Becoming aware of how being abandoned may have wired you to be a love addict, the consequences of such an addiction and learning how to break free, is completely possible for you.
As you read this, you may possibly find yourself in this blog and be forced to ask, "Am I a love addict?" You should feel no shame if you are. It's not your fault. But now, the question is how you can deal with it and not be under its terrible curse. In my other blogs on love addiction, I worked through defining just what love addiction is.
If you are a love addict, you obsessively and compulsively try to relieve or medicate the deep pain in your life through romantic relationships. Once in a relationship, you feel you can't live without the other person, and you will do whatever you have to do to keep the relationship going. If that doesn't work, you panic and will do whatever you have to do to get into a new relationship.
Listen to my call with Sasha. Sasha has low self-esteem issues. Her dad’s never been there for her and she's looking to fill this void with relationships that she can’t seem to hold on to. All these things are affecting her self-esteem.
Love Addiction and Abandonment
I'm convinced at least 50% of young adults suffer from this addiction. I say this because one characteristic of every love addict is that he or she has suffered from being abandoned as a child. This abandonment is almost always caused by one parent, and in some cases both physically and emotionally abandoning their child. Over 50% of all marriages end in divorce, not to mention all the live-together break-ups. No child can go through seeing their parents break up without it affecting them in some way. Being abandoned or left behind, especially as a child, is traumatic. In fact, it is one of the worst things to happen to a child.
Let's take Sarah's story to help prove the point: [My dad] would stand at the door and yell so loud that I had to cover my ears because all they did was ring. I could hardly make out a single word that was said and he was gone. A last-minute attempt to beg him to stay after all was said and done never worked, not one time. After the first few times, his heart left with him and only his physical body ever returned. My father never came back, only a man with a similar appearance to him. I then set out on a search for the love that man once had to offer me. (Sarah) Sarah understands abandonment and her search for love she may never find.
Being left behind can be terrifying to a young child. I was with my 1-year-old grandchild a few weeks ago (we spend a lot of time together). We were outside and it was getting dark. She wandered off up the driveway. I just stood and watched her, keeping my eye on her every second. Suddenly she realized she was alone. She panicked, screamed, and ran back to me, wrapping her little arms about my leg. I picked her up, held her, and comforted her. She was happy again. Her grandpa had not abandoned her. But what about the millions of children who have been abandoned? What happens to them?
Lack of Bonding = Low Self-Esteem
Allow me to quote Pia Mellody in her great book Facing Love Addiction. She said, Love Addicts usually didn't have enough appropriate bonding with their caregivers. Caring transmits the messages, 'You're important, you matter, and you are loved,'...when children do not get enough connection and nurture from a parent, they experience serious difficulty with self-esteem. Love Addicts usually experienced much deep pain and sadness and an acute sense of loss during childhood, because a part of themselves was denied the opportunity to grow properly when their caregivers failed to take care of them. This pain and sadness I call 'the pain of the precious child.' It goes very deep and back far beyond the earliest conscious memories. As children, Love Addicts experienced enormous fear because they were helpless to create a connection with their caregivers. In counseling, they often describe that child fear as a sense of having a loss of their own breath, as if their air supply had been cut off and they were literally dying. They also describe being empty because they weren't filled with nurture by their caregivers. And because they weren't nurtured for who they were, they had trouble being or liking their natural selves.
Does that sound like you? Confused, craving love, and yet despising yourself at the same time. These thoughts and feelings are hard to get rid of from within us because we received them when we were so young and helpless. So how does a young child cope with these terrible feelings?
Knight In Shining Armor Coping Mechanism
I am going to quote Pia Mellody again because what I'm about to quote you blew my mind. One way such children may escape the pain of severe abandonment by their parents is to fantasize about being rescued by a hero of some kind. Little girls may imagine a knight and shining armor who has loving feelings for her and who does things that demonstrate this love by connecting with her, finally giving her life meaning and vitality. Children spend so much time in this fantasy world because it creates a state of euphoria. I spent hours as a child daydreaming about my knight in shining armor. If I felt bad, I could play out this fantasy in my mind, get high in about ten minutes, and stay there for at least two or three hours.
Obsessed with Love
One can see how love addiction can start at a very young age through fantasies. A love addict is forever pursuing that high they think another person can give them. When that person rescues, connects, and loves them, is it any wonder love addicts can be so stubborn about their condition and stuck in it? I remember from a young age I was always obsessed with love. I wanted love more than anything in the world. I even subjected myself to a lot of bad treatment just to feel love. I have been used, abused, and mistreated by a lot of guys just to get it. Now I realize I brought it upon myself in some way. If I wasn't so addicted to love and having it, I wouldn't have subjected myself to those things or situations. (Lindsey)
Please do not let this blog discourage you. In fact, it may have given you some relief since you are better able to understand yourself now.
There is hope, please read How to Trade Your Love Addiction for a Meaningful Relationship