I never saw myself as obsessive or addictive...Perhaps, I had traits of codependence.
But, labeling isn't useful, so I am doing my best to just describe my experience.
It seemed I had symptoms of "withdrawal from love addiction:"
I was experiencing restlessness, sleeplessness, nausea, achy muscles, unable to focus, exhaustion, craving,..I felt desperate...
Love addiction is characterized by a string or fair share of short-lived yet intense romances.
At best I was disappointed, but, mostly left bewildered and unconsolable when those romances suddenly ended. I was consumed by missing the good times and unable to fully acknowledge all that led to the rupture. The present didn't seem worth living.
This post is about romance as a form of addiction and the beginning steps of recovery or healing. See end of post for resource on anonymous help.
I am writing looking back on 2013 as it is helpful to see what I have learned and what I can continue to work on.
I was misguided by ideas of what love was and could do for me. Believing something external to me is what I needed to be 'ok,' is not healthy. Anything we fixate on to stop internal pain, is not effective. Eventually, the effects of our drug of choice ware off. It can be utterly unbearable to go on without our fix.
We can become junkies to romance, love, seduction, and sex.
I wondered how I could be knocked off, seduced and swept by the current of love. Only, I was not swept off my feet by love. I was avoiding the pain of powerlessness or fear of not being loveable.
When a relationship falls apart or ends, it is normal to experience all sorts of feelings. However, when one has traits of codependence, unresolved wounds or trauma, the intensity of loss makes one feel out of control.
What I learned is that I had to 'gather strength from giving in,' as the pain would only cease for a while if I got what I thought I needed. To give in, meant for me to settle or go back to a relationship that had run its course. Giving in to ease the pain was a "temporary fix." I was burying the pain deeper and postponing healing and growth.
I became saavy at distracting from my inner pain.
Justifying and rationalizing only delayed getting to the fear below my anger and pain. It was easier to feel angry than to experience the fullness of the shame or guilt. It was an escape. Only, we can never escape from ourselves.
My ego convinced me over and over that if I worked on one more issue, I would be free. Instead, I found myself in an endless escape loop.
I was entangled by my fear of not being good enough, of being left...
The healing started when I detached...and took responsibility for my pain.
I detached from my emotions and thoughts to be aware of the entirety of the present moment. In other words, I felt my feelings and emotions, but was not swept away by them.
The first step, was to admit the reality of my state of mind and not give in to contacting my ex. The second step, was to be consistent and gentle if I did reach out. In time, I felt stronger for not giving- in. I recognized the end of romance, merely triggered my unhealed wounds.
I began to self-regulate the intensity of my emotions by diving into my heart.
I began to confront that it was 'not about him,' it was about unmet childhood needs that led to core beliefs about my lovability.
I could see how in the string of short-lived romances, I had taken crumbs of attention and affection. My longer lasting relationships still involved men who were unable to commit. I have begun to understand my part in it.
I have come a ways from the excruciating and debilitating experience of despair when romance ends. I am able to be present to my experience without needing to find the next escape and loop endlessly in despair or feel devastated by loss.
Am I absolutely loveable? Of course, yet, I suspect there is still subconsccious part of me that is out of congruence with the reality of my being.
It is an ongoing love affair of honoring my power and beauty by dancing to the pace of my spirit and surrendering to the grace of this earthly dance floor.
I am a 'disciple and advocate of Love," and hope to become a devotee of Love rather than a 'love junkie.'
Are you willing to face your deepest fear to really love?
How are you learning about love?
How are you advocating for love in your life?