Love is an Addiction, And I Relapsed
I recently wrote about a new relationship that crashed and burned. I’ve stopped seeing it as a “relationship.”
I have started seeing that episode as proof that I’m still an addict. A love addict.
I discovered the concept of love addiction a few years ago at a recovery conference. As I listened to the speaker, I shuddered as I realized how many of the boxes I ticked. I often mistake the heady rush of lust for love. I become submissive in relationships, even though that’s not who I am. I fell into relationships not because I liked the man, but because he liked me, giving me that sense of worth I needed. Until that conference, I thought that was how normal relationships worked. Apparently, I was wrong. But I was single and planning to stay that way at the time, so I had forgotten about it. Until now.
I hadn’t been looking for a man when we met. My friend introduced us. She did a great job of selling the idea of him. I was half convinced he was perfect for me before we even met. I can see now that after four single years, I was desperate for him to be perfect.
The signs were all there. An article I read this morning showed me with crystal clarity that I am addicted to love. It’s who I am and how I behave while in a relationship.
My son asked me a couple of weeks ago if I had ever considered trying to date women instead of men. I laughed, telling him that I had, but that I am not attracted to women. Even if I were, my problems with relationships wouldn’t go away. Men aren’t the problem—I’m the problem. My love addiction is the problem. I still have a lot of healing to do, there are many parts of me that still need loving back to wellness. And those parts don’t need love from a man, they need love from me.
I’m trying to figure it out. This morning I spoke to my doctor who is referring me to mental health support.
I know that I need it. Yoga has helped me to heal in the past five years, but I definitely need more support. My ADHD is off the scale. I can feel depression threatening to strike. I know I can’t tackle this love addiction on my own and it seems too dangerous to try. I still have my yoga and it helps me beyond measure. I am exploring the idea of Refuge Recovery, and think this will be a recovery model I can work with. But I still need more. The wounds run far deeper than I had realized.
I am no longer heartbroken at the end of the relationship. I don’t even think of it as a relationship anymore. It was a relapse without booze. It was an overwhelming mess of dopamine, sensual pleasures, and all-consuming obsession. A total loss of self. Exactly the same as my “relationship” with alcohol. It was a powerful, agonizing and vital lesson and one that I am learning lots from. I am focusing on myself, my wellbeing, and being present in my life as it is right now. As I said in my last post, I will remain single for a very long time to come. I need to learn to be in a relationship without it taking over my life and my psyche.
I am grateful that I have made this discovery. Old me would already be looking for the next man to fill the void with. Now I know that I can only fill the void healing the wounds that created it.
I am a lot stronger than “old me” can ever have imagined.
I love the current me. Even with all the mess and confusion. I love the messy, confused goddess that I am. And from that love, I will heal and grow. I will not need to give myself to another in the hope that they will love me into wholeness, because I am whole as I am.
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Esther is from Wales in the UK. She beat 20 years of alcoholism and drug abuse at the age of 41 when she trained to be a yoga teacher. She has been sober since Oct 12, 2014, and has written a book about her adventures (Bent Back into Shape, Beating Addiction Through Yoga).
Esther loves music, Yoga, her babies (three human sons and one dog daughter), walking in the hills and at the coast, and dancing like no one is watching (even when she is at the grocery store!). She is passionate about the power of Yoga to create health and happiness, and believes that through its transformational power, and particularly learning to breathe, we can create space, peace, healing and joy in our lives.