No my friends, this isn't a sex-addiction article. I'm talking about love, not steamy passion or romance. My whole life I've been chasing a familial love, and it's time for me to face my addiction.
I've been working on my co-dependency for almost three years, and I thought admitting this problem was enough. Co-dependency is a nice big umbrella that encompasses several of my unhealthy behaviors:
Unfortunately, co-dependency isn't the root of my problem, it is only the manifestation of it. Something is still missing.
Not Enough Childhood Love
I wasn't born with all the self-love I need. Are any of us? For whatever reason, my childhood didn't equip me to make this on my own or teach me how to find it. From an early age, I loved love. Then I meticulously remembered every way that it worked, and I tried to recreate the results. Classmates, siblings, parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, and neighbors were all my test subjects.
In particular, I was drawn to the difficult cases. The girl in fourth grade who was too shy to speak, she was one of my greatest successes. She whispered to me, on occasion, but it was just the kind of hit I needed.
Driven To Love
I want to be loved, and I've tried to buy, beg, borrow, and perhaps even steal it. I've spent thousands on trips I couldn't afford to see family members who barely acknowledged my existence. For hours, totaling months if not years of my life, I analyzed my actions, honing in on what I did right and what was completely wrong with ME. I gave more than I wanted and threw self-respect out the window years ago. Still what I wanted was not found.
Self-Love Doesn't Cut It
I still want love, and I want to blame this craving on my lack of recovery. Just this week, I was at home with my loving husband and son. Yet my mind kept darting back to a far away family member. Why hasn't she called me? I miss her so. What can I do to bring us closer? If I really needed a hug or affirmation, I could have walked into my living room and got it. But I fixated on what was far away, unachievable, and not enough to fill my need.
I am chasing something more. Taking care of myself is the next right thing to get me back on track, but it's only a band-aid fix. My quest for love occupies most of my day and turns my emotions inside out more than any other problem.
Stepping Towards Love
For me, the 12 steps work. Step 1, my life is unmanageable. This crazy need for love has crept back in and turned my world upside down. Step 2, I came to believe a power greater than myself could restore me to sanity.
I've tried everything to get the love I want so badly. Nothing satisfies. If could have solved this alone, by now I would have. I have to turn to something bigger, and I haven't found a human who fits the bill.
Celebrate Recovery, another popular 12-step program, says this about Step 2:
(I) Earnestly believe that God exists, that I matter to Him and that He has the power to help me recover.
When I first heard that I matter to Him, my heart melted. My Higher Power tells me I'm good enough. I am equal. I am worthy. He has all of the money, safety, power, food, and love I need. Because He loves me, He gives me what I need. The entire world isn't a cruel scavenger hunt. I don't have to spend my life searching the far corners of the world for bits and pieces of love. But that is always my first go to instinct.
Instead, to get a different result, I have to try something different. I have to stop running, and be quiet. I have to listen, wait, and trust in something bigger than me.
Co-dependency can be treated. Find therapists, recovery programs, and support groups near you at Recovery Guidance.