In love addiction recovery, “slips” tend to look like one thing and one thing only: you, hitting a weak point and crawling back to your person of addiction (PoA) when you should be maintaining “no contact” (NC). But in advanced recovery, where there are no more PoAs or compromising situations (like affairs, etc), and you’ve managed to bond in a happy, healthy marriage, what does a “slip” look like? Well, a slip can look like virtually anything, but mostly, it looks very personal and my guess is it is typically based on a long held fear which caused you to become a love addict in the first place, and to find ways to avoid that which you have been fearful of. If that sounds a little complicated, let me explain…
For the past several months (maybe even a year), I have noticed that my only goal for any given day is to clear everything off my calendar to the point where I have zero work to do. And once I’ve acheived that goal, and have literally nothing on my plate, I freak out from boredom and try to figure out why I have nothing to do. This pattern is a slip for me. This behavior of not working or wanting to work is usually followed by a period of incredibly taxing work or phases in my life where my job or even my social life has become so strenuous and exhausting that I have a near nervous breakdown and start to cloister myself. I quit working, I don’t go out, I don’t do any projects that once made me happy, and so on.
With all this time on my hands, you’d think that I would feel free to do any number of things I’ve always wished I had time for (go back to school, get involved in volunteer work, take on a new personal project, start my own business, etc.). And yet, I don’t budge. I stay indoors. I create excuses. I find fault in all my ideas: I’m not healthy enough to take on a big project, I’m too old, I’m afraid of getting locked into something only to want out in a year or two, I don’t have the time, I don’t have the money, I don’t have the proper education).
This extreme response to stress, driven by fear and a need to avoid, is a slip. Plain and simple. It may even be a relapse. Whatever it is, it is an issue of poorly managing my life. And while I am still able to maintain other areas of my life– raising teens (this is huge!), maintaining/enjoying a healthy marriage, working on/caring for my home, taking care of myself physically, eating well–I am breaking two of the most essential laws of a healthy recovery: always be able to take care of yourself; and, have a life of your own.
Because we are so dependent in our state of addiction, because we use “love” and relationship to hide behind as a means of avoiding the stuff in life we do not like, in recovery we must try our best to have something to fall back on. We must be able to take care of ourselves, so that we don’t find ourselves dependent or without the means to care for ourselves.
I know I am being hard on myself here, but I am disappointed in myself. I feel as though I have done such a wonderful job in so many other areas of recovery, and overcome such huge hurdles. But, I have spent a lifetime avoiding work and I still feel as though I have never really faced this fear or accomplished anything. I have still never faced my biggest fear. And I think it’s time.
What’s my point in sharing this with all of you? So that you learn to recognize that a slip doesn’t always look like a traditional slip. Love addiction, afterall, has virtually NOTHING to do with your PoA. It has to do with what you use that PoA for–what are you avoiding? What can’t you face? Why do you need to hide behind love and relationships? What is it that you simply cannot accomplish but know that you must?
Something to think about. And hopefully, when you’re strong enough, work on.