Your lights are on, but you’re not home/Your mind is not your own/Your heart sweats, your body shakes/Another kiss is what is takes… from Robert Palmer’s “Addicted to Love”
Exactly two years ago to the day I wrote: But then there is this whole scary business of a partnership, of monogamy, or being swallowed up whole and losing myself. Why, when I think of commitment, do I suddenly think of being eaten alive and forfeiting my identity? I would say that obviously has something to do with my history, of course. And, because of the fact that I have seen—in my own life and in the lives of others—love go all sorts of awry. I’ve seen the flames of love start out so colorful, so beautiful, only to turn into a destructive wild fire. Ugh. How tremendously frightening!
Now, here I am, almost at the two year mark of my sobriety and at the year mark in a healthy romantic partnership. I have profoundly changed and my life has profoundly changed and I am filled with gratitude. I have been uber-joyful even in the face of the little “lessons” that the Universe has been sending me about boundary setting and relationships in general. Yet, lately, I have hit a wall. I have felt a little lost. Just last week I stated to my partner: “I don’t know. I feel like I am losing myself. I don’t know what I am asking for. I don’t know what I need.”
This truth that I am in a metaphorical hall of mirrors and that I don’t know which exit door will lead me back to my true self has nothing, absolutely nothing, to do with my partner. This wall that I am banging my head against is, perhaps, one of those distorted mirrors—the ones that make you look taller or fatter or completely discombobulated—and I have wondered repeatedly if I even have the capacity to be a good partner. “This can’t be who I really am,” I cry! “If it isn’t, then who am I?!? If it is, then God help me!”
Yes, I have hit a low recently. A low that I haven’t felt in some time. I understand that this depression is triggered by fear, not of losing love or friends or other things in my life—not exactly—but of losing myself. And, it only stands to follow that if I lose myself, if this beat up, desperate, drowning woman is really me, then I will also lose those things. Again, this may be fiction or perception. That house of mirrors.
I do understand, and I have written this before, that we are, as the psychologist Jung sees it, fractured beings. We are gifted or bestowed with many facets of personality. The Jungian goal of integrating those fractured pieces to feel completeness may be one of our ultimate goals. In line with this, I have been told, by friends and self-help books, to embrace my shadow sides. How do I hold the truth that I am, as I stated in my last post, perfectly imperfect? How I hold the dual truth that I am both loving and giving and creative and compassionate and worthy when I am also fearful, clingy, and selfish? Ugh, the conundrum!
And, that fear of being swallowed? Remember the Sarlaac in Return of the Jedi? That scary pit with teeth that Jabba attempted to throw our heroes into? Yeah, that creature. I feel like I have been stepping out onto that platform. Where is my Lando Calrissian?
But, there is no Jabba in my life right now. Honestly, I have it all. Outwardly, everything is in perfect place. So, when I have everything, why am I still afraid? Self-centered fear? Anxious attachment? Just being a perfect, ungrateful loser? Am I just unaccustomed to being happy? Am I that distasteful Drama Queen? Hmpf! It’s frustrating. As I said to a friend recently, “there is no reason to be depressed. I still have both of my legs!”
And, it’s true.
In starting this post, I thought of the psychobabble buzz words of co-dependency and love addiction. Of course, this prompted me to investigate the lyrics to Robert Palmer’s famous tune. I started to wonder if my lights are on, but I’m not home. I started to question if my mind was my own. Am I, indeed, addicted to love or some facsimile thereof? Enough questions for one post. Still, I used to get high off of attention, why not feel like shutting down when posed with the reality of what I consider to be healthy love? I was comfortable with being sought out for my confidence and the shell of my real self that I presented to the world. Perhaps, just lately, I have been uncomfortable about being loved for who I truly am. Even in spite of my flaws, of the shadow sides that I have mentioned.
I know, in my heart, that this sadness, this anxiety, this insecurity will pass. I will bounce back as a woman that can receive and give authentic love. Yet, I want to be a woman who gives more than receives. I often think of the St. Francis prayer that beautifully states: Lord, grant that I may seek to comfort, rather than to be comforted/To understand, than to be understood/To love, than to be loved… I have to a fault been soaking up the comfort, understanding, and love. One more question: How and when will it end? Okay one more: If relationships are a give and take, will my relationships fall back into balance? One last: What the hell is wrong with me?
Psychology Today has an article entitled “Is Love an Addiction?” that poses: Romantic love has often been considered a type of addiction or even sickness. There is no doubt that love involves constant thinking about, and activities with, one’s beloved. But is such persistent preoccupation with one person always detrimental? Should it be regarded as a type of addiction, or might it actually be beneficial to the partners’ flourishing? I remember myself, in a post about being a love cynic, reducing love to serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine. Yet, partnership is not just about love. As Lana Del Rey sings in “Born to Die”: Sometimes love is not enough and the road gets tough/I don’t know why…
The “Is Love an Addiction?” author poses that love is not an addiction when the preoccupation and frequent activity together help the relationship to flourish and do not become obsessive. I don’t know yet if I have mastered that balance. I keep up with my friends and activities that I enjoy, but transitions are still difficult and being alone with the constant churning waterwheel of my mind is still a challenge.
Maybe I need to practice being alone. You know, to be okay with me. So that I can love rather than be loved.
Wow! As I reread my words, I am already feeling vulnerable. I am letting you too in on my fears and imperfections. Perhaps this will bequeath upon you or upon me some form of clarity– something at least to ponder when you have nothing else to think about. Perhaps when you are taking a long drive in the car or can’t seem to meditate while washing the dishes. I don’t exactly know. I do know that I am being hard on myself. (This morning’s irony was that as I read a meditation about perfectionism, I berated myself for not being able to let go of that very quality. The cycle continues! At least I can both admit and laugh about it!) I want to be thankful for my current mesmerizing, exciting, and wonderful life. I want my relationships to work. I want to be, well, normal though I have no reference for what that really means.
At least, I have come full circle from a woman who states: I want there to be romantic love. I want people to be swept away with the natural re-uptake inhibitors of eye-gazing and hand holding and love making. I do. What sick and ugly world would we live in without these things? Furthermore, I want people to make their love last. I want them to be able to take what started out as something whimsical and mind blowing and, well, devouring, and turn it into something sustainable and long lasting and healthy and beautiful. I believe in partnerships, lifelong or forever long. I guess I just don’t really want one for myself.
Well, now I do. I just need to ease up girlfriend and take some much needed head space.
I am worth it. Why not me?