I am obsessed with my ex-girlfriend who moved to Phoenix six months ago to start a new life without me. I keep contacting her. Even though I can’t stop thinking about her, I collect phone numbers from girls I meet at college. At home I surf the net for dates, yet I am clear that I am not ready for a relationship. At least I’m not drunk all the time anymore and I’m trying to quit smoking. Recently I heard the words “Trust in God.” I immediately threw my smokes out the window. I bought a pack that night and smoked two. The next day I smoked two then heard the words “Honor God.” I threw the new pack out the window. Still I keep slumping. For example, I have papers to write for school, but I play computer games instead. Help.
Obsession means that you’ve chosen to vacate your own life. That’s why, when your ex moved to another state, the ordinary grief that may accompany the closure of a relationship becomes the extraordinary drama of believing that you have been abandoned. The reality is that the relationship as you knew it is over and she has moved on. Yet even as you labor beneath your lie, God breaks in with the invitation to trust and honor the Divine. So, truly, you have not been abandoned. You may, in your life, change your understanding of God, but the life-giving essence of love never leaves. The dilemma now is this: continue to worship your ex-girlfriend or turn your attentions to God? Delivering yourself to an intangible force appears derelict in a society where the ego’s power is everything. Are you willing to abandon society’s expectations of a superficial life and commit to God’s call?
Of course, trolling for dates is far less labor than answering a call from the Divine. But unless you want to add women to your addiction list, you must reach under those behaviors to grasp the insidious egocentric belief that inspires them: “I’m not worthy” (or something similar). Reduce its power by accepting that you are courageous to admit your issues. Take strength from your ability to hear God’s call. Then become a disciple of behavior modification: a 12-step program, a professional therapist and loved ones who will support you by insisting that you respond to the call to trust and honor God and yourself.
I regularly “fall in love” with men who are like my father. This complicates my long-term relationship with my partner (who is emotionally distant like my father). I know that we need therapy, but I was drawn to your comment in the 10/18/01 column that old wounds can be healed within a relationship, if you’re conscious. How can I achieve consciousness?
Consciousness is the state of being continually awake to the symbolic and literal levels of yourself and your life so that you choose, in every situation, grace-inspired goodness and love. It’s rare, partly because it requires intense devotion to truth and habits of self-discipline. Few people are willing to surrender their ego to that commitment. You can take a baby step by understanding that you have a tendency to be infatuated and that it’s time now to learn how to genuinely love another. Then recognize the ways that you are like your father. After all, if you distract yourself from your long-term relationship by focusing energy on other men, aren’t you emotionally distant from your partner?