I write about this a lot, but it’s so important, so, here it is again.
You know this relationship is no good for you, and you know you shouldn’t keep calling him. Your brain gets it. By why don’t you stop? Why can you understand something on an intellectual level but not follow through and make intellectual decisions about it?
Well, here’s my take.
You have two brains: your logical (adult) brain and your emotional (child within) brain. The part of you that does not operate on an intellectual level is your emotional brain. It is the animal in you, or more euphemistically, the child within you. Your emotions think and feel with no rhyme or reason, and when you’re healthy, your emotions tend to be balanced and not too demanding. The child is satisfied. And so you begin to trust them, listen to them, ignore them when necessary, or allow them to guide SOME (not all) of the decisions you make in your life, all the while using your head as well.
When you’re a love addict, however, you are guided by your emotional brain. And that wouldn’t exactly be a problem, except that your emotions are pure chaos. Untrained emotions, running rampant, demanding immediate gratification are not the best guide when it comes to managing your life. They can’t be trusted. They tend to lead you down paths that are fine if you’re a toddler (insert hand in dog’s mouth; cry, kick and scream for attention; spit food out if you don’t like it, etc.), but, as an adult, they lead you down a rather frustrating, inappropriate path. Why? Because your emotions, though once designed to help you survive in the wild and become human have really become obsolete except when used for purposes of instinct. Psychology Today, in fact, writes that, “The old fight-or-flight system is inadequate to the modern threats. You can fight a tiger; but you have to work hard, for a long time, to fight a financial crisis or the threat of terrorism.” How does that apply to you incessantly calling a man who doesn’t treat you well or love you back the way you’d like to be loved? Well, your emotional brain perceived your situation as a threat and so, you try to deal with that threat on a rather animalistic level. To obsess over it. To chase. To hunt. Your emotional brain forces you to kick and scream and demand IMMEDIATE GRATIFICATION (I’m hungry; I need food), but, your logical brain pulls you back, or at least allows you to be aware that this doesn’t make sense, or that it’s wrong. Rationally you know your PoA is no good, and rationally, you know your behavior (obsessing over someone) is futile, but your emotions don’t care. They are greedy, hungry and want to be fed.
My suggestion: begin to listen to the two “dictators” inside you. Allow your logical brain (the adult in you) the opportunity to take the lead every once in a while. That means following a logical path and listening to reason from time to time (today, I’m choosing to not call him because, let’s be honest, he doesn’t call me). Also, pay close attention to when your emotional brain (the child in you) takes over, or makes decisions for you (reaching out to a PoA when you “know” it’s not a good idea.) When you are able to see and feel the distinctly different decision-makers inside you, you have a better chance at allocating which one gets to make the decisions and which one doesn’t. And here’s the deal: the more you exercise your logical brain, the stronger it gets! That being said, in early recovery you want to bring yourself to a point where your logical brain is making more than 70% of the decisions. Why not 50/50? Well, if you’re anything like me, when you are in love addict mode you are completely off balance, ruled by emotions. In order to bring the balance back you have to tip the scales in the opposite direction for a while. Your logical brain will guide you to safety. Eventually, when you are in a healthy place, you can give your emotional brain a little of her power back. But by then, hopefully she will have calmed down
5 thoughts on “Why am I just not “getting” it?!?!?”
Just In Time……. I keep asking myself this over and over for years. The logical brain has not been exercised….
Thank you for your blog. Immense help
I have just found your blog and I am really enjoying reading through it, it came at just the right time. Some fantastic advise and as an emotional anorexic who is a torch bearer it has really helped shed some light on many of my questions. I totally get what you are saying and understand that we need to know what it is in us that is making us behave in a certain way (i.e. what are we avoiding..) before we can move forward however how what if the problem is so deep rooted that you can just not pin point it? I am guessing it has something to do with being vulnerable and losing control but not sure. I have been on my own pretty much most of my adult life due to many short flings and non -requited obsessions (and even periods of liking no one at all) and I so want a balanced healthy relationship with a real person. Most advice is for people who jump from one relationship to another….however for someone like me who has not been in a proper relationship for along time I don’t want to choose to be on my own (as I do that naturally anyway!!) I actually want to feel love that is reciprocated without trying to force it. In fact I have just sent an email to a new on / off PoA ( who has just appeared in my life after me being on my own for more than a year and a half) telling him that “I want more than just the physical side of our relationship – I want him to get to know me out of the bedroom or we will just return to friends” I cant help get the feeling I have just taken a step backwards….feeling a bit mortified actually as I know I am trying to force something that is not there but scared to give it up. I realise I should have just walked away and not said anything as surely if he wanted more we would have more (guess I have learnt that much) . Baby steps I know 😦
Hi HBP, and welcome! You’re in the right place and I hope my blogs can help.
I heard the other day that we can often figure out what we are most afraid of by knowing what we do not want others to know about us. SO, ask yourself: what don’t I want people to know about me? what do I try to hide? Chances are, others see this side of you anyway! But you don’t. Or you don’t want to recognize that this side of you needs to be accepted and embraced. For me, I didn’t want others to see that I didn’t have a job, or a career. I was humiliated that I couldn’t get my act together enough to be a reliable consistent worker. Or that I couldn’t figure out what my passion was. I didn’t have to go too deep to figure that out. I thought I did! And I spent years psychoanalyzing myself. Pure silliness. It was right in front of my face. Do a search on this site for the “Battle Within” and read that blog. It should help.
Lastly, I think you did a wonderful thing by asking this person for more. He probably will not give it to you (at least that is what I sense in how you described him) and this will probably drive him away. BUT THAT’S OK! You know what you want, you asked for it and you are now finding out that he cannot give it. This is HEALTHY. What’s not healthy is not asking for what you want and instead, settling for crumbs and allowing this other person to dictate how much you receive and how much you don’t. Thing is, you must feel RIGHT and GOOD about asking for what you want, and more importantly, you must ask it from the right person. You cannot ask a bird to go swimming with you and then say, “no one ever wants to swim with me.” You cannot ask a fish to fly and migrate to Florida with you and get frustrated because no one ever wants to fly with you. You can certainly have high expectations, BUT, you must have realistically expectations and ask them of the “right” people. Search “realistic expectations” on this site, and search “fish is not a bird”
You’ll figure it out!!!
Wow. So grateful I found this blog. This really confirmed what I have been experiencing. I way I embrace my addiction is by stating that “my ability to make and keep healthy choices has been hijacked by a little girl from my youth.” I often refer to my case as my addict child compared to the healthy adult voice that states, “this is not good for you!” Very interesting. One of the challenges I have had is that when I was in Withdrawl I was constantly wrestling with her inner needs and negotiating to see “Him” and I talked back to her as the adult. I essentially personified my experience. Largely because I felt a lack of safety when I tried to make out reach calls and people felt threatened by my admitting any of her young needs and judged me as “not committed enough.” etc. Its been a bitch of an experience I have to say.
Now that the WD symptoms have ceased, I find that I am somewhat stronger. I observed that when I had brief contact with my qualifier, that the adult was present and the conversation not triggering but rather sober. I was able to look and with clarity say to myself, ” He has work to do. You have work to do. You are not gonna be together at this time. Time to detach and lovingly walk away.”, and I did. It was during these times, I wondered, where was the Addict child when I was out of my Withdrawl? Am I to still required to live with suspicion or every moment? Is the premise of embracing the title of “Addict” require me to believe that I can never ever truly trust myself again or else I will default to F UP? Is she, the addict child, still in the background running the show, patiently listening but secretly trying to build a case for herself as to why she can return, at any given moment? So many questions. Its been confusing. I don’t know that I accept that I get a” hit” from seeing my qualifier and I struggle with these concepts. Great thing is, I will just keep coming back and more will be reveled. Grateful for that at least!
Thanks ! T
I hear you, great description.. The two dictators, within me, are constantly debating.