don't believe there was ever a time that I wasn't in love. How
embarrassing, but it started with some pretty serious fantasies
about "Captain Kirk" when I was 7 or 8. The young, sexy
Captain Kirk, that is, with his tight black pants and blond hair.
I was painfully in love with him. And I can still remember my
father humoring me, telling me, “let’s call him on
the phone right now…” and actually getting one of
his friends to pretend to be the real William Shatner. But right
as I was on the brink of actualizing my love and hearing his voice,
my mother stepped in and said, “stop teasing her.”
I can still see my dad laughing at the top of the stairs with
the phone in his hand, because he thought it was so funny that
he’d tricked me.
don't believe I was ever physically abused, and yet, at a very
young age (about 5) I found my father's pornography magazines
everywhere and was very possibly sexually abused by him a time
or two when I was older (8 or 9) under the guise of being punished.
for my father himself—he was a sociopathic, narcissistic,
manic-depressive, alcoholic, pill popping, gambler & sex addict.
Not to mention a professional con artist and white-collar criminal.
My mother, for 20 years at least, supported and loved him in a
rather submissive, I-have-no-identity-of-my-own sort of way.
didn't stand a chance.
lost myself in men. In high school it was all about sex. And well
into my 20's it was about love and sex. My relationships (to me)
were deep and some meaningful. But mostly one of two things occurred:
I either chose men who made me feel completely in love but neglected
me, OR I chose men that loved and adored me, but I neglected and
ran away from them. There was never any balance. Eventually, I
met and married a sex/porn/computer addict who ignored me, physically,
mentally and emotionally abused me, raped me, cheated on me serially
during my second pregnancy and eventually blamed me for leaving
him and ruining his life (go figure). And yet, comforting to me
was the fact that he was unable to express any real emotions.
He was as cold as ice.
one underlying theme through all of my relationships is—that
I left them all. I bailed out. I moved on.
my divorce, I was scared to death of marriage and commitment AND
sex. But I so desperately wanted LOVE.
most recent and long-term boyfriend of 3 years was a Seductive
Withholder and Avoidant. When I met him he was quite lonely, as
was I. Though I can't say that he ever "came on strong"
sexually, he was a flirt, did pursue me and was definitely interested
in me. Our sex life was wonderful for the first 8 months. In fact,
our whole relationship up to the one-year mark, was like a fantasy.
He was sexy, loving, a great communicator, hard working, very
interested in me, and giving. But suddenly, as if we had crossed
an imaginary line, it all changed. He began withholding all forms
of intimacy from me the following year, giving me every excuse
in the book to avoid sex (prostate problems, "I love you
TOO much to do that to you," I'm afraid of STDs), and so
on). Not only did he withhold sex, but general forms of emotional
tenderness as well. He never touched me, kissed me or made any
advances whatsoever. And he stopped sleeping over because my “bed
was too soft,” or he didn’t feel comfortable in my
house, in my neighborhood etc. I liked to sleep with the windows
open in the spring and he couldn’t handle that. We did hold
hands a lot and hug when we saw each other. But in my mind, it
became more of a brother-sister type relationship than a romantic
one between a man and a woman.
yet I stayed. We broke up at least 7 times over the next couple
years (me doing all the breaking up, of course) but would get
back together, every time repeating the same pattern: sex, love
and passion during the first month or so and then a slow decay
of emotion and pulling away on his part (fear of commitment, withdrawal
and avoidance), and a building of anger, resentment and frustration
on my part.
suppose because I was no longer under such obvious abuse (as when
I was married), I considered my relationship with George to be
normal and healthy. George and I were, after all, best friends,
and aside from withholding sex from me, he did not withhold love—or
so I thought. He was very into me, called every day, we spent
LOADS of time together, we were extremely compatible, into the
same things, and treated me with as much respect as I had ever
known. He never cheated. Wasn't a liar. At times very giving.
And most importantly, I was attracted to him physically and mentally.
that aside, he had debilitating issues that went completely against
my value system and yet I chose him over my values. He smoked
pot, had no libido, didn’t take care of his appearance and
avoided intimacy like the plague. There was no next step with
him. There would be no marriage, no moving in, no increased intimacy.
I was at the end of the road.
stayed as long as I did because I believed I had to make compromises
and that I couldn't "have it all." And that aside from
these issues, we shared a great life together. Surely we all have
to make sacrifices, don’t we? Especially if we feel love
yet, underneath it all, I knew something was wrong. That I wasn’t
being true to myself. After a year of no sex with George, an affair
with a guy I never loved to fill the void that George left and
about 5 months of going back and forth between the both of them,
I hit bottom. I thought I had done so well for myself in avoiding
someone like my ex-husband, but in actuality, I only went the
opposite extreme. One was a sex addict, the other a sexual anorexic.
I was somewhere in between.
That’s when I found LAA and simultaneously got into a support
group for another of my addictions—cigarettes. I suppose
because I had viewed myself as a victim of my father’s addictive
behavior for so long, it was unreal to think that I could be an
addict myself. And when I began the step work for LAA and saw
with my very own eyes how my life had become unmanageable and
how I really was addicted to men (because for the first time EVER
I wrote it all down on paper!), it occurred to me that I had a
serious, life-threatening problem.
had given up goals, given up direction, given up dreams and plans
all for the "hope" of a new man. I had wasted HOURS,
DAYS, WEEKS and YEARS on thinking, or rather obsessing of nothing
but my relationship to whomever. I had let men control me. I had
spent EXORBITANT amounts of money on men because I either felt
sorry for them, wanted to impress them, or secretly wanted to
buy their love. I had spent EXORBITANT amounts of money on men
just to visit them in foreign countries or call them on the phone
and chat for hours. I had embarrassed myself, accepted the unacceptable
and abandoned my VALUES for men. I had even one or twice put my
children at risk of emotional hurt or damage, isolated myself
from my family, lowered my standards and done things I would not
normally do, just for a man. I had ignored my children and I had
ignored my opportunity for true growth.
was time to change so I found Love Addicts Anonymous.
things occurred to me during this time of what I like to refer
to as my “enlightenment.”
ex was a representation of my father. At first, I resisted this.
I had heard this spoken so many times and I could see some of
their similarities but I wasn't convinced on any deep level that
I was "dating" my dad. Then it occurred to me. My love
for George was one sided. I really adored him. His personality
was wonderful, he was funny, hard-working, musician, grungy, we
had a lot in common. I was so darn happy to be with someone that
I actually LIKED that i never took into account how he treated
me. I never considered that his love for me was also a part of
the equation. He neglected me, basically, and it was pretty painful.
I allowed it to happen because the thrill of being with someone
FUN and ALIVE was more important than meeting my own needs to
be loved and treated well. Did it matter that he loved me? No.
What mattered then, was that I loved him.
that, I saw the parallel. I adored my father. I loved his personality.
He was funny, hard-working, musician...we had a lot in common.
I felt ALIVE with my father. Because of who he was as a person.
And YET, as per my mother's advice, I was told to love him "as
is" and not take into account how he treated me. It's no
surprise to know that he treated me much the same as George; neglectful,
uncaring, always had something more important to do than spend
time with me etc.
important part was this: to love my father and not get anything
in return is OK for a father/daughter relationship. I can not
change my father (I can’t go out and get another one) and
therefore, have to accept him for who he is, especially if I like
him and want to hang out with him. But this type of relationship
is NOT OK for a healthy, romantic, love relationship between two
adults who DO have choices and their love is not unconditional.
are two parts to the love equation. That is all. And I always
seemed to go for one or the other. Never both. Here they are in
their simplest form:
I must love someone; respect them, care about them, be attracted
to them, treat them well, be compatible with them and generally
LIKE them, not fear intimacy or be emotionally closed off.
and number two...
2. They must love me; respect me, care about me, be attracted
to me, treat me well, be compatible with me and generally LIKE
me, not fear intimacy or be emotionally closed off.
other thing I realized was that:
we hold on to an addiction for so long, whatever that addiction
may be (alcohol, drugs, cigarettes, the real or imagined love
of another person etc.) it is because it gives us a (false) sense
of security. It makes us feel tethered, grounded, whole. It takes
the edge off living.
i divorced, I wrote in my journal that I felt at the same time
happy to be free and extremely fearful. I felt like I was no longer
connected to something bigger and greater than myself. I felt
ALONE, ISOLATED. FREE-FLOATING. I didn't like that feeling. So,
within six months of being a newly divorced woman, I made two
very bad choices: I started smoking cigarettes again (a habit
I had quit for 10 years) AND I latched on to a man who wasn't
good for me but gave me that sense of being connected again.
we are afraid and lonely and scared of the "emptiness"
of life, we tend to make VERY BAD CHOICES. But what can we do
to get over that fear? What can we do to stop the pain we feel
when we are "floating around in space"? What takes the
alcoholic will drink.
An overeater will eat more.
Someone who fears loneliness will cling to another person...
of these things really takes the edge off. You take a "hit"
of your drug of choice and it only causes the desire for another
hit and another. Next thing you know, you're a junkie.
realized that my PoA (person of addiction) did the same thing
for me as cigarettes. I could lose my identity, not have to deal
with my pain and suffering, and I could feel tethered to something
bigger than myself as long as I had him around. He took the edge
off. Just like alcohol to the drunk, drugs to the junkie, food
is born out of a need to feel connected. When you don't feel connected
to anything, you suddenly want to put something into your body,
eat something, smoke something DO SOMETHING with someone. Westerners
have equated a feeling of security and wholeness with the idea
that something (food, drugs or another person) will fill the "void"
and make you whole. Well, what if you started believing that THERE
IS NO VOID? That you are complete.
is how my recovery began. After years of reflection and self-discovery
I believe I now have the courage to face many of my fears. I believe
I have made peace with myself. If someone doesn’t like me,
I let it all go. I have enough self-esteem in me now to say there
are a million men in the world who will treat me with love and
respect and because I believe in my own worth, I will hold out
for something better. I do not kick and scream and cry like a
child if someone leaves me or “abandons” me. I know
I will be ok, and that I can survive on my own if I have to. I
look in the mirror every day and say, not bad. I can deal with
that. And most importantly, I no longer cling to a fantasy of
meeting a perfect love, because I now realize that is something
that is made, not given.
has been no easy road. I equate recovery to mountain climbing.
You struggle up the side of this huge mountain, hanging on for
dear life, maybe slide down a time or two. But then you come to
a place of rest and you sit back and look up to see how far you
still have to go. And you think nothing has changed and there
are enormous lessons still to be learned, the summit is so far
away…But then, you look down to see how far you’ve
come and you realize the climbing, the struggling has brought
you farther than you ever imagined!
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