BELFAST, Maine — When Tara Ambrose was growing up, life in her house was not great.
“I grew up in an alcoholic family with divorce and a lot of chaos,” the Belfast woman said recently. “But I was a pretty smart kid and I somehow knew it didn’t have to be this way.”
Though her own journey has taken her over some bumpy roads and into heartbreak, Ambrose finally has found her way to a happier, healthier existence. And her new business as “The Love Magnet Coach” is her effort to share what she has learned with others in order to help them find romantic success.
“It’s really about breaking out of the patterns,” she said. “The way I approach it, it’s a spiritual growth process.”
Ambrose said she knows what she’s talking about. For years, she repeated as an adult the patterns she witnessed as a child. Her dad left the family when she was a baby.
“I took that message to be, ‘men leave,’” she said. “I created the situation of only being with men who didn’t stick around … that child part really ruled my dating life, so I would stick around guys that weren’t so good for me.”
Part of her own work was to figure out that her father leaving the family was not her fault.
“It wasn’t about me,” she said. “When that shifted, I could say no to the guys who weren’t the right match.”
Ambrose worked on improving her life, spending 15 years reading self-help books and being part of recovery groups such as Al-Anon, for friends and family members of alcoholics. She got certified eight years ago as a life coach through the Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching, and has worked part time helping people figure out their goals and barriers to success ever since.
“Other things started to improve, but relationships continued to be a disaster,” she recalled.
Then she moved to Belfast, where she made good friendships and found true community. She met and married a man who was in remission from cancer, and when he died two years ago, she was bereft.
“That winter I spent grieving,” Ambrose said. “It was so dark, and so difficult.”
At that point, she picked up a book that changed her life — “Calling in The One,” by Katherine Woodward Thomas.
“I learned some things I never knew, in all those years of discovery,” she said. “I felt something core, very, very old, shift in me. Then, in a matter of months, I met someone unlike anybody I had ever met.”
That would be her now-husband, Wade Ambrose, who had recently also lost a spouse to cancer.
“Wade is steady, solid, available, funny, light, loving — just amazing,” she said. “And what I know is that this process came together to shift something in me about my value. When I understood the truth of that, I could attract a partner who mirrored that to me.”
She also had “created a vision,” as she calls it.
“What would I really like? Somebody to make a home with, somebody to play with, someone with whom I can feel really at ease,” Ambrose said.
Last summer, she did a coaching training with Thomas, whom Ambrose said gave her blessing for The Love Magnet coaching business.
Chris Gray of Amesbury, Mass., was Ambrose’s first client and has recently begun a relationship that she said is going well.
“What was beautiful about our work together — she was able to see things I couldn’t see,” Gray said in a telephone interview. “For instance, I would say something. She would say, ‘Are you aware of how negative that was?’ I couldn’t even hear my negative verbiage. It was beautiful of her to open my eyes to it in a super loving way.”
Ambrose and Gray spoke several times a month over the phone, and Gray was given “self-awareness homework” to do.
“Notice your language. Notice your thoughts. Notice the correlation of what you think and what you’ll say,” Ambrose said. “It was figuring out what did she believe? She believed she didn’t have a voice. Even though she had a successful business and a beautiful home.”
The two worked together to try to break out of those negative patterns.
Ambrose encouraged her client to create space in her busy life for a healthy relationship, and also to give all kinds of people a chance at dating.
“It’s really about ‘Do I feel good with this person? Do they feel good with me?’” she said.
Having help from a coach can really smooth the process of shifting old ways of thinking and finding a good love match, according to Ambrose.
She asks her clients to commit to six to 12 sessions, and is charging them on a sliding scale.
“If people are committed, I will work with them,” she said.
To contact Tara Ambrose for information about her Love Magnet business, email her at email@example.com or call her at 505-0185. She will be giving a talk about the business from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 29, at the Belfast Free Library.