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From dedicated matchmaker, costar of the groundbreaking series Lovetown, USA, and relationship expert on OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network, this proactive guidebook will help you get past the things preventing you from finding real, authentic love. Through a physical, mental, and emotional self-appraisal, which asks you to examine the things might be afraid to admit are holding you back, Kailen, lays out a fail-proof, ...
From dedicated matchmaker, costar of the groundbreaking series Lovetown, USA, and relationship expert on OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network, this proactive guidebook will help you get past the things preventing you from finding real, authentic love. Through a physical, mental, and emotional self-appraisal, which asks you to examine the things might be afraid to admit are holding you back, Kailen, lays out a fail-proof, step-by-step thirty-day plan that will make you love-ready and lead you to love.
With 300 marriages to her credit, she is living proof that love and faith can overcome any kind of challenge. Her methods are straightforward, with unique exercises such as self-appraisals and love shopping–rooted in a spiritual understanding of love, which she sees as our highest calling. Real Love, Right Now helps you put bad dating habits aside so you can figure out what really matters and find the partner who is right for you. “It is no secret that Kailen Rosenberg knows the secrets of love. Now she shares them with everyone” (Keith Ablow, MD, psychiatrist, Fox News Medical A Team).
My mother came from a well-to-do family in Minnesota. Her high school yearbook says it best. She was Best Looking, Most Likely to Succeed, cheerleader, and Homecoming Queen. Her successes came fast and early. She had an incredible singing voice, and by the young age of sixteen, she was the voice in many popular advertising jingles played on the radio and was well on her way to a successful singing career. Then one day she met my dad at the local drive-in and it was love at first sight. They fell in love immediately, despite the fact that my dad (as my grandfather put it) was “no good and from the wrong side of the tracks.” He had a reputation for being one of the toughest dudes from the toughest part of town. He was also handsome, funny, and extremely charming. For those he cared about, he had a huge heart. If you were in his circle, you felt very loved and protected. My parents fell deeply in love, and when my mother was eighteen, God sent me into their lives.
Unfortunately, his bad-boy image caught up with my dad, and he was arrested for selling drugs, among other things. His background, home environment, and financial stress carried him too far in the wrong direction—right into prison, where I remember visiting him many times as a little girl. Although they were never able to live out their “happily ever after,” my father had nothing but words of love and admiration for my mother. Despite the instability of their relationship, it made me feel good to know that my parents had truly loved each other.
With my father in prison and out of the picture, my mother became a single parent at a very young age. Over the next several years, I lived with my grandparents while she was off on a quest to find herself. My grandparents were a true blessing in my life, offering unconditional love, a sanctuary of stability, kindness, and safety in the midst of my mother’s unfortunately chaotic life. My grandfather, a business executive and entrepreneur, became my best buddy. In his younger years, he had been a pole vault star at the University of Minnesota, and even made the U.S. Olympic team, but he was left behind when the team was scaled back in the Depression. My grandparents had a lake house in Minnesota, where my grandfather taught me to bait a hook, cast a line, and then how to unhook and clean a fish. He let me tag along with him to the lumberyard and local car lots, where he described all the bells and whistles on the fancy new cars. Of German stock, he was stoic and sometimes gruff, but he made sure that my grandmother never had to struggle or suffer in any way, and that she always had everything she wanted.
My grandmother, on the other hand, was effervescent and quite demonstrative in her love for my grandfather and for me. She adored my grandfather and doted on him—not because he demanded it, but because she wanted to serve him in that loving way. She constantly told him how much she loved him, kissed his forehead, and to loosen him up, would at times tease him to the point of laughter as he tried to keep a serious face. She treated me with the same loving affection. My grandmother was my best friend, as saintly as Mother Teresa in showing me, along with everyone she met, compassion and unconditional love. She was an artist and I remember her taking me on long nature walks when I was little, pointing out and identifying the different wildflowers. I awoke each morning to a good breakfast and was tucked into bed at night with her songs and stories. My grandparents were my most consistent caretakers until I was twelve. When I was at home with them, I was most at peace. They loved me very, very much, and provided me with a lasting model of a committed and loving marriage.
But now and again, the telephone would ring and I would listen with a strange combination of hope and fear when I realized that it was my mother asking my grandparents to put me on the next Greyhound bus or airplane to join her wherever she happened to be. My grandparents always supported her efforts to parent me, even though they didn’t understand until years later how she lived or what I experienced with her.
I never knew what to expect when I set off to meet my mother. One time, I got off the airplane and was greeted at the gate by a group of exceedingly happy people dressed in bright orange robes with their heads shaved except for a single ponytail, clutching carnations and tambourines in their hands. That was my introduction to the Hare Krishnas, who were among the mix of people at the Ananda yoga camp in Grass Valley, California, where my mother and I stayed for a while. I loved it there, with all the singing and chanting, sleeping in tents with no electricity or running water. I felt surrounded by happiness and the same type of unconditional love that I had experienced with my grandparents in their completely different world. I made friends quickly with the other children at the camp, who at the time seemed happier than any other children I’d met in my life.
But we didn’t stay at the yoga camp for long. Soon after, my mother had me tag along as she hitchhiked across the country to join a group of pot-smoking hippies who lived on communes and traveled in a caravan of buses. She taught me how to sing Beatles and Joni Mitchell songs, and her friends taught me how to roll a perfect joint, although I wasn’t allowed to smoke it. I was only three. With the hippies, I witnessed yet another version of love, joy, peace, struggle, happiness, pain, and poverty. It was an unconventional lifestyle, to say the least, but until my mother met my stepfather, I was actually doing okay traveling between the wildly contrasting lives of my quiet but loving grandparents and my kind and free-spirited, soul-searching mother. In both worlds, I felt safe and surrounded by love.
My mother met my stepfather by accident—literally. She was back in Minnesota for a visit, and while stopped at a light in her brother’s car, my stepfather smashed into her from behind and then took off. Through a friend, my uncle tracked down the hit-and-run driver and confronted him, and my stepfather felt so bad that he came to my mother’s house to apologize. As soon as she answered the door, he took one look at my mother and knew that she was the one for him. My mother didn’t feel love at first sight. Instead, she saw him as her chance at stability and at doing what she thought was expected of her. Of course, this is not a good foundation for any relationship. My stepfather came from an extremely wealthy and respected family—not the sort of background that would have foretold the years of emotional, verbal, and physical abuse that lay in store for my mother and me. Sadly, he was also an alcoholic, a batterer, and a sex addict, and he made our lives miserable for the next several years.
Despite his trust fund, once my stepfather married my mother, our homes together were broken down and many times almost uninhabitable. He was a rebel and had hated growing up with wealth and the attention that it brought. He drove a rusting, rickety pickup truck with a shell, and he made me ride in the back, even in the winter, with the family dog. My stepfather ruled our home not with his heart but with his fist. If I did something that he considered a mistake, he would lock me in my dark bedroom closet for so long that I often couldn’t hold my bladder or bowels. Then I would get punished all over again for making a mess. I dreaded dinnertime, when he would sit at the head of the table with a judge’s mallet and pound it loudly if our elbows touched the surface of the table or we spoke with food in our mouths. I was scared at every moment.
My stepfather drank every day, often until he passed out. My mother would get angry, but mostly she tried to pretend that it wasn’t happening, as it wasn’t safe for her to complain. The physical abuse began not long after they got married. One day I saw her covered in blood. It was too much for me to handle, and I ran as fast and hard as I could into the woods near our home. That’s when everything changed. As I ran, an amazing voice came out of the blue and filled my mind, telling me, “Everything will be okay; it’s all going to be okay.”
I’ll share more about this story later, but for now I’ll tell you that I believe it was the voice of God talking to me that day. Although I didn’t know this at the time, I instantly felt safe. I knew from my deepest core that this was a voice that I could trust, a voice that was telling me the truth. I nodded my head as I stood there trembling, alone in the woods, and said out loud, “Okay, I believe You.” From that point on, I became convinced that someone was out there watching over me, guiding me along my life’s journey, giving me courage and reassurance in difficult times. And there were plenty of those moments still to come.
In the 1970s, society wasn’t yet enlightened about domestic violence. After my stepfather’s outbursts, the police often arrived at the house to find me sitting next to my mother, who was bloodied and in need of treatment. By the time she’d seen a doctor, been treated, and returned home, my stepfather would have already been bailed out of jail. (His money was a nice convenience at those times.)
His abuse didn’t stop with my mother. He repeatedly touched me inappropriately. I would dissociate during these encounters and then find myself at a shopping mall next to him, as he encouraged me to pick out anything I wanted in the entire place. I say this not to sensationalize my story, but to help you understand that no matter what you’ve been through and how traumatizing it may have been, you can heal and move on from it. But back then, I didn’t know this. I felt so very alone. I was warned never to tell my grandparents (or anyone else for that matter) what went on in our family. He told me it was to be our “private” business and that no one would believe me anyway.
And then one day, he was gone. I was so happy! I thought that I would finally have my mother all to myself, the mother who once played guitar, sang “Here Comes the Sun” with that beautiful voice, and had taken me on so many adventures. We went to live at a place called The Farm, a commune in Somerset, Wisconsin, where we stayed on and off for several months. But I never had my mother all to myself. My stepfather continued to weave in and out of my mother’s life for several more years. And before long, she sadly became my worst nightmare, as she began to blame me for not protecting her from my stepfather, among many other things. Soon her self-hatred and unhappiness distilled into emotional, verbal, and physical abuse, all directed at me. I was still spending time with my grandparents, but I kept quiet about what was happening with my mother. I was in so much pain, and I was too afraid to tell anyone what my mother was saying and doing to me.
You may be wondering what kept me strong and sane through all this. All along, the internal voice that I first heard in the woods as a small child kept telling me that everything would be okay, that I was loved, and that this was all experience I would use one day to help others. As my mother spiraled out of control, succumbing to drugs and the whims of the numerous men who came in and out of her life, I took on a parental role. At age eleven, I would drive on old farm roads in the small rural community where we lived, so that I could get my mother to the hospital after she’d taken too many Valiums and was once again hyperventilating. I was becoming her mother, her confidante, her competition, and also her child care provider. (Over the years, my mother had three more daughters. Each of us has a different father.)
The crazy turmoil at home was definitely a well-guarded secret, something that no one had any reason to suspect. I had good grades and dreamed of attending Carleton College, a private college in Northfield, Minnesota. I wanted to be a child psychologist, and I would sit up in bed at night and draw pictures of how I saw my life unfolding. There I was with long, blond hair, dressed in a business suit, carrying a briefcase stamped with the name Kailen Inc. on its side. I had an image of a beautiful home surrounded by woods, with a handsome and loving husband and three amazing children. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was creating my own early vision board, which I’ll teach you how to do for yourself later. I was sure that I knew what my future would look like and I just couldn’t wait to get there and see it for myself!
I was only twelve years old when I had a chance to help my first “client” discover her own beauty. She was a three-year-old girl whom I’ll call Sarah, whose mother had abandoned her at birth, leaving the girl to be raised by her father. He was struggling to find himself and they were extremely poor. They lived in the back of a small violin shop, where my mother was having my grandmother’s childhood violin restored. Every time I saw Sarah, she looked so sad, with a small frown on her face. She wore dirty, torn clothes and her hair was snarled and unkempt. I never saw her smile. All I wanted to do was hold her, love her up, and tell her that everything was going to be okay.
One day I begged my mother to let me bring Sarah back to our house so that I could babysit for her. I actually had a love design project in mind, though I didn’t know to call it that at the time. My mother and her father agreed, so I eagerly got to work. I gently washed her face and her hair, wrapped it in a towel turban, and then held her up to the mirror so that she could see herself. A smile slowly spread across her face! I could see that she felt special. I set her hair in my little pink cushion rollers and we waited for it to dry as I found an old dress in my closet that was just the right size for her. In the dress with her hair sweetly curled, she looked—and felt, she said—“like a princess.”
Sarah couldn’t wait to leave to show her daddy. At first, this hurt my feelings a bit, as I thought for sure she’d want to stay longer, but I remembered that no matter how wonderful and loved I had felt with my grandparents, no matter how many beautiful clothes, pretty dresses, and fun toys I had at their home, they never replaced my internal longing to be with my own mother. It was an early reminder of the power of love and connection, regardless of one’s circumstances. This was also my first taste of trying to help others see their own beauty and feel love for themselves. From then on, every time I saw Sarah, we would share a smile. I don’t know where she is today, but I hope she lives in happiness.
Unfortunately, my own life didn’t get any easier for a long while. That same year, a neighbor called the child protective services agency, and when our lifestyle was revealed to the authorities, I was taken into state custody and was sent to a shelter for abused children. By then my grandparents were too old to intervene. Over the next several years, I bounced between homes—from my mother’s house to an aunt and uncle’s home for a while, and then to one foster home after another, shuffling between schools the whole time. As a teenager, I finally landed in the home of a wonderful foster family who agreed to parent me until I turned eighteen. For the first time in my life, I had two parents whom I could call Mom and Dad. Four foster sisters shared a huge, dorm-like room with me, and we had a lot of fun together. I made amazing friends at school, did well in sports, joined the choir and theater group, and met my high school sweetheart. It seemed that, at last, I had close to a normal teenage life.
But in the middle of my senior year of high school, my mother called and said that she needed me. My three half sisters missed me, and she was having a difficult time raising them on her own. By then I had attended at least twenty different schools and was way behind in my education. It was going to take a lot of work to catch up and graduate from high school after having missed so much. It felt like such an uphill battle, and I felt guilty about moving on without my mother, so I quit high school, left the foster home that had provided love and stability, and moved back in with my mother. About a year later, I ended up meeting the man who would become my first husband. We dated for three months and, wanting to do the right thing, got married after learning I was pregnant. We gave it a sincere try, but the marriage was already in trouble and we separated a year later. My son and I moved back in with my mother, who was starting to turn her life around at last, attending AA, and working harder at being a parent to my younger sisters. Our relationship is now headed in a good direction and I couldn’t be prouder of how far she has come. In fact, she is on her way to her own wonderful story of healing that is still in progress today.
Life was tough for me as a young single mom, but it felt more peaceful than it had in a long time. I still hadn’t found my calling, but I had begun modeling and working as a receptionist to keep my son and me afloat in our new apartment. I started dating again, and I met an amazing man. His love was so beautiful, intense, and healing that it closed many of the emotional wounds that were left open by my childhood. His love and the love of his family were more than I had ever dreamed of, and our relationship felt like a fairy tale—too good to be true. And it was. One day he confessed that not only had he been seeing someone else but that other person was a man.
He begged me to stay, promised that he would get help, and shared his own childhood trauma, but I was devastated and became adamant that I would never love again. For several months, I had no interest in dating at all. It now seemed hopeless that I would find someone whom I could love and could also love me in the pure, unconditional, and spiritual way that I dreamed of, that I thought I had just experienced. And then one night, I met the man who would become the father of my second son. We became great friends at first, and then began dating. Here I thought I was doing everything right. I knew abusive men, and he seemed gentle. I knew struggling men and he seemed confident and stable. I knew self-interested men and he seemed sweet and giving. On the surface, it felt like a great match and in many ways we were, but deep down inside, I knew that a deeper, spiritual connection was missing. The truth is that he was not my soul mate, and I was not his. But I shut my internal voice out and tried to convince myself that what we had between us could be enough, that I was enough, that I was ready.
At this point, I was a successful professional model working for such clients as Target, Pearl Vision, Ivory Shampoo, Vidal Sassoon, and Miller Lite. At only 5 feet 41/2 inches tall, I did mostly print ads, commercials, and billboards. The other Target models and I spent so much time together that we were like a family. One day I noticed a sad competition going on between two of the other models while we were having our makeup done. One of them—who was younger and, in my opinion, the prettiest of all—was cutting herself down, finding fault with this or that part of her body, face, and eyes. I spoke to her later and told her to knock it off, describing what I loved about her and trying to motivate her to love herself. She must have listened, because her father called me a few days later to thank me and to let me know that I had made a real impact on his daughter. She had a younger sister who also wanted to be a model but who struggled with self-esteem. He wanted to know if I would work with the younger sister to build her confidence.
As I embarked on my dream of helping people, dueling voices filled my thoughts. On one side was my mom, telling me that I was a failure and would never amount to anything, and on the other side was my grandmother’s, along with the voice that I had always trusted (which I now know was God’s voice) telling me that this was my calling. I eventually listened to that voice and began to take on a new script for my life. My phone began ringing with calls from clients who had generously been sent to me by this man and others, and I soon found myself running my own self-image consulting business, complete with a business card that bore the company name I had sketched out for myself as a little girl. As I worked on people’s outer images, I passionately and intuitively delved into their hearts and psyches. Many were single, and I began introducing them to one another, using my heart and intuition to decide which clients were physically, spiritually, and emotionally compatible. The next thing I knew, the term soul mate was being thrown around, and some of them began to get married. My clients became adamant that I had a gift for bringing people together.
Encouraged by their words, I worked brief stints at different dating firms to understand the matchmaking industry and decided that there was a much better way to help people find love. Then a writer from Minnesota Monthly magazine came calling, wanting to do a small story about a couple I had introduced. That small story landed me on the magazine’s cover, which catapulted the company that I ran as a single mom from my apartment kitchen into a full-fledged business with a staff and hundreds of clients. Yes, God is gracious and generous, and he also has quite the sense of humor, as prior to that I had no business experience at all. Soon I was connecting singles across the country, and eventually around the world. I became better and better at helping self-assured yet lonely professionals, beautiful but disheartened middle-aged women, struggling singles, anxious Christians, and other wonderful but imperfect souls of all shapes and sizes.
I’ve matched CEOs and royalty and single mothers who thought men wouldn’t want them because they had children. I immediately found that most of these people were unknowingly sabotaging their own love prospects by never really knowing their authentic selves, therefore choosing the wrong mates repeatedly, and acting out broken scripts from their childhoods. I found a way to help them discover the kind of love that they deserved, that would fulfill them by introducing them to their authentic selves first. And that became my passion!
I was creating beauty in the lives of others and enjoyed hearing their magnificent love stories, but I didn’t have that same type of fulfillment in my own relationship. I was still with my second son’s father, and though I loved him deeply and we talked continually about marriage, I just couldn’t do it. I don’t think he could, either. I loved him, but I knew that he wasn’t my soul mate. After eight years, I ended the relationship amicably. I even promised him that I would find his wife for him someday—and I did! They have been happily married for several years now and recently had their second beautiful baby together!
I realized that if I wanted the kind of love that I was helping my clients find, I would need to take more time to heal from my own past and prepare myself for love, just as I taught my clients to do. I gave myself an honest assessment and realized that I wasn’t inviting love in as much as I could. I made over aspects of my home and my life to make them love-ready, as I’ll show you how to do later. I worked hard to get past my fear. And then one morning, I got down on my knees and prayed. I said, “Okay, Lord, I am ready. God, I’m done being a martyr. I’m done being tough and hardened, hiding behind closed doors. I’m ready to love, and I trust you. Show me, Lord, what I need to do to heal.” Later that very night, God sent him.
One of my sisters invited me to go out with her and a girlfriend, and in light of my new commitment to finding love, I went. I was soon dragged into a popular nightclub. I was in a very serious business phase at that time, and stood on the edge of the dance floor in my business suit and glasses, watching my beautiful, free-spirited little sister have a good time, when suddenly a guy across the room caught my eye. He seemed to just float into my vision. As I noticed him, I heard a voice say, “You are going to marry this man someday.” He was the most beautiful man I had ever seen. It turned out that my sister’s friend knew him, and she introduced us. His name was Lance.
Lance reached out to grab my hand, and though I was usually very reserved, I didn’t resist. I felt an instant comfort, as if my hand had been in his forever. He led me to a corner of the nightclub, where we could hear each other better, and we talked until the club closed down. We then stayed up until sunrise talking about everything from spirituality to family, beside waterfalls that he insisted on bringing me to, that I had never visited before. Nature is a great inspiration for love, a place to find the stillness inside of you amid the chaos of the rest of the world. Finally, as the sun came up, Lance brought me back to my car and I went home to sleep.
I was awakened hours later by my telephone ringing. It was my uncle, and he was sobbing. He said that my father, with whom I had recently reconnected, had died that night in his sleep. My uncle picked me up to take me to my dad’s apartment, which he had moved into just a few months earlier. I had never been there before and hadn’t even known where he was living. As we drove to where my dad had lived, I took in every moment, knowing it would be the last. All I wanted to do was to see and feel my father. It felt surreal to walk through the rooms, right by the couch where he passed away. I looked at the coffee table and saw his dinner plate, still holding a pork chop with a bite taken out of it. It was all too much. And then I walked to the living room window and stared out, with tears running down my face, asking God to help me understand why he had taken my father at the very time that he had sent a wonderful man into my life. As I gazed down below me, I realized that I was staring at the very same waterfalls Lance had brought me to the night before. Lance and I feel that it was my father who brought me to the falls that night with Lance, so I could be near him as he took his final breath.
Lance and I have now been together for more than fifteen years and happily married for more than eleven, during which another beautiful son came into my life—our life. Lance is truly my best friend and one of my life’s greatest teachers. He says that I am also his. Our fifteen years together have been far from perfect. We’ve experienced intense hills and valleys, struggles that have been necessary for our souls and egos to grow toward a healthy, happy marriage and true friendship. This is what I want to help you find, too—not storybook romance or manufactured love, but imperfect, true, deep, spiritual, awesome love.
My journey has not been easy, from abuse to divorce, loss, and deep depression, but every moment of it was necessary for me to become the person that I am today. I hope that through the work in this book you’ll realize the same thing about your own story. No matter where life has taken you, NOW is the time to honestly ask yourself whether you’ve acknowledged your fears and ideas about love and whether they fit with the person you want to be—in fact, the person you already are deep down inside.