There is a truth that you will need to accept, grasp, understand, make peace with and use as tool to move you forward, if you want to recover. That truth is this: We love and allow hurtful people into our lives because the hope and need of being loved far outweighs the need for taking care of ourselves. Why is that so? Well, chances are we learned that our parents didn’t take very good care of themselves, so why should we? We also learned that impulsivity feels better immediately. So, why wait?
It’s like choosing a donut over an apple. We make that choice by virtue of what our parents taught us. We make that choice based on our own internal perception of who we think we are. Are we a person who’s little voice inside our head says: Who cares about me or my health?! Let’s have fun and party now! I just want the immediate gratification of that donut!!!! Or does that voice inside our head say, My body is a temple. I really don’t want to pollute it. I’ll have a donut every once in a while, but I prefer to be good to my body and so, I choose the apple. When we choose the donut day, after day, three to five times a day, what happens? We become overweight, unhealthy; we may even become stricken with a preventable disease like diabetes. When we choose the apple, we live a longer, healthier life and we live with the pride in knowing we took care of our health. It’s the same with love addiction. Love addiction is choosing the donut.
So, how do you go from a diet of donuts, cookies, fast food and junk–stuff that might taste really good at the moment, but doesn’t do a darn thing for us, except make us miserable, fat and unhealthy in the long run–to one of fruits, veggies, nuts and seeds that can literally transform our entire being???
The answer is both simple and complex.
When you want to make a change of any kind, you need to change the way you BELIEVE in something. In order to give up the junk food, you have to train your brain to believe that fake, orange cheese in a can is NOT FOOD, and while it may taste good to you now, it is a trick. When you’re a love addict you need to train your brain to believe that the PoA is NOT FOOD FOR YOUR SOUL. He might feel good for a minute or two, but it’s a trick. He will do the same amount of damage as that can of cheeze.
You need to train your brain to understand, accept and demand that you deserve better. Better food, better love, better respect and better overall treatment. You need to train your brain to grasp the idea that partners who cause pain either by ignoring you, treating you poorly or being unable to manage their own lives are equivalent to JUNK FOOD. And you cannot thrive on junk food.
When you recover and want to date people who are good and healthy for you, you must learn to give up the need for immediate gratification for love and protection from someone else. You must give up the belief that it is OK to overlook the pain this person causes you. When you do that, and you take your time searching for someone healthier, the priority changes from expecting love from an outside source to protecting yourself and enjoying your life as it is now, only then will you start to allow healthier people into your life. This takes longer, it’s harder to do, and it’s not instant (even if you have chemistry!) It takes putting down that deliciously tempting donut and having an apple instead.
Getting to that point is hard too. Some people see no value in deferred gratification. They see no value in the apple. But sometimes what it takes is detoxing from all the sugar and sweets you’ve been eating so you can finally see clearly! What I mean by that is this: when we are getting a hit of the PoA (person of addiction), we only know the value of that immediate pleasure that comes after days, weeks or months of pain and agony from abuse, neglect or suffering. And so we get brainwashed or trained into recognizing that our pain is temporary because there will be a hit of pleasure, no matter how small, at some point, if we just hang on. To get out of that cycle and retrain your brain to believe there is a different way to exist is very difficult. But there are two ways this can happen:
- If you’re lucky, you could be struck with a life-altering experience that changes you. The complete rejection of an avoidant PoA, the death of a family member or friend, hitting bottom, seeing the light, and so on, are all examples of an outside force that propels us to change.
- If you’re not so lucky, you have to follow the harder route: changing your belief system from within. That takes months and possibly years of reading about recovery, reading about your addiction, learning new ways to live, to think and to be. It takes finding a better model of love and copying that. It takes giving up your old, unhealthy ways by learning to replace them with healthier ways. It takes many months of being alone, of trying to figure it out, of making sacrifices.
Eventually what happens is you start to see more value in the apple than the donut. You start to see more value in healthy people than you do in the “bad boy.”
When I was younger, I ate french toast and pancakes for breakfast. I ate donuts like there was no tomorrow. McDonald’s was on my list of places to eat at least three times a week! And since I never got fat or felt any negative reaction from all the junk I ate, what did I care? Only when I got older and wiser did I start to see the damage I was doing. Only when I got wiser and love myself more did I realize that much of what I was doing was having a dangerous affect on the parts of me that could not be seen. The same wisdom came to me regarding my love addiction as well. I finally realized the truth! We love and allow hurtful people (and things) into our lives because the hope and need of being loved and having immediate gratification far outweighs the need for taking care of ourselves over the long haul. This idea must change if we are to change.
So…start to see the value and the power in that little apple. Choose substance over taste. Your life depends on it.