Tag Archives: codependency

Relationship Addiction

Hi.

My name is Amy and I am a relationship addict.

Yes, it is a thing. A very real and very debilitating thing.

From Ann Smith via Psychology Today:

The relationship addict experiences intense “abandonment anxiety”. This anxiety triggers panic, low self worth, feelings of emptiness, isolation, and possibly depression. The addict may believe they are worthless without their partner. They almost always feel unbearable emptiness. Love addiction is a compulsive, chronic craving and/or pursuit of romantic love in an effort to get our sense of security and worth from another person. The causes of love addiction are fairly easy to identify: inadequate or inconsistent nurturing, low self esteem, absence of positive role models for committed relationships, and indoctrination with cultural images of perfect romantic love and happily ever after endings.

It dawned on me as I said goodbye to the last relationship I was in, just a week or so ago, that something wasn’t right with the way I was reacting to the loss. Something felt off, so I did what I do best, I did some investigative work on myself and my behavior. I took a look back at my actions with this person, within the relationship, and found myself kind of disgusted. I wasn’t necessarily shocked to discover that nothing about my behavior had been healthy or ‘normal’, just kind of disappointed. It was a realization that I didn’t want to make or admit.

But deep down, I knew that it was time to deal with it.

Finally.

I am addicted to love.

I was a rollercoaster of emotion and anxiety during my last relationship (something I thought was just me, in addition to my current grief over the divorce). I thought my explosive (head-over-heels love) and intense emotion was fueled by love and my big, huge heart. But, my anxiety would be more pronounced when I wouldn’t hear from him for longer than a few hours or, god forbid, an entire day. I would feel nothing short of despondent; panicky. And when his feelings didn’t seem to match my own in intensity or explosiveness, I got even more anxious and more emotional. It was exhausting. I have no idea why he put up with me.

Since we have said our respective goodbyes, I have been an anxious wreck. Mornings seem to be the hardest. I wake up, and without that good morning check-in fix, I feel anxious, undone, and completely alone.

To be perfectly honest, I feel terrified. But of what, I have no idea (a fact that is really pissing me off). I am home alone right now and literally just screamed to no one: “What the fuck are you so afraid of?!” And promptly burst into tears. Sigh.

I have a feeling that this is going to be a long, hard, uphill battle.

I have been this way for as long as I can remember. Ever since boys noticed me in the 8th grade (and I noticed them back). I suspect that the behavior took root because I grew up in a home without a father and had an emotionally distant mother who I didn’t easily connect with. I watched my father die and never had a male role model. After his death, my mother relied on me to be the other parent in the household. I was 9. Perhaps, as a result, I was left with a void, a hole, severely low self-esteem, and a debilitating fear of abandonment.

From http://www.loveaddictiontreatment.com:

Love (and relationship) addicts are terrified of abandonment. They rely on others to fulfill them, and to make them feel happy and whole. Without their love object, they feel worthless and incomplete. This is often due to a lack of love and nurturing from their primary caregivers while growing up. The abandonment they experienced may have been emotional (i.e. – their parents were physically present but emotionally detached), or physical – one or both of their parents left, died, was ill, or absent much of the time.

Perhaps my childhood ended at age 9? I am almost 43. That is 34 years of emptiness. Holy crap.

*shudder*

From what I have read, true love addiction is less about the search for love and more about finding a way to control tough emotions. Going from one relationship to another without any room for grieving, mourning, or processing through a previous loss means getting to avoid feeling those tough emotions. I thought I had a failsafe way to avoid dealing with my father’s death and subsequent abandonment shit when I married my first husband.

But that relationship didn’t satisfy me, so I found another more exciting guy and married him. We lasted 16 years. I thought I would be safe forever; we had 2 kids! That meant commitment – a guarantee, a promise, right?

Holy shit. NO.

When my second marriage failed, I had no choice but to deal with the grief from my father’s death (finally) which came back in one giant terrifying matzoh ball of horror. When that train wreck came, in addition to grieving my marriage and my family, it is no surprise that I ended up in the hospital.

But wait, I didn’t I really have to deal with any of it, did I? After I got out of the hospital, my subconscious knew just what to do. I did what I had always done when a relationship ended or seemed unsatisfying. I jumped right back into online dating and I hopped right into a new romance. Surely this new and exciting person would save me and help me feel better and I would be happy?!

Again, holy shit. NO.

Since the split a year ago, I have had 3 relatively serious, sexually intimate relationships. When each one ended, I broke all over again. They were unhealthy relationships (though I didn’t think so or realize it at the time) as they were a means of getting that love ‘fix’ and avoiding the big, huge, debilitating emotions that accompany being alone (for me). I was still hiding from my demons; my inability to feel whole, complete, or satisfied with who I am as a person without that constant need for external validation. Seeking internal validation from external sources for most of my life has done so much damage I really don’t know where to begin picking up the pieces.

For me, being alone feels like I am dying. And right now, in this moment, I feel like I am dying. The longest I have ever been single was a mere few weeks when I was 19 years old. It was during that time period that I had a suicide attempt. That is how scary it felt then. It feels just as scary now but thankfully, I am 42 and have 2 beautiful children that anchor me to this world.

I know that this realization/admission is huge. I know I am on the right path and acknowledging my underlying behaviors and motivations has felt very scary but also very empowering.

Life and love feel like this big ball of tangled up shit that I have to finally sit down with, examine, and sort through. On my own. My goal is to be single for 6 months.

That is not until April. Gulp.

Am I scared? Hell yes. I am completely terrified.

I have been leaking out my power and my essence and my very self all over the damn place. It stops now.

It is time for me to go and find all of my missing pieces. And put myself back together.

I am Rebuilding Amy.

 

 

Resources on love and relationship addiction for you:

http://www.loveaddictiontreatment.com/the-roots-of-love-addiction/

http://loveaddicts.org/40questions.html

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The Secret Inner Drive

There is a disconnect within my mind; thoughts buried so deep, they tug at my subconscious. I am trying very hard to acknowledge them though they feel primal and hard to access. I want to pay more attention to my very busy inner mind; the driving force behind some of my behavior. I want to separate my rich inner dialogue from the chatter and busyness that seem to coat the surface of my thoughts.

I think we all have motivations that are so deeply embedded in our psyche that we don’t necessarily know that they are there whispering to us; motivating us to make certain choices. If we stripped away that drive, that push or pull, would we make different choices? Or would we stay on the same path? If my mind was naked, stripped down and bare, what would my behavior look like in this pure ‘me’ state? Or is the steady, mostly silent hum beneath my thoughts, what makes up the essence of ‘me’?

I find this shit fascinating and I am going to start to pay very close attention. Starting now.

Alright, an example, you ask? Sure.

And this shit is embarrassing.

It dawned on me last night that I am still pining over my ex. I am still hoping for the day when he lets me back in. When he ‘sees’ me and how much work I’ve done and that I am not the same person I was last week, last month, or last year. I am changing and evolving and healing so quickly, and fuck, a part of me has been doing it for him.

When the man you loved for 16 years repeatedly calls you crazy and psycho,

YOU WANT TO PROVE HIM WRONG.

You want him to know that he made the biggest mistake of his life when he left you; alone, hurting, and confused as fuck.

Damnit to being so honest with myself. Shit. I don’t like admitting that AT ALL. It’s trite, petty, and just silly. But it’s the truth and maybe a good dose of brutal honesty is what I need to wake me up to the fact that he left. He isn’t coming back. And he has found someone to love more than he ever loved me. Puke.

And this: WHY ON EARTH WOULD I EVER WANT TO BE WITH SOMEONE WHO DOESN’T WANT ME COMPLETELY? I just said no to a great guy for that exact reason. I want to be wanted wholly, completely, totally; for all of me. That includes my goddamn crazy life and my children. They are a part of me and we are a package deal.

I am a mother, a woman, a teacher, a lover, a sister, a friend, and a human being. I feel nearly everything intensely, deeply, and I love with every fucking fiber of my being.

This is who I am; many puzzle pieces make up an entire Amy.

A lifetime of Amy’s all leading to up to now.

(Sorry, went off on a bit of tangent there).

I do believe that we all have secret motivators within us, steering us to some degree. And perhaps, sometimes, these forces can cause us to make choices or drive our behavior in ways that may cause us to step out of integrity with ourselves. I know I feel a bit ill thinking that some of my hard work has been to prove my ex wrong. I know that my choices and my behavior should come from me and be for me. Which is why, no matter how I must wrestle with myself, I am going to start to pay close attention to what is REALLY going on behind the scenes, so-to-speak, within my own busy brain.

Wish me luck!

Vulnerability Hangover

*A bit of a rant this morning as I work my way through this latest hurdle*

I have a vulnerability hangover and it’s bad.

I opened myself up completely to someone and let love back into my life and into my heart; slowly and steadily over the past 5 months. I said goodbye to this person and that relationship 2 days ago and now I feel physically ill; sick to my stomach with anxiety and hurt and pain and regret. I want my fucking walls back. I want my suit of impenetrable armor. I want my PTSD-numbed emotional state of mind back. Because this hurts too much and I want OUT.

This is why smart people fear being vulnerable and keep themselves in check.

Boundaries, Amy! Balance!

I’m back on my emotional rollercoaster. Everything feels so raw and so frightening right now. I am feeling more alone than I have in months; questioning my sanity. I went and fell in love. Damnit, what was I thinking??? Once love blossomed in my heart, I dove straight in. Head first and with complete abandon. He held space for my love and intensity with a careful and gentle grace. But then we reached an impasse. I wanted more – I wanted it all – and he couldn’t give me that. This person wants children of his own. I am going to be 43 this year. I have children of my own and I do not want more. There is more to it than that, a lot more, but for me, that is the crux of it.

I guess I don’t understand why my kids and I aren’t enough for this person. We could have made an awesome, funky-type family. I know he wants his own children but he could have found an instant family with the 3 of us. I wanted to walk by his side for the foreseeable future. Meet his more of his friends and his family. Dance, laugh, discuss life, wake-up together, cook, camp, live, love, and explore. I would have been his partner and friend.

Sigh. Fantasy. All of it.

I considered it for a minute (okay, it’s still on my mind); having a baby with this man. What would that be like? It was, and still is, a tantalizing thought. But here’s the thing, as much as I love this guy, and would love to have a life with him, I cannot go through that again. Losing myself, my life, my body, to an infant. The fact is, that somewhere, deep inside of me, that pull to get lost is still there and this absolutely terrifies me.

And this: Maybe I don’t like who I am on love.

Love feels like a drug in my system. I feel like I’m going through withdrawal. Maybe being in love brings out the insecure and codependent me and there is nothing I can do about that. Maybe no amount of therapy can help me to untangle that deeply embedded shit. This relationship brought up all of my insecurities, but only when we were apart. When we were together, everything seemed crystal clear, healthy, grounding, and fucking amazing. I felt like I had balance – seeing him a few times a week, maintaining my friendships and my life outside of that relationship. But then this weird shit kept coming up when I wouldn’t hear from him in between seeing him:

Why didn’t he call? He said he would call! Why didn’t he say hello when he was online? Does he really like me? Does he really want a relationship? Just sex? Who am I if this imagined future with a man I love doesn’t actually exist? What if he says no? What if he finds someone else? What if he fucks someone else and he’s too afraid to tell me? He doesn’t owe me anything. I don’t own him. What if I am alone again? Without that connection that feels so right, so good, and so true? Who am I without that?

Am I still me?

Am I still ok?

What the fuck IS THAT? Why does the fact that someone’s messaging/not messaging or calling/not calling determine my sanity and sense of self/well-being? UGH. Is that just my codependency and sense of self-worth or was it the relationship itself? I really thought that I was complete on my own without this connection. Have I been lying to myself for months? Jesus, that would be fucking scary. I don’t think that is the case. I think I am feeling sad and confused. I am not an insecure person. I never have been.

Or perhaps I am complete and fine with who I am and this is what heartache and romantic confusion feel like. Wanting someone and a life with that person and realizing the hard truth that isn’t possible. Wanting ALL THE THINGS. This is only the second time in my life I have had to deal with heartbreak. The first was when my ex left in October. Every other relationship I have had, I have walked away from and been fine.

Fuck, I wish I knew how to casually date without getting attached.

My sister said it best:

“Well, you’ve never done anything ‘a little bit’ in your life. Go big or go home”.

I wish I had an in-between setting. I don’t know what it is about me that my tendencies lie in black and white, on or off, hot or cold. Where is my gray? I have the ability to love fiercely with all of myself and to alternately shut down and throw up walls of steel. I am working on that last part. I haven’t deleted this person from my life completely – I think that is a good sign. I am tenacious to a fault. When I want something, I get it. I don’t know how to give up. I chose to stop this relationship because it doesn’t have the outcome I desired. I said no to great sex, love and affection, epic 4-hour-long conversations, and lots of laughing.

And now I feel like punching shit. And puking.

I want to have someone in my life. I know that now. A partner. A lover. A friend. A goofball-buddy. Man, I fucking miss those things. I want a connection that runs so deep I feel it in my bones. I have/had that with this new person. In spades. And every fiber of my being is screaming: “WHY CAN’T THAT BE ENOUGH”? And worse: does this mean that I am not worth it? But how could I not be worth it AGAIN? This doesn’t seem possible!! I am worth it. I know that I am. It’s not a question of my worth at all but of life circumstance and a shit deal-breaker of wanting biological offspring. My uterus would probably fall out if I had another baby; I’m completely serious.

My ex has everything he ever wanted. He wanted the girlfriend – to live with her. And now he has that and this amazing life. A full life of love, and family, and friends he inherited with that relationship; a community. He has moved on.

I am literally rebuilding myself and my community from scratch. I am trying to find friends and start over. When the shit hits the proverbial fan, I really have very few people to rely on; who I feel emotionally safe with.

So, what do I have? An empty house I don’t want to live in any longer. No relationship. I have approximately 4 friends. I am exhausted and terrified. I had totally placed all of my hopes and dreams into a relationship that does not exist – something my therapist told me explicitly NOT to do. But the hopes and the fantasies kept coming whether I wanted them to or not. I pictured this person I love living here. Being a dad/role model to the kids. I pictured waking up next to him a thousand times. I had seen a future with him. Glimpses of gardening, keeping bees, laughing, being ridiculous and silly together.

Fuck this feels scary. I completely underestimated how much I was relying on that connection. I still have so much work to do. I don’t want to keep swimming around up in my head but it seems to be what I am doing right now. Trying to be gentle with myself and my emotions as they come. I am trying not to shut down, dissociate, or shame myself for feeling too much, loving too much, hoping too much.

I will not break.

Do Not Love Me.

The kids and their dad move into the new house together with the girlfriend this weekend.

This major transition is bringing up some seriously weird emotional shit for me. I know that it is my trauma rearing it’s ugly head in another attempt to shut me off emotionally again. I feel separate from the kids in a way I didn’t think was possible. I feel disconnected and flat – not fully present in reality. I am questioning my want and my very desire to be a mother. I am questioning whether I even want to have custody. What if I just let go and give up? What if I just shut the fucking door and walk away for good? What if I don’t want to feel anything, for anyone, ever again?

I know that these big feelings are coming up in part, because I have met someone. This wonderful, surprise-of-a-guy who blows my mind with his amazingness and his kind heart. I feel myself being vulnerable in ways that truly terrify me. My heart is saying, “GO! GO! GO!” while my mind is screaming, “COMMENCE LOCKDOWN!”.

I know another part of the resentment and confusion I am feeling is due to the fact that the kids are the ONE thing that bind me to my ex. My ex, whom I wish I had never met. The man I spent 17 years of my life with. I wish I could erase him and those 17 years forever. The kids are EXCITED about their new living situation. My heart wants to door-slam them completely for that. But it’s not their fault. It is no one’s fault. It just is.

I am all twisted and turned around with these new emotions. I am trying my best not to judge them, but when they are directly related to my willingness and my ability to parent, they seem inherently WRONG. Mothers should love their children without thinking, worrying, resenting, and shutting-down getting in the way. Mothers should love their children UNCONDITIONALLY. IRREVOCABLY. FOREVER.

Should. Could. Would.

But what if I don’t want to? What if I don’t want to love or be loved by anyone, anymore, ever again? I loved my dad and he dropped dead in front of me. I loved my ex and he ripped out my heart, broke me, and kicked me while I was down. Love feels like a betrayal of my sanity. I know what happens firsthand when you let yourself open up and love with reckless abandon; whether you are 9 years old or 42. You get HURT.

What if I want to go find a cave on a beach somewhere and never return? What if I don’t want to deal with the orthodontist, groceries, feeding, caring, or loving for one more second? What if I don’t want to deal with the emotional repercussions of loving someone again? What if I want to march out of this house, get into my car, and drive straight to the airport? I could board a flight out of this state, out of this country and start over. I could do that. I really truly could.

But I won’t. Because I know that even though these emotions are deeply painful and very hard to bear right now, they will pass. They always do. And when they do, I will walk away knowing myself a bit better. Knowing once again, that my strength lies within me no matter what my mind is trying to tell me. And I will never break again because no one will have control over my life and my emotions to the extent that my ex did. That is the TRUTH.

And I know, of course I know, that I love my kids more than life itself. And that these emotions are okay and they are normal. I also know that I am totally worthy of loving and being loved again. I do not want to go forward in this life for one more second ignoring my feelings, putting them in a box, and erecting walls around my heart. Because that isn’t really living. It is watching life pass you by like you’re some spectator, not an active participant.

I have to learn to let go of this fear and this hurt in healthy ways – not by putting my heart on lockdown. I have to slowly and gently trust that it is okay to love and to be loved by my children, by my family and friends, and by others. Not everyone will break my heart and stomp on it. There are many who will treat it with loving kindness and a tenderness so beautiful that it will be worth the risk. I cannot let myself miss that by living in an emotional cave on an imaginary beach somewhere.

But fuck, it feels so scary. And I wish someone could hold my hand.

Right now.

Manifesto 

I got my name back this morning. I am once again Amy Moreno; officially. There is so much power in this for me; it feels like being reborn. The entire process wasn’t that exciting but the aftermath spawned this; I am on chapter 5 my friends, and I have never been happier.

I will never lose sight of who I am.

I will never get lost in another relationship - of any kind.

I will stay in complete integrity with myself.

I will do my utmost to be present in every moment. 

I will not judge my thoughts.

I will not judge my emotions.

I will walk with my heart open;
and my eyes wide open.

I recognize that I will face difficult times;
and with those times will come difficult emotions.

I recognize that my difficult times and emotions will PASS.

I will work hard.

I will try harder.

I will make mistakes and embrace those mistakes as learning
and being brave enough to have tried. 

I will approach life with a gentle awareness
and a curiosity that sparks within me a new-found appreciation 
for all that I am, 
all that I have, 
and all that is coming my way.

Straight up RANT.

I had to go into hiding; lockdown. I have been faced with yet another monstrous hurdle in this shit-show called divorce.

The ex wants my kids (aged 9 and 7) to live in a home with multiple people; one of whom I do not know. Adults. His girlfriend is one of them and another male I have never met. I feel so unbelievably uncomfortable about all of this. It raises all of the hairs on my head. My momma instincts are screaming ‘NO! NO! NO!’.

Even if my ex knows and trusts these people, I do not. I have only met the girlfriend a few times and this new male, not even once. Adults in my children’s home mean more adults visiting those adults and that just grows exponentially. He assures me that they won’t be in danger. That there will be no big parties when they are there. He tells me that they will be safe and respected. That the people he will have as roommates understand what it means to live with small children. But none of this changes the fact that I DO NOT KNOW THESE PEOPLE. None of this information helps me feel at ease when I have been told that I will ‘never be welcome’ in that house. And that ‘maybe’ these people would be willing to meet me. And it certainly doesn’t help that I have little to no faith in my ex for very obvious reasons.

Last week, when this new development came up, the all too familiar emotional and verbal abuse came with it. When I asserted my position, I was called ‘combative’. When I stated that he could lose custody if the judge rules that he cannot have his children in a home with strangers, he called me ‘threatening’, ‘manipulative’, and ‘shaming’ of his lifestyle choices. There was no intended malice in that statement – no judge would ever put minors in a home with adult strangers! That is a FACT. When I said that I don’t feel comfortable with his scenario, he called me ‘controlling’ and that I ‘cannot control who he lives with and what he does with his life’. Both of those things are true but we aren’t talking about his life and his life alone. These are my kids too, goddamnit! MY KIDS TOO!

Why is it that when a strong woman makes a case for her beliefs and stands her ground, it is called being “COMBATIVE”?

I call bullshit on that one. BULLSHIT.

And of course, this new development hurts like hell. Of course, this new living situation feels like a nightmare for me, personally. But I will be damned if he is going to make this about me and my needs! This is, and has always been, about our children and what is in their best interest. I would never take them away from their father. He is a good dad – just a shit husband – and that is for me to deal with, not them.

So, I did the only thing that I could, I created a document that sets up parameters around the kids new living situation. Background checks, limits around unknown adults in the home while they are there, etc. Smart parameters, not selfish and manipulative choices! I am struggling with the fact that I will never be welcome in that home. A place my children will call home for half of their lives. HALF OF THEIR LIVES. And that half will be spent living with someone I really believe (at least for now) that I hate. Someone I would pay money to be in a small room with for five minutes. That is all I would need. Five minutes to get in her face and say all of the things I want to say, that I should have said months ago. The biggest and loudest one:

‘YOU SHOULD HAVE WALKED THE FUCK AWAY. YOU WATCHED A MARRIAGE CRUMBLE. YOU KNEW THERE WAS LOVE THERE AND YET YOU FUCKING STAYED. YOU AIDED IN BREAKING A FAMILY BECAUSE YOU ARE A SELFISH LITTLE 30-YEAR-OLD ASS. YOU ARE NOT A PARENT, YOU ARE NOT A MOTHER; YOU HAVE NO IDEA WHAT YOU HAVE DONE TO THESE CHILDREN’S LIVES, OUR LIVES.’

Well, something like that. I am so angry right now. It comes and it goes. This is my reality and I am done running from it.

My next post will likely tackle more of the codependency stuff. I really thought I was in love with my ex. That he loved me still. I haven’t spoken to him in 4 days and you know what? I feel better and healthier with every single day that passes.

Thanks for listening.

Amy

The ‘Off’ Switch

Where is the ‘off’ switch? Where is it located, dammit? On my heart? Somewhere in the folds of my brain?

I am trying SO HARD to accept that love isn’t something I can just shut off any more than I can stop breathing.

The love I am speaking of is a love that is familiar and comfy; it feels warm and safe – I don’t want to let go of that love. But that loves comes from the past; it is tugs on my heart when I think about the man I fell in love with. It nudges me when nostalgia gently peeks its head around a corner; or slaps me on the face.

When I think about the man who added to my trauma, added to my heap of hurt, that same love feels like a disease and turns into a sickness that I can’t get rid of. That love feels unhealthy, like toxic waste in my system. It breaks my heart wide open and I feel like I am leaking all over the place. I am constantly stitching myself up.

I keep reaching out to him with the love that my heart is harboring. Trying to wave the ‘white flag’ of truce, of peace. I am trying to be my most vulnerable and open self with him – for me, for the kids. How else are he and I supposed to move forward if not from respective places of caring and compassion?

I am just exhausted by the constant conflict, the stress and anxiety. I swear to God I am shaving years off of my life. I have never dealt well with turmoil and friction; my mind latches on to the discomfort they bring and won’t let go until things are resolved. But the problem is, that sometimes, things just cannot be resolved. Ever. I suspect it is a core tenet of my personality construct, and a lot to do with my INFJ-ness.

When I shared my thoughts and my emotions with him last night, my open heart, and my love and longing, I got a long response about all of the stress he has currently in his life and a statement at the end that said, “please, please don’t add to it Aim”.

Wow. Just wow.

I saw so clearly in that moment that my love, my hurt, and my desire to have some sort of amazing, loving relationship with this person was viewed as adding to his mountain of shit. Not a source of comfort or support. SHIT (my word, not his). My love and my caring is simply more stress for him. I guess he has enough of that from all of the new people in his life.

He doesn’t need me. He doesn’t want me. He doesn’t love me.

And yet, I cannot turn this love off. Even though I know it is hurting me to my core. It is leaking out of me and has nowhere to go. I am just sitting here in a pile of love for someone who doesn’t want it, doesn’t need it, and who views it as just another ‘thing’ to deal with.

I have been questioning whether my love – at least to some degree – is the final tendrils of codependency waiting to unravel themselves and the fear of abandonment I still carry around. This is why:

If he were to come home, drop to his knees, beg for forgiveness, and tell me he wants back into my life, this house, this marriage, what would I do? What would I say? If that were to really happen, I believe I would say no.

NO.

Because in moments when I am not hurting and not sitting in my pile of unrequited love, I can honestly say, I don’t want to touch that with a 50 foot pole.

No thank you. Love be damned, I deserve better.