PROLOGUE

Fifteen years ago in the depths of my despair I wanted my life fixed RIGHT NOW!

A wise mentor shared the reading below with me.  I didn’t understand it at the time but I now see it describes the process of awakening, learning and change.

I have used this reading to help guide my own story of recovery with you.

AUTOBIOGRAPHY IN 5 SHORT CHAPTERS

CHAPTER ONE

I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I fall in.
I am lost … I am helpless.
It isn’t my fault.
It takes me forever to find a way out.

CHAPTER TWO

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don’t see it.
I fall in again.
I can’t believe I am in the same place.
But, it isn’t my fault.
It still takes a long time to get out.

CHAPTER THREE

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it is there.
I still fall in … it’s a habit.
My eyes are open
I know where I am.
It IS my fault.
I get out immediately.

CHAPTER FOUR

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.

CHAPTER FIVE

I walk down another street.

By Portia Nelson

 

GOODBYE RAUNCHY RHONDA

My Journey of Recovery from Love Addiction and Codependency

CHAPTER ONE

I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk
I fall in.
I am lost … I am helpless.
It isn’t my fault.
It takes me forever to find a way out.

I have an alter ego.

Her name is ‘Raunchy Rhonda’.

She has long red hair, a perfect body and is a big flirt!  We officially met in therapy 10 years ago but in truth she has always been a part of me.

‘Rhonda’ emerged and took full control of my life when I was 8 years old and felt left out, unloved, and ignored.  She helped me be bold and fearless and get the attention I wanted.

I used the only power I thought I had.  My body.

As a child, I learnt that being a girl attracted attention.  I was sexually abused by a caregiver from an early age to my late teens and while I knew it was wrong I also felt wanted, loved and powerful.  The seeds for sex and love addiction were planted there.

I was obsessed with love and sex like most teenagers but I never grew out of it.  I believed my Mum when she said one day a ‘Knight In Shining Armour’ (who was tall, dark and handsome of course!) would come and marry me and take care of me for the rest of my life. We would live in a home with a white picket fence and have beautiful babies and live happily ever after.   My only job was to be a ‘Good Wife’ and be available to his every need for the rest of my life.

There was always a ‘love interest’ on the scene in my teens.  There was never a gap between them because I was too anxious to be on my own. The scenario was always the same:

1)    They weren’t right for me but they liked me and put me on a pedestal.  I felt ‘better than’ and pitied them and pretended to like them.  I would dump them quickly when someone better came along.

2)    I would be insanely attracted to them, put them on a pedestal and do WHATEVER it took (seduction) to get them to go out with me and then feel totally ‘less than’ and unworthy in the relationship.  They usually had an addiction or mental health issue or in some way needed ‘rescuing’.  I felt a duty to take care of them (and to ‘fix’ them) with the hidden agenda that they would ‘love’ me in return.  When they broke up with me it felt like my whole world had ended. I had to find someone else to ‘take the pain away’.

3)    I would develop an obsessive crush on someone ‘UNAVAILABLE’ (e.g.: married, gay, too old, too young, living somewhere else) and create an elaborate fantasy in my mind about how we could be together.  They didn’t even know I existed!

Without my addiction, I had nothing.

I was an empty shell.  I was insecure, frightened and lost.  I was also very emotionally immature but hid it well.

People thought I was ‘mature’, ‘responsible’ and ‘smart’.  I was the ‘high achiever’ but I had no self-esteem.  I had no idea who I was and what I was meant to do with my life.   My addiction kept me in a safe, but extremely lonely, bubble.  I had no real friends and avoided socialising.  I was afraid people would see that I didn’t ‘have it all together’.  I couldn’t focus on my studies and spent years of my life locked in my room too scared to go out.

My first serious heartbreak totally derailed me.  I flunked out of University and re-bounded into a violent relationship that led to a breakdown with my family.  They thought I was mad and I really was!

In hindsight, I can see I was suffering from major depression and anxiety but 30yrs ago mental health had a major stigma attached to it and I was too ashamed to ask for help.  Also, in my family it simply was ‘NOT OK’ to ‘NOT BE OK’.  The rule was ‘Pull Your Socks Up And Get On With It’.

It took 3 years to escape my violent partner and I went back to University to try and create a life for myself.   It was the first time in my life that I didn’t have a ‘real’ boyfriend but I created fantasy relationships, including one with my 60 year old Science Professor, that kept the obsessive thinking and behaviour going and numbed out my emotional pain.

Then I met my first husband and fell madly in love!  I put him on a pedestal and morphed my life into his.  I hid in his shadow, felt lonely and totally ‘less than’.  I turned to food for comfort, gained 25 kilograms and felt invisible behind my wall of weight. I still didn’t have an identity of my own and, while that felt bad, it was safer to be someone’s wife rather than take responsibility for my life and happiness.

However, my world completely collapsed when my husband died young.  That traumatic event triggered ‘Rhonda’ to totally take over and I fell into the arms of someone else very soon after he died.  I felt utterly mad, totally out of control emotionally, and realised there was something very, very wrong! It was time to get help.

I reluctantly consulted a therapist who asked, ‘Do you think you might have Love Addiction?’  I was mortified and denied it completely.  She never brought it up again.  But deep down I knew she was right.  I was exhausted, my life was totally unmanageable and I wanted to die.  I booked into therapy and began my recovery.

CHAPTER TWO

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don’t see it.
I fall in again.
I can’t believe I am in the same place
But, it isn’t my fault.
It still takes a long time to get out.

In group therapy my pattern of isolating and pretending I was OK continued.  Being open, honest and vulnerable felt totally impossible, however, I slowly got in touch with emotions that had been frozen inside me for decades.  I started to feel better but I didn’t connect with anyone or make friends.  That’s when I recognized my pattern of Love Avoidance.  I also refused to accept the label of Codependent, Love Addict or, worse, Sex Addict, so I didn’t go to 12 Step Meetings and get support for myself.

After 3 months of therapy I found the strength to cut all contact with my latest lover and finally go through withdrawal.  ‘Rhonda’ fought me every inch of the way!  She was scared if I stopped looking for love I might miss finding ‘The One’ if he came along at that time. She couldn’t comprehend a life without obsessing about a relationship. After all, relationships were all that mattered, right?  How could I possibly survive without someone in my life?

Withdrawal was hard but made worse because I didn’t ask for support. I was so ashamed that I was an ‘addict’ that I punished myself by toughing it out alone.

I set the following ‘Bottom Lines’ (behaviours that I had to stop because they triggered my obsessions, acting out and ‘highs’)

No dating.

No sexual activity, including masturbation.

No going on Internet Dating websites.

No watching romantic movies.

No reading romance novels.

No spending time with couples.

No obsessing/fantasizing (I had to distract myself instead).

No calling or texting or seeing ex’s.

No intriguing with potential ‘love interests’.

No flirting.

No using people to build my ego.

The withdrawal process lasted several months.  I experienced a lot of crying, depression, cravings, waves of anxiety, body aches and pain, and sleepless nights.   I felt like I had an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other.  The angel told me that I would be OK and it was time to leave my old life behind me.  The devil told me recovery wasn’t worth it and addiction was the ONLY way to be happy. I decided not to argue with either of them and just take things one day at a time.

The turning point came when I finally allowed myself to feel my deep abandonment pain and emptiness that I had pushed down for decades. It felt overwhelming and painful but my logical mind knew I wouldn’t die.  After I let the pain be expressed and dissolve I began to experience a peace and sense of myself that I had never known.  I found some confidence to get a new job and started going through the motions of life again.

After 18 months in therapy I thought I was OK and decided to leave. My therapist warned: ‘I don’t think you are ready yet.  You haven’t dealt with your ‘Father’ issues’.  I thought ‘What ‘Father’ issues?’ I had a respectful relationship with my Dad.  We didn’t know each other personally but loved each other.   I ignored her advice and went on my merry way.

But the truth was ‘Rhonda’ was still in charge.   She justified that after all the work I had put into therapy I finally deserved some happiness!  So ‘Rhonda’ built a fantasy crush on one of the men in my therapy group!

‘R’ fitted the bill for an obsessive relationship perfectly.  He was handsome, rich, and smart. We had an intense ‘intellectual’ connection.  But here’s the catch.  He was 35 years older than me (there’s those goddamn ‘Father’ issues!), he lived 6000 kilometres away and told me he didn’t like me ‘In That Way’.  I completely denied those realities and remained in hope that he would come to his senses and realize I was ‘The Love Of His Life’.  I stayed hanging around even after he fell madly in love with another woman and told me all their intimate details.

Man, where was my self-respect?

CHAPTER THREE

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it is there.
I still fall in … it’s a habit.
My eyes are open
I know where I am.
It IS my fault.
I get out immediately.

I hate to say I wasted about 9 months on my fantasy with ‘R’.  Eventually I woke up to myself and stopped calling him.  Funnily enough he never tried to call me!

Then ‘Rhonda’ led me into a series of dangerous, short term flings with men I met online, including an ex-heroin addict!  The pattern was the same as in my younger days:

1.    They weren’t right for me but they liked me and put me on a pedestal.  I felt ‘better than’ and pitied them and pretended to like them.  I would dump them quickly when someone better came along.

2.    I would be insanely attracted to them, put them on a pedestal and do WHATEVER it took (seduction) to get them to go out with me and then feel totally ‘less than’ and unworthy in the relationship.  They usually had an addiction or mental health issue or in some way needed ‘rescuing’.  I felt a duty to take care of them (and to ‘fix’ them) with the hidden agenda that they would ‘love’ me in return.  When they broke up with me it felt like my whole world had ended. I had to find someone else to ‘take the pain away’.

3.    I would develop a crush on someone ‘unavailable’ (e.g.: married, gay, too old, too young, living somewhere else) and create an elaborate fantasy in my mind about how we could be together.  They didn’t even know I existed!

The only difference between now and the past was that I KNEW I was addicted.  I had an awareness of ‘Rhonda’ and developed an observer part that watched me from the outside.  I was conscious of what I was doing but still felt compelled to play out the old pattern. It was a deeply entrenched behaviour.

However, I no longer judged myself and simply committed to learn from my mistakes.  Each ‘relationship’ got shorter and shorter and I surprised myself by ending them sooner than I ever would have.  I still set myself up to fail many times and got hurt but I knew I was doing it to myself.  I had no-one to blame but ME.  For the first time, I accepted full responsibility for the life I was living. I was no longer a VICTIM.  I was choosing to allow ‘Rhonda’ to rule my life.  And I could choose not to.

One day, after yet another painful, self-inflicted heartbreak, I simply said, ‘No More’.  It was time to take charge of my life and put ‘Rhonda’ in the passenger seat.

I wanted a ‘real’ relationship.  One based on honesty, trust and love, not fear, need, and control.  I wanted to learn to love another person unconditionally rather than just ‘use’ them for my gain.  Up until then relationships had been all about ME getting my need for validation, love and approval met.  The fantasy, drama and intensity were just a smoke screen, a distraction from allowing myself to be seen for who I really was.  If they didn’t know the ‘Real Me’ they couldn’t reject me, right?

CHAPTER FOUR

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.

In time I learnt the definition of insanity was ‘Doing The Same Thing Over And Over And Expecting A Different Result’!  I finally stepped outside of my comfort zone and joined 12 Step Programs, including SLAA (Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous), CODA (Codependents Anonymous) and ALANON (for family and friends of alcoholics).  I learnt that I wasn’t alone and there was indeed hope if I made recovery THE priority in my life.

I soon met my second husband online.  He was a 50 year old bachelor (10 years older than me!) and the exact opposite of the ‘Man Of My Dreams’.  He didn’t look like, sound like or act like my fantasy guy.  But, the truth was he was REAL, he was AVAILABLE for commitment and CAPABLE of unconditional love.  All that scared the hell out of me!   I said I wanted intimacy but I was also scared too, which is why I always yearned after ‘MR UNAVAILABLE’.

We met and married in 6 months (true Love Addict style!).   I told him early on that I was a recovering Love Addict and he said, ‘What’s that mean?’ I replied, ‘That I’m very hard to live with!

‘Rhonda’ put up a big fight.  For 5 years I swung between wanting to leave and wanting to stay.  My husband was ‘normal’, he didn’t have addictions, he didn’t need looking after and he didn’t do drama at all!  ‘Rhonda’ was bored.  She missed the intensity and games of my past relationships and was convinced I would be happier if I found “MR PERFECT”.

Every now and then I would be triggered into deep emotional pain that felt unbearable and I just wanted to run away and act out.  I would announce I was leaving and my husband would say, ‘Babe, I am so sorry you are in so much pain.  I don’t want you to leave.  I want to learn to be a better husband to you.  I want to work this out.  However, if you TRULY believe you will be happier not married to me then I totally support your decision.  I love you and just want you to be happy. Would you like me help you pack?’.  His pure unconditional love would always surprise me and I would burst into tears.  Then I would realise I was stressed out about something else and had let ‘Rhonda’ take over again.

One day I made a commitment: “I Was Not Going To Leave Until I Didn’t Want To Leave Anymore”.   That meant I had to take full responsibility for my pain and heal it at its source and not project it on to my husband.  I had to find peace and acceptance with the way things were and not leave in pain, anger or resentment.  I told ‘Rhonda’ that I was in charge now and she could go and swing in the hammock in the back yard.  She was very relieved!

I took everything I had learnt from books about relationships and put it into practice with a real life person who didn’t see the world the way I did and who wasn’t into personal development in any way, my husband.

I put my pride aside and started to ‘Do Something Different’.

I learnt:

To stop being a Drama Queen.

To build my self-esteem.

To be vulnerable.

To release my shame and fear.

To let go of all expectations and demands on myself and others.

To take healthy risks.

To apologise and make amends.

To forgive myself and my husband.

Not to blame anyone for how I felt.

To speak up for myself.

To take full responsibility for myself.

To stop being judgmental, controlling and manipulative.

To detach with love.

To stop fixing, rescuing and care-taking.

To accept problems and not deny them.

To accept and express my anger in healthy ways.

To set and keep boundaries.

To grow up emotionally and care for myself.

To ask for my needs and wants and be OK with hearing a ‘No’.

To reconnect with my Feminine Energy and Power.

To have faith that everything would work out in the end.

My husband also had his issues that he dealt with in his own way and time (I had to practice ‘Taking My Hands Off’ his life).  We have grown and matured together and it feels wonderful.  I am very grateful to have his influence in my life.  I have also accepted that I have no idea of the future of our relationship.  In the past, I couldn’t bear the idea of a relationship ending but I know now that I have no control over anything.  We are two individually happy, healthy people who choose to be together right now and that’s good enough for me.

CHAPTER FIVE

I walk down another street.

‘Rhonda’ doesn’t live here anymore.  I imagine she has gone off travelling Europe and enjoying herself for the first time in her life.   I love and respect her and am grateful for our time together.  She taught me so much about how I DON’T want to live my life.

However, I am under no illusion about how powerful ‘Rhonda’ is and how easily she could return and take over again.  That’s why my self-care is my priority.  When I’m OK everything’s fine.  But when I disrespect myself by ignoring my intuition, abuse myself by neglecting sleep or working too hard, or give my power away by people-pleasing, I am at risk of acting out again.

I hardly recognise myself these days.  I feel normal. I am no longer depressed, anxious or feel unworthy.  My mind is quiet and still.  No more obsessing or worrying is pure heaven!  Most of the time I live in the present moment, keep the focus on myself and live and let live.  I am free to be the real ME which feels incredible!

These changes took a lot of effort and practice.  Each new habit took a long time to form and I failed over and over.  But I NEVER gave up.

I have also surprised myself and overcome my secret Food Addiction.  Comfort foods like sugar and bread were my only ‘friends’ for many years and it was sad to say goodbye but our relationship was toxic.  I don’t miss them now.  I love feeling I have control and choice in my life. I am at my ‘normal’ weight for the first time in decades and I am confident I will remain there with ease and grace.  I recognise now that recovery is holistic, it requires attention to the mind, body, emotions and soul.  When one is weak it can affect everything else.

Looking back, I believe the biggest step I took to saving myself was finding the courage to be vulnerable and risk rejection.  However, I’ve learnt there is no such thing as rejection.  It’s an illusion I create in my own mind.  The truth is the only person who can reject me is myself.

It’s MY job to take care of me, love me, validate me, appreciate me, protect me, honour me.

It’s MY job to expect more for and from myself.

And it’s MY choice whether I take that responsibility or not.

I can’t blame anyone else for my suffering.

Can you believe that throughout my recovery journey I had a career in Mental Health?  I was dedicated to helping others overcome trauma, abuse and addiction issues but I didn’t feel I was ‘Walking My Talk’ for a long time. I was finally able to truly ‘be myself’ when I let go of deep emotional and mental blocks using an amazing process called Creatrix®.

Now I have totally surprised myself and become self-employed. That’s not something I EVER imagined I was capable of.  I am living my true purpose and specialise in helping women who feel stuck in a pattern of unhealthy relationships to let go of what’s holding them back, become their real self and move forward.

I have also founded ‘The Lady Power Movement’ to support women who want to be empowered but they struggle with fears, insecurities or resentments.  I help women to claim their power to freely ‘be themselves’, speak their truth and open their heart so they can take back control of their lives, enjoy happy, healthy relationships and share their gifts with the world.

My highest value is now my relationship with my Higher Power. I am dedicated to living my purpose of inspiring women to transform their lives from Fear To Love.  I believe every woman who achieves this in turn transforms the lives of 1000’s of people around her.

My message is: You CAN Recover. You ARE Loved.  You ARE Worth It!

Love,

Nat x

Natalie Anne Murray

Woman’s Creatrix Transformologist®

Founder of ‘The Higher Love Movement’

Website:  www.thehigherlovemovement.com

Business Facebook Page:  www.facebook.com/natalieannemurray

Email:  nat@thehigherlovemovement.com

Phone: 0411819077

BIO

I live by the lake in Newcastle, Australia with my much loved husband and rescue dogs.

I offer what I believe is the vital ‘Missing Piece’ in empowerment for women – clearing painful issues passed down through generations (eg: fear, shame, guilt, ‘I’m not good enough’) at their very core. It uses a life-changing tool created by a woman for women called Creatrix®.

My ‘Set Yourself Free’(Using Creatrix®)  program is a powerful, transformative process that is quick, easy and even fun, saving a lifetime of suffering and struggle.

I am on a mission to help 10,000 women set themselves free like I have.

Please feel free to contact me if you wish to schedule a Complimentary Consultation to see if I could help you too.

……………………………………………………………

BASIC RESOURCE LIST

If you relate to the pain of ‘losing yourself’ in relationships you are welcome to join our safe, supportive Women’s Only empowerment group The Lady Power Movement

And if you identify with Codependency or Addiction issues and have decided to recover then here are some suggested places to start your journey.

NOTE: It is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED you attend recovery meetings (particularly face to face) and get a sponsor and therapist, if you can, to help you in your personal journey.   Check out these websites for information about meetings and more resources.

MOST COMMON SELF-HELP GROUPS AND WEBSITES:

1.    Love Addicts Anonymous (LAA)

2.    Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous (SLAA)

3.    ALANON (Support for family and friends of Alcoholics)

4.    Codependents Anonymous (CODA)

5.    Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) 

6.    Narcotics Anonymous (NA) 

BOOKS:

Search Amazon.com for a wide-range of books about sex and love addiction, co-dependency and recovery.

Here’s some recommended ones:

1.    FACING CODEPENDENCY: Pia Melody

2.    FACING LOVE ADDICTION: Pia Melody

3.    THE NEW CODEPENDENCY Melody Beattie

4.    IS IT LOVE OR IS IT ADDICTION? Brenda Schaeffer

5.    LEAVING THE ENCHANTED FOREST Liana Beckett

6.    LOVE JUNKIE Rachel Resnick

7.    THE LOVE ADDICT IN LOVE ADDICTION Jim Hall

8.    GATEWAY TO RECOVERY Jim Hall

9.    SURVIVING WITHDRAWAL – THE BREAKUP WORKBOOK FOR LOVE ADDICTS  Jim Hall

WORKBOOKS:

There are some 12 Step Workbooks suitable for women available from Amazon.com

1.    A GENTLE PATH THROUGH THE 12 STEPS Patrick J Carnes

2.    A WOMAN’S WAY THROUGH THE 12 STEPS Stephanie S Covington

3.    BREAKING FREE – A RECOVERY WORKBOOK FOR FACING CODEPENDENCE Pia Melody & Andrea Well Miller

PLEASE REMEMBER: NOTHING replaces support and accountability from other people who understand what you are experiencing.  You are NOT alone.  

If you are ready to really love and empower yourself here’s how I can help!

 

Join The Lady Power Movement

A safe, supportive, inspiring group of women sharing the journey.

Set Your Heart Free

Private 1:1 Program
Love Yourself.  Feel Safe.  Be Empowered

Workshops

Group Programs and Workshops

Natalie Anne Murray (Nat) is a Feminine Transformation Master who specialises in helping self-aware, spiritual, professional women 40+, who want to feel empowered but struggle with fears,  insecurities or resentments.

Nat helps women to let go of old pain that is keeping them stuck and to reconnect to their feminine power so they can take back control of their lives, enjoy happy, healthy relationships and share their gifts with the world.

Nat is the founder and host of the Lady Power Movement for women around the world and specialises in deep, lasting transformation for her private 1:1 clients.

 

 

 

  • Licensed Woman’s Creatrix Transformologist® (See me on the official register here )
  • Level Two Licensed “Art of Feminine Presence”®Teacher (See more info here)
  • Specialized Experience in Healing From Childhood Trauma and Abuse
  • Life Coach
  • Highly Experienced Group Facilitator
  • Ex-Registered Nurse (majoring in Mental Health)