I know a little bit about addiction. My grandma and grandpa were both alcoholics…not the fall down drunk variety, but they drank throughout the day, and although my grandma was able to eventually quit, my grandpa died of cirrhosis of the liver. My mom is a recovering alcoholic, and says it’s still hard some days to smell or see alcohol and not partake herself.
The reason why I’m mentioning this is that people who suffer from Narcissistic Abuse Syndrome are literally addicted to their abuser! Studies show that the trauma bond to our abuser causes our ‘oxytocin‘ (the ‘love drug’ that makes us feel passion and excitement); ‘dopamine‘ (which is actually the same drug involved in cocaine addiction!) and ‘cortisol‘ (which is the fight or flight stress hormone that might not get released appropriately…we rarely fight our abuser or flee, so this stress hormone is trapped in our body, causing us feelings of upheaval at all times) to go crazy!! Our brains literally use these chemicals to traumatically bond us to our abuser, and we become addicted to the highs that occur, and to our abuser who is the one giving us this drug.
Knowing this is helping me somewhat understand my own reactions to being away from Sarge. Today was day 8 of no contact…and I was proud to reach the week milestone. But, I had a terrible afternoon (it involved a lot of dog poop in the house and hours shampooing carpets, washing dogs, wiping down walls, and hosing out crates!) and I craved, like an addict, the fix of talking to Sarge. So…as much as I fought it, I texted him. And he texted back. And I texted him again. And he didn’t text back. But it was almost like a fix. Like I just HAD to have some contact or I’d go mad! It was literally a ‘pull’ that I couldn’t resist…no matter how much I tried to distract myself and fight it. To be honest, it’s scary to me to think there’s a person out there making me feel this horrible need. And, it’s scary to think that narcissists are everywhere, and that anyone can be bamboozled by them (I’ve always wanted to use that word!).
My neighbor and I were talking over the fence, and I’ve shared this blog with her because she is a nurse and a social worker and I knew she’d be interested. I told her I broke no contact, and I mumbled something about addiction. Some people think it’s crazy that you can be ‘addicted’ to a person! But she got it! She said that she’s been battling eating issues in her life and will sometimes binge. Even though as a nurse, she knows the binge is unhealthy, she simply can’t resist the call of that food. The food is what has power over her. And in the case of narcissistic abuse, the abuser is the drug. They have the power over us. You know, since that’s the case, we are powerless when we’re under their spell. That’s scary.
How does this addiction start? The love-bombing phase of narc abuse is a complete HIGH!! I’ve never been showered with such perfect attention, words, sex, etc. The initial phase of our relationship truly gave me what I needed in my life and I was euphoric. But, as we know, the manipulation begins to set in. The pulling back. The meting out of attention. The criticisms. The lies. The cheating. The physical abuse. But during all of this, there are still those HIGHS. There are still times where we feel like we did in the beginning, and everything is right. But, just like a drug addict knows they will crash and feel horrible at times…it’s worth it to get another high and feel that rush of pleasure again. And that’s what I’m feeling. I know that Sarge is NOT right for me. I understand, intellectually, that I was abused and am going through the healing of a traumatic relationship. BUT, my emotions are saying this to me: “I want just one more high!!” I want the compliments again. The feeling that I’m the ONLY person important in his life. The constant attention. Him making me feel as if I’m the perfect partner for him, because I’m just so wonderful.
I’m not stupid. Well, so to speak. But I know that I’m going to have set-backs in this process. Just like drug addicts relapse, so will I. And I’m going to fight this with all my might, but will also be a bit more understanding of myself when I try for one more hit of my drug. After 3 failed marriages, I know what it’s like to end a relationship. Two of my marriages ended because my husbands wanted out, and I ended one myself. Regardless of who decided to end the marriage, I felt a LOT of pain and sadness, but never felt an addictive need to reach out to them. Or this constant need to have them back in my life. Ending a relationship with a narc is very much different than ending a relationship ‘normally’. You just can’t compare the two. The best metaphor I can think of is the difference between an alcoholic and a person who drinks a glass of wine every so often, but doesn’t need, crave, or desire it all the time. Sarge is never out of my mind. I try to deflect the thoughts. I try to get involved in other activities. I try to submerse myself in my work. But he’s always there. In the back of my mind. Making me want him everyday.
This is what I know: living this addiction and feeling powerless is terrible. I hate having my mind controlled by someone I’m not even with. But like other addicts, I want to be free…clear…and totally in control of the addiction. I want to beat it. And I’m confident I will. Some day.