I was chatting with my Auntie Brenda a few weeks ago about love and life and what we know for sure and she asked me to send her my relationship notes from Karen Kindred’s Dating & Relationship workshops. Auntie Brenda’s lovely daughters go to The Juilliard School in New York and she and her equally lovely son are moving to Philadelphia, where he will be attending the Curtis Institute in the fall. Her kids are insanely talented, articulate, poised, smart, spiritual, hard-working, thoughtful…in short – amazing. They are growing up and starting to date and I’m always happy to share what I have learned with anyone who expresses even a mild interest!
In looking at my workshop notes I found that without context and some back-story, they don’t really make sense. So I told Brenda that I would share everything that I have learned here on the blog.
I thought that rather than diving straight into it I should begin at the beginning. So this is the beginning. At least, it’s the beginning of me and Karen.
I got married at 20 years old and was married for 12 years. I think if I am being completely honest, I knew before we were even married that we shouldn’t have moved so fast. That we should have dated longer. That I didn’t quite comprehend the commitment that I was making. That I should say “no”. But I didn’t really know how to say “no”. At the time I didn’t know how to stop the train that left the station three weeks after I met My X.
And every year on our anniversary I would tell myself “I will give it one more year.” And at some point I realized that I had become…well the best description is “comfortably numb.” (Aren’t some song lyrics just brilliant? I mean, don’t you just want to give Roger Waters and David Gilmour a big hug for that one? ). Actually, I can pinpoint the EXACT moment of my life I realized that I had become comfortably numb, that I wanted that BIG.WILD.RIDICULOUS love that I’m always talking about and that there was no looking back. But that is the topic for another post.
So there I was, twelve years later, soon to be divorcee (Isn’t that just the most awful, awful word?) I had moved home. Not just home as in back to my home town. Home. Literally. My stuff was in a storage unit and I was sleeping in my parent’s basement. I was sick from the stress. Literally. I had a staph infection that had been plaguing me for weeks and at that point none of the doctors that I had seen could figure out how to stop it. I was trying in vain to stay friends with My X while we ended our marriage (Note: That didn’t work. Not even a little bit.) I had hung all of my hopes, my whole heart and my future on My Sweetness…and…well…that’s another story too. Let’s just say that I didn’t know what to do. Literally. So I cried. A lot. And shopped. A lot. And got a nose job.
My Dad was telling my tragic tale to one of his clients, who had just gone through a divorce and she said that I should call Karen Kindred. Karen was her therapist during her divorce and she said that Karen changed her life. She also said that Karen only took referrals. So my Dad, being the no-nonsense action oriented fellow that he is, called up and got me an appointment straightaway.
Karen asked me if I would commit to seeing her once a week, for at least a year. She said that if I did the work and if I changed my thinking, that I could change my life. She was pragmatic and practical. She was direct. She also didn’t put up with any self indulgent bullshit. She scared me just a little bit. In fact, I called her “Scary Karen” for quite a while.
One time I was very upset in one of our sessions. I was worried that My X was going to commit suicide (he told me before I left that he was not planning to make it to his next birthday and I had very good reason to believe him.) I was worried that he was lonely. I was worried that there wasn’t anyone to take care of him. Karen stopped me mid sentence and said “Have you ever stopped to think that maybe he’s happier without YOU?”
Karen was awesome.
I don’t think I can properly articulate how much Karen has helped me. She provided the tools, the map, the path, the infrastructure, whatever you want to call it and I did what she told me to do. Week by week. And some weeks were better than others. And sometimes I still fall. But fall down seven times, get up eight, right?
I saw Karen as a client for about 15 months. Weekly for a year, then bi-weekly for a few months. After we ended our last formal session, Karen asked me if I’d like to help her with some workshops that she was putting together. She wanted to package up some of her wisdom from thirty years as a relationship therapist and bring it to the masses in an affordable way. So for the past 18 months I’ve been working with her on these workshops and continuing to learn and grow as we spend more time together.
The work we did has changed all of my relationships – with my family, with the people that I work with, with my friends, and most importantly, with Alek. When Alek and I met I was shattered. And I learned along the way as our relationship developed. And thank God he hung in there with me.
Alek and I just finished a four week workshop series with Karen and ten other couples at various stages in their relationships. At the end of the workshops, all Alek and I could talk about is how strong our relationship is and how we never want to lose what we have learned from Karen. So I suppose writing all of this down will be a good reference guide for the two of us as well.
Karen’s approach is peppered with this pithy statements and lessons that I will never forget. And those are the lessons that I will share with you. I can’t take credit for these lessons. They are Karen’s. They have helped me and continue to help me and I am infinitely grateful for Karen and what she has brought to my life.
Big.Wild.Ridiculous love is possible. It is all around you.
A Big.Wild.Ridiculous LIFE is possible!
This I know for sure. Karen showed me the way.
Karen L. Kindred L.C.S.W. has over twenty-nine years of experience as a relationship and marriage counselor, personal motivational coach and individual therapist.
Karen has done extensive work with individuals in all types and phases of relationships. For the last ten years Karen has documented an increasingly common trend among her clients: people need basic tools to help architect better relationships.
Karen holds bachelors degree in psychology and a masters degree in social work from the University of Utah.
(P.S. Tell Karen I referred you. 😉