I don’t believe there was ever a time that I wasn’t in love. How embarrassing, but it started with some pretty serious fantasies about William Shatner when I was 7 or 8. Really. No joke. The young, sexy Captain Kirk, that is, with his tight black pants and blond hair. I was madly in love. And I can still remember my father humoring me, telling me, “let’s call him on the phone right now…” and actually getting one of his friends to pretend to be the real William Shatner. But right as I was on the brink of actualizing my love and hearing his voice, my mother stepped in and said, “stop teasing her.” I can still see my dad laughing at the top of the stairs with the phone in his hand, because he thought it was so funny that he’d tricked me.
My father was, first and foremost, an entrepreneur. But with that creative genius he was also a narcissist, a sociopath, a manic-depressive, an alcoholic, a gambler and every other addict you can imagine. My mother was, on the other hand, a beautiful, peaceful, loving woman, who, to her credit, put up with my dad in a rather submissive, I-have-no-identity-of-my-own sort of way for 22 years. Though there wasn’t much fighting, the two were night and day. And being raised by such extremes is like waking up in Hawaii and going to bed in Alaska.
I didn’t stand a chance.
I lost myself in dating. In fact, I loved it. It gave me a high like no other. My relationships were deep and some meaningful. But mostly one of two things occurred: I either chose guys that made me feel completely in love but neglected me, OR I chose men that loved and adored me, but I neglected and then ran away from them. There was never any balance. Eventually, I met and married a computer addict who ignored me, physically, mentally and emotionally, abused me, raped me, cheated on me serially during my second pregnancy and eventually blamed me for leaving him and ruining his life (go figure). And yet, comforting to me was the fact that I was in a relationship.
The one underlying theme through all of my dating (except one; I’ll get to that later) is—that I left them all. I bailed out. I moved on. And because of this, I never thought I had a problem. I just thought I was fickle. As long as I did the dumping, I was alright. For some reason there’s something more dignified in dumping than being dumped. I just hadn’t met Mr. Right (wrong!)
The most confusing fact of my dating life was that I never casually dated, but rather, fell madly in love, and locked myself into some hot mess of a union, only to run away from the relationship right around the six-month mark (like clockwork) because the man either bored me to death or grossed me out.
When I married, I made sure to do it quickly, so I would bypass my inevitable desire to leave. I could only sustain long term relationships if they were long distance, or, if I was locked in. So, it’s no surprise that my entire courtship to my ex-husband was online and that I married him before my senses kicked in. Because, as soon as they did, something in me said RED FLAGS GALORE. But, I didn’t listen. I wanted to be married and I was too lazy to keep looking. Besides, I believed marriage and kids would set me straight.
Boy, was I right. But in ways I’d never expected.
Every day of my married life was turmoil. I used to lock myself in the bathroom and huddle on the floor, in the corner, rocking back and forth, crying, begging God to either get me out or do something to make him change. At one point I moved back home, ready to divorce him. But when I went to the doc and he told me I was pregnant, I was trapped. I decided to go back and give it another try.
There was temporary peace for a little while. We moved back to the States from Europe and he quickly found a good paying job. But he and I had little in common and the daily grind of life soon wore us down. The more he ignored me the more I nagged. The more I nagged, the more withdrawn he became.
“You need to change, if you want this marriage to work,” I’d beg. On my end, of course, I was the perfect wife. Ha. And so his affairs started right through my second pregnancy and onward until eventually I couldn’t take it anymore. At one point, when I was 8 months pregnant, he left me for another woman, leaving me in a tiny two-bedroom apartment. I had one toddler, another on the way, no job, no skills, no education and zero assets. I was doomed.
But things were about to change. When I gave birth to my second son, a few months after, the ex begged to come back. To everyone’s surprise, I said yes. How could she? they said. But, I told him I’d only get back with him if we bought a house. Again, everyone was shocked that I’d suggest making such a permanent move when our marriage was on the rocks. And yet, for the first time in my life, I started to think logically, rationally, shrewdly (that’s the word we apply to women who use their brains). Thing is, I wanted property–something I could own– in case we divorced. I wanted an asset. So, a few months later, we settled on a beautiful little property in the suburbs and as soon as we moved in, I made another important move. I registered for college. Over the course of the next few years, while raising babies, taking care of darn near everything in the house, managing all our finances and working part time for a Philadelphia publishing house that was hiring “entry level” copy editors, I got my degree in English Literature and Journalism, graduating magna cum laude. Finally! I could take care of myself (or so I thought). And just in time. The ex started having yet another online affair. I immediately began to interview at publishing houses and magazines and was soon offered a job in the city.
So, in 2004 several important life-changing events took place: my father died of a drug overdose coupled by a nagging case of lukemia, I finally divorced, and for the first time in my life, I was alone. And though I had started to make some pretty wonderful changes in my life, I still had so far to go.
For one thing, I was scared to death of relationships and even sex. After what I’d been through the past seven years I was the epitome of panic-stricken. But, because I felt so emotionally neglected through my marriage, I desperately wanted love and I did NOT want to be alone. Being alone was horrifying. Besides, in my mind, it was the sign of failure. But I didn’t know how to love or what love was; it had been so long (actually, I never really learned). Because of that, I imagined it might have something to do with passion, that it would look and feel the way it was portrayed in The Titanic, or The Notebook. I wanted perfection after what I’d been through, but I was scared as heck to go find it.
I dated G for three years– it was the longest amount of time I had “loved” anyone, and so I thought I was definitely on my way to greener pastures. But G would give only so much and then withhold. Oh how seductive he was with his pull and push, and his ultimate and oftentimes complete avoidance. When I met him he was quite lonely, as was I. Though I can’t say that he ever “came on strong” sexually, he was a flirt, did pursue me and was definitely interested in me. Our sex life was wonderful for the first 8 months. In fact, our whole relationship up to the one-year mark, was like a fantasy. He was sexy, loving, a great communicator, hard working, very interested in me, and giving. But suddenly, as if we had crossed an imaginary line (actually, we had– I started to talk of a commitment), it all changed. He began withholding all forms of intimacy from me the following year, giving me every excuse in the book not to have sex (prostate problems, “I love you too much to do that to you,” I’m afraid of STDs (I have none), and so on). Not only did he withhold sex, but general forms of emotional tenderness as well. He never touched me, kissed me or made any advances whatsoever. And he stopped sleeping over because my “bed was too soft,” or he didn’t feel comfortable in my house, in my neighborhood, etc. I liked to sleep with the windows open in the Spring and he couldn’t handle that- and so that became a reason not to sleep over at all. There was no room for compromise with him. We did hold hands a lot and hug when we saw each other. But in my mind, it became more of a brother-sister type relationship than a romantic one between a man and a woman.
Red flags were popping up all over the place. And yet I stayed. We broke up at least 7 times over the next couple years (me doing all the breaking up, of course) but would get back together, every time repeating the same pattern: sex, love and passion during the first month or so and then a slow decay of emotion and pulling away on his part (fear of commitment, withdrawal and avoidance), and a building of anger, resentment and frustration on my part- for him (not me, of course). Ah, blame.
I suppose because I was no longer under such obvious abuse (as when I was married), I considered my relationship with G to be normal and healthy. G and I were, after all, “best friends,” and he did after all, tell me he loved me. What more does a girl need? I mean, yeah sure, he withheld sex from me, but he did not withhold love—or so I thought. He was very into me, called every day, we spent loads of time together, we were extremely compatible, into the same things, and treated me with as much respect as I had ever known. He never cheated. Wasn’t a liar (or so I thought). At times very giving. And most importantly, I was attracted to him physically and mentally. If he loved me and I loved him, what else was there?
Well, there were his debilitating issues that went completely against my value system and yet, I chose him over my values. He smoked pot, had no libido, didn’t take care of his appearance and avoided intimacy like the plague. There was no next step with him. There would be no marriage, no moving in, no increased intimacy. I was at the end of the road.
I stayed as long as I did because I believed I had to make compromises and that I couldn’t “have it all.” And that aside from these issues, we shared a great life together. Surely we all have to make sacrifices, don’t we? Especially if we feel love toward someone?
And yet, underneath it all, I knew something was wrong. That I wasn’t being true to myself was just the beginning. After a year of no sex with G, an affair with a guy I never loved to fill the void that G left and about 5 months of going back and forth between the both of them, I guess you could say I hit bottom. I thought I had done so well for myself in avoiding someone like my ex-husband, but in actuality, I only went the opposite extreme. One was a sex addict, the other a sexual anorexic. I was somewhere in between hoping and expecting to be SAVED by a man who had the sense enough to know that I needed a balance. What I never realized was that I was the one lacking balance. I was the one to blame.
Around this time, I got into a support group for cigarettes. I suppose because I had viewed myself as a victim of my father’s addictive behavior for so long, it was unreal to think that I could be an addict myself. Hello? Two-pack a day smoker, staying in a relationship even when it’s bad for you?! Eventually, I saw with my very own eyes how my life had become unmanageable and how I really was addicted to men (because for the first time ever I wrote it all down on paper), it occurred to me too, that I needed to change.
I had given up goals, given up direction, given up dreams and plans all for the “hope” of a new man. I had wasted hours, days, weeks and years on thinking, or rather obsessing of nothing but my relationship to whomever. I had let men control me. I had spent exorbitant amounts of money on men because I either felt sorry for them, wanted to impress them, or secretly wanted to buy their love. I had spent exorbitant amounts of money on men just to visit them in foreign countries or call them on the phone and chat for hours. I had embarrassed myself, accepted the unacceptable and abandoned my values for men. I had even once or twice put my children at risk of emotional damage, isolated myself from my family, lowered my standards and done things I would not normally do, just for a man. I had ignored my children and I had ignored my opportunity for true growth.
It was time to change.
Several things occurred to me during this time of what I like to refer to as my “enlightenment.”
I realized that:
My ex was a representation of my father. At first, I resisted this. I had heard this spoken so many times and I could see some of their similarities but I wasn’t convinced on any deep level that I was “dating” my dad. Then it occurred to me. My love for G was one sided. I really adored him. His personality was wonderful, he was funny, hard-working, musician, grungy, we had a lot in common. I was so darn happy to be with someone that I actually LIKED that i never took into account if he LIKED me. I never considered that his love for me was also a part of the equation. He neglected me, basically, and it was pretty painful. I allowed it to happen because the thrill of being with someone FUN and ALIVE was more important than meeting my own needs to be loved and treated well. Did it matter that he loved me? No. What mattered then, was that I loved him.
Through that, I saw the parallel. I adored my father. I loved his personality. He was funny, hard-working, musician…we had a lot in common. I felt ALIVE with my father. Because of who he was as a person. And YET, as per my mother’s advice, I was told to love him “as is” and not take into account how he treated me. It’s no surprise to know that he treated me much the same as G; neglectful, uncaring, always had something more important to do than spend time with me etc.
The important part was this: to love my father and not get anything in return is substandard parenting for a father/daughter relationship but there’s not much you can do about it. I can not change my father (I can’t go out and get another one) and therefore, have to accept him for who he is, especially if I like him and want to hang out with him. But this type of relationship is NOT OK for a healthy, romantic, love relationship between two adults who do have choices. Romantic love, sorry to spoil the fantasy, is not unconditional.
There are two parts to the Love equation. That is all. And I always seemed to go for one or the other. Never both. Here they are in their simplest form:
1. I must love someone; respect him, care about him, be attracted to him, treat him well, be compatible with him and generally LIKE him, not fear intimacy or be emotionally closed off.
and number two…
2. He must love me; respect me, care about me, be attracted to me, treat me well, be compatible with me and generally LIKE me, not fear intimacy or be emotionally closed off.
The other thing I realized was that:
When we hold on to a bad habit or an addiction for so long, whatever that addiction or habit may be (alcohol, drugs, cigarettes, the real or imagined love of another person etc.) it is because it gives us a (false) sense of security. It makes us feel tethered, grounded, whole. It takes the edge off living. But our addiction is NOT about that which we are addicted to. Our addiction is a way in which we avoid ourselves.
When I divorced, I wrote in my journal that I felt at the same time happy to be free and extremely fearful. I felt like I was no longer connected to something bigger and greater than myself. I felt alone, isolated, free-floating. I didn’t like that feeling. So, within six months of being a newly divorced woman, I made two very bad choices: I started smoking cigarettes again (a habit I had quit for 10 years), and, I latched on to a man who wasn’t good for me but gave me that sense of being connected again.
When we are afraid and lonely and scared of the “emptiness” of life, we tend to make very bad choices. But what can we do to get over that fear? What can we do to stop the pain we feel when we are “floating around in space”? What takes the edge off?
An alcoholic will drink.
An overeater will eat more.
Someone who fears loneliness will cling to another person…
None of these things really takes the edge off. You take a “hit” of your drug of choice and it only causes the desire for another hit and another. Next thing you know, you’re a junkie.
I realized that G did the same thing for me as cigarettes. I could lose my identity, not have to deal with my pain and suffering, and I could feel tethered to something bigger than myself as long as I had him around. He took the edge off. Just like alcohol to the drunk, drugs to the junkie, food the overeater.
None of those option, however, is a solution.
Loving someone more than yourself is not an honorable action unless it is applied to your children. Between equal adults this kind of imbalance is born out of a need to feel connected. When you don’t feel connected to anything, you suddenly want something more than ever. You want to put something into your body, eat something, smoke something love someone just to take the edge off. Westerners have equated a feeling of security and wholeness with the idea that something (food, drugs or another person) will fill the “void” and make you whole. Well, what if you started believing that THERE IS NO VOID? That you are complete.
This is how my change began. After years of reflection and self-discovery I believe I now have the courage to face many of my fears. I believe I have made peace with myself. If someone doesn’t like me, I let it go. I have enough self-esteem in me now to say there are a million men in the world who will treat me with love and respect and because I believe in my own worth, I will hold out for something better. And the only reason I can hold out for something better, is because I am full. I am not starving. I am complete. I look in the mirror every day and say, Not bad. I can deal with that. I set realistic goals for myself and I try to complete them. And most importantly, I have chosen to be a grown up and think maturely and responsibly. I no longer cling to fantasies or obsessive thoughts of anyone because I now realize there are more important things in this world than a relationship with a man. People in the world are suffering. I am strong enough now to give back.
It has been no easy road. In fact, change never ends. There is no point of perfection where you can say, I have arrived! I still fall back into some of my old habits in small ways, but not in ways you would think. I don’t call G up the phone anymore, for example, or take a puff on a cigarette. I’m not exactly addicted to the idea of being in a relationship either. Despite the fact that I am, I am now very independent. I don’t obsess anymore, nor do I have severe mood swings, doubts, fears, pain, or suffering when it comes to the man I do love and who loves me. Instead, I’ll bury my head in the sand, so to speak, and avoid my responsibilities for an extended time. I may find myself playing on the computer too long, or not being good about my finances. I may neglect myself by doing too much for others, not getting back to the gym or overeating. I catch myself doing this though, and I know to get back to business. That avoiding myself is not the answer. Facing my problems and my responsibilities is the answer.
In the end, I equate my life and the changes I made to mountain climbing. You struggle up the side of this huge mountain, hanging on for dear life, maybe slide down a time or two. But then you come to a place of rest and you sit back and look up to see how far you still have to go. And you think nothing has changed and there are enormous lessons still to be learned, the summit is so far away…But then, you look down to see how far you’ve come and you realize the climb, the struggle has not been in vain, and that your effort and endurance has brought you farther than you ever imagined…
57 thoughts on “My story”
I’m writing an article on love addiction for 20 and 30 something women, to shed light on what I think is a prevalent and often misdiagnosed problem. I recently interviewed Susan Peabody, who called love addiction an “epidemic among the 20-something generation” and said that awareness of this problem has been in decline for more than a decade. You’re a wonderful writer and your personal story is so moving and inspirational that I wondered if I could have your permission to use parts of your blog in my article. I would love to relate aspects of your story to my readers in hopes that they can see aspects of themselves in your experiences and get help if they need it.
Please feel free to send me an email!
I loved reading that! Every single word! Thanks so much for writing it. I believe when we share – we heal!
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YES wonderful to read…. and I agree sharing IS healing! I am so grateful to find this!!!
Glad it helps! 🙂
Thanks so much for that. And I agree. Writing is cathartic. Sharing is healing. 🙂
Hi LovelyJune, I needed to read this. I just joined the LAA forum tonite. I’m a little shell shocked right now about discovering that there was a name to my condition. I’m a torch-bearer and am tired of living a half life and I too since I can remember have always been in love with someone. I want to be healthy, but as I’m writing this I’m crying because I can’t picture myself NOT longing for a man that I can’t have or who can’t love me the way I know I deserve to be. Thank you for sharing. Your story of hope is the one thing that I’m clinging to in my hope for recovery.
[praying to be] whole-hearted1 [day]
Thanks for sharing, whole-hearted. You just took the first step! Be proud of yourself. You can’t get any further until you are able to experience “loss” and the reality that it comes with. Don’t give up on yourself. You are your best investment!
Hi, I ‘ve written an essay on my blog, which I call “Love in the Modern World”. In it, I discuss the difference between what I call “natural” love and “mature” love and what the difference our our living in the modern world makes. It might interest you, let me know what you think!
Here’s the link, which I forgot: 🙂
Your story is inspirational, it encourages me to share my full identity and story. I truly appreciate that you exist out here in the blog o’sphere! Thank you.
Thank you for your kind words!
Thank you, June, I loved your story! I too see how far I have to go, yet how far I’ve come…
Thanks for reading Bess…I appreciate the support. And I hope it helps. Keep reading 🙂
Good post. Its realy good. More information help me.
love the honesty, especially about your ex being a representation of your father. I can relate.
I’m not sure if my previous post “took,” but the gist of it was that I love your website and so appreciate it as a resource for this “cunning, baffling and powerful” addiction. May I include it as a reference on my blog: http://www.LoveAddictionRecovery.com ?
And, if you like my daily reflections for love addicts, I would be thrilled if you could include it on your site.
I will definitely add your link, Lin! Would you mind adding a link or a “like” to my page? http://www.facebook.com/thelovelyaddict THANKS!
Hey thank you so much I totally related to your story about the obsessing thing. I have been in aa for 5 years and so I know the steps with drinking etc., but when I was new I got into a relationship with aa dude and we have had on and off passionate obsessive relationship for 5 years. I was 16 when I got sober, now 22, and am hitting a bottom with this stuff. I know that I am worth a lot to every other guy on the planet, but to my ex I still cry over how I’m not good enough. I will look in the mirror and think, “any other guy would die to win my love (haha still working on being in the middle – not a piece of shit or “the shit” lol), why can’t my ex just snap out of it and realize that sticking his pen15 in other women really ISN”T the bomb because I am?” After months of no contact, we’ll start talking again because I dont have a “spirital defense against the first E (him)” and then he’ll tell me sex with other girls sucks but he’d rather do it than be with just me because the rules of society are stupid and monogamy doesn’t make sense…” I’m studying the neurobiology of pairbonding and social attachment at my school and will go to grad school for this ,( i’m a hopeless romantic obsessed and looney), and he used to be romantic but went all coocoo for coco puffs and got all into communism and doesn’t have a asponsor anymore (he has 7years). I hold the torch for him still, I would like to get over it, I am done digging. You’re story helped, do you have any advice? You seem totally bad ass I saw you on the other website and you know your stuff. Thanks so much ! 🙂
I am posting my comments once again in hopes you will read them THREE TIMES! Because this is important stuff…
WHat if Jack the Ripper told you he loved you? What if Charlie Manson told you he was madly in love with you? Just because someone SAYS they loved you doesn’t mean you have to act on. And just because YOU love someone back, doesn’t mean you were meant to be together or that you should be together. Growing up and recovering from love addiction means that you start to place more importance on a person’s ACTIONS, not his words.
It also means that you have a set of values. A value is a strong belief that protects you. A healthy person’s value might be, “I will NEVER date a man who sleeps with others.” Period. And if that man cheats once, the relationship is terminated. WHen your VALUES become MORE IMPORTANT than the relationship, you know you are getting better.
Here are more about values:
More On Values http://thelovelyaddict.com/2011/09/21/th….problems-i-can/
Keep reading! The more you learn, the more you invest in yourself. DOn’t you think you’re worth more????
Thank you for sharing your story and your thoughts about why this happened to you. It reminds me in some ways about my life, although I haven’t sorted my thoughts as well as you. This helped me and also gave me a wake up call, to take care of myself and my own needs and wishes as well as others.
Thanks Jen! Glad you enjoyed. Keep working on YOU, it’s your best investment. 🙂
You are an inspiration. To me. I am always the one breaking up with my many relationships. The only one I did not end was my 1 year marriage. I thought the same thing you did… stay with this cause I was married. But HE proposed and then HE wanted a divorce. BUT he was full of red flags of which I ignored, and he abused me mentally, so in the end it worked out. Before then and since then I have been in and out of bad or not-so-good relationships. Including my most recent, last week. I am tired of it. I am tired of the bad choices. After reading this and reading posts from LAA, I see that I do have a problem. I do need help. Thank you for what you have shared. I hope to learn from you and begin to change and heal.
Keep reading and learning, Tracey. You found the right path! 🙂
Hello and thank you for sharing your honest and candid experiences with all of us. I was interested in the Love Addict film that you participated in. I have tried to find a screening, gone on Netflix, and even tried to purchase a copy (the website says it is not for sale in North America). I wanted to ask if you knew where I could find a copy of the film? Thanks in advance.
Thanks for your interest! This film is currently for sale online only through the Danish distributor. It’s $28 I believe and you can buy it here http://danishdocumentary.com/movies/Love%20Addict But a word of caution! It’s not yet formatted for US DVD players, HOWEVER, if you have a relatively new PC or MAC, it converts it for you and you can watch the film on your computer. I have a copy, but can only watch it on my iMac. Hope this helps!
I was doing a search on my name, and I see my name still picks up on a response I wrote a few months back that I asked you to delete.
U have changed my name (except that I still show up as Lex), but for some reason the page is bring picked up by google with my full name. Scanning it, I realise that there is some really intimate stuff I put out there…and not what i’d want someone to read if they were doing a background check on me.
Please could we delete my comment and try to delete this comment from the net?
I’d be very grateful 🙂
Can you please tell me exactly where your post is so I can delete it? There are HUNDREDS. Thanks!
Thank you so much for sharing – I read my story in your story. What a relief to finally identify my issue – now I just need to figure out how to start the recovery process. I am currently in AA with only 96 days – as the fog has started to lift I have come to the realization that I have used men, relationships and sex the same way I used alcohol and drugs, to avoid dealing with current and past pain and to give me false courage. I am so glad that there is a name for my issue and that I am not alone. I will keep coming back!
Awesome! GlAD TO HEAR IT.
I just started realizing that I have unhealthy love addicted habits. I was too blind to see before or deep down I didn’t really care if I destroyed relationships. All I cared about in the past was making sure someone is there whether I am happy or not. Now I realize how important balance is in a relationship. It is there on the other end but I struggle with it everyday, how to make sure to concentrate on my own happiness. I’ve met someone who has mutual love for me in a healthy way (I struggle to maintain healthy). I guess what I want to know is if I can work on myself while staying in a relationship. Can I recover from love addiction while with someone else?
That’s a tough one to answer, Dana. It’s yes and no. Yes if you are a super strong person who can focus on yourself for a good long while and really discover who you are without being “distracted” by the new relationship (and if he’s a good person who makes it easy to recover and love yourself). And no, if you’re the type of person who will start to avoid yourself as soon as you get involved (or if he’s avoidant and triggers you). Know thyself! The object of the game is to try to date, but if you start to see red flags, you choose yourself over the relationship! :)Keep reading. Learn! You’ll be fine.
Such beautiful and brilliant mind you have, and surprisingly u had this. wish i had a lady like you in my life.
Thanks for the inspiring story. I can relate to so much of it, even though I’m a man in his late 40s. I struggle so much aginst the pain of loneliness and incompleteness. One difference with your situation is that, apart from a 10-year marriage that ended 5 years ago, I haven’t had a lot of relationships. I get rejected a lot by women, which puts my self-esteem down even more, in a vicious circle, and makes me depressed. I have to learn to like myself; you can’t really love someone if you don’t like yourself.
One question for you: did you get formal therapy, or did you find these insights by yourself?
I never had formal therapy. I read. And read. And read. And read! 🙂
I’m so glad Steve shared & asked that question.
I’ve tried working w/many therapists, though all had something to offer to a point, none have really helped me make significant progress in dealing w/my issues. Most notably, one I worked w/for ~ 7 yrs who I felt safest with (i.e. felt validated, challenged my perspectives) until I realized that in the end she didn’t have the answer. Namely, the last love avoidant I fell for was a woman stuck in an unhappy marriage of 20 yrs & was the child of an alcoholic. I’d never gotten involved with a married person before & was so naive thinking ‘love’ would prevail. It didn’t. And to my point about getting the wrong answer, the therapist supported my feelings towards bonding with this woman, didn’t point out how self harming my actions were & didn’t educate me on the red flags I was obliviously in denial about. Throughout my struggle she simply enabled my addiction. I didn’t know any better. Not all therapists are bad, but there are some really misguided ones that can actually do damage.
It’s such a relief to see that you did this without one, b/c I feel I’ve exhausted that option & was feeling hopeless. Alcoholism isn’t in my family of origin, but ACoA has been the most help this last year to really help me set the focus on my issues. I think I’ve found enough resources (this site being one) on my own to draw from, to really be able to do the healing I need to.
Thank you immensely for this website.
Thanks so much for reading. And yes, I tended to have a fantasy notion that I would meet a therapist and they would steer me in the right direction. They would have the answers I needed. I ultimately came to realize that I had the answers but I had to work hard on my own to figure them out. It was no easy road. Keep reading! Keep learning! You are your best chance at getting healthier 🙂
Dear lovely……this is life changing AMAZING information and I totally agree with you, the answer is to read and read and read and then go and read some more…only thing is for me, this info was not readily available 20 years ago, never mind, its here now thanks to you and others, keep up the great work, well done and good luck…J.x
Thanks so much Riot Girl. Glad that you’re finally getting it! It came to me late in the game too 🙂 Better late than never!
Thanks so much for the reply. Its a struggle and a slip here and there, so getting rid of the mobile phone helps. NC (no contact) has got to be the only way when the ‘addiction’ gets too much. Its seems sad that a grown up woman has to have her phone confiscated by her grown up kids for her own protection!….but it works. I suppose like any other addiction, its a recovery process. God bless people like you who are willing to put yourself out there. Thankyou. x 🙂
Unfortunately, when an adult who should be able to control his or her own behavior can’t, it helps when loving family and friends step in. It’s only temporary until you begin to control your own behavior. This is a process and it’s a difficult one. But the benefits are enormous!!! 🙂
Thank you for sharing your story. I appreciate your courage and willingness to stand in the light so that others can also know hope and freedom.
Thanks so much! 🙂
Just at that epiphany moment in my life. Only two months since the break up. I thought I would die from the pain. Now I know my pattern of addiction and have place myself in God’s hands. My journey to real love is just beginning. Thank God I still have a chance to be my true self. Thank you for sharing your story with me. It is truly life changing.
Thanks for your comments Karleen! And good for you!!! Keep up the journey. It’s very exciting 🙂
What a fantastic thread. A year+ out of my first “mature, healthy, adult” relationship and the patterns keep calling. Every week is different. The more I process stuff from childhood (and read and read and read, cuz talk therapy only helps to a point), the more I find a way to balance. This is indeed a repertoire of deep self avoidance, always stemming from, in some way, what we dealt with as kids. For me, I was the parent for my parents, the therapist, the confidant. So when I finally found a person who I had a balance with I thought, HALLELUJAH, if I can get a real “man” then there is hope for ANYBODY out there!But shortly into our 2nd year, things slowly disintegrated. I knew from the door that I was with a person who was demonstrating workaholic tendencies (we are both hedonists, so at the time, i just figured, hey, he’s driven and an adrenaline junkie, and im the yogini who will be his home, how romantic!), but the chemistry, fun, connection, interests and friendship were so strong that all of the difficulties were overcome. Then, on my 32nd birthday, he stood me up. He had “fallen asleep”, and I waited in front of the restaurant, all my past stand-ups and abandonments and deceits rushing at me full force. How could this person, my most beloved, my one and only, my providence, be doing this? It was all surreal. Needless to say, about a month after that, I dumped him. I had a false sense of “okayness” when I did it. I knew the next months would be turmoil, but they actually turned out WORSE than I had fathomed ahhahahahaha!!! He didn’t put up much of a fight. Sure there there were tears, but ultimately, his super avoidant nature had reared its head, towards me. Before he would just avoid life. Bills.Cleaning. Self care. Etc. But when the avoidance turned on me, and I was suddenly a stranger looking for answers, the devastation was clear. He had infact, had someone in the wings at work, WITH THE SAME NAME AS ME, as I predicted (not the name part, that was just the poison the dagger was dipped in). Not sure if he directly cheated (still unfathomable), or if they were merely, easily united, based on proximity and the nature of “restaurant work”. Point is, I cry and scream and talk about it all til I Just cant anymore and then I remember OH YEAH, I’ve been this way my whole life. For decades, I’ve obsessed about one person or the other. Even ppl I’m not romantically involved with!! This feels more surreal b/c his pedestal was SO SO HIGH. I’ve acted out on anyone that “forgets me” with threats and just: clinging rage. I’ve avoided myself in so many ways, FOR such an extended amount of time the list would be too long. I know too much about everyone, everything. My mind is full of intellect and explanations, but my heart, my heart is the part that needs the mending. The person he turned out to be still feels like ultimate betrayal, but who betrayed who first? Surely in the torment of this recovery, I have seen, for as long as I’ve been able to interact with a male, I’ve betrayed myself, first and foremost. I know leaving him had to be done to take this trip so deeply within, but it is not for the faint of heart, and that’s why he took the easy way out. He sabotaged it. Married his work. Hooked up with his coworker. Forget the girl who you got pregnant, who asked for the truth when the chips were down and, go, live the lie. That’s what cowards do. I should have compassion for his robotic avoidance, but I’m not there yet. Then again, it always takes years for me to find that toward them. This loss is more about what I must insist on gaining, and nothing about the tale of woe my ego insists on telling. Thank you for your tale of progress and reality.
You will have compassion for him when you come terms with the one true fact of love addiction: that he is not to blame. Here is a parable to explain:
A beautiful bird landed on a rock by the shore. The rock was big and beautiful and the algae clinging to its surface appeared to the bird like wings. The bird struck up a conversation and the rock responded. The talked long into the night, until it was evident that the two were in love. Oh, the chemistry! Oh the passion! The bird had never felt these feelings for anyone else before. The bird finally said, come fly with me. The rock said, “But, I can’t. I am a rock.” The bird got very angry and flew off, unable to understand why, if there was so much love and passion between them, her love could not do such a simple task as fly. In the morning she returned. They talked again and her anger dissipated. Finally she said, maybe you can just “try to fly with me? I can teach you,” still having hope that the rock would be able to have a “normal,” healthy relationship. The rock looked dejected. “I cannot try. I cannot learn. I can only sit here. This is what I do.”
The bird became frustrated. “Why did you say you loved me then? Why did you ‘appear’ like a bird? Why did you hook me in and let me fall in love when you knew you wouldn’t be able to be what I wanted you to be?”
The rock sighed and looked off in the distance. “I did not deceive you. Perhaps you deceived yourself. I am what I am and if you aren’t able to tell the difference between a rock and bird, then, I am afraid your eyes have deceived you. Or maybe your heart.”
And with that the bird flew away never to see the rock again.
The point of this story is, that it does not matter if you have chemistry or passion with someone. What matters is something far deeper. That you are similar creatures that can share in a similar lifestyle. In human terms, it means that you find someone who shares your same values. When we fall in love with someone who doesn’t share our same values we cannot have realistic expectations of them. It’s only OK to have expectations of someone who can meet those expectations. Read A Fish is Not a Bird for more on this topic.
And thanks for sharing your story!
I just wanted to take a moment to thank you so much for your blog – I found it a couple days ago and it has been changing and healing the way I think about love and relationships, with myself and others. This was just what I needed. Thank you. Keep writing.
Thank you so much! And I am so glad it helps 🙂
I’m so happy that I found this place. I am in the middle of trying to reconcile why I am attracted to women who don’t treat me well. Women who always neglect me to the point of avoidance. I am currently very much in love with someone who doesn’t reply to my messages for days, and who pushes me away and keeps a distance when we are together. I feel unloved and neglected, despite the fact that she told me two nights ago that she loves me as much as she can love someone – but closely followed by saying that we can now only be friends. Your writing is helping me to understand what might be going on for me (and her), and I am hoping that I can keep working through it so I can find a relationship that I can feel comfortable in and truly loved by my partner.
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Hi Sylpheed, I responded to you on http://thelovelyaddictforums.com. If Love were a pie with eight slices, it is made of one part verbal (“I love you.”) and seven parts ACTION. Love is in her actions. If she says she loves you, but then SHOWS you a different behavior, this is NOT LOVE. At least, it seems, it is not the love you require. While this may be OK for someone, it is not OK for you (otherwise, you would not be in pain). Recognize that your need (to be loved) is very important. And if it is not being met by this person, then, yes, it could be time to move on. 🙂 And that’s not a bad thing! It’s a good thing. You are taking your deeper need for respect, kindness, love and intimacy very seriously. You are making those things more important than sex, attraction and a fantasy-version of a relationship. 🙂
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Thank you. I really appreciate your words, and they’re very true. Now, I’ll need to act!
I wanted to thank you for sharing your story. I identified with it in many ways. I am very happy for you eventhough I don’t know you personally. I just feel that if you were able to improve and be a better version of yourself, it gives me hope that it isn’t impossible for me. Thank you for that.
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Sorry for my delayed response! I have taken a few months off. But so glad to hear this blog has given you hope! Never give up on yourself 🙂
I love your story. I relate to lots and lots and lots of it. Reading someone else’s truth helps more of mine bob up to the surface. It puts a few more dots in my “connecting the dots” life, so I can make more sense of how I got to where I am. Your sense of honesty and wide open bare vulnerability is healing. THANK YOU dear one. You are precious.
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