I used to be a love addict, y’all.
My love addiction showed up as constantly fantasizing about a future with a person after one date or a hasty situationship (even the dreadful, I-wish-this-would-end ones), obsessing over the relationship and mistaking it for Love.
I would find a sense of purpose and self-identity in my relationships, equating my self-worth with how deeply a boyfriend thought I fulfilled their needs. My self-talk, actions, my calling was intertwined with the needs of another human from the ages of 15-25ish. Unconsciously I would meet unmet emotional needs, such as being validated and my opinion respected, with serial monogamy and quasi-worship. Compulsively, as soon as anyone expressed interest, held my gaze a beat too long for it to be anything other than wanting to nourish the goodness in me and tongue wrestle my soft parts, I would deep dive into the new relationship. Unknowingly fueled by a fear of abandonment and rejection, I willingly and consistently adapted and eliminated any semblance of healthy boundaries to be available for emotionally unavailable men.
Breaking up with an ex after learning during an argument that boiled over after a months long simmer that I had been the other woman and him married for 3 years, I resolved to redefine who I was outside of a relationship. Finally ending things in 2016, I fucked my way through the rest of the year and into 2017 to reclaim my body being stolen from me by focusing on the people who sexually desired the parts of me that previously made me uncomfortable: my vulva, clitoris, back of the neck and my hair, my thighs, the places where men had previously claimed ownership without my permission.
It wasn’t until around spring 2017 that I made the decision to be intentionally celibate and focus on healing my love addiction.
- Detoxing: I had to cut ties with all of the people that were contributing to my love addiction. I ended up deleting all of my social media at the time, finding it almost futile to try and delete every embarrassing Facebook post glorifying another person at the sake of minimizing myself and my past abuse. Blocked from my contacts. I had to drop them and my fantasies of what coulda been cold turkey.
- Nourishing Childhood Nique: Once I was able to sit with myself, I had to identify and write down what past wounds had been following me around for decades. Not feeling seen and my emotions a nuisance and burden. My quest for acceptance, being told I was beautiful and my African features being celebrated, for my opinion and thought patterns to be of importance, to know they wouldn’t use my mental health as a weapon against me, to understand that instability and chaos did not have to be my normal.
- Create Healthy Relationships: Establishing new boundaries of what I would and wouldn’t accept in both platonic relationships and romanticals, I used that as a guideline to reconnect with old family and friends. It was also in the back of my head when I ventured out into the dating world again.
- Restructure: A continuation of #3, I was able to connect with and eventually date people in a healthier way because I recognized my own needs and the power of my own voice and agency. That became my catalyst for communication.
I also wanted to share some lessons I’ve learned along the way. The hidden power of phucking up and making mistakes:
- Thinking that detoxing was the end all/be all. It ain’t. Blocking numbers and deleting social media posts was important for me to do, but I also learned the hard way that it’s one step on the road to healing and doesn’t magically fix everything. It doesn’t get at the core of my communication issues and unmet emotional needs. Don’t stop at the detox.
- Waiting for the right time. Do y’all do this too? I thought the perfect combo platter of circumstances had to melt together before I could begin working on myself. I need to finish this work project first; I need to help my friend with this thing first then I’ll work on my own issues; after this birthday party- I don’t want to be sad during the festivities. I was still valuing other people and their needs over my own healing. Even if it’s not the most convenient of timing (will it ever be?) and with competing deadlines omnipresent, I had to take the plunge. It was another step in realizing that I’m worth taking care of by working on myself for myself.
Have you ever been a love addict? Or did you have unhealthy attachment patterns? What did you do to heal from them? Holla at a homie and let’s engage 🙂
Newsletter: Sign up for my NiqueNotes, my newsletter on how I was able to heal from trauma and define identity to find joy within