Addicts And Those Who Love Them
Behind every addict is someone traumatised by loving them
Portraits and words by Antonia Rolls, photography by Michael McAlister
Brighton Fringe Festival, Fishing Quarter Gallery, Kings Road Arches, Brighton, BN1 1NB
Tuesday 8th June – Sunday 13 June 2021
I love an addict, and I have had to reframe what love means. At first, I felt worthless, a failure, ashamed because if I had loved right, my addict would not be in such a state. I believed him when he said it is all my fault, I believed him when he said it is all under control and I believed him when he said he would overdose to teach me a lesson. And yet, he is not always crazy, sometimes he is calm and sad and sweet.
I thought I was alone. It took ages for me to realise I am just one of many who struggle, in silence and shame, alongside someone they love who is addicted. I saw how when we start to talk, to tell our stories, there is progress, support, tough love and compassion.
This exhibition comes from long years of being in the madness alongside an addict and learning to survive.
Addicts And Those Who Love Them is powerful, raw and real. Portraits of and words by both addicts and those like me, who love an addict. How is it possible to love someone so destructive, manipulative and sick? And yet we do. But we have to learn to love in a way that does not destroy us. We have to learn detachment, and distance, and about what we are powerless over and what we are not. Behind every addict is someone traumatised by loving them.
Michael McAlister is also exhibiting his series of photographs called “Small Signs”, small signs that describe his increasingly destructive dependence on alcohol and drugs until, after about thirty years, he finally and successfully became sober and clean.
The Brighter The Light
An exhibition of paintings and words on partying, drugs and addiction.
Working with my son, this exhibition shows what it is as a mother to see one of your children’s drug-taking and partying spiral out of control, ending in a devastating addiction to the opioid painkiller OxyContin. I watched my son, helplessly, as his addiction became increasingly chaotic, mad, destructive and dangerous. It is with astonishing courage and strength that he is now rebuilding his life, and after many years, he is no longer taking this dangerous drug.
The paintings are powerful, raw and show how powerless I felt, despite watching overdose after overdose, to do anything at all to stop this terrible thing happening to my son. I do not pull the punches either. I am in no doubt at all of the madness addiction brings to the family and to others who are affected, and the point of these paintings is to say, Look. This is what I saw, this is how it was. It is not pretty. And all the time, this is my son.
Coming Home Workshop
“Take back your power, take back your path, live your truth.”
How is it that we wander so far away from home, from ourselves? When we forget who we are, we feel disconnected without knowing why, aware of a sense of loss but knowing that there is more to us than this. Coming Home workshops last for the whole day, and include discussion, creative exploration and deep thinking to explore how we get lost, and how we become homesick for ourselves. This workshop is about life. Your life, and living your life. If you are coming back to yourself, who are you coming home to? Who do you believe you are?
“As we meander our way through life, most of us get so caught up in the chaos of living and the routine of our daily lives, we actually forget who we truly are, and in so doing forget our true potential. This workshop is empowering and relevant.”
The A Graceful Death Exhibition
Portraits and words on the end of life.
The A Graceful Death exhibition is a whole experience. It will be emotional, challenging, uplifting, inspiring. There will be at least two dedicated Listeners on hand at all times if you would like to talk or if you need someone to sit with you. I remember the first time I exhibited these paintings, realising that so many of us have stories to tell about love and death, and nowhere to tell them. A Graceful Death exhibition is about what it means to die, to face our mortality, and to live our lives fully today.