Love Sick

by Dov, GYE, Yaakov from GYE (See all authors)

Lust addicts have a disease called "love sickness". They are in love with every good-looking person of the opposite gender that they see. And no matter what they do to convince themselves of how empty and silly it is, it still plagues them. Their heads are often filled with fantasies and lust. Wherever they turn, they are triggered by another face, another body, another fantasy. It attacks them during davening, learning, work... They dream lustful dreams at night, deep, emotional dreams where their yearnings find outlets in fantasy worlds of their subconscious minds. Their sexuality is damaged. They can't convince themselves not to want it and they can't run from it; it runs after them wherever they go.

... And yet, they know they can't give in to it. If they do, not only will it destroy their life in both this world and the next, but they also know that they will never achieve that which their subconscious is really seeking. Lust never fills us, it only makes us hungrier for more. It warps our mind more and more, nothing is ever enough to satisfy it. We can run after it our whole lives and yet we will never feel "full". It is empty hot-air. It is rotting flesh. There is no "G-dly light" in these human forms that we DEIFY. These "fleeting beauties" are but empty shells themselves, insecure and lonely inside. They have their own needs and wants. They are smelly flesh; here today and gone tomorrow... We all know we will never get what we truly want...

So what can lust addicts do? It seems we are stuck between a rock and a hard place. On the one hand, our heads, hearts, and subconscious minds are filled with relentless lustful fantasies and desires, and nothing we do to run away from it helps us. We slowly come to see that our "love sick" mind is not going away. But on the other hand, we know that we cannot give in to it, because not only will it destroy us in this world and the next, but it will get us nowhere. It's all hot air... We can never get what we really desire deep down.

So where do we go from here? What can we do?

It is interesting to note that Shir Hashirim uses the words "Chollas Ahavah - Love Sick" to describe the love affair between G-d and the Jewish people. "Ki Chollas Ahava Ani... For I am sick with love". While the word "sick" is normally a bad thing, it seems that when it comes to love there can be no higher level than this. There is nothing more beautiful than being "Love Sick" when it is channeled properly. So maybe our "sickness" is not a bad thing after all...

What is it that our subconscious truly seeks? All of us have a "G-d hole" that we are trying to fill. Hashem gave us a deep subconscious need to seek Him out, for He is the source of all that we need. In Him lies all beauty, comfort, security, love and pleasure. After all, if He didn't have it all within Him, could He have created it? But since we have conditioned ourselves to use lust all these years to "medicate" our feelings, our minds are messing up the signals of our soul's yearnings. The beauty we see in this world is but a fleeting shadow of the real thing, and we lust-addicts grasp at it like drowning men.

Being "Love Sick" and having such a strong need for "whatever" can actually be a blessing in disguise. G-d is telling us addicts that it is precisely us who can achieve the highest level of love with Him. We may not be able to get rid of our love-sick minds, but each time we feel the disease take hold, we can redirect it to the source; Hashem.

It's not easy, as the Pasuk says: "Ki Aza Kamaves Ahavah - for brazen as death is love" - (Shir Hashirim 8:6). But when we get fantasies or see triggering things, we can choose to be love-sick for G-d instead. By acknowledging that He is the source of whatever it is that we crave in those images or fantasies, we can say to Him: "Hashem, I am love-sick. Please help me be love-sick for You!".

Perhaps we are lucky after all. We didn't choose this disease. And we all know that giving in to the dark side of our love-sickness is not a viable option for us. So we are left with no alternative but to learn how to redirect it to its real source. Our disease is G-d's gift to us where He is saying: "I want YOU to be madly in love with ME".

Someone wrote:

I think that seeing your own wife's beauty is a zchus - if you're grateful for her, and have humility and shmiras habris - you will see her beauty. Otherwise you don't. It's no chochmah to see other women's beauty. Marry them and it will soon disappear!

Dov Responds:

So true. But really, why will it disappear? And what really is "it"?

When you say inside, "Wow, look at her", what are you really saying? What does that mean?

I believe that it means you are religious. You worship women with power - women who are beautiful to you. It is a religion, you know. It doesn't have to have a name (Lustism?), but when I observe that my mouth drops open from what I see, that my eyes follow her, and that I fantasize (use) her image, that I focus and hope (and maybe even pray!) for attachment to it...well.....isn't that worship?!

Don't we speak of desiring more than anything to be dovek - attached to Hashem and of the ziv of the Sh'chinah? Isn't it supposed to be a lust of some kind? Doesn't the RMB"M describe it as "the way a man is preoccupied with desire for his woman all day long"?

There is nothing 'anatomically' wrong with you and me, but we have a problem: we have all the right ingredients and 'parts' - and naturally use them for the wrong thing! For a broken cistern. And no amount of religiosity will break me out of it. There is no 'teshuvah' for me to 'snap out of it'....except for maybe a few minutes or days. I need more than any single act, sh'vuah, takanah, chizuk or whatever, can provide.

I need to be immersed in recovery, to hang out with recovering people, be a member of a society of recovering people, use their tools, and learn how to live a little bit differently on a daily basis in the context of my real, mundane, daily life.

Cuz my body 'knows' and tells me that the 'babe' over there, is actually a goddess. Really, not just figuratively. To me, she has power. Real power....and I need her. I feel like she will take care of me if I could only get closer. But as you put it so nicely, once we have a real relationship with them, all that disappears....because that takes them off the pedestal and they are no longer goddesses. "Uh oh...gotta find another one who really is a goddess!" And on it goes....

I am screwed up, and how. Until I recognize and admit that, there is just no starting point at all.

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