When Love Hurts

Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods. Galatians 4:8

As an only child, growing up with few friends and an often absent father, I spent much of my free time playing with my dolls. My dolls were my comfort and my companions. I did have a few friends, but most of the time, I was home entertaining myself with paper dolls, coloring, or taking care of my “babies” or fashion dolls. I did not “worship” my dolls as one who believes that a god of stone would answer prayers. But they were real in the sense that they had feelings, like I did. I was a child, sometimes, a lonely child. Who could blame me for feeling my companions were “alive”.

Another set of companions were my Disney Princesses. Cinderella and Snow White came alive on film but more so in the books my father read to me before bedtime. There were no Disney costumes for me to wear in the 50’s but my imagination took flight every time I saw Cinderella in her sparkling white gown, looking down at her lovely glass slippers. Fantasy became another way to cope, being an isolated military brat, and it was easy for me to pretend to be a princess, witch, or fairy godmother.

As I started to mature, I became very obsessed with favorite actors and teen bands. I am not talking about merely “liking” these performers but am talking about thinking obsessively of them, imagining having discussions with them, and pouring over Teen Beat magazine to find pictures of them. When I fantasized meeting my idols, I felt euphoric, which was a perfect way to combat an ordinary day. There was no indication that I was doing anything wrong. It was just my way of entertaining myself whenever I was alone.

When I was almost 16, I had my first date. Mike (not real name) took me Polka dancing. I had been a ballerina since I was 7, so the steps were fun and easy to learn. Mike’s sense of humor put me at ease. I felt valued by his kind attention and, as the relationship deepened, I was fiercely determined to date only him.

At one point in the relationship, Mike wanted to “break up” with me. Much to Mike’s dismay, I became hysterical and started to scream, “Don’t leave me!” Shocked at my extreme reaction, Mike soothingly promised to stay with me “under certain conditions”. In my attempts to keep the relationship, I met Mike’s “conditions” which hurt my future relationship with my first husband and other men. My dependence on feeling “loved” affected my understanding of what real love was. Thinking love was based on feelings, I divorced my first husband for a younger, handsome man. I really believed that I had to be with him. Three years later, I realized the relationship wasn’t working and, heartbroken, said goodbye to this person who I had previously felt I could never live without.

I had made a commitment to Jesus Christ when I was a Junior at college. My faith in Jesus was strong in the beginning of my first marriage but my husband was Catholic and did not share in my Biblical beliefs. Except for saying Grace, at the table, we did not pray or read the Bible together. I cared about my husband but did not feel in love with him. Relying on these feelings, rather than the commitment I made to him, led me straight to the affair that broke our marriage.

Eight years of being single (with three children) helped me grow as an independent person. For the first time, I felt confident in myself but open to a new relationship. It was then that I met my second husband, George (not real name). George was kind, generous, and shy. In a little less than a year, we were married. Our marriage had a rocky start. My children did not like my new husband and did everything they could to make it difficult for him. George, in turn, had difficulty relating to the two older kids and there were many conflicts. As the kids matured and married, the stress was gone and we had many happy times with and without our children and grandchildren. Then, another “crush” threatened to break our marriage.

He was handsome and charismatic. We had common interests that my husband and I did not share. I was smitten. I knew my feelings for him were not in line with my Christian beliefs, but I believed that I could not survive without him. I also could not stop thinking and fantasizing about him, even when I wanted to stop. I was truly addicted to this man. I felt I needed him for my survival. My dependence on him, although toxic, was first perceived as flattery. He was charmed by my affection and returned the attention, until he realized how distorted my perception was of the relationship.

There was a organization called Celebrate Recovery, at church. Miserable, but still unable to leave the relationship, I started attending meetings and eventually worked with a sponsor. It took a little over a year, but I made the decision to retire and leave the company. My husband had been patient all this time, knowing of my upcoming retirement, and the work I was doing with my sponsor. I felt sad but relieved, knowing I could truly begin my sobriety.

It has been almost ten years since the day I left. Since then, I have learned strategies to quell an addiction to a person by limiting the time I spend with them. This love addiction, or relationship addiction feels uncomfortable to me, now. I want healthy relationships. I feel more confident, not needing someone else’s personality or talents to compensate for my weaknesses.

You may be wondering, “How did you accomplish this?” Maybe some of you are overly enamored of a person who cannot or should not return your affection. If so, please heed what I have to say. Addiction in any form is excruciating and destructive. Most of us need help to become sober and heal. There are many programs and counselors, out there, but for me Celebrate Recovery and my faith in Jesus Christ saved me. I had to admit I was powerless over my addiction, and that I needed God to help me heal. I made a decision to rededicate my life to Christ and asked forgiveness of the mess I had caused myself and others. God did not abandon me or forsake me. He forgave me and helped me live a new life. I will always be a love addict but Christ has given me a better way to live and he can do the same for you. If you are in a similar situation and want the forgiveness and love from our Savior then take the time to say this prayer.

Lord, I know that my life has become unmanageable. I have sinned against you and I am so sorry. I believe that you are God and that you died to take away my sins. Please forgive me and be my personal Savior. I promise, with the help of the Holy Spirit, to change my ways and follow you the rest of my life. I know this will be a painful journey but one I am determined, with your help, to undertake. Please help me find the right place that will help me recover. I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9 Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you Hebrews 13:5

Published by Sheila Scherlin

I am a retired special needs teacher originally from Massachusetts, now residing in Arizona. My husband and I each have three adult children and many grandchildren and some great grandchildren. My passions are singing, single action cowboy shooting, writing and my faith in Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior. I have danced and acted, on stage and in competitions, but swim aerobics is the closest I come to dance, at this stage. My husband and I travel back east, every summer, to be with our families. I adore our grandchildren and wish we lived closer to them, year round.

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