In speaking with the rabbi on the phone, he said he noticed that I focused on the self as a solution for how to deal with unhealthy relationships.
I told him, yes, that is what I personally experienced: it was at times when I was unhappy with myself that I sought out unhealthy relationships. Even before my dad died, I had low self-esteem and needed validation from guys to feel attractive. Even then I already could have gotten into an unhealthy relationship, I just didn’t.
Then, when my dad died, my low self-esteem in dating got worse. And later on I had physical injuries that stopped me from teaching yoga (one of my primary career goals). These injuries also prevented me from dancing, which was an essential activity I did for both physical as well as mental health.
Being in this sad, downtrodden state set me up to be more vulnerable to unhealthy relationships.
And I realized that the way to break my cycle of unhealthy relationships was to be in a state of happiness and fulfillment. That meant pursuing the additional health and wellness certifications that would help me be the kind of dietitian/nutritionist I aspired to be. It also meant going to the beach regularly in the summer, as well as traveling more, two activities which, in the past, I had enjoyed doing with my boyfriends (they were adventurous, that was a plus—but not worth the cost of my physical and mental well-being!) I had to do the things that I loved to do, to bravely go where I wanted to go, without the crutch of a guy taking me there or supporting me along the way.