Ah, the glamorous lifestyle of a freelance writer. It had me up bright and early this morning—or crazy late last night, depending on how you look at it—with my headscarf a kilter, my laptop a-blazin’ and my to-do list by my side. My only company was TV One, which I have grown to love more and more. Between Life After, Find Our Missing and one of my hands-down favorites, Unsung, their programming department is doing the darn thing. So in the midst of my wee-hour working, I bumped into Love Addiction, one of the two newer shows on the network I hadn’t seen yet. It documents a couple struggling through a tumultuous relationship and allows family and friends to bumrush one person, Intervention-style, to convince him or her to bail on the drama.
I’m sure the ladies in the two episodes I saw have since gone home, watched the hot messness they had been putting up with play out on reality TV and wished they could lift a foot high enough to kick their own selves for staying in that love funk for so long with dudes who were clearly self-esteem poison. One brazen fool was at one end of the bar, buying drinks for some random chicks while his girlfriend was sitting square at the other end. Another was taking his woman’s car—and some of her money—staying out to the ungodly hours of the morning and couldn’t be bothered to answer his phone or reply to the texts she sent. Everybody plays the fool sometimes, there’s no exception to the rule, but it’s probably quite another animal to see what it was really like after you’re finished living it. Both sistas decided to move on and unless they had a relapse of bad judgment, are likely much happier for it.
The most effective part of the show’s set-up is the psychologist or therapist on hand during the confrontation to help the individual being put on the spot sort through some of their reasoning for staying in what is obviously a destructive or, at the very least, unfulfilling relationship. Heck, I was on my sofa having my own set of revelations and a-ha moments and I wasn’t anywhere near the participants, the situation or the circumstances at hand. It just reinforced for me the power of some couch time, which is, very unfortunately, a power that is virtually untapped by Black folks in general and Black women specifically. There’s still such a stigma around counseling that we’d rather walk around with all kinds of emotional baggage and psychological scarring than tell our business to a total stranger, albeit a specially trained and professionally licensed one. But girlfriends don’t know everything and Big Mama can only dole out but so much advice.
Meanwhile, we carry around the residuals of disappointments and hurts and heartbreaks and emotional beat downs and even stuff that our parents and families did or didn’t do before we were old enough to date. We unwittingly pass some of it off onto our children, who watch how we handle our dealings with husbands and boyfriends. And we bring it into the next relationship and the next relationship and the one after that, so even when we’re supposed to be starting over, we really aren’t. At least not from a personal standpoint. It takes work and a conscious effort to change anything: your patterns, your habits, your thought processes, your beliefs. And, truth be told, most of us can’t handle doing it by ourselves. That’s where a good therapist can help you dissect your way of thinking and figure your own darn self out, so no one else has to “get” you.
I think the title of the show is so telling. Love Addiction indeed. So many of us are walking around hanging our entire life’s hope on finding love and trying the Cinderella stepsister approach to relationships. In some cases — not all, but some — if one dude isn’t a good fit, we just keep trying and trying until we can cram our foot into one of ‘em, even if it’s clearly not our size (and that includes me, who has done that more times that I care to confess). I am also the first to admit I’ve been to a therapist before and I am about due to be there again. Ain’t nothin’ wrong with a little tune-up here and there.
I am of the high mind that if more folks sought the expertise of a good therapist—if in fact they have medical coverage for it, which is a whole other set of issues—people wouldn’t be freaking the heck out and ending up the subject of the most shared news story on Facebook and Twitter. Fewer folks would be dabbling in drugs and alcohol and seeking refuge in other unhealthy, unproductive, unbeneficial ways. We’d still have some nuts, of course, but less of us walking that very fine line between being frustrated and being the next profile on Snapped. And we could love ourselves as deeply and passionately as we want some magical man to.