I am an addict in recovery. Full Disclosure
I saw a TikTok today that had Ben Affleck on the Howard Stern show talking about addiction. Ben said that the only real cure for addiction is suffering. He said that one has to suffer enough to see that they don’t want to be there.
While that is harsh, and astonishingly true, I didn’t connect it to an addiction I’ve had for years. Perhaps you have this addiction also, or maybe I’m the only one.
I am a recovering addict for the approval of my kids in order to determine my self-value. For a long time, this has caused me extreme anguish, turmoil, tears, rage, self-loathing, and feelings of inadequacy.
There was a day, not too long ago, when I discovered that I was self-sabotaging and causing a loop of predictable failure, by basing my self-worth on my kids’ opinions of me.
It is disturbing to notice that a societally approved norm is one that causes damage and harm. To say that this is a moment of cognitive dissonance, is quite the understatement. There is wrestling with feelings, rebuttals of emotion, and cycling through the “But I deserve to be loved my my kids,” and “Why don’t they love me?” and “Why do they hate me"?” and “Why can’t they see how much I’ve tried?” and on and on, ad nauseum.
I suffered until I realized it wasn’t working for me. So, although I didn’t realize until today that this was an “addiction”, I did realize that my self-value was determined by me, and NOT my kids, or anyone else external to my being. My self-worth, my “redemption” was mine alone to bear, and at that point in time, I compartmentalized the need - (the addiction) for approval, love, and affirmation from my kids, as a sourced-ideal that was harmful to me.
Wanting my kids to love me was causing me to attempt to control things that are outside of my control, and thus I had no self-investment. I had only this addiction to changing the external actions of my kids, and for me, that has been some of the lowest suffering and anguish I have ever experienced.
This addiction is one that can have any set of parameters, although for me, it was limited to my parents and my kids. My parents, I took care of that addiction piece a long time ago, as far as acknowledging that I didn’t need their approval to paint outside the lines, to fly without a license, or to do things that they didn’t affirm as “right”.
My kids, however, took a lot longer, because I made these little fuckers, and I wanted them to love me as much as I have loved them. And that was an ideal that caused me to be addicted to trying to gain this impossible outcome.
While my addiction is not alcohol, drugs, or any illicit substances, it is just as real.
Am I still in recovery? YES.
Am I doing much better since I figured out that I don’t want to suffer like that? YES.
And I hope this helps someone else that may be suffering or in an addiction loop that is similar.
Look in the mirror. THAT is the only one that can determine your value, your worth, and your redemption.
P.D., JAY V SHORE