Hi my name’s Jess and I’m a recovering love addict. Ok so some of you are probably thinking, of all things love probably isn’t such a bad thing to be addicted to. I mean it’s not an illicit drug, fast food or sugar, and best of all it’s free and it’s legal. You’ve probably heard the concept floating around the spiritual/self help world that love is our natural born state. That everything else is learned through our experience and interactions. How is it that something that is so natural to our existence could be associated with something as negative as addiction? Well firstly I believe there’s a huge difference between the type of love that an addict craves and the love that is at the heart of our being. I’d even go as far as saying that what an addict is actually hooked on isn’t even love, for me it was external validation under the guise of love. Normally felt between two lovers in the honeymoon phase of a romantic partnership, this type of love literally makes you feel like you’re going crazy from it’s intensity. It’s a love bound by conditions, and what starts off as infatuation and passion slowly morphs into attachment, possessiveness, and jealousy. I don’t believe this is love. True love is pure at it’s core, it has no conditions and it doesn’t limit itself solely to romantic relationships. Unconditional love can be felt in every moment rippling out into everything. So what is it that causes someone to be addicted to love in the first place?
For me I believe it all started with the relationship I had with my dad (no surprises there!). As young children we are exposed to many new experiences, and often place meaning on things that in some cases aren’t necessarily true. This is when so many of our deepest beliefs are formed, and as adults these beliefs continue to unconsciously play out and wreak havoc on our lives until we bring awareness to them and consciously work on changing them.
In my case a very innocent situation was misinterpreted by my 5 year old self, and from that moment forward my unconscious mind was convinced that I had been abandoned and was unworthy of love. In the years that followed I set it upon myself to fit in no matter what. I became the person I thought others wanted me to be. I was so desperate to fit in and be loved by others I was willing to give up anything I thought wouldn’t be accepted.
Naturally as I entered my teenage years and boys started to appear on the scene, my need for worthiness and love deepened as I entered into my first romantic relationships. I was addicted to the high that came with the infatuation of falling in love. I felt needed, desired and worthy, but above all I felt complete. So many of my childhood years were spent as an outsider, feeling different and never really fitting in anywhere. When I was in a relationship I felt like I was truly appreciated and a part of a team.
This feeling had me stay in relationships far longer than a healthy person should have. I’m sad to say I endured a lot and all in the name of love. I was scared of being alone, of not having someone to support and love me (mainly because I didn’t know how to support and love myself). I compromised myself for the sake of my partner, and ironically caused myself unnecessary emotional damage because of this. As with all external gratification, once the object of my happiness was removed I quickly realised the truth of how empty I actually felt inside.
Like so many things, after an intense period of reflection (brought on by a breakup and 13 months of singledom), it’s only now I’m realising how dependent I had been on my partners and how unhealthy the relationships had been for me. I must note this is not necessarily because of the specific partners themselves, but more the expectations I placed on each relationship. All of my energy was focused externally on my partner, I literally had nothing left to give to myself. The inevitable disappointment that came after realising I would never be fully met in the same way was heartbreaking but necessary.
Over the years I often wondered why my partners would never commit to me. I gave them everything I had, how could they not? It’s pretty obvious to me now, why would anyone ever commit to me when I haven’t yet fully committed to myself.
You may be wondering what’s with the post name? Well in light of my recent revelation, what better way to mark the beginning of 2015, than to undertake the ultimate act of love and commitment. I’m holding a private ceremony (party of one), setting personal commitment as my intention for the new year with the addition of writing my own vows to self. With awareness comes responsibility and I am no longer able to put myself and my needs behind that of others. Although I am by no means a newb to the practice of self love, I feel I still have a long way to go and it’s high time I started showing myself the same level of love that was once only reserved for my romantic partners.
Inspired by a recent workshop and autobiography by the wonderful Mastin Kipp of the Daily Love, in addition to writing my vows, I have decided to undergo a 30 day celibacy challenge. No sex, no masturbation and no flirtation for an entire month (bye bye Tinder). Sexual and creative energy are one and the same, and for too long I have been expelling this energy in unworthy ways focusing always on others and the need to feel good. I’ve decided if I’m going to do this I'm going to do it right.
As always the inner journey is never finished, and I am beyond excited to see what this challenge and the new year has in store for me. I just want to take the time to wish you all a very happy holidays. Sending you love, light and magic as we embark on 2015 together.