Are you a Love Junkie in Need of a Cure...?
Whether it's Facebook, Krispy Kremes or torrid love affairs, we all possess personal addictions to people, places or things that do not serve us or our lives.
The problem is, because the majority of us are 'not quite bad enough' for rehab - or are just about able to keep our lives together (despite a constant flow of drama and chaos), we are often unaware that over time, these unhealthy obsessions and addictive patterns are taking us drastically off course from the goals, dreams and visions that we once had for ourselves.
To be honest, addicts and addiction in general tend to get a pretty bad wrap these days - what, with the term often conjuring up images of cracked out meth-heads, scavenging around through highly unsanitary dustbins, in search of a Hepatitis-riddled needle with a few drops of the good stuff left on it (thanks, Breaking Bad).
However, before we too hastily judge those at the extreme end of addiction's harrowing clutches, perhaps we should take a moment to reflect upon our own addictive tendencies.
No, we may not wake up every morning to three hefty snorts of the Devil's Dandruff before breakfast, but how many of us get up on a Sunday morning with a hangover from Lucifer himself, swearing that we shall never drink again, only to be found joyfully supping on our third G & T of the evening a mere three days later? How often are our New Year's resolutions to stop bitching, gossiping, eating cake or being negative quickly forgotten by the second week of January?
Let's face it folks, we are all addicts.
We are addicted to our skinny vanilla lattes, we are addicted to taking pouty selfies on Instagram, we are addicted to online shopping and celeb gossip magazines, and we are most certainly addicted to the opposite sex - obsessing over them, complaining about them, stalking them on social media, and reading in to seemingly ambiguous text messages which - in all likelihood - probably contain very little in the way of subtext, anyhow.
And there you have it: Of all the many addictions and obsessions that leave us feeling trapped, what could be a more normalised and under-estimated affliction than that of love addiction?
Allow us to indulge you with a personal testimony to the alarming power of this agonizing condition.
Both of us girls (the founders of addictivedaughter.com) used to be obsessed with dating Bad Boys - as in really quite naughty. They were typically heavy drinkers, serial philanderers and emotionally unavailable (and sometimes even pyromaniacs).
And where do you think that led us? Down s**t creek, that's where.
But of course, we found ourselves stuck between a rock and a hard place, believing that we were destined to only every fall for men who would eventually break our hearts, claiming that such men were just our type. As far as we were concerned, our love lives were essentially out of our control, because we could not help who we fell for.
It never dawned on us that we were actively choosing these toxic relationships as a way of avoiding having to look at what was really going on inside of us underneath all the romantic drama.
Because it is a choice, after all - who we give our hearts to; infatuation and obsession are decisions like any other, but we tend not to perceive them this way. This is because we are regularly bombarded with the Hollywood-ized perception of true love as being all-consuming and immersed with pain, suffering and heartache.
Yet, there came a point for both of us (after experiencing a crushing break-up one too many times), when we decided that this obsessive and addictive form of love was simply too painful and exhausting to fight for any longer.
There had to be another way.
And - it turned out - there was. It began by taking a very honest (and very difficult) look at our own patterns in relationships, and realising that it was probably no coincidence that we kept being drawn to the same type of man that, for whatever reason, could never give us the love we so fervently craved.
Upon recognition of this fact, it became very obvious that we had hopped from destructive relationship to destructive relationship, desperately looking for what was missing from within us - namely, a sense of self-worth and self-love.
It became apparent that the only way that we could ever hope to one day find a healthy loving relationship in the future, was to first develop one with ourselves.
From the murky depths of heartbreak, we began to focus all the energy that we had once used to obsess over relationships that were doomed from the start, into obsessively learning to love and respect ourselves wholeheartedly. After all, we had been more than willing to become fully addicted to our previous love interests - knowing full well it would only end in pain, so why not permit ourselves to become equally addicted to our own healing, safe in the knowledge that it could only be beneficial to our lives? Without that other person to fix on, something needed to fill the empty void - it may as well have been ourselves.
Becoming addicted to our own healing required a lot of discipline and effort, and was by no means easy; it meant eating healthily and exercising daily (instead of pouring a toxic cocktail of booze and drugs into our bodies on a worryingly regular basis), reading books that expanded our minds and nourished our souls, creating healthy boundaries when it came to friends and men, listening to music that uplifted us, praying and meditating daily to expand our inner awareness and connect with our spirituality, learning to forgive ourselves and those that had hurt us, and writing daily lists of everything we were grateful for in our lives (because even in the darkest of times, there are many, many things to be thankful for).
Consequently, when new Bad Boys turned up on the scene (as they always do just as things are finally going swimmingly), we were not thrown off course by them as we always had been before, for the self-love and respect we now had for ourselves was too precious a thing to throw away for what we used to sweepingly (and somewhat naively) refer to as love.
We took our time, assessed whether these new love interests would benefit or hinder our lives, and after careful consideration, it turned out that two were, and several most certainly were not.
And the two that were have turned out to be well worth the wait and active self-reflection.
Today, instead of our relationships being permeated by fear, anxiety, jealousy and obsession, they are mainly filled with honesty, intimacy, respect and support.
As a result, every other area of our lives has also improved dramatically, because we are no longer caught up in the futile battle of trying to squeeze a square peg into a round hole; we are now free to focus all of our energy into generating more positivity, love and abundance, without being side-tracked by our addiction to a person or relationship that takes a whole lot more from us than it gives.
And trust us, it feels a hell of a lot better.
If ideas in this piece resonate with you, please head over to addictivedaughter.com for more free resources. #GetAddictedToTheGoodStuff #QuarterLifeCrisis
Persia & Joey