Love & Other Drugs
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Love & Other Drugs


This post originally published on August 6, 2013.

The word relationship causes me to panic more than any other. I think the film Independence Day gives an appropriate visual of what I feel like regarding this matter—like when the aliens invade and fire their laser and the city is engulfed in flames and all the people are trying to outrun it but some can’t and get obliterated. For me, the aliens are people and the laser is—well, love I guess, and the fire is all the misunderstood emotion that comes with the love. I get a rolling ball of nausea in my stomach that spreads to my chest and makes my heart beat too fast. Why such an extreme reaction, I hear you ask? Because life is full of relationships and I am crap at relationships and not so great at doing life, either. And I for one think that’s a damn good reason to panic.

My interpretation of relationships of any kind used to be about as unhealthy as you could find in any psychology book, and I’m not just talking about sexual relationships here. I had the doormat syndrome—which can best be summed up like this:  “Here you go, wipe your feet on me while I lay down on the floor willingly and I’ll stay there till your shoes get dirty again and just for good measure I’ll give you my blood by transfusion if you need it  and when I’m done, you can find me here in the corner, huddled in self hatred and self pity—but by all means call me if you want anything so I can continue my beautiful, comfortable game of martyrdom.”

While my navigation of non sexual relationships has most definitely improved, it is safe to say that I still struggle massively with the romantic relationships in my life. True, I’m not as psychotic as I was when I was in active addiction but I can still swing from the giving blood persona to wanting nothing less than blood. When I  slip back into one extreme or the other, then all I can say is WATCH THE FUCK OUT. Oh yeah, I can be the crazy bitch from hell, spouting all sorts of profanity in my attempts to manipulate and hurt, then I can flip a switch and be the innocent victim, complete with  Scarlet O’Hara bawling like I am being tortured by a death squad. But with the help of my many rants to my sponsor about the totally illogical and unacceptable behavior of whoever I’m in the relationship with, the pendulum eventually stops its wild swinging and calm is restored once again in quite a short space of time. Then the amends for my diva-like tantrums start—as well as my efforts to get over the harm I’ve done to myself through the embarrassment and loss of dignity. Boy, does that take some doing; it evokes another ball of nausea just thinking about that one.

We cannot control people, places or things ( I really hate that fact); all we can do is keep our side of the street clean (I really hate that too). And so I have surrendered to and accepted the fact that I need help with this behavior. The most telling fact about all of this is that at 38, I have never had a successful relationship ever. I don’t necessarily count a successful relationship as one that lasts forever, but perhaps one that actually provides the needs of the two people involved and is happy and enjoyable for the most part while they are together. And what I’m saying is that I have never had one of those. I’ve never experienced an amicable separation and it’s safe to say that all of my relationships have been very unhealthy in many aspects. So I have jumped on the therapy train to try and rectify this dysfunction that plagues my personal life.

My first visit with my new therapist, Mercy, was very pleasant. She told me about how she works—how she uses a mixture of psychotherapy and a holistic guided meditation to heal my chakras. I liked the sound of this as I’d been to counseling sessions before and while I found them beneficial, I never really felt like any of my issues were dealt with or cleared. Of course the fact that I was drinking like a fish and not living in any sort of reality at the time probably also had a lot to do with my lack of progress.

Mercy asked me a series of questions in order to create an outline of my past and present situations and we discussed my main issues. At the end of the session, she said there has been quite a lot of trauma and loss in my life and many issues in my childhood that could be creating the difficulties in my personal relationships today. I left her office feeling a sense of hope and like a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders. Every other aspect of my life had started to improve and now, for the first time, I had hope for myself in regards to creating a healthy male-female relationship—one that even could perhaps last for the rest of my life. I realize it is something I have to learn and it will take time. Still, I ran across the road to a café and treated myself to a chai latte and sat in silence looking around at the couples who sat there sharing a happy moment together, sipping coffee and holding hands. I thought of my own loves past and present and felt a huge pang of remorse for the craziness I sometimes inflicted on them. That, I decided, will change now.

Recovery from addiction has indeed saved my life and probably the lives of my loved ones—especially the male loved ones. Unlike my drinking days, when I would get angry about something that wasn’t  going my way, I don’t feel the need to key your car, puncture your tires or burn your Harley with you tied to it. Instead of knives, ropes and gasoline, I now have new tools to deal with my obsessive and controlling behavior—ones that won’t harm or maim or cause thousands to repair.

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About Author

Nicola O’Hanlon is part of the blogging community for the recovery website You can see her blogs on She was born and still lives in Wexford, Ireland.