Love and Addiction
Is love enough? I had asked myself this often. Ever since I was a young child, I didn’t know if I believed in love.
As an 18-year-old witnessing the tumultuous relationship of someone close to me, I remember thinking love wasn’t enough. It was the first time I remember having this thought but I believed it then, so deeply. A few years later, I said to the someone close to me, that I didn’t think love was enough in a relationship. Just to add, I hadn’t had a relationship at that point so how was I to know? I thought I knew everything.
After witnessing first-hand lives crumble, the question popped up, is love enough? Is it enough to stop the pain? Is it enough to stop destructive behaviour? Is it enough to stop a person’s addiction? No, it didn’t feel like it was.
Why isn’t it? I thought? A person can have so much stuff going on inside their minds that the voice of love isn’t heard. It isn’t felt.
Life feels heart-breaking not just in the ways of romantic love but in so many other ways. Take addiction for example. It leads one to ask so many questions. After a recent conversation, I came off the call thinking if love was enough, wouldn’t it stop this person’s pain and heal their addiction? Wouldn’t they see or feel how loved they are? How I wished the power of my love for them could stop their pain.
It doesn’t work like that, does it? If a person doesn’t feel that love inside of themselves no amount of love from another will be enough.
Addiction can dehumanise a person. It appears to take away who they are. You fight against this and try to control everything. Which is folly of course. You realise when it is far too late. When you have burnt out and hit your own rock bottom, you cannot control a thing. Certainly not other people. If you think you can, you are in for a very miserable and painful journey.
Desperation causes a person to do things they never thought they would. You do things and don’t even recognise yourself. The acts you carry out leave a bitter taste of shame in your mouth but you push it aside because you really feel your actions are justified. You are trying to rescue someone. Later the feelings of shame filter back along with guilt.
At the start of my journey with addiction, I heard the phrase it’s a disease which angered me. I didn’t want to entertain the thought that it was a disease or an illness because that felt more heart-breaking. It wasn’t something I could even consider in my mind. I couldn’t let those thoughts sit in my head or process them. So, I went to anger and hid behind it’s safe walls. The anger didn’t let me go to the thoughts of ‘if it’s a disease then perhaps the person can’t help their actions or words.’
Ok. What then? The reality of the sadness and destruction of a life. Not just theirs but everyone who is involved. Processing those feelings were harder than the one of anger. It was a safety blanket I could hide my real feelings behind. There is no right or wrong to what you feel. So, if you are experiencing this, the most important thing is that you get support for what you are going through. I share my stories because other peoples’ stories helped me to heal and to feel less alone. You are never alone. Through others experiences I learnt tools I could use to help myself.
I’ve realised that I was looking at love wrong. I was asking the wrong question, is love enough?
I learnt about unconditional love when my oldest nephew was born. It is true that children are our biggest teachers. My heart grew with each subsequent new addition to the family. My relationship with each child different and with all I feel that unconditional love. My intention behind my relationship with them is to be the person in their life that I didn’t have growing up.
When I look back with an unbiased view on my life, I can see the love. My focus wasn’t on it then. Perhaps my focus was on the lack in love. Asking myself is love enough led me to think a train of thoughts such as it depends on the situation. Like addiction. When actually, we all have free will and make decisions to do things based on so many factors. Love can get drowned out.
The better questions I can see now are:
Do I believe in love?
Am I listening to love?
Am I taking love inspired action or fear inspired action?
Does the voice of love speak louder than my fear?
Time, experience, awareness and reflection give a person a deeper understanding of life. This has certainly happened with me. When I was younger, I focused on the lack in love that it took the birth of my nieces and nephews to open my eyes. It took me to finding myself in Italy in 2015. It took seeing the beauty in life and nature. It took supportive loving relationships for me to believe in love in all its different forms.
It is a process of living in love and taking regular heart inspired action to continually believe in love. Life can feel challenging at times. It is so easy to want to close one’s heart and not see all the beauty in life. It is so easy to shut the door on love and let fear lead the way. In the realm of addiction, one can be left with guilt and shame which can overpower all else. Still, I believe that keeping one’s heart open is essential. It is everything. Love gives me hope and faith. Life is beautiful and worth living.
Do I believe in love? Hell yes.
Links and books that have helped me
Al-Anon UK | For families & friends of alcoholics
Anything by Glennon Doyle
Elif Şafak • The-Forty-Rules-Of-Love (elifsafak.com.tr)
The Secret Life of Albert Entwistle - Books (mattcainwriter.com)
These last 2 are fiction. However, I am a big believer in the power of a good fictional book. The way both of these books talk about the redeeming power of love is beautiful and powerful. It will inspire and leave a mark.
Thank you for being here. Wherever you are on your journey with addiction and love, I hope that you still believe in love. I hope that when you look around you, that you can still see and feel love.
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