“If the hurt comes so will the happiness. Be patient.” ~Rupi Kaur
What if I said instead of messaging our ex, we had a different choice, a choice that will be even more fulfilling than acting on the urge to share whatever we’re feeling right now?
It’s been over a year since I last spoke with my ex. While I’ve thought about him and missed him, I’ve known that getting in contact wasn’t the right thing, and so I haven’t taken any action to reconnect.
For the past few weeks, however, my thoughts have been seeping in, focusing on the good times, the fun times, and how, when we were at our best, he made me feel like the most important person in the world.
What’s been different this time is that these romanticized thoughts have coincided with a period in my life when I’ve been having a difficult time, and with that, my willpower to abstain from reaching out has been weaker.
Recently I felt a knot in my stomach, an overwhelming urge, like I couldn’t get through another moment without speaking with him. My chest tight, heart thumping, unable to relax, tears flooding, a messy anxious feeling that needs him.
In my moment of weakness I took to notes on my phone to write everything I wanted to say. I imagined how he’d be there for me and give me the love and support I’ve been craving. Tears flowed as I typed, the anxious pit in my stomach now at bursting point waiting for me to send the message to become relaxed once more.
But what if our need for connection is leading us to the wrong places? What if we are seeking the familiar, but it’s actually chaos, dysfunction, and drama—not something positive or healthy?
Within our brains are neurotransmitters called dopamine, which act as messengers communicating reward, motivation, and body regulation. What’s interesting is that dopamine is not only released from pleasurable experiences—say for example love, hugs, and kisses—but also when we’re trying to get out of a difficult experience. So, that feel-good chemical is not only released during the good times, but can also be released during the bad.
Growing up with alcoholism in my family, violent outbursts and drama were a regular occurrence. It’s only in hindsight that I’ve realized I’ve been drawn to relationships full of extreme highs and lows, the exact replicas of chaotic times of my past. I’m not a scientist, but I’d guess that I’ve been reaping the benefits of a whole lot of dopamine during those roller coaster…