I Love You, I Honestly (Maybe?) Love You

I've always been aware of the falsehoods women are fed at an early age through fairy tales. For example, as a child I had very little interest in the boy-rescues-girl storylines; I can recall being far more interested in Cinderella's abusive home environment than whether or not she'd ever reconnect with Prince Henry; and I thought the Seven Dwarfs were much cooler than Snow White's Prince Florian. In other words, I wasn't one of those little girls who daydreamed of a knight in shining armor. Instead, I skipped the kid stuff and invested in a significant crush on a grown-ass man who was on television every week: Detective David Starsky.

Oh, Starsky, with his Brooklyn accent and cozy Fair Isle cardigan. My heart still flutters at the mention of his name (sigh). I was obsessed with him. I wrote love letters that were never sent; made collages with photos of him clipped from TV Guide (the only magazine to which my parents subscribed aside from Newsweek, where Starsky unfortunately was never featured - trust me, I checked). I designed our dream home with the help of a Montgomery Ward catalog (the appliances were Harvest Gold, a sunken living room with plush white carpet, 2.5 baths with SO MANY TOWELS, and lots of natural light because we lived in California, of course). While I only had 92 hour-long, action-packed episodes with Starsky in my living room (plus reruns!), I spent many hours over a period of at least two years fantasizing about our life together in my mind. And in this fantasy I felt OK.

According to Pia Mellody in Facing Love Addiction:

Little girls may imagine a knight in shining armor who has loving feelings for her and who does things that demonstrate his love by connecting with her...giving life meaning and vitality. Children spend so much time in this fantasy world because it creates a state of euphoria [which stimulates endorphins]...Endorphins literally relieve emotional pain and create varying degrees of euphoria.

Hindsight: Ah! So I was seeking a knight in shining armor after all. And I was spending so much time with Starsky in our California dream house because that fantasy created endorphins, the chemicals that reduce stress and increase feelings of happiness.

Pia Mellody: [The concept of a hero/rescuer] is reinforced in romance novels, movies, and love songs...people may even reason, "It must be possible to connect this way to such a hero or else why would there be so many movies, books, and songs about it?" The problem with this line of thought is that the relationships depicted there actually reflect unhealthy relationships based on intensity, delusion, and unrealistic expectations and not mature, healthy love.

My first real-life hero came along after a year of accidental love addiction following a walloping breakup with an Emotional Manipulator. Let's just say I'd been spending A LOT of time alone, rebuilding my emotional and financial life by protecting myself from the potential narcissists I might encounter out in the world (but isolating myself from all human contact in the process). My rescuer, known as "The Nice Guy" among my friends (because he was so nice!), showed up at a time when I needed a genuinely good guy, someone who could also be a friend; someone mature, integrous, emotionally available and generous.

12/8/1996

I'm on my way to feeling better. This has just been a phase. I know it has to do with my financial situation, but things will change soon. I'm so excited about my bike* - I can't believe [The Nice Guy] gave that to me. That's the nicest thing anyone has ever done for me (outside of my family).  

*I struggled with this gift because we'd only been dating for a couple of weeks and I wasn't used to being given something without an attached expectation; but he had THREE BIKES and told me this particular one was too small for him and just sitting in his garage...so, I accepted it because 1) I really wanted a bike; 2) I couldn't afford to buy one at the time; and 3) I wasn't aware that this gift was actually a codependent gesture of 'see how much value I can bring to your life?' in disguise.

As we continued to date, my life with The Nice Guy felt a little like one of those fairy tales and I felt very special; not only was he attentive and adoring, but he was wealthy and showered me with all the things. He took me shopping and bought me clothes I couldn't afford; we went on vacations to places I'd never been; we had dinners at restaurants I'd only read about in magazines, where we drank martinis and expensive wines, and ate escargots and fancy desserts set on fire in front of us. It was all so exciting! Yet I was so...not in love.  

4/6/1997

...I've found out that not all men are awful. Unfortunately I still think about [The Emotional Manipulator] but I guess that's natural...[The Nice Guy] is such a wonderful person* - he's helped me with so much. Lately, though, I've been in the mood to be alone a lot, but maybe that's due to the blueness I'm experiencing. I guess I'll know when we're in Hawaii. I'm just not in love, maybe it's because I don't want to be - but I do love him. **

*SEE? I even wrote about how wonderful he was.

I was needing more time alone and depression was creeping in. I felt loved and adored, but found myself rejecting it and wondering again 'What's wrong with me?!'. I believed that I loved this man, that I should love him, and wanted so much to feel in love; but what I really unconsciously craved was the addiction, the intensity, the push/pull that I had experienced in my previous relationship. I wanted to feel hooked-as if I couldn't live without him; because to me, in 1997, that's what loving someone was supposed to feel like.

Pia Mellody: Although much of our society calls all this "normal" in a love relationship, the swing from positive to negative intensity has little to do with love...What we call passion and love is really intensity; and we call it "normal", meaning that many relationships are like this. But while this sort of addictive process may be common, in my opinion it isn't healthy. In a codependent-addictive relationship, one or both parties are almost always in delusion about the fact that their relationship is based not on love but on a form of [intensity] that they mistake for passion and love.

As months went by, I became love-avoidant in the relationship and our mutual codependence bonded us. Even though I was honest about my feelings by communicating that I wasn't 'in love' with him and I didn't see a future for us, we continued to see each other. Regardless of what I said, he was hopeful that I'd change my mind and I was willing to shamefully play along because I was dependent. Again.

12/4/1997

I'm having waves of fear...about breaking up with [The Nice Guy] and losing financial security. What about this situation am I so afraid to look at? That I've become dependent upon the part of him that will do anything for me and give me anything that I want. It's the same part that is pushing me away. It's ugly and I can't tell anyone because I'm so ashamed.

At the time I honestly believed that my biggest fear was the loss of financial assistance, but I was actually afraid of losing what I felt could potentially be a healthy relationship with a potentially healthy person; this meant that, yet again, I was the problem. I couldn't see that my partner was codependent and I had unwittingly ended up in another co-addicted relationship, this time as the Love Addict-Avoidant. And the truly avoidant behavior was yet to come.

Thank you for reading ~ Jodi

We lived well in the cinematic epic mode,
and not so well in the mundane realities of daily life.
It was like jamming a jigsaw piece somewhere it wouldn't fit.

From The Recovering by Leslie Jamison