By Flavia Potenza — December 18, 2008 [Online Version]
There are some books you don't want to read but you must read. This is one of them. In this memoir, Rachel Resnick plummets into the depths of addiction-in this case, love, sex and fantasy–as powerful as any drug an addict may inject to dull the threat of long submerged memories rank with fear and pain.
What is a love junkie? "You're a love junkie," Resnick says, "if you have a core of neediness and dependency that's waiting to grasp onto someone. You want someone to rescue you, take care of you-the way your parents should have (and probably didn't). You have a big gaping hole that the wind howls through, and that distorts our perceptions of the world and especially of the destructive lovers we choose. Love junkies aren't healthy."
Resnick's remembering spirals downward and downward until it hits bottom and then hits bottom again, only deeper. Even as an observer, the reader may want to get off this speeding train but can't and thus becomes an unwilling voyeur who can't stop watching but desperately hopes the author will be able to pull the brake. When she finally commits to a 12-step program, it's still a tortured journey through a cloud of unknowing as she sifts through layer after layer of denial to discover who that person is who deserves to be loved without the substrata of humiliation, abuse and the most depraved interpretations of fantasy.
Resnik's writing itself is compelling as she regales us with detailed accounts of her obsessive relationships, such as writing 64 e-mails in 48 hours to a boyfriend she just broke up with, or obsessively calling him from her car until she smacks into the rear of a van carrying a family of five. That was her wake-up call.
"When I use the term addiction, I mean it as a wake-up call," she says. "When I first realized I was an addict, when I first called myself one, that's when things began to change. I had to take responsibility. And naming it-calling it an addiction-cleared the way to facing the truth. It wasn't bad luck. It was me. After I realized this, I had to step back from all intimate engagements. I did not date and I virtually did not have sex for two and a half years. Well, I had three slips, with three men, in a 30-month period. Still-it was the longest time I'd ever retreated sexually like that. In my case, I needed that period of time to get to know myself and to heal. To break the patterns and behavior that were so deeply ingrained."
This is a gut-wrenching memoir born of a childhood distorted by an alcoholic mother who showed all the signs of being a love junkie herself, and a mostly absent father. The fact that Resnick emerges on the other side as a whole person is a miracle and the book is a gift to all who read it.
Editor's Note: Rachel Resnick graciously gave permission for the Messenger to publish the following excerpt from
I am six years old.
There is a boy in the neighborhood on whom I develop a mad crush. He has the longest eyelashes of any boy in the world. This boy is a couple of years older than me, blond, tough. Out of my league.
One day I tell him boldly, "I like you."
"What'd you say?" he says, surprised.
Before I can answer, he punches me so hard in the stomach I see stars. The wind gets knocked out of me. I double over, say nothing. I can take it.
I think, looking back, this was the first time I had a crush where I was able to knit love and pain together in a way I knew so well from my family.
It felt like home.
What I remember next is how hard this boy laughs, and how the other kids who are playing around on the lawn shout and laugh, holler and point, before they all quickly run or bike away. How my face turns bright red. How the incredible eyelashes brush against this boy's cheekbones as he studies me, disgusted.
"Don't you ever come near me again," he says under his breath, even though nobody is around anymore. "Ever," he hisses.
The passion in his voice, the intensity, makes me tremble; this boy has feelings for me! I think I'm going to vomit. Please don't throw up, I say silently. I'm still hunched, holding my stomach.
Then this boy tears off and cycles away down the cul-de-sac.
I remember going inside the house, the screen door snapping shut behind me. Walking, still doubled over, into my bedroom. Shutting the door. And lying curled up on the bed, replaying the moment, and the boy's face fixed on me, over and over. The soundtrack is his urgent voice: "Don't you ever come near me again."
He can't mean that. He doesn't realize it, but I know he wants the opposite. He wants me. Rachel Miranda Resnick. Six years old, and learning to read. Who wouldn't want me? He just doesn't realize yet. It's my job to change it.
For a budding love junkie, this scene is a revelation. Because what happens is, the crush instantly turns into an obsession. What went wrong? How can I turn that explosion of his into passion? If he only understood how I felt, he would've embraced me as his girlfriend. I just have to try harder to impress him. That's it.
© 2008 Bloomsbury. All rights reserved. Reprinted by permission of the author.