Saturday, December 20, 2008

Love Junkie: hot sex and ruinous relationships


Love Junkie by Rachel Resnick is a brave, compelling memoir/confessional of the author's decades of seeking love and finding chaos and hot sex with damaged men within destructive, degrading, dangerous relationships. I couldn't put this book down.

I've had my wild times in the past and made some bad choices, but I always loved my men caring and my sex gentle. Resnick made me hold my breath as she pummeled me verbally and emotionally with graphic tales of rough sex with damaged, controlling men -- men who filled her vagina without ever filling her desperate need to be loved and valued.

Rachel Resnick grew up with a mother who was a drunk and picked up strangers in bars, her 11-year-old daughter drawing on paper placemats until mom was ready to go home, the man-of-the-night following in his own vehicle so he could make a quick escape the next morning. Her father had left when she was four.

As a child, she admitted her crush on a boy who responded by punching her in the stomach and hissing, "Don't you ever come near me again, ever." She took that painful contact as proof that he was destined to love her, and pursued him. So went the story of her adult dating life, too.

Resnick's needy yearning ("a shadowy choke hold") drove her life and relationships from one wrong man to another. She would do anything to please a man and make him love her -- which of course drove him away or brought out the worst in him. She obsessively sent e-mail after e-mail to the man she craved: "If it took fifty e-mails of justifications and explanations, late-night drive-overs and I'm-sorry blow jobs, sign me up," she writes about one such obsession.

Other reviewers have described Love Junkie as a train wreck -- you know you should avert your eyes and keep going, but you can't help staring at every bloody detail. I never felt like a voyeur reading it -- I felt involved, a part of the story, wishing I could pull my friend Rachel away from her own need and the men who degraded her. I wanted to talk some sense into her, help her turn her life around, let her know that love is possible, but first she has to look inside and get help to repair the damage.

I'm relieved that she comes to this understanding herself, committing to a 12-step program for people who are out of control around sex and love. Love Junkie is riveting reading, highly recommended.






(photo of Rachel Resnick)

2 comments:

  1. I absolutely loved your review! Heartfelt thanks for your read, your enthusiastic words and recommendation, and your sharp and generous insights. I love how you tied in your own sexual and romantic history as well, and informed your review with a visceral response.

    For years I've been preparing for the day when I must move to, say, France, in order to continue being a sensual, sexual woman. Our youth-obsessed country is brutal when it comes to aging. Knowing that there are people based stateside who are doing their part to claim that ongoing vitality in women with candidness and vigor is both exciting --and important. You might make me reconsider my plan of having to move abroad to still live like a hot-blooded woman as I get older!

    I think the addiction I write about can be present in someone of my age -- or younger -- or older. One wonderful reader, aged 60, told me after reading Love Junkie she ran right out to her therapist because she was shocked to recognize her behavior in certain aspects of the narrative portrait.

    I love the other reviews and interviews I've read on your blog, too. I think it's fantastic to read those books through the prism of senior sensibilities and concerns, with all the seasoned sparkle and particular issues that go along with it. The Bonk review was as punchy and lively as the interview. I also enjoyed your take on Assisted Living. By highlighting the son's squeamishness about some of his father's romantic adventures, you teased out an aspect of the book I bet others didn't even note. I look forward to reading more of your blog and work.

    – Rachel

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  2. I grew up with great support from my mother and my aunts, some of whom were feminists way back in the day. The men were another story. My father, though well meaning, was controlling and very critical, as were my uncles. I think all these men hated women, and punished me for it with their hateful scornful words. I suffered from a form of very subtle emotional abuse from these men which has been very hard to identify and difficult to heal.

    My father moved out and divorced my mom when I was in third grade, though we continued to see him in the summers. I continued to visit him over the years until we had a bad falling out. He never spoke to me again - for the last ten years of his life - although I apologized, twice, in writing. He died five years ago without ever apologizing to me or even saying he loved me. Mourning for him almost killed me, literally, and took about two years.

    I loved my dad, and I think he loved me, but his way of showing it was very damaging. You might say it was more of a love/hate relationship. My dad was an emotionally neglected child who was himself very wounded.

    I think this absence of real unconditional love from my father, with no back up from uncles or other male relatives, drove me to live like a love junkie for decades of my younger life. I am naturally cautious, so I didn't get myself into really serious trouble, but I have a string of "bad boyfriends" longer than I can count. Nice men were boring to me, and didn't seem sexy at all. Women who don't get love and acceptance from their father figures will look for it in male lovers, repeating the same patterns of abuse.

    It took me about thirty years to realize that looking for nurturing love from men who wanted to have sex with me was trying to get blood out of a stone. All this will get you is more of the same neglect and disregard.

    I worked with a feminist therapist for many years to rebuild a healthy male archetype in my psyche. This was and still is a long and arduous task, but it paid off eventually when I met my husband who is very good to me.

    It is extremely important for men to be unconditionally loving and accepting with their daughters. Of course they need to teach and correct unproductive behavior in a compassionate way, but accept and love the girl for who she is. Even if a father is not there in the house, this kind of love makes all the difference.

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