“An addiction is a relationship with a means of relief of pain from unconscious unmet emotional needs.”
Relationships with ‘means of relief,’ which can include substances, activities and people, fit the category of ‘bad’ or unhealthy relationships. These are relationships with addictive purposes, to compensate for what’s missing.
“Bad” relationships are ‘bad’ for a multitude of reasons. Pain and the need to relieve the pain of unmet emotional needs are what drive them. No real nourishment is ever provided; whereas ‘good’ or emotionally nourishing relationships are driven by the need for love and connection and consists of two separate, but whole Selves (‘me’ + ‘you’ = ‘us’).
Addictive, dependency or need-based relationships are akin to secret love affairs. The relationship with a means of relief becomes a primary one, which means that the lives of the people in them revolve around them, while all other relationships and priorities are rendered secondary. There is little or no relationship with Self; sense of purpose and direction are lost as well. There is no one home. It’s been vacated. You’ve been away looking for means of relief.
The first of recovery is “Breaking-up.”
As is the case with any ‘bad’ relationship, in order for you to have a shred of hope of turning your life around and becoming empowered to transform the quality of your relationships, you must get out. You must “break-up.” In order to begin developing a relationship with your Self, you must “break-up.” You can’t be running for relief when you need to pause, reflect and be conscious when relating.
When you understand that the relationship is a ‘bad’ one and what makes it ‘bad’, chances are you will become more motivated to “break-up.”
Step I – Recognition
The first step towards “breaking-up” is recognizing that you are in a ‘bad’ relationship and understand better what makes it “bad.’ Bases that must be covered include:
- That in need-based relationships, objectification occurs, as substances, activities people are related to as a means of relief.
- That perceptual distortion occurs, making it virtually impossible to assess the level of involvement, diminishment of functioning, mounting problems and other damaging intangible effects related to this relationship.
- The progressive impact of this relationship over time - the energy spent to keep it going, the level of emotional involvement, attention and focus on this relationship, while attention and focus on oneself becomes virtually non-existent.
- The steady diminishment of functioning, mounting problems, losing track of priorities and relationships and lack of fulfillment in life and relationships.
- That no real nourishment is received, only a temporary sense of relief is achieved, while heading towards increasing emotional deprivation; like being on a ‘starvation diet’ that eventually kills you.
- The light of conscious awareness provides a reality check and illuminates manifestations of denial and deception, deluding oneself.
- Before you can make any healthy changes, you have to “break-up,” take action steps towards “breaking-up” or pulling back, disengaging, re-directing, etc.
Step II – Connecting the Relationship with Need For Relief
After recognizing that the relationship you had gotten involved in was a ‘bad’ one and the multitude of ways they are further damaging, the next step is to go back to the relationship’s beginning. What was going on emotionally when this relationship was taking hold? By making the connection between the pain from unmet emotional needs and the need to find a means of relief, you will deepen your understanding of the dependency lying at the heart of the relationship.
The desperate need to make up for what’s missing gets in the way of loving and connecting with real people in real relationships. Not only does it override the need for love and connection, it makes it impossible to connect because there is no Self.
There is no room for a Self to grow when an (unconscious) all-out effort to feel better is always looming and when you are in state of denial.
“Is it the chicken or the egg?” We must be nourished emotionally to grow and it necessary to have grown a Self in order to connect deeply, be in a healthy, emotionally nourishing, intimate relationship.
Step III – Withdrawal
Withdrawal is another hurdle to be overcome on the way towards “breaking-up.” In any need-based relationship, pulling back, disengaging, or at some point during the process of “breaking-up,” there is going to be an emotional fall-out, called emotional withdrawal.
The severity of pain from withdrawal varies according the extent of dependency and the length of time involved with the means of relief. Most people have tremendous difficulty coping without their means of relief, as any internal or external resources existing prior to this relationship have become further depleted, or were lying dormant. There is going to be a huge void that must be crossed and sometimes the only thing that keeps them going is having faith in and trusting the process, as the hugest discovery of their lives awaits them.
Step IV – “Good-bye”
Before entering into the next stage of recovery, Developing the Relationship with Self, you have to say, “good-bye.” You have to let go, walk away, leave the relationship, etc. proactively. Implied is physical action or communication. Before being able to take action or communicate congruently, you will need to go through an assessment process of gathering information and make a decision; i.e. to end a “bad’ relationship to make space for a new, healthy, nourishing relationship - with your Self.
You are saying, “Good-bye” to what you no longer want while identifying what you do want. You’re saying, “good-bye to relationships with means of relief and “hello” to your new best friend.
A journal type exercise to consider is writing a “Good-bye” Letter to your means of relief, your rationale that integrates Steps I, II and III, establishes your new purpose in your life and relationships. Consider a “Good-bye” Letter to act as an accelerator that moves you through this transitional journey - out of relationships with means of relief and into healthy, emotionally nourishing ones.
As you continue developing the relationship with Self, you awaken to what you ultimately want and need in your life and primary relationships, which is love and connection.
Step V – Discovery your Self
“Breaking-up” marks the end of the relationship with means of relief and the beginning of a new relationship with your Self.