Santa Monica, CA—Additions come in all guises as Rachel Resnick knows. Diagnosed with “Attachment Disorder,” Resnick, a contributing reporter for the Los Angeles Times, writes about her journey out of ruinous relationships. Her memoir, Love Junky: A Memoir, comes out in paperback this month.
“What I think so far is this addiction is lethal, rooted in the most primal ground of childhood damage. And once that attachment has set in, shaking it is tantamount to weaning oneself off the most addictive and powerful drugs,” she says.
Burdened with a failure to properly bond, Resnick recounts a tumultuous childhood. The difficult process led her to understand her parents’ failed marriage, and her mother’s mental illness and alcoholism. Her mother died when Resnick was 14 and more turbulent years followed.
“This book is my journey through a lifelong pattern of ruinous relationships with men, a pattern that may have cost me my chance to have a child, or a healthy relationship of any kind. It’s my attempt to understand, and end, a pattern that has been yielding worse and worse choices.”
Resnick has essays and articles to her credit, including a bestseller. She also turns out celebrity cover stories for the Los Angeles Times. She says she wishes she had read such a book in her youth which might have spared her a great deal of desperation and despair.
The animated author believes that art and literature can heal. “I believe in the power of art because I have been changed by books I read.”
She spoke in depth about the challenging process of recovery that dovetailed into a memoir, and the unexpected yet sublime rewards of both.
“I had no idea what I was getting into when I said I would write a memoir” admitted the statuesque blonde wearing a T-shirt and jeans.
But learning from art has a price. “If you think that art matters, it demands a sacrifice of you.”
Resnick says the catalyst for the memoir “was rooted in visiting a 12-step group.”
She remembers the day well. On June 4, 2005, she recalls the shock as she acknowledged a severe addiction she had justified and denied. This woke her to a burgeoning, dispelling, and ultimately illuminating shift.
“I thought I was extra passionate or lucky in love. I didn’t see that I was using these people and relationships as an addictive drug…they were not real people. I just wanted to suck them dry.”
Stepping back from this destructive pattern allowed Resnick to understand the nature of her notions and behaviors more clearly. She realized how she would “confuse intensity for intimacy, confuse sex for love,” believing intense passion “was something real.”
Resnick was stunned by the extreme symptoms of withdrawal she experienced as she relinquished these deep-set attachments. Insomnia, headaches, vivid dreams, depression and stomach upset made her realize how love and sex could act as an addictive drug in one’s body.
The actual process of writing the memoir, called “narrative therapy,” supported Resnick’s recovery as it mirrors steps 4 and 5 of the 12-step program. Taking a “moral inventory” with rigorous honesty to strip away self-deception and then sharing this with a confidant was pivotal in her healing. She gradually forged genuine connections with others.
“I was in a unique position to be honest,” acknowledges Resnick. She felt that she needed to get down to the raw and gritty to truly affect the people who were in as much denial as she had been. Unencumbered by loyalties to children or a partner gave her the ultimate freedom to express herself without compromise.
“Writing is forming a bond of intimacy with a reader—maybe it’s the only way to create that [intimacy]. I have become more human. My emotions are more on the surface. I am not as obsessed. ….Recovery helps you return to innocence.”
Resnick discovered the sublime yet paradoxical truth that the more one relinquishes obsessive desire for intimacy, the more one is truly available for authentic connection.
This is evident by the letters and emails that Resnick has received by women and men alike, young and old, stirred to the core by her offer of hope and redemption, and the revelation that they are not alone in their suffering.
“I feel lucky to be able to reach people. I have the capacity to be of service,” says Resnick who attributes this is to “growing up”.
“I could not have written this 10 years ago,” Resnick says of the transformational tool known as the memoir. “I was not seasoned enough. A memoir is complex.”
“I am not the same person I was before this,” she says. The writer is now working on a book about money, value and self-worth.
Although recovery is a long, complex, and gradual process, Resnick says “I feel myself healing and growing.”
Love Junky: A memoir by Rachel Resnick (2009) is published by Bloomsbury USA comes out in paperback this month.