I’ve been reading a lot of posts lately on the LAA website where the individual (the love addict) is focusing his or her recovery on finding, maintaining, waiting for or trying to create A BETTER RELATIONSHIP, as if having a loving, intimate perfect relationship were a sign that he or she has beat this whole love addiction thing.
THIS IS NOT THE CASE.
Love addiction has little or nothing to do with the external world of dating and finding love. I think this is the hardest thing for any of us (me included) to understand. So I’ll repeat it:
Love addiction has little or nothing to do with the external world of dating and/or finding love.
It has to do with your own, personal inner ability to love YOURSELF and BELIEVE IN YOURSELF and not use relationships or people as a means of escaping your pain and suffering.
In fact, I will go so far as to tell you that by focusing so heavily on your recovery for the sake of being good at a relationship, you are continuing the faulty pattern that got you into the mess in the first place. And by “mess,” I’m talking about your addiction (NOT your relationship, NOT your PoA). Your addiction: That draining, exhausting, undermining, self-sabatoging defense mechanism that YOU built for yourself many years ago to protect you at some point (not from dating, mind you, but from pain; physical, mental, sexual or emotional), and which has now become a defective, poorly functioning crutch. Not only has it become a crutch, but it has become something you don’t even recognize anymore. Suddenly, now that you’re older, you think you have a problem with men or women or relationships in general (and you do, but…) But you think, if I can just figure out how to BE in relationship, I’ll be fine. Sadly, that’s not the answer. In fact, it’s the problem. And it’s resurfacing and resurfacing and resurfacing with each new relationship you get into.
My wonderful, loving mother used to say to me, “Tracy, God gives you the same problem over and over again until you figure out how to fix it and get it right. When you fix it, the problem never comes back again.” She was so right. For the longest time I thought I was just dating the wrong guy or I was weird, different, strange. I bought a MILLION books on how to repair a relationship. I bought self-help books on how to love myself and how to be the perfect person I could be…I did all of this for the sake of finding the right man. Little did I know I was trying to fix something that was not even broken. I was trying to fix something that I had NO CONTROL OVER: men, dating, love, etc. I was trying to fix the wrong thing!
In fact, as recently as last year, I thought I had finally overcome all my problems with men. I thought I had finally proven my worth by dating a guy that loved me and I loved him (despite a few little problems, that I supposed I had to overlook, even though they didn’t make me feel too good inside). And then one day, he dumped me. One day, he said, “I don’t love you. I must have made a mistake.” And upon hearing that, I lost it. I lost EVERYTHING, and I came to the bitter conclusion that I was not meant for love. It was at this point in my self discovery that I FINALLY got it.
Love addiction has NOTHING to do with LOVE or men or relationships. It has to do with your independent ability to survive and thrive in the face of loss and pain, and not to cover pain up by losing yourself to the relationship for safety and protection. It has to do with who you are as JUST YOU, not who you are as you relate to the relationship you’re in. Recovery and self-worth come when someone dumps you or craps on you or beats you down or fires you and you allow it to happen without crouching and hiding. You allow it to happen and you face it and all of its consequences but you do NOT let it get the best of you. You do not identify your self worth with it.
Self-worth is a huge part of a successful recovery as an LA. Self-worth is based on identity. It is based on having an identity of one’s own and not feeling like a failure or feeling worthless because a relationship did or didn’t work out. And considering that one of the biggest issues love addicts have is a loss of identity and loss of self, this is where recovery needs to be focused– on finding one’s own identity. The more we look to solve the problems of our lives outside ourselves, the more lost we become. And sometimes when we hold on to a failed or failing relationship it is because our identity and self-worth is so wrapped up in it. You are not that relationship. Separate yourself from the relationship and start believing in who you are and what you are worth as a man or a woman who is viable and functioning without an intimate relationship.
When you have put in the time to do that, to understand who you are and recognize and make peace with your own identity, then you are more prepared when an opportunity for a relationship does come up. At that point, you don’t settle. You don’t take the only thing out there, or the first thing that comes along, or just anyone to make the pain go away.
YEs! Everyone wants to be in a loving, intimate relationship. That is undeniable. It is also part of our biology, and it is a practical, possible, real desire. But we must have a core self first; we must know ourselves and be able to stand on our own and have something to bring to the table first before we can introduce someone new and healthy into our lives. Dating is, after all, a more advanced stage of development. It might take awhile. It might take deferring gratification and putting time and energy into developing the self. But it’s worth it. You are worth it.
Somewhere along the line we, as a group, learned faulty defense mechanism to get us through some pretty tough times. They worked then, when we were ten and twelve and seventeen. But they don’t work anymore. Addiction is a defense mechanism. It doesn’t work. And just as the alcoholic must learn to survive and know himself without the bottle, and just as a drug-addict must learn that more drugs is not the answer, we too, must stop seeking out solutions through the PoA and The Relationship. The solution, the answer is in building the self.
Here’s a parable I always loved. You may have read it before in some variation:
There was a young man searching outside his house, in the grass, for his keys. It was a sunny bright day, with lots of mid-afternoon sun streaming down. An old man came by and asked what he was doing.
“I’m looking for my keys,” he said. “I lost them.”
So, the old man wanting to help the fellow out, started looking in the grass along side of him. After awhile, the old man said, “did you maybe drop them in a different spot, because we’ve been looking here for a while now and I’m not seeing anything.”
The young man looked up from the grass and said, “Oh, I’m sorry, I should have mentioned that I lost my keys inside the house.”
The old man was dumbstruck. “I’m a little confused,” he said. “If you lost them inside the house, why on earth are you looking for them out here?”
“Because there’s more sunlight,” he said.
The below is taken from Daily Reflections from Melodie Beattie,which helped me a great deal this week.
We need to know how far we’ll go, and how far we’ll allow others to go with us. Once we understand this, we can go anywhere.
When we own our power to take care of ourselves – set a boundary, say no, and change an old pattern – we may get flack from some people. That’s okay. We don’t have to let their reactions control us, stop us, or influence our decision to take care of ourselves.
We don’t have to control their reactions to our process of self-care. That is not our responsibility. We don’t have to expect them not to react either.
People will react when we do things differently or take assertive action to nurture ourselves, particularly if our decision in some way affects them. Let them have their feelings. Let them have their reactions. But continue on your course anyway.
If people are used to us behaving in a certain way, they’ll attempt to convince us to stay that way to avoid changing the system. If people are used to us saying yes all the time, they may start mumbling and murmuring when we say no. If people are used to us taking care of their responsibilities, feelings, and problems, they may give us some flack when we stop. That’s normal. We can learn to live with a little flack in the name of healthy self-care. Not abuse, mind you flack.
If people are used to controlling us through guilt, bullying, and badgering, they may intensify their efforts when we change and refuse to be controlled. That’s okay. That’s flack too.
We don’t have to let flack pull us back into old ways if we’ve decided we want and need to change. We don’t have to react to flack or give it much attention. It doesn’t deserve it. It will die down.
Today, I will disregard any flack I receive for changing my behaviors or making other efforts to be myself.
I’ve been listening to Feist’s The Park, probably a song I should stay away from. Same with all the rest of my depressing music…Burn, Wish I Were, If You Stay…
I had a brief exchange with S yesterday and it just opened the flood gates of that (as it turns out) not-so realistic rockabilly, grungy life I thought I was living. He had a dream about me and the boys, “just like a quick flash or something,” he said. I guess that is all he’s capable of dreaming, or admitting anyway. Well…at least it was that. I actually thought, “I hope we haunt you…” I do wonder about him from time to time. God only knows what he’s up to. I miss him. Some of him. Not all. Not those parts that hurt me. Only the parts that seem so inconsequential now.
I had a very strange dream last night about DS, the guy I almost married back in ‘93 (with whom I hooked up with after, coincidentally, getting no where with S). We were in a hotel room. He was in room #350 and I was apparently down the hall or on the second floor or something. Thing is, he was holed up in this tiny room with all of my journals and at one point, I was overcome by this gut feeling and realized it was a huge mistake that he should be. So I ran to his room and busted through the door and there he was standing in the center of the room, angry, sad, disappointed, disgusted with me, and there on the floor were my journals, all torn to shreds. I screamed at the top of my lungs, “Why?! Why???” And I got down on my hands and knees and began to pick up the scattered pages, crying, trying to piece it all together and get them all out of his room. I thought he would attack me or keep ripping up the journals, but he just stood there and didn’t move. Nothing. Just looked down upon me as I struggled. I felt at once humiliated and enraged.
I’m having some fairly vivid dreams lately. And I suppose it’s because I am trying to work something out in my head and can’t seem to do so during waking hours. Like this whole superficiality thing, and more importantly, my renewed obsession with Nathan Followill, the drummer from Kings of Leon. KVM and I determined last night that he is the archetype of lust for me, that is, because as she stated, “he looks stoned and he’s not even that good looking” thus summarizing every guy I’ve ever fallen for. But the matter at hand is that I’m beginning to think I am, dare I say it, shallow.
I mean, when I seriously consider what attracts me to someone, I do go for the mind. Mind, spirit, intellect, creativity. It’s all got to be there for me. Yet, there’s this nagging obsession with long haired, grungy looking, tattooed musicians that chips away at me–This Nathan guy is S and G and K. He’s Prince and Jimmy Ibbotson. He’s possibly even an earlier yet unformed version of BJ. And the rockabilly, stoner, loser, musician guy is like this bad tune that keeps playing itself out over and over and over again in my life. I cannot make a life with him and yet he summons me. I cannot seem to be able to live without him. It’s like an affliction or a genetic defect in me. I don’t know.
The superficiality comes in like this: when I was with S there were certain things missing. Certain things didn’t work (and I’m not talking body parts). But I didn’t care. I overlooked so much…so damn much…because his “look” fulfilled me. I felt redeemed, saved, delivered in his beauty…I buried myself in the shallowness of materialistic ideas like his tattoos or the glasses he wore or the way he dressed. It reminded me of something, though I am not sure what. Maybe it made me feel safe because I knew it wasn’t real.
I can’t figure it out, but what bothers me is that I feel on the brink of losing “him.” Not S, that is (been there, done that) or some rock icon like the dude in the picture. But just “him.” The imaginary Disney-esque, archetypal guy of my dreams.
Years ago, when I was poised to marry DS, I couldn’t. He was brilliant. Well-educated. Clever. He loved me deeply. But he was not “him.” He was not the archetype. He was plain. He had fair hair. He wore khaki pants and plain t-shirts. He was responsible. Physically or materialistically, nothing set him a part. S, on the other hand, back in the day, wore a chain on his wallet. His hair was long and kinky. His nose was pierced. His tongue was pierced. He had tattoos. He smelled like patchouli. He wore vintage shirts from the 70’s. DS had depth. S was the epitome of rebel. But…where did my heart wander? To the kinky shallowness of the shore, not the ocean.
Here’s the big, glaring HOWEVER (coming at age 40, mind you):
I think I am at a point in my life where I finally recognize that shallowness hasn’t gotten me very far. I’m so very tired of repeating the pattern. I repeat it as a way to deny myself a true life. I repeat it as a way to deny myself a true identity. It’s my way of NOT growing up. It’s that I want to be something I am not- not always, but a lot. And that cannot be. And the rockabilly, grungy hippy dude can’t conform to my life either. He can’t fit here. He needs to be in the city with his grungy, hippy, rockabilly girlfriends. S and I were the culmination of two people who both wanted to be something they were not. He wanted to be normal and I wanted to be a rebel. He was my way of saying to the world, “I am not a suburban housewife who drives a mini-van and owns a mid-size corporation.”
God, I still find that so hard to accept. I wasn’t supposed to be “this.” I was supposed to be a writer. An artist. I was supposed to be working in publishing or on a movie set some where. Demanding black coffee from ass-kissing interns.
But Tracy. Life is not that. You need to be real, Tracy. You need to be real. Really real. Tracy. Hold on to real.
My Aunt Sue said to me many years ago, the hardest thing we have to realize is that we are average. I never wanted to believe her, I still don’t want to believe her. But I suppose I have no choice. She is, for the most part, right. The obvious exception would be Nathan.
Someone posting this on the forums and I wanted to share it here…Happy New Year!
By T. D. Jakes
There are people who can walk away from you.
And hear me, when I tell you this! When people can walk away from you: let them walk. I don’t want you to try to talk another person into staying with you, loving you, calling you, caring about you, coming to see you, staying attached to you. I mean hang up the phone.
When people can walk away from you, let them walk. Your destiny is never tied to anybody who left.
The Bible said that: They came out from us that it might be made manifest that they were not for us. For had they been of us, no doubt they would have continued with us. ( John 2:19)
People leave you because they are not joined to you. And if they are not joined to you, you can’t make them stay. Let them go.
And it doesn’t mean that they are a bad person, it just means that their part of the story is over. And you’ve got to know when people’s part in your story is over so that you don’t keep trying to raise the dead.
You’ve got to know when it is dead.
You’ve got to know when it is over. Let me tell you something. I’ve got the gift of goodbye. It’s the tenth spiritual gift. I believe in goodbye. It’s not that I am hateful, it’s that I’m faithful, and I know whatever God means for me to have He will give it to me. And if it takes too much sweat, I don’t need it. Stop begging people to stay.
Let them go!
If you are holding on to something that doesn’t belong to you and was never intended in your life, then you need to…
LET IT GO!!!
If you are holding on to past hurts and pains…
LET IT GO!!!
If someone can’t treat you right, love you back, and see your worth…
LET IT GO!!!
If someone has angered you…
LET IT GO!!!
If you are holding onto some thoughts of evil and revenge…
LET IT GO!!!
If you are involved in a wrong relationship or addiction…
LET IT GO!!!
if you are holding onto a job that no longer meets your needs or talents…
LET IT GO!!!
If you have a bad attitude…
LET IT GO!!!
If you keep judging others to make yourself feel better…
LET IT GO!!!
If you are stuck in the past and God is trying to take you to a new level with Him…
LET IT GO!!!
If you are struggling with the healing of a broken relationship…
LET IT GO!!!
If you keep trying to help someone who won’t even try to help themselves…
LET IT GO!!!
If you are feeling depressed and stressed…
LET IT GO!!!
If there is a particular situation that you are so used to handling yourself and God is saying “take your hands off of it”, then you need to…
LET IT GO!!!
Let the past be the past. Forget the former things. GOD is doing a new thing for you!
LET IT GO!!!
Get Right or Get Left…think about it, and then…
LET IT GO!!!
“The Battle is the Lord’s!”
“The one thing you can’t take away from me is the way I choose to respond to what you do to me. The last of one’s freedoms is to choose one’s attitude in any given circumstance.”— Viktor E. Frankl
“”Forces beyond your control can take away everything you possess except one thing, your freedom to choose how you will respond to the situation.”” — Viktor E. Frankl
“Live as if you were living a second time, and as though you had acted wrongly the first time.” — Viktor E. Frankl
“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.” — Viktor E. Frankl (Man’s Search for Meaning)
“In some ways suffering ceases to be suffering at the moment it finds a meaning, such as the meaning of a sacrifice. — Viktor E. Frankl (Man’s Search for Meaning)