addicts survive their unhealed pain by detaching from reality. They aren't present in the world, and therefore they aren't present in the relationship. When in a relationship with an addict, you're essentially in a relationship with an actor. Can you have a relationship with an actor? Of course not. Is there true, authentic intimacy? Of course not.
If you're in a relationship with an addict, there's only one solution. You have to face the addiction and accept that you can do nothing to stop it. The addict comes to that on their own. Typically an addict will exhaust all of their denial mechanisms until they're in so much pain that the consequences of continuing the addiction feel worse than the addiction itself. For some people, that never happens because usually, they're great at finding enablers to keep it going.
It's two people doing the best they can with where they are at the moment. Both of them are hurting; both of them are perfectly imperfect.
Life is so challenging because we don't teach how to navigate these complex issues. Ultimately it all boils down to a choice:
Would we like to live a little bit better and in a little bit less pain?
If that's what you want, there's only one way.
We have to face the pain that created the pain on both sides: for the addict and the enabler of the addict's behavior.
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