Dearest Dr. Love, I truly hope that you are well and happy. You deserve it. You touch so many with your advice and your kind words. Thank you kindly. I would be grateful if you could please help me. . .I feel very confused, hurt and betrayed. I have been friends with a young man ever since I was 15 years old (I am now 24) and he is someone I truly care about, like a brother. I thought I could confide in him and that he would support me and try to understand whatever decisions I make.Unfortunately, I was wrong. . . I told him that I have been in a relationship with a married man for about 2 years. He knows how I feel about what I’m doing, how guilty and ashamed I feel. It happened when I was going through depression and I was hopeless. . .Unfortunately, I fell in love with this man, and I still love him very much. It didn’t seem to matter to my friend, at first. He actually thought that it was exciting. But then, after a couple of months, he started telling me that I am being selfish, that I have no conscience, that I have no right to have the feelings of love towards my partner because he is not mine, he belongs to another woman. . . He was truly hurtful.I cried many times in front of him but he seemed not to care. I never told him my boyfriend’s last name or address, but he made a few calls and looked on the internet and was able to find his last name and address and other information about him. . . I am terrified that he might call my boyfriend up and cause problems for his family, and I’m afraid that he might also call my parents to tell them about my married boyfriend. . .My father would literally kill me. He is violent and abusive and very old-fashioned. . . Also, my twin sister left the house recently because the environment was too violent. And as much as I love her, I can’t have her stay with me.She takes drugs, and smokes and drinks and sleeps around. . . I feel really sorry for her and I wish I could help her, but I can’t. She needs professional help but she doesn’t seem to want it. . . Having her stay with me would make me depressed again.I worked so hard to get a full-time job, to get a university degree, to find balance somehow. . . I felt like he was beginning to be a little jealous because I am achieving something, and he is still jobless and has no degree and is very depressed. . . He also judged me about not helping my sister. He called me selfish and heartless and he said that it’s my responsibility to take my sister in, that it’s the right thing to do. He even asked me what I would tell Jesus, when I die, about why I didn’t take care of my sister?We got into a big argument about it all and I tried to make him understand that I am not perfect and that he has no right to judge me, even if he doesn’t agree with my choices. Finally, all he did was tell me that I just lost a friend and he got up and left.That was 2 weeks ago and he hasn’t called me since. . . I don’t know what to do, what to think. . . I have a hard time letting go and this is just killing me. I know that I am not perfect and that going out with a married man is terribly wrong, and I truly wish that I could erase my mistakes. . .Everything is a big blur and the pain I am feeling is overwhelming. I have not fully recovered from my depression, I am still on medication and I am vulnerable.Please help, please. . . I trust in your advice and in your words. They will make me feel better, I know they will. . . Take good care and be well.
The kind words you shared with me in your letter tell me what a giving and loving person you are. I see such a contrast between how you treat me and how you are treated by others. You should be receiving from others the same loving treatment that you give to me.Even though you have physically separated from your violent and abusive father, I am afraid that he has been reincarnated in–guess who–your friend. Even though your friend didn’t physically beat you, he verbally attacked and assaulted you, tearing you to psychological shreds. You are so accustomed to being mistreated that you don’t even realize that you have been abused.Your father gave himself license to abuse you and because of this your psyche has been programmed to believe that abuse is normal and acceptable. It’s not. I know that you are attached to and care for your friend, but he isn’t a good friend for you to have. You should surround yourself with people who treat you the way you treat others!It’s better to be a hermit rather than have a friend who tears you down.As for your sister, your friend is wrong again. If she is a toxic influence on you, then you shouldn’t be having contact with her either. I know you feel guilty about the affair you’ve been having, but that doesn’t mean you have to act on your guilt by attacking yourself or giving anyone else license to do so.Instead of condemning yourself for having an affair with a married man, try to understand why the affair is occurring. You see, we humans become attached to people who abuse us. I know it sounds crazy but it’s actually harder to separate from an abusive or abandoning parent than to separate from a loving parent.Imagine pushing away from the table when you haven’t even had your meal yet. It’s the same thing with a parent who mistreats or neglects you; you remain love starved and find it hard to let go of the parent. Even though you have cut your father out of your life, your heart is still attached to dad and the hope of finding his love.Falling for a married man is a sign of how attached you still are to your dad. To the unconscious mind, a married man symbolizes dad–the quintessential married man. I am sure that your unconscious mind hopes that this married man will give you the love that your dad never could give you. Perhaps your married man actually does give you more love and kindness than your dad ever did.Whatever this man does give you feels like a cool drink of water to someone who is dying of dehydration in the desert. It’s sure hard to give up what you are getting from this man. So understand and be kind to yourself about your attachment. Your attachment to him will gradually become unnecessary as you heal the abused child inside yourself.I also see your attachment to your father expressed through your loyalty to him. You abuse yourself and let friends abuse you, as a way of saying, ‘See dad, I’m still your girl. . . . you can still mistreat me.’ It’s like never having left him!The only way for you to feel better is to surround yourself with loving people and allow them to feed and nourish you. As long as you return to the empty well and try to get love from people who can’t give it, you will remain miserable.I urge you to join a therapy group in your area and surround yourself with people who love and support you. Their love will heal and nourish you as well as become the model for how you must treat yourself and how you must expect others to treat you.Take care and keep in touch.