I just kept going back like a stupid moth revisiting a flame made of crazy.
I have a friend who has been in a drama-filled romantic entanglement with a man we've dubbed "Heroin" for a couple years now. He's earned this nickname not because of anything he's done specifically, but because of who she becomes when he's in question and how she feels completely unable to walk away from their ridiculous interactions even though she knows it's terrible for her sanity. He is her love addiction.
When she talks about Heroin, I smile and nod in complete, resigned understanding because, just like every single woman I know, I have at least one person from my past who is my personal Heroin, too.
I used to think I was singularly insane for not being able to act on my logic in matters of the heart...until I realized that mine is not at all a unique story.
Almost all of us have made strong, personal promises to finally put up boundaries between ourselves and someone who is terrible for us only to immediately break that resolution when we're back in the moment.
The wildest of these rides — the ones most deserving of the comparison to drug addiction — are those hinged upon a combustible combo of lust and psychological infatuation. Good Lord, the insanity that brews when fantastic sex and total disgust is shared between two people should be its own chapter in the DSM-5.
I've seen otherwise brilliant, independent women reduced to pathetic, obsessive piles of emotion over someone they actively hated but loved to bang more times than I can count. (This includes myself, by the way.)
For seven years, I was in an insane on-again/off-again relationship with someone I realized I didn't even really like about four years into the whole mess. Despite fully realizing that the entire thing was perpetuated by self-loathing and raging hormones, I just kept going back like a stupid moth revisiting a flame made of crazy. I count the months since we last spoke the way that recovering addicts collect chips.
But this inability to stay away from those we know are bad for us isn't limited to love/hate relationships of a carnal nature. The same dynamic accompanies friendships or family relationships that have, in one way or another, become toxic.
While the lines between healthy, tolerable behavior in romance may be blurred, it seems that those within a family dynamic are all gray area. All day, every day. And what's worse: it's far less socially acceptable to cut ties when a family relationship won't work versus any other personal interaction.
The truth is, however, that regardless of the specifics between two people, what ultimately keeps us pushing logic aside in favor of subjecting ourselves to more pain is the inherent optimism we carry with us. Even if every single exchange with someone we can't seem to rid ourselves of is painful, we return because something about it makes us feel good in some way or another.
That sounds nuts, but if it wasn't true then we wouldn't keep voluntarily going back to things that wreck us. And we certainly wouldn't find ourselves justifying our illogical behaviors with "I know this person is terrible for me, but..." Our reward lies in whatever finishes that sentence, even if it's just a means to relieve our guilt, feed our ego, or comfort our loneliness for a fleeting moment.
It took me a long, long time to realize that struggling with this logic vs. emotion tug-of-war doesn't make me a freak. It just makes me as insane as every other human, which is both terrifying and strangely empowering.