Finding Love-Living Love
“My love for you is great enough to make up the insufficiency, and strong enough in general to take everything on itself.” Franz Kafka, Diaries, March 9, 1914
Love. To feel love. To be loved. To believe there was something or someone who had a strong enough love for me was astonishing. I didn’t understand it. I was raised in a loving home with loving parents and a loving extended family. I can’t blame anyone or anything for why I didn’t trust love. I believe I was born with this sense of self-protection and guarding myself. I can love with the best of them, but in my skewed thinking, I didn’t feel loved even when I intellectually knew I was being loved. Love for me had to be a feeling, like being intoxicated. I didn't seek love, but when I was told, "I love you," I became addicted to the way it made me feel. This feeling prompted me at times to enter into relationships even if they were not emotionally healthy. I don’t mean that the other person was bad, but the relationship or friendship may have not been healthy based upon my need for love which I did not know how to receive. I blame no one for this. It was the unhealthy part of me.
I never acted on love first except when my children were born. I loved them first without any fear, but with any other person or relationship I had to be ensured the other person loved me or liked me first. I feared the rejection and needed the high that came with being liked or loved first. I suppose this could be seen as narcissism, but my intentions were simply self-preservation. I knew of no other way to keep myself protected. This fear created a codependency. I was not dependent on other people for my survival. I was dependent upon their love and approval. I needed this feeling to make me feel that I had value. I would also go to the extreme opposite of this and feel that I needed no one nor did I want their love or a relationship.
In recovery, my dependence upon a power greater than myself is essential to my recovery. I must seek through prayer and meditation to improve my conscious contact with God as I understand him. Even though I was raised in a spiritual and Christian home, I became rebellious about a relationship with God, because I didn’t seek relationships unless I got the feeling of being liked or loved. Off and on during my life, I dabbled in a relationship with God, but the alcoholic in me always needed that feeling, that love high. When the love high stopped, I stopped seeking the relationship. Why try in a relationship when you don’t feel anything? I knew the quotes, “God is always with us” or the poem about the footprints that God was carrying us when we thought we were alone, but I just thought that was manipulation. I didn’t want to be manipulated. As a young child through no fault of my parents nor the church, I began to feel I was being exploited by religion. When I was six years old I “got saved.” The next day I got to ride in the minister’s private airplane with my mother. From this point on I felt conned by God and those who represented him. As I got older, I understood the order of worship in the church service and what songs were being played to influence my emotions. I began to loathe this. This is not an indictment of religion; this is an indictment on my skewed thinking and how I viewed God’s love and inability to depend upon anyone, but myself. I believed I could not trust anyone. No one. I had no faith in God’s love nor a person's love. I felt so much love in my heart, but I was so afraid to let go and experience love in a healthy manner. I just wanted to feel it. Love is an action. It is not a feeling. I am learning this. Love is stepping out there and giving without expecting something in return. Love is commitment. Love is being an instrument of peace in times of chaos. Love is pardoning someone when I am wronged. Love is understanding instead of being understood. Love is not a feeling. Love is an action. I didn’t find God in a church. I didn’t find God through another person. I found my God in my brokenness. It doesn’t matter if my God was there or not the entire time because I had to know my God was there. I had to find my God. We found each other.