Gemma: therapy helped me to identify patterns in my relationship history

July 13, 2020









I’ve been single now for just over a year, and it’s probably one of the most defining times of my life. It’s been helping me to define myself.

I started having some therapy and that’s helped me to identify some patterns in my relationship history.

I suppose in this last year what I’ve been trying to do is explore how all those past experiences up until this point have affected how I see the world and the way I interact with other people and also the way I approach relationships in general.

I’ve been married twice. At the age of 36, it’s really easy to judge yourself based upon that. Having therapy has helped me to understand what my biggest challenges have been in relationships.

Part of what is making me feel so fulfilled right now is gaining a better understanding of myself.

Historically I’ve always been in a relationship since I left university. I’ve found it a bit tough to settle down and now that I am Suddenly Single and I’m taking the time to understand myself I feel like I’m going to be a much more rounded person when I am ready to start dating again.

Before experience has been pretty much centered around trying to find someone who makes me feel secure. You can grow up in a home full of love and still not feel completely secure.

That combination of love without security and bullying and so on meant that when I started dating any kind attention was a confidence boost for me and finding myself going along with things and getting swept up in the mire.

This is very personal stuff for me and I’m okay talking about it now because of all the work we’ve done in therapy to accept and be kind to yourself and not judge yourself. I spent a very long time judging myself and my behaviors after I left school.

I started to try to understand attachment styles in relationships. I started to think about what kind of attachment style I wanted.

I was searching for that secure base and for someone to put their arms around me so that I didn’t have to feel so bad about my past. If we had been talking about this a year ago I would not have been able to have this maturity of conversation about it.

This year has been a real period of reflection and very deep investigation…self-investigation to try and actually figure out what I’m genuinely looking for in the future and what have I wanted in the past and not had, what have I given too much of in the past and what is my attachment style. How am I going to channel all that energy and all that love that I have to give in to a situation where I feel secure.

This therapy I’d been having gave me the confidence to say to this gentleman this is not an arrangement that works for me.

I took some anger away from that situation. I said you have made me feel worthless, you have made me feel used, and you have actually made me feel like I just don’t matter in any way at all, but thank you because I’ve also discovered that I’m not okay with feeling like that anymore and I’m actually strong enough to tell you that I’m angry with you for making me feel this way.

I think I’m learning that just because someone thinks you’re good looking or thinks you look hot that night you don’t have to necessarily jump up and sleep with them or kiss them. In learning to be kinder to myself I’ve learned to have more respect for myself. That self-respect has not come naturally in my formative years. It has arrived much later in my 30’s because of the opportunity I’ve had to explore all of this within my own psyche.

I was diagnosed with cancer when I was 29, just after I had married my first husband and I had an 18-month old daughter. I felt very isolated and alone when dealing with it. The marriage didn’t really get through that.

After that, I did meet someone new. It happened in a whirlwind. It was complicated and I started to discover he was becoming controlling very slowly very subtly. It made me very anxious.

If I sit around moping I’m going to have a nervous breakdown. There was this pressure to get back to normal. My body was far from okay.

I was an anxious wreck. He had convinced me I was abusive and I was a bully. I just ended up retreating more and more and more into myself.

I realized I’d also made myself a cubbyhole to remind myself of my achievements because in the rest of the house I was so insecure and worried about myself and worried that I was a bad person, and a bad wife, and a bad mother and just generally a horrible person.

It was when I came to that realization that this is what that relationship had done to me that’s when I ended it.

That whole notion of figuring yourself out has been fundamental in understanding and coming to terms with what happened to me physically but also in terms of my relationships as well.

The encouragement I can give you is, you don’t have to put up with that. Communicating effectively means telling the other person if you’re not happy, what they’re doing and the impact it has on you.

Having a bit of kindness towards yourself and instead of dismissing your own feelings actually acknowledging them.

There are countless people who are in the same situation as you are right now. There are places where you can be heard that are safe.

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