I never hit rock bottom. I lived at rock bottom. I was at the bottom for a very long time before choosing to work my way up and out. My change was slow, mildly progressive, and there were no real light bulb moments. I was gritty, torn and out of steam, but I was willing.
The real catalyst to my recovery was that I had quit smoking in October of 2007 and found this website called quintet.com. No ashrams, no temples, no fancy recovery center in the middle of Arizona. But quitnet had forums just like the love addiction forums, only with hundreds of daily visitors, and when you’d post, you could watch the messages scroll up instantaneously. If you’d post a question or a comment, in a matter of minutes you could have 10 replies. It was a pretty amazing sight and I think the very nature of all those people helping each other really moved me. It made me recognize the oneness of humanity. We’re all in this together. And you’d see people fail, or slip, day after day. And that helped too. I hate to say it, but I didn’t want to be like them. I wanted to be one of the “old-timers,” someone who could do it, and eventually, I was. I quit smoking 3.5 years ago. Pretty good stats, if you ask me. And I doubt I’ll ever go back.
I quickly learned that the formula applied to quitting smoking is the same for quitting a love addiction; the advice is the same, the hope is the same, the encouragement is the same, the withdrawal is the same, the pain is the same, and the thrill of recovery is the same. I applied everything I learned from the quitting smoking boards to my life with a guy named G for whom I was deeply addicted at the time. Soon enough, I broke myself of the toxic relationship right along with the cigs.
Possibly the biggest lesson I learned by quitting smoking was not to put anything toxic into my body, mind or spirit. When I heard that lesson, I knew it was time to really take action for change. And aside from that site, I had been doing a lot of reading at the time. One book in particular was Anthony Robbins’ “Awaken the Giant Within.” At the time I was really not into reading self-help books, let alone Anthony Robbins. You’re talking to a girl who reads Hemingway, Fitzgerald, H. Miller, Anais Nin, Steinbeck and Joyce. I had spent the past 12 years or so making fun of people who relied on goofy self-help books. But at this point, I was desperate and determined to read everything until I got it.
So, Robbins wrote about “change” and how we are all so loathe to do it, but that real change only takes a second. You put down the cigarette and never pick one up again. It may have taken you years of mental stress to get to that point, but change was enacted in that moment. That lesson, coupled with the quit smoking site, coupled with a myriad of other little lessons that I was learning at the time, was what did it for me.
Oh, and ultimately getting dumped once I thought I was completely cured and healed. That was the act that drove the nail in the coffin for me and gave me a spiritual awaken.
Anyway, there’s a hugely long entry on my blog that never got the attention it deserved called “Lessons about love addiction from a quit smoking site.” Possibly because of its length people were overwhelmed and didn’t read it, but the truth is, this was all the stuff that helped me quit my PoA. And could possibly help you too. Not that the Twelve Steps won’t. But keep in mind that there are other ways to recover. When the student is ready, the teacher appears. So look for signs. Everything and everyone is a teacher when you’re ready to learn.