As I share in my second book, Love is Coming,
my parents struggled with addiction until I was around sixteen.
I dealt with the turbulence at home in two ways:
Through overachieving, and boys.
Both gave me the validation and escapism I was craving -
with seemingly minimal negative consequences.
Overachieving led me to getting the top mark in the country in my English Literature GCSE.
Attention from boys gave me street cred.
Both gave me some sense of control in a sea of uncertainty.
Then my parents got sober.
And, whilst my grades and achievements continued to flourish,
my relationship with men did the opposite.
I’d spent the majority of my life constantly surrounded by drama and chaos,
so when that suddenly disappeared from my family I went looking
for it in my love life instead.
I was so terrified of being hurt like I had been growing up that
I’d sabotage any chance of a happy relationship – either by cheating
on the nice boyfriends I had, or going out with dysfunctional
‘bad boys’ so that I’d never have to risk real intimacy or commitment.
These patterns continued well into my twenties, amplified by the rise of the
swipe culture of social media and online dating apps that made it easier
and more tempting to play away, and harder and less desirable
to try to maintain a steady, long-term relationship.
My rock bottom moment came in 2010.
Several weeks after gaining my Master’s in European Classical Acting,
I started working as a hostess in a grimy London strip club in Soho.
One night, towards the end of my shift, I was sexually assaulted.
I remember thinking at the time that I deserved it because of how badly I’d been
behaving in my love life, which is probably why I didn’t tell anyone about it for so long.
Shortly afterwards, the unacknowledged trauma of that event led me to put
on two stone in two months while on an acting job in Shanghai.
This period was the pinnacle of my self-destruction,
and I started to experience regular suicidal thoughts.
However, I was blessed to have two recovering addicts for parents who were
able to spot the warning signs and get me help before things got any worse.
My dad took me away to a health retreat in Thailand,
where he gently voiced his concerns and shared a crucial insight with me
that went on to change the trajectory of my life. He said:
"FOCUS ON THE INSIDES
AND THE OUTSIDES WILL TAKE CARE OF THEMSELVES."
Those words were the launch pad into healing the real
root of all my romantic dilemmas:
my relationship with myself.
After lots of therapy and reading every self-help book
I could get my hands on, my life started to change beyond recognition.