Essential laws of love addiction recovery

So, on a previous post, I threw out there that I was breaking “two” of the essential laws of healthy recovery by not taking care of myself and not having a life of my own. And while that wasn’t entirely true, it was partly true (enough for me to notice it). But more importantly, there is no law book or list of rules for love addiction recovery, except my own very vague notion of what recovery laws actually are, created as I go along.

That being said, I thought I would create these laws, and post them so that others can share in the knowledge of what they should strive for. So, here they are…

Law #1: Thou shalt strive to be a mature, responsible adult: love addiction is all about stunted growth; recovery is all about growing up.  To successfully recover you really need to give up childhood survival mechanisms like addictive behavior, acting out, manipulating to get your way, chasing after unhealthy fantasies, and burying your head in the sand by focusing on your PoA instead of your adult responsibilities. In other words, learn healthier ways to manage your life.

Law #2. Thou shalt not avoid thy personal responsibilities: love addiction is not about loving your PoA, it’s really about using your PoA as an emotional distraction so that you can avoid yourself and that which you fear the most. Find out what you fear, and face it.

Law #3: Thou shalt take care of thyself: you are your best investment, so treat yourself as such. Eat well, exercise, challenge your brain, be an integral part of your community and block harmful people from your life. Your body and mind are temples. They are sacred places. Do not pollute them with bad food, negative people and defeatist thinking. If you can care for and love others, why not you too?!

Law #4: Thou shalt exercise thy logical brain more than thy emotional heart–at least until you “get” how to use your logical brain. But, love addicts tend to reside in their heart and emotions. They allow their emotions to make decisions for them, and do not enlist the help of their logical brain (which can detect red flags and recognize safety). Let the pendulum swing in the opposite direction for a time. Give up “thinking” with your heart and try to think with your brain. Can you see the difference?

Law #5: Thou shalt have a life of thy own: It’s time to quit depending on others for your happiness. Why is it everyone else’s responsibility to make you happy? What role do you play in your own happiness? Search for activities and emotionally and spiritually stimulating pursuits that you can do on your own in times of solitaire. This is how you begin to like yourself

Law #6: Thou shalt learn to accept and if necessary, forgive thyself: Look in the mirror; what do you see? Do you wish you saw someone far more perfect? Flawless? Wealthy? Famous? Get over it. You’re not perfect nor will you ever be. But that does not mean you are not loveable. Even the most handicapped, disadvantaged, challenged people in the world are still worthy of love. And so are you. But  if you think you can just waltz out into the world and expect to be validated and loved by others, you’re in for a bit of disappointment. When you do that, it’s hit or miss. You never know who will like you and who won’t. But guess what, when the love and validation comes from within YOU, you always know what you’re gonna get. Make peace with the mistakes you made in the past, and move on to being your best source of love and strength.

Law #7: Thou shalt not participate in harmful or hurtful behavior, to thyself and others: no affairs, no sleeping with or becoming emotionally bonded to a married or otherwise unavailable person, no cheating, no stalking, no physically, mentally or emotionally harming others for your own personal benefit, no acting out in ways that may harm or hurt yourself or others.

Law #8: Thou shalt abandon obsessive fantasy in exchange for reality, and stay in the now: obsessing over every Tom, Dick and Harry you meet, falling in love hard and fast (in your imagination), and becoming hopeless to addicted to someone is all fantasy-based. About one percent of what’s going on might be driven by reality. Let all that go and stay in the NOW. What does that mean? It means every time you catch yourself “wondering” or “day-dreaming” or fantasizing about someone new (or even your current PoA) STOP, and bring yourself back to what you are physically doing. If you’re doing nothing, find something to do. But stay present in only that which is happening now. Love addicts create their addicts, and FANTASY is how they do it. (More on this at “Tips On Dating“)

Law #9: Thou shalt be true to thyself and thy values: most love addicts do not know what a value is, let alone what theirs might be. If there’s one thing you learn in recovery, learn your values. They are your map. They help define who you are, what you need, and who to look for and connect with in the world (when you’re ready).

Law #10: Thou shalt no longer be a victim: chances are that many of your dysfunctional behaviors were learned from dysfunctional caretakers. They may have even physically abused you, mentally abused you, or even neglected you. But, as an adult, you not only have the responsibility to care for yourself, you have the FREEDOM to care for yourself in much healthier ways than ever before. So, quit blaming your parents, and the world for what you don’t have and be grateful for what you do have: the opportunity to learn healthier behaviors. Right now. No need to forgive your parents for their faults (although it helps), but do recognize that you’re the captain of the ship now, and YOU are in charge of your own destiny.

Law #11: Thou shalt live and let live: stop trying to control everything and everyone. It’s too much of a task to take on. It is said that people who have had traumatic or chaotic pasts tend to be very controlling in their adult life. As adults, even though we may have the power to control our own lives and our immediate environment, we cannot control everyone and everything. Every person we are in a relationship with is beyond our control. That’s why it’s essential to surround yourself with people who address your inner most needs. If you don’t like chaos, don’t fall for a guy who is impulsive and unpredictable. If you like excitement and spontanaity in your life, don’t fall for a girl who prefers to be at home watching back to back episodes of Downton Abbey. Accept what you cannot change; but ONLY if you can handle it in your life. If you can’t, don’t accept it. Move on and reconfigure the players in your life.

Recovery is not boring, but maybe, you are…

boringOne of the last things I did online the other night was type up a response to some girl’s venting post on the LAA site that basically said, “I want to go back to my PoA because that relationship was filled with passion, and recovery is boring.”

It drives me batty when people say “Recovery is boring.” It’s a cop out. And it’s spoken as a last ditch effort to hang on to the addiction and convince yourself that all that “passion” (aka: chaos) was real and better than the loneliness the person is feeling currently.

I think too that most people confuse long-term successful recovery with withdrawal or early recovery. Early recovery is not pretty. It’s usually inundated with a lot of fear, pain, loneliness, reckoning, confusion, awkwardness and instability. It’s a time when “NC” (no contact) seems more like a loss than a gain. And it’s a time when you grapple with your own person for the first time and realize how very little you invested in yourself all these years, in exchange for the amount of time and effort you devoted to your drug. Looking at yourself in the mirror with a clear head for the first time in years, if ever, is insanely scary. It’s disturbing. It’s shocking. And when that happens, most people would prefer to crawl back into the hole they crawled out of, or bury their head in the sand, back into their addiction.

Early recovery is a precipice. You are literally on the brink of moving forward, teetering on the precipice, or turning back. That’s a very complicated and confusing place to be and it’s very easy to assume that that place is all there is, the final frontier. Well, it’s not. And here’s why… haven’t done any of the work of recovery yet! Some haven’t even taken a class. Love addiction 101. You’ve merely showed up. And showing up, while part of the process, doesn’t usually impart upon you any magical sense of accomplishment. Until you actually do the work. And even then you’re in for a rough ride.What I mean is, don’t put your life into compartments like that. Life after addiction does not mean that you’re sitting around alone and lonely without a PoA who, at least spent time with you some of the time. Giving up the PoA doesn’t simply mean the absence of a PoA. It means embracing and making peace with a whole new way of living, without dependency and obsession.


Here’s a quick list of helpful tips to get you through early recovery. But remember, early recovery is NOT the end result. It’s NOT even a good example of your new life. It’s the difficult phase of getting from addiction to REAL recovery:

1. Be patient with yourself. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Neither were you.
2. Imagine the cycle of one year and all that the earth accomplishes in that time. From the dying in the fall, to the harsh, cold standstill of winter, which, without out would not bring forth the birth of the spring and the maturity and abundant life of the summer. You too need your (symbolic) fall, your quiet, cold, seemingly empty winter, so that you can have your awakening in the spring.
3. If your recovery is “boring” then you are boring. Recovery isn’t a separate entity outside yourself. It’s not like a party you attend. It’s not a state of nirvana either. It’s progress, and right now, in early recovery, you’re not at the fancy cocktail party part of recovery. You’re at the up late, work hard, study for your brain surgeon’s exam part of recovery. This is the hard work that comes before you can reap the rewards of success. And honestly, if you are that bored with life, that’s part of your problem. The addictive personality has loads of trouble finding fun and excitement in the world. Why? Because we’ve focused so long on our drug of choice, we have closed down our ability to to find joy in anyhitng outside that which we are addicted to. If you feel as though you are stuck here, it’s time to focus your attention on self-help books that guide you to enjoy life more. What worked for me was taking action with something I kind of liked (road cycling). My normal habit was to quit after the first or second try, but during recovery, I forced myself to do it every day. After months, it became a great joy to me. But I worked for that joy. It did not just show up at my doorstep.
4. You’re learning to manage your life better. Period. Recovery, doesn’t of its own volition, take care of you. It is the act of you taking care of you and you learning how to do that. And whatever tools you pick up, or however many lessons you learn and thus apply is what determines the look and feel of your recovery. If it leads you to climb mountains, become the CEO of your own company, or create in you the peace of enjoying a quiet, simply home life, then so be it. Your recovery is personal.
5. Take heart. This too shall pass. Early recovery is a phase. Just a phase. Like being being a toddler. Or a teen. You don’t stay there forever! You move on (if you are willing). Try to recognize that this less that ideal place you’re in right now is only temporary.

The winner versus the loser

On August 24th I tied the knot. D and I had a big wedding, but we kept it local and had the reception at our home. It was a wonderful “party,” but it took an overwhelming amount of planning, money, time and dedication. All worth it, mind you, but strenous nonetheless. Simultaneously, I was working two demanding, time-consuming jobs, not including mother of two teenage boys.

A week or two prior to the wedding, I came down with a bad case of vertigo. If you’ve ever had straight-up, long lasting vertigo, it’s not pretty. You cannot balance, you cannot walk erect without feeling like you’re about to fall over, and once you’re on the drugs for vertigo, you basically cannot get out of bed.  What the hell. Why would this happen just days before I was finally about to marry the only man I ever loved and who treated me so well?  I almost started to feel as though I was sabotaging myself. Now that it is behind me, I think it was pure stress.

But a strange thing happened to me shortly after we were wed. I had a dream that I married my PoA instead. And it felt both good and awkward. When I awoke I felt guilty and I questioned my loyalty and my heart to D. But then I had a deep revelation. I was not dreaming of my old boyfriend, nor that I wanted to marry him or go back to him or anything like that. Instead, I was dreaming of the “loser” inside me. And it occurred to me that we have both a loser and a winner inside us all. When we finally choose recovery, we allow the “winner” in us to take over. And it has. I have been quite successful these past 5 years and DO feel as though I have graduated. But the “loser” is still there. ANd every so often it calls out and says, Remember me? And honestly, sometimes I miss her. She was lazy, and didn’t care about herself, and could hide and shirk her responsibilities. She was a chronic underachiever who had the luxury of running away from her problems as opposed to facing them becasue she didn’t have much self-worth. And she settled. She settled all the time, scraping the bottom, taking whatever was given to her, so long as she didn’t have to work too hard.

It is when I am most overwhelmed by responsibility that I miss that old girl the most. She was a wreck, but she was always so comforting.

It has been seven months since tying the knot and since I have been overwhelmed with work. Since then, my life has calmed down  almost to a dead stop, mostly becasue I continue to clear things off my plate and avoid stressful situations. I no longer work either of those two jobs, I am obviously no longer planning a wedding, and what little work I do, it’s uninspiring, but mindless and easy. I can’t help but wonder if this is a good thing, or if the underachiever in me, the girl who never liked responsibility is trying to come back and gain control again.

If that’s the case, then I have another battle before me. Yin versus yang. Good versus evil. Self versus Avoidance of Self. And as we all know, self-avoidance (which is basically letting the “loser” in you take over) has no place in recovery. It’s a relapse. And while it doesn’t come out in the form of a PoA, it does make itself known in the person I am and in the quality of my life. And while I will never be able to completely remove the loser, I can strike a balance, and tell her who’s boss…the winner.


This old Cherokee legend about two wolves sums my dilemma up nicely, and what I need to do to overcome…

An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy.

“It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.” He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”

The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”



A Love Addict’s Guide to Growing Up…Again

One of the great challenges of love addiction, believe it or not,  is not breaking up with your PoA or even making peace with just yourself, all alone, trying to figure out how to live and be happy with no one but yourself. And while those things are enormous feats, one of the greatest challenges for a love addict is to, well, love another human being and be loved in return. Mutually, with balance, not obsession; with reason, not fantasy; and with dignity, not desperation. Finding someone that meets that criteria is only half the equation though. The other half (the most important half) is you and your behavior.

I often wondered, back in those low days when all I could see was the mess I’d made of my life, if I had it in me to not only have a successful, healthy relationship but sustain it. Not only find a healthy partner, but remain committed and in love. It seemed like an impossibile  task. In the end, I made peace with the idea that maybe this is who I was–someone incapable of having a long lasting, successful relationship. Not everyone can be successful at everything, you know. Maybe this is who I was– a failure at relationships.

What I didn’t know at the time, was that I was closer to success than I realized. I also didn’t know at the time that love is learned. And while varying degrees of personal space and personal intimacy exist, and varying degrees of preference in looks and personality traits exist…everyone can learn to love and be close to the right person.  In fact, the way you love today is what you learned from your parents, caretakers, brothers, sisters and anyone else who heavily influenced your life. Did your parents fight all the time? Was your dad distant and avoidant? Was your mother a narcissist who never paid you any attention? Were you sexually abused, ignored, trampled on, physically beaten, manipulated?  Or maybe you didn’t have any of those issues. Maybe you grew up in a household with a loving single mom or dad who didn’t have a relationship of their own, and thus, never taught you what a healthy, romantic relationship looks like. Chances are, you lacked a good teacher, if you are reading this blog.

But do NOT for one second believe that you “don’t have it in you” to succeed at a healthy relationship. You merely need to be taught. It doesn’t matter what age you are. It only takes a serious student to learn and change and grow.

So…where do you begin??? Well, you begin where you think you’re stuck…


Are you stuck in your toddler years? It’s possible. Take a look at your behavior when you don’t get what you want.  Recognize that the little girl or boy in you might not have had his or her full chance to grow up. and thus, is still there, and still, most likely acting out and causing trouble. You need to reign him or her in. Susan Peabody, the co-founder of Love Addicts Anonymous, once said of our inner child, “Give her love, attention and care, just don’t give her the keys to your car.” In other words, many of us still operate as little children. We act out when we don’t get our way. We cry when we don’t get what we want. We want immediate gratification. We act on impulse. And we don’t always use mature, adult judgment when it comes to seeking out a partner or making adult decisions (like who to marry or who to have sex with). This screaming, kicking, tantrum-throwing inner child needs a time-out. AND a lesson in growing up. SO, who better her to give her that lesson than you. You can begin by being your own parent. Now, that’s not to say you have get in touch with your inner child and dig up all the dirt in your life that made you who you are. You don’t have to analyze to death your youth to the point of complete exhaustion. But you do have tweak your behavior a bit.

But how ? Here are several ways:

  • Read books. Taming Your Outer Child, by Susan Anderson; Addiction to Love, by Susan Peabody; and, Grow Up, by Frank Pittman can all help teach and inspire you to, well, grow up!
  • Copy, copy, copy. Children are parrots. You need to be now too. Seek out healthy people. Surround yourself with them. Learn from them. And copy their behavior, just as if you were a kid learning all over again. Water seeks its own level. The more you elevate yourself, the better you become.
  • Take the time to get to know you. If your childhood was frought with trauma or neglect, give yourself what you were denied as a child. If you didn’t get enough love, hug yourself, treat yourself. Hug your friends. Hug strangers (maybe not dangerous ones!). Do not look for this in a romantic relationship though! You’re not there yet. If you do, the relationship tends to take on one purpose and one purpose only: to give you what you lacked as a child. You will be a bottomless pit, seeking validation and affection any way you can get it. Chances are you will not be able to give, but just receive.  Or, you will give TO receive. Yuck.
  • Take naps! Kids need lots of naps from all that learning. Rest. Relax. Take a day off and pamper yourself. You’re condensing 12 years of childhood learning into a few short months! You need to take a break and rest. :)
  • Do what it takes to grow up. Love addiction (any addiction, for that matter) stunts your growth. It takes away your ability to grow, learn and experience the reality of the world in all its harshness and glory. The world is a great teacher, but if you hide behind your addiction you cannot grow to be a healthy adult. Addiction is like the extreme case of the child raised in captivity and social isolation. Luckily, we can regrow and relearn and unlearn bad habits. If growing up means getting into recovery for your addiction and moving away from your PoA (person of addiction), do it!
  • Don’t date. You’re not emotionally ready. You’re still a kid! Give yourself a defined amount of time to just BE (six months? one year? Whatever amount of time, make it count!). Potential partners aren’t going any where. There will be plenty when you grow up! If you’re married, ask for extra time alone (you may not be able to avoid feeding the kids, but you get my point!).
  • Forgive yourself. Many of us grew up in shame. If we made a mistake we were punished, yelled at, beaten, ignored. Emmulate a healthy parent. If you did something wrong, hurt someone, made a mistake, be that healthy parent and say to yourself: “OK, so you made a mistake. We ALL make mistakes. I still love you. I will always love you, no matter what.  Just try a little harder next time. And if you need help, I can help. Others can help. “


Are you stuck in your teen years? We always talk about the inner-child but fail to talk about your inner teenager–that wild, free-spirited, somewhat reckless awkward sixteen-year-old that also needs love, attention, boundaries and a lesson in growing up. So, how do you address your inner-teen? Well, it means taking risks, being couragous, learning a skill or trade, going back to school, dating and being all about you! A word of caution: many addicts, in their adult life, DO act like teens. They are stuck in their teen years. And getting through this phase is tough because it means giving up a little “perceived” freedom to gain true freedom. Getting through your teen years means taking on more responsibility and taking action. Our heads are full of dreams and fantasies of careers, marriage, adventures, and so on. Now is the time to stop dreaming and start doing. Gaining experiencing. Becoming the intern. Honing your skills. So…here are several ways to reignite your teen spirit for recovery…

  • Be All About You. I know, easier said that done. But, if you are single and do not have children, now is the pefect time to be as selfish as you wish–at least temporarily. In fact, early recovery is a very selfish stage of recovery. Just don’t take it too far for too long, or it turns into narcissism. But the idea behind making a portion of your life all about you is because you most likely missed the egocentricity necessary to help you grow up. Teens are all about themselves! And well they should be. They are learning their limitations, their boundaries, what they are capable of, and what they are not capable of. They are learning to take risks, even if it means getting hurt, they are learning how to manuever their way in the world and face it, not hide behind the safety of an addiction or a fear. And lastly, they are learning how to love and forgive themselves at this stage. If you are married or have children, obviously I do not advise that you become completely selfish or date anyone other than your hubby! Use common sense. Try to make a couple hours in the day all about you. Start a journal. Take classes at a community college. Break outside your shell and live a little–go to the movies by yourself. These are all things we so often fear to do, but in the long run, will help us grow.
  • Analyze Your Behavior. Teen years are all about introspection and self-analyzing of your behavior. Don’t be afraid to look in the hypothetical mirror and discover who you are and why you do what you do. Heck yeah, it’s scary. That’s why teens are so hysterical, moody and unpredictable all the time. They are shocked and awed by their own humanness. Take a good look at your behavior. Why did you call your PoA when you know it hurts when he rejects you? Do you think it might be because you are simply seeking validation? Are you repeating the pattern of you and a parent? Why did you demand that your friends accompany you to the dinner party? Is this being mature? WHy can’t you go alone? Are you scared of being alone, and thus, relying too heavily on your friends for support? Analyze, delve, search, dig. Now’s the time.
  • Take (Calculated) Risks. I’m not talking about having unprotected sex or trying a new drug with friends. Those teen-associated risks are, well, better left back in your youth. Second time around you should be taking healthy, calculated risks. I am talking about signing up for a class at a local college. Meeting a new friend or associate for lunch. Trying a new yoga class at the gym even though you feel awkward and out of your comfort zone. Part of the reason we are love addicts is to avoid life, avoid responsibility, and avoid ourselves. Why do we avoid? Because we are afraid. We must have tried to take a risk when we were teens and it scared us to death, so much so, that we retreated and hid behind our addiction for the past however many years. Well, we will never heal or grow up if we don’t give it a second try and experience the world. And don’t just do something once. Do it 3, 4 or 5 times before deciding if it’s something for you. When I first hopped on a bike and road one mile at the age of 36, it felt WEIRD. I didn’t like it. But I forced myself to do it again and again and again. And now I LOVE riding. It takes a while to figure out what we like. But we need to take risks to figure it out. It’s part of growing up.
  • Date. Yes! Go on a date! If you’re married, that means a date with your spouse. If you’re single it means another single, available person that you can meet face to face over coffee or something. And I said “date.” I did NOT say fall in love, have sex,  get married or start to fantasize about this person. Remember your a healthy teen this time around. A date is just a meeting. It is typically not romantic, but can be fun and exciting if the two have chemistry. And even then, it is moment to enjoy, NOT get hot and heavy. You’re still not emotionally mature enough. Keep it light. And lose the expectations.
  • Figure Out What You Love. You were supposed to figure out what you wanted to do Senior year of high school. You were supposed to either choose a major in college or find a job that appealed to you. If that was done with any success (and it may have been) then that portion of your life is being managed well. But if you’re anything like me, you went through the motions, but skipped the part about you “loving” what you do and instead,  just did whatever it took to get by, so that you could spend all your time chasing boys. Well, ditch the boys and focus on what you love without them. This is VERY hard to do because so often, love addicts choose environments where there is more opportunity for dating. Ask yourself this: If dating were not an option, and I could only choose something I loved based on pure enjoyment, what would it be? Now learn how to do it or be it.


Are you stuck in the role of adult care-taker, or are you such an old, frail soul that you are the one who needs care? Well guess what? Neither of those apply to a vibrant, healthy adult and you need to challenge your core beliefs that this is who you are. There is such a thing as being “too” old and too inter-dependent on others–not like a child, but like a needy old person. It’s called co-dependence and it’s a trick. The trick is that we “appear” to be mature and caring for others around us, but in actuality, we are merely trying to hold on for dear life to the people whom we care for so that they do not leave us or let us go. We are filled with anxiety, worry and stress over our own health and the health of others. We see the glass half-empty, not half-full. And if we aren’t monitoring our every step, and the steps of others, our life seemingly spins into chaos. It’s a control issue and we tend to turn out this way when , as children, we were forced to take care of ill or addicted parents. Well, here’s what’s necessary to turn back the hands of time and stop caretaking and being an old fart…

  • Let go. Holding on so tightly does nothing but give you arthritis. And it doesn’t keep people in your life. It strangles people. And it strangles you. Your biggest lesson is in learning how to let go of control and experience the world as it is. The world and everything in it is not your responsibility. It is a shared responsibility. You have carried the weight of the world on your shoulders for years now, and it’s time to give all this responsibility (well, most if it) over to your higher power and say, here, you carry this for a while. I need to live!
  • Learn to laugh and be childlike. When you are the “Mature Adult” you never had time to be a child, to enjoy life without the weighted responsibility of taking care of everyone. At least you didn’t think you had the time. But you did. And you do! And even if you are taking care of people now (not co-dependently, mind you), you still need time to experience the world without the shackles of constant toil and labor. Watch cartoons, go on an adventure, put yourself in (safe) situations that you need to trust others, or trust the universe, where you are not in control. Try to find enjoyment in the sensation of not knowing what comes next (a comedy show? a walk through a haunted house? a rollercoaster? a hot air balloon ride?). Start to look at the world anew, as if through a child’s eyes. Get back in  touch with your senses. How does this experience feel, what does it look like, smell like, taste like?
  • Give up your co-dependent behaviors. Recognize that when we “take care of” adults who are otherwise perfectly capable of taking care of themselves, we do so not out of a sense of altruism or love (although we may very well love them), but rather, so that we can control their behavior as it suits us. We try to control the chaos. And, we fear that if we do not do for them, or care for them, they will leave or wander off down a path where we can no longer control them. But adults are not to be controlled. Kids are to be controlled. And the dynamic of your relationship is hugely imbalanced if there is codependence. Allow people to make their own mistakes, allow people to fall, to leave, to wander off… Experience people for who they are, not what you want them to be. And be sure to read Codependent No More, by Melody Beattie.

Failing at recovery is easy. Here’s how…


Success versus failure is not always black and white. There’s no distinct “finish line” to success, that, once crossed, leads to bliss, perfection and the absence of failure. But, there are bad choices that if you continue to make will hold you back from progressing in recovery and feeling better emotionally and mentally. So, if it’s failure at recovery you’re looking for…do these top 10 things. I gaurantee you will continue to feel crappy, unfulfilled, frustrated and miserable!

1. Continue to talk about/analyze your PoA: Like it or not you’re obsessed. And talking about or analyzing, or stalking the PoA is confirmation of your obsession and your addiction. If you really want to wreck your chances of getting healthier, this is the top best way to do it. Also, when other people tell you to focus on yourself and institute no contact (NC) with your person of addiction, ignore them and continue to pine away and ask, “but why doesn’t he love me.” You’ll be able to spend a lifetime trying to figure out the answer to questions like that because, guess what…there is no answer! At least one you’ll never be fully satisfied with.

2. Vent (about how miserable your life currently is): I’m convinced that venting is an art. The longer you do it, the better at it you become. And the irony of venting, is that, as you become better at it, the worse you feel. Yay! Why is that? Because venting, although helpful for blowing off temporary steam, accomplishes absolutely nothing. It’s just another way to obsess over someone or something that is completely unhealthy for you. It’s just another way to stay anchored to your addiction.

3. Blame the PoA (and everyone else) for your problems: Of course we all know that none of your problems relates to you but rather to all the jerks who messed up your life, took advantage of you, held you back, never loved you, lied, cheated and broke your heart. You didn’t ask for any of this, right? Heck no. So…when it comes to really assessing the situation at hand, and your ultimate happiness, don’t take any responsibility. Blame others! And depend on others for your happiness. Happiness, afterall, is something that comes from outside sources, not within. And you have no control over your own attitude, your own behavior or the fact that you have to deal with this situation in the first place. Right??? Oh, and one more bit of advice: blaming others is so much easier too and will never challenge you to think that maybe, just maybe you do, afterall, have responsibility for your actions. So, if you really want to just take it easy and continue depending on others for happiness, blame them for not being what you need and want them to be.

4. Trust your fantasies: When you were a kid, you dreamed up big dreams of love and happiness and castles and unicorns. None of it was real, but it was a necessary process that either helped you begin to identitify dreams that would eventually shape your reality, or it was a defense mechanism that protected you from a reality that you could not manage well, or that scared you. Chances are, if you’re a love addict, those “fantasies” you still carry with you are defense mechanism that served (past tense) to protect you, but now, only stunt your growth and wreak havoc on your ability to face life and deal with what’s really in front of you, as opposed to what you wish were in front of you. The more you spend in la la land, the less time, knowledge and experience you will gain in the real world, learning real world skills to help you actually achieve your goals. So, if you plan to get a big fat F in recovery class, trust those fantasies in your brain and keep telling yourself that they speak the truth. Of course, they’ve never steered you wrong before, right?

5. Remove all boundaries, let everyone in and say or do anything you please: Yay! Freedom! Who needs or wants boundaries?! They have such an unappealing reputation, especially if you’re a child of the 60s or 70s. And while good, healthy boundaries serve to protect you and those around you (they keep bad, unhealthy people out of your life and likewise, keep YOU from saying or doing things you really shouldn’t), let’s face it, they hold you back, make you responsible, and deny you that childhood fantasy that believes that everyone will love us and be good to us if we just give them a chance.

6. Cause lots of drama: When you were a teenager in high school…oh, the drama! Remember? Well, don’t give it up. Continue to gossip, manipulate, and act totally histrionic at the smallest sign of strife. Because, guess what, who needs to grow up and act rational? Not you. Acting like a teen, making mountains out of molehills and getting involved in other people’s problems, which then in turn, affect you beyond all comprehenion is exciting! Or dangerous! Or riveting! Heck, it’s your own little slice of Hollywood. It gives you the perfect excuse not to face your actual problems, or work on them, let alone interact with grace and dignity.

7. Don’t change anything: Don’t change your behavior (notice I used the word “behavior,” I didn’t say change YOU). Keep doing exactly what you’ve been doing (notice I used the word “doing” not “being”).  Continue to hang around toxic people, and of course, keep pursuing your PoA (how’s that working for ya?). Keep frequenting places that compromise your desire to be healthy and safe (bars, online dating sites, your PoAs street). Really, why bother changing? Change is hard! It’s actual work! It requires the meaningful attempt to alter or modify one type of behavior for another, for the sake of improving one’s situation. And you have no interest in improving your situation. You like things as they are (that’s an educated guess, or you would be on this website), so…simply ignore this entry and keep doing what you’ve been doing. The definition of insanity, afterall,  is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. But then again, you don’t want different results, do you? You want exactly what you’ve got, er, except you want HIM to change. But not you.

8. Don’t reach out for any help or take any advice: There absolutely IS a light at the end of the tunnel, but you need to know how to navigate that tunnel. It’s not a straight line. It’s more like a maze. And whether you turn to reading books, chatting on a Love Addiction forum with others, or attend LAA meetings, one or all of those things will help guide you. Why? Well, for starters, you never learned how to love in a healthy way ( love can be learned!), you most likely have low self-esteem (self-esteem can be improved with more knowledge), and what you’ve been doing up to this point obviously isn’t working (people with more experience, with years of recovery make great guides!). But, you’re an adult and probably know it all. You probably resent advice, and hate to be told what to do. Well, take my advice, doing it on your own, without the coursework or without help from teachers will most likely get you a D or F. Try doing brain surgery without any prior learning. Coming out of love addiction is equally as challenging!

9. Replace your current PoA with a new PoA: This one always works so well. When you can’t have a successful relationship with your PoA (for whatever reason), at least you can go out and replace him or her with an equally bad choice. And you can continue to do this until hell freezes over because there’s an infinite amount of bad choices out there to be made. If you want an “F” for recovery, this is the way to do it. Repeat the same mistakes of the past without ever changing and without ever recognzing that real change doesn’t mean just changing the players around and expecting different results, it means redefining what you find attractive, acceptable and meaningful. We so often tend to thing that we will get different results from different people, and we’re always so flabbergasted when different people treat us exactly the same as those who have come before. Does that tell you something about human nature? That while there are subtle differences between us, we still react to people one way: the way we teach them to treat us. When you teach people to treat you differently (healthier) than you did in the past, you tend to attract a different (healthier) caliber person (those who can step up to the plate and provide the kind of relationship that you expect), AND those, like your PoA, who start to notice that you expect more of them usually cannot step up to the plate. Change must come from within YOU, not the player. Unless you want an F.

10. Never find out what your values are/Continue to believe you’re worthless: Why are you in this situation to begin with? Well, 99.9 percent of it is because you have low self-esteem. How do I know? Because the very second (well, maybe a little longer) a healthy person with healthy self-esteem recognizes they are not being treated decently, kindly and lovingly in a relationship, they don’t stick around. Period. Love addicts do. Why? Because love addicts don’t have the same level of intolerance for things  like neglect, avoidance, physical, mental or emotional abuse, manipulation, and so on. And whether it be because they were never taught self-esteem from their parents, or simply don’t have a healthy perspective on their own lives it doesn’t matter. What matters is that there are certain components to self-esteem that you need to possess in order to change and be healthier. The most important component of self-esteem is to have VALUES. A value is a thing we regard as super important that we believe we deserve in our lives for no other reason but that it is something that will make us feel alive, comfortable and happy. Being treated with kindness is a value. Believing that you should never be physically beaten is a value. The trouble is, either we don’t know what our values are, OR, more importantly, we have a vague idea of our values, but  don’t stick to them. We walk around and puff out our chest and say “No man will ever hurt me again!” and then we hop into bed with the first hot guy we pick up at a bar and only later find out he’s a player. Having self-esteem means having values, and sticking to them! We don’t just talk the talk, we walk the walk. If you know in your heart that every time you date someone who drinks heavily or does drugs it makes you feel uncomfortable then that means you have a value that says: I do not want drugs or alcohol in my life. It also means you don’t listen to that value. Success is recovery means you put your values ABOVE your need for a man. Self-esteem means you put your health and safety ABOVE your desire to get laid, above your desire to connect to someone as quick as possible and above your desire to feed your hunger for anything so that the pain goes away. Don’t write down your values or stick to them if you want to fail at recovery. Believing you are worthless, or going through life without a “Values” road map is a surefire way to guarantee a unhealthy, unhappy life.

What if we actually liked ourselves?

What if we just looked in the mirror and said, for once, “I like what I see”?  What if we allowed ourselves to be happy or in love with our appearance or who we are on the inside?

What do we LOSE by liking ourselves? What do we sacrifice by daring to validate and value who we are? Why do we think we need someone else to do that job for us, when we can’t even do it ourselves?

Think about it.

This is what I thought about in the shower the other day. D and I have an ensuite bathroom and our shower has no walls or doors. It’s just a wide open space with a floor drain and a shower head in a tiled corner of the bathroom (it’s quite lovely actually), and almost inevitably, he will come in while I’m showering so that he can shave or do whatever. In reality, he’s coming in to get a “peak” of what he considers his sexy wife in the shower. But in my mind, I am horrified to be so exposed and try to cover up my flaws by turning away from him. I feel very awkward in the buff and despise the harsh fluorescent lights (what woman doesn’t?!). And every time this happens I can’t help but ask myself, Why can’t I just relax?!

In his mind, and I am going only on what he tells me all the time, I am sexy and beautiful. In my mind I see cellulite, flabbiness, fat and wrinkles. When I look at my face, I don’t see what he sees. I see ugly, worn out and old.

How can two people, looking at the same object, have such a different perspective? More importantly, why do I insist on carrying around this negative attitude and poor self-image when I logically know that it’s not true?

I began to think that perhaps our negative self-image gives us something, is a comfort to us or holds some kind of value. Why else would we maintain such a desctructive and irrational point of view? So, I asked myself, what does it give me? And what sense of comfort might I lose by getting rid of it? When I was brutally honest this is what I came up with:

  1. Assimilation: By confirming that I am ugly, or imperfect, it validates that I AGREE WITH and CONDONE the western cultural belief that beauty is Kate Moss or Naomi Campbell. And that anyone with any sense of self-confidence who doesn’t look like a model is just fooling herself and is thus, laughable (case in point: any overly confident reality TV show personality who fancies herself  “hot” but, in reality, or rather, by Hollywood standards,  is overweight, flawed, a bad dresser, average or generally unattractive). By agreeing with this notion of beauty, by feeding into this falsity, I am nonetheless, fitting into my culture. I am able to not only judge others like the westerner that I am, but I am able to judge myself as well. And that makes me feel good to be accepted by my culture and to know that I am capable of assimilation.
  2. Humility: In many religions (Christianity in particular), we are taught to be humble and to shun over-confidence; “for whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.” (Luke 14:11).  I am able to use my humility as a positive part of what I, as a whole person, offer as part of my package. I am clearly not a narcissist and my low sense of self worth is therefore a virtue.
  3. Judgment: People bond together over shared values and, unfortunately, over shared judgments. My friends and I (and even my husband and I) will sit in a cafe and people watch, and of course, whether we’d like to admit it or not, we judge. Look at her…who does she think she is…and so on. When I am part of a group that shares the same judgments, I can clearly see how others are “ranked,” myself included. And while my friends will never insult me or call me fat or ugly, they will look at strangers with a similar body-shape as me and judge and laugh and make fun. By joining them in their judgments of others, not only am I bonding with my friends, I am also adopting my group’s point of view, whether it be right or wrong. And since many in my group are harsh and judgmental, and have a very closed-minded and narrow definition of beauty, I will too–especially when it comes to judging myself.
  4. Progress: IF I accept myself as is and love the person in the mirror as she is, it means I am done changing. That no progress or improvements need to be made and that I accept that THIS IS IT. Well, that’s a bit scary because America was built on progress. Even in recovery, we say, progress not perfection. My less-than-perfect self-image allows me to accept that there is room to grow and become an even better me. Unfortunately, that kind of “room to grow” ends up being more of a dangling carrot than a satisfying motivation to become “better.” Why? Because there is no end to how much better a person can become. Even if I lost 10 pounds and toned the hell out of this bod, got a boob job and a facelift, there’d still be more progress to make…
  5. Validation: Lastly, my poor sense of self gives me what many unhealthy people seek to make themselves feel good: pity and lots of verbal compliments. Every time I feel crushed under the weight of my own low self-esteem and I make it known, people pacify me by telling me that I am beautiful, thus, validating and valuing me. By having this sort of validation come from an outside source, as opposed to from within me, it makes my job to love myself a heck of a lot easier. I don’t have to do the work, others can do it for me! Thing is, it only lasts so long. People change their minds, you change. I would have to keep seeking fresh validation in order to feel loved and that’s hard work.

So…now that I know the reasons why I hold on to my poor self-image, I can work to bust through all these myths, these FALSE beliefs. Today, I will try my hardest to look in the mirror and say, it’s OK to like myself. Even if I go against my culture, refuse to see being humble as a virtue, get a NEW more open-minded sense of judgment, scrap the whole progress not perfection mentality, and validate myself, it’s OK to see myself as beautiful.




The mystery of ambivalence revealed

Come closer…Go away, I need space: When you’re wondering why you’re being pulled and pushed…

I so often remember the state of being ambivalent over some guy. And by ambivalent I mean that sometimes I loved the person and wanted to be close to him, while other times, he repulsed me and I wanted nothing to do with him except to break up. I learned to accept this behavior as part of my “fear of intimacy.” The pushing away then pulling closer behavior was a sure sign that I was simply scared of commitment and closeness with another human being. In fact, at one point in my life, I was engaged to be married to a guy that my family really liked. It was at first a very passionate affair, but as soon as we moved in together and got engaged I had what everyone assumed was a typical case of “cold feet.” Trouble is, it didn’t go away, it nagged at me and it got stronger to the point where I felt I couldn’t ignore it anymore.

My ambivalence usually went like this: I’d meet someone, clearly see red flags right away (I’m very good at detecting red flags), push the guy away, and once I pushed, he generally liked me even more, so he would insist we were meant to be together. When he’d pursue me more aggressively that was always such a turn on for me (I thought that aggressiveness was a sure sign of true love). And then I would give in. I would fall madly in love with him a week or two into a relationship, promise my devotion and we’d have this whirlwind affair. And then………I’d come to my senses, but keep quiet about it because I was embarrassed. How could I have made such a mistake? Maybe I didn’t make a mistake. Maybe I’m just scared.

Once the initial chemistry of love wore off, I was faced with what I believed was the real nitty gritty of the relationship (the unglamorous living day to day stuff), something I couldn’t handle no matter how great the guy. And so, I believed I was incapable of true intimacy with someone and that everyone I would ever meet would have this same effect on me. I believed my lot in life was to overcome my fear of intimacy and so I tended to force myself to remain with someone longer than I normally would (hello marriage!) so that I could learn what intimacy was.

But there was a much larger (and simpler) issue at play that caused my ambivalence, and it was something I remained in denial about for MANY YEARS (sadly, when we put ourselves into a box, we deny ourselves other possibilities): Shockingly, my ambivalence was caused by the simple fact that I just didn’t like the guy. Sure, I liked him in certain situations, in others I even loved him, but clearly I had an unnatural aversion to parts of his core that I simply should not have overlooked, but did. What I craved and wanted was the relationship, not the guy.

Aside from ambivalence, this is relationship addiction and I believe it comes into play when we force ourselves to love someone whom we inherently, naturally do not love just for the sake of maintaining a committed relationship because the relationship is what we truly crave. Ambivalence, too, can be tricky because love or friendship may exist in part, and so we tend to believe if we have this small amount of love for a person, then we truly do love them and should be in a relationship with them. Mentally and emotionally you might even tell yourself, I’m  just scared, that’s all, or I’m being too picky. 

But here’s the deal, there’s good, healthy fear or trepidation about moving forward with someone and then there’s red flag-scared. And if you’re not being true to your body mind and spirit or paying attention to your own red flags, your body will start screaming at you to listen. If that happens, the problem of ambivalence can turn into physical and emotional pain, hatred, anger or resentment.

Below is a list of the bad kind of ambivalence that generally means there’s something wrong and you may be staying in the relationship that you shouldn’t:

  • Having  trouble looking someone in the eyes (not in the beginning, mind you. In the beginning when all those juicy chemicals are coursing through the veins, you can do and feel virtually ANYTHING).
  • Being turned off consistently with someone’s breath.
  • Having an aversion to their style or the way they dress (I would always suggest other outfits or buy them clothes that suited me).
  • Becoming sexually anorexic after a time and not wanting to be touched.
  • Finding their jokes, or topics of conversation consistently uninteresting.
  • Wanting to avoid them more frequently than not.
  • Having strong positive feelings for them over the phone, computer or through e-mail, but not in person (or vice versa).
  • Dreaming or fantasizing about someone else “better” or “sexier” or more “passionate.”
  • Feeling momentarily happier at the point of break up.
  • Constantly preferring to be alone.
  • Having consistent feelings of disgust, anger, frustration, hatred, ambivalence, apathy, or coldness within the relationship
  • Having little or no respect for the person.
  • Feeling “ashamed” or embarrassed to be out with them in public
  • Feeling uncomfortable around this person.
  • Feeling physically sick or weak around this person.

I think because we so desperately want something (a loving relationship), we sell ourselves short. We deny our instincts and don’t listen to our gut. We think that there must be some secret meaning behind our behavior, so we analyze ourselves and the relationship to the point of ignoring the basic truths. But sadly, the truth (as I have found) cannot be denied, and the longer you stay in a bad relationship, the more your body will start screaming at you to pay attention. Staying in a bad relationship can cause physical ailments, depression, frustration, a loss of belief in yourself and your instincts, and overall pain and suffering.

So, is there such a thing as healthy ambivalence? Yes! Ambivalence is necessary in the beginning of a relationship when you are trying to decide if a certain person is right for you. Remember, ambivalence means “doubt.” And doubt is healthy when you do not know what you’re getting into. It’s when you are STILL having a lot of doubts after a longer period of time. After 6 months to a year you  should know when someone is right for you. You may not know them completely. But you should have a pretty good sense.

If you’re still ambivalent, here are a few signs that you may be in a good relationship:

  • Having  no trouble looking someone in the eyes, long after the chemicals have worn off
  • Being turned on by someone’s breath.
  • Accepting and feeling comfortable with their style or the way they dress
  • Having a healthy desire for sex (pay attention to the idea of cycles; our sexual desires wax and wane, and there will be times in both your lives when you have less of a desire to have sex. But your attraction to the person never changes).
  • Finding their jokes, or topics of conversation consistently interesting.
  • Wanting to be with them more frequently than not.
  • Having strong positive feelings for them both over the phone, computer, through e-mail, and in person (or vice versa).
  • Absence of dreaming or fantasizing about someone else “better” or “sexier” or more “passionate.”
  • Feeling sad at the idea of  a break up.
  • Sometimes preferring to be alone, but not always.
  • Feeling the full range of emotions within the relationship, but for the most part feeling love, peace, stability, warmth, etc.
  • Feeling proud of them when you go out in public
  • Having respect for the person.
  • Feeling comfortable around this person.
  • Feeling physically healthy around this person.
Always remember to be honest with yourself and don’t be afraid to question your feelings or thoughts.

Are you diving into a shallow pool?

When we want something bad enough, and we’re in a hurry to achieve it, get it, feel it, secure it, we sometimes put blinders on, and dive in. Our desire for immediate gratification can be all encompassing depending how hungry we are.  And with Valentine’s day tomorrow, this could mean rushing out to find “the one” within the next 24-hours. Loneliness, in fact, is one of the major motivators for risky behaviors. But, sadly, it never pays to dive into something quickly and blindly.

Here’s a rather ugly metaphor for what I’m talking about:

You are told by a stranger that there’s a pool at someone’s house in town. You LOVE, love, love swimming and you haven’t swum in years, so, without missing a beat, or asking any questions except “where’s the pool?” you run home, get your bathing suit, your towel, your sun block, your goggles and head on over to the address. 

On the way over, you envision the water, the warm air, how wonderful the rush of the plunge will feel against your skin. You fantasize about how good it will all be–just the way you remember it. Maybe you’ll do laps. Maybe you’ll do the butterfly. Or the side stroke. Oh, the possibilities! It’s been so long!!!

You finally arrive at the door of the owner, knock, meet and say, “I’d love to use your swimming pool.” But before waiting for his answer, you waltz right passed him to his back yard. Without actually looking at the pool though, and sizing it up, you then proceed to put a pair of blinders on. You feel your way to the diving board, bounce a few times with exhilaration…and then….jump into a shallow, dirty pool of water and not only break two arms and a leg, but your nose as well. 

How could this have happened, you think? How could I have dove into this filthy shallow water when I “envisioned” the water so perfectly?

This, of course, is a rather far flung story, and yet, the love addict does this every time he or she gets involved in a relationship. We fall helplessly in love–some of us within hours–only to later realize that the object of our affection was a shallow pool and now that are blinders are off, we are broken.

When we are willing to put blinders on and turn our lives and our safety over to someone we do not know well enough, it’s because the “fantasy” for a perfect love far outweighs the importance of what is real. And what is real might be too ugly or scary for us. So…we close our eyes, we throw caution to the wind and we dive in. Chances are when we do that, there will be enough water in the pool to catch us. But when we are blind, how can we be sure? We can’t, because there’s no guarantee UNLESS we make such a big decision with our eyes wide open, fully aware.

My advice:

  • Take your blinders off. When you refuse to LOOK at things as they are, you run the risk of diving into a shallow or empty pool!
  • Stop the “fantasy” in your head telling you that that guy you just met online is your soul mate. He’s not. At least you have no way of knowing that until you spend months, YEARS getting to know him first.
  • Be open to seeing, acknowledging and, if necessary, taking action toward avoid people with red flags (don’t just avoid the flag! Avoid the person waving the flag!!!)
  • Use common sense when dating. Would you dive into a pool blind-folded? No. Then why go home with someone on the first date? It’s the same thing. Why allow your emotions to lead you to the sensation of “falling in love” when you just met someone? That’s not realistic. You may feel a chemical “attraction” to someone immediately, but don’t confuse that with LOVE. It’s NOT!
  • Ask the right questions. Don’t just ask “where’s the address of the pool” ask if the pool actually has WATER. In other words, when you are dating, don’t just focus on a person’s good looks, or pick up lines. A relationship takes a long time to form and while I don’t suggest interviewing anyone on a first date about all the skeletons in their closet, it might be a good idea to think of dating someone as taking a college class. Educate yourself about this person through a series of dates. Don’t be afraid to hear info like, “I’m already dating someone.” WHen you Value yourself and love yourself, chances are you will want to protect yourself from getting hurt. Learn as much about the people who enter into your life as you can. The more you know, the better you will be able to make decisions about  keeping them in your life or letting them go.
  • Never trust your fantasy. In your mind Jack the Ripper or Charles Manson could be turned into the perfect mate if you’re creative enough (and trust me, love addicts are!). When you open yourself to reality and what is right in front of you, you can SEE the truth, and while it might not be what you want it to be, it is real and will allow you to make healthy decisions.


I’ve been thinking a lot about perception lately, and so I decided to create this image to show how our vision can sometimes be skewed. We desperately want to believe in our fantasy of a perfect relationship, so much so that we are willing (willing!) to distort our view and overlook some pretty major flaws. And while this image is a little extreme and based on physical looks alone, the bigger picture is, as love addicts, we sometimes refuse to see serious, internal red flags like abuse, neglect, infidelity, manipulation, narcissism and worse. So…my advice for the day? Be honest with yourself. Keep your eyes wide open and don’t be afraid to see things as they are, not as you wish them to be. Remember, when you love yourself, you do everything in your power to protect yourself. And most of the time that means staying grounded in reality.


Has your PoA turned into your own form of cancer?

The PoA still on your brain? Can’t shake him? Of course he is still there. And he will be until you do what you fear most…kill the thoughts and let go.

Think of it like this: we carry our addictions around in our heads and our hearts so frequently, it gets to the point where our whole body adapts to those thoughts and we essentially grow a new limb, or more appropriately, a tumor. The PoA becomes part of us–a physical manifestation of who we are, an ugly, outward growth that wreaks havoc on our lives and our health.

So…..any hope of changing at this point means drastic measures. It means surgery. It means severing the limb. It means slicing off the growth. That’s a hard thing to do, because guess what, at this point, it’s not like popping a pimple. Whatever measure you take to remove this thing, it’s going to HURT. It’s going to be MAJOR. Cancer doesn’t spread overnight, folks.

So, you have to ask yourself….is the growth that has formed on your body and soul jeopardizing your health? Your inner and outer beauty? Is it endangering your very existence? If it is, then the risk of REMOVING the GROWTH is worth the potential pain, if it means saving your life.

Recognize the PoA (or any type of addiction) for what it is. Cancer! And then, take the appropriate action to fight it and get healthy.