July 20 – Intimacy/Excuses: Step One

It’s easy to justify our addictive tendencies when what we are addicted to is something as necessary and seemingly mundane as work. We can excuse away all kinds of bad behavior, including the neglect of people we care about, because “we have to work!” It’s important that we recognize these thoughts for what they are though—excuses. There is no substitute for intimacy and human connection. It’s time we acknowledge that our addiction serves as a distraction from—not a replacement for—these things in our lives. 

green trees with fog

On this topic, Anne Wilson Schaef writes:

“How easy it is to become so self-centered in our work that we cannot even see the needs of those closest to us! Often, our work is used as an excuse to avoid intimacy with ourselves and others. No matter what the work is, if it is ‘work,’ it is justified. 

Often we ask those we love to make tremendous sacrifices in the name of our work, and we become unfeeling and uncaring in the process. It is the work that matters. Women who are addicted to their housework are just as demonic as those who are addicted to their businesses. Both can be escapes from intimacy. 

Recovery offers us the possibility of intimacy with ourselves and others. However, to experience the joy of recovery, we have first to admit what we are doing.”

The relationship between connection and addiction is well-established. Connection is recognized to be the opposite of addiction, in fact, since the more connected we are to society and those around us, the less likely we are to become and stay addicted. Intimacy is key to connection, and it takes time to build. We must establish closeness to ourselves and others slowly over time in order for it to be genuine. This requires us to focus on the people around us, to spend time and attention on them, and of course that means time and attention spent away from our addiction. It will be difficult at first, and we may not want to do so. An object in motion tends to stay in motion, and human nature is not much different from physics in this way. It’s easy to justify our current behavior with excuses and reasons why we don’t need to change. Much harder is the act of analyzing our behavior to understand how it is or isn’t serving us, and making the decision to change for the better.

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