A Hunger for Love
I was three-and-a-half years old when my mother died. I remember the day. I was sitting in the wood box, looking into the bedroom where I could see the bed.
The doctor and my father came out of the room together. After the doctor had gone, my father went to the table where three of my four sisters were sitting. I watched him pick up each one and comfort them. I was sitting there crying, but I was left alone, unnoticed by my dad. It doesn't do any good to feel, I decided. Nobody cares anyway. And so very early I learned to stuff my feelings.
In the following years, I lived with several different families. Part of the time I had one or two of my sisters with me; sometimes, it was just me. In these families, I perceived the mother figures to be distant and unloving. Father figures were drunk, emotionally distant, or molesting me. My only contact with my father was a monthly 30-minute visit (if that).
Often, I felt unwanted and useless. Life is unfair, I would think. Why doesn't somebody love me? I was given smaller food portions than the rest of the family, so often I was hungry. Sometimes I ate dog food; at other times, my foster father would lure me into the barn, enticing me with a candy bar. But he'd withhold it until I satisfied him sexually.
I survived those years by withdrawing into a fantasy world where I was a "superman" figure saving the world. But I never dreamed of rescuing myself. I didn't count.
During childhood, I was forced to attend church, where I heard about a God who would punish me if I did wrong. However, I also remember learning the hymn, "What A Friend We Have in Jesus" Somehow I knew there was a God who loved me.
Then, during sixth grade, I was unwillingly dragged to the church altar during a service. After that, I did everything I could to avoid church.
My first memory of hungering for love from another woman dates back to high school. We had a neighbor who would wave to me from her kitchen window and invite me into her antique shop to see her treasures. I loved to be with her, and wished that she could be my mother.
I finished high school in 1953 and entered nurse's training in Portland, Maine. Back then, homosexuality was rarely mentioned. But when I read about the subject in my psychiatric textbook, I had a fleeting thought: Maybe that's what I am.
My first involvement in lesbianism occurred after graduation when I became friends with another nurse. One night, while staying overnight at her house, she reached out to me in a sexual way. I responded positively to her advances and we began a four-year lesbian relationship. I had six relationships over the next 12 years. These women temporarily satisfied my need for love and acceptance. However, after a time, each relationship would cool down and we would drift apart.
Although I appeared normal, professional and successful on the outside, I lived with constant guilt and fear of being "found out." When a relationship would end, I'd deny that I was gay and promise myself never to enter another lesbian relationship. But sooner or later, I would respond to a physical overture from someone, which would lead to sexual and emotional enmeshment.
No one knew of my lesbian involvement, and I struggled alone with my guilt and fears. While still involved in my last relationship, however, I told my friend, "This relationship is sin, and I can no longer be involved." I believe God heard and honored that confession of my heart. I still did not know Him, but His grace was at work in me.
In 1974, I became friends with a Christian woman who told me about Jesus. Her whole Bible study group began praying for me. That fall, I became a "born-again" believer (see John 3) as God revealed Himself to me.
Finally I truly understood about sin, confessed my past immorality, and received God's forgiveness. I permanently stopped my sexual involvement with other women. However, the deep need for love--the root issue of my lesbian longings--had yet to be resolved.
As a new Christian, I had a tremendous fear of letting anyone know I had been involved in lesbianism. The gay jokes I heard among professing Christians only reinforced my fears. If they know about my past, they will reject me, I thought.
Then I became friends with another nurse who was going through a rough time. I was ecstatic when we'd do things together and looked forward to the next time we'd be together. Most of our activities were church-related, and I believe God used her to help me grow spiritually. However, I became emotionally dependent on this woman (the feelings were one-sided). There was not a physical attraction, but the emotional enmeshment was just as destructive.
God used three things to begin dealing with the roots of lesbianism in my life. First, He arranged a confrontation with my friend about my past. "How come the topic of homosexuality seems to come up so often in conversations with you and others?" she asked me. I remained silent.
"Have you ever been a homosexual?" she shouted, and I admitted the truth.
She looked at me with fire in her eyes. "And I thought I could trust you. What a hypocrite! I'm not even sure you're a Christian" She stormed out and drove off in her car as I cried to God for help.
I felt ashamed and abandoned once more. I seriously contemplated getting into my car and leaving forever. But at just the right time, my friend returned and we talked about my past. She apologized for her reaction. Later I learned that she was fearful of her own reputation since I was living with her and her children at this time. From then on, I resolved to be open about my past with any serious friendships.
Second, this friend began dating and doing other things without me. I found myself feeling jealous, hurt, possessive, and rejected. I felt abandoned and depressed. I knew of no one with whom I could share my struggles.
One day I was praying when the Lord brought to mind the words, "inordinate affection" (see Colossians 3:5). I sensed that God was talking about the underlying dynamic of my relationship with my roommate, and that I needed to repent of it. Before this, I had only associated lesbianism with sexual involvement. Now I began to understand how my need for healthy same-sex love had become distorted. I asked the Lord to forgive me and help me have His love for my friend.
Another night I told the Lord, "I don't care if I never have another friend in my life. You alone are enough!" I meant those words, and experienced a release from the emotional bondage I'd felt in my heart.
Third, God prevented me from helping others so He could show me my worth and value in Him. He showed me that I needed to learn how to receive. At the time I was physically helpless, emotionally drained, and very needy. It humbled me to learn that God and His people accepted me, even when I had nothing to give.
I knew that I had to start forming some other relationships and felt God urging me to attend a women's Bible study at church. I went many times in sheer obedience, not hearing much of what was said, but simply receiving all the Lord was doing in me through His Word and His people. Gradually I began going for coffee afterward with some of the women. God used those times to show me I could have friends without all the emotional baggage that I'd had in the past. And He began filling my same-sex love deficit through several women--not just one. I even shared my lesbian past with the group, and was still accepted. Inner healing prayer and healing of memories were also a part of my recovery. I forgave those who had traumatized me in childhood, but the Lord alone did the healing; unfortunately, all the people had died, leaving no opportunity for restoration of any relationships.
I walked away from lesbianism 27 years ago, and God dealt with its roots over a seven-year period after I became a Christian. Since the early 1980s, I have noticed some major changes in my attitude toward men. I no longer fear them, and find myself attracted to them.
Instead of searching for love, I have learned to receive love from my Heavenly Father. In being able to receive, I have embraced an essential part of my femininity. God has filled my hunger for love--and I remain amazed at all He has done.
Additional Information: Dottie was co-director of Eagle's Wings, a Christian ministry in Minneapolis, MN.
Copyright 1994 Dottie Ludwig.