I miss my addiction. Let me clarify that: I miss the exhilarating parts of sex and love addiction, the giggles and goosebumps of it all. The anticipation and arousal. The chase and conquest. The high drama and cocktail party anecdotes. I do not miss post-coital depression, shame spirals, and the black ache of withdrawal. But, hey, it’s been a long time and the pain part is easier to forget than the euphoria part. If it weren’t, humanity would have died out long ago, because no woman would have endured childbirth a second time.
This came to my attention recently when, for the second time in as many days, I found myself on the receiving end of heavy flirtation from an attractive married (or otherwise spoken for) man. This hasn’t happened in a while, quite frankly. Maybe I’m just aging into invisibility, or I’ve been spared temptation (no one’s offered me cocaine in 25 years, either), or maybe I just haven’t noticed it was happening. But this time it did, and what I did in response was… nothing. Smiled, and moved on. Did I mention they were really hot?
This may seem unremarkable to you. But understand that when my addict was running the show, nothing was sweeter than the lure of this kind of forbidden fruit. It wasn’t just the naughtiness of it, although God knows I love thumbing my nose at convention. What really appealed to me was being more desirable than another woman — particularly some random woman I had never met, because I never actually wanted to hurt anyone. What affirmation! “No harm, no foul,” my pain-brain whispered, as long as I couldn’t put a face to her. Blessed ignorance. Those were the days.
Write a few inventories, though, and you start thinking stuff like “Well, I wouldn’t want anyone to do that to me, so I guess I won’t do it to her, whoever she is.” Sadly, there is a human cost to me shoveling some positive attention into the empty hole where my self-esteem should have been – and not just to my humanity.
I used to think I ran through men because I had a short attention span. Okay, I do have a short attention span. But that’s a reason to fast-forward through The Hobbit, not choose men who are guaranteed to bore and/or leave you in six months. Was I drawn to married men because I would never have to risk actual relationship, since he was already in one? In retrospect, that doesn’t sound like much fun at all. Damn you, self-knowledge.
So, yes, a part of me misses my blithe superficiality, skittering across the muck of human interaction like a dragonfly over a muddy pond. I loved the intoxication of infatuation, more than I loved the buzz of alcohol or dialtone of cigarettes. It’s a coin-toss with the cocaine.
A little knowledge is a dangerous thing – technically, Alexander Pope said “a little learning is a dangerous thing,” but that’s too much knowledge – so I guess I’m still dangerous. And that’s okay. I like having an edge.