14 August 2009

Breaking the spell....

Screamin' Jay Hawkins crooned: "I put a spell on you.. because you're mine!", "I'm gonna make you love me!" sang the Temptations... These songs and others could almost be the leitmotif of the Love Addict. Unlike many other addictions, love addiction is difficult to measure. How do we know if we're addicted to love or a person and not just 'in love'? The storybooks led us to believe that there was always a 'Happy Ever After' but is that really true? How many women in Western society have been conditioned to believe that that is a possibility? I know I'm one. I've spent years trying to 'fix' my relationships, often with co-addicts which adds another dimension entirely to a partnership, in the hope of reaching that happy [and let's face it, idealised] place.

Our own needs and values are often sidelined and seen as insignificant, when compared to the object of our affections. In order to get to a healthy place, we must undertake a great deal of soul-searching, taking responsibility for one's actions - and not blaming the other person - and it takes a great deal of digging down to the roots to find and nurture that healthy place within. Layers of dis-ease with oneself, looking for external validation and putting the needs of others before oneself take its toll on the individual, and consequently any relationship. When a partner is also addicted - either to a substance, action or is a fellow codependent - the digging down takes that much longer, as another layer has been added which can [and usually does] result in stunting our own personal growth.

So... how do we move forward from love addiction? LAA/SA offer a fantastic 12-step approach with regular meetings and, if a person's unsure as to whether or not they're a love addict, they have a definition guide and is a good place to start. Therapy is also a possibility, depending upon the severity of the addiction. Working with a coach, one-to-one, on creating a healthy life and way of relating to - and for - ourselves is also another possibility. This approach has worked for me - even coaches need coaching! So... discovering a healthy way of relating has been a long and arduous task and one which requires much self-awareness and vigilance but the pay-offs are tremendous. A better quality of life, diminished fear and anxiety, increased trust and, ultimately, joy. Maybe we could take another look at love and incorporate an aspect of healthy detachment, where we recognise the gifts the other person brings to the relationship, as well as our own, and we maintain our individuality and value our own needs, even within a relationship? Being kind and having compassion for ourselves is crucial to moving forward towards a healthier way of relating. With this in mind, how might you begin to be kind to yourself today?

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