The founder of family systems theory, Murray Bowen (1978), distinguished between two kinds of dysfunctional relationships, engulfment (fusion) when the bond is too tight, and isolation, when it is too loose.   In engulfed relationships, one or both parties subordinate their own thoughts and feelings to those of the other(s).  Addiction creates engulfed relationships whereas the person becomes alienated due to giving up vital parts of the self as the addiction becomes more overwhelming and demanding more loyalty. The person becomes more alienated from self as well as others as the capacity to be present or intimate with self and others diminishes.

As the addiction and related engulfment progresses the person’s sense of self becomes more fragile that any relationship with another (the world I make with another) threatens to overwhelm them (the world that I have with myself, my own world).  Contact of vulnerability necessary for intimacy even with self becomes a struggle or to preserve (safeguard, protect) their own existence and to maintain (continue) their own identity.  As the person’s addiction progresses the person cannot recognize the engulfment with the alcohol or drugs or process addictions.  However, they view the family or concerned persons as engulfing them and the most typical strategy employed by persons fearing engulfment is to isolate or attempt to isolate totally.  The drugs or alcohol affords a concealment or shroud of total aloneness.

Carl Jung, Existential Theorist…. Personality is in a state of becoming or emerging and in transition of defining his/her own fate.  When one is stagnated developmentally, one simply exists.  Anxiety results from a sense of dread or being choked out of life.  The central problem in the development of the human personality is ontological insecurity, or the feeling that one is threatened by non being (Lang, The Divided Self, 1959).

Alcoholism and/or drug addiction progresses from the initial stages of perceived pleasure and “abusing and living” to the reality of either chronic or terminal addiction or alcoholism in which the person is either “abusing to live” or “abusing to die”.  Either stage is truly “ontological insecurity” in which the person is threatened by non being or more fearful of living than dying.  If you or a loved one has reached this horribly torturous nightmare, there is hope and change can occur.  You can live again.

Resentment is the “number one” offender.  It destroys more alcoholics than anything else.  From it stems all forms of spiritual disease, for we have not been only mentally and physically ill, we have been spiritually sick.  When the spiritual malady is overcome, we straighten out mentally and physically (Big Book, p. 64).

How many alcoholics and addicts and adult children of alcoholic/addicts embrace and nurture their resentments toward God?  The word God still aroused a certain antipathy (opposition, hostility, ill-will, hatred, dislike, ill feelings, antagonism, and aversion).  When the thought was expressed that there might be a personal to me this feeling was intensified.  I didn’t like the idea.  I could go for such conceptions as Creative Intelligence, Universal Mind or Spirit of Nature but I resisted the thought of a Czar of Heavens, however, loving this sway might be.  I have since talked with scores of men who felt the same way (Big Book, p. 12).

In order to possess resentment toward something or someone is it directly related to our expectations that we place on them while diminishing expectations for ourselves?  Three basic ideas are necessary for reconciling God’s goodness with the suffering we encounter in this world.  God has given human beings “dominion” over this planet, making us responsible for what happens.  The second foundational idea is that what contributes to being human is our ability to choose good or evil (that which is selfish, empty, and useless).  This ability is a gift from God.

The third foundational idea is that we struggle with our freedom; we find that others as well as ourselves have innate tendencies to be drawn toward those things that are not God’s will (Hamilton, Why, 2011).  Consequently, are the resentments toward God really disappointments with others and ourselves?  Until the alcoholic/addict is ready to own the resentments verses projecting them on God or others, the spiritual malady is impossible to overcome and the person remains imprisoned in his/her addiction and attitude.

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Copyright © 2020 by Woodlake Management, LLC.
All rights reserved.