Post by Susannah on Dec 29, 2019 14:21:43 GMT -8
STEP ONE: We admitted we were powerless over love, romance, fantasies and relationships—that our lives had become unmanageable.
The First Step is the beginning of the recovery process. The healing starts here; we can go no further until we have worked this step.
Admitting our powerlessness over love, romance, fantasies and relationships, brings us to the LAA Program. Here we can begin a process of recovery that will transform our lives. Since dysfunctional behaviour is a major characteristic of our disease, we must realise that our mind, with its acquired traits, habits, and character defects, has caused us to become powerless over our behaviour. By honestly looking at what we have become in our love addiction, we recognize the powerlessness and unmanageability of our lives and relationships
“We" reminds us that we are not alone. "Admitted" refers to honesty between ourselves and others. "Powerless" refers to helplessness at this moment in time. This step is about honesty, willingness and humility.
This guide aims to help the love addict through guided self-reflection to identify addicting behaviours and patterns, examine types of love addiction and setting bottom line behaviours, all whilst embarking on the personal journey of emotional sobriety and recovery.
The Disease of Love Addiction
Am I a Love Addict?
Q. Read the following 12 characteristics of love addiction. Mark passages that you identify with or that remind you of your own behaviour. Journal your thoughts and/or discuss these with your sponsor or step work group.
We may recognise ourselves in some of these characteristics that follow. As we work the 12 step program, the characteristics listed here are not offered as a definitive, diagnostic checklist. They do express the shared experience of many in the L.A.A. fellowship.
Having few healthy boundaries, I become emotionally involved with and/or attached to people without knowing them.
Fearing abandonment and loneliness, I stay in and return to painful, destructive relationships, concealing my dependency needs from myself and others, growing more isolated and alienated from friends, loved ones and myself
Fearing emotional and/or relational deprivation, I compulsively pursue and involve myself in one relationship after another, sometimes having more than one romantic and emotional liaison at a time.
I confuse love with neediness, physical and emotional attraction, pity and/or the need to rescue or be rescued.
I feel empty and incomplete when I am alone. Even though I fear intimacy and commitment, I continuously search for relationships, short-term attachments and/or emotional liaisons.
I use relationships or emotional dependency as a way of coping with emotional pain, insecurity, stress, trauma, loneliness, anger, shame, fear and envy. I use emotional dependency as substitutes for nurturing care, and support.
I use emotional involvement, dominance, and seduction to manipulate and control others. I sometimes sabotage relationships when they start to become serious or too intimate by withdrawing or withholding love, attention or affection.
I become immobilised or seriously distracted by romantic obsessions and fantasies.
I avoid responsibility for myself by attaching myself to people who are emotionally unavailable.
I stay enslaved to emotional dependency, romantic intrigue, romantic obsession or compulsive behaviour in relationships.
To avoid feeling vulnerable, I may retreat from all involvement, mistaking emotional, social and sexual anorexia for recovery.
I assign magical qualities to others, idealise and pursue them, then blame them for not fulfilling my fantasies and expectations.
Q. Reflect on your life and how any of the above characteristics have played out in your relationships; start with your family, community, friends, when alone or when in romantic relationships.
Q. How did the above characteristic/s affect myself and others physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, socially, financially?
Who Addictive behavior How did it affect me
From the following list of underlying issues, describe how any of these or any not listed have contributed to your love addiction?
Q. Write a paragraph how each has affected your relationships with others and yourself:
low self esteem
anxiety and depression
feelings of alienation
loneliness and isolation
a profound hunger for love
an exaggerated fear of abandonment and rejection
feelings of deprivation
feelings of emptiness
confusion or fear when love is available
anxiety when things are going well
How do you identify as a love addict?
Q. Referring to patterns of love addiction listed below, describe how you have ‘acted out’ in the past. Love addicts often suffer from more than one (combination) of the different types of love addiction.
Obsessed Love Addicts cannot let go of someone they love even if their partner is:
Unavailable emotionally or sexually
Afraid to commit
Unable to communicate
Controlling and dictatorial
Addicted to something outside the relationship (hobbies, drugs, alcohol, sex, someone else, gambling, shopping etc.)
Co-dependent Love Addicts come from a place of insecurity and low self-esteem, CLA’s try desperately to hold on to the people they are addicted to using co-dependent behaviour. This includes enabling, rescuing, care-taking, passive-aggressive controlling, and accepting neglect or abuse.
Relationship Addicts, unlike other love addicts, are no longer in love with their partners but still cannot let go. Usually, they are so unhappy that the relationship affects their health, spirit and emotional wellbeing. Even if their partner batters them, and they are in danger, they cannot let go. They are afraid of being alone. They are afraid of change.
They do not want to hurt or abandon their partners. This can be summed up as “I hate you don’t leave me.”
Narcissistic Love Addicts use dominance, seduction and withholding to control their partners. NLAs appear aloof and unconcerned until you leave them. Then they panic and use anything at their disposal to hold on to the relationship—including violence.
Ambivalent Love Addicts have a hard time moving forward. They desperately crave love, but at the same time they are terrified of intimacy. This combination is agonizing. ALAs also come in different forms, listed below.
Torch Bearers are ALAs who obsess about someone who is unavailable. This can be done without acting out (suffering in silence) or by pursuing the person they are in love with. Some Torch Bearers are more addicted than others. This kind of addiction feeds on fantasies and illusions. It is also known as unrequited love.
Saboteurs are ALAs who destroy relationships when they start to get serious or at whatever point their fear of intimacy comes up. This can be anytime—before the first date, after the first date, after sex, after the subject of commitment comes up—whenever.
Seductive Withholders are ALAs who always come on to you when they want sex or companionship. When they become frightened, or feel unsafe, they begin withholding companionship, sex, affection—anything that makes them feel anxious. If they leave the relationship when they become frightened, they are just Saboteurs. If they keep repeating the pattern of being available/unavailable, they are seductive withholders.
Romance Addicts are ALAs who are addicted to multiple partners. Romance addicts are often confused with sex addicts. However, unlike sex addicts, who are trying to avoid bonding altogether, romance addicts bond with each of their partners—to one degree or another—even if the romantic liaisons are short-lived or happening simultaneously.
By “romance” we mean sexual passion and pseudo-emotional intimacy. Please note that while romance addicts bond with each of their partners to a degree, their goal (besides getting high off of romance and drama) is to avoid commitment or bonding on a deeper level with one partner.
A Note about ALAs: Not all avoidants are love addicts. If you accept your fear of intimacy and social situations, and do not get hooked on unavailable people, or just keep your social circle small and unthreatening you are not necessarily an ALA. But if you eat your heart out over some unavailable person year after year, or sabotage one relationship after another, or have serial romantic affairs, or only feel close when you are with another avoidant, you may be an Ambivalent
Hitting Bottom – Despair and Isolation
Step One places us at the threshold of identifying the root causes of the behaviours over which we have no control and which we seem unable to stop. When we surrender to the idea that we need help, we see our behaviour as it really is and become willing to be honest with ourselves.
Step one has two distinctive parts. First, the admission that we have an obsessive desire to control and that we are experiencing the effects of an addictive process that renders us powerless over our feelings, thoughts and behaviours; and, second, that our lives are unmanageable by ourselves, and that we need help. Unmanageability refers to compulsively doing the same thing over and over again to solve a problem or meet a need even though it does not work.
Q. What difficulty do I have accepting powerlessness and unmanageability?
What are my bottom line behaviours?
Each person in LAA has different addictive behaviours and acts out differently. Bottom lines are those activities that we are powerless to stop, which are making our lives unmanageable. These bottom lines define our sobriety and could transform as you grow in your recovery.
Destructive Behaviours: We start defining our bottom lines by first looking at our destructive behaviours. These generally involve: love, romance, fantasy, or the unhealthy avoidance of them. Destructive behaviours are those activities that render us unable to maintain self-control or predict our own behaviour; those actions, thoughts or feelings that cause us pain and loss, or cause our loved ones pain and misery.
Some examples of this may be:
• Romantic intrigue
• Staying in abusive relationships
• Fantasy relationships
• Compulsive avoidance of social/ relationship activity
What consequences may result from these behaviours?
• Spiritual, mental, physical harm to self and others
• Lowered self-esteem
• Loss of job
• Broken relationships
• Loss of family
• Financial ruin
• Depression, anxiety, suicide
• Legal problems
Identify your addictive patterns
When you review your destructive behaviours you can see certain patterns of behaviour emerging. These could be patterns in the activities you choose, the type of partners you choose, how you plan or alter your schedule to act out, where you act out, etc.
Your personal patterns may not be immediately apparent because it can take time to get to know yourself and to be truly honest. Working closely with a sponsor or trusted friends in LAA, they can help you to uncover your patterns of addictive behaviour.
It is important to recognize and admit your part in your behaviours. How do you contribute to putting yourself into slippery places, or staying there? How do you set yourself up to act out?
For example, your qualifier may contact you in various ways: phone, e-mail, text message, giving you the excuse to respond and re-engage.
Identifying addictive patterns is VERY IMPORTANT to staying sober. It helps to prevent relapse and finding new ways to act out. The equivalent would be that of an alcoholic switching from scotch to brandy; you might switch from Scott to Sandy.
Examples of addictive patterns can include:
• Always choosing unavailable partners
• Confusing lust with love
• Being sexual very early on in relationships
• Having fantasy relationships with people who show you kindness
• Dating people who remind you of your mother or father
• Ending relationships when they become too intimate
Q. Create your Destructive Behaviours worksheet and list your bottom line behaviour, thoughts and feeling.
Looking at your patterns of addictive behaviour and the thoughts, feelings and habits that feed these addictive behaviours, come up with your personal bottom lines. They should be clear, concrete and easy to remember. Engaging in any of these behaviours is considered a slip in your sobriety.
Bottom lines must be as black and white as possible. Behaviours such as fantasies should be in the, “red flag” or “trigger” area, because if a bottom line is crossed this is how we would establish a relapse and or sobriety.
Once you have your bottom lines, with the help of your Higher Power, Sponsor, Fellow LAA members and the 12 step recovery program, refrain from these behaviours one day at a time.
Creating these bottom lines is tricky:
Bottom line behaviours are behaviours that are harmful, destructive and addictive, which ultimately cause unmanageability and powerlessness. Write a list of behaviours that you suspect may cause you trouble. Absolute Honesty, Openness and Willingness is necessary to combat Love Addiction!
My bottom line behaviour Triggers = addictive patterns
Example: stalking in person or social media Example: Tired, lonely, vulnerable
My Red flag behaviour Triggers = addictive patterns
Example: Fantasising about Bob/Betty Example: Tired, lonely, bored
My healthy behaviour ...
Example: Gardening Meetings
Q. Acting out, Slips, Relapse?
How have you tried to control your obsessive and compulsive behaviour in the past? How have you ‘slipped’ and ‘acted out’ after decisions to behave differently?
By honestly looking at who we have become in our love addiction, we recognize the powerlessness and unmanageability of our lives and relationships.
Moving beyond our reservations, we accept our addiction to love, romance, fantasies and relationships; we surrender and experience the hope that recovery offers. We realize that we can no longer go on as we have been. We are ready for change. Our healing begins when we are willing to acknowledge our problem.
Q. What reservations do I have with regard to surrendering and admitting powerlessness and unmanageability?
Q. Am I prepared to accept humility and seek spiritual guidance through reliance on a Higher Power?
By now we should be ready and willing to try another way. Acceptance of our powerlessness leads us to Step Two. By this time, we have begun to see the results of our past beliefs. “Came to believe” implies a former non-belief, or living life with other beliefs. The result of this lifestyle is our powerlessness and unmanageability. For some of us, belief in our self-will was all we had. Belief in a Higher Power did not seem necessary. Until we took Step One and admitted our powerlessness and unmanageability, we were operating on self-will alone. We simply did not entertain the idea of a Higher Power. As we begin to accept the notion of a Power greater than ourselves, we start to function in a healthier way. We begin to feel a sense of peace and serenity that we never felt before. We recognise that we are human beings who are struggling to survive with certain limitations.