Nobody Loves You

“Nobody loves you,” “No one wants you,” “You are worthless,” “You don’t matter to anyone,” “You don’t deserve love, protection, happiness, success or anything else that’s good,” “You are shit!” This is what my addiction says to me. This voice formed long ago, probably before my conscious memory. It could have been formed by something as uneventful as belong left to cry a little too long as an infant. Who knows how it originally formed.

In my later childhood this voice was fortified by abandonment, death, and abuse. It lodged deep in my subconscious, then grew with each subsequent trauma. Every unfortunate event in my life gave it more fuel. I deserved it when my boyfriend hit me. Had it coming when I was raped. I believed this voice so much that I sought out further evidence to prove it right. Choose men that would beat me. Asked them for it. Choose men who were unavailable and would therefore eventually abandon me. Became addicted to those men.

This voice is somewhat quelled by the sexual act. In those short moments I know that I am intensely wanted, desired, valued, maybe even loved. I am validated by the focus and the attention. Then it’s over, and all I want is to feel that validation again, and again, and again.

Nowadays I know that this voice is a liar. I am loved, valued, and worthy of all good things. My friends love me, my family members love me, my sponsor and my fellows love me, and most importantly, I am loved by myself and my Higher Power.

That voice is quieter now, but it’s still there. And sometimes it kicks up a fuss that is difficult to ignore.

The Guy Who Wasn’t John Jenner

When I think of my first boyfriend, what comes to mind is my first truly love addicted entanglement, which I was involved with from my late teens to early 20s. I often forget that he was preceded by Dennis, a boy who was my boyfriend for four whole weeks when I was 15.

At the beginning of my sophomore year of high school, I was feeling pretty insecure. I’d never had a boyfriend, never been kissed, never even been on one date. If I had known then how much I was going to eventually make up for this late start, I might have relaxed a little. But at the time I felt like a freak.

One of my good friends, Louisa, had always had a boyfriend. She was one of those girls, who later became one of those women who was never single more than a day in her life. She just went from one longterm boyfriend to another. Dennis, a freshman, was totally smitten with Louisa, but since she was attached, he set his sites on one of her single girlfriends (me).

I had no interest in Dennis. He was a decent enough looking guy, but I just wasn’t into him. While girls like Louisa could trace their history from present all the way back to third grade from boyfriend to boyfriend, I could do the same but from silent, painful, all consuming crush to silent, painful, all consuming crush. When Dennis started showing interest in me, all the space in my brain reserved for liking guys was completely taken over by John Jenner, the gorgeous water polo player I had never talked to even once. In fact, I had never even made eye contact with the guy, who was in half of my classes, for fear that if he looked in my eyes he would see how much I liked him, and reject me in a public and humiliating way.

Dennis could have been the coolest guy in school (he wasn’t, though) and I would have had no interest, because he wasn’t John Jenner. Despite the fact that he wasn’t what I wanted, I agreed to be his date to the Homecoming Dance. I did this for two reasons. 1) My friends all told me I should and 2) I felt like going on a date with someone, anyone would make me less of a freak.

We went to the dance, we made out, and then he asked me to be his girlfriend. We spent the next four weeks making out in the back of movie theaters. Even though I was totally indifferent towards the guy, I liked making out with him especially in the dark.

Talking to him was another story. We just didn’t have anything in common. One time I showed him my recently painted nails. I had painted them black with a gold glitter topcoat. This was a few years before black nail polish became en vogue, but I still thought they looked rather cool. When I asked him what he thought, he gave me a disgusted look and said, “Why can’t you just be a normal girl?” Ouch! I should have shot back with, “Why can’t you just be John Jenner?”

Another time we were deciding how to divvy up the pictures from Homecoming and I said something like, “Well, when we break-up you probably won’t want to have all these extra pictures of me lying around.” A pretty logical point for a 15-year-old girl, right? But Dennis didn’t think so.

“What do you mean when we break-up?”

“We are going to eventually break-up. I’m 15 and you’re only 14.”

“But you are actually planning for it?”

Yeah, cry me a river Dennis. Three days later he called me up and broke up with me. On the phone.

Actually I remember the conversation going a little like this:

“Maybe we should break up.”

“Yeah, maybe we should.”

But the next day at school this Freshman had the nerve to tell everyone he broke up with me. Although we passed each other every day in the halls, we never said another word to each other.

Louisa eventually started seeing Dennis. I think she even lost her virginity to him. Then they broke up and he moved to another school. I tried to look him up on Facebook, but to no avail. I also can’t find Louisa, who I lost touch with after graduation.

I did find John Jenner, though. He is now some granola-y, hippie, organic farmer married to some chick with dreadlocks. He is also balding, and has lost his water polo physique. Seems like a cool guy, but not my type at all. He probably was never my type. I was too caught up in the fantasy of John Jenner to actually get to know John Jenner.

Earlier, I started to type that Dennis was the first guy I ever used, but then I realized I also used John Jenner, and every boy I had an obsessive crush on before him. In the past all I needed was a few details about a hot guy and I would fill in all the blanks, falling for essentially a fantasy character I created. I don’t want to do that anymore. I want to get to know people for who they authentically are.

Happy Blogiversary!

A year ago today (actually a year and two days ago, but who’s counting?) I decided to start documenting my journey of recovery from sex and love addiction.

When I was a kid I always used to say that when I grew up I would be a writer. As I got older I would say things like, “some day I am going to write a memoir,” or “some day I want to write a novel.” Of course I was too busy in my addiction to ever do much writing. I used to think that once I met the perfect guy, then I would be able to focus on my writing, but until then I had to put all my time and energy into finding that soulmate. Deep down I still considered myself a writer. The thing is, though, writers write. Before I started this blog, I’d hardly written a thing in 6 or 7 years.

I have been writing here on a semi-regular basis for over a year. Not to toot my own horn, but I am so proud of myself! To some this might be a small accomplishment, but I would have never been able to stick to a writing project for a whole year when I was acting out. I wouldn’t have been able to stick to any kind of project that didn’t involve sex or dating.

I might not have hundreds of followers, or get overwhelmed with page hits on a daily basis, but I can now say that I AM a writer.

Thank you so much to everyone who has read, followed and commented on my blog this past year. Your support and words of encouragement have helped me so much in my recovery. I am truly grateful for all of you!

White Knight Fantasy

Some days anxiety descends on me, like heavy mud burying me in a pit I have no idea how to even start digging myself out of.

What do I do first?

The bulk of my week is spent at a job that I’m overqualified and underpaid for. It’s also a job that takes a lot of preparation and energy. At the end of the day I’m tired. I know that I should be applying for other jobs, that that should be my first priority. But applying in itself takes a lot of time and effort, and I’m short on both at the end of the day. My job has no paid time off, and I barely make ends meet as it is, so taking a day off isn’t a possibility.

I know there is more to it than just being exhausted. Psychologically there is some kind of block that’s preventing me from applying for the kind of jobs I’m certified for. Part of it is probably fear of rejection. I usually apply to jobs that I’m overqualified for because I know I’ll get them. When I put a lot of effort into applying for a good job and don’t even get called for an interview, I’m crushed. I usually end up talking myself out of applying before I even start.

Another issue is that I’m not really sure I even want to be in the field I’m in. The real reason I went back to school to get certified in this field was because I thought it would just be something to do until I met the guy. You know, the guy that would make life bearable and give it meaning. That was my real career, finding him. My job was just a way to make money until my “real” life started.

I also have a lot of shame and embarrassment over the state of my career. I’m at an age now, where most of the people I went to high school and college with have actual grown-up jobs with 401Ks. Fuck, most of them are married. A lot of them even have kids and own their own houses. I mean if I’m going to compare myself to other people, I might as well throw all of it into the pity pot.

And it’s not just the job and relationship stuff that is stressing me out, I also get majorly overwhelmed by everyday things like washing dishes and folding my laundry. I moved into this apartment more than six months ago, and still have some boxes I haven’t unpacked. I don’t even have a couch yet.

Even if my life were just coming home everyday from work and cleaning my apartment, I probably wouldn’t be able to keep up. Luckily, though, my life isn’t that simple. There are self-care things I do to keep sane–going to yoga and meditation, going to meetings, going to the gym, doing step work, writing, praying and checking in with my higher power, having a social life with friends and family.

I’m grateful that I have all of these topline behaviors in my life, but I’d also like to not be embarrassed by my apartment and lack of career. I look around and it seems like the world is full of women who manage to have kick-ass jobs, amazing husbands, and fabulous homes that are clean and tidy all while raising kids, staying fit, and leading full social lives. I’m not even doing 20 percent of that and I manage to be overwhelmed to the point of paralyzation.

I know it’s not productive to compare myself to other people, and I have no idea of knowing what someone’s life is really like from the outside. But it’s so freaking tempting when I’m in this kind of mood and looking for ammo to abuse myself with.

Today is day 8 of no contact with men. I know that’s contributing to my foul mood. I’m in withdrawal. I want to use another person to sooth myself. I want to call up Mr. FCFW, Anthony, Carson, or some other guy and cry on his shoulder. I want him to magically make everything better. Realistically, though, I know that would be a pointless exercise. Mr. FCFW has his own wife and kids to deal with and doesn’t need a 33-year-old adopted daughter to drain him further. Carson is even worse off than me. And Anthony has his own troubles to deal with, ditto for all of my other male friends.

The only “guy” I should be calling up right now and asking for help is my Higher Power. I know that’s really all I can do–ask God for the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, for the courage to change the things I can, and for the wisdom to know the difference.

Trouble With Mirrors

“A loving person lives in a loving world. A hostile person lives in a hostile world. Everyone you meet is your mirror.” — Ken Keyes

Kitten and partial reflection in mirror

While this specific quote is new to me, I have heard this notion before. When one finds a quality she admires in another person, she is really seeing that quality in herself. The same goes for when she finds something she doesn’t like in another person. Every single person we meet is a mirror — an opportunity to learn about ourselves and to grow.

When I first got into recovery, I would hear all these people talk about “intrigue,” and I would think, Jesus, what the fuck kind of made-up bullshit problems are these crazy people going on about? I have REAL problems, thankyouverymuch.

Namely, my problems were that I was obsessed with my married lover, who had a host of other issues. I was also going from short-term relationship to short-term relationship, often juggling several at a time. Almost all of these relationships were with unavailable men.

Now that I have cleaned up all of those “real problems,” (and also turned down the volume on that ego, thankyouverymuch) I find that I too have a problem with romantic intrigue. While I am not physically using anyone right now, I have been in contact with some exes and former lovers, and am definitely using them for validation and emotional support. Worse still, in the very back of my mind I’m using them to set up contingency plans if this whole recovery thing doesn’t work out.

With all of that in mind, I decided it was time to take a 30 day break from all social contact with men. Today is day four and it’s been difficult, but it’s also been nice to gain a little bit more space in my life and in my head.

In this moment, though, I’m frustrated and resentful, pissed off at two other people, but really pissed off at myself.

I made sure to let the two friends I was talking to on an almost daily basis know that I wouldn’t be in contact with them for at least a month. I explained what I was doing and they both acted supportive.

Cut to two days later and one of them (I might as well just tell you, it’s Anthony — don’t judge) starts sending me text messages. “Did you like that link I sent you?” he texts, knowing full well he didn’t send me any link. I know this trick. I have used this many times before. It’s right up there with pretending to respond to the wrong text message, sending the person who is ignoring you something like, “ok, see you Tuesday,” or some such nonsense. The goal is to get the other person to respond with something like, “Huh? What are you talking about?” When that didn’t work Anthony tried another look-at-me!-look-at-me! strategy, that I also ignored. The other dude waited a bit longer, but sent me a text (really a sext) today.

I practically wrote the book on these manipulative, attention-seeking tactics, and this is why it’s pissing me off so much. I’m angry because this is all me. These two men are simply reflecting my character defects back at me. I’m usually the one that doesn’t respect boundaries and I’m the one who uses manipulative and attention-seeking tactics to control other people.

Six months ago I would have probably been flattered by this attention, but now I see it for what it is — a reflection of my own flaws; flaws that I am working so hard on removing.