I’m going to start off by saying I had difficulties reviving this story. Every time I sat down to write, I would draw a blank and I would conveniently find “something more important to do.” That tactic was my forced defense mechanism for fear of reliving a stage in my life that I worked so hard to get out of. Going back to a painful time is exactly that, PAINFUL. Not to mention massively embarrassing for a person who is private and doesn’t have an addictive personality (I don’t drink and I tried drugs, AKA weed, only once). It took me years of therapy and work to understand and even believe that this could be happening to me. It is unconventional, uncomfortable, and rarely spoken about in public, so I kept myself tucked away in my own little world until I was able to break out of the cycle. Even in this moment, a part of me wants to run and hide.
But here I am, addiction-free with an open heart, pushing past the fear, and writing this with the intention and hope that my words will help someone get through whatever addiction or vice that plagues them.
From 2007 – 2016 I was battling ”love addiction.” The daily conversations I had with myself went something like this: Is love addiction even real? Does the psychiatric community acknowledge this? Am I crazy? Am I looking for an excuse to help me make sense of this black hole I feel? You’re weak Marisol, you can’t even leave this toxic situation, because you’re weak! You’re not addicted Marisol, you just really love him. He’s my soul mate, of course I feel this way! He is my world, though it’s dark, he is still my everything. How can I leave the man I love, my best friend, my soulmate? Marisol, you’re in trouble, get out, get out now!
NEWS FLASH – I was not in love, I was addicted. Did I love him? Yes I did, but not in a healthy way on either of our parts. Healthy, non-toxic “in-love” relationships don’t make you feel crazy, they don’t take you over the edge, you don’t lose yourself, and you certainly do not give into living by the other person’s standards or values. Addiction to love will have you feeling lost, insecure, anxiety-ridden, in physical pain, and not to mention in extreme sadness coupled with extreme loneliness. In essence, you feel somewhat doomed. No matter how good your outside circumstances are, your insides feel like they are falling apart and dying.
So is love addiction real and recognized by the psychiatric community? Yes: a well-known treatment center called “The Meadow” defines it as “one person ‘loving’ another person with an obsessive intensity that is not in the best interest of either party. Love addiction is a painful, compulsive, and addictive disorder that negatively impacts not only the addict, but also the object of their obsession.” Sounds fun, huh? Imagine two people bouncing this type of behavior off of each other. No bueno for the heart, soul, or brain. Being a love addict sort of feels like being on the Titanic: it’s beautiful and compelling but ultimately it’s sinking and there is nowhere to go but down.
Instead of staying on the Titanic, I decided to dive deep, head-first into my murky waters to find out why and how I got there. I mean, how could this happen to me? I was young, smart, and had a successful career as a music executive. I had a good head on my shoulders and a moral ethics code that had people questioning whether it was truly possible for a person to behave with such integrity. I made good decisions and would never intentionally hurt a soul. Yes, I sound slightly egotistical, but for the sake of the story, I’m saying this to help you understand how addiction can drastically change you into a person you never thought you could.
I did a ton of research reading books on addiction, codependency, and self worth, and watched countless videos on YouTube (I recommend Dr. Helen Fisher). I unlearned my unhealthy behavior and re-learned what good,healthy relationships look like. After a few years of doing “my inner work” I came to the realization that my ex was similar to my father, but not in obvious ways: on the outside, they seemed like polar opposites. The similarities that I identified evoked a feeling of familiarity and comfort, which I mistook as having found my soulmate. It was not obvious to the naked eye because I was simply unaware of how toxic the situation had become. This was because this type of relationship was the only thing I knew. In essence, I had tunnel vision. The moment I took myself out of that situation and put myself into new ones, it all became so crystal-clear. With that clarity came self-power and an intense will to love myself like I never loved myself before.
That 9-year relationship was full of red flags I purposefully ignored because I was not ready to leave him or face the truth about us– or myself for that matter. There were mountains of reasons why I should have left. At the time, I believed that’s what you were supposed do when you love someone: you accept them no matter how many ugly situations they put you in. I believed that if you sacrifice your peace and self-love for someone else, the love gods would miraculously change your relationship for the better. In some cases, I still think that they do, but in my case they didn’t. It takes two fully present, healthy people to make a relationship work. We were not in that space. We were not equipped with the tools we needed to make that relationship survive.
I know this now but had no clue then. I have forgiven myself for not knowing any better.
My naiveté about love relationships and my past relationships with men all lead me to my addiction. I am immensely grateful to be where I am today and to have experienced all that I did. I am living in my truth, the fullest version of myself and I made it through! I pushed past all of the failures and made it! The past nine years have cultivated me into becoming the exact person that I wanted to be for so long. Loving those men helped me experience and end up with the greatest love of all: the love I have for myself.