Love Rehab

Oh, and babe I’m fist fighting with fire
Just to get close to you
Can we burn something, babe?
And I run for miles just to get a taste
Must be love on the brain
That’s got me feeling this way (feeling this way)
It beats me black and blue but it fucks me so good
And I can’t get enough
Must be love on the brain, yeah
And it keeps cursing my name (cursing my name)
No matter what I do
I’m no good without you
And I can’t get enough
Must be love on the brain

Rihanna

Like millions of people in this world, I am recovering. I am addicted to toxic, unhealthy relationships. Romances filled with drama, fighting, lack of trust… riddled with break-ups, make-ups, maniuplation, and violence. They hurt. They make me feel low, unworthy, and desperate. I know they are wrong. I know they don’t make sense. Yet I cannot escape them. I have gravitated to these relationships for soooo long, that when confronted with a relationship of respect, understanding, and patience, I am literally BORED and feel like something is MISSING. I am now realizing that, toxic relationships are like a drug for me. And for so long I have been addicted to the extreme highs and extreme lows that it is getting in the way of me having a healthy relationship.

The Science of Dysfunction Addiction

All of my dysfunctional relationships have a clear foundation of extreme highs and extreme lows. For me, it begins with a man who is often intrigued by my strong sense of independence, ambition, and resilence. They enter my world, looking to penetrate my rough exterior, wanting to learn everything about me. I am an enigma and their pursuit centers on extreme emotional intimacy; coveting knowledge, closeness, and control.

“Tell me your deepest, darkest fears.” “What makes you tick? What makes you explode?”

They want to learn everything about me, with promises of easing my worries, calming my fears, and being the key to my salvation. This knight in shining armour always begins with lavish amounts of attention. For your typical ‘Daddy Issues’ girl, this excessive attention is a foreign concept, immediately flooding my brain with pleasure, ultimately releasing massive amounts of dopamine.

Without getting too geeky, dopamine is the checmical responsible for associating the amount of time and energy an individual is willing to expend to attain a particular goal. Therefore, as this man showers me with unnatural amounts of flattery, attention, and care, my brain is attaching to this man. Deciding that he is something I should invest into keeping. The more flattery, the more dopamine is produced, the more I deem him worthy of my time and energy.

That sets the stage for what turns into a nightmare. I am fully sucked into this situation. A man who has devoted to learning my mind, and infiltrating my psyche. But without fail, things begin to take a sudden turn. Most of the time, it begins with disappearing. My love, all of a sudden, just cannot seem to keep his phone from dying, disappearing into the evening not to be heard from until the next day. This leads to fighting, bickering, distrust and hurt feelings. But I can’t walk away. I know something isn’t right… but a combination of insecurity, lack of self-worth, and fixation hold me there. Paralyzed. Fights, threats, and bickering, followed by apologies, love making, and grandiose gestures.

Next thing I know, I am oscilating between extremely gratitfying, and intensely intimate moments and these periods of extreme anger and distance. Today you are the best thing that has ever happened to him. Tomorrow he doesn’t even pick up the phone. So I chase the highs, missing those intense moments of happiness and pleasure. Trying to demonstrate my worth. Reminding my partner of what made him love me and feel so intensely about me in the beginning. Its a cycle. One that is emblazoned on my psyche.

Today, I am in a relationship that does not exhibit these characteristics. It is one of respect, kindness, and patience. It leaves room for individuality and growth. I do not have to worry about love and acceptance being withheld. I am not walking on eggshells or waiting for the next shoe to drop. It is steadfast and consistent…. Unabashed. However, I am constantly feeling swallowed up by the distance that exists between us. The lack of intimacy feels hollow and contrived. And I believe that this is my addiction rearing its ugly head. We are several years in, about to walk down the aisle. I thought I had beat this. I thought I had moved on. How did I get back here?

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