When an alcoholic decides to commit himself to recovery he cannot expect to get well if he holds on to the drink.
When a junkie says, I want to change, she has to give up the pills.
The same goes for sex addicts, shop-a-holics, food addicts, gamblers and so on. You need to remove the tool you use to perpetuate your addiction. You cannot get well if you continue to hold on to that which aggravates and memorializes your addictive behavior.
What does that mean to a love addict? It means no contact with your PoA. One hundred percent NC. Unless there is a viable reason to communicate, then your ability to uphold your commitment to NC is what determines your success at recovery. Plain and simple. (Viable reasons might include: you share children, you have bills together etc. But even in that case there is the possibility of NC or very strong boundary work).
I admit it. Easier said than done.
You see the trouble with love addiction (or at least this is what we tell ourselves) is that it’s not as black and white as an addiction to an inanimate object or a substance. You can’t just STOP talking to someone. Right? I mean, they are a human being. And besides, a bottle of booze doesn’t ring you up on the phone and say, “come on, girl…i really need you tonight. Just one more chance….” A slot machine doesn’t skip out on alimony or child-support to the point where you have to go running after it. And a hit of heroin or a joint doesn’t have the social acceptance in this country that love does– that everyone NEEDS a hit of heroin to survive is not the same as everyone needing Love to survive. Love is a human need, you tell yourself. You can’t just avoid someone. Just like food, water, shelter, we need it. Love, love love. But be real. This is what we tell ourselves in order to perpetuate our addiction. To keep our foot in the door.
The sad truth is that love addicts aren’t doing any loving. Pursuing, yes. Hanging on, yes. Staying connected past the point of dignity, yes. I have been writing about LA since February and I have not seen or heard one story recounted any where in LA world of Love. True, Mutual, respectful, tolerant, giving, selfless love. Nothing.
And yet so many of us fall into the trap thinking that our addiction is vitally different from those of other addictions. An alcoholic has no excuse for slipping, but we do…because love is different.
We tell ourselves: it’s my birthday, he was in town, I won’t see him for a very long time, he called me out of the blue and I didn’t recognize his phone number, he said he’d change, we work together, she’s friends with my friends, I had no choice, he’s the only man left, we’re just friends now…and on and on…
By creating these excuses for ourselves and not taking NC seriously, we are exposing an ugly truth: we are addicts and we have no control over our lives.
And by perceiving our actions and desires as LOVING or holding on to someone in the hopes that they love us back, is false and misleading. What you are feeling is not Love. It has nothing to do with love. It is desperation. It is neediness. It is fear. The same high you get from your PoA is the same high that a drug addict gets from a hit of his drug of choice. And the longer the drug addict keeps taking a hit and thinking that it’s OK to have that hit, he will suffer.
Unlike the junkie or the alcoholic though, we must come to terms with our addiction in a different way. An alcoholic must give up the drink forever. Love addicts cannot rightly do that. We must have hope in knowing that we can overcome our addiction to the point of living with it and making peace with it without dependency, fear and sickness. That takes work. And it takes being alone. Soul-searching. Struggling to learn who you are without the complicated mess of the relationship you are currently in.
Being alone to many of us is the scariest thing in the world. We will do ANYTHING to avoid it. We will lie to ourselves. We will trick ourselves into believing we are OK. But if we do, we will not grow.
Like I said, I have had this blog since February. Almost a full year. And i have slipped more than I can count. It’s an ugly truth. And from experience I can honestly say that because of those slips I am no closer to where I want to be. I am currently in a holding pattern. I am growing in one way but not another. And if I am to be committed, I need to get serious. I need to make a vow.
NO contact. NO excuses.
My PoA will call me. I will, at some point, pass him on the road. He has a few things of mine that I’d like back. But like the alcoholic, who suffers with the fantasy that the drink will solve all his troubles and take away the pain if he has just one more drink, I too have the nagging fantasy that if I just make this one last meeting, things will feel better. That I can handle it. It’s not true. It’s a lie.
You and I have choices: we can pick up the phone or not. we can open the door or not. we can go get our stuff back or let it go. We can see him that one last time for a a special occasion, or we can just say, it’s time to make that commitment to to myself NOW.
I vow, right here and now, to maintain NC. It is a gift I am giving to myself. There is no excuse important enough or great enough to break NC. I am sick and tired of being sick and tired and promise to make this commitment to myself.