“Hi, my name is Anna, and I’m an emotional addict,” a beautiful, petite girl with blonde hair said as she stood in front of the group, her hands crossed on top of her hips.
“Hi, Anna,” the group chanted.
“Anna is new to our group, as are some of the rest of you,” the facility shrink said. “So, Anna, can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how you’ve come to realize you’re an addict?”
“Well,” Anna began, “This is not easy for me...”
“Of course it’s not, honey, we’ve all been through it, but you will feel better once you get that off your chest,” the shrink said.
“I think it’s because I come from a big, affectionate family; I guess that is why I was predisposed to becoming an addict.”
“Sure,” the shrink said. “I suppose your parents were very affectionate toward each other and you and your siblings too?”
“Genetic predisposition is the most common cause of all addictions.”
“So,” Anna continued, “it was quite hard for me to realize I had a problem.”
She paused for a second, looking around the group, who were all quietly sitting in a circle and watching her.
“Yes,” the shrink said. “It is hard when you’re so used to affection.”
“But, now, when I look back,” Anna continued, “I realize I’ve had a problem for a long time. Whenever I would hook up with somebody I at least kind of liked, regardless of whether or not that guy was good or right for me, I’d fall in love. I realize now that it wouldn’t be love, but emotional addiction. I’d always want for him to call the next day and when he wouldn’t, I’d feel depressed and I’d be down for days expecting his call. And when he would call, that’d probably be even worse; I’d get addicted to him in less than a couple of days. I’d want to spend all my time with him, when we’d be apart, I’d want us to constantly be in touch, when we texted or talked on the phone, I’d be happy, exhilarating, over the moon.”
The group nodded apprehensively.
“And when we stopped,’ Anna continued, “I’d instantly feel depressed, there’d be a pit in my stomach. But I wouldn’t break up with him, I couldn’t have, I needed him too much. But it was bad for me. I’d use up too much energy and time on him, so I was useless in other aspects of my life. Hell, there wouldn’t even be any other aspect of my life. He’d become my whole life. And when it became apparent how bad or wrong he was for me, I’d still linger on the bits of affection that were left and would rather choose to suffer for affection than feel better without it. I couldn’t believe I could be better, because there wouldn’t be any affection.”
“I see,” the shrink nodded, looking at Anna. “Please continue.”
“And then,” she said, “when we’d eventually break up, I’d realize just how addicted to affection I was. Going off of him cold turkey would cause me physical pain; I suppose it would feel as if I was trying to get off drugs.”
Many people from the circle nodded.
“I’d feel my pulse in my stomach and as if there was a tennis ball in my throat. And I couldn’t help that feeling, so I’d constantly be looking for more affection, which I thought was the only way to feel better again. So I’d either try to get back together with the guy I lost or start looking for another one, unable to be alone. Loneliness that ensued from the lack of male affection couldn’t now be compensated by any other companionship,” she finished.
“There is nothing here to be ashamed of, Anna,” the shrink said, turning to the rest of the group. “What Anna is describing here has become quite common nowadays, but it’s nothing that can’t be overcome. It is important to realize you have a problem and that is the first step to recovery.”
“Thank you, Anna,” the shrink said, “for sharing your story with us. We can all realize how grave your addiction is. How long have you been single?”
“It’s been 10 days, now,” Anna said.
“Congratulations, Anna,” the shrink said and started an applause which the group joined in.
“But the reason I’m here is because I’ve been tempted these whole 10 days to text my ex,” Anna continued. “I almost did call him right before I walked into this meeting.”
“But you didn’t, did you?”
“Good for you, Anna, that’s why all of us are here, because we have been weak, and we need to find support and comfort in those like us and get stronger! Isn’t that right?” the shrink looked around the seated group of people, who nodded. Everyone but a guy in the furthest part of the circle from the shrink, who looked mesmerized.
“Anybody else, want to share?” the shrink continued, looking around the group again and pausing on the quiet guy sitting across from him in anticipation. “Sarah, maybe?” the shrink said, turning to Sarah.
“Yeah, why not?” said Sarah.
“I think Sarah is a suitable speaker now, because she can tell you her side of the story, Anna, you two have been through quite same things, only she’s had a somewhat different reaction to the same stimuli.”
“Yes,” Sarah began, standing up. “You see, Anna, when you said you wouldn’t call them, but waited for them to call... I would call them! And sometimes it would work. They would meet me and show me the affection I yearned for. But it was false affection. And sometimes they wouldn’t but we’d just chat or text, exchange empty words that would benefit nobody. Later I’d find out they were seeing someone else at the same time, someone they truly liked or that they had girlfriends.”
“Bastards!” a woman next to Sara muttered.
“Yeah,” Sarah agreed looking at the woman for a moment. “Imagine that? They would argue saying that those women were their friends and that they liked me or that they just wanted to be my friends! As if I didn’t know better! But it was even worse, I think, because you could at least restrain yourself and save yourself some trouble. I was calling for trouble, literally. I mean, if they truly cared about me, they would’ve called me in the first place!”
“I was in a pit for years, always asking for affection, calling men, and doing whatever they wanted me to just to get some of that affection I was so addicted to. I would lose myself and become whomever they wanted me to be,” she said. “I’ve been single for 75 days now!” she finished proudly as the group started applauding and nodding their heads in support and approval.
“Thank you Sarah. Congratulations on your 75th day of singleness! Way to go!” the shrink nodded to Sarah applauding. “How about we hear a male perspective now? Steven?”
“Hi, my name is Steven...” Steven got up from his chair as Sarah sat down.
“Hi, Steven,” they all chanted.
“...and I’m an emotional addict,” he paused. “You girls all sound as if all men are the same. Well, we are not, and you can often be very cruel toward us. I realized I was an addict when my girlfriend left me. She found another guy, but I didn’t know that, at first, and I couldn’t deal with it. I called her and texted her all the time. She ignored me or replied that she couldn’t do that anymore: we had separated. When I found out she was seeing someone else, probably even before she broke up with me, she denied it. I mean, she didn’t deny it, but she said they had just been friends and that they hooked up a while after we broke up. But I didn’t believe her, of course. And still I couldn’t let her go. I realized I was so hung up on affection that I would have given anything to get it back. I think I would’ve even killed him if my friends didn’t point out to me that I had a problem and led me to this group, which made me realize that it wouldn’t bring her back.”
“Yeah, Steven’s been with us for quite a while now.”
“Yes,” Steven said. “I’ve been single for 375 days now!” he finished as the applause broke out.
“Thank you, Steven,” the shrink said, “You’re doing great, just keep up the good work! How about we hear from someone else who’s new, too?” the shrink scanned the circle once again pausing on the strange guy across. “Would like to share with the group, Mister?”
The new guy that was very quiet and listening intently thus far finally started getting up.
“To be quite honest, I’m not sure what I’m doing here,” he said puzzled. “What kind of a group is it, anyway? You guys think you have a problem? What the hell? What is your problem? You get too emotionally attached to people who show you affection? Last time I checked that was normal behavior! You people are insane! You’re saying that you are insatiable for the bits of affection you get? You should be happy you get any! What if most of them aren’t right for you? Affection is affection and it feels right whomever it comes from. There’s no such thing as false affection. Why can’t you people just be happy with what you have?” he paused.
“Anna,” he looked at her, “you don’t have a problem, you are as normal as anyone, you get attached to people you like, who show you affection. Sure, some people don’t get attached, but the majority does!” he paused.
“Sarah,” he was looking at Sarah now, “You shouldn’t push guys into liking you by overtexting them, but you’re not bonkers either, you just wanna know where you’re at. And where’s that rule that the guy must write first written!? And Steven,” finally he turned to Steven, “Yeah, you should’ve let go of your girlfriend, she moved on, changed her mind, found another guy, but you should try to move on; it’s never too late. If you still haven’t that does not mean you’re an addict. You’re only human. As we all are,” he paused.
“And you,” he was looking at the shrink at last. “You’re saying that affectionate parents are the cause of emotional addiction? So, basically, we’re better off if we have abusive parents? You’re the craziest one here! Hell, I’m outta here!”
Everybody was dead silent for a minute as the strange guy knocked over his chair, walked toward the door and out of the meeting room.
“Okay... That was odd...” the shrink finally spoke when the guy left the room, slamming the door with a thud. “How about that, ha?”
Their mouths open, the group was motionlessly staring at the door.
“You see what happens if you linger on emotional affection too much?” the shrink finally spoke as everybody diverted their eyes toward their leader. “You could end up… That guy!” the shrink pointed toward the door as the group nodded. Some seemed on the verge of tears. “But not to worry, that’s why we’re here, to find support and reassurance that we should stay well away from emotional attachment!” he said, lighting up the faces of the group.
“I guess we can continue now,” the shrink said after a longer pause. “Anybody else wants to share? John?”
“Yeah, sure,” John got up. “Hello, everybody. I’m John...”