“Just sit right back and you’ll hear a tale, a tale of a fateful trip, that started from this tropic port aboard this tiny ship. The mate was a mighty sailin’ man, the Skipper brave and sure. Five passengers set sail that day for a three hour tour. A three hour tour.”
The frustrating thing about watching Gilligan’s Island is that all the rules for what would actually happen in this scenario seemed to have been been tossed overboard in the storm. Of all the adventures ever documented, it is by far the most dishonest. When the passengers found themselves stranded on an uncharted island, the rules for how people would actually behave in this dire situation are not authentic at all.
Who among us has not questioned Ginger’s mindset when she chose to bring not just one evening gown, but a broad assortment of gowns for a three hour trip on a tiny sea craft? And what about the Professor? He helped the castaways build a private shower stall, an entire working kitchen, a television which was powered by a stationary bicycle, but he never inspired them to build a boat, or for that matter fix the small hole in the S.S. Minnow.
While we could see the plot holes and the inconsistencies, we were captivated by the iconic sitcom and it garnished its own cult following. The reason is as simple as Gilligan himself. We love adventure. We are intrigued by the idea of an uncharted island and the mystery of being stranded. Who among you hasn’t played the game, “If you were stranded on a desert island, what’s the one item/person/book you would want to have with you?”
In 2004 ABC gave us the chance to be stranded all over again with the TV show LOST. With the passengers of Oceanic Flight 815 stranded on the island with The Others, thousands tuned in week after week eyes fixed. Hurley was just as lovable as Gilligan had ever been, and this time we were seeing a more honest adventure amid mystery. We rooted for them to find answers, but, the truth was, as badly as Jack, Kate, and Sawyer wanted to be found, we needed them to stay LOST. We were fascinated by their remarkable adventure.
As my husband and I live with the anomaly labeled Limerence, we often feel as if we are on an uncharted island. LOST would be an honest description for how we felt much of the last year. One thing we knew we HAD to do was to be honest in the aftermath. After any marital indiscretion, honesty is the number one requirement for building trust. It’s also mandatory for getting to the root of the dysfunction brewing beneath the surface. Our journey was not merely about forgiving & forgetting what had happened, but also about dealing with the issues that led me to that place in the beginning.
The frustrating thing about being in a real relationship with a person who struggles with an obsessive love addiction is that the traditional rules of romance are thrown out the window. The spouse of a person who struggles with Limerence can spend a lifetime attempting to unravel the mysteries of the obsessive personality. It would be similar to taking someone like yourself and placing them in their own bamboo hut with the castaways on Gilligan’s Island. Imagine it was you. Within the pilot episode, you’d realize something was amiss.
Now imagine you can’t fix it.
Now imagine you have the normal trials of having small children.
Now imagine you live in a fishbowl called, “Ministry”.
Now imagine your family is treading through the ridiculous heartache of burying a toddler.
Meanwhile, the hole in the S.S. Minnow just keeps getting bigger and bigger, and both of you feel more LOST than ever.
For almost three decades, I never understood why the obsession monster wasn’t unleashed in my marriage. I recognized I was obsessive and a bit of a perfectionist, and I figured if I could channel my obsession towards my husband or towards the Lord, I would be healed. My overwhelming insecurities would be flat-lined.
Once I had an understanding of Limerence, I understood why it wasn’t so easy. Limerence is an attachment disorder. Attaching oneself to a spouse who is stable doesn’t feed the monster. The monster is fed when it is attached in an unstable situation. The dysfunction is confused with words like romance, attraction and love. Emotional responses pave pathways in the brain and it becomes a Catch-22.
My husband has never made me feel insecure in his love for me. Not one day. From the moment he made his vows to me he has loved me as Christ loves the church. He believed that if he loved me enough, I would one day see myself through his eyes. This is why it is a dysfunction, the safer my husband made me feel, the less food there was for the obsession monster.
It sounds a little terrible, doesn’t it?
Actually, it’s been less frightening now that we understand it. Every thing I had previously read about a woman who would allow a self-destructive lie to enter into her marriage had explanations which included descriptions of men who were distant, unloving, abusive, or cheaters themselves. This wasn’t our story, and knowing this wasn’t our story made me hate myself even more for my choices. Once we stripped away the stereotypes of people who enter into an affair, we could have honest conversations about our own marriage and it was through those conversations we came to fully understand Limerence. Understanding Limerence helped my husband to stop feeling like he was stuck on Gilligan’s Island and it made both of us feel a lot less LOST.
Does leaving the island mean we are sailing back to the mainland? Abso-FRICKIN-lutely-Not.
Our journey from here is truly an adventure. We are of the same mindset, and there is absolutely no one else I would rather have beside me for the expedition. We don’t know the ways God is going to use us. We don’t know how or if God is going to use our experiences with ministry, family, death and infidelity. We don’t know a lot of things, but the truth is…neither do you.
Perhaps you struggle with a mild case of Limerence, or a full blown case of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Maybe you have had to cut off part of your body to keep the cancer from killing you, or you have to take a truckload of pills to keep your blood pressure under the radar. Some of you may have a family member who no longer speaks to you, or you have drive to a correctional facility to visit your child. Sadly, some of you may know the heartache of having to pick out a casket for your child. Maybe the person you’ve loved your whole life just told you it was over. Perhaps you signed divorce papers and then threw the pen in the trash. No matter how terrible the situation, it is temporal and there is a plan for your life. We are in an uncharted, full-blown adventure when we travel through these storms. Does it hurt like Hell? Yes. Is it really Hell? No.
Heartache, sickness, addiction, and brokenness allows us to see our need for the Lord, as well as giving Him the space He needs to transform our hearts. Humility and transparency could change the world if people would stop responding out of fear. God wants to use our stories and our weaknesses to magnify His capabilities. A transformed life from a transformed heart is the greatest testimony to the power of the Holy Spirit.
So, sit right back and you’ll hear a tale, a tale of a sinless man, that changed the way our lives would go when rebellion ruled the land. The Father was the mighty man of justice, His nature brave and sure. He found a way to show us grace when we felt there was no cure.
Let the Adventure continue!
This was the third post in a Blog Trilogy addressing the Love Addiction, scientifically known as Limerence. In the preceding posts I gave a brief definition of Limerence, as well the way it can influence a person’s choices. To read Honest Beginnings, Part 1 and Honest Fear, Part 2 simply click on the attached links.