Abandoholism in Food and Love
Are you always falling for the wrong men or women, unable to create a happy relationship or to make it last? Would you like to lose weight or improve your health, but then succumb to food cravings that actually sabotage this goal? Both could be symptom of the same underlying pattern, namely abandoholism.
What is abandoholism?
Abandoholism is a concept invented by Susan Anderson. It describes “the addiction to the emotional drama of heartbreak”. Abandoholics have felt abandoned in the past by people they loved. Maybe they always needed to perform to earn the love of their parents, and never experienced unconditional love from them. Maybe they felt replaced by a new sibling that got all of mummy’s attention. Maybe their parents divorced and father moved out, leaving them behind. Maybe their friends turned their back on them and they were left out of plays. Maybe their heart got broken in a romantic relationship. Maybe they suddenly lost the job they adored. This experience (or these experiences, since usually it is a series of events) was so painful, that they developed a strong fear of being abandoned by a loved one.
Pattern in love relationships
Since your body is never against you, but always wants to protect you, the consequence of this unconscious fear of being abandoned by someone you love is that - when it comes to romantic relationships - you are only able to physically feel “love chemicals” with partners that are unavailable to you. Maybe they are “taken” already or simply not interested, which in both cases usually means that you stay out of those “scary” relationships (even though you feel like you really want one and are looking for it). Or maybe they are not committing emotionally, so even though you are together with them, they always feel somewhat out of reach (and they are). You can never feel secure with them and as such find yourself in a position of neediness and desperation, trying to please them at all cost, putting them on a pedestal, afraid of their rejection, confusing those feelings of anxiety with love butterflies. Usually this very neediness and submission then leads to exactly what you were trying to avoid: rejection and abandonment – by someone you THOUGHT loved you, but who actually never truly loved you (and that you probably didn’t truly love either), but who only triggered your feeling of inferiority and insecurity, a pattern most likely created in your childhood. Whether the person you feel attracted to is physically or emotionally unavailable, in both cases you will feel sad and hurt, but this pain is nothing compared to the really bad pain that comes with being abandoned by someone you share a true love connection with, so the end result is still a positive one from the perspective of your inner guardian.
On the other hand, this same protection mechanism results in you being physically unable to feel love chemistry for someone who is truly available to you. Worse, you might even feel engulfed by their strong feelings towards you and push them away strongly. Of course they might truly not be the “one” for you, but there’s also the possibility that, because you equate insecurity with love, you just don’t feel anything when there’s no insecurity. Nothing you can do about it – or so it seems.
My own experience in love
To me personally this concept makes a lot of sense. In fact it explains many of my own experiences with love relationships and feelings of love and attraction. I am one of those who stayed out of ANY relationship until my mid 20’s, always feeling attracted to guys who didn’t care about me, and while I suffered big deal from that on the surface, I can now see how it was a protection mechanism, because I do in fact have several strong experiences of feeling abandoned in my childhood, which must have impacted me deeply on an unconscious level. Since I couldn’t get the guys I wanted, the few relationships I did get into usually were with guys who actually wanted ME, with the problem that even though I liked them and my head told me to give it a try, I didn’t really feel much physical attraction towards them. Usually this led to break-up quite quickly, because who can I trust if not my own feelings, right?
It even led me to break up my longest and deepest relationship four years ago, when I met someone new, who did in fact activate my “love” (read “insecurity”) chemistry. As you can probably tell by now, this guy wasn’t really interested in anything serious and so it didn’t work out. Yet this experience had a profound impact on me, because through all of it the one I had abandoned (my long-term partner), never abandoned me! He continued to be there for me, to support me and to even defend me in front of people who were harshly judging my behavior towards him. For the first time I felt truly loved unconditionally – an experience that brought me to tears and was deeply healing. Because I had been working on myself a lot over the years prior to that, I was able to feel worthy enough to accept this gift, so instead of running away from it, I moved back towards it. Luckily I was given another chance by the Universe and am reunited with this true love since two years now.
That being said, my body still remains in its old patterns, meaning that I still have difficulties to feel physical attraction in this secure relationship. Yet I know on a very deep level that I love him and that he is the right one for me. Even though it’s challenging and confusing at times, that I don't feel (and never really felt) the "butterflies", I continue believing in this. After all, I HAVE gone through the break-up option and it wasn’t what I wanted either. So I now choose to work on slowly getting to the root of and overcoming my twisted emotional wiring.
Can you trust your feelings?
Being aware of the concept of abandoholism helps tremendously to bring clarity into those confusing feelings, exactly BECAUSE it challenges the belief that we can always trust our feelings. At first I struggled a lot with that notion, because for years I had worked hard to get to a place where I could indeed feel and trust my feelings and intuition – and now they tell me that this is not always a good idea??
Seemed like a paradox, but when I reflected a little more on it, I realized that there is a difference between “true” (soul-driven) intuition and “fake” (ego-driven) feelings and intuition - and that you can absolutely trust the former, so the secret is to tell the two apart.
The food connection
The concept of abandoholism tells us that when deeply unconscious programs are running the show, those might produce physical signals that – although meant to protect us – make us make choices that ultimately are not in our best interest – like constantly getting into relationships with partners that are not good for us. Or – to make the connection with food – making us eat foods that might instantly satisfy our need for pleasure, but that sabotage our long-term health or weight goals. While I always tell my clients that as long as their metabolism is out of balance, they cannot necessarily trust their food cravings, it had never occurred to me that the same could be true for their emotional cravings and the attraction they feel towards people. As above, so below. Of course!
To give some examples for distorted food cravings:
- When your adrenal glands are exhausted and cannot produce enough energy anymore, you might experience strong cravings for sugar or caffeine, two substances that give you short-term energy, but actually make things worse in the long-run. What your body would really need is some sleep and some good fats and proteins.
- The same is true for an overgrowth of candida in your gut. Candida is a yeast that feeds on sugar to grow, so you might feel like eating a lot of sugar, because this is what the YEAST needs, when what YOU would need is to avoid those very foods to get rid of the unwanted guest, and to heal your gut with good fats, proteins, broth and probiotics.
- We also tend to crave foods that support the emotional state we are in, so if we are angry, we tend to choose foods that support “anger chemistry” in the body. Depending on your Metabolic Type, this could be for example coffee or red meat or oranges or chili.
The same is true for exercise by the way, if we are a typical “yang” person, always active and on the run, we feel attracted to running, when what we would actually need is some slow yin yoga to get into balance. And vice versa, if we are the typical “yin” person, we feel naturally more drawn to sedentary activities, when what we would need is some movement. If we translate this to physical attraction, it could mean that when we do feel attracted to adventurous guys for example, we would really need someone stable.
So if we have a tendency to self-sabotage with food and to choose foods that we like and that give us pleasure, but that actually hurt us, we likely do the same with love partners, too. And vice versa. This is probably why I often see relationships being impacted once people start to take better care of their food choices. That doesn’t necessarily mean break-up, it can also mean finally creating REAL connection, so no need to be scared, if you are a client of mine :).
Stepping out of your comfort zone
In order to know whether or not we are working for or against ourselves, we first need to overcome our resistance, step out of our comfort zone and dare to go against the very attraction we feel and try out what feels completely counter-intuitive to us instead. IF it is indeed something that we truly need, we will feel how good it is for us – not just on the surface, but on a much deeper level. This deeply satisfying feeling will slowly make us lose the “unhealthy” craving and naturally want more of what we really need.
But to get to that experience, we must first be WILLING to experiment.
So many of my clients who take the Metabolic Type Analysis are resistant to trying out eating red meat for breakfast, telling me that they just can’t do it. Really? You are not able to open the fridge, take out a steak, bake it, put it on your plate and eat it at 8 am in the morning, when you did just that at 8pm yesterday? Of course you can. Just like you can live without coffee or bread or sugar. You are just not used to doing it. What feels like your “intuition” is simply your comfort zone and probably some fear of change. It’s your FAKE intuition telling you that eating meat for breakfast or giving up coffee is an absolutely bad idea because you’ve grown up in a culture where typical breakfast consists of toast, jam, orange juice – and coffee.
However, the very fact that you have been invited to try out something new might be your TRUE intuition and body wisdom speaking to you. The only way to know is to go and try and see. You will not die from eating a steak once in the morning or to go for a month without coffee. In worst case, it will be a horrible experience never to be repeated. In best case, it will completely change your life for the better.
This is what actually happened to me: Coming from an almost vegan diet, I was willing to experiment with meat when I first took my Metabolic Typing test and noticed instantly, how good it made me feel. No intellectual argument could ever convince me more than what I feel in my body, and no matter what people say, I know that (quality) meat is good for me! I had similar experiences with meditation and yoga. I’ve never been able to sit still for more than 5 min and the mere thought of it horrified me. But body wisdom stopped my running career at some point, and I was forced to get into calmer types of exercise, if I wanted to continue moving, so I tried yoga and pilates and have been addicted ever since (especially to yin yoga, the calmest form of yoga). When I met my current partner, he was talking so enthusiastically about his experience of a 10 days Vipassana meditation retreat, that I felt intrigued to try it, and so I got from 0 to 100, sitting in silent meditation for 10 hours a day for 10 days. Needless to say that it changed my life forever.
In terms of relationships I have already told you how only by daring to end my stable, yet unsatisfying relationship and experimenting with those feelings of “love” and attraction, I found out what “true” love really feels like. So in a way, my current partner is to my soul what meat is to my metabolism –deeply nourishing and absolutely good for me on a long-term basis. Whereas the affair I had after our break-up was to my soul what sugar was to my metabolism - pleasurable in the short run, yet not good for me in the long run.
What to do
- Whether it's about relationships, food, exercise… the secret is to stay open-minded and courageous enough to step out of your comfort zone and to try on different hats, especially when you are “called” to do so. The more pro-actively you are, the less your body needs to force you to with all sorts of unwanted symptoms (like knee pain to finally slow you down or infertility to make you eat fat...). You can only tell day from night, when you’ve seen and felt both. In fact, experimenting is the only way to tell the difference between “fake” ego-driven intuition and “true” soul-driven intuition. Only when you are willing to let go of the familiar and seemingly secure, can you feel the difference between that volatile, hyper energy of the former and that calm and steady energy of the latter. And remember, it’s that latter one that you can absolutely trust!
- Slowing down, breathing, connecting with your heart and learning to truly listen are essential in that process. You cannot notice your inner voices, leave alone distinguish between them, when you are running around like a chicken without a head.
- Believing in a Higher Force that takes good care of you is also helpful to overcome fear of abandonment. I like to call that Higher Force "Universe". By developing trust into the benevolence and abundance of the Universe, you will come to realize, that you can never lose what is truly meant and good for you - and that love - rather than being a scarce resource, is infinite.
- At the very basis of it all is the process of learning to give yourself what you are so hard looking for on the outside: unconditional love. As on the inside, so on the outside. You can never feel validated and appreciated by anyone, if you don’t validate and appreciate yourself first. You can never recognize nor let in true love, when you don’t love yourself truly first.
If you want to overcome abandoholism and your fear of being abandoned, stop abandoning yourself first!
Put your long-term well-being above short-term gratification.
Listen to your gut and your heart, but take your head with you!