How Dr. Diana Kirschner helped one woman go from broken engagement to true love.
As told to Meghan Beresford
My love story starts in the unlikeliest of places: returning my engagement ring to a man I truly loved.
I'd never had a relationship as passionate as the one I had with Erik. We experienced the highest of highs, and it was extraordinary. But as time went on, we also started to experience serious lows. We began to see a therapist. One day in the middle of a session, I had a sudden realization: I was tired. This was too painful, we didn't seem to be making progress and we both deserved to be happier than we were. I think I surprised both of us when I blurted out, "I want to break up."
Instead reacting with shock and begging me to stay, Erik angrily outlined a long list of things that were wrong with me. We sat there, both of us, stunned at where we'd ended up. The therapist broke the silence by stating the obvious: "Well, it sounds like this relationship is not working."
I returned Erik's engagement ring, and, unwilling to dwell on the breakup, I threw myself into looking for the kind of love I wanted. I came across Dr. Diana Kirschner's work through her book, Sealing The Deal: The Love Mentor's Guide To Lasting Love.
We have personal trainers at the gym, career coaches, and the stigma of going to therapy has lifted considerably (thanks, Woody Allen!). But when you hear about a concept like Love Mentoring, you think "Oh, jeez. Really, do I need that?" After my experience with Erik I thought maybe I did. I signed up for a trial mentoring session with Dr. Diana and I loved it, but couldn't afford it.
Then YourTango asked me to participate in the 31-Day Love Life Makeover Challenge. I'd get to work with Dr. Diana for free in exchange for letting YourTango film our sessions. I was excited, but also apprehensive about handing over my love life to reality TV. A friend who had worked with Dr. Diana in the past said that Diana was the real deal so I decided to go for it. Dr. Diana Meets Nadette And Explains Love Mentoring
My friend was right. This warm, kind, sparkling woman made me feel at ease the moment we met, and she wanted love for me more than I wanted it for myself. She helped me realize that I was placing an all-too-low value on myself and on my desire for extraordinary love.
When Dr. Diana introduced the concept of the "diamond self," I had a breakthrough. Your diamond self is your absolute best self. It's you, perfect as you are right now, being the best person you can be in this moment. It's difficult to say, "I am loveable right now" instead of, "I need to lose ten pounds", but it's necessary. It takes practice, and you may have to fake it until you make it, but eventually your diamond self begins to shine from within you and changes your life. Nadette Reveals Her Diamond Self
In defining and respecting my diamond self, I finally felt ready to accept the love I deserved. But first I had to get past the love I'd had. Dr. Diana placed a pillow in a chair next to me and told me to talk to it like it was Erik. I felt silly at first, but it ended up being the most incredible experience.
I told him how angry I was. I told him how much I resented him for refusing to accept me as I was. I cried a lot. I even hit the pillow with one of those little therapy bats. It helped! Watch Nadette's Intense Conversation With Erik
Then Dr. Diana had me reverse roles. Pretending that I was Erik forced me to acknowledge his sadness. Letting my anger out and then tempering it with compassion helped me say goodbye to that relationship. It also created the space for me to ask for what I wanted now—and at last, I knew what that was: a man who could see my diamond self and love me as I was.
I started dating so I could find this man. I met some extraordinary guys, but none of them were for me. The more I dated, the more I became able to see clearly what I really wanted. I didn't want a new man; I wanted a new relationship with the man I already loved. Nadette And Dr. Diana Critique Nadette's Dates
When I realized that I wanted Erik back, I told Dr. Diana immediately. She worked her magic and before I knew it, Erik was in the office with us.
We talked about how we'd behaved in the past and Dr. Diana helped us outline what was tolerable and what wasn't. She really took a stand for me and gave Erik the opportunity to win me back. Thankfully, he was willing to rise to the occasion!
I've had to rise, too. In our work with Dr. Diana, Erik and I learned something that's changed our relationship entirely: there's no meeting your partner halfway. In the past, we'd thought of ourselves as people on different ends of a rope, each giving up a little slack so that we could come closer together. Dr. Diana's approach was different: each of us had to give 100 percent. It wasn't about giving in or compromising. Instead, we both simply had to try as hard as we could to love one another.
And guess what? It works. What's so beautiful about giving 100 percent is that it comes right back to you, immediately. I see him try and I'm immediately smitten, and I want to try, too.
These days, Erik calls me by my diamond-self name at home, and I feel that he truly sees the perfect me I'm striving to be. He understands how to support and encourage me, and we've never been happier together than we are now. It's been a bumpy journey, but Erik and I have created an extraordinary relationship.
It's funny, but in some way, returning that engagement ring was the best thing I've ever done for my love life. I had to give up that diamond to learn to shine like one.