I was chatting with someone the other day about counseling others and the “red flags” one needs to be aware of in the area of touch, over care, and boundaries. I’m not talking about therapy but extending oneself to another who is going through a rough patch and providing a listening ear and empathy.

It brought forth a flood of memories about my early years in leadership where out of my codependency (my need to be needed) I became the nurturing mother for all. The thought of it makes me slightly vomit.

Seeing myself in diminished ways (self-hatred), I tried to fill my unmet childhood needs through caring for others. At times I could idealize others that I viewed as better looking then me, more educated than me and more successful. It made me feel good about myself that these people I saw as “better than me” needed me.

In some very skewed way caring and connecting with these people meant that I had value and worth because they are seeking me out for care and comfort. Unbeknownst to them, I was using them to satisfy my needs for love and acceptance. I was feeding off of them emotionally and physically (through inappropriate touch). By inappropriate I mean that I was touching them in ways that seemed to be rooted in my genuine concern for them. When in fact it was filling my own need for touch.

Coming from a touch deprived family I would use others to fill the void. Most of the times the other person was clueless to this in our friendship. If you’d like name for this behavior I would call it “a spirit of seduction.”

When confronted by others about my friendships with these people I would spiritualize it by saying it’s my gift of comfort. If you’ve been around me long enough this is what’s called “putting a Christian bow on a turd.”

In these friendships we may talk about the Lord, we may pray with one another, but deep down we are craving the emotional and physical closeness that it gives to us. Our pursuit is not motivated out of a pure heart. The prophet Jeremiah’s words ring true, “The heart is deceitful and difficult to understand.”

This was a clear sign to me that I needed a greater depth of healing. I had to acknowledge my seductive behavior and repent of it. And, admit to others my deep desire to be loved and accepted for who I truly was and not some false mother hen who seduced you with the guise of care. I needed to learn how to love others in ways that were motivated out of a pure heart and not my broken flesh.