Facing Love Addiction, journal exercise: “Symptoms”

Facing Love Addiction, by Pia Mellody, pg. 178

JOURNAL EXERCISE—SYMPTOMS

Name: Adam
Relationship: Friend/Sexual Partner
Duration: A couple of months

1. Time spent obsessing about this person: Too much time, attention and value above myself. The day after Halloween (when we hung out and had sex), I started to obsess about him. Two days later, I was extremely upset about the cut-off of attention from him, compared to all the attention I received on Halloween. I started to feel suicidal and worthless again.

Higher Power: He became my “higher power” because I wanted him to be the source of my self-esteem. When I was sad, I went to him. He could talk and make me feel better. But when he was not available, I became very depressed.

Harmful Consequences: I ended up looking up the location of a local gun shop, intending to buy a gun. I remember telling Adam that, and he was worried about me.

2. Adam and I haven’t yet argued over anything, but I did expect him to have unconditional positive regard at all times, for a while when we first met, before I read this book.

3. How I act needy and neglect myself: I act helpless about computers.

What this person does to take care of me or how I manipulate him to do so: I ask Adam for computer assistance, instead of looking up hot to do it, myself. I haven’t done any manipulation that I know of. Then again, I probably would have, if I wasn’t actively trying to heal and improve now.

Name: Kevin
Relationship: Friend / One-Time Sexual Partner
Duration: A couple of months

1. Time spent obsessing about this person: My thoughts became obsessed about Kevin, if time passed and we didn’t talk for a while. I became anxious. If longer time passed, I got sad and lonely. Possibly suicidal, a few times.

Higher Power: I looked to him as a superior and “healthy human being” and made him to be a much better person than me. I looked to him for direction and deciding what I need and want and like. I picked up some of his interests, such as music. I constantly thanked him, each time he talked to me or gave me attention, even though he tried to remind me that he was just a normal guy and said not to thank him. To me, he was the ideal image of a Healthy Person and he could do no wrong.

Harmful Consequences: Kevin was put under extreme pressure to be perfect and take care of me. When he began to create some distance, I interpreted that as an absolute rejection of all that is me. I freaked out.

Eventually, I looked for attention elsewhere and that is when I became promiscuous with 30 guys online and 6 guys in person. Adam was the last of those 6 guys, before I stopped that behavior. Acting out sexually might have been a subconscious way of trying to manipulate Kevin into caring for me again.

2. Expectation of a Positive Regard…

My behavior: I acted out sexually and was very upset when Kevin was upset at me.

Harm on Kevin: Put more pressure on him to help me.

Response I expected: Kevin to care for me and love me and tell me that it’s good to be sexual.

Actual response: Threatened to not be my friend anymore if I continue sexual behavior.

3. How I act needy and neglect myself: Acted needy by just not really taking care of myself emotionally, and relying on him to be there at all times.

What this person does to take care of me or how I manipulate him to do so: He used to check up on me and ask how I’m doing. But now his screen name [on AIM] is blocked and on “ignore” so he cannot send me messages. I blocked him because I was angry—I felt like he was ignoring me by not talking to me each day. But in reality, he’s just living his life. We aren’t close friends. Friends don’t talk every single day.

Name: KL
Relationship: Boyfriend (long-distance, except for 2-3 visits in person) / Sexual Partner

Duration: 9-10 months, one short break-up in January 2009

1. Time spent obsessing about this person: I basically thought about him all day, during the entire relationship.

Higher Power: I [subconsciously] believed he would be able to bring happiness into my life and fix my childhood trauma/problems.

Harmful Consequences: I divorced Matt for KL and it was a rocky relationship from the start. KL ended up dumping me twice.

2. Expectation of a Positive Regard…

My behavior: I became very upset when he called me “needy,” because I viewed that description as negative. I was upset that he saw something negative about me. I then viewed this as a horrible sign. I never found out what he meant by it. I just stayed silent with my painful, hurt, negative thoughts. I always became extremely upset whenever negatives or flaws in myself, my life, or my relationship(s) were pointed out to me by someone else.

3. How I act needy and neglect myself: We took on a father-daughter relationship, to fill those gaps in our lives [he was a couple of years old than me; his former girlfriend had walked out on him, taking their daughter with her]. I pretended that I suck horribly at cooking or don’t know how to.

What this person does to take care of me or how I manipulate him to do so: KL made meals and even chopped up apples into bite-sized child pieces for me [which I loved]. He set up dinner as if for his daughter in [another state].

Name: Matt
Relationship: Fiancé (Husband for 2 years)/Sexual Partner
Duration: 5-6 years

1. Time spent obsessing about this person: I put together Matt’s resume and portfolio and sent samples to [companies] around the nation with assistance from Matt. I manipulated him by encouraging him to get the job in [southwest U.S.]. I convinced myself that he wanted to move there, too. I basically did the whole job search for him.

I also tried to take over his social life (we tried to go out and make friends);  his hobbies (I encouraged him/made him take a fine art class that he ended up loving; I bought supplies for him); and when he was diagnosed with [an illness], I organized support group information for him.

Basically, I was 100% focused on him. It drained me and I couldn’t even identify my own needs and wants.

2. Expectation of a Positive Regard…

I expected a “perfect” relationship with no arguments, and we actually never argued. I think he caved in to being controlled by me. I remember having somewhat of an argument over the move to [the southwest U.S.], and I told him that if he didn’t want to go, then I don’t want to be in the relationship. He agreed to go, then.

Whenever he mentioned my birth family, I’d get extremely angry. I felt pressure from him to contact them again, but I didn’t want to. I was so angry at my own biological family that I think I wanted him to be separate from his family, as well. But since they were his support group, he fell into a depression when they were so far away [after we moved].

3. How I act needy and neglect myself: Often didn’t pack a lunch or eat well. I pretended to do a poor job at lunches. I didn’t like doing laundry, so he did it for us. The laundry would just pile up until he did it. I said I was constantly tired, or didn’t have the time. Same excuse for the lunches.

OTHER NOTES ABOUT MATT

When Matt and I met, after the initial “wow! new relationship!” intense feeling faded, I started to wonder if he’d eventually leave me.

My last 3 boyfriends dumped me: Additionally, I tried to start relationships with people I’d been sexual with in college, but none seemed interested.

I was so tired of no one wanting to be with me.

So I pushed intensely hard for a quick engagement, so I’d know he’d stay.

[Note: All of the above was happening subconsciously. At the time, I thought I was honestly deeply in love with “Matt,” and that the next logical step was to get engaged. I had no idea there were any other motives, at the time.]

When I left Matt, I honestly thought that the thing I needed—the best relationship—would be one where the guy took care of me the same intense way that I was taking care of Matt.

That is why I jumped without looking when KL said he would take such better care of me than Matt did.

Because at that point, Mark was so miserable [with his life situation] that he wasn’t able to nurture me much at all and we had harmful problems with sex.

And I certainly was not taking care of myself at all, because I was so intensely wrapped up in caring for Matt.

KL, for a very short while, was able to provide nurturing for me that Matt wasn’t. I think KL and Matt would have been good friends for me, moreso than being lovers to me. But I am happy to have learned and grown from both relationships.

RANDOM NOTE ABOUT MY DAD

Possible Love Addict behavior? —> I created a gift for my dad. I think I was around 22 years old. I visited him in [a western U.S. state]. This was shortly before my mom’s death and I think she died in 2003 or 2004.

Part of the gift to my dad read that I would “love him forever.”

Looking back, I have my doubts if I meant that.

I think that I thought by saying I loved him, then that would somehow make him love me in the way I wanted to be loved—unconditionally and not be forced to be something I’m not.

I do not believe my parents loved me for who I was. They just loved the parts they wanted me to be.

So this gift was probably another attempt at manipulation to get love from someone to make up for all the love lacking in my childhood and in my past.

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3 thoughts on “Facing Love Addiction, journal exercise: “Symptoms”

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