Twenty-Five Years of Addiction
In Buddhism an attachment is “A deluded mental factor that observes its contaminated object,
regards it as a cause of happiness, and wishes for it”
–”Introduction to Buddhism” Geshe Kelsang Gyatso
Yes I am a recovering addict. It is not easy to write about addiction especially when the addiction is not understood. It certainly wasn’t understood by me for a very long time. I attempt to write my story because my hope is it may help others. This starts years ago – way too young. I was mature and smart for my age thirteen going on thirty. My addiction started then and lasted well into my thirties. In fact, I have only been “clean” for the past two years and even those two years have not been without setbacks and multiple falls off the proverbial wagon. One thrill after another for years, I would easily grow weary of one and push on to the next dealer of choice. None of them were ever enough. I would leave one as soon as the thrill dulled and go to the next higher, greater thrill. I lost family time, money and eventually ended up close to homeless, broke and struggling to put food on the table. I wrecked my car just trying to find the next fix; I did serious harm to myself esteem, my emotional and physical health.
What was this addiction that took so much from me and ruled my life for twenty-five years? Love. Yes my addiction to love – specifically the love of a man ruled my life for over two decades. Now as I look back it’s hard to believe that I spent twenty-five years of my life hell bent on finding “the one.” Where does my addiction start? For me, like most of us something was missing from my childhood. I suppose for me it was to be “adored.” From the time I was quite little I thought when I find “the one” I will be adored! I finally will be that precious object protected, cherished. I found “the one” off and on for the next twenty years, getting high falling in love, much like I imagine the lighting of the crack pipe. Soon enough the love didn’t feel right anymore, and I was out on the street looking for the next fix, never took me long to find another dealer. I was a serial monogamist for twenty years. Marriages did not work out, I was an expert at moving on, but it was after divorcing my children’s father and hitting the street again, I found the dealer that would end all dealers. I prayed for someone to come along and adore me and suppose the devil supplied that very thing, or maybe my God knew the lesson I needed. A man came along that said everything I had waited my whole life to hear he even literally said over and over “I adore you Cameron.” I gave everything I had emotionally, spiritually, mentally and physically. I could not lose this time! This was what I had waited for all my life! The only problem was it wasn’t real; he wasn’t what he said – it was all a fantasy and a fantasy that I failed miserably to see the obvious reality. See that’s what addiction does to you, everyone around you can see you flailing, they can see the obvious answers but you have convinced yourself you are ok! You can handle this! Even though it goes against everything you believe even though you hate the situation you ‘think’ you have it under control. No one can tell you different, They don’t understand how much joy you have from this “love.” Yet your business is failing as you wait for him to make you honest. You cry until you have massive migraines, you add to the chemicals in your body multiple times in a year to even out the depression that has become too much for you to handle.
It took me three years of therapy, loss of a career and hitting rock bottom to find the courage to grow. The journey that I call my desert was excruciating, so many times I wanted to just lay down and die, but I with God’s help kept going – sometimes it was three steps forward and two steps back, sometimes it was three steps forward four steps back, but I kept moving forward inch by inch. The pain and loss seemed to never end. I would ask “How long does this last??” The withdrawals, the constant pain, the dreams, the death of the fantasy. At times it was minute by minute to walk on my own, sometimes day by day some days I didn’t make it. Some days I just stayed home and cried. I cried a lot. I thought a lot about the desert times in the bible, I thought “How did the Israelites manage to wander forty years in the desert before making it to the promise land?!?” I can tell you it is a long and arduous journey you think it will never end, but oh Lord how beautiful the milk and honey flow when you reach the other side. I am here to tell you that you can make it!There is light at the end of the tunnel, not only that but it’s more beautiful because of the journey and what you learned along the way. I am now clean and sober. I can now say I no longer rely on the love of a man to get my high. I am high on me. Funny thing I learned after all those months the thing that I was missing was right here all along. I could tell you how bad the men were that I met and loved along the way, and some definitely were not saints by any means, but the truth is the problem was always with me. I allowed them to abuse me – I wasn’t in the place to say no to the things that were not in my best interest.
So if you are struggling with the addiction to love, if you base your happiness on the next man or woman in your life. If you are in an abusive relationship, if you are the other woman, if you are with someone that hurts you emotionally or you can’t seem to let go. Take the first step by getting help real therapy. Reach out to other women, they have probably been there is one way or another.
Today will be hard, tomorrow as well; in fact there may be many days ahead that are tough. I can tell you the work is so worth the end product. I am now living a life the young me could not even imagine. I have found me, I know what I like! I am reading and studying and meditating on the thousands of things I want to do with my life, and not one of them requires the love of a man. Don’t get me wrong I am not against marriage or relationships, but I am against being addicted to those relationships having to have a mate to be completed, to be whole, to be happy.
My faith, my family & my true self is plenty.
Much like this lotus flower I feel that I have come to bloom out of the mud of life and it’s a beautiful thing!
“For I am persuaded that not even death or life, angels or rulers, things present or things to come, hostile powers height or depth, or any other created thing will have the power to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord!” Romans 8:38-39
This blog is not to say I am never down or never tempted or don’t have those battles. Like any kind of addict it rears it’s ugly head off and on, but I have done the hard work and I usually am able to bring myself back to self love. Life’s a journey and so is spiritual and emotional wellness. God bless you and keep you as you make your journeys!
Are you addicted to Love?
Mistaking new romantic excitement for love
Constantly craving and searching for a romantic relationship
When in a relationship, being desperate to please and fearful of the other’s unhappiness
When not in a relationship, feeling desperate and alone
Inability to maintain an intimate relationship once the newness and excitement have worn off
Finding it unbearable or emotionally difficult to be alone
Choosing partners who are emotionally unavailable and/or verbally or physically abusive
Choosing partners who demand a great deal of attention and caretaking but who do not meet your emotional or physical needs
Participating in activities that don’t interest you or go against your personal values in order to keep or please a partner
Giving up important interests, beliefs, or friendships to maximize time in the relationship or to please a romantic partner
Using romantic intensity to tolerate difficult experiences or emotions
Missing out on important family, career, or social experiences to search for a romantic relationship
Finding it difficult or impossible to leave unhealthy or abusive relationships despite repeated promises to oneself or others to do so
Repeatedly returning to previously unmanageable or painful relationships despite promises to oneself or others to not do so
A lot of people can't handle the real life love when the newness wears off. Good for you for realizing this and “coming clean.” Love ya! And so very proud of you.