The battle within


To better understand this dis-ease within ourselves that we call love addiction is to look not at addiction, but avoidance. Avoidance of ourselves. It is to look at the alternate side of addiction. What is the logical opposite of addiction? Avoidance. It is not about men or our inability to find and/or keep a man. It is certainly not about how rotten somebody is treating you, if you choose to stay.  And it certainly isn’t about love. If I keep choosing the wrong men then that is an issue unrelated to love addiction. Love addiction is merely a struggle within the Self, to AVOID the self, which manifests itself in the realm of love and relationships. To be a love addict, per se, has little or nothing to do with the object of my affection. It has to do with the Self and the Self’s inability to find peace and understanding within while in certain situations.

When I obsess, when I struggle, when I fear, when I feel disgust, and I point all those emotions at YOU, are you the problem? No. I am. When I get involved with a man who ignores me, neglects me, doesn’t love me, is that HIS problems? No. It’s mine. When I feel insecure and unloved and keep chasing after someone who doesn’t want me in his life, is that HIS problem? No. It’s mine.

So often we point the blame outside ourselves. So often we say, if only he would change. So often we look to the rest of the world to do the work of making peace for us. We are blind to the fact that change, peace, understanding is within us. That there is a STRUGGLE going on within us that needs to be quieted and we are the ones responsible for it. No one else. In fact, if we should name ourselves anything it should be “avoidants” not love addicts. By focusing so deeply on someone else for our salvation, we are AVOIDING ourselves.

My love addiction isn’t so much that I am addicted to loving someone. My love addiction is a distraction to a deeper problem within me. I am afraid of responsibility. I am afraid to live. To have a life of my own. I cannot choose a career. I cannot find my purpose. I am easily distracted and don’t stay with jobs for more than 3-5 years. I get bored. I don’t feel connected to anything. Nothing has heart. Most of my day is wasted doing menial things. I don’t put any effort into my life. I rarely take risks. I do not have something I am passionate about. Something to which I can devote myself. And because I lack ALL THAT, I welcome the opportunity to save you, I welcome the distraction of falling in love, I welcome  your problems in my life because just me, all alone, is completely BORED OUT OF MY MIND.

Love is my passion. Love is what I become devoted to. Love is what I depend on. Love saves me. Love rescues me. Love is my life.

This, of course, is escapism at its finest.

I am trying to understand why I do the things I do. I am trying to love myself in spite of all my shortcomings. In spite of this mess. For the first time in my life, I can see a light flickering at the end of the tunnel. I now know WHY i do what I do when I am in a relationship. The fact that I choose men who don’t match up to my standards is something else entirely. I cannot confuse the two: love addiction and attraction. Heck the only way one fits into the other is that the more messed up you are, the more exciting my life will be.

This leads me to believe that having a PoA (person of addiction) is incredibly misleading and damaging to recovery. It puts the focus on the PoA and NOT on the Self. If I am constantly thinking about someone, who they’re with, where they are, why they did what they did, if they love me, I am not so much addicted to them as I am avoiding something within myself. I am ESCAPING from dealing with my own personal responsibility to me and my issues, that’s all. Having a PoA draws the focus away from the Self and allows me to place blame on something else. It allows me to accept that someone else has power over me. This is not true. Sure, we are all influenced by other people. But if we are going where we don’t want to go it is our responsibility to change, not someone else’s.  Fretting over all the little stuff: “he called me,” “he’s getting married,” “he has a Christmas gift for me…” “he pinged me,” is simply more escapism. More avoidance. It’s ALL missing the mark of what recovery is.

Recovery is the SELF. It is facing your own demons. It is exposing yourself to the point of shame and embarrassment and eventually grace and freedom. The more I talk about myself in relation to the men in my life, the farther away I am from the truth. The farther I am from myself. The more i lose myself in a man, the more I lose my Self. The more I focus on his issues and his love or lack thereof, the more distant from my Self I become.

I do not have a PoA in my life now or ever. I am addicted to no one. But I am prone to avoiding my own issues and that is what I am working on. Sure, I will have waves of thinking about someone. I will hold out hope of seeing someone. I will dip into obsessive thought for a day or maybe a week. But I now know and believe it has nothing to do with whether or not I am addicted to them. It has to do with the fact that I have chosen to AVOID myself.

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20 thoughts on “The battle within

  1. I am awestruck……I just read all about me. WOW! Now what to do with this information is the ?. I read a quote I think helps me see where I am at “The moment before dawn is always the darkest”

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  2. Where does al/naranon come into play in all of this? I mean, since these two programs help people “detach,” do you think it helps? I am curious to hear yours (and others’) experiences with nar/alanon in regards to the love addiction spoken of in this entry. 🙂

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    1. this article really struck a cord with me. i’ve decided to read it everyday to remind me of what all this is about and why i have to confront myself.

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  3. Emily, I never really got into al-anon. I always found it to be a program that, instead of helping you take the risk and GET OUT of a bad relationship, it was more passive and always had the approach that you should stay where you are, but just detach. And while that’s a great and powerful approach for say, parents of young alcoholics who choose to remain committed to their child, it’s not a very good approach for someone married to an alcoholic or drug addict. It’s not a good approach for someone who CAN CHOOSE to stay or go. Al-anon always gave me the impression that I could change without needing to change my circumstances, but I found that to be counterproductive– especially because my marriage was so bad. Anyway, I hope this helps.

    Meshel, again, thanks for reading! This is one of my favorite blogs. It’s soooo true and to this day, I still re-read it simply to relearn the lesson again and again.

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  4. I have finally completed “no contact” with POA. It was extremely difficult because we broke up and got back together so often “no” stopped meaning anything. So now I am no longer AVOIDING my SELF. At this point all I do is cry because my life has ALWAYS been VERY lonely. I am doing a lot of writing and working out of a book by Patrick Carnes “The Betrayal Bond.” Normally, I just read and pass over the exercises. This time, I am completing the exercises and processing them with a trauma therapist. I understand why I’ve been AVOIDING. This is painful work. But with the tears comes the healing…or so I’m told. I just know that at 55, I cannot keep running away from the truth that has been my life. I am beginning to see who I really am and am feeling compassion and forgiveness toward myself.
    I read your blog almost daily because it speaks to me about my dis-ease and reminds me not to run away from myself anymore through relationships, motherhood, career, alcohol, eating, watching TV etc. etc. Thank you very much for all you share with us here. Debbie

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    1. Hi Debbie! SO sorry I am responding just now. Not sure why I didn’t see this post earlier. But it sounds like you’re right on track in learning to love yourself and really trying hard to not avoid. That’s what it’s all about! Glad this blog has helped! 🙂

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  5. Very interesting. I also have trouble finding things I am passionate about and can’t really choose a career even though I’m a grown up now! My ex-abusive spouse once remarked that I don’t seem to have any interests – I guess he was partially right. I have interests but they aren’t really deep and aren’t things you could really pursue. I have never really liked myself or felt at home in my body. I think my ideal job would be as an actress so I could always pretend to be someone else. The only thing that makes me really feel alive is ROMANCE. Why and what can I do about this?

    Also, did you ever choose a career and/or find things that you’re passionate about besides love?

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  6. Anna, you bring up such a good point. Love addicts, like you and me, tend to not have other interests or hobbies outside of love. Do you know why? Because they get in the way of our obsession with love and romance! ANd becasue of that, we’ve never cultivated any interests or hobbies. Any time we may have begun to get interested in something other than love, we either a.) lost interest quickly because it didn’t give us the same high as love does, or b.) we found someone and thus, dropped whatever hobby it was we were pursuing.

    But this, sadly, leads to stunted growth and a huge lack of self-esteem and self-love. Everything we do, everything we spend our time and energy on are “investments.” We invest in relationships, or a sport, or a career or our children, and at the end of 20 years, if we’ve made a good investment, we can see exactly how much we’ve accomplished or haven’t accomplished. And that means that much of our self-esteem is wrapped up in how well (or how poorly) we’ve invested. WHat’s hard for a love addict, or any addict for that matter, is that they tend to invest poorly or not at all. So, at the end of 20 years, they feel they have nothing to show for themselves. Ouch! This hurts. And can cause a huge sense of failure.

    WHat’s nice, however, about the way the world works, is that you can wake up today and start to do something! And you can start by reading Thinking too Much and Doing Nothing About It (point #4 in particular) https://thelovelyaddict.com/2012/03/18/thinking-too-much-and-doing-nothing-about-it/

    So…to answer your question…YES the only thing that used to make me feel alive was love and romance, but once I learned that I really needed to make more of an investment in other things, that changed. I began to make more of an investment in career and while I am much farther behind than I’d like to be, I am really doing good at making up for lost time! 🙂

    I hope this helps!

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  7. Thank you so much for this. It was like reading about myself. I used to be love avoidant throughout my 20s but when my dad passed away when I was 29 (this was 4 years ago), I lost myself and have been obsessing about love up until now. I have dated six guys since then and have been obsessed with each one for an average of 5-6 months, after which time I end things with them and they try to get me back.

    I now realize that the problem is not the guys themselves but me. I had forgotten how to live and how to have goals in life. I have a PhD from a major university and yet here I am, a postdoc without work (not necessarily my fault given the job market these days). Instead of focusing on learning new things and taking action to make my life better, I spent the last few years browsing the internet and reading books about dating, love, men, etc. It is only in the past couple of months that I decided to reclaim my life back and fulfill some of my ambitions.

    Your blog posts resonate with me a lot. Could you do a post about taking action and keeping a full life? It is only by making lists of things I have to do each day and being responsible to undertake them that I have come to value myself more these days. As a result, I become attractive to the opposite sex for my personality, not just my good looks.

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    1. Hi Lana! Glad my blog helps. And so glad you are doing better! And I love the idea of writing a post about “being accountable” to yourself. Have you read this one: https://thelovelyaddict.com/2012/03/04/all-talk-and-no-action/ This may help. I too have become extremely organized so that I stay on course and feel like I have a little more control over my daily life. Lists are great for that but that can become imprisoning sometimes. It’s all about balance! 🙂

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      1. Thanks. Sometimes I wonder if love addiction doesn’t occur as a result of boredom or feeling empty inside. Like you, I slowly slipped into a phase where I was not sure if the occupation (academic) I chose was any fun for me. For the past few years after I received my PhD, I have done very little work mainly because a) I lost interest and b) I was consumed with love addiction.
        Things are slowly improving and I find myself to be more aggressive when it comes to my occupation. I am sure that part of this has to do with realizing that love addiction is a waste of time. In a way, I am trying to replace love addiction with work addiction (hey, it is healthier!) but I know this is not the right things to do.

        Yes, lists actually hold you accountable. I even put things like “watch House of Cards episode” on mine, as well as small errands. I find lists give me a sense of accomplishment as well.

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      2. I definitely think there are many reasons love addiction crops up. Perhaps due to boredom too! In my case, ADHD personality and the fact that I had poor teachers (parents) who didn’t teach me how to love in healthy ways. I also quite naturally have an addictive and avoidant personality!

        Love/relationships/sex/work all become coping mechanism for dealing with pain, and, like you said, even boredom. While we may not be able to control our addictive nature, we can certain put healthier addictions in place of unhealthy ones. Work may be OK, as long as it’s not hurting you or others. It’s hard to always seek a balance. But, I’m so glad to hear you’re improving! 🙂

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  8. Like you, LovelyJune, I have also struggled with ADHD, but the hyperfocused type. It is this that allowed me to get a PhD from a top university. Until recently, I was terrible with anything that had to do with the material world. I am not good with my hands, forget things (I once left my passport and laptop in a cab!), and as a child I had poor hygiene.

    These days I am much better with these things but only because I have forced myself to be mindful of doing them.

    I can see why love addiction would be common for people with ADHD. If we get bored easily, love is like a puzzle that needs to be solved. It is a daily struggle for me.

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  9. Very true words, LovelyJune. I wonder if for you too immaturity lasted until your 30s or beyond. I believe that my love addiction is a direct result of refusing to grow up and become responsible financially and emotionally. As an only child, I had to face this in my early 20s but chose to focus on one man after another….my first love addiction lasted for 5 years!

    Thanks to your blog, I can now see what I have been avoiding all this time.

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    1. Jane, Sorry for my delayed response! I have taken a few months off. And YES…I am absolutely a late bloomer. But, as Sharon Olds once said, “anyone who blooms at all, ever, is very lucky. ” Growing up kicking and screaming is the way I did. And hiding behind one guy after another. As soon as I was willing to face what scared me most (being responsible) I grew up. 🙂

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  10. The truth will set you free!!!! I will read this for the next 4 days. I want to say so much more yet, I’ve stumbled upon something other than working the inner child. I sooooo appreciate this in this moment as I have been obsessing over my crazy controlling behavior and obsessing thoughts of love me please. I’ve been trying to love me. The paragraph that made me cry was no purpose, career, passion and life. Its been an ongoing issue. No more blame. Thank you… When i left my husband I said it’s me not you. you are a reflection of how i treat myself. Its not you its me after he allowed me to cry in agony an pain for hours. I knew i had a major issue and it wasn’t him.

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