4810 Nicollet Ave. S.
Minneapolis, MN, 55419

651-485-1151

Life Love Healing Wellness Center works with individuals, couples and families in the Minneapolis, MN area including these counseling service areas: couples counseling, love addiction, sex addiction, codependency, Enneagram, healthy relationships, other addictions and more. 

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Filtering by Tag: love addiction recovery

Recovery from Love Addiction and Codependency

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Without painful consequences for our dysfunctional behaviors recovery doesn’t usually occur. While we may want recovery generally speaking we have to be in enough pain to be wiling to do something about it. The first year of recovery is a dichotomy for many of us. It includes feelings of joy for being out of our addictive cycle, while at times, feeling worse.

1.    Recovery is not a program of “I”.

a.     The biggest mistake I see people make in early recovery is falling into the belief that they can do this alone. The truth is you can’t, and if you could, you would have by now. My clients are intelligent, successful people who have moved mountains in other areas in their lives, they have million dollar businesses, they do iron man’s, they create loving environments for their families while ignoring their own needs. If you could have fixed this by now you would have, and you do not have the answer to this problem. It is only through reaching out and engaging with others in recovery that we get release. Peace in recovery is not a solo act, the cravings show up, the desire to act out arises and your best tool is generally the telephone. Find 3 people who have what you want and start texting them, ask them to coffee, call them.

1.    You never get “recovered”

a.     When people come to me and say, “I’ve done my therapy” I want to wince. Similar to a personal trainer, if you stop exercising your body you lose your endurance and muscle. If you stop loving and working on yourself, you digress. Therapy done years ago, while helpful, does not equal a healthy emotional life in the present moment. Working a program means just that, you stay in touch with a power greater than yourself, and you know if you stop doing so that your life and relationships digress.

1.    The problem always starts with addressing our own issues.

a.     Many clients firmly believe the problem is with their partner. They will convince friends, family, lovers, and therapists that their partner is really the person to blame. The problem with this strategy is that it is not true. The problem always starts at home. You cannot change, mold or sculpt your partner into the person you believe you want them to be, even if you could you would still be unhappy. The real power is in our own changes, the problem does not reside with the world around us, it resides in our own inability to accept life on life’s terms.

1.    If you are still struggling get a bigger problem.

a.     This is arguably the best advice my sponsor ever gave me. My problems only seem large when I ask the wrong questions. Getting a bigger problem, generally for me means helping others, it is my ticket and your ticket to freedom. When we sit in our own feces our lives stink. Getting into action provides us with an outlet to get us outside of ourselves and our obsessive thinking. It allows us to see the world differently and see how we might be of service to others.

Signs of Love Addiction

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Characteristics of Sex and Love Addiction (a partial list)

  1. Having few healthy boundaries, we become sexually involved with and/or emotionally attached to people without knowing them.
  2. Fearing abandonment and loneliness, we stay in and return to painful, destructive relationships, concealing our dependency needs from ourselves and others, growing more isolated and alienated from friends and loved ones, ourselves, and God.
  3. Fearing emotional and/or sexual deprivation, we compulsively pursue and involve ourselves in one relationship after another, sometimes having more than one sexual or emotional liaison at a time.
  4. We confuse love with neediness, physical and sexual attraction, pity and/or the need to rescue or being rescued.
  5. We feel empty and incomplete when we are alone.  Even though we fear intimacy and commitment, we continually search for relationships and sexual contacts.
  6. We sexualize stress, guilt, loneliness, anger, shame, fear and envy.  We use sex or emotional dependence as substitutes for nurturing, care, and support.
  7. We use sex and emotional involvement to manipulate and control others.
  8. We become immobilized or seriously distracted by romantic or sexual obsessions or fantasies.
  9. We avoid responsibility for ourselves by attaching ourselves to people who are emotionally unavailable.
  10. We stay enslaved to emotional dependency, romantic intrigue, or compulsive sexual activities.
  11. To avoid feeling vulnerable, we may retreat from all intimate involvement, mistaking sexual and emotional anorexia for recovery.
  12. We assign magical qualities to others. We idealize and pursue them, then blame them for not fulfilling our fantasies and expectations.
  13.  

Cycle of Love Addiction

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The Love Addicts Attraction to what is familiar:

We are taught how to have intimacy and attachment by our family, specifically our primary caregivers; mom and dad. How our parents relate to us, our siblings, and each other, becomes very familiar to us as children. It creates a template for future relationships and intimacy. As we grow up and look for our own partner we are attracted, unconsciously or consciously to what we know and are familiar with.

Most of us did not get all the things we need when we needed them, many of us had large gaps in intimacy, relatedness, and very little guidance on how to identify our needs and find healthy ways to get them met. As a result of family of origin teachings, we learned to be quiet, alone, needless or wantless. By doing so we were rewarded. We were not told we were not a bother by our parents, and as a result of such conditioning we later unconsciously attract people with similar unconscious patterns of disconnected attachment.

The people we are attracted to usually are involved in one or more addictions. They may appear on the outside to take care of themselves because the are so “busy” and “intense”. In reality we choose the very people who don’t have the time or desire to provide us with healthy connections, those who do not prioritize the relationship over outside addictions such as work, alcohol, busyness, gambling, sex etc.

Abandonment in childhood by early caregivers in many forms fuels the message for love addicts that they are not worth being with. As a result love addicts find people who are walking away from them as very attractive. Attempts to resolve the issue of self-esteem are played out in relationship with the hope that what we could not solve as children-making the abandoning person connect with us - can now be achieved. We can finally balance the ledger and restore our own sense of preciousness, of worthiness by fixing what could not be fixed in our childhood.

The Way Out

Love addiction, like other addictions, does not have a “quick fix” we do not get better before we thoroughly examine our lives, our relationships and our realities. Boundaries are blurred, self-esteem is non-existent and acknowledging our needs and wants becomes almost impossible. We are sick, and powerless to improve our lives without the support and help of others. I have yet to see an addict recover on their own, we heal through experiences with others. The support of a therapist, 12-step groups and personal recovery planning are needed to successfully incorporate healthy love into our lives. Reprogramming our experience of relationships is necessary to have fulfilling, authentic love in our lives. 

The Laundry List How Do You Rate?

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The Laundry List – 14 Traits of an Adult Child of an Alcoholic

  1. We became isolated and afraid of people and authority figures.
  2. We became approval seekers and lost our identity in the process.
  3. We are frightened by angry people and any personal criticism.
  4. We either become alcoholics, marry them or both, or find another compulsive personality such as a workaholic to fulfill our sick abandonment needs.
  5. We live life from the viewpoint of victims and we are attracted by that weakness in our love and friendship relationships.
  6. We have an overdeveloped sense of responsibility and it is easier for us to be concerned with others rather than ourselves; this enables us not to look too closely at our own faults, etc.
  7. We get guilt feelings when we stand up for ourselves instead of giving in to others.
  8. We became addicted to excitement.
  9. We confuse love and pity and tend to "love" people we can "pity" and "rescue."
  10. We have "stuffed" our feelings from our traumatic childhoods and have lost the ability to feel or express our feelings because it hurts so much (Denial).
  11. We judge ourselves harshly and have a very low sense of self-esteem.
  12. We are dependent personalities who are terrified of abandonment and will do anything to hold on to a relationship in order not to experience painful abandonment feelings, which we received from living with sick people who were never there emotionally for us.
  13. Alcoholism is a family disease; and we became para-alcoholics and took on the characteristics of that disease even though we did not pick up the drink.
  14. Para-alcoholics are reactors rather than actors.

Tony A., 1978

Note: The Laundry List serves as the basis for The Problem statement.

The Flip Side of The Laundry List

  1. We move out of isolation and are not unrealistically afraid of other people, even authority
  2. figures.
  3. We do not depend on others to tell us who we are.
  4. We are not automatically frightened by angry people and no longer regard personal criticism as a threat.
  5. We do not have a compulsive need to recreate abandonment.
  6. We stop living life from the standpoint of victims and are not attracted by this trait in our important relationships.
  7. We do not use enabling as a way to avoid looking at our own shortcomings.
  8. We do not feel guilty when we stand up for ourselves.
  9. We avoid emotional intoxication and choose workable relationships instead of constant
  10. upset.
  11. We are able to distinguish love from pity, and do not think “rescuing” people we “pity” is an act of love.
  12. We come out of denial about our traumatic childhoods and regain the ability to feel and express our emotions.
  13. We stop judging and condemning ourselves and discover a sense of self-worth.
  14. We grow in independence and are no longer terrified of abandonment. We have interdependent relationships with healthy people, not dependent relationships with people who are emotionally unavailable.
  15. The characteristics of alcoholism and para-alcoholism we have internalized are identified, acknowledged, and removed.
  16. We are actors, not reactors.

The Other Laundry List

  1. To cover our fear of people and our dread of isolation we tragically become the very authority figures who frighten others and cause them to withdraw.
  2. To avoid becoming enmeshed and entangled with other people and losing ourselves in the process, we become rigidly self-sufficient. We disdain the approval of others.
  3. We frighten people with our anger and threat of belittling criticism.
  4. We dominate others and abandon them before they can abandon us or we avoid relationships with dependent people altogether. To avoid being hurt, we isolate and dissociate and thereby abandon ourselves.
  5. We live life from the standpoint of a victimizer, and are attracted to people we can manipulate and control in our important relationships.
  6. We are irresponsible and self-centered. Our inflated sense of self-worth and self-importance prevents us from seeing our deficiencies and shortcomings.
  7. We make others feel guilty when they attempt to assert themselves.
  8. We inhibit our fear by staying deadened and numb.
  9. We hate people who “play” the victim and beg to be rescued.
  10. We deny that we’ve been hurt and are suppressing our emotions by the dramatic expression of “pseudo” feelings.
  11. To protect ourselves from self punishment for failing to “save” the family we project our self-hate onto others and punish them instead.
  12. We “manage” the massive amount of deprivation we feel, coming from abandonment within the home, by quickly letting go of relationships that threaten our “independence” (not too close).
  13. We refuse to admit we’ve been affected by family dysfunction or that there was dysfunction in the home or that we have internalized any of the family’s destructive attitudes and behaviors.
  14. We act as if we are nothing like the dependent people who raised us.

The Flip Side of The Other Laundry List

  1. We face and resolve our fear of people and our dread of isolation and stop intimidating others with our power and position.
  2. We realize the sanctuary we have built to protect the frightened and injured child within has become a prison and we become willing to risk moving out of isolation.
  3. With our renewed sense of self-worth and self-esteem we realize it is no longer necessary to protect ourselves by intimidating others with contempt, ridicule and anger.
  4. We accept and comfort the isolated and hurt inner child we have abandoned and disavowed and thereby end the need to act out our fears of enmeshment and abandonment with other people.
  5. Because we are whole and complete we no longer try to control others through manipulation and force and bind them to us with fear in order to avoid feeling isolated and alone.
  6. Through our in-depth inventory we discover our true identity as capable, worthwhile people. By asking to have our shortcomings removed we are freed from the burden of inferiority and grandiosity.
  7. We support and encourage others in their efforts to be assertive.
  8. We uncover, acknowledge and express our childhood fears and withdraw from emotional intoxication.
  9. We have compassion for anyone who is trapped in the “drama triangle” and is desperately searching for a way out of insanity.
  10. We accept we were traumatized in childhood and lost the ability to feel. Using the 12 Steps as a program of recovery we regain the ability to feel and remember and become whole human beings who are happy, joyous and free.
  11. In accepting we were powerless as children to “save” our family we are able to release our self-hate and to stop punishing ourselves and others for not being enough.
  12. By accepting and reuniting with the inner child we are no longer threatened by intimacy, by the fear of being engulfed or made invisible.
  13. By acknowledging the reality of family dysfunction we no longer have to act as if nothing were wrong or keep denying that we are still unconsciously reacting to childhood harm and injury.
  14. We stop denying and do something about our post-traumatic dependency on substances, people, places and things to distort and avoid reality.