The 500-pound elephant in the room

I had a very difficult night last night. But it brought me to a place of enlightenment. Or rather, I shall say, awareness.

I had been thinking that the “purpose” of this recovery and alone-time was to learn how to survive and love myself without a man around. I’m kinda doing that. It’s hard, but it’s getting done. However, I’m wrong. That’s NOT what my recovery is really about. If i think it is, i am fooling myself and simply remaining blind to the truth of my own personal addiction.

What it is, is this: I keep failing to see the 500-pound elephant in the room. There is a bigger, uglier facet to my life that I have refused to face for YEARS and very possibly the driving force behind how i came to be a love addict…

Let me be clear: my love addiction has little to nothing to do with love or men. It has to do with what I have been avoiding in myself. And this is it– I do not have a career. I do not take care of myself the way I should. I am NOT a productive member of society. I am dependent.

This is very possibly the ugliest side of me. The monster in the closet.

Sure, you might be thinking, “She’s just exaggerating,” or “It’s not as bad as she’s making it out to be.” But it is bad based on this fact: In order to claim bragging rights to adulthood and maturity you need to be able to take care of yourself. Plain and simple. And I’m not entirely doing that.

I do have a job. I do earn money. And I do have two children for which I care for and love. But there’s a catch and one in which I won’t go into here for the sake of anonymity. Just trust me when I say, that if it weren’t for the help of my family and my fiscally responsible accountant, I would not be able to care for myself and my children on my own. I do not produce anything of any great substance and what’s more, I do not give back to society. I cannot offer a service. I do not teach, volunteer, educate, produce or create anything which may benefit humanity.

I merely survive. And that’s simply not good enough.

I believe THIS is what I am running away from. I am running away from being Productive. From working. Every time I begin to date someone new, it’s like this waiting to exhale moment comes over me….Ah! Now i don’t have to face finding a real job or going back to grad school…now I can lose myself to someone else and keep avoiding the ugly truth. The ugly, nagging, festering truth is that I have no real life. It’s not about my parents anymore. It’s not about what my dad did or didn’t do to destroy my life or create me this way. It’s not about some lost love. It’s not even about some deceptively attractive idea of a “fear of abandonment.” I CAN be alone. I have been abandoned and left and I have been OK with it.  Trouble is, when I am alone, it’s easier to see that I am left with the ugliest part of me that I have refused to confront. And that’s what i don’t like. That is why I’d prefer to be in love.

I came to this conclusion haphazardly. I was reading essays from yesterday. If you get the chance read: Diamonds, by Jill Solloway and/or A Man of Great Principles, by Todd Levin. Both brilliant.

I started to peruse the writers’ bios and the more I read the more sick to my stomach I became.

I’ll give you an example:

Meredith Hoffa had her first essay published in The Boston Globe Magazine when she was 18. After college she pursued journalism, working most recently at PBS’ The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer.

or how about this one:

Jenny Bicks was a Writer/Executive Producer on Sex and The City. She joined the show in the first season. Her work on the series has earned her anEmmy, multiple Golden Globes, Producer’s Guild Awards and two WGA nominations… In 2001, Jenny created and executive produced Leap of Faith. She is currently the creator/Executive Producer of Men in Trees

It gets worse:

Doug Gordon is the author of The Engaged Groom which was published by Harper Collins in 2005. He has appeared on The Today Show and the Martha Stewart Living Radio Network and has been quoted on the subject of weddings in newspapers and magazines across the country. He is also a TV writer and producer and was on the staff of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire for four years. His credits include shows for VH1, Court TV, The History Channel, and a series of public service announcements starring Meredith Vieira.

Granted, these bios are all quite self-serving. There is no mention of saving the environment or working on fighting land-development. No memberships in Amnesty International, or writing credentials that include the journalistic exposing of child soldiers in Africa. These people’s bios are entertainment driven. None of them are probably saving the world. But they are achieving in their field. And that, to me, is huge. I have done neither. I have neither achieved anything in my “field” (I don’t even have a field) nor have I produced or worked toward anything potentially world-changing.

I thought of my own bio. How it would read. Of course the over-dramatic version came to me: Tracy lived at home until she was 27, quit college in ‘95, married, had babies. She moved to the suburbs, changed a million diapers, attended horrifying Longaberger Basket parties and became highly skilled at redirecting the focus of her spouse’s sex addiction to online porn rather than herself. She has written voraciously for most of her life but, to date, has only published one 4-page, double-spaced short story in an online magazine that has a readership of 5000. She is, however, a great kisser and has fallen in love nearly 40 (count ’em FORTY) times. 

I sure know a hell of a lot about hooking up.

The beast is rearing its ugly head and laughing at me, saying, “what have you done with your pathetic life but chased after men?”

So, what does this all have to do with love addiction? Well…I remember when I was being interviewed by Pernille. Despite being a successful documentarist, she is also a love addict. And she said to me once, “why is it that I cannot have both? A career and a relationship? When the relationship comes, I am all-consumed by it and don’t want to work or do anything else.”

The difference between she and I is that she is willing to put a lot of effort into her career during alone time, so much so, that she has won 28 film awards for her documentary “The Monastery.” I, on the other hand, have only been willing to put most of my effort into men. In between “gigs,” so to speak, I merely pass the time waiting, doing mundane things. 

This disgusts me. And I need to change. 

I wanted to sing. I wanted to write. I wanted to be a therapist. I wanted to be an actor. I wanted to make movies. I wanted to own a restaurant. I wanted to write a book. I wanted to write a screenplay. And yet, I have put no effort into any of that. When and if I did I (graduating from college), I stopped and gave it all up for a relationship– and a bad one at that.

Bottom line is this: i have to face this monster. I have been, since October, taking steps to do so. I have re-applied to grad school for Creative Writing. I have kept a promise to myself that I will have my work continually submitted to magazines and publishers. I have begun this blogs to help educate people on love addiction. I am writing more and more. I am even looking into ways to not only donate money to causes of my choice (forest conservation, stopping land development, keeping the democrats in the White House), but to actually work towards enlightening people on these issues and hopefully raise money in the process). I know I have it in me to see myself as a success. To be a success. But I must work harder. Be better. The object, though,  is to redirect  thinking AWAY from men and put my brain to better use.

The addictive nature of what drives me to remain in love is essentially MASKING something far more sinister: an inability to stand on my own and be, in my eyes, a success. My goal is to overcome this. My goal is to not only recognize the 500-pound elephant in the room, but to ask him firmly and kindly to leave.

7 thoughts on “The 500-pound elephant in the room

  1. T,
    You ARE, in fact, creating things that are not only spending your own time doing what you promised yourself (writing), you are doing it in such a way that, regardless of how many people are subscribed or read your writings, is very much contributing to society.
    You are contributing to my understanding of my own love addiction as well as revealing some very vitally major things on my heart that either I need to change or be reminded of, at the very least. You are speaking to people in such an open way, yet because of your own bias towards yourself are relating to myself and I’m sure a lot of people!
    I am the last person (no authority, little experience in life) to say this, but damn girl give yourself a little credit!
    First of all, I dont care what kind of house you live in or how many magazines have published your articles or how many products you have invented that solve life’s lack of convenience. I dont care what your friends or family thinks of you or if the world feels you are giving something to “society” as a whole. YOUR KIDS are you BIGGEST investment and by loving and feeding and being emotionally available (as best as you possibly can, even though us LAs I know we pass so much on to them subconsciously/unintentionally), you are “contributing” SO much. I believe that EVERY single child is our future, in the least tree hugging, no bra wearing yet liberal sense.
    If you feel that your daily life is boring or mundane, the absolute best thing you can do for yourself and the world is play with, love, and cherish your kids!! I know I do. I even am in a relationship and he tells me to really invest in my daughter, and I do. When I start thinking too much and obsessing over my bf, I HAVE to focus on something else or I. will. go. crazy. Not a “let me just distract myself with something else so I won’t obsess about him,” a “Let me invest my time and love and effort into the precious life I brought into the world and give to them so that the longing in my heart is for such goodness.”
    I think that even if we struggle with loving or being loved, we have the RESPONSIBILITY to show our kids how to love by loving them constantly.
    I know this may be a little off the path of maintaining healthy adult romantic or otherwise relationships, but I had to express what really is healthy at least for me when I am in those alone times and I have that need to either give or be given. I choose to give. And my kid, believe me, gives me back overflowing.
    Thanks again for this post, 5 stars.


  2. Wow! Your words really blew me away. And you’re so right. I should give myself a little more credit. And three years after this post was written, I think I have come along way. I’m glad it influenced you to read and post though. This is one of my most life-changing moments–this realization came and it changed me.

    Since this post, I did a triathlon, was admitted to grad school for creative writing and became a teacher. And yet, despite all that, I still need to be reminded that my life has value….especially as it applies to my kids. Thanks again!


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