They say the first step in addiction recovery is awareness. In this step, we must acknowledge that by relying solely on our abilities, we lack the capacity to conquer our addictions. Luckily for me, and unluckily for the men in my life, self-awareness is a skill I possess. But couple that self-awareness with self-destructive tendencies, and you’ve got your work cut out for you.
A recent dating experience brought up a lot of questions for my over-analytical brain to start picking apart: Why do I find discomfort in the ease, and comfort in the challenging? Why do I regard someone making me feel uncertain as a show of commitment? Why does the fear of losing someone push me to accept blame that’s not on me? And why are red flags a signal to rev up my engines and race full speed ahead instead of a warning to turn back?
When I start dating someone, I’m eager to begin unpacking the baggage – gifting them each day with an insecurity, a fear, or a desire. Like a little strip tease, I keep going until I’ve exposed myself entirely and I’ve revealed all the buttons to be pressed. And that’s when they really become Daddy. Manipulating me, gaslighting me, guilt-tripping me, controlling me – these are just some of the fun games they like to play with me.
In the name of spoiling me, they flaunt their superior financial situation and undermine mine – slowly degrading my independence and leaving me reliant. In the name of being too busy to text, they call me, knowing that I can’t hold them accountable for things they’ve said without proof. They blame me for things I cannot control, like our difference in age or the distance between us. They subtly remind me of the ways my life is inferior to theirs, keeping me feeling honoured that someone like them would choose someone like me. They teach me that my best efforts will never be enough, but then don’t make an effort themselves, so I’m forced to try, nonetheless. And my desire to be wanted by these men is insatiable; I keep returning to get fucked by emotional abuse until I’m left with no self-esteem or sense of self-worth. That’s Daddy’s favourite position to get me in; in desperate need of their validation and willing to put up with whatever to get it. If I could just convince them I’m worthy of their attention, I’ll finally be good enough.
Abuse me once; shame on you. Abuse me twice; shame on me? Abuse me over and over again; I’m certainly to blame. But why do I repeatedly subject myself to emotional abuse with an almost addiction-driven motivation? Perhaps I subconsciously seek out older, wealthier, settled, and emotionally unavailable men. Perhaps I actively orchestrate the power imbalance in these relationships, so as to be similar to the relationship I had with my father. When daddy issues are discussed, it’s generally in the context of seeking fatherly love from a romantic partner to compensate for what your real father failed to give you. But in my case, perhaps I look for romantic partners who treat me similarly to how my father did. Maybe I need to be emotionally abused to feel loved because that’s all I know.
There’s an argument to be had that blaming myself for my toxic addiction is a consequence of the mind games they play. And maybe that argument stands. Maybe I’m a good boy who just needs to be fixed. But all I know for now is I sure hope Daddy doesn’t get angry reading this…