So many of us who have been traumatized as children, who were unloved or not loved enough, who were rejected, abandoned, abused, develop addictions later on in life. The trauma that we suffered in our childhood leads to pain, anxiety, emptiness, depression, self hate, and on and on and on. All these feelings are extremely unpleasant and painful to feel, therefore we try to get away from them by using something or someone to mask the pain. This can lead to addictive behavior. Addiction is not only to substances like alcohol, or drugs, you can also be addicted to a person. In the case of alcohol, although a depressant, it increases dopamine in your brain. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter, and one of our feel good chemicals. So initially, alcohol makes us feel good, due to the increase in dopamine. However, its depressant effect takes over soon after, and also one needs to drink more and more to get the mood enhancing effect, all of this can lead to alcohol addiction or alcoholism. Same with drugs, they can alleviate anxiety, make us feel good temporarily, but again, it may take higher doses to achieve the same effects and that can lead to addiction. And people can have the same effect on us, this is known as “love addiction,” one can be addicted to a lover or friend, as this also produces feel good chemicals in our brain.
Love addiction is extremely destructive. You are dependent on a whole other human being for your happiness! Really?! I know, I get it, I’ve been there. The feelings swirling inside of you from your childhood trauma are so painful and heartbreaking, that you, without even knowing it, put the responsibility of your happiness on to someone else’s unsuspecting shoulders!
This is because you do not know how to soothe yourself, so when you are thinking of your “love” interest, you’re not thinking painful thoughts, or you think this person you’re addicted to will do it. And believe me this has nothing to do with love, and everything to do with addiction. You think you can’t live without this person, you get a high when you see this person, it’s all about you. True love is selfless and you care about the person you love more than yourself, ok if not more than, at least as much as… Addiction is different, it’s a fix, it’s something you crave, it’s a very self involved thing. With addiction, most people are trying to reduce their own suffering, unfortunately, they are using self destructive behaviors to accomplish their goal of no suffering. The goal is positive, the methods… perhaps not so much…
It’s because you don’t know how to tamp down your fight or flight from going from 0 to 500 in 5 seconds, you think the presence of the person you’re addicted to will do this.
It’s because no one taught you to love yourself, to value yourself, to forgive yourself, you think the poor person you are addicted to will do it.
Your boundaries were continuously violated, you never learned what a boundary was, so you want to be totally enmeshed with this unfortunate person you are addicted to, and whose boundaries you don’t know how to respect.
The above three are skills that people who grow up in loving, nurturing, normal homes learn when they are young children.
We people, who grew up in abusive, abandoning homes, do not learn these skills when we are children.
Well it’s never too late to learn. Never too late to reparent yourself, or work with your inner child. Meditation can be used to calm your flight or flight response. There are apps for your cell phones such as Headspace (https://www.headspace.com/) that will help you learn meditation. This can take as little as 10 minutes! There are resources that will help you heal from love addiction, here’s a link to a book that helped me a lot; http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004HW88LU/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?ie=UTF8&btkr=1
And one last thing, this is very important, we adult survivors of child abuse and abandonment sometimes get so involved in our feelings and feel so sorry for our own selves that we don’t even realize that we are trespassing on other people’s rights. We do it totally unknowingly, however, we do do it. Let me give you an example, the person we’re addicted to, known as “poor person” from hereon in, is busy, hasn’t answered our texts in a few days. Our abandonment issues are extensively triggered by this because we think this poor person has now abandoned us. So we bombard them with every manner of contact we have for them, Facebook messenger, Snapchat, texting, emailing, Whatsapp, and many others in this age of technology, all begging, apologizing, and generally making as big a pest of ourselves as possible. We have no boundaries, we think this is ok. Well it’s not ok. This poor person should not have to put up with this level of, frankly, harassment. If this poor person is our friend, they did not sign on to deal with this. The bottom line is: You and I are responsible for our issues and for healing from them! Some friends will hold our hand and walk with us, and some won’t. But, no one has to. It is wholly our own responsibility to get help, to realize what our issues are and to heal from them. And once the healing has taken place, at least to some degree, we can be friends with anyone, yet be dependent on no one. We’ve won the war of independence, congratulations! This is not to be harsh, but to help us realize what we’re doing is not in anyone’s best interests, including our own. It’s a difficult lesson to learn, but once we learn it, and we (and I am definitely included here) can live our lives without being dependent on anyone else to make us happy, once we own our own lives and become responsible for ourselves, then really and truly, we’ve healed and we have arrived! 🙂
Yours in mental wellness and health,