Addicted to love

Following a string of horrendous relationships, she wakes up one morning in her 40s and realizes that maybe her problems come from within.

love junkie book 88 248 (photo credit: Courtesy)
love junkie book 88 248
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Love Junkie: A Memoir By Rachel Resnick Bloomsbury 256 pages; $24 In a world where addictions are rampant and there are 12-step programs for drugs, alcohol, gambling and overeating, it shouldn't seem surprising that there is a 12-step program for those addicted to love. Rachel Resnick may well have been one of Robert Palmer's backup girls in the hit '80s song "Addicted to Love." Those women exuded sex, dressed in slinky black dresses, bright-red lipstick and slicked-back hair, and were indistinguishable from each other, but in her memoir, Love Junkie, Resnick steps out of the shadows and places her addictions to love and sex front and center. Following a string of horrendous relationships exacerbated by a broken home, rampant neglect, emotional abuse and the death of her mother when Resnick was only 14, she wakes up one morning in her 40s after yet another destructive relationship and realizes that maybe her problems come from within. With her newly found discovery that she is indeed a "love junkie," Resnick lays herself bare in this memoir and asks the world to watch and observe and try not to flinch. Born in Jerusalem (to this day Resnick even has the word Katamon as part of her e-mail address) to a Jewish father and a Catholic mother, her memoir switches back and forth between her current love life and her childhood upbringing as she is moved from city to city in the US. With her alcoholic mother losing custody of her and her half-brother when Resnick is only 12, she moves in with her father and haredi stepmother only to be sent away to boarding schools, uncaring relatives, strangers and neighbors. Resnick's intense need and passion for love begins so young that it's heartbreaking to read of her first childhood crush when she is just six years old. When she finally screws up the courage to tell a boy in her neighborhood that she likes him, his response is to punch her in the stomach. This is when Resnick says, "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." And when the boy screams at Resnick, "Don't ever come near me again! EVER!" she interprets the passion and intensity of his words to mean he's passionate about her and clearly wants the opposite of what he's stating. It's a pattern she will continue into adulthood, only now it's with grown men (who act like boys) and includes sex and an intense need for a child that overtakes her entire life and culminates in a miscarriage. It takes an enormous amount of courage for Resnick to put her life story on the page. Her writing is as stripped, raw and intense as her emotions, and at times you don't want to read further. But you do, anyway, with a kind of abject horror. Reconciling her life, her relationships (with her father and brother) are slow, painful processes that are not tied up in neat little bows at the end. This is real life. It's Resnick's life to be sure, but there are elements of despair, hope and the need for love, recognition and acceptance that are part of all of our lives. That Resnick has managed to lead a successful life as a writer (she published her first novel - Go West Young F*cked Up Chick - in 2000, has written a slew of articles for the mainstream media and runs creative writing workshops), is a testament to her facing her demons head on and undertaking a 12-step program for those addicted to love, sex, romance and fantasy. She still retains the passion, intensity and willfulness that have been present since her childhood, but by the end of her memoir she's working to channel these in positive ways. Ultimately these are the traits that make her a great writer. Read this book with someone or something to hug.