Here is a 100% true story of a past client who was able to break free of toxic patterns and discovered who and what she could attract and have in her life. As you read, you will see how through her own increased awareness, courage to be alone and raising her standards that achieving her relationships dream was possible. Her name is changed for reasons of confidentiality.
Stephanie came to see me after 8 years of being with another therapist. She told me her story of a history of relationship failures; constantly getting with men who would break her heart at around the 6 month period of a relationship. She was 38 years old and wanted a family. She told me that her therapist (at their last session) said to her that not all people were relationship material and maybe she was one of those people and she should stop knocking her head up against the wall to get in an intimate long-term relationship. Basically she told her to accept that her life would not be going in the direction of an intimate relationship that could lead to a family. When I heard that, my exact response was- “Well that is some bullshit right there!” She was intensely interested in my reaction and I explained that she is quite capable of being in a successful relationship and that we had to find how Stephanie herself is (unconsciously) doing this to herself and that her pattern needs to be uncovered. I was quick to add that this is not about blaming herself because none of this is intentional but that we will discover how she blocks the very thing she wants. As I told many of my clients- IT IS AN INSIDE JOB. SO LET’S START THE REWIRING PROCESS. Yes, the brain can literally be rewired with good therapy so that new patterns of thinking, speaking and behaving can emerge which could lead to very different and positive results. I was confident that she would be successful and she felt my belief in her.
We discovered that she had an underlying insecurity and fear of being alone. She had been very close to her dad who died young; he was the parent who was more tuned into her and she had lost him not long after puberty. In her adult relationship life, if a man showed interest, she was hooked. She did not challenge the men enough early in the courtship to discover if they could be mature enough to handle her being herself. She would adapt to whatever behavior they threw at her. If she got stood up on a date, she would give him another chance. If he was critical, she apologized. As long as there were times when he showed approval and affection, she would overlook the hurtful, immature behaviors. She would be in the wrong relationship for 6 months rather than get out of it after 6 dates (or less) to free her up to meet someone more appropriate. As a matter of fact, she never broke up with anyone. The relationship just ended when he broke up with her or she discovered an affair.
Maybe 6 weeks into our therapy sessions, Stephanie found someone online. They had this amazing online romance and he lived out of the country but he told her that he would be moving back to the states and could easily settle in Orange County, CA, which is where she lived, and that this would happen very soon. During the winter holiday, (they had met online 2 months prior) he paid her a visit and stayed 2 weeks and halfway through that visit, he proposed and she accepted. It seemed a little fast but I felt a little better when her friend who had referred Stephanie in the first place assured me that he seemed like a great guy and it all looked good. His plan was to go home, sell his house in England and they were to wed in February. Sometime in January, he called her and said that due to the economic conditions currently in Europe he is having a harder time selling his home and they would have to delay the wedding. She was disappointed but totally understood. For the next three months, she would talk, text and email daily with her being empathic and understanding and letting him know that whenever they get married, it would be wonderful. In April, though, I get an emergency phone call from her and this is the transcript of our phone call:
Stephanie: (in a panicky voice) Todd, I think I blew it.
Todd: I highly doubt that.
Stephanie: No, I really think I blew it. I constantly hear from my fellow police officers (she was a police woman) these questions like- “So when is the wedding?” and I say repeatedly- “I don’t know yet,” and it is so embarrassing. So, I told my fiancée that it was difficult at times for me and he could not believe that I was complaining about how I was feeling when he was already going through enough stress with the house and the economy. Then he hung up on me and that was 2 days ago. We communicate multiple times per day every day and he has not responded to any of my texts, emails or phone calls since. And my mother and brother both said to me that I better not blow ANOTHER relationship.
Todd: Wow, I am sorry to hear that you are going through that but firstly, your mother and brother could not have said a more incorrect and harmful thing to you. As a matter of fact, I think this is good that you are finding out some vital piece of information about your fiancée now. You were all about him and his feelings. As soon as you expressed your own pain, you found out that he is not there for you. You did not blow anything! You did exactly what you need to do and now your up against your own fears and insecurities that have kept you in the wrong relationship. Now is the time to really test him to find out if you can be hopeful or you need to break it off entirely.
Stephanie: But I don’t want this to end. I love him.
Todd: Maybe it won’t end but you need to see if he is capable of being there for you even when he is emotionally uncomfortable. Send him a text saying- “Your distancing behavior is unacceptable to me. If you are going to be married to me, you need to handle when I am in some emotional pain and be there for me. Step up your game or I am out.”
Stephanie: I don’t know if I could send him that text. I don’t want to lose him.
Todd: Does this sound familiar in your life?
Stephanie: Yes, but I am scared.
Todd: I understand. In life, there are times when you need to do the tough thing and that is the only way to ultimately get what you want.
She didn’t do it. I even said you could leave out the last sentence and she still didn’t do it. Eventually he communicated with her and she accepted the situation for another 3 months and never complained. Finally a breakthrough was coming. During one of our sessions, I asked her if she felt she was doing anything different with him than any of the other men in her past. She said ,”No,” and I said- “Look, you are a very smart woman. You are in the midst of this pattern. YOU ARE RELATIONSHIP MATERIAL! But you will never know it unless you let me help you take more risks with this man.” She asked me what to do because it was hard to argue that her passivity and codependence was working in her situation. I told her to communicate with him about how hurt and disappointed she is with him in how he dealt with her pain in April and that the pain is even worse now and that he has to learn to be there for her and demonstrate that to her if this relationship was to have any chance.
(In those there months, we had worked through some unresolved grief of losing her father as well as self-esteem issues). I asked her to compose an email using her own words. We discussed her possible plans of action based on his response to the email. She sent the email and by the following session a week later, he had once again stopped responding to any messages and distanced himself again. This time, she followed through on what we discussed. She promised herself and me that if there was no response, she would send him a goodbye email and be done. That is what she did while in the session with me and I helped her work through her final grief.
Four months after that, she met a man from Orange County on a trip to Ireland. He had two children from a previous marriage. She was now 39. They fell in love. She told me that some of his parenting with his children was a problem for her and that if it did not change; it could be a real problem for her. This time, without waiting, she asserted herself saying that he need to get into therapy because if he continued his current behavior with his children (and ex-wife) that would be a deal breaker for her. He agreed, went to therapy and made good progress. They got married 10 months later and she got pregnant just after her 40th birthday and gave birth to a healthy baby girl. This was 6 years ago and they have a great family life. Also, he has maintained better boundaries with his ex-wife and previous children.
You could see her struggle and understand that there are underlying emotional issues that can block people from being open to a healthy relationship. If you resonate even with a small part of this story, contact me. I have many more success stories similar to this. I work in person at my office as well as via Skype. Why settle for a bad relationship or give up due to thinking that you are not relationship material? Wouldn’t you rather empower yourself to be more of the person you are to attract the healthy relationship you deserve? Call me at (714) 848-2288 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.