I went to a 12-step meeting once, but it wasn't for my drinking.
Although I've had a history of certainly abusing alcohol in the past, I don't think I'll ever go so far as to become an alcoholic.
But I do have an addictive personality.
It may be something that my mother passed down to me through her genes—since she's addicted to anything that feels good, whether it's sugar or shopping—but it's more likely that she encoded this addictiveness in me by depriving me of things that felt good when I was a child.
She deprived me of love—and now, I can never seem to get enough of it.
I always thought that meant I was desperate for romantic love—or, as my mother called it in my pre-teen years, that I was "boy crazy"—and some of my past romances have felt like addictions.
But I don't think I even fit the profile of a so-called "love addict" whose many compulsions are those of fantasy—because I don't want a storybook romance. I don't want drama or strife or tragedy. I don't want my stars to be crossed.
I just want real love.
But there's a reason for this inextricable tie between love dependence and chemical dependence.
There's, in fact, a physical reaction that happens when you're with someone you love—and it can happen from something as simple as gazing into each others' eyes. You don't even have to be touching.
It's the release of the "love hormone," oxytocin.
And, like other hormones and neurotransmitters (like endorphins, or serotonin a.k.a. the "happiness hormone"), it can make you feel kind of high.
Cuddling after sex releases oxytocin. And you know what else does? Cuddling a furry friend.
I realize now that that blissful feeling I once had of waking up next to a man I loved is the same as waking up next to the cat I love when he sneezes or snores or whimpers from a bad dream.
And it's especially true when he comes in close for a belly rub.
Of course there's no romance with my cat—but as it turns out, I don't need it. I don't know that I ever needed it.
I think I just needed a reliable source of affection—something I've never had my whole life, until now.
For years, friends would tell me that I didn't need a man to be happy. And that may have been true, but it always felt like I needed something.
I needed something to give me that influx of oxytocin.
And maybe it didn't have to be a boyfriend or a girlfriend or even a parent or a baby.
Maybe it never had to be any human at all.
Love Is the Drug
This Addictive Life
I'm Not In Love