When I turned 30 (more than a few years ago now) I temporarily lost myself.
My identity pixelated. Shattered like a billion broken shards of glass.
I thought I was supposed to be married. Or at the very least not alone. I was attractive. Educated. Spiraling along with a solid career.
Wasn’t I the very definition of A Catch? I mean…my friends thought so.
I woke up one morning convinced that I should have the marriage + kids + 2-car garage tied up by now. Or least, in motion. Fast-motion.
One week after my 30th birthday, I said “yes” to a first date with a man we’ll call “Mark.”
He was attractive. Fun. Flirty. And totally wrong for me. But Mark was there — and he was well, available.
Funny how when you’re starving you’ll gorge yourself on junk food, without a second thought.
Mark and I dated for a little over a year. I wanted a love story. What I got was … toxicity.
I told myself of series of lies and half-truths about him and our un-fulfilling relationship. I often looked the other way — not wanting to witness behavior that upset me.
Happy? I wasn’t happy. But I told myself I was.
Because I was 30 + single + he was (didn’t I mention?) available. Wasn’t that sort of good enough? The disappointment escalated. I ignored, ignored, ignored …
Cut to: debilitating insecurity, clamped fingers, head-splitting isolation, bitter resentment and — eventually — the complete dismantling of self that comes from incessant self-doubt. Those voices … those questions …
What could I have done sooner / later / more of / less of / better / instead?
Who will I be without this relationship?
Do I even have the strength to start over? Again?
I knew that I wasn’t a victim. I’d chosen my relationship with Mr. Available, because he was there, and I was scared. The truth stung, but it felt better than the lies I had grown comfortable telling myself.
New questions arose:
What do I believe that I deserve in my relationships?
Where can I bend and sacrifice? Where can I … not?
What are MY authentic choices?
I chose happiness over half-suffering. It was a simple choice, in the end.
OK then. Here we go.
Let the rebuild begin.
What do YOU believe you deserve from your relationships? Where can you bend and sacrifice? Where can you … not?
I’m a Los Angeles based relationship + life coach. I offer a sharp combination of keen insight, know-how + intuition. Want more life + dating advice? Jump on my newsletter. Interested in laser focused one-on-one treatment? Hire me. You won’t regret it.
Hey! Do you have a pesky question burning a hole in your pocket? Email me at
email@example.com to submit a letter for my Smart Advice column. Identities strictly confidential-of course.
© 2011 Danielle Dowling
- Maybe I’d be Happier with Someone Else? - Apr 25, 2023
- Mastering An Attitude Of Gratitude & How to Maintain Feeling Grateful - Mar 28, 2023
- How Do I Find Joy in Life? - Feb 24, 2023