Abandonment, self esteem and love addiction–three themes that continually reveal themselves to me through the course of my life’s experiences. I’ll get to a point and think that I’ve figured something out (as it relates to these themes) or that I’ve “conquered” some part of myself that’s less than desirable and I’ll hear my brain say something like, “Ahhh I get it now. I understand this now!” but inevitably… I don’t and I haven’t.
These three themes are wound deep in my personal shadows and lay color on my ability to feel satisfied in my life and connect with healthy people in romantic relationships.
This conclusion has been slowly wrapping itself up in a nice little package for me to unravel over the course of the last three or four years.
And in recent weeks, I’ve drawn to myself yet another opportunity to explore the limits I place on my own happiness. I met and began spending time with someone who meets many of the external qualities I seek out romantically.
However, this person also triggered (with nearly alarming exactness) all of the physical and psychological effects that accompany what I identify to be a move into emotionally toxic waters.
These “effects” add up to a general emotion, a gut feeling, that I’ve only recently been able to identify and label. The effects feel Sickly Sweet. Intoxicating. Alluring. and Mysterious.
While in the presence of people who generate this effect in me, I feel as though my internal energy is in a hurricane. I feel scattered, high, jumbled, light headed and uncharacteristically self-conscious.
With this new person (let’s call him Trigger), I noticed these tingings and heard Wisdom Brain whisper loudly We’ve been here before. However, this was a very inconvenient observation for my inner child love addict who attempted to explain away the “out of sorts” physical effects I felt in his presence as a sort of paranoia that could be attributed to some deficiency in my own ability to connect openly.
But after a couple of weeks I couldn’t deny that the patterns emerging in our interactions were too similar to past experiences to ignore. And so I told myself no more and decided to move through my day-to-days as though we’d never met. Cut off contact. Go back to life before Trigger entered my awareness.
But after two days, I started to question my position and the conclusions I’d drawn. I began to re-draw the boundaries around what I wanted, expected, needed and valued.
And so I texted. And when he answered, I got my little fix. And within moments I felt the familiar feeling of being out of balance, the sensation that somehow I had handed over a chunk of my personal power.
Weaving the Themes
I’ll be clear here. I have ZERO knowledge regarding what is happening for Trigger on his end. And to be frank, it doesn’t matter at all. Trigger is just a stand-in for any number of men who could play this role in the story of my addiction.
This love addiction is fueled by my life long struggle with self esteem; a struggle that roots itself in my being emotionally abandoned by my father.
My father was, at times, present physically and spoke words that would normally indicate a connection, but Emotionally? Energetically? I never felt, and he certainly never demonstrated, that those words were ever more than just words.
It was my experience that his words were not in alignment with his actions and so I learned to rationalize, accept and expect incongruence as it pertained to seeking and receiving love and acceptance by the primary male figure in my life.
Coming to see how these themes connect and play off one another in my psyche brings a combination of emotions…
Annoyance that it’s taken me so long to identify what now appears to be a very obvious source of my relationship patterns.
Incredible annoyance that I had to “discover” this connection myself before being able to recognize it fully (this is because I’ve read and studied and thought about how my father’s abandonment might be affecting me, but yet still couldn’t detect the patterns in my choice of romantic partners.)
Sadness that I’ve wasted so much time chasing the dragon.
Regret or maybe an emotion more closely aligned with FOMO regarding missed experiences in life as a result of my choices.
Loss of motivation because it feels like maybe I’ve hard-wired myself for so long that I won’t be capable of transmuting my tendencies enough to really make a difference in how I end up proceeding.
How the Themes Chain Together
Abandonment–Self Esteem–Love Addiction
Trigger has demonstrated with his actions and has said with his words that he is both interested in me and emotionally unavailable. This is the classic mismatch in words/action that feel most familiar to me when in the presence of a male I seek attention from. It is also the combination that triggers the addiction for me.
Once triggered, it’s almost as if I begin playing a game with myself. I subconsciously began investing an inappropriate amount of energy and time into trying to “win” the complete approval of the person who has very clearly stated/demonstrated that they are unable to be won.
A non-addict would not attribute another person’s inability to connect as a personal failure, but I do.
And the person displaying these incongruent traits, as well as the relationship I have with them, become representative of the original game that I was never able to “win” — the desire to have an emotional connection with and validation from my father.
When I evaluate these situations logically, I can clearly see what’s happening. But once I’ve engaged with and become hooked by the game, it’s very difficult (nearly impossible) to disengage emotionally.
So I end up spending time, effort and energy trying to make situations that are inherently broken work. My inner child jumps into game mode, believing that if I am good enough, sexy, funny, understanding, charming, patient, supportive and loving, that I can create a change in the emotionally unavailable person and win their love.
Obviously, the game is rigged from the beginning and I’ve never, under any circumstance, won. And I will never win because the game starts with me betting on someone who is 100% incapable of offering up the win.
Then, the person I put in the position of “opponent” ends up abandoning me and my self esteem, which was wrapped up in being able to win the game, plummets.
Questioning My Beliefs and Definitions
This past week I felt “in want” of validation from Trigger — I wanted him to get a hold of me and express interest in spending time with me because I was feeling sad and not good about myself when he didn’t reach out to me.
This wanting and the consequent negative emotions related to my value as a person that showed up here revealed very clearly to me that I give away my power, control over my self esteem and general emotional state to men I am attracted to.
Up until this point, when I meet someone I’m interested in, I become fixated on the belief that they will be the last person I meet who can provide me with a sense of companionship, fun and connection. This stems from living in a general state of “lack” as regards male connection and acceptance as a result of my father’s incompetence.
*Please note: I am not blaming my father or anyone else for my behavior patterns or belief systems. Rather, in self-analysis, I find it valuable to attribute where ideas or thought patterns originated.
In addition, because of the gamification aspect that comes into play for me with these situations, I believe that when the other person doesn’t express interest in me that I have done something wrong, am flawed, or unattractive in some way. And when I don’t “win” my self esteem suffers.
A linchpin in the game, of course, involves me completely negating and ignoring the fact that the person I’m involved with is emotionally unavailable in some way. And so I never make room for the fact that the other person’s choices have nothing to do with me. Their inability to engage in the way I seek, or connect emotionally, is not tied to me at all. Their choices are a reflection of their own experiences, preferences, emotional makeups, etc.
So I began to consider what belief about myself would have to be true for me to experience negative emotions in response to this situation. And it sounded like this…
I believe that I am not capable of feeling totally complete and happy without the presence in my life of a man I’m attracted to. And further, I believe that there is a lack of suitable partners available to me and I will not meet a romantic partner who embodies all of the values I believe to be necessary in a partner.
And so it goes that when I continue allowing my experiences to flow through this belief system, I hold onto the definition that…
I am running out of options. Abundance is limited for me. I need to cling and hold onto any possibility that reveals itself to me, even if the option presenting itself doesn’t feel quite right. I need to take every opportunity that is presented to me and find ways to make it work regardless of return on investment. I need to take charge of situations that are broken so I don’t let opportunity slip away. I need to worry about losing connections and take steps to protect them from disappearing. I am flawed in a way that makes my chances of connecting with a person with whom I feel mutual attraction slim to none.
When I look back now on the feelings of sadness, low self esteem, lack, missing and rejection that I felt recently regarding Trigger, I see that they were simply psychological and emotional messengers telling me that my belief systems were out of alignment with my true self.
In a more logical train of thought, and one framed to put my perspective in top billing…
– I do not receive a positive ROI when I engage in this game.
– Emotionally unavailable men do not (and cannot) embody the values that I hold highest.
– My life is overflowing with opportunities to connect with emotionally available men. I encounter, attract and engage with men in a healthy way nearly everyday of my life.
– I feel complete, fulfilled and happy without the presence of a romantic relationship in many situations; while dancing, writing, spending time with platonic friends, practicing yoga and reading, to name a few.
Carving Out a New Belief System
Becoming aware of and labeling a limitation in awareness is the first step in expanding beyond it. The next step, for me, is in redefining the way I’ve related to the perceived limitation by incorporating beliefs that are in alignment with what I know to be true.
And the things I know to be true based on my real life experiences are that:
– there are infinite opportunities for me to connect with people who meet my vibrational frequency.
– I trust myself to maintain boundaries in alignment with my highest values.
– nearly everyday I attract, nurture and connect with people who value and respect my being.
all the love