I don’t talk about this as much on here, but it’s definitely time (and maybe overdue). I have another disease besides alcoholism, and it’s called love addiction. Sometimes this is paired with discussion of sex addiction. Sex played a small part in my own experience and I exercise sexually responsible behaviors now. But love addiction has been the core of the problem for me. I’ve been in recovery now since June 2012, and I’ve made some serious progress. But I still have moments where it sneaks up on me unawares and then hits my veins like opiates or speed.
I’ve been having one of those weeks and I’m still shaking in its wake. Love addiction. It can be a lot of things depending on the person, but for me it composes a few key elements. Fantasy, projecting my image of the perfect man, desperation for attention, picking the same man over and over (usually someone that looks or acts like my father… disturbing yet true), getting involved with someone I don’t actually like, getting involved in the same situation over and over, flirting, and obsessive thoughts about an object of my “affection” (or someone I’m trying to hook). To name a few.
It starts off all innocent. I see someone and out of nowhere, WHAM
and I’m like…
add a little stardust, a little twinkle twinkle, a small dose of attention and…
I can’t forget about you. You’re on my mind all the time. Even if you just said “hi” to me at the coffee shop. And EVEN IF YOU ARE DANGEROUS.
Offer me attention and I will be your bitch. I will do anything for you. I will lay down and let you run me over with a Mach truck if you want. This continues to work far into the relationship… through flirting, dating, and marriage. AS LONG AS YOU DON’T EVER LEAVE ME ALONE.
And if you DO happen to leave me alone, watch out for my soul-sucking, needy wrath.
And if I do find you and you back. away. slowly… as would be warranted… a meltdown ensues.
and then I drag you back and MAKE you stay. Or you run in the other direction and I am left wondering what could have been. Wash, rinse, repeat.
Yeah. It’s pretty ugly.
Thankfully, I can usually catch it in the starting stages. I’m not all trapped in the nasty cycle anymore of doing that over, and over, and over again. Ad nauseam. At least, I’m not trapped in that cycle TODAY. Like my other program, all we have is a daily reprieve. I can’t guarantee I won’t relapse sometime. I have to keep doing the work, going to meetings, staying connected.
But from time to time, I do get stuck in stages 1-2. Fantasy and sparkle and obsession. The part where they’re like a drug to me and in my head, we’re getting married. There’s a reason why Edward and Bella are such a good demonstration of this whole thing.
I had an “occurence” this week. Probably the worst one I’ve had since I got sober, actually. At least it was the worst one in several months. I felt like I was stepping on a live wire, or taking a hit of heroine. Someone followed a pattern that has historically worked on me. This person was of a certain height, had certain features, met me at a certain place that is historically dangerous, mentioned things that insinuated problem behaviors, and paid me a lot of attention. Some people would say I’m not giving it a chance. Some people might think I’m being oversensitive. I’ve heard from some people that he’s a good guy. And if you’re one of those people, I get it, I really do. Honestly he really may be a great guy. But this isn’t about him, it’s about me. I know a hit when I feel one. And this was definitely a hit. I can write about the subject like I am now – carefully – but if I allow any hint of fantasy I’m high for a couple hours. Complete with racing pulse.
I’m writing this because I know a lot of you don’t know about love addiction. I want to give you a glimpse into what it’s like. On a “good” week, I can get through with only traces of fantasizing about someone. In my love addiction recovery work, I set bottom lines and then don’t cross those lines, and that is what defines my sobriety. My lines are different now than in the beginning, but right now one of my lines is not to go against my dating plan (I’ll write a post on that one later). And generally not to get involved with someone that triggers old patterns for me. I also try to abstain from conscious fantasizing. So on a good week, I’ll have some unconscious fantasizing come up, and I can reign that sucker in without getting trapped. On a week like this one, I consistently hit my knees in acknowledgment of my powerlessness. I’m helpless in the vortex of that tractor beam, unless my Higher Power comes through for me. Which he (she/it) usually does, IF I can ask.
Better believe I’m asking in all directions right now.
If you think you might have sex or love addiction, there are resources online through SLAA, SA, and other sex and love concerned fellowships. Other materials that were helpful for me were the books Facing Love Addiction (Pia Melody), Is it Love or is it Addiction? by Barbara Schaeffer, and How to Be an Adult in Relationships by David Richo.