A PERSONAL STORY OF LOVE ADDICTION…
Take a look at these quotes taken from a love addict…
“I was consumed by romantic love and felt as if, all at once, I was truly connected to this person.”
“I imagined that I could fly…I was so happy, and I remember this so clearly.”
“All I wanted was for him to reciprocate my love.”
“I used to tell myself that I had to stop being me as I knew he preferred women with brown eyes and dark hair… if I were different, perhaps he’d be able to love me. I realized that I had to find a way to leave, yet I felt stuck to him like cling film.”
These are not words from a client of mine. These are my own words, from my own experiences more than 24 years ago – although it’s a very similar story to many that my clients have told me in the years since.
I thought I’d found my soul mate…
I was 29 when we first met. And I thought I’d found my soul mate.
For the first two months of the relationship, which later caused such grief, the love was completely mutual. We were deeply in love. My anxious symptoms only began after his behavior became erratic, distant and unavailable.
This is the key, as it’s the unresponsiveness and emotional unavailability from the one you adore that sits at the core of love addiction, and creates the feeling of anxiety, loss, rejection and abandonment.
By the third month, I’d begun to sense something quite worrying, as one moment he’d speak of a joint future with marriage and children, whilst the next he’d completely cut off from me.
He’d be there, but not quite there, telling me that he needed to be free of commitment and all responsibilities, and required long breaks away from me.
Why didn’t I just walk away?
I was completely immersed in an unhealthy and addictive relationship which lasted nearly six years.
I continued to believe that things would change. I would tell myself that he would see the light and it was just his fear of commitment and closeness that stood in the way.
I encouraged him to read self-help books, in the vain hope that he would see himself more clearly and understand his own fears.
Ironically, he was possessive and jealous of me, so I learned to adapt my behavior around his needs so he didn’t feel insecure.
However, the more I became attentive, expressive and spontaneous with him, the more emotionally distant he became with me, before finally shutting down entirely.
The pain was beyond belief, as he’d disconnect his phone or go on long meditation retreats to India, sometimes being away for months.
Despite being the one who’d been shut out and rejected, I blamed myself for just “feeling” too much.
It was confusing. All the yo-yoing back and forth was cruel and heartless. Friends kept telling me he was a narcissist, but I couldn’t see it.
Towards the final months of the relationship, my physical and emotional well-being declined rapidly.
I felt as if I was hanging over the edge of a precipice, not knowing how far I would fall…
I became very unlike myself and had difficulty understanding what was happening to me.
I was so confused and lost.
My waif-like body was unable to either eat or move and my muscles ached.
I became an empty shell of a woman who previously had everything going for her.
The only thing I knew I wanted was to do whatever it took to “understand him”. I thought that if I could get to the bottom of this confusion, all would be okay.
I decided to hide my true feelings from him, as even loving him a little would cause him to close down from me.
I would go to great lengths to avoid seeing him, sometimes for two weeks at a time. But then the cycle would repeat itself as he’d pull me back in again by telling me just how much he’d missed me and wanted a future with me, only to very quickly abandon me again.
I could not be ‘me’, so forged a new woman that felt nothing at all. Yet inside I felt powerless and vulnerable beyond belief.
He kept pursuing me but only whilst I played the “ice queen game”, which was so far removed from who I was.
His constant mixed messages caused me to fall apart. I was training to become a psychotherapist and counselor yet I couldn’t work out the contradictions in these messages.
I now know him to be a Love Avoidant.
He wanted no pressure, no responsibility, and no commitment.
And he almost destroyed me.
So how did I finally escape?
I decided to read everything I could about my situation.
I ordered every published book to do with abandonment, women who love too much, self-empowerment, reversing self-abandonment, chronic rejection and books written around the topics of projection, self-identity and symbiosis/fusing.
And the more I read, the more I understood what was happening.
THIS WAS IT!
I began to realize that I saw in him my own power, and this is the sharp end of projection.
I had, in fact, projected all that I was onto him. I had given MY POWER away to him, and I had turned him into a type of deity, a God who was so wise and powerful.
So it’s no small wonder that I felt as if I was dying without him. (Losing all that we are and our entire self in the beloved describes “Love Addiction” completely).
I watched every single film around these topics and read and re-read Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights constantly. A key line in this classic piece of literature is written in the voice of Cathy when she speaks about Heathcliff, and has resonated with me ever since.
“He’s more myself than I am. Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same.”
I found the strength to cut all contact
The more I learnt, and with the support of loving friends, I was able to build the physical and emotional strength to distance myself from him, as I knew if I saw him again, it would trigger the shattering and debilitating feelings of “love withdrawal”.
Going cold turkey means you cannot be anywhere near the very thing that will pull you back in.
Withdrawal from love addiction is just the same as heroin withdrawal, or any other addictive drug.
I felt hugely abandoned and rejected by him and the love withdrawal was immense. It was completely debilitating, exactly like the grief experience when someone dies, but made worse by the fact that he was very much alive – but simply didn’t want me.
I changed my telephone number so I wouldn’t sit at home waiting for him to call. It also meant he could no longer contact me and draw me back into his web of pain, confusion and emotional abuse.
But even that wasn’t enough because I was always staying at home, in the faint hope that he would come and find me – but he never did.
Finally, I decided to move away from the area as I’d only lived there in order to be close to him.
How I found the key to my freedom
Desperate to rid myself of my obsession with him, I embarked on a journey of self-development.
I decided to focus more on my training in counseling and psychotherapy, and as part of my studies I had to undergo my own personal therapy…
And this is when I finally saw what had triggered this powerful obsessive behavior in me.
I finally understood everything that had happened, and why I was feeling like this…
And since then I’ve dedicated my entire life to helping others by researching and learning everything there is to know about love addiction, deity projection, obsession, abandonment, rejection, anxious attachment, co-dependency, heartbreak, insecurity, fusing, symbiosis and the loss of self in love.
And I did this in order to reclaim MY OWN independence and individuality.
I then studied literature, film and theatre, and focused on how obsession and unrequited love are portrayed in these mediums, e.g. Anna Karenina, Gone with the Wind, Bad Timing, Madame Bovary, Breaking the Waves, etc. I later did a Creative Writing degree with my thesis entitled, “Keep Your Distance, So That I Can Make a Journey of You”.
After years of study, it became crystal clear to me why millions of people all over the World suffer from Love Addiction
… And why the majority of them repeat the same negative relationship cycles again and again.
As well as saving my own life, I’d found the key to helping other people to liberate themselves from love addiction too, heal themselves from within, and gain control over the range of negative and damaging emotions that surround love addiction and co-dependency.
And there was no way I could keep this to myself.
So for the last 22 years, I’ve been helping clients as an expert relationship and couples therapist specializing in Love Addiction, right here from my practice in Sevenoaks, Kent, in the UK.
But then I discovered something even more important…
Before long I realized that my program wasn’t just helping people recover from love addiction.
So as well as recovering from love addiction, they were gaining new levels of confidence, too. They were becoming inspired into taking positive action at work, at home and in other areas, and they were healing broken relationships with family members and friends.
Their entire lives were being transformed for the better.
But there was a problem…
Even though I had been using this step-by-step recovery program for several years, and had helped transform the lives of hundreds, if not thousands of people, because I was based in Kent, in the UK, I could only reach a very limited number of couples and individuals with my 1-2-1 sessions.
That simply wasn’t enough…
I was determined to share my program with a wider audience, and help more people, wherever they were in the World…
So I got to work.
And after many months of hard work, I’ve finally compiled my complete healing process into a step-by-step online program called the 15-Step Love Addiction Recovery Program so that anyone, anywhere in the world, can put my techniques into practice from their own home.