I don't like using the word addiction loosely. So I will say that my fixation with validation stops just short of an addiction. It is my compulsive behavior. I look for a validation fix everywhere I can. In each email I receive from a friend, I hope to be validated. In the comments on my blog I long for praise. All around me on the internet I search for opportunities to be validated by writing comments or submitting guest posts. During my sharing at group meeting I look for approval in the faces of those who listen to me. When I bear my testimony at church I anticipate complimentary responses. During an emotional crisis I reach for my phone to call a trusted friend, someone I can count on to either validate me or talk me out of my desperate need.
When these sources all fail me, I turn to social media. Instagram and Facebook are a warehouse for manufactured validation. I post a picture of myself or my kids and I find instant positive feedback. But it's never enough. There are never enough comments or "likes" to satisfy me. I am insatiable.
When validation can not be found, I default to distraction. I peruse Instagram and Facebook, or play Words With Friends. Pinterest. Amazon. Anything to distract me from the fact that I am not being acknowledged, appreciated or worshipped.
(I am not saying there is anyhing inherently wrong with these things. Just like there is nothing inherently wrong with the beach. The beach is only a place to be avoided if you're a cycling sex addict.)
*Side Note* I want to issue a formal apology here, to anyone who I emailed preachy or self-righteous advice to. There were times it was me acting out on a compulsive desire for validation, because I was insecure about my position. And I can't possibly express my gratitude sufficiently to those who have had the courage to disagree with me, to refuse to indulge my somewhat manipulative effort to be validated. Now that I'm feeling the meekness of having no answers, I am slightly embarrassed at how I behaved when I was sure I had figured it all out.
My insatiable need for validation is definitely a problem. It might be a managable problem for me but for two things. One- I look to Pete as the number one source of my validaton. Two- Pete is an addict. I loved Rhyll's words
"Even though his presence brought out a toxic reaction in me, I desperately wanted to be loved and validated by him."
Pete and I have the same blame-shifting conversation during each of his addictive cycles. The conversation where he tells me that I'm detaching too much, and I lose my confidence. I might be able to have this conversation if I wasn't so committed to pleasing him, but my need for his validation suffocates me and breaks my heart at the first sign of his disapproval. This last time, through my tears I begged him to leave the room because I could not handle the pain of his blame.
The only people who I don't look to for validation are my children. I am so thankful that they have been spared the pressure of filling my perpetual need. From them all I wish for is love. Love free of agenda or self-interest. Pure childlike love. Love that comes so naturally to them that I can be totally confident in its intentions. It is whole and it is the antidote to my disease. It is the water that quenches my insecure thirst.