As a couple with both a successful, fulfilling relationship coaching business and successful, fulfilling marriage, we realize that we have a life that many people dream of. We'd like to share our journey of how we arrived here, so that you have a deep understanding that our lives were not always this rosy. We want you to know that it's possible for you to have everything you desire. Really!
How do we know this? Because of our journey, and we will share it with you today.
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For the majority of my life I felt drastically flawed. In my teens I developed really good cover in a false confidence that everyone around me seemed to buy. I also "developed," literally—I got boobs early, my period started when I was in 6th grade, I lost my virginity at 14. Starting at a very young age, I mistook sex for love. I also accepted sex as love.
I see now that I was simply so desperate to feel wanted, desired, cherished and cared for that I'd grab hold to any version of that love that appeared. I feared it was all I would ever get. My deepest, darkest secret was that I felt unlovable. Still, I used that "cover" I'd developed to seem "normal." Now I know as a woman in her 40s that all teenagers wish to fit in, but this went well beyond my teens, it followed me into college, and stuck around through my 20s and into my 30s. Is Low Self-Esteem Hurting Your Relationship?
I would do anything to "prove" my worth back then—going above and beyond the call of duty many times, only to find heartbreak, disappointment and betrayal. Each defeat only solidified what I felt in my heart to be true: I was damaged beyond repair, like the sofa you put out on the curb for the city to take to the dump. Although unlike the sofa, I had never felt loved—even when shiny, clean and new.
Oh sure, I had boyfriends and when they departed, I'd remember that scene in the beginning of Gone With The Wind when all the men are around Scarlet, and all the women are in the other room saying, "A man doesn't marry that kind of girl."
Marriage was the last thing on my mind; I couldn't fathom that someone would commit to loving me forever. Being an overachiever, I excelled in the workforce. The good "cover" that I learned as a kid served me well, and I was able to do some really amazing things and work with some truly gifted people.
Then it happened—the thing we all hope and pray for—the man who I imagined was my Mr. Right came into my life. He was handsome. He made me feel loved like no other. He seemed to be everything that I desired. I jumped in with both feet.
After 14 months of being together, on New Year's Eve of 1994, he beat me. It was the wake-up call of a lifetime. I left that relationship immediately, but it took me years to recover. I went through hours of traditional therapy and years of personal growth work. I read books. I went to workshops, I took a dating course, I looked inside myself for the first time with the desire to truly make myself whole.
I didn't date anyone for a long time, but when I started to date and the relationship didn't work out, I'd asked myself, "What is the Golden Nugget that I can take away from this experience?" I learned that I wanted to receive love respectfully. This meant that I had to learn how to give love respectfully. I had to practice loving someone respectfully because I hadn't learned that skill in my family of origin. "I love you," in my family meant, "I don't respect you" because, "I love you" meant that I could do anything to you, that there was no boundary. Respect means there's a boundary.
Of course, my transformation didn't happen overnight; it was a process. I arrived at a place where I really felt OK on my own. Then I would quiet my mind and ask, "What do I really want?" The answer that came—and for years remained the same—was love.
The one thing that I can share with you is that I had to become whole first and foremost in order to receive and be open to my true heart's desire. When Matthew came into my life, he did not, and to this day does not, "complete me." He compliments me. He inspires me to be the best me that I can be.
My journey of transformation and love began when I was about to turn 35. There was something about that number that made me feel like I was finally becoming a grownup and my life should reflect that. When I looked at where I was at 34, it was not a pretty picture. I was still living like I was 25, not almost 35. I was starting on my third career, which was really a return to an acting career that I had abandoned in my early 20s. I was single and didn't have any prospects for a relationship. I had just moved back to Los Angeles after six years of living in San Francisco. The two things that had been constant over those last 10-15 years were that I knew how to have a good time, and I knew when things weren't working out, I could always move to another city. Of course, the old saying "No matter where you go, there you are," is true.
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