Ask Maggie: February 2020

Bailey Robb

Ask Maggie is an advice column by Maggie Mattuchio Flynn, a self-professed lover of all beings who has been advising her friends since kindergarten. Maggie is the the founder of The Deep Agency, a full-service creative agency supporting the wellness community, and has cultivated an open heart and deep sense of intuition to overcome alcoholism. She spends her personal time hiking, teaching yoga and offering reiki to animals.

Dear Maggie, 

Last year, I finally ended a back and forth relationship with a man in my industry.  While we no longer work together anymore, we continue to work in similar circles. When we were together,  he showed signs of a pretty bad drinking problem and was compulsively lying about things and talking his way out of them. I work very long hours and find it hard to date. I don’t want to be with him anymore, but every time he calls, I pick up the phone. I want to be in a healthy relationship, but I can’t seem to break away from this pattern. Why can’t I let him go?


Hopelessly Devoted to a Douchebag

Dear Hopelessly,

For seven years, I was in a similar hostage situation with a very well-educated drug dealer. The relationship began in my early twenties, and while I never identified as having low self-esteem, like most women today, it’s hard for me to keep up with industry standards and we are all vulnerable at one stage or another. I met my greatest lesson on New Year’s Eve in Boston at the stroke of midnight. He was there and he kissed me. Days later, we would reconnect via my friend at the time and he reminded me that he had been my first kiss that year. He had my attention and I agreed to see him again. 

He seemed a bit sketchy, but assured me he was a carpenter and an artist. He was a gentleman on our first date, and seemed to tick all the boxes, including keeping up with me intellectually. At first, things were picture perfect: Fancy dinners, Tiffany bracelets, and holidays in Maine. By the third month, he told me he had “contracted something” from the girl he was seeing right before me, and that he had slept with her once after we had been together. I was devastated. I lost my virginity later in life and this was a big blow to my self-esteem. Luckily for me, my mother had preached no sex before marriage and to always use protection, so I came out unscathed. Looking back, this was the first of many manipulations by him that would keep me on the merry-go-round. 

I stayed, and for seven years we went in circles. Each offense greater than the one before and another link in the chain. Truthfully, I was just as much to blame for staying as long as I did. I became addicted to the drama and would then tell myself I was damaged goods and only he would want me. The final blow came when he fathered a child with another woman. While “on a break” (we were still seeing each other weekly) he impregnated our former housemate.  I found this out six months later, but she kept the baby. It took me another three years to finally walk away and almost fifteen years later, it’s still painful for me. During my first year of sobriety, I would keep my distance, but continued to pick up the phone or answer texts when he called. I couldn’t explain it either. Finding a great therapist was the first step to closing the open wound. It was only when I truly learned to love myself entirely, that I was able to break the cycle. 

At this point, I was also in a program of recovery, so I began to apply methods that I had learned in those rooms to help break my addiction to him. For 90 days, I refused any contact. I blocked him from my phone and all social media accounts. When nostalgic thoughts of better times would enter my mind, I gently asked them to go away and I would promptly grab a book, call a friend, or go for a long walk. By the tenth day, the process became easier and by the 90th, I didn’t feel the void. The habit had been broken and the real work of loving myself began. With the help of my therapist, I learned to love my own company. I would take myself on long walks over the Brooklyn Bridge, go to the movies alone, go shopping at Bergdorf’s (on the sale rack, of course), or hang with friends and not talk about my problems — which was something that I hadn’t done in a very long time. 

Blocking someone that doesn’t value your space is the greatest form of self-care. Creating boundaries is essential for creating the space in your heart for soulmate love to enter. The moment you say no to something that is no longer serving you is the moment that you begin to call in the things that make you feel good. I also recommend making a list of the things that you value about yourself and reading it every morning. It’s hard to ask someone else to value you, if you can’t remember to value yourself. This helped me the most when I was having a hard time breaking bad boy habits. Making the list bundled with 90 days of no contact, a good therapist, and spending time with yourself will all help create the boundaries you need for a healthy relationship. Then you can sit back, relax and let the universe handle the rest of the details.

— Maggie

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