Tag Archives: marriage

WILD

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**This post discusses the book Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed.  I wasn’t able to include page numbers to completely give credit to each quote because I have only a digital copy of the book and so that won’t be the same as pages in the actual book.  But I made sure to use quotes and it is not at all my intention to try and claim any of her awesomeness as my own.

This book means a lot to me.  I don’t remember why I picked it up or how I heard about the book.  But I am so thankful I did.  I just saw the movie this week and I loved that too.  Not nearly as much as the book, but the movie had all the parts I had hoped to see and all the feelings the book had me feeling.

The book was in my life at exactly the right time and reading it gave me exactly the validation I needed to make some final decisions.  To understand what I needed to do to more forward in my life.

The first big moment for me in the book was her discussion of why she chose a new name after getting her divorce.  The weekend I read the book I was alone at a cabin with just my dogs.  Silence and beauty all around me as I sat by the fire and in the cute cabin and read her story.  She says she knew if she got divorced she couldn’t stay her married name, but “I couldn’t go back to having the name I had had in high school and be the girl I used to be.”  And as I read that I knew that it had described exactly how I was feeling.

I had filed for divorce that same year and had been living alone for only a few weeks short of one year.  I was beginning to think a lot about my name and the choice I had to make in keeping the married name or “restoring” my maiden name.  To me, keeping my married name was never a valid choice.  I don’t mean it to sound as harsh as it likely will, but I just didn’t want to keep that connection to him.  It is who I became because I married him and I wanted a full disconnection from who I had allowed myself to become in our marriage.  However, going back to my maiden name seemed like going back to the girl in the corner.  The girl I didn’t like or accept.  And the girl who was sexually assaulted.  It felt unsafe and just not at all who I wanted to be again.  It was difficult for me to accept that because I also have very warm connections to that name.  I am close to my father, I was very close to my grandfather, and my maiden name is both the middle name for myself and for my son.

When I read that part of the book where she decided to choose her own name, I put the book down and just sat with those feelings.  And very quickly I decided that I would do that myself.  I would choose my own name.  I would decide later if I would keep my maiden name as my middle name, but I spent the next few minutes sitting by the fire thinking about what my last name should be once I was single.  I didn’t expect to come to a decision so quickly, and I won’t describe the personal moments that led me to my name, but it was a completely clear moment.  One of those moments that takes your breath away because it is so perfect.  I knew sitting by that fire who I would become.  And then I laughed and said right out loud to my dogs and the horses nearby, “that.  is.  awesome.  and that’s what i am going to do.”

Cheryl Strayed’s description of her feelings about divorce just hit exactly on the types of things I was feeling and had been feeling while deciding to move out and then go forward with divorce.  Reading her story validated my feelings and allowed me to give myself a much needed break from punishing myself for my decisions.

She wrote “as close as we’d been when we were together, we were closer in our unraveling, telling each other everything at last” and I understood that feeling in a personal way.  My husband and I had been close in some ways for many years, but never quite the way I needed.  I wanted a best friend to come home to and I never felt comfortable sharing my whole self and my whole, true feelings with him.  But after I moved out, a really strange thing happened for awhile.  I did feel closer to him and him to me.  We had long discussions and said things we should have been saying all along.  I felt closer to him than I had felt for years.  Which led to a period of us accepting separation as an option when we had always said if we couldn’t live together, there was no point to staying married.  So for the next 8 months, we lived separately and we talked and got together often to see if we could fix what was broken in our relationship.  We didn’t succeed, but I’m thankful for the time with him because feeling close to him then allowed us to move forward and not go through an angry, hateful divorce.  We were able to talk and be with our kids and treat each other with respect.

As I moved forward in living alone, I referenced the book often. I read parts of it over again and looked back at my favorite quotes a lot. I liked living alone and I still do. Cheryl Strayed wrote “Alone had always felt like an actual place to me, as if it weren’t a state of being, but rather a room where I could retreat to be who I really was.” I like that because to me that is one of the best things in the world…being alone. And I’m thankful that I can be alone and be comfortable and happy. I’ve not always been good at it because I didn’t like myself. It’s one of the best benefits I’ve received from therapy. I know now that I can be alone and that’s ok. It doesn’t mean I want to be completely alone all the time or forever, but when I am I know that I’m still with a person who’s pretty great.

I lived alone for about a year and a half before the day of my divorce arrived. And even though it was the day my marriage would be ended, I didn’t feel sad. I didn’t feel happy or relieved or angry or scared. I just felt like it was what was necessary to do what we had already done in separating ourselves and agreeing that although we loved each other, we just didn’t work the same way we once had and that wasn’t enough for me. I kept thinking of this quote from the very same book, “I didn’t feel sad or happy. I didn’t feel proud or ashamed. I only felt that in spite of all the things I’d done wrong, in getting myself here, I’d done right.” And no matter what else I was feeling, that day I just knew I had made the right decisions for me.

In moving forward now in my life, I still think of Cheryl Strayed and her story often. I’ll probably read the book again someday. There are a lot more quotes I read and think about on an almost daily basis.

Although our experiences in life were not the same, I understand the enormity of the quote ”what if I forgave myself?” Her quote goes on, but that’s the part I cling to because that’s what I have left to do with the girl in the corner. I must find a way to forgive her. And to accept that she is a part of me. A part of me who deserves forgiveness and love.

Thank you, Cheryl Strayed, for being brave enough to share your story. It has played a large part in my healing and my ability to move forward each day to rediscovering me.

KK

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Validation is the key to happiness, or at least mine

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According to Merriam-Webster online, one definition of VALIDATE is this – to recognize, establish, or illustrate the worthiness or legitimacy of. A synonym shown for validate is support.

I believe everyone enjoys and wants to be validated and supported. And I believe the lack of each creates most conflict in relationships whether it is family, friends, or partners.

Think about validation for a whole day during every conversation you have with other people. Think about how you want to initially respond to what the person says and if it negates or validates what they think and feel. Do your best during conversation to respond first by validating what the person said to you. Then, respond with your own thoughts. Remember, validate does not mean agree. And thinking that it does is why people don’t do it.

I can guarantee you that in the majority of your conversations, if you start by validating the other person, you will have a lot less conflict.

In my marriage, there was never much validation. I was married to a guy who believes all things are either fact or things which can be proven wrong. Which doesn’t leave any room for how a person feels. And it’s easy to see why he communicates that way if you spend any time with his family, mostly the men. Don’t get me wrong, they are all wonderful people. People I miss often. Most just don’t believe in validating the feelings or opinions of those around them. Unless, of course, those feelings and opinions are exactly the same as their own.

That makes for some really challenging communication and some serious strain on relationships. In its worst form, it’s emotionally abusive. And as a parent, if you don’t validate your children and how they feel because you believe you don’t have to, you’ve taught them to doubt themselves. I justified that kind of communication for a lot longer than I should have, and I certainly don’t miss it.

Validation is essential to healing from lots of things, including loss, divorce, abuse, and trauma. It’s easier than trying to tell a person how to feel or to get over it anyway!! You don’t have to understand what someone went through and you don’t have to worry about saying the wrong thing. But if someone says “I feel…” you can say “I understand you’re feeling …….., is there anything you need from me right now?” Boom, you validated their feelings. You supported how they are feeling and offered to hear what they need, if anything. This gives them the power to say that they need nothing but a listening ear. Or a hug. Or time alone. Or help finding resources. It gives them the power. And that’s critical to feeling you’ve been heard. Validated. Supported.

The first week of group therapy was last night for me. Validation always comes up. It’s the best part of being in a group with people who understand exactly what it’s like to feel the things I have felt. And we always set ground rules which include asking the person who just spoke if they need anything from the group. Always giving the speaker the power over their own experience. I love that. There is a power in group therapy that cannot be explained. The support and validation of the experience is unmatched by anything else. And that’s because of healthy communication.

I’m not at all saying that my communication is perfect every day or right for you or without flaws. But I certainly AM saying that to be in my life, you better be someone who is capable of healthy communication, or of learning and growing in communication style. And you must love honesty. Even when honesty is difficult. If you’re in my life, you’re likely someone who already communicates in a loving and accepting way, and who can understand that certain things aren’t negotiable if you wanna be with me. And you’re someone who expects the same honesty and understanding and communication from me.

I worry about things I can’t control. Prior to abuse in my life, I didn’t worry about a thing. I think most people would agree that I was a pretty free-spirited kind of gal. No worries, just fun. And when that began to change for me around 16ish years old, I covered my fear and hurt with laughter, and recklessness, and being mean to people so I wouldn’t have to focus on my own hurt. I worry now mostly because I don’t feel worthy of goodness, success, safety, or love. Not on the surface, logically I know I deserve to be happy. But I don’t feel worthy way down, where it counts, where it can give me peace. I don’t feel validated or supported. It’s part of who I am. It’s the girl in the corner. The one who has the right to be healed and forgiven and free. And it’s that girl that I am working so hard to validate and to heal.

Validation…recognizing the worthiness of

I’ll get there.

KK

Quitting is not the same as failing

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I saw a post today on Facebook that said “You can’t fail unless you quit.”

At first, I thought I kind of liked it, but I quickly changed my mind and decided I think that is a statement that is unfair and untrue.  Quitting something is not the same as failing it.  Not at all.  I mean, maybe you will disagree and say that you think I failed, but I am going to tell you two situations where I think that isn’t true.

The first is that I quit being married and got a divorce.  And I don’t believe for a minute that being divorced means I failed at that marriage.  Sure, it sometimes felt like I was failing as I was going through the years where I tried my hardest to save it and remain married, but thankfully I have wonderful people in my life who made sure I understand that it was not a failure.  I was not a failure.  Either was he.  I married a great guy when I was just a young girl, and he was young too.  We had great times together and raised two awesome kids together.  We did a lot of things right.  We went through good times and bad times and tried our best to support each other.  But at some point as the kids got older, I realized that we never really had much to say to each other.  Everything was wrong.  I relied solely on my friends and other family for support when I was happy, sad, unsure, proud, scared, or whatever else I was feeling.  We didn’t believe the same things and we no longer had the same goals for our lives.  I’m not sure we ever did share the same goals because we got married so young that we didn’t talk about those things.  I know we did not have the same beliefs where it really matters to me.  We both got older and I realized that I didn’t have what I needed to feel secure or loving in my most important relationship.  I wasn’t sure that when I felt weak he would have my back.  I didn’t have a best friend.  I never thought I needed that in my husband.  And now I believe that I was wrong.  I want that person I wake up to every single day to be the person I tell everything about myself.  Without shame or any need to hold anything inside when it needs to come out for me to feel whole.

We quit being married, but our marriage wasn’t a failure.  One definition of failure is “a lack of success.”  Our marriage had many successful moments.  Many cherished moments.  Moments I would never want to erase or take back.

The second thing I feel the need to discuss is that I quit my most recent therapy group.  And that does not mean I failed.  Trying things is how we gain experience and knowledge as people.  And I was learning helpful things in the group.  However, I was also going through some things that meant when I was at group, I was preoccupied, anxious, and even angry.  And during a recent individual therapy session, I realized something that threw me off course.  WAY off course.  So I had to quit the group.  Maybe I’ll do that group again someday and maybe I won’t.  And that’s ok.  Leaving that group felt right the second I was done telling the facilitator that I had to quit.  And leaving it also gave me the strength to admit in my individual therapy that I have a big hurdle I’m ready to take on and move past.

And that is a success.  Not at all a failure.

So, I’m not saying quit everything you start or don’t try.  But I am saying that if you start something and can’t do it, or have a setback, or learn that you really wish you were doing something else, that is totally ok.  Start again.  Try something else.  And learn from what you quit because anytime you learn something, I believe that is a success.

NOT a failure.

KK