Thanks friends for understanding my change in blog posting dates. After prayer it occurred to me that my stress levels could be lowered considerably by changing my blog post date from Monday to Wednesday. Weekends are usually never a time for rest due to speaking or writing. Now that the blog isn’t going to be posted until Wednesdays, I already feel less pressure.
I know I was slow in posting blog responses last week. I had a spotty internet access where I was in Texas and could only post periodically. I think everything is now up to date.
This week my three grandchildren are visiting me. I haven’t had them here for three years. My daughter was too nervous to try to fly with three children under three years of age but she made it and they are a joy to have at Nana’s house. But….they got sick and now I am sick. Pray for me please. I’m scheduled to attend a conference on Thursday and Friday and then speak at a local church on Saturday. My chest hurts and my voice is getting weaker.
I have become emotionally dependent on my female Christian psychotherapist.
In the past I have had the same issue with some of my female friends. I find myself thinking about my therapist a lot throughout the day, having conversations with her in my mind, etc.
In the beginning of our counseling I became kind of obsessed and even did internet searches trying to find out about her personal life. I felt convicted by God so I have stopped the information finding but how do I stop my mind from thinking?
I have shared this dependency issue with her and with my husband (he is also a Christian, overly emotionally dependent on me & a bit controlling). I started counseling to help me deal with my husband’s health and dependency issues.
The relationship with my husband is improving, I am learning to speak up for myself, I have stopped keeping secrets from my husband and we are progressing slowly but surely with the Lord’s help.
But the biggest problem I am having is emotionally detaching from my therapist. I am trying to renew my mind as God commands by memorizing scripture, having daily devotions, praying, listen to messages by Charles Stanley, Chip Ingram, Jonathan Haggee, etc.
Have you ever addressed this issue and do you have any advice?
Answer: First, let me encourage you that you have already taken some good steps. You are aware of yourself – that you are emotionally dependent on your counselor (and other females) and that it is not healthy.
Second, you have shared it with her and your husband. It’s much harder for Satan and shame to get their hooks into you when things are out in the open.
Third, you are also aware that this is not the first time and has been a repeated pattern in your relationships with other females.
Fourth, you’re also aware how smothering and/or controlling a dependent relationship can feel to the other person because you describe your husband as emotionally dependent on you.
Last, you are taking steps to break this dependency, which is a very good thing because you want to grow stronger and have healthy relationships.
What I think you are missing is the “why”. What is going on with you that you find yourself emotionally drawn to certain types of females and what are you looking for from them?
There are a number of reasons “why” and I’d encourage you to explore this more with your counselor but my guess is it feels good (not only good, but life-giving) to feel heard, understood, validated, cared about and connected which is what you feel with your counselor, and perhaps other female friends.
It feels so good to your thirsty heart that you want more. And your desire for more connection, more intimacy, more caring and more love makes you anxious. You fear you might lose it. You’re afraid of rejection, loss, desertion, and/or abandonment and so you start to cling. (That’s the dependent piece). Other’s who feel these feelings and longings may start to control. Controlling and clinging behaviors are indications of emotional dependency and fear of abandonment but both behaviors are damaging to the relationship. The very thing you fear – loss of love and loss of connection, usually happens because the other person doesn’t want to be smothered or controlled.
So first let me validate your desire for connection and caring. Human beings are hardwired to connect and from infancy we seek human connection. I wonder if you experienced some early attachment issues with your mother and therefore did not have a secure base. It might not have been intentional but sometimes mothers are overwhelmed with other children and don’t have enough time to bond with a new baby, are ill, or have other family crisis’s to attend to, or are suffering post par-tum depression which can make attachment and bonding to a newborn difficult.
I wonder if you are longing for that connection and base from a “mother-like” figure who will completely understand and “be there” for you. Of course, that isn’t possible as a grown up and so inevitably you will be disappointed and anxiety is triggered and from that place of anxiety you start to control or cling so that you don’t’ feel anxious.
Here’s the crucial part of all of this. Your longing is not the problem. It is normal and God-given to desire strong connection with other human beings. Don’t allow Satan to shame your longing. The problem is that your relationship style is based on fear instead of love. Fear that you’ll lose your connection. Fear that you’re not worthy of love, fear that you’re not good enough, fear that you’ll do something to mess it up, fear that someone will abandon you.
Fear based relationships are doomed to failure because when you live in fear you can’t love well. Instead you are self-focused and self-centered, always worrying about you and how you are doing or what you might lose. It’s almost impossible to love someone else well when you are mainly consumed with whether or not they will leave you. Your neediness and dependency may feel like love but what you are in essence saying is not “I love you,” but “I love you loving me” and I’m terrified that I will lose that love.
Fear based relationships always seek validation from the “beloved” to give them their worth, value and fundamental lovability. In other words, if my therapist (or female friend) loves me, then I must be okay. If she leaves me, I must be fundamentally unlovable. That puts a lot of pressure on the other person to somehow always prove that they care enough and fill your empty tank. Inevitably he or she will fail which reactivates your anxiety and you start to cling or control.
You sound like you’ve gotten healthy enough to not want to continue this cycle any longer. But how do you change? It means that you must fundamentally shift the way you “do” relationships. That doesn’t mean that you no longer desire connection and caring, intimacy and closeness, but that you recognize that your fundamental lovability and worth will never be determined by another person but by God. Therefore your first “intimate connection” needs to be focused on His love for you, not another human being’s love for you.
When you develop security in God’s love, you stop “needing” other people to give you your worth. You already have worth. You stop “needing” them to make you happy or okay. You already are okay because God declares you to be his child, completely loved and completely forgiven. You cling to Him and therefore can enjoy your human relationships without fear of loss or abandonment. You can love without clinging or controlling because you know if you do suffer loss, you will be sad but not abandoned because your security and worth is not dependent on another human being but on God.
God warns us about this issue of depending on other’s to give us what only he can give us. He says:
Thus says the Lord:
“Cursed is the man who trusts in man
and makes flesh his strength,
whose heart turns away from the Lord.
He is like a shrub in the desert,
and shall not see any good come.
He shall dwell in the parched places of the wilderness,
in an uninhabited salt land.
“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord,
whose trust is the Lord.
He is like a tree planted by water,
that sends out its roots by the stream,
and does not fear when heat comes,
for its leaves remain green,
and is not anxious in the year of drought,
for it does not cease to bear fruit.
So keep working on this with your therapist. Don’t allow your anxious feelings to control you into acting out in unhealthy ways by clinging, controlling behaviors. You can remind yourself that your value and security rest in God and not in another human being’s evaluation of you and therefore you don’t need to fear. Even if those anxious feelings rise up in you, you can talk to yourself with the truth to calm yourself down, much like a mother would sooth a young child who was having bad dreams about monsters under the bed. As you learn to calm your own anxiety down instead of clinging to people to sooth you, you will feel far less “needy” and more empowered to love well.