IS IT LOVE, FEAR OR ADDICTION?
“Never love anyone who treats you like you’re ordinary.” Oscar Wilde, Author
Do you continuously ask yourself “Why am I in this relationship”? Is your relationship more painful than joyful? Do you feel enmeshed and wish you weren’t? Are you putting up with ongoing verbal, mental, emotional, or sexual abuse? Are you often thinking about whether or not you should end the relationship? Do you find yourself making excuses for your partner’s behaviors? Do you rationalize, defend or lie about your relationship to yourself or others? Do you feel you’re not good enough for your partner? Have you lost your identity? Are you putting up with your partner’s constant arguing, insensitivity, self-absorption, criticalness, or shaming? When you know you should let go of that relationship and you don’t; when your perception of “love” is not working for you; or, when you’re feeling more hurt, jealous, sad, angry, guilty, resentful and anxious than not, it is time to seek help so you can better understand yourself and your choices!!
For centuries people have been writing about LOVE! Love has been defined as being at peace with everyone and everything; as an absence of conflict and a promise of comfort and affection; and, as a feeling of warmth, connection, trust and respect. When you love, you want to be kind, understanding, giving, and compassionate to your loved ones. You honor them and their happiness. You enjoy their company, have fun together and easily share your thoughts and feelings with them. Without self-love however, the interpersonal love just described cannot exist let alone thrive.
FEAR of abandonment, of intimacy, of loneliness, of rejection, of failure and/or of emptiness increases when you choose to make someone all important to you. When you put that person on a pedestal, when you idealize him/her, you set yourself up to be totally devastated by the least disappointment. Realistically no one person can be expected to solve all your problems, to provide you with unconditional praise and regard at all times or to take complete care of you. Rather you must learn to empower yourself to take responsibility for your own healthy self-soothing, your reactions and your actions.
As with any ADDICTION, you must ask yourself:
1. To what degree am I dependent on this person?
2. When I am not with this person, do I experience physical symptoms, mood changes, or an intense craving for, or need to be with him/her?
3. Do the benefits of this relationship outweigh the loss of myself or the harm done to my other important relationships?
4. Is my tolerance for this person’s negative behaviors and poor treatment of me increasing?
5. Am I blaming myself for what’s wrong with this relationship more than listening to my inner voice even when it is screaming at me?
6. Am I blocking out the pain caused by this relationship so that I can feel pleasure?
7. Am I more satisfied or more agitated, frustrated and stressed by this relationship? 8. Do I think the fears of my past can predict the future?
Giving up old toxic habits, beliefs and even people that you no longer want can happen with repeated, sustained practice and patience. Peace of mind and calmness can be found in the here and now. With treatment, you can learn to break the ties that bind you. You can reclaim that strong, brave, smart person you have always been!! Remember you are worthy and deserving of LOVE!!!
Idelle Newburge LMHC is a trainer and advisor for the Listen to Children Program of the Mental Health Association of Southeast Florida. She is a therapist at the Center of Psychological Effectiveness, Inc.