Men, Love Addiction, and Miracles

I believe in miracles. Where you from? You sexy thang.

That’s right, I’m talking to you. Who? Me? Yes, you. You. (Me.) I’m that sexy thang I’ve been searching for all along. And I believe in miracles.

I also love men. Handsome, strong, funny, sultry, scrumptious, manly men. And yet: they can’t fix me and are not responsible for making me happy.

For the past four+ years I have been completely alone. I’ve dated here and there and have had a couple of trysts that, well, let’s just say they didn’t lead to anything. But mostly I have been completely alone, and let me absolutely clear when I say that: I’ve been having a hell of a time. I have been alone, but not lonely. I have been alone, but not without adventure and excitement. I have become my very own best friend and nurturing mother and inspiring life coach and number one advocate. And I have a lot of fun with shiny lil me.

I think I had my first crush when I was three or four. Preschool love. How do you beat that? Ian had the best Play-doh, and he didn’t eat it like all the other boys, and he made me laugh when he made those fart noises. He had beautiful brown eyes and a sweet little smile. As I made my way through the rest of preschool and then elementary and middle school there was Colin and Scottie and Jason and James and Michael and Danny and Taylor and Tyler. There were the older boys whom I admired from afar: Nate, Paul, Aaron, Will. And in my fantasies, boy oh boy did they sweep me off my feet! What a damsel I wanted to play, waiting for my handsome prince to come rescue me and fix me and change my life forever! I believed the fairytales and the Disney movies; in order to be whole or changed or saved, some great guy was going to have to fall in love with me. How to make this happen?

When I finally did start dating in high school, if you could even call it that, I found that men (boys) were not these handsome princes or dashing romantics I had seen in the movies. Curse you, Disney! High school boys were not Prince Eric and Prince Charming and Prince Phillip. They were not even the Beast. They were mean ol’ boys who just wanted blow jobs and a chance at getting laid. Sure, they objectified us like the princes in the movies. But they didn’t pay attention. They didn’t fight for us. They didn’t look at us like we were the only girls in the world. Can you blame ’em? I think the testosterone that courses through their veins is so heightened all they can think about is the next place to jerk off in secret. And it’s often quite similar for girls, actually. Plus, boys are fed the same lines of bullshit as girls about “who they are supposed to be” and what makes them “manly.” The message is often that, in addition to being stoic, sleeping with lots of pretty girls make you manly.

I didn’t have any mega-serious romances in high school. I had a couple of short-term relationships in eleventh and twelfth grade. I lost my virginity in tenth grade, drunk. (That’s another entry.) I hooked up with guys here and there and had a few big crushes that went unrequited. I wasn’t bad looking, but I wasn’t drop dead gorgeous like some of my friends, and I never had that killer confidence that attracts men like flies to honey. I was definitely a friend to guys, and the majority of my “best friends” were male. I also was a huge pothead and partier, fairly smart and articulate, sort of cynical, and maybe even a little intimidating or aloof. So I wasn’t getting major ass. High school boys don’t want no hassles.

It wasn’t until I turned nineteen that I had my first major relationship. And this is what he rescued me from, and what I found all of my subsequent relationships would rescue me from: the challenge of learning how to love and take care of myself.

Noah and I met in rehab. Just wait, it’s not as terrible as it sounds. This wasn’t some lockdown hospital in the woods of Minnesota. We were in Dana Point in in mid-July at a sober living type place that was a lot like summer camp. He was southern, from Georgia, a decent guy with a terrible drinking problem. He was six years older and already planning to inherit his father’s business back home in Buford. We stayed together about a year. Half of that year was done long distance after he moved back home. I flew to see him a few times, he came to see me. There was a lot of love. There was also a lot of naiveté. I knew I wasn’t going to stay with him. He wanted me to move to Georgia and marry him. I still wanted to party and sleep with lots of guys. Needless to say, we went our separate ways. Lucky for me, I was willing to expand my horizons and try my luck at a different suitor who perhaps had something better to offer. Had I married him, I would have thrown my life away. (Noah is married with three kids now, and I couldn’t be happier for him.)

Next came Mark, and rescue me he did. From having to look at anything about myself. From having to feel a thing. Mark passed away almost a year ago, rest his sweet soul. He was a good kid who couldn’t stay sober. And despite our relationship being the most toxic and tumultuous and ridiculous thing ever, it ended on decent terms, and the last time I saw him was peaceful and kind. He was a great big crazy love. Our first kiss was starbursts and fireworks and all honey-coated tongues. We found every excuse to have sex, all the time. I fell deeply and madly in love with him. And for two years, I couldn’t leave him. He cheated on me from the beginning and was a killer liar. I wasn’t much better, as I thought revenge was the best medicine and fancied myself quite a victim in the relationship. I slept with his friend who was also in his “band,” who then “fell in love” with me, so the band had to break up. We’d fight and split and get back together after a few days or weeks and have amazing makeup sex. We thought that that amazing sex was love. C’mon, give me a break – we were twenty-two.

We were also drug addicts and alcoholics, and despite being sober for most of our time together, we weren’t beacons of health and recovery. We were still sick on the inside and using each other to fix. He was the best glass of whisky out there. He was like pure cocaine and a handful of Oxy. He was a joint rolled smooth that settled into your bones. He was the Marlboro Red after hours of sex.

And it really was like that. I thought Mark completed me. I thought he was my soul mate. I thought my life would be over without him. I was physically ill when we weren’t together. I didn’t know how to be alone. When it finally was over and I couldn’t stand it anymore, I found out what I needed to do: get another boyfriend.

And thus continued a stream of serial monogamy. From nineteen to twenty-five, I didn’t go more than a week without being “in a relationship.” Noah, Mark, Kris, Christopher, Tyler. With a lot of other dudes peppered in here and there. And it wasn’t a slut thing. It wasn’t a sex thing. It was an inability to be alone.

Kris came after Mark, and we had a lot of fun together. I was drinking again, and he liked to drink, too, and so we drank every night and every day. We smoked a lot of pot and occasionally took drugs. We went out to eat and to the beach and watched a lot of movies and TV. He helped me move back to Los Angeles, and i settled him down when he had these insane nightmares that made him tremble. He got a dog that we took care of together. We fought sometimes, mostly because I needed him to fix me and he wasn’t. I was also a terrible alcoholic.

And then, thank god, I got sober again. So I left him for a sober guy, also named Chris, spelled differently.

I thought for a time that Christopher and I would get married. We had a lot of that looking good on the outside stuff going on. Both sober, both in or finishing college, both attractive, both artistic, both coming from decent families. He grew close with my family and I with his. We were the epitome of two people who “fell in love” immediately, then got to know each other and realized we were rather incompatible but were too deep in love so we were going to make it work.

I was terribly unhealthy, still. All of that healing that needed to happen from years of alcoholism and trauma? Well, there just wasn’t space for it on account of that fact that I was a dedicated English major at UCLA and in a very serious relationship with the love of my life. So all of that shit transferred to an eating disorder and chronic pain. It’s got to go somewhere if it doesn’t come out. And the relationship could not survive it.

Christopher broke up with me in March 2009, just a few months shy of my college graduation. I was a little over a year sober, starving myself and obsessed with food, suffering from chronic pain, and quite frankly, spiritually and mentally and emotionally sick. He had grown to hate me. Nothing makes you more selfish and cold and unbecoming and unsexy than anorexia.

It hurt to my bones for him to leave me. And I begged him to take me back. I told him I was getting help and willing to get better. (And I was. Something clicked when he broke up with me and I started to realize the extent of my disordered eating.) I started going to OA and trying to find healing around my chronic pain. He wouldn’t budge. He was steadfast in his resentment towards me and his pride over walking away. After a few months of begging and Facebook stalking and fetal-position crying, I let go of him and I let it be. I tried to be happy without him. I graduated college and had a fun summer and went to Europe for two weeks with my father. I tried to get better with my food and body obsession. I tried to forget about him. I thought, jesus, it’s been six months now, he should be out of my head and heart. He wasn’t.

But it wasn’t Christopher that wouldn’t leave my heart. Granted, he was a great guy to lose. He was kind and handsome and intelligent and interesting. He was sensitive and sexy. I look back on our time together fondly, especially the beginning. (He’s married now, too, and god bless.) But no, it wasn’t him who wouldn’t leave. It was this desperate inability to be alone. I literally couldn’t stand it. And without him, despite my efforts, I couldn’t really get on top of the eating disorder stuff and continued to cycle through periods of bulimia and restriction. I was totally obsessed with making my outsides look better so I could get him back or at the very least find a guy to replace him.

Finally, after a few failed attempts at dating, I met Tyler. Sweet, sexy, handsome, drug addicted Tyler.

I still to this day think about him regularly. I’m not sure why. It was short-lived. I hated how it ended. But it had to end.

I had seen Tyler for a long time at different meetings. He was always identifying as a newcomer, meaning he had less than thirty days sober. I didn’t think much of him at first. Didn’t find him all that attractive. He was so tall and skinny, and I normally wasn’t into super skinny dudes. I also respected the fact that he wasn’t sober for very long and therefore “unhealthy.” (Not that I was all that healthy despite my twenty two months clean.) Because I wasn’t attracted to him, I had no qualms about saying hello and chatting with him during breaks. Oh, the irony. He always seemed to be pretty charmed by the fact that I was talking to him. I was just trying to be nice.

But then I saw him at a coffee shop in late October. I was with one of my best friends, Yuki, eating dark chocolate and smoking Parliaments and sipping on lattes after one of our regular Santa Monica meetings. Tyler showed up with his best friend, Josh, and they came and sat with us. We ended up talking for hours. I remember a huge portion of the conversation was about our incredulity at this latest fashion of guys wearing shirts with those ridiculous deep V’s. “Sounds like you want a cowboy,” Tyler said, all nonchalance in his plain white t and brown cords. That did it. Some sort of sparkly magic filled the air. You could cut the attraction between us with a knife and all that. I was like, whoa, who the hell are you? Can we get naked and ride off into the sunset now, please?

It was on. He was hands down the sexiest person I had ever been with. In fact, he still is the sexiest man I have ever been with. Call it drug addiction, call it red flags (that’s what my therapist would say), but he made me come every time we had sex, and that is no small feat. Not only that, but he was sweet and charming. And he was cool. He was genuine. He got it, you know what I mean? Not that I cared, but even politically we saw eye to eye. There were many sweet moments: playing cards at Starbucks, dancing to records in his tiny apartment, driving to San Francisco (to take me to a special back doctor for my then mysterious chronic pain), a trip to San Diego to meet his parents. He’d leave me love notes when he left for school. I slept more soundly in his bed than I had anywhere else.

But it was also built on lies. He wasn’t sober, and he didn’t want to be sober. I wanted to stay sober, despite my struggles. I was also still quite miserable, underneath it all. I had no real solution for my chronic pain, and I was still in the throes of all my eating disorder nonsense.

We only stayed together a few months, and when he told me he wasn’t sober, I broke up with him. I was pretty cold about it, too. I was so very angry. I knew we had the potential to be something special, and yet I blamed his lack of sobriety on why it wouldn’t work. I may as well have been drinking, too, though, for all of my inner peace.

And then I was. I still had one more relapse in me that would lead to my true breakdown and true rebuilding/spiritual awakening. A mighty relapse it was – a thirst for death. I had been sober almost three years, and in just two short weeks I was addicted to pills again, drunk every day, sleeping with strange men, and completely suicidal. Alcoholism is no joke.

But this isn’t a post on that, though all of this is greatly connected. (Of course it is.) This is about men. This is about how I thought that I would never be enough or complete without a man by my side. This is about how I spent my entire life looking at boys to see if they were looking at me. To see if I measured up. To see if they wanted me. If they found me sexy and attractive, it meant I was worth something. If they wanted to be with me, it meant I was saved. I lived for so long believing that as long as I had a boyfriend I would be taken care of and would soon feel good enough. When I got sober again and began to rebuild my life in a completely different fashion, it clicked for me how much I had used men, much like I had used drugs and alcohol and food. I wasn’t participating in equal and healthy and committed relationships. I was seeking something outside of myself to fix my inner wounds, to set right what felt so wrong in me. And much like drugs and alcohol and food, men worked for a while to fix me. And for a while it even seemed like the socially acceptable and appropriate thing to do. And then it stopped. For four+ years, it stopped.

I learned how to completely and wholeheartedly stand on my own two feet and make no one or no thing responsible for my well-being and happiness. The only one responsible for myself is me. Me and my Higher Power. Me and my sweet soul. When it’s an inside job, and I firmly believe that creating a joyous life is primarily an inside job, nothing on the outside suffices. NOTHING. Noth – ing. And learning to do things alone and be at total peace alone is the greatest gift you can give yourself. I have traveled alone and gone to movies alone and lived alone and slept alone and attended parties alone (the only single person, often) and have gone home alone and to museums alone and shows alone lived my whole life alone, and it has been utterly rewarding and fulfilling and invaluable.

I have been alone, but I have not been lonely. Here and there maybe, when I’ve watched a funny movie and thought, this would be nice to share with someone. When I’ve wanted physical intimacy. When I’ve gone to weddings. And I still desire to find a partner to share my life with and possibly build a new life. But I don’t need it to fix me. I don’t need it to make me whole.  I don’t need it to save me.

As Ani Di Franco said, “I ain’t no damsel in distress. And I don’t need to be rescued.”

I believe in miracles, and I am one. Just me. By myself. You sexy thang.

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