Although heartbreak can often be a painful experience leaving us bitter or jaded, it doesn’t have to be like that - “it can also be an opportunity to learn and grow,” says author, podcaster and entrepreneur Denise Robinson.
After experiencing her own difficult break up, she moved from Belfast to Dublin in 2018 – an upheaval that resulted in an intense journey of self-discovery which enabled her to rebuild her life and forge a new career.
“When I moved to Dublin, I started a social media platform and started talking about single life and how you can restart your life after heartbreak,” she tells me.
“Then I was on First Dates Ireland, and hosted a big speed dating event that set a new Guinness World Record which gave me a little bit of exposure and my platform just rocketed.”
Following her success online, in 2022 Denise decided to begin writing her memoir, Still Standing: From the Shores of Belfast to the Lights of Dublin. The book details her colourful life and the lessons she’s learnt along the way. It ranked within the top 20 in Amazon’s ‘psychology and emotions’ category when it was published.
“Originally, I wanted to call my book Dee in the City, a bit like Sex and the City, but then when I started writing I wanted to go right back to my childhood, growing up in Northern Ireland during the Troubles and all those experiences,” she says.
“So, the name no longer suited which is why I called it Still Standing.”
Denise wrote, edited and published the book in just six months. “I never stopped – I couldn’t stop typing,” she recalls.
“I think it was cathartic to get it all out and my mum used to say to me, ‘You should write a book about your life because people won’t believe it’, and I knew she was right, and I thought this was the time to do it.”
She hopes that through both her book and podcast Enough is Enough she will be able to help people realise that it is better to stay single than simply be in a relationship for the sake of it – especially one that does not make you happy.
“If you look at the likes of Valentine’s Day it’s all about being in a relationship - don’t get me wrong there have been loads of times where I’ve wondered why I’m not with anybody, but I don’t want to be with just anyone – I want to be with the right one,” Denise explains.
“And until the right person comes along, I’m happy in my own skin, in my own company and I think there’s a real stigma around being on your own but it’s far better than being with some a******.”
However, this was only something Denise discovered for herself over time, with plenty of self-reflection and therapy.
“It was really difficult for me to get out of the mindset I was in, it wasn’t really until I moved down to Dublin. To be honest before that, I was really struggling, I actually contemplated suicide - I don’t know how many times I just thought, ‘Nobody’s going to love me, who wants me after everything that happened to me?’
“I realise now that my mindset was in a really negative spiral, and I didn’t love myself, I truly didn’t value who I was, so I constantly kept thinking I wasn’t any good.
“But since moving to Dublin I have changed beyond belief, I’m a totally different person and I’m so much happier.
“I have my health, my friends, my job and I’m having fun – all things that in the past I maybe didn’t value because I kept thinking I needed to have it all but now I’m just happy being me.”
It was also during this period of her life that Denise realised part of the reason she was drawn to narcissistic, controlling men partly stemmed from her childhood and the distorted relationship she had with her mother.
“I love my mum and she loves me,” Denise clarifies.
“But it was the way she showed love, because she didn’t know any better... but that wasn’t something I really understood until I went to therapy in my early thirties.
“It was only then that I discovered what was actually going on in my childhood and unfortunately, I was then attracted to controlling men because of that.”
Having been able to work through this challenging revelation, Denise now knows exactly what she wants when it comes to relationships.
“Now when a man comes along and tries to tell me what to do, I’m like, ‘See ya, goodbye’,” she laughs.
“That’s one thing I’d really love more women to realise - I’d love more of us to be stronger within ourselves instead of allowing a man to take over our lives.
“Confidence is the most attractive thing in a person. Knowing who you are, knowing your boundaries and valuing that is a massively attractive thing.”
Denise plans to continue her streak of success, and hopes it won’t be long until she has a new book hitting the shelves.
“I would love to do another book – not about my own story but I’d love to do a fiction about different dating scenarios - and maybe then I’ll be able to call it Dee in the City,” she enthuses.