You know that feeling? The one where you feel warm and full, blissful and drowsy, your thoughts dart back and forth faster than the particles between the Hadron Collider, you want to blurt out everything on your mind but your tongue is too content holding still….so all you do is sigh — Sigh.
I am tempted to repeat the word Sigh as a substitute for any actual writing at this point. Sigh. sigh. SIGH. Sigh.
After succumbing briefly to that temptation, I think I will go ahead and be forthcoming about this:
“Hello, my name is [redacted], and I am addicted to love.” (The noun, not the verb.)
It is quite normal for someone with a ‘problem’ to introduce their ‘problem’ by trying to find common ground with the other party. Sort of rope them into accepting that it is a relatable ‘problem’, that you would have it too — if you were me. It is also quite normal to be a bit in denial so someone with a ‘problem’ would likely write the ‘problem’ in quotation marks to give ambiguity to the word. Because in all likelihood, after some explanation, and finding some common ground, you too will see that it is not really a ‘problem’.
There are worse things to be addicted to, certainly. I have a list of things I know I have a borderline unhealthy relationship with. Coffee in the morning. Chocolatey dessert after a main. All the things that I reach for with my body on autopilot, sometimes in a nervous flurry because when I need it I need it then and now. And although both coffee and chocolate contain substances that are pharmacologically classified as drugs, it is not these addictions that grip me with the sharpest of baby koala claws.
It is love – final sigh – LOVE that gets me. Not love that fills the heart, but love that consumes the mind. My brain remembers the feeling and craves it constantly. I have been in love with different people over time, but each one had been my special fix.
There was the boy who found Dinosaur comics hilarious, used terms like “musical sphere” in casual conversation, and had an educated opinion about everything. He wrote songs, drew pictures and made mixed CDs for me. I met his parents and he wanted to marry me.
There was the other boy, who ticked all my criteria boxes of “Mr. Right”, who smelled like coconut and an old Volvo. He was a pretty thing in trendy glasses, and he was broke half the time. We played humming games in the car, and I was told our kids would be cute. I watched him wash his car one evening and I wanted to marry him.
Then there was the boy, who was so wholesome his drink of choice was milk. He was all the things I never knew I wanted, but now cannot live without. He tried to teach me chess, but we made out instead. And that day, that day, he came to my rescue in an old van, said “accidents happen” and gave me a glass of water to calm me down. He said he wanted to be the father of my children one day at a mamak stall, and we got married two years ago.
He is my current drug of choice…. and he is three time zones away, while I have a spider and two potted plants to keep me company. But I am, if anything, a functional junkie-off-drug. I go to work, I pay my bills, I do groceries, I run on weekends, I cook my meals, I eat my meals — you would not think I had a ‘problem’. But my brain knows what it is being deprived from. My brain retaliates with a vengeance whenever he returns, apparating from a figment of my memory into a person in the flesh. I have little desire for food, I do not care for my work, I do not want to meet friends, I only want to lie in bed with him and stay in that place between sleeping and waking up.
Each time he leaves, the pain of withdrawal is unbearable. My brain turns grey, I have a hard time remembering things. I walk around in a bit of a daze, losing things like my phone and my keys and my sense of humor. I choke back tears while stirring my bowl of instant noodles — single serve.
Unlike pharmacological stimulants, love’s exit of the body is not immediate. But it does slowly fade. I gradually regain function, integrate into society, and go for a run. Still I sneer at passing couples on the street.
So, you know that feeling? The one that comes after being so cold and hungry for so long, that you don’t even want food anymore. You are tired but can’t sleep. Your thoughts move slow and measured, like an old man with gout crossing the street. You have nothing to say, but the silence is so lonely that you speak aloud to yourself. Sometimes you have pretty good conversations, yourself and you. But mostly you try to convince yourself that there is no problem.
Photo of Milk Bar Groceries by Khayriyyah Mohd Hanafiah
Khayriyyah is also addicted to mice made of sugar and biscuit.