THE CONTINUING SAGA OF A LOVE ADDICT…
For me part of the love addiction involved a major shift in my values/characteristics/behavior and caused me to become someone that I wasn’t. I was so consumed with pleasing him and making sure that he “wanted” me and “wouldn’t leave me” that I became someone I wasn’t; I became what I thought he wanted. It’s not that I was a bad person or that he was a bad person, and in no way did he force me to change. He was very rigid in his thinking and believed that his way of doing things was the correct or better way. That is fine, everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but I started to believe that my way of doing things and my values were no longer significant. So, I changed. I can’t even determine at what exact moment the transformation began. The earliest instance that comes to mind is a matter that occurred approximately three months into the relationship – when he talked me into doing something I’d never choose to do. All he had to say was “It will ruin my life” to get me to make a decision, which was not my decision at all. Sure, it was a decision that I made, but it was made as the “me” that only wanted to please him. I believed that in order to make him love me more, and to keep him from leaving that I should do anything for him, and I did.
Granted, in every relationship I think there is a bit of change that occurs, but I was looking for every little sign and signal indicating what he liked, disliked, how he expected things to be, etc. I took it to the extreme and forgot about the things that were important to me. I constantly listened for verbal cues regarding the things that bothered him and the things he thought needed changing. He didn’t like that I didn’t roll the toothpaste tube properly, it bothered him that I breathed too loudly, he didn’t like that my house was so claustrophobic for him, he made sure to tell me when I needed a haircut, he didn’t like my “big” purses, he didn’t like the music on my iPod, and he thought my kitchen counters were too cluttered. He didn’t ask me to change, but by giving me these cues I started to believe that they were things I needed to change – and I believed that if I didn’t make the changes he would no longer love me and would leave me. So, I began to change for him – I rolled the toothpaste tube properly, I tried to breath more quietly, I rearranged my living room so he would be more comfortable, I made sure to get my hair cut when he mentioned that it needed it, I bought smaller purses, I changed the music on my iPod, and I rearranged my kitchen counters so they were more pleasing to him. WTF? Crazy isn’t it? What sane, competent woman would ever think of living her life for someone else? You got it – someone that is addicted.
Prior to becoming involved in this relationship I was physically healthy. I exercised regularly, and ate healthy. I cared about how I looked and I enjoyed going out with my friends and loved spending time with my family. Once in the relationship all that started to change. I stopped exercising, gained an excessive amount of weight, I stopped caring about my appearance, and I stopped spending time with my family and friends. I would decline offers to go out with friends and stopped going to family functions because all I wanted to do was to be with him. Plus, he didn’t care for my family or my friends so I conveniently avoided them most of the time. I was so focused on him that all of my previous activities and relationships were no longer significant. I was totally blind to what I was doing because I was so obsessed with him – I was addicted, and once addicted all I wanted was more.
I recall on several occasions I burst into tears when he made curt statements that made me feel small. Not even important statements, but simple things that a person under normal circumstances would blow off. Statements that I, before becoming addicted, would have tossed right back at him with some heavy sarcasm. I was seeking his approval and when he said something that I perceived as negative toward me I broke down. I remember him questioning me as to why I was so sensitive and remember saying “It just hurts when someone you love says such things, I would never say those things to you”. I didn’t see how unhealthy the relationship was for me because at first it felt so good, and I wanted to perpetuate that feeling…so I stayed in it thinking it would get better…just like the alcoholic who takes one more drink. You keep thinking “just a little bit more” and everything will be alright. That’s the thing about addiction – the thing you are initially addicted to makes you feel better but eventually makes you feel worse.
At some point I just decided that I had had enough. I was miserable and I was torn – I was worried about losing him and was also coming to the realization that I had lost myself. It was a no-win situation. I had to make the final decision to choose me, to save myself. The ironic thing about the ending of the relationship is that he claimed that I was self-absorbed and it was all about me.
Now I have my work cut out for me. I feel like I’m on a roller coaster, and guess what folks, I fucking hate roller coasters. My days go from okay, to bad, to tolerable and then cycle around again. I want to get off this ride and it can’t happen soon enough. I try not to dwell on it, but I wonder – why the hell didn’t I think he would just love me for who I was? Why did I think that things were never good enough? Why did I beat myself up so much? Why did I transform myself to please him? And then I remember the answers to all the questions…because I am an addict. So I sit here with a gazillion self-help manuals and books and my therapy sessions to try and get myself back…back to being me. It’s an awkward place to be – somewhere in between where you ended up and trying to start fresh. I’m not going to lie – I hate this. I hate this part of the process. I want it over NOW. I don’t want to have to wade through all of these emotions again and again, day after day. I want my life back to normal and I don’t want to wait another day!