A Love Addiction

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A Love Addiction

By Brandon Stettenbenz 02/14/17

After I got sober, it became the same routine—meet a girl, fall head over heels, spend money I don't have, drop out of school, wait, am I describing love or another form of addiction?

Image: 
A syringe with the word "LOVE" on the side.
Am I describing love or an addiction?

Last year when I got sober, I had a lot of uncomfortable, quiet nights alone. The weekends without drinking became a time of solitude. It gave me time to reflect on who I was, what I wanted to become, and what my life without drugs or alcohol would be. I was fortunate to be single during this time of sobriety. Honestly, I have had many romantic relationships in my life, on average about four a year. It seems the women in my life fade as fast as the seasons.

It never was my plan to go through women as fast as the leaves turn brown, and start a new one as the ball drops on New Year's, but it was always the case. I had to listen to my friends laugh at me, not with me, about the latest woman in my life. It became the same routine—meet a girl, fall head over heels, sacrifice myself and what I believe in, spend money I don't have, stop going to the gym, stop reading, lose my social life, drop out of school... Wait, am I describing love or am I describing another form of addiction?

It was odd, they always seemed to end the same way. With all the experience I had, I figured I would be able to get a better grasp on how to handle them, especially when they ended. I was never physically abusive, nor did I harm them in any physical or mental way, but when the drug of love was taken away from me, I acted out like an addict would. At first my body and mind would go into states of withdrawal, this feeling of I have to see that person, the only thing in my life that will make me feel better is if I see this person RIGHT NOW. If they didn’t allow it to happen, I would spend hours or even days thinking about them—“where are they, what are they doing, why haven’t they called?” In retrospect, I feel like they could sense my neediness and it became pretty unattractive to them. I always told myself, “I spent my whole life completely fine until they came into my life, and now that I’m sexual and romantic with them I’ve become obsessed. Why is this?! My life was fine a month ago before I met them.” Physically I would become depressed, and resort to binge drinking to cope. With time and healing, I slowly get back to the gym and to my normal and loving self.

It’s been recommended for people who get sober to be abstinent from sex for up to a year. I do believe there are a lot of reasons for this; considering somebody withdrawing from drugs or alcohol has a lot of toxins and demons to expel, it might be best to not put somebody else through the pain of it. I promised myself that I would stay single this past spring semester at school. I wanted to see how well I could do in school and work while being sober and single. I excelled. My grades, focus and determination were at an all-time high.

It is rather ironic that the day I finished my last final exam of the semester, a beautiful, whimsical woman came into my life. We met after a Bernie Sanders rally and we instantly had a connection. She’s funny, beautiful, and smart, and even adventurous. Since that rally, which was about a month ago, we have hung out about five times. She even fulfilled one of my dreams, which was to take a woman backpacking with me, and she exceeded all of my expectations on that trip. We’re doing all the things that two people should do when they meet—going to the movies, watching sunsets, backpacking adventures, spending countless hours talking in a car by the beach, having dinner together—really taking away the burdens of life by enjoying our spirits and auras to the highest of their abilities. Except now, I find myself wanting more. I’m falling back in the addiction phase of it all. Today I couldn’t get her out of my head. I woke up to a text message from her, and she never left my thoughts for the rest of the day. I kept distracting myself from her; I went to see a movie alone, secretly hoping she would text me. I cleaned my room and van, also secretly hoping she would ask to hang out later. This week I found myself forgetting what my goals are, forgetting who I want to be in life, and investing all of my powerful energy into this person, treating her as a Higher Power.

Which comes to the second part of the love addiction psychology. I am subconsciously attracted to women with avoidant attachment, or avoidant addiction. My mom frequently asks me, “Why can’t you just meet a normal girl?” It’s because that normal girl would be somebody with secure attachment, and I can’t seem to find that attractive. I’m always chasing what I can’t have, what feels great in the moment, feels so good that it makes me higher than I’ve ever been because it’s so rare, so sought after, a sweet nectar—and once again I realize that fuck, I’m an addict.

Here’s a more accurate reason why cupid's arrows always strike the love avoidant. According to Intervene Magazine:

So why do the love addict and love avoidant find each other?

The love addict has a conscious fear of being abandoned and a subconscious fear of being controlled. In contrast, the love avoidant has a conscious fear of being controlled and a subconscious one of being abandoned. They are one in the same—two sides of the same coin, two ends of the continuum. Both have childhood trauma, both need to learn about healthy intimacy.

Yet, there is hope. It is still early with this woman. I haven’t smothered her like I used to. I’ve recognized the moments where I would’ve nagged her about hanging out—instead I just say, "When you have the time, I hope we can get together." I wait, I do my thing, I have to continue to live MY life regardless of when she might show up again. In a different perspective, I saw a movie I wanted to see by myself, which I find very therapeutic. I cleaned my van and room, which I needed to do regardless. When we do meet up, then I cherish it and recognize that in this very moment it feels wonderful. She can bring me to a high that I have trouble reaching alone, but I can’t put that burden on her. Part of me is really scared of love because I know that my addictive nature can take over, but recognizing it, writing it down, and looking it in the mirror are the best ways I can overcome this hidden addiction I have and will continue to work on.

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