While in treatment, Keith dealt with issues that he says contributed to his alcohol and drug use. What had he been missing? "A sense of being centered and connected with something greater than me," he says. "You can call it what you like, God. There are a million names for it. But, ultimately, for me, it's love. That's the thing that ... I was missing in my life. Love for myself."
Loving himself, he realized, would also help him love others. "If I don't have it, I can't give it away," Keith says. "I look back now and realize Nic has taught me so much and brought so much into my life and opened my eyes in so many ways."
Early in his relationship with Nicole, Keith says they went to a park. While sitting on a bench, he says he asked her, "How's your heart?"
"I didn't know why I asked that question," Keith says. "I'd never asked anybody that before. I don't know what answer I was expecting."
She answered, "It's open."
"It was not only beautiful because it said so much about her, but it instantly made me ask myself: 'Is mine? Is my heart open?'" Keith says. "'Or is it 80 percent open, but I've got a little exit strategy? If I do, then why is that?'"
As anyone who's ever loved and lost knows, once you've had your heart broken, it's hard to love again. For this reason, Keith says he was scared. "I looked back and realized that I stayed in this pattern because I wasn't really loving," he says. "I hadn't met the right person. I wasn't the right person, but I wasn't really giving myself fully. I was holding back because I was scared."