Is This Love That I’m Feeling?

by Patty Hite

My son used to sing a Bob Marley song to me all the time and the chorus was, “Is this love, is this love, is this love, is this love that I’m feeling?” I never gave it much thought until recently, but wondered why I never asked myself, “Is this love that I’m feeling?”

I have had many relationships throughout my life and always thought they were based on love. I know I searched for love and I know I wanted love, but what I didn’t know, was why I never asked myself if it actually was love. It is only since overcoming some huge stepping stones in my healing from abuse that I was able to answer that question with my “now” husband.

I took the time to wait instead of jumping in with both feet and I questioned my motives and his as well. I felt confident that I didn’t need a man to make myself complete and I felt secure enough to know I could make it without one. But why didn’t I do that with my past relationships?   Why did I settle?  There was one man I married and the whole time we stood in front of the minister, I wanted to run.  I told myself that it wouldn’t work. And it didn’t.

My parents got divorced when I was fourteen and they constantly fought over me. Dad wouldn’t pay support and Mom would throw him in jail. He wanted full custody of me, but Mom said it was so he wouldn’t have to pay support. At the age of sixteen, I married the town drunk to escape the responsibility I felt because my parents fought all the time. My husband was older, had a job and could provide for me. I don’t remember ever telling him I loved him but I had a roof over my head and at the time, that was enough. He became abusive and extremely jealous and I left with a car and a Chihuahua.

My second husband was a friend I knew since grade school. I felt like a kid again when I was with him and trusted him because we were friends. I know I told him I loved him, but looking back, I think it was a friend love and not a spouse love. He started college and worked and I never saw him, so it wasn’t hard to leave him. I was bored and saw the world pass me by waiting on him to come home. I knew the grass was greener on the other side of the fence, and I wanted it. I left him with another car and a daughter.

My third husband was a bad boy. I wanted excitement and the ability to explore the world. He wooed me with talks of traveling out west to see the world. The day I married him, he knocked me down with a fist to the face, dragged me through the house by my hair and raped me. He owned me. He put the fear of death in me and controlled me and my daughter. I told him I loved him because if I didn’t, he would make me ‘love’ him. aI knew what he meant by that, so every day I poured out my love to him verbally, physically and emotionally. After ten years, I finally escaped. I left with no car, my daughter and my son.

I crawled back to my second husband, the friend. I trusted him and loved him; the problem was that I didn’t love myself. He was safe and I felt I could make our marriage work. I allowed him to reject me and not show me love. Early on we were affectionate and had two more children but shortly after that, the affection and attention toward me stopped. Affection was something that he showed toward me in public and I convinced myself that since I left him the first time, I deserved it.

I started healing from my child abuse during my third marriage but felt most of it was useless; trying to heal from abuse when you’re living in abuse is like trying to stick an egg back inside a chicken. It just won’t work. When I left him I was actually worse off then I was before.

Remarrying my second husband was a safer place to heal, but the more I healed and found value in myself, the more I realized that I deserved more from him. I was strong enough to talk to him about my needs and desires. His response was that he never loved me and only remarried me because of our daughter. I left, with a car and  the two younger children. I was told later by our daughter that he was molesting her the whole time we were married.

I then got angry. Not just angry at him for what he did, but angry at myself. Angry about the years wasted on others. I was angry that I settled for second best. Angry that I trusted this man, but didn’t trust myself. I was angry that my children paid a life-long price because I was too focused on getting men to love me instead of protecting them. Angry that I allowed myself to be abused and angry that I was too weak to say “Enough!”

It was because of this anger that I became tenacious in getting free. Researching my past and discovering that the women in my family had no value. I was told since birth that all I will ever amount to was a wife and mother and I was shown that in order to be a wife and mother, I had to submit and succumb to my husband. Affection and attention from men was only shown in public as this was the example shown to me from my dad toward my mother. She had no value for herself and spent every waking moment, taking care of her man.

Those days are over.  I do not have to be like my parents nor do I have to fulfill my father’s prophecy.  I am more than a wife and mother.  I do not deserve abuse of any kind.  Guilt and shame don’t rule my thoughts. I am a woman of value and worthy of real love.  I’m allowed to ask “Is this love?” and trust myself to wait until it is.

Related Posts:
Dating After Sexual Abuse: Is This Love?

As a survivor of emotional, physical and sexual abuse, Patty Hite has been tenaciously pursuing her healing for over thirty years.  She’s a passionate advocate for all survivors and dedicates her life to inspiring emotional wholeness in others. As a former victim of spousal abuse, she’s delighted to find true love with her husband of ­­­­five years.  She’s blessed with four children and six grandchildren.

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Is This Love That I’m Feeling?

11 thoughts on “Is This Love That I’m Feeling?

  • September 2, 2010 at 11:33 am

    What questions do you ask yourself to know if you’re in a loving relationship?

  • September 2, 2010 at 11:36 am

    I asked myself… Does he fulfill what I believe to be the example of Gods love for me?

    Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking. It is not easily angered; it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres. Love never fails.

    And I needed to make sure that I felt the same toward him. Can I fulfill God’s love for him?

  • September 2, 2010 at 12:05 pm

    Great question! These are the things I consider in any close relationship (friends included):

    1. Does he/she listen to me? Does what I do, think, feel or want matter?
    2. When he/she is making a decision that will affect me, does he/she take my feelings into consideration?
    3. If I was in a serious situation, would he/she get out of his/her comfort zone enough to help me?
    4. Does he/she know my weaknesses, but not define me by them?
    5. Does he/she consider me and treat me as an equal?
    6. Is his/her daily treatment of me consistent with the special occasion treatment?
    7. Is he/she genuinely happy when something good happens to me?
    8. Does he/she respect my boundaries even when they conflict with his/her desires?

  • September 2, 2010 at 12:26 pm

    Phil Dorsey The only thing that keeps popping into my head after reading this. Is about Mary. And I thought that I had had love before. But for the first time in my life.

    I do not feel alone=)

  • September 2, 2010 at 12:32 pm

    The only love i thought i had left me for a man, further destroying any trust i may have had in him, i have had a couple of crushes but, they also crushed me, i am thinking i just don’t know what i want, sorry if this doesn’t make sense i a…m having one of those crazy days

  • September 2, 2010 at 12:50 pm

    Christina, I love your list. Especially #5 and #6.

    I was never treated as an equal. Always had to be put in my place and under them…. I fight real hard to keep my status now.

    And the daily treatment…. wow. The only time I felt special was when we were in public… and that is sad. real sad.

    I also gave my now husband a list of boundaries. I had to “double dog dare him” to make sure he would never abuse me.

  • September 2, 2010 at 12:52 pm

    Laura, it makes absolute sense. I put my trust in many, and thought the one I trusted the most was it. He was the one who molested our children. I had to learn how to trust myself and listen to that inner voice of this is good, or this is a warning.

  • September 2, 2010 at 1:47 pm

    1. Where do I fall on this persons list of priorities?
    2. Where do they fall on mine?
    3. Would this person ever purposely hurt me in any way?
    4. Beyond that…Do they try not to accidentally hurt me?
    …5. When I come away from interacting with this person how do I feel?
    6. Do I leave them feeling uplifted?

    People throw the word love around and don’t respect it’s meaning. There are countless people that have told me they “love” me, but only a few that have truly shown it. I cherish those people in my life.

  • September 2, 2010 at 1:49 pm

    Jennifer, I love your list. It reminds me of how many said they loved me….. I called them friends….. now I call them acquaintances.

  • September 8, 2010 at 5:22 pm

    Nice post Patty,
    I ask myself about how I am being treated. Am I as valuable as the one that I am in the relationship? Is there mutuality ~ and respect? Is there a motive on either side? I had a false definition of love in the old days. I thought love was what I had grown up seeing in the relationships of others. My parents, my grandparents. (that was not what I know love is today) and mix some fantasitc hollywood romance in with the bad examples of “love” and that resulted in me chasing a fantasy with my low self esteem armed with a false definition of love.
    Sorry my comment is coming in so late!
    Hugs, Darlene

  • September 13, 2010 at 9:50 am


    . What do we know except that which was shown us? I even asked myself that question. Why did I do it their way? My only reasons were because I didn’t know I could do it my way. I think it is just as important to teach our kids the right way to love as well as teach them to find themselves and what they need in love and in life.

    Thanks for your comment, I appreciate your encouragement. It means a lot to me.


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