Why do we want this?

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-17-2011
Why do we want this?
Thu, 10-11-2012 - 9:16am

I see a recurring thread in a lot of the posts lately - people asking the inevitable question of Why do I want this?  Why do I want contact?  I know it's not healthy but I miss him - why?  I am glad it's over but need to reach out - why?

Here's the thing....

Humans operate on a system of actions and reactions.  From the time we are babies we are programmed to change our behavior to behaviors that give pleasurable returns....

touch a hot stove - burn hand - we don't do that again

disobey a parent - punishment (spanking, time out, yelling) - we avoid this

do something good - get praise - we seek this

We use the 4 A's Applause, Attention, Acknowledgement or Validation, and Approval throughout our life to fill our own emotional and egotistical fuel tanks - This doesn't mean we are attention seeking or needy, but when one or more of these aspects are missing from our internal makeup, we seek to fill the void.  This is how most of us get here.  Most of us never learn to provide these things for ourselves - that is the giving ourself a virtual pat on the back isn't enough.  Typically we've had external experiences through our childhoods, and early adult lives that prevent us from being proud of ourselves!

The length of a marriage doesn't change up the internal needs of a person.  I was married 20 years - but when I wasn't appreciated, when the nice things I did weren't acknowledged, when he didn't have time for me (but a lot of time for video games and online chatting) - and I was impacted by personal tragedies and crisis, those tanks were drained and since I couldn't fill them myself - i sought these things elsewhere. 

Why do we want this?  Because we remember the highs.  We remember the feel-goods, the intimate emotional connection that fueled our release of endorphins making them the highest happiness we know.  Our natural instinct is to return to those feel goods to refill our tanks during the separation and ending because that's what we've been coping with!  The trick is to find NEW ways to get the same feel goods.  Find new hobbies, new friends, change existing relationships, and it's scary as hell.  The hardest part is for us to STOP taking the old route.

It's like medicine.  If I take the same allergy pill for more than a year, it isn't as effective and eventually it doesn't work at all.  Occasionally I will STILL try the old medicine to see if my body has lost it's immunity - but rarely if ever does this work. 

The truth is - none of us really want this.  In the years since my A I have never met someone who said I'd like to have the highest highs I can experience and in exchange to know sorrow in a way I never thought possible and in the process I'd like to devastate some other people along the way.  No one says that.   We are not unique.  We are loving, strong, smart people who indulged in a time of self medicating and who have the option to stop the madness.  The truth is we don't want this. 

Be strong today.  Do ONE single thing differently.  Choose to walk a new path to avoid contact, close out a conversation before it begins by just something as simple as, I'm sorry I need to do something.  Choose to have faith that there IS a better medicine.  NC/LC DO work.  Stop waiting for something or someone else to make the choice - YOU CHOOSE. 

iVillage Member
Registered: 09-26-2012
Thu, 10-11-2012 - 1:57pm

Very well-said.

One of the things I try to keep reminding myself during this journey of healing/NC is that I can't possibly expect me to instantly return to my usual radiant, confident self.  We must remember to be kind to ourselves.  We are human and can expect to be sad and vulnerable.  This is completely normal - and temporary.

Interrupting the process to getting well again by contacting only restarts (and therefore prolongs) the pain.

I also know my xAP was a good person and made me feel wonderful.  But he's JAM too - with flaws, and I just can't envision being happy with him if we somehow got together in the long-term.  I KNOW I am falsely aggrandizing him in my mind when I think about him.

I find comfort in thinking back to some of the other JAMs I've met in my life, in the fog of infatuation.  Once the fog lifted, they were just JAMs and not in a million years would I spend even a second thinking about them today, now that time and distance is between us.

I am in the middle of my current struggle, mostly with unwelcome thoughts that are the most difficult thing to control, but these are the things that have been helpful to me both in the past and now.

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-27-2012
Thu, 10-11-2012 - 5:43pm


Thank you! perfect timing and a great explanation.

So glad to see you back and posting again. Love your insights.


iVillage Member
Registered: 07-24-2005
Thu, 10-11-2012 - 6:04pm

Excellent post, Lolly...thank you.

It's always nice to see you...and your cute pink pillow pig.