I am an addict. That is a frickin’ hard statement to make about oneself. I’m not addicted to alcohol, food, drugs; no…this is much more complicated. I am a love addict. At first I just laughed when I heard about this type of addiction but the more my therapist and I explored the subject, and the more I read on the subject it became clear that this is what I am suffering from. Don’t they always say that the first step to healing is acknowledgement? Well, that first step is a doozie! You want to deny it, fight it at every turn, or laugh it off. I want to give a ton of thanks to Don’t Date That Dude for posting “Are you Addicted to Love?” because finding and reading that post gave me the first inkling that I am indeed addicted.
As I answered “yes” to all of the questions on the blog, I began to sob in disbelief. I’ve always known that there was something ‘just not right’ about my relationships, but it was very hard to own the fact that I’m addicted to love. Even harder was the fact that this addiction was caused by some lack of connection/nurturing from my childhood. My parents are great and I couldn’t imagine that they had done anything wrong in their child rearing practices. After all, there are three children and why did I, the first born, end up like this? It turns out that it is not just all about how my parents raised me, but has to do with my personality and my perception that at some point in my early life I felt abandoned. It could be that my Mom was so busy raising three kids (with a span of only 2 years between each) that I, as the eldest, felt somewhat left out. I was always very clingy and needy and I have very vivid memories of my Mom brushing me off – literally – she’d have to wrench me away from her leg. Or other times when she’d say, “Just go play with your sister and stay out of my hair!”, when I was whining and needing to be with her.
So, now, years down the road I am struggling with this addiction. It is not only an addiction that occurs between myself and significant others, but has occurred between myself and my daughter.
You see, a love addict searches for something outside of the self that will provide them with emotional and life stability. The experts liken it to a fantasy (similar to a childhood fairy tale – maiden being rescued by a handsome prince) and when that fantasy fails to be their reality the addict eventually reverts back to childhood abandonment issues.
For me, my last relationship became skewed and was based on “whether or not he would leave me”. Everything seemed fine until he started a new job which involved overtime and weekend hours. It became all about me – how would he have time to spend with me, wasn’t I important any more? I was making more and more demands on him and no matter what he did I was not satisfied. I was convinced that he didn’t want to spend time with me and was dedicating his time to his work so he wouldn’t have to be with me. When I felt my needs were not being met I became resentful and angry. I felt abandoned. I knew I should have been happy, but wasn’t. I was in a relationship but felt very alone.
And now the fun part…the withdrawal stage. Things got so bad for me in my relationship that I had to end it. He was a terrific person and I really gave him a run for his money. The hardest part is acknowledging that my addiction is the reason for this failed relationship. As with any addiction you have to quit ‘cold turkey’. That is not an easy thing to do. How do you tell someone you love that you cannot see them or speak to them? For me I just had to make it clear that I needed him completely out of my life. No contact. Period. You can imagine the pain it has caused. It’s like being an alcoholic and wanting that drink so fucking badly that it just kills you inside. You tell yourself that you want it, you need it and when you keep it from yourself you become so fucking angry and bitter. You start blaming everyone but yourself for the situation you are in. You know that you have to stay away but you think that having it will ease your pain.
So, here I go down the road to recovery. The most painful part is knowing that I’ve lost a very special and important person in my life. I’ve had to give up my best friend. The pain is so excruciating it cannot be described.
Even though this addiction has caused so much turmoil in my life and has made it impossible for me to have a healthy relationship, I look forward to moving on and healing. I know it will be a lot of work and will require a life long commitment – but I am worth it.