Hang out with Annie Grace as she interviews Sherry Gaba – author, psychotherapist, and a certified recovery coach (most notably on VH1’s Celebrity Rehab)! Sherry discusses the ins and outs of “love addiction”, the fear of being alone, and the dangers of trading alcohol addiction for other addictions – including love and co-dependency. Sherry gets transparent in this interview, discussing her life journey that includes four failed marriages, the struggles of being a single mom, and her fears of being alone.
We’re going to talk about Sherry’s story, but also about all the different incredible things she’s doing. Sherry will really target in on an area that often gets overlooked, which is love addiction, relationship addiction, co-dependency, all the things that sometimes we can turn to once we kick an alcohol habit, or other habit that isn’t serving us well.
I know that a lot of the listeners are in recovery or starting recovery, and sometimes what I see is that a lot of people, when they do get sober, often they turn to other addictions, other process addictions. My story in particular is, my first disease would be love addiction and co-dependency, and that at times in my life I have used substances along with that disease, which I believe love addiction and co-dependency is a disease, just like any other disease, or any other substance abuse disease.
Might As Well Face It
We don’t even have to call it disease; a disorder or malfunction. It’s just maladaptive behavior. What happened for me was because of this issue around early trauma, I became a love addict. I tell the story often, I was in an incubator. I was premature, born two and a half months early. In those days, mothers weren’t allowed to bond with their baby. So I didn’t actually meet my mother for two and a half months. Even when I went home, I would turn blue when she’d go to feed me, so there was really no early bonding, attachment, connection.
We know the opposite of addiction is connection, and so really metaphorically, I was always looking for the boob, so to speak. Always looking for that connection, and so the way I did that was through love. If I wasn’t in a relationship, I was in complete terror and panic. The substance abuse really came about with my dating, just a lot of anxiety. I don’t identify as an alcoholic. I don’t know how your audience feels about that. Yes, I definitely have abuse at times in my life around dating and social stuff, but my life never became out of control or unmanageable, or never lost jobs, never lost my daughter, all the usual blah, blah, blah.
When you’re dealing with a process addiction, other addictions can come into play. Other abuse can come into play, some people when they get sober, often there’s that “Oh my God, I’ve got to do something else to fill that dopamine high”. So often, people turn to love. They talk about that in the meetings, in the 12-step meetings. People look at each other in the room, and it’s like “Oh my God.” There you are, you’re back on that dopamine high. So, that’s my story. I’ve worked in addiction for years.
My Love Addiction
I felt like all my worth was based on whether or not I had someone to love me, to give me attention, to acknowledge me, to validate me. When that relationship ended and he broke up with me, it was devastating. That was where you can just see all the obsessive behavior, the low self-esteem, the desperation, “Oh my God, what am I going to do? I feel so empty,” this pounding terror inside my heart, and so from that point on, I always had to have a relationship to fill me up. That was my love addiction.
There are some really qualified people that can help someone through this process, but again, the first step is being honest, getting out of the denial, exploring your fears, really understanding “What am I afraid of? Let’s just bring it up. Let’s make friends with it,” like “Oh, there it is. I’m afraid. Afraid I’ll never meet anybody. Afraid that I’ll be alone forever. I’m afraid I’m too old,” really kind of like, “Let’s dive into these fears.”
Interested in learning more about addiction and the need for connection? Start Reading This Naked Mind for free today.
Tune in to the complete podcast for more from Sherry and Annie on love addiction and the healing process.
Special music thank you to the Kevin MacLeod Funkorama (incompetech.com)
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