The Lovely Addict

Rest in peace, Prince

prince-purple-rain-ws-710I have to say something about Prince’s death yesterday because, honestly, he was probably my first PoA. I remember when Michael Jackson died and everyone went crazy. People were crying. I thought, “Are you kidding me? You act like you knew the guy…” Well, now I understand.

I think I cried all day yesterday. No, I mean, I sobbed. I had devoted so much fantasy time to that man for a good ten years–I had every single solitary one of his albums, his 45s, his cassettes and his CDs; I knew every song, I could tell you which album each song came from; in high school, my walls were painted purple with the big EYES from the Purple Rain album; I even lost my virginity to Purple Rain with a kid who I believed was the closest thing I could get to Prince–I devoted so much emotional time to that man that when I heard the news, I felt I had lost an old love. I lost a part of my identity that took years to build.

Aside from my father, Prince was probably the man who influenced me most, good and bad, and fueled my love addiction. Everything I was running away from, everything I wanted to be, everything I couldn’t attain was wrapped up in that man. He held all the answers for a girl who was clueless and afraid of love and life. What’s more, I think he changed the chemistry of who I was the night I first saw him in concert. As he sat at his piano, screaming the lyrics to The Beautiful Ones, “I gotta know…Is it him or is it me…” Prince reconfigured my DNA that night, and there was no going back. Without him, I couldn’t tell you what I would look like today, what I might have become.

Ironically, or coincidentally, both my father and Prince died at age 57. And ironically, or coincidentally, they both died on the same exact date–April 21. This is significant. There has always been a mystique about the world for me–an innocent belief that the universe aligns certain major events in your life–as if someone behind a curtain is trying to tell you something–I may be invisible but there’s a purpose and a plan, and I’m going to drop little clues to keep you guessing. I may or may not have picked that belief up by stitching together a myriad of the lyrics Prince wrote–but, his spirituality imbued with sexuality was the perfect message of inspiration and validation I needed to ultimately know that it was OK to be me.

Thank you, Prince.

Reports are trickling in. They think the “flu” scenario was a hoax. They think, instead, that he overdosed. And that when his plane made an immediate landing last week, it was not because of dehydration, but rather, to be rushed to the hospital to receive the “second shot” (Narcan) because of opiate overdose. If that is the case, then both my father and Prince died in a similar fashion. My father’s addiction to prescription opiates was well-known. We just didn’t think it would kill him at 57. Like Prince, my father was iconic to me. Immortal. It’s a little shocking to lose someone when you’re belief in them is so unrealistic. Yes, that’s a direct message to the love addict in us who believes the guy we’re with, the one who emotionally ignores us, treats us poorly or even abuses us is not who we think he is. He’s no prince of perfection. He’s no god.  That is to say, it’s time to get real with your perceptions.

A girlfriend of mine sent me a poignant quote. I leave you with this:

Prince was so utterly, effortlessly enshrouded in mystique that he seemed other-than-human, to the point where mortality never figured into our calculations.

Amen. I’ll leave it at that.

The Break Up Journal: trust

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June 26, 27 and 28 of The Break Up Journal are up. And the icky downward spiral continues. I wasn’t able to figure out why this guy P was not writing to me every day. On the one hand, I grappled with feeling like a nag, always wanting attention, questioning his love for me. On the other, I had valid concerns that this new guy (not so new; we had confessed our love for each other after a couple months) should write more than a line or two after not having seen me in a few days. Was I detecting a red flag? Was I dealing, yet again, with another avoidant? Or, was I to blame? Was I being overly needy and demanding?

Anyone, healthy or not, can get stuck at this point. But for the recovering love addict, who has trust issues and feeble self-esteem, it’s a very perplexing dilemma.

It’s important to remember though, that when love addicts begin a new relationship, it takes a lot (and I mean A LOT) of effort on the part of the partner to help build trust. This is especially true if  he’s dating a love addict who has had his or her fair share of deceitful or mistrusting relationships. A new, HEALTHY partner needs to be as honest as possible, have a decent amount of patience for a love addict’s mistrust issues (not forever, but for a relatively reasonable amount of time–6 months? a year?), and be willing to put in extra effort so that the love addict can heal and (re)establish trust. His words must always back up his actions, and his actions must point in the direction of care, respect, love, kindness and maybe even a little selflessness.

As for the recovering love addict, for her part, she must keep her eyes open for red flags, question the validity of her partner, test him (without being rude, deceitful or cruel) and work hard at facing the reality of the relationship (as opposed to keeping her eyes closed so as not to see anything that might remotely mean “the end”). She must be willing to accept and deal with whatever comes her way, good or bad, even if it means a possible break-up. And that means that she must always turn to her values, constantly checking to see if her partner shares those same values. Does he believe in communicating while apart? Does she? Is it more important that he have “me time” while they are apart, or is it important to touch base? If two people do not share the same expected values, a conversation should be had on the subject and compromise and negotiation should follow.  I really need you to write me an email every other day, just a few sentences. That would make me feel better. Or, I really need to do my own thing and not feel obligated to write to you more than once a week. Neither of these requests are right or wrong. They are simply personal. And so, based on the couple’s ability to compromise, (he either writes the letters or he doesn’t; she either encourages him to write the letters, or she let’s it go and enjoys her trip), the recovering love addict can formulate her own feelings as to what she is willing to deal with. Can she live with her partner not writing every day or can’t she?

In the case of P, I could not live comfortable with the idea that he wasn’t writing every other day. And the reason is because I had not yet established trust with him. To me, if you love someone, you reach out to them. To me, that would have established trust. Years later, I was put in the same situation with D. I went away to Europe. We were newly dating. I told him I really needed him to write me long letters every other day. He did.

D built trust. P did not.

The Break-Up Journal: June 23, 24, 25

Three new entries have been posted on The Break-Up Journal. Don’t forget to scroll all the way down on The Break Up Journal’s main page and click the “Follow this Blog by Email” link so that you receive notices of new posts.

My favorite entry of these three is June 24th. A lot of soul searching and a perfectly formed description of what I now understand to be introversion:

…As I drifted through the streets yesterday and took in all the people and their sad and lonely faces and their bad smells and rotten circumstances I came to the conclusion that I do not belong in a city. I am too delicate. Fragile. Too easily influenced by the energy of others, both good and bad. Actually, too drained by the energy of others, good and bad. I don’t have a way to shut the world out and be peaceful within myself. I let everything in. I would like to learn evasiveness. I would like to imagine a wall around me where I can look out, but not let anything in to disturb me.

The Break-Up Journal

shutterstock_119808373So, I’ve created a new body of work called The Break-Up Journal. Many of you, throughout the years, have asked me how I recovered and what happened, and so, instead of “telling” I am showing.

The Break-Up Journal is an actual account of my last love-addicted relationship, the break-up that ensued, the withdrawal and my ultimate struggle into recovery. Because this is an actual account, transcribed from hand-written journals, nothing is held back. But, because of that, reading can often be cringe-worthy. There are ridiculously stupid lapses in judgment on my part, huge slips, relapses, and several stellar losses of dignity. At times, reading is painful. And trust me, when I re-read this journal, I want to whack this girl over the head and say, What are you an idiot? Don’t you see?! 

Fortunately that girl is long gone, but her story remains, and hopefully it can and will add insight into your own struggle with love addiction.

I am planning on posting five entries per week. It is meant to be read chronologically, so that means starting with May 31 (on bottom) and reading up.

Be sure to check out the About the blog page and the Cast of Characters, so you have better insight into the story line. And while names and dates have changed to protect identities, if you are familiar with my blog, you will probably be able to figure out who’s who.

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Call for stories: childhood

childhoodIf you haven’t already heard, I am attempting to write a book on love addiction. And so, I am currently reaching out to fellow love addicts (in recovery or not) and asking for their “childhood story.” It doesn’t have to be very long, in fact, the shorter the better (under 1000 words, please), and I am not looking for worst case scenarios either. I am looking for TRUE tales of childhood. So, whether you were abused and ignored as a child, or loved and well cared for, I would like to hear from you. I will be selecting about three of these stories for my book and you would have to agree to having your story published, of course. But I will only publish first name, last initial, and you are free to give me an alias in order to remain anonymous.

A few more tips:

  • 1000 words or less
  • Please do not include any full names, locations, addresses, or information. If you do, I will most likely omit them.
  • Don’t be afraid to describe your caretakers, as well as your siblings, their jobs, behaviors, care-taking abilities, addictions, positives and negatives, etc.
  •  Tell me how you “felt” most of the time as a child. For example, were you afraid, happy, confused, spoiled, alone?
  • Be as descriptive as possible, but know that I am not looking for in depth details of actual abuse.
  • Finally, be as honest as possible. Your story, dramatic or mundane, might help someone someday.

You can post your story right here in a comment if you’d like to share with others (recommended),  or you can send it to thelovelyaddict@gmail.com

The deadline is April 1, 2015. THANKS SO MUCH!!!

Addicted to Paris

ParisAt 10pm tonight I am hopping on a plane with my two sons and flying off to Paris amid airline strikes and rail strikes and increased taxation on tourists and god knows what else. Red flags galore. But, oh, my heart! And all I can think of is, get me there as fast as you can before I explode.

I lived in Paris in 1989, when I was 21-years-old and a full-fledged love addict. Nothing meant anything to me back then if I didn’t have a man, except the city of lights. I stayed there about 5 months studying French at the Alliance Francaise and working as an au pair,  and while I did fall in love, it was more with the city and the Parisian culture than with any one man. After I ran out of money though, and my mother forced me on a plane back home, I carried a torch for France for many, many, many years, and was never able to go back until 2011 when I was flown out to Amsterdam for the IDFA Film festival for my role in the Love Addict documentary. That I am able to go back again so soon is a miracle. Or rather, more likely, my addiction kicking in, which leads me to confess that I may have been wrong all these years– we are never fully “cured” of our love addiction.

I remember a woman on the forums a while ago who was addicted to a famous dead poet or writer. She couldn’t stop fantacizing about this “imaginary” man, and as odd at it seemed to me at the time, I realized I had had the same fascination with a city. I mourned the loss of Paris just like any other PoA. I felt abandoned, lost, miserable. I felt it was an unrequited love. But I couldn’t really put my finger on who gave up on who. Did Paris give up on me, or did I give up on Paris? I went into a very deep depression for a couple years after this and never fully recovered. Nor did I muster the strength or courage to get back. I allowed other dreams to get in the way.

And yet I didn’t. I remember back in 1993 I was poised to marry an American who was deeply in love with me. I was more in love with the idea that he loved me. And so, when I posed the question, “would you be OK if we tried to move to Paris for a while?” and his response was a resounding No, I tweaked the course of our lives forever and left him. Only after  I had bought the white dress and put a down payment on the catering hall, of course. A small price to pay in order to get my “dream” back.

But as the years went by, my dream soon faded. And Paris became more of a memory, then a recollection, and lastly, a regret. I could have gone back. I should have gone back. Why didn’t I go back?

When I touched down on French soil in 2011, D was with me. I could barely catch my breath. He had to hold my hand tightly. We exited the Gare du Nord, caught the Metro and came up and out of the ground under a starry sky. The amber glow of night-time Paris is indeed why it is known as the City of Lights. And as I stood, basking in the frenetic blaze  between the rue de Rivoli and the Tuileries garden, I burst into tears. It was all too much. It was too good to be true. And it is what every love addict dreams of. The moment they are not only reunited with their love, but that that love is reciprocated. Paris hadn’t forgotten me. She welcomed me back as if no time had passed between us and she was every bit the lover I had waited for all those years.

And yet, she was gone in an instant. Once again out of reach when I flew back home and back to reality. A new but  familiar ache to take her place. Being in Paris after all those years was glorious. And yet, what was it? Eating cake fulfills momentarily. It takes the edge off, temporarily. Until you can find that next big hit.

 

In less than 24 hours, I will get it. Another whopping hit. And possibly another. Just last night in fact, we met our new neighbors, one of whom is an artist who travels to Paris twice a year for trade shows. We clicked over wine and good conversation and she’s already put out the invitation to join her on one of her trips. But will it be enough? Is love ever enough? As a recovering addict who has learned a thing or two, I know it’s not.  I know that love, all by itself, is a rickety chair with wobbly legs–whether it be love for a man, woman, bottle, country, city or a dead poet. Love needs substance. It needs the fortification of rationality and purpose. And it needs to come from both ends. I can’t keep taking from Paris like a love sick succubus. Perhaps, I need to give back to make this romance work.

For now, I plan to teeter on that chair and see what I can see without toppling over. When I get back, however, I need to reassess if I can turn this achy addiction for Paris into something a little more meatier, healthier. Perhaps I could return to school and take french lessons. Perhaps I could try to see if my company wants to market our product there. Perhaps I could write about my travels for a travel blog or magazine. Whatever the case, my addiction for Paris is another hurdle I need to learn how to deal with or overcome or succumb to. Sure, I could be content to travel there on vacation from time to time. Like a normal human being. Take my stroll around the Eiffel Tower, have my cafe au lait and be done with it. Or can I? Addicts can’t really be content with just one little drag off the cigarette, one hit from their PoA. We sometimes just can’t be normal. We need to burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars, as Jack Kerouac wrote in On the Road.  And for that, addiction is tricky. It can make life seem, at once, intoxicating and tragic.

But let’s not go there. Tomorrow morning,  I reunite with an old love. Let me bask in the euphoria of my temporary insanity. Just for a moment. 

A bientôt!

Who’s got the baddest addiction?

Mary G is a sex addict. Her partner at work and longtime friend Glen B is an alcoholic. They’ve just met me– a recovered love addict. Glen goes to AA, but claims, because there are no other meetings in his hometown, that a meth addict, a cocaine addict and a gambling addict also attend.

He told me that no one takes the gambler, who sits quietly in a corner with his styrofoam cup and listens, seriously in these meetings.  There’s this underlying sense of We’re worse off than you’ll ever be, buddy.

And I suppose therein lies the brunt of Who’s Got the Worst Addiction mentality and why we classify to begin with.

Well, we classify addictions like any other social group– by interest. The sewing group in my town is a far cry from the gardening club, the choral singers and for that matter, the needlepoint ladies who meet in the church basement after service on Sundays. It’s natural to want to classify “what” you’re addicted to by interest. But that’s as far as it should go.

And yet it doesn’t.

At a screening for the new Love Addict documentary, an artumentary by Danish filmmaker PERNILLE ROSE GRØNKJÆR I overheard, “Alcohol and drug addiction do so much more damage than the lesser addictions. ”  An hour later, a guy says to me, “You really can’t compare apples to oranges. To compare heroin addiction to cigarette smoking or gambling is ridiculous.”

Is it?

The argument of “physical” substance addiction (heroin, alcohol) no longer seems to hold more weight than the “process” or behavioral addictions (sex, gambling, watching TV all day) simply because there’s a substance involved. We now know that our behaviors–repetitive, addictive ones– can cause chemical changes in our body akin to ingesting a substance that drives us to want more and take another hit. A recent piece on addiction in The New Statesman called, Addiction, The Key to All Mythologies states, “In a process addiction – to sex, for example – a person may well be addicted to the biochemicals she shoots up in the privacy of her own body.”

Nonetheless, I felt like a pariah, like I had no right attending a recovery festival. It was as if he was implying that love addiction is a joke compared to what most had been through in that room. And maybe he’s right. My “bottom” was mild compared to many . And yet, I can only speak for myself. Some love addicts jump off bridges, driven by obsessive jealousy for someone they are addicted to. How much “less” of an addiction is that?

Isn’t suffering relative? Haven’t we all been through the eye of the needle?

The Addictive Personality

My father was replete with every addiction imaginable. He was an alcoholic, a Rx drug addict, a sex addict, a gambling addict, a workaholic, a shopaholic (when he had money), and a chronic liar, which I believe should be classified as one among the many varieties of addictions simply because he could not stop doing it–even when he knew I knew he was lying.  Strangely,  he only identified with the alcoholism. In retrospect, that was the least of his problems. I say this because, when he was sober from alcohol, faithfully attending 12-Step fellowship, he was either popping so many pain-relievers or gambling all our money away that there was no clear delineation of better behavior after removing the substance. Tolerating his irresponsible, reckless behavior was a challenge to us all the same. At one point, he lost his mother’s house on one hand of poker. He made bad choices drunk or sober.

In the early 80’s there was a study done by lan R. Lang, a psychology professor at Florida State University. He determined that all addicts–from drug to alcohol to chronic TV watchers– had several “personality factors” in common:

– Impulsive behavior, difficulty in delaying gratification, an antisocial personality and a disposition toward sensation seeking.

– A high value on nonconformity combined with a weak commitment to the goals for achievement valued by the society.

– A sense of social alienation and a general tolerance for deviance.

– A sense of heightened stress. This may help explain why adolescence and other stressful transition periods are often associated with the most severe drug and alcohol problems.

With these in-common personality traits, we can begin to define the addictive personality. And yet, within the real world of recovery, there still exists an unspoken (and sometimes spoken) competition among addicts as to who has the baddest addiction, who caused the most pain to himself or others and who has suffered the most.

When I would go to my dad’s AA meetings back in the day, I remember the members within the group all struggling to outdo each each others’ stories. Stories of throwing broken beer bottles in an empty parking lot, were quickly topped by stories of someone throwing a beer bottle at someone’s head. People who told stories of cheating on spouses while under the influence always got a lot of reverence. But there were also those who told stories of beating up a friend, stealing money, abandoning children, driving into trees or others on the road, passing out at the Thanksgiving dinner table and robbing a bank (this latter feat was my father’s claim to fame, and the one which set him as the Alpha male of the group).

I remember too, as a teen, joining my mother in her 12-Step group: Al-anon. While my father, who seemed to be causing all the trouble, was over on his pulpit, dramatizing the pain he had induced within our family, getting lots of support and pats on the back (and even a few laughs at some of the “funny” antics he had caused), my mother was in her group, crying the entire time, along with everyone else. Her meetings had no sense of rivalry for who suffered the most. We all just suffered; we all just felt pain. It was collective hopelessness.

Picking and choosing between the two groups, I naturally gravitated toward my father’s group in AA. They were having more fun. And I loved the stories that played out like Hollywood movies. It was evident that these people were bad asses. And I loved it. And the more dramatic the story, the more evil the doing, the more pain inflicted on others and the more under the influence the person was, the higher their rank among their peers.

The Extreme Side of Addiction

But let’s get back to the gambler in the corner with his styrofoam cup, who’s also trying to tame the beast that is his pathology. Who’s to say his addiction is a “lesser” addiction when he has brought his entire family to live in a cozy cardboard box on the streets of Philadelphia? Sure, the alcoholic is pickling his liver, and the heroin addict is now schizophrenic and the crack addict is dead from an overdose. But the gambler has brought himself down to the grittiest, most impoverished facet of life–abject poverty–and he brought everyone in his family down with him.

Addiction is suicide, homicide or a combination of both. No matter what the addiction. And how’s this for bad ass:

  • Romeo and Juliet committed a double suicide for their obsessive love of each other.
  • In contemporary culture, a talented singer named Amy Winehouse killed herself with drugs because of her love addiction to then boyfriend Reg Traviss, who “dumped” her a year before.
  • Crimes of passion, “passion murder”  and suicide are all degrees of love addiction–albeit extreme ones.
  • AIDS, unwanted pregnancy, lifelong sexually transmitted diseases, prostitution, imprisonment, and death are all possible consequences of sex addiction.
  • Unemployment, bankruptcy, forced home sales and imprisonment can all be consequences of gambling or shopping addiction.
  • Diabetes, heart disease, amputation, invasive surgery, health issues, lack of mobility, morbid obesity can all be the end result of a food addiction.

I could go on. But I won’t. My point is this: the deeper rooted issue is not to what we are addicted, but rather, to not being able to manage our impulsivity, not having healthier values, our tolerance for deviance, and our sense of heightened stress. It’s not about the bottle, or the drugs or the lover or the money. It’s about our internal addictive personality and how to tackle the enemy within.

I can tell you that Psychology Today has a list of the seven hardest addictions to quit and love, cocaine, cigarette smoking and eating potato chips all made the list.

Here’s a quick story for you. Before I realized I was a love addict, I was a smoker. I smoked one to two packs of cigarettes a day (OK, I’ll give you that cigarette smoking is a lesser addiction, unless you’ve seen the graphic images of its ultimate consequence). Sick of being a hypocrite and trying to exercise while smoking, and simply because I knew it was bad for me, I was desperate to quit. I joined the online group quitnet.com and basically brainwashed myself for a few weeks, sitting in front of my computer screen, talking to other quitters who helped me learn not just how to stop smoking, but why I needed to. It was not, as I previously thought,  because smoking was bad for me. That would be too easy. That’s the argument that makes so many of us rationalize smoking. We can tell ourselves, “Well, it’s not like we’re smoking crack or something. Because that’s really bad.” No, instead, it was because I was too good for it. What a concept! That I was worth more than the junk I was putting into myself– no matter what it is, I am better than that. My body is a temple. And upon learning these core values,  I started to respect who I was and what I put into myself and what I allowed the world to do to me. But here’s the clincher. When I learned this lesson, I quickly applied it to every other addiction in my life, namely, my love addiction. And that’s when it all made sense.

It doesn’t matter what you’re addicted to. Once you recognize your own personal worth, you immediately stop identifying with the addiction of choice and start to see ALL obsessive, addictive behavior as toxic and irrational. Because now what you’re doing, is simply protecting the gift that is you, against any kind of harm.

Competition within the world of addicts or recovering addicts, for that matter therefore makes no evolutionary sense. Does it really make a huge difference in the big scheme of things how you kill yourself, whether slowly or quickly, whether by pills, slitting your wrist, drowning, gun shot to the head or jumping off a bridge? Dead is dead. Life is wasted all the same. And does it really matter, in the big scheme of the things, the degree to which you choose to wreck your life or the lives of others? Are we really basing what is ultimately our own level of stupidity or naiveté on the laws of gravity? That the harder something drops the higher up it bounces back?

When my father was 57 he walked into the ER with stomach issues. Six days later he was dead. The drama, emotion and intensity  of those last days were extreme. At the time, his death was a mystery. We scrambled, looking for clues as to how he could be here one day and the next, gone. We wondered if he was murdered, we looked into any enemies he had. We interrogated the doctors. Were they guilty of malpractice? Was it suicide? The questions haunted us.

In the end, there wasn’t much of a story. In fact, it was the unHollywood, unglamorous story that befalls some addicts. A year before, he had been diagnosed with a mild form of leukemia that, as the doc put it, “If you’re in good shape, you could live with this for 10 to 20 years…” My father wasn’t in good shape. In the last year of his life he was drinking more heavily than ever, popping Oxycotin like candy and even crushing it and swallowing it. His liver was so damaged from his drug and alcohol use, that when they went to treat him with chemo for the leukemia his liver was unable to flush out the poison and he went septic. Within hours, organs shut down and we were left with having to pull the proverbial plug.

For the longest time,  I couldn’t help but wonder if all that drama was part of his ego-driven need for attention. One last posthumous craving to be able to say, “I told you I was the baddest.” And he was. But it didn’t really matter much in the end.

What if you placed value on something other than “love”…

Romance Stories of True Love No 50 Harvey, 1958 SA
Romance Stories of True Love No 50 Harvey, 1958 SA (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What if you were stranded on a deserted island with only your family or your friends (people you loved, but could not date) and there was NO ONE else in sight, nor would there ever be. And for the remainder of your life, you had to live this way.

Keep in mind that the island would be tropical and filled with beautiful plant life and abundance. There might be tons of books left on the island for reading, and there were an abundance of activities. Life could be FULL with the one exception that you could not find a romantic partner.

To a love addict, at the height of his or her addiction, this might seem like certain doom. But in recovery, how do we deal with this idea? If you think about it, it’s a “sink or swim” situation and when you face it, and really imagine it, you find out what kind of person you are and what kind of recovery you will continue to have.

When I did this little exercise I had just been dumped (ouch!) I was 40 years old and I TRULY believed there was no one else out there in the world for me. I believed that S was the last. Faced with such a seemingly depressing future, I had CHOICES as to how I would react to that situation.

I could have easily sunk into a permanent depression. I could have run out to the nearest bar and tried to pick up any guy I could find that might want to have sex with me, and lived like that. I could have given up and become a hermit. OR I could have started to look at the world in a different way and started to believe that I was put on this earth for more than just romance. Maybe, just maybe, there areother things in this worldthat i could be focusing on and enjoying.

I chose the latter.

I started to see the world in a different way. Before, I always believed it was supposed to give me stuff and introduce me to love. But when I changed my perspective I started to believe that maybe it was my time to start to give back to the world. To enjoy my children. To be grateful for what I did have, NOT cry over what I didn’t have.

This change in perspective came not when I imagined being stranded on an island. I already felt like that! It came after seeing a documentary on a man with no arms and no legs. He was born that way and he was in his 30’s and his expectations of the world were very different than mine. He could not expect to casually meet women and fall in love like I could. He could not expect that one day he would get married and have children and live a NORMAL life. He couldn’t expect to play football or attract women like other men could.

But wait, he COULD expect these things from life (and if he did he would be MISERABLE because chances are, he would not meet those expectations, nor would anyone meet those expectations for him). But he DIDN’T expect those things. He didn’t consider any of those things to be a viable part of life. He chose to see his life as valuable and full WITHOUT those things.

How was that possible, I thought? How can anyone be happy or feel fulfilled without romantic love?! But then I realized that that was my addict brain thinking. Needing my drug of choice. How can an addict live without his or her drug?

But it IS possible. Millions of people live without romantic love and are perfectly content. They have found VALUE in their lives despite what they lack or do not have access to.

And so, I am asking you to think about your own life. I am asking you to think about who you are and what your value is without a significant other.If you could never date again, what would make you happy? Who would you be? WHat would be your joy in life.

Answer these questions and you can heal. Answer these questions and live your life as if they were true, and a miracle will occur.

Eerie coincidence

Perhaps I shouldn’t post this because it’s purely fantasy driven, but two things: it’s far too weird of a story not to share, and it’s a great lesson in how little we actually know about our surroundings compared to how much we think we know.

So, D and I were driving through H___town yesterday on our way to a restaurant in the next town over. We’d driven down this particular road before, but I guess I must have never mentioned that I used to live here. “I had a house on Park Street,” I said, “right down there.” This tidbit of info must have triggered a memory for him, as he then said, “Do you know a girl named Kathy C___?”

“Sure, I know her. Why?

“Well,” he said, “I went to a party of hers like 20 years ago with L and K. And she had this boyfriend named D…”

“Dear Lord,” I said. “D was my ex. The guy I almost married. Not only that, but I was at that SAME party. That same night!”

“Well, I vaguely remember that she was pissed off with D because he’d gotten so drunk, and so she was flirting with me all night.”

“How funny is that,” I replied. “He got drunk because he didn’t want to date her anymore–I found out later. He was secretly in love with me, and was flirting with me that night. Little did I know he was about to end it with Kathy and ask me out. But I was actually into S and flirting with him.”

“So, while Kathy was flirting with me, her boyfriend D was off flirting with you. We were kinda connected back then,” D said.

“Crazy. I don’t even remember you being there.”

“Me neither. But obviously we weren’t ready for each other yet.”

So, that was the coincidence, but here’s the weird part. I have always believed that that era in my life was marked by a very strange yet unknown phenomenon. Like it was my end. Like this was the point in my life where I was supposed to meet the man I was to spend the rest of my life with (total love addict fantasy). Many strange occurance and “feelings” (which I won’t bother going into) had happened during that time to fortify that belief. Initially, I thought it was D #1. But that relationship ended badly and despite the fact that I didn’t love him and I was the one that ended it, he always stayed on my mind, almost as a warning or as reminder of my indiscretion. My life was certainly never the same after him. In fact, it took a serious decline. Before him, I was on my way up. I loved my job, had many friends, belonged to something bigger than myself. After him, I seemed to have lost it all.

When I hooked up with S YEARS later (from the same party, the guy I really had a crush on back then),  (aka the 2008 S I have written about here), I thought my prediction was still right. Because S had come out of that era, I once again believed there was something about that time that was supposed to reap a lasting reward. When we broke up, I truly abandoned the dream. It was, after all, unrealistic of me to think that I could predict my future. And yet, when D and I learned we were at the same party, it gave me chills. It was like there was this weird gravitational field that pulled us all together in one night and sealed my fate. Only I couldn’t predict who it would be, or when.

Lesson here: despite being mostly a realist, who tends not to believe in a God that moves people together for a reason, I still have a little of the fantasy left over in me. The little girl inside me, in spite of all her hard work to abandon eerie coincidences and magical “Prince Charming will come” thinking, still, from time to time, believes in fate. But here’s lesson number two: I have learned this bit of info about D almost 3 years into our stable loving relationship. I am, therefore,  not using the information as a basis to continue dating a man I barely know. Do you see the difference? Fantasy is fine, as long as it does not interfere in your decision-making. As long as it is not the basis for what you decide. In this case, the story is an added perk to the man whom I already adore for a gazillion other solid reasons. And yet, I’m glad he was there that night. It’s comforting to know, in a the universe is a mystery sort of way.