my recovery story
In 2008 I Was Literally Going Insane in the Dating World...
Here's my recovery story...
I grew up in a small town on the East Coast. My childhood was great in many ways and difficult in others. The details of my difficulties aren't relevant for this story. What's important is that I had emotional needs in my childhood that did not get met and when I went off to college at age 18, I began to experience some of the consequences of the unmet needs from my upbringing.
When I met my first boyfriend at college I was wounded, emotionally immature and fixated on finding love. I was also drinking frequently and binging on TV to deal with my anxiety. I developed a cycle of dating and relationships that would go something like this:
Someone new comes along I meet while out at a loud bar, party or from online.
We date, I like him A LOT and I try everything to get him to like me back even though he’s massively unavailable to me.
I change my clothes, my interests and sometimes my personality to try and lock him into a relationship with me.
He's unavailable so he ends the relationship.
I’m emotionally shattered and replay everything about the relationship back over in my head.
I wait for the sting to wear off, pump myself back up, get back on the horse and find myself at a loud bar again or back online dating and the cycle would start all over again...
I was so confused. I thought I was a good looking, smart, successful, high achieving woman in her 30s so my troubles in dating and relationships baffled me.
I had a BA in Psychology
I had a Masters of Science in Education
I had a successful career in elementary education
I was a popular DJ in New York City
I had friends to go out with every weekend
I had my own beautifully decorated apartment in Brooklyn
Despite my frustrations, I was determined to fix what I thought was broken in my love life. So I took to dating guides to study and learn how to master finding a boyfriend. By age 32, I had read countless blog posts, magazine articles and books. I was also trying out all my tips and trick on new men I'd meet.
Here was my iBooks Library in 2013.
Have you read any of these?
Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man by Steve Harvey
Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus: The Classic Guide to Understanding the Opposite Sex by John Gray
Are All Guys Assholes? by Amer Madison
It's Called a Breakup Because It's Broken: The Smart Girl's Breakup Buddy by Greg Behrendt and Amiira Rutola-Behrendt
Date Like a Man by Myreah Moore
Why Men Love Bitches: From Doormat to Dreamgirl by Sherry Argov
Why Men Marry Bitches: A Woman's Guide to Winning Her Man's Heart by Serry Argov
All The Rules: Time Tested Secrets for Caputuring the Heart of Mr. Right by Ellen Fein and Sherri Schneider
The Rules for Online Dating: Capturing the Heart of Mr. Right in Cyberspace by by Ellen Fein and Sherri Schneider
Text. Love. Power. The Ultimate Girl's Guide to Dating in the New Millennium by Vanessa Taylor
Spoiler alert. None of it worked.
After devouring all the manuals, I managed to date guys for a couple months at a time but the relationships always ended the same three ways:
1. He would slowly would disappear.
2. He would tell me he wasn't ready for a relationship.
3. He would say he met someone else.
I watched my girlfriends evolve, get married and go deeper in their committed relationships. Lemme tell you, it hurt. All this time I was hiding that fact that I was desperate to find a boyfriend behind my busy social life, material success and "all the good ones are taken" attitude.
Behind the closed doors of my beautifully decorated apartment, I was home alone binging Netflix, drinking too much wine and quietly wondering if there was something wrong with me.
To make matters worse, I hooked up my old flames from time to time when the loneliness and fear of ending up alone became too much to bear.
I was unhappy and moving from city to city searching for answers. In each new city, I recreated the same scenarios in dating and relationships that left me feeling angry, sad, emotionally exhausted and spiritually defeated. I was reaching a breaking point but I didn't know what to do about it.
In 2016, in a moment of clarity, I decided to explore my relationship with alcohol, take a break from dating and start down a path of getting to know myself.
It was also when the real work began.
I didn't know it at the time, but with that decision I had committed fully to discovering the truth of who I was. And with this decision I started my recovery journey to wholeness.
Here's the most important thing I've learned along the way:
I couldn't have a happy healthy relationship if I wasn't able to approach my love life as an integrated adult.
I realized that my emotional age was not in alignment with my physical age and that I stopped growing emotionally when my emotional needs in childhood remained unmet. I began to see my self-sabotaging patterns in dating and relationship covered up the truth that I needed to complete what remain unresolved inside me.
Only through this emotional healing and growth could any worthwhile relationship be possible for me. I learned that my emotional immaturity was reflected in everything. In my family, my work relationships, my intimate relationships and the relationship I had with myself.
But how did I actually find my partner?
Well, I had to stop trying to figure it out myself with all my dating manuals and get some real help with my recovery.
I set out on the difficult yet rewarding task of becoming an embodied woman who could finally be ready for a mature relationship.
(1) I awakened to my own readiness to change and started creating a powerful Vision of want I wanted and the emotionally mature woman I wanted to be.
(2) I got help to clearly understand the link between my upbringing and my intimate relationships
(3) I took time to grieve my losses and complete the past.
(4) I began to learn new habits and ways of thinking/being that align with my new Vision.
(5) I committed to express and embody this Vision in all areas of my life.
During this process, I felt an inner peace I'd never known and reconciled with myself.
I experienced real emotional healing and a lasting transformation.
I felt alive and excited about what was possible for me. My potential, purpose and direction in life became clear and I started running toward it. Life wasn't perfect. I still dealt with challenges in my life but when I felt sad, frustrated or forgot the path I was on, I had tools to work through it and find my way back home again.
Finding my partner became easier at this point and at age 34 I landed in a committed relationship with the person I am still with today. It's a relationship I have fun in and feel challenged everyday to keep growing emotionally. When it's very challenging I have my recovery roadmap to guide me back to myself.
Most importantly, I feel full permission to love without fear and bring all of myself out each day because I did that work for myself first.
It feels important to say that finding my partner was not the end of this story. We did not ride off into the sunset together and live happily ever after. While we enjoyed a long honeymoon period soaking in all that new relationship energy, a deeper level of emotional growth work and recovery was and continues to be required to keep our relationship happy, healthy and sustainable.
My person! Together since July 2016!
So what's next for you?
If you made it down this far my guess is you're wondering what your recovery journey could look like.
If you're struggling to find your partner recovery can help you overcome what's emotionally blocking you so when you engage in dating you can be clear, feel secure and have some fun in your search for a deep meaningful relationship.
If you're struggling in your current partnership recovery can help you use your partnership to heal, grow and become an emotionally free woman. A woman who will have her partner love her with all their heart because you did the work for yourself first.
You got this,
PS: Go here to learn more about my background, my credentials and my method of transformation.
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The Empowered Emotions Guidebook: An Exploration Into 5 Difficult Emotions ...and How to Use Them Instead to Empower You and Your Love Life