I’m not your usual run-of-the-mill addict, though we run in the same circles.
I look like I’ve got it all together, but the telltale sign is my favorite flavor of partner.
I’m addicted to the addicts—the person, not the substance. I like the workaholics, the rage-aholics, the stoners, and the cheaters—the people who are never really quite there even when they’re there.
I get my high from chasing, fixing, and pining for unavailable souls. I want to save them, help them, and love them. They deserve to know what real love feels like from a person who knows so well how to give, give, and give, but never receive.
I love the enablers, the avoiders, and the distancers. I love them all.
They remind me I’m safe because they never really get inside. Even when I’m in excruciating pain and my hunger for real love is almost too much to take, they won’t betray the distance. My unconscious knows better than to let me get hurt the way I did all those years ago, so I choose them.
They get close but not too close, and they go far but never too far. Just far enough to cause pain and just close enough to keep me hanging on. This is my safe zone.
It’s hard to see how I became so entangled with this gang of mischievous misfits. After all, they’re the real addicts; they have the real problem. I want to help them.
They have intimacy problems, they’re emotionally unavailable, they’re addicted…it’s them, not me. I’m strong enough for us both. I can save them. I can save me. I’m loyal to a fault, but willing to do the work.
Sure, I have my own low-level addictions and high-level coping strategies—but honestly, I’m not interested in me. I’m too focused on their addictions and how it keeps them from me. I’m constantly in fear—their addiction is too much, it’s unhealthy, they need to stop.
Why don’t they want to stop? Why do I keep finding them and falling for them? Why are they so tantalizing? Why do I long for and fantasize about them? Why do I dream that they’ll change and choose me? That it will finally be my turn? That they’ll see the light? That it will finally click?
Only it won’t. It never does.
See, I’m addicted to the pain. I’m addicted to the emptiness. I’m addicted to the trauma, the drama, the disease. It permeates my family like a virus—silent and insidious. I didn’t know it had been there all along, all these years, passed down and passed among us. We didn’t know. It was buried with my ancestors; only their secrets live on.
The signs were never obvious. A parent who lost their temper, another who always found the party. One worked too much while the other played. Two adults, two roles: the parent and the child. The parent who became my child.
I became a mother at a young age, filling in the gaps that were left. Picking up the torch, continuing to carry the pattern forward unconsciously. I didn’t know, I didn’t know. I didn’t know that I was an addict too. I love addicts. I’m in love with an addict. I’m a love addict.
Now that I know, I can’t unsee it. I can’t not know what I now know. I have to admit that I have a problem, that I need help. That I’m powerless to change this on my own, but I’m not powerless to change.
I decide that. I choose me. I say no more.
I have to see the pattern and say, “No.” I have to extract the hook that’s buried so deeply in my gut that pulls at me like a magnet for dysfunction.
I have to cut the cords, close the doors, block the calls. I have to make a decision to learn to love me. I have to leave my lovers, my fantasies, my prizes…those who are always just out of reach. I have to learn what intimacy is and not run from it when it finds me.
I have to stop feeding off the love that comes from outside me and learn to make my own supply.
So that I’m not addicted to the addicts.