Monday, February 29, 2016

Book Review: Insatiable

By Denise Keliuotis

When I think of addiction, I think of the classics: Alcohol. Drugs. Maybe even sex. I certainly don’t think of love. And, yet, that’s exactly the addiction with which Shary Hauer struggles.

Insatiable: A Memoir of Love Addiction is Hauer’s account of her decades’ long battle with that very addiction, a compulsion that has shaped and touched every corner of her life, one she can trace back to a young age, one she can identify but with which she continues to battle. With heart and candor, Hauer offers us a glimpse of what it’s like to literally be addicted to something so basic and necessary, so organic and seemingly simple. Something many find, but not usually at the cost Hauer has paid.

I’ll admit it: I approached Insatiable with some skepticism. Love addiction? Really? But Hauer anticipated such doubt, and early in her story, she confirms: “The tricky part about love addiction, unlike alcohol, drug, and other addictions, is that people don’t take it seriously. They don’t think of it as a bona fide addiction. I didn’t.” Yet, as I read, as Hauer shared and explained, my skepticism faded, replaced with the greedy curiosity of someone reading someone else’s diary – and with the drive of a reader handed a beautifully crafted work. Indeed, I devoured Insatiable.

And if I’m being honest, I identified with much more of Hauer’s story than I’d have ever imagined. Though I don’t meet the definition of a love addict, I could truly feel myself in Hauer’s story, particularly as to her craving for the excitement of a new, blossoming love. Who hasn’t relished the rush of feeling pretty, special, and desired, the feelings that almost always seem to flow from a new relationship? But Hauer has taken her need for that spark to a whole new level. She says it best:

"My high was the anticipation, the fantasy, the romance, the rush of a new relationship. I got into and stayed in relationships not because I fell in love with the man but because I craved being wanted. I needed a man in order to be more of a woman. When I wasn’t in a relationship, I felt dead. I perked up, resuscitated, looked better, talked better, and felt better when there was promise of a new relationship. The anticipation of fresh love. A fresh source of adoration. It was never really about the man."

I most enjoyed reading about Hauer’s relationships, seeing for myself the ways in which her addiction affected the very thing she wanted most: love and affection, companionship and intimacy. There’s John and Patrick, Byron and Vernie, James and Doug. More than once, as Hauer dove into yet another relationship, I found myself yelling at her, wanting to warn her she was walking into the fire or, at the very least, repeating the cycle that had cost her so dearly in the past.

Not only did I enjoy Hauer’s story, I also grew quite fond of her. Addiction aside, Hauer is a really interesting person, to say the least. She’s self-aware, funny, and smart. She has built a successful business from the ground up; a career she loves, which is no easy feat. She enjoys her life despite her addiction. And, although one might assume otherwise, Hauer is a strong woman, one set on working through her own “stuff,” never trying to take the easy way out by blaming everything on someone else. There’s no pity party here. There are only hard-learned lessons and the bravery of a woman willing to confront her addiction with the hoope that maybe, just maybe, next time she will get it right, next time she will fall in love with a man for who he is and not for the “fix” he provides. In my heart, I wish Hauer nothing more than this.

Thanks to Shary Hauer for the book in exchange for an honest review.


Janine said...

Great review. This sounds like a book I could relate to.

Denise K. said...

Thanks, Janine! I truly believe that most women will relate to this book, or at least parts of it.

A Brighter Tomorrow said...

There are scientific studies of love addiction and self-help books by the dozens. But Shary makes this painful subject real by opening up to her audience with her own personal struggles. When I published my book, Addiction to Love, I was forced by my publisher to use the third person as if I were talking about one of my clients or students. But the character in my book was me and I lacked the courage Shary has shown to own up to that. This is an excellent book about love addiction. You won't regret buying it. Susan Peabody