What happens when you’re able to put your guard down? Why is it important to lean into your insecurities and get comfortable with being uncomfortable? What happens when you’re able to say enough is enough?

In part 1 of this podcast episode, Veronica Cisneros talks to Kristen Ulmer about going from dream couple to divorce.

Meet Kristen Ulmer

Kristen is a thought leader, master facilitator, and fear/anxiety expert who radically challenges existing norms around the subject of this deeply misunderstood emotion. Her education on this subject comes from practical, real-world experience, starting with being a mogul specialist on the US Ski Team. Kristen then became more notoriously recognized as being the best female big mountain extreme skier in the world, a status she kept for 12 years.

Known for big cliff jumps and you-fall-you die descents, she became sponsored by the likes of Red Bull, Ralph Lauren, and Nikon, and was inducted into the Hall of Fame September of 2019. Her mastery of other danger sports including paragliding, ice and rock climbing, kiteboarding, adventure mountain biking, and flying trapeze also gained her the outdoor industry vote as the most extreme “fearless” woman athlete in North America, beating all danger-sports stars, not just skiers.

Visit Kristen’s website, connect on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.

In This Podcast


  • Divorce
  • Kristen’s teachings
  • Lying to yourself
  • Riding the uncomfortable wave
  • From dream couple to separated
  • Going into love


So many women are going through or thinking about separation and divorce right now. How are they even going to start this new journey? Are they making the right decision? What is this going to look like? They are scared out of their minds and feel guilty but just can’t do it anymore. Right now, this is the biggest thing that Veronica is working with in her private practice and with her coaching. We’re not used to what’s happening with this quarantine and it’s forcing us to have to really look at each other because now there aren’t as many distractors.

Turning things around

Veronica was a month away from divorce herself and had to do a lot of work and figure out who she was before she could allow him back into her life. She had to figure out what she really wanted, not what she thought everybody else wanted for her. Veronica tried fighting for her marriage and was determined to defeat this challenge until she realized that it wasn’t working. She went back to school, was working full time, and decided to work on herself. She started leaning into her insecurities, challenging her fears, and getting comfortable with the uncomfortable. Even though she was scared she realized that there was no way she was going to give up on herself or allow herself to quit. Veronica set boundaries and started to say no.

Getting back together

We were both vulnerable. We weren’t trying to go in and fit these roles anymore of what we thought we needed to be, it was who we really wanted to be. And slowly we started connecting.

Willie wanted to come home and Veronica told him that she didn’t know if that’s what she wanted. He started to open up to her and she found herself just listening to him instead of trying to fix him. It felt as if this weight was lifted because she didn’t have to fix him or carry him anymore. He started to do his own work and as he did that, she started seeing him as a different person, started feeling more attraction towards him, and started to feel more empowered and truly unapologetic.

Kristen’s teachings

Kristen is a fear and anxiety expert. Fear is such a huge part of life and most of us are in denial of how scary life is. We spend so much time and energy trying to block it out and run away from it but it’s just a temporary band-aid. Things like yoga, exercise, and meditation are not meant to be treatments for anxiety disorders but that’s what they’ve become for so many people.

For the last three and a half months, Kristen and her husband have been separated due to him being emotionally handicapped and going through a midlife crisis. Last night, before heading out on a date, she told him that she wanted a divorce. She’s not the type of person who jumps from one relationship to the next so to have the universe land her in the arms of an extremely emotionally available man is bizarre but clearly it was supposed to happen.

The reason why things are different during this “breakup” is because of what she teaches…flow. Flowing with it all, not being in denial of the negative in life and not trying to rush to comfort as fast as possible, and flow is what everybody wants to be in.

Lying to yourself

Kristen and her husband have been separated for over three months but how long had she been his caretaker? How long had she been carrying him along the way making all of the excuses for his behavior? How long had she been lying to herself?

In 13 years together she had been doing these things for 10 years. Kristen went into a marriage trance of doing what she had to to get her husband’s love. She is proud of who she was in the relationship and loved the challenge of trying to be the best wife she could possibly be, but it slowly wore her down.

Riding the uncomfortable wave

Therapists go to cognitive behavioral therapy and all of these other tools which are great to let you ride some of the waves but what happens after that? The challenge is sitting in it. Veronica and Kristen decide to ride this uncomfortable wave together, unscripted, two experts having an honest discussion.

From dream couple to separated

Everybody in their lives thinks that Kristen and her husband, Kirk, are the dream couple. They weren’t miserable, they were super compatible, they were a power couple. Then, one day, Kirk had an emotional breakdown. He told Kristen that he treats her like sh*t, he’s embarrassed about who he is and he can’t even look at himself in the mirror. He wanted a separation. Kristen had never been so shocked. 

Going into love

I don’t want a frickin’ project. I don’t want my precious gifts to be burned out helping one man figure it out. You know, what I teach is what he needs, and I would rather give my love and considerate attention and gifts to people who I’m not entwined with.

Kristen has learned all she can from pain and trauma and doesn’t need that anymore to grow and learn. She needs to go into love. Kristen has so much love to give and she has nowhere for that love to go now. She’s tired of loving Kirk and having it not be received. She now needs to love herself and receive it. 

Loving the challenge

Kristen is an enneagram 8 and loves challenges. She was married to a man who took his anger out on her, this was a challenge, this was the perfect opportunity for him to learn, grow, and figure out where his anger comes from. This was the perfect opportunity for her to stand up for herself and be a strong woman.

Useful links:

Meet Veronica Cisneros

Veronica Cisneros | Empowered And Unapologetic Podcast I’m a licensed therapist and women walk into my office every day stressed and disconnected. As a mom of three daughters, I want my girls to know who they are and feel confident about their future. I can’t think of a better way to help other women than by demonstrating an empowered and unapologetic life. So I started  Empowered and Unapologetic to be a safe space for women to be vulnerable and change their lives for the better before she ever needs to see a therapist. Whether you listen to the podcast, join the free Facebook communityjoin the VIP community, or attend our annual retreat,  you’re in the right place. Let’s do this together!

Thanks for listening!

Did you enjoy this podcast? Feel free to share this podcast on social media! You can also leave a review of the Empowered and Unapologetic Podcast on iTunes and subscribe! Empowered and Unapologetic is part of the Practice of the Practice Podcast Network, a network of podcasts seeking to help you thrive, imperfectly. To hear other podcasts like the Bomb Mom Podcast, Imperfect Thriving, or Beta Male Revolution, go to practiceofthepractice.com/network.

Podcast Transcription

[VERONICA]: Empowered and Unapologetic is part of the Practice of the Practice Podcast Network, a family of podcasts that changed the world. To hear other podcasts like the Bomb Mom podcast, Beta Male Revolution, or Imperfect Thriving, go to practiceofthepractice.com/network. There is something to be said about vulnerability. We tend to mask our pain unintentionally. However, when two women decide to put their guards down and share their personal stories, that is when true magic happens. We have the most amazing guest today, but today’s interview isn’t gonna be what you think. My guest today, Kristen Ulmer, is a thought leader, master facilitator, and fear anxiety expert who radically challenges existing norms around the subject of this deeply misunderstood emotion. Her education on this subject comes from practical, real world experience, starting with being a mogul specialist on the US ski team, known for big cliff jumps, and you-fall-you-die descents, she became sponsored by the likes of Red Bull, Ralph Lauren, and Nikon and was inducted into the Hall of Fame on September of 2019. Her mastery of other dangerous sports including paragliding, ice and rock climbing, kiteboarding, adventure mountain biking, and flying trapeze also gained her the outdoor industry vote as the most extreme, fearless woman athlete in North America, beating all danger sports stars, not just skiers. Today’s episode speaks volumes about the fearless and courageous woman she is. Sit back, relax, and grab a box of tissue because it’s about to get real. ________________________________________ [KRISTEN]: …interesting interview because I just told my husband last night I want a divorce. [VERONICA]: Oh, all right, girl. Well, hey, we can go whatever way… we can go whatever way you want. We can go where I’m taking you through that and what that’s like and now I’m acting as the expert. And then we could do another recording of you talking all about fear because I am gonna tell you right now, I already love you. I don’t even know you but like, just watching some of your videos and doing research on you it’s like, oh, shit. Alright, let’s do this, like, totally in it. [KRISTEN]: No, let’s talk about fear, because this is ultimately not about me. It’s about your audience. And… [VERONICA]: I’m going to tell you right now, there are so many women that are going through the same thing. Like, I have so many girls that are in my VIP group that are thinking about the same thing and they’re struggling, and they don’t know what to do. And they’re like, how do I even start this new journey? And am I making the right decision? And what the hell is this gonna look like? Because I’m scared out of my mind, and I love him and I can’t do this shit anymore. [KRISTEN]: Right, right. [VERONICA]: And I feel guilty because he’s a good man, and it’s just not happening for me anymore. [KRISTEN]: You’re still with your husband though, right? [VERONICA]: Yeah, I’ve been married for 20 years. However, I’ve also been one month away from divorce, like, straight up. We were a month away from divorce, papers filed, like, papers filed and everything. We had our court date scheduled for April – I forgot what day, I think it was like even close to my birthday – and he ended up coming home. And when he’s like, you know, let’s try and I told him I don’t even know if I wanted to. Because before I was like fighting for it, and after I figured my life out and just did a lot of self reflection, it was like, I don’t even know if I want to be with you. So yeah, and we had to go through… I had to figure out who I was and stop attempting to meet all of his needs, and his expectations. And he had to do the same thing, but I couldn’t do it for him. And I found myself in a relationship, when I looked back, it was like, the entire time I was doing everything I thought he needed and everything I thought a wife needed to be, and do. But that wasn’t me. It wasn’t me at all. It was the version that I had created, and I don’t want to play that role anymore. And with my husband, he was in the military – he just recently retired – but he was all about, like, well, I can’t do both because he was a drill instructor and it’s just a whole bunch of like this crazy mess. And yeah, it was pretty intense. I’m not gonna lie. It was extremely intense. We just had our daughter too. She was a couple months old. [KRISTEN]: Oh, wow. [VERONICA]: Yeah. So we were in it. And like I said, I had to figure out who I was and what I really wanted, not what I thought everybody else wanted for me. Because everybody loves like, are you freaking kidding me? He’s a great man. Like, what the hell are you doing? You know, you’re never gonna find anything like that. And then you put in the fact that I’m Hispanic, that’s like, dude, he stayed, at least he came back like, you’re good. You know what I mean? Like, so I had all of those thoughts in my head. I was feeling shame, guilt, resentment. But I didn’t feel like me. So, yeah, you’re not… right now, this is the biggest thing in my private practice, and with coaching, that I’m dealing with, and it’s crazy. Even couples that I’ve been working with, you know, they’re in the same state because of frickin… we’re not used to what’s happening right now with quarantine. We’re not used to, like, before, it was easy, because we had all of these distractors, and we could do this, and we could do this to mask what was really happening. But then now all that’s gone, so we got to look at each other’s shit and be like, dude, do I even like you? [KRISTEN]: Wow, what did you do to turn it around? [VERONICA]: I really had to figure out what I needed. I’m recording. So whatever we do with this, we do with this. [KRISTEN]: Okay. [VERONICA]: I really had to look at what I wanted. And there was this one time that I was fighting for the marriage, I was doing all of these things because I thought that’s what I needed because again, we had just had Alliyah. So she was born in August, we were separated in October. So like, new mom, everything. And so hell yeah, I’m gonna fight for my marriage. Hell yeah, I’m gonna fight for my daughter to have this unified family. And I remember trying to do that for a while, and it wasn’t working. No matter what I was doing, I just kept on getting met with this frickin wall. And I don’t mess around when it comes to challenges because it’s like, alright, well, I’m gonna go ahead and defeat it. I’m gonna do whatever the hell I can to defeat it, because that was my thing. Until I realized, dude, this isn’t working. And I could try to pretend like this emotion isn’t there and run from it all day. Or I could sit my ass in it and just sit down, plant my ass on the ground, and really sit in it and feel it. I was scared out of my mind. I was so full of this level of uncertainty and questions. At any time, when he would call me, I’d be there like, alright, cool, you know, sex, whatever you need, I’ll be there, even though we were separated. And I ended up realizing when I was… I went back to school, I was working full time, and he called me, and I realized I didn’t want to pick up. And I was scared because I knew what not picking up meant, that I was probably pushing him away. And so I was back and forth battling with it and just sitting in that emotion of fear, sitting in that emotion of discomfort, and uncertainty. And it rang a bunch of times and I missed the call because I was in my head, just feeling it and everything. Then he called again, I was like, oh shit, well, I have to answer. And it was like, no, I’m gonna sit in this. And I didn’t answer and then he called again and 20 times later, still didn’t answer. Next morning, I changed my number and I told him, you know, if you want to be in contact or be with Alliyah, I’m not going to keep you from her. I need to work on myself and I can’t work on myself with you in it, back and forth. And so, all communication will be through my mom. And I just started to take little steps in figuring out what I wanted my life to look like. And I started realizing like, okay, well, no, I don’t like that type of food. And I really don’t like that color. And I really don’t want to do these things. Well, okay, what are the things that I really do want to do? And I started figuring what that was, I started figuring out what foods I like to eat, instead of asking him and settling. I started realizing that I had a whole bunch of expectations on my plate that there was no way in hell I’d ever, ever meet. And so I stopped doing that to myself, like, why am I doing that? Why am I setting myself up for failure? And instead, I started leaning in, leaning in, leaning into my insecurities, challenging my fears. And when I say challenging, I mean, getting comfortable with the uncomfortable. And I realized, well, this isn’t so bad. And yeah, it’s scary being a single mom. And yeah, I’m living on base housing and eventually I’m gonna have to get kicked out because we’re going to get a divorce. Okay, and so what? So what? I can do this. When have I ever just stopped? When have I ever not put in the work? Well, I’ve done it even though I was scared. And so looking at my past and looking at what I wanted in my future, I realized, well, there’s no way in hell I’m gonna give up on myself and there’s no way in hell I’m gonna allow myself to quit. So let’s go. And that’s what I did. [KRISTEN]: How did you guys wind up back together from that? [VERONICA]: That’s a great question. I set boundaries. I started to say, no. I was scared, and I realized I didn’t want to be that person. And so I wasn’t. And he came home. He came back home, I was still on base housing. And he said, I want to work things out. And I told him, I don’t know if I want to. I’m already on this path, and I don’t want you to screw it up. And we started, you know, he started opening up about where he was at in life, and I realized in that moment that that game that I used… I didn’t know it was a game, but that pattern that I used to be in where I would fix it for him, and I would run to his aid and be his mom and be whatever, I wasn’t doing that anymore. I was just kind of listening to him. And it was listening to him as like a friend or as, like, you know what – correction. It wasn’t a friend. It was kind of like I was listening to a stranger that I wasn’t trying to fix, that I was just like we were sitting down next to each other, we just happened to be in the same area, I’m just listening. There wasn’t that emotional attachment, or this emotional desire of I need to fix him, I need to heal him, which puts so much… I mean, it just felt like all of this weight was lifted because I didn’t have to fix him. I didn’t have to carry him anymore. And it felt so great and so scary at the same time, because it’s like, okay, well, what does this mean, if I’m not responsible for him? And he started doing his own work. And as I started seeing him do his own work, I started seeing him as a different person, not somebody I was responsible for. And I started to feel more attraction towards him. I started to feel more empowered. And I know this is like totally cliche, but truly unapologetic, where I didn’t give a shit. And nobody was going to tell me what I was going to do with my life. He wasn’t going to tell me what I was going to do with my life. And my daughter and I were fine and she had her dad and it was gonna be amazing no matter what. And so it was through that process that we started to connect on a different level, because we were both vulnerable. And we weren’t trying to go in and fit these roles anymore of what we thought we needed to be, it was who we really wanted to be. And slowly we started connecting. I hope that answered your question. [KRISTEN]: Yeah. That’s a really beautiful process and trajectory. It’s just, um… [VERONICA]: Girl, you know you’re gonna spill it, like, it’s happening. It’s already happening. [KRISTEN]: Yeah, it’s… you know, I’m a fear and anxiety expert and beneath all kinds of “negativity” – because I don’t see anything as negative, but just to find a descriptive word – is fear. Beneath jealousy is fear, beneath self doubt, unworthiness is fear, beneath anger is fear, like, it’s just such a huge part of life. And most of us are in denial of how scary life is, like we don’t want to believe that fear is with us every moment of every single day and every single interaction we have. And we… I mean, the amount of energy and effort that we spend to block out fear, ignore fear, rationalize it away, breathe it away, meditate it away, you know, we go do yoga so that we can get away from it and have a moment of reprieve from it, exercising in nature, like, all these things that we do, I would say like the majority of the time is just to try to run away from that fear. And it’s just a temporary band aid and like yoga and exercise and meditation are not meant to be treatments for anxiety disorders, right? [VERONICA]: No. [KRISTEN]: And that’s what they’ve become for so many people and, you know, I guess maybe in talking about your story, we’ve kind of come to the beginning of the podcast interview and talking about fear. And for those of you listening, I don’t know if you were here in the beginning, but I just told Veronica that I told my husband last night that I want a divorce. And my story is different. You know, he’s just emotionally handicapped. And he’s a good guy, but he’s just really not capable of being emotionally present. And I’m living in a different reality than him and he’s going through a midlife crisis and what he needed to do was to get away from me, and so how he accomplished that was by stonewalling me, by abandoning me, and withholding love. And I’m like, okay, I can be supportive of your process as long as you still tell me you love me and you still, when we see each other, you know, give me a hug or, you know, I’ll be patient and he couldn’t even do that. So after three and a half months I’ve given up. The other thing that’s so bizarre, I had a date last night. So I told my husband that I wanted a divorce while my date was driving over to my house, and I fell in love last night. It’s the strangest… like, the universe is just… and I’m not the type of person that jumps out of one relationship into the next. I’ve had seven major relationships in my life. I’m in my 50s and I’ve had six devastating breakups – now seven – and every single time I wouldn’t have sex for at least nine months with anyone, and I certainly didn’t fall in love for at least two years. I mean, that’s been my trend. So to just have this, like, you know, and then have the universal, like, land me in the arms of an extremely emotionally available man. I mean, it’s just bizarre. Clearly this was supposed to happen, and I don’t know if my husband and I will wind up truly getting a divorce or not; we had a great relationship. But I will say that I think the reason why things are different for me during this “breakup”, or whatever this is, is because of what I teach, which is flow, like flowing with it all. Not being in denial of the negative of life or not trying to rush to comfort as fast as possible, which it looks like I might be doing that with this man, but that’s not actually what’s happening. I mean, in the last three and a half months that my husband and I have been separated, I did what I did when my dad died. You know, when my dad died, I worked through some pretty intense emotions in three days by just crying when I felt like crying, by being upset when I felt like being upset, angry, afraid and just… there’s a thing called flow, and that’s what everybody wants to be in. And I actually have an exact description of what flow is, but I feel like I’ve been talking for a while, so maybe I’ll pause. [VERONICA]: I have to say something, okay? I have to say it just because I’m feeling it. You mentioned your husband being emotionally unavailable, right? [KRISTEN]: Yeah. [VERONICA]: Girl, no lie. I wish you were, like, right in front of me. I kind of want to turn these damn cameras on. It’s gonna happen, I’m turning them on. I’m like, totally hair-bunned because I was going to work out before our call. However, life happened. So I’m turning on my thing. I don’t know if you want to turn it on. Nobody’s gonna ever see this; it’s just gonna be me and you. [KRISTEN]: Okay, I have a cat in my lap. [VERONICA]: You’re good. You’re good. You look great. You look totally great. So I have to say this to you. You’re mentioning all these things about your husband being emotionally unavailable, and you needing that, you yearning for it. You didn’t use those words, however, that’s what I was feeling. The other thing is giving it three months. My question to you is, how long have you been his caretaker? How long have you been the one that’s been carrying him along the way, doing everything, making every excuse as to why he behaves the way he behaves? How long have you been lying to yourself? [KRISTEN]: In 13 years together, for 10 of those years. [VERONICA]: Bingo. [KRISTEN]: And he is just kind of an angry guy and was taking it out on me and I just kept thinking, oh, as long as I was beautiful and smart and accommodating and loving and, you know, I also really stood up for myself and said, this is not acceptable behavior. But I just went into a marriage trance of what I had to do in order to get this man’s love, and I did it. And I’m so proud of who I was in our relationship, and I love the challenge of trying to be the best wife I possibly could be. But it just slowly wore me down. I mean, I feel really tired. I haven’t slept in two days. This is a very tumultuous time. I’ve done a lot of podcasts, and I haven’t mentioned my marriage struggles in any of them; this is the first one. And I mean, I’ve done probably 120 podcasts in the last three years; that’s a lot. And it’s just, the fact that you and I landed on this date to talk, and I didn’t even know anything about you. I just researched you five minutes before I got on the call, and I’m like, oh my gosh, she’s my person. Like, I just, I love you. Thank you for being here. You’re like that man last night that showed up. It’s like oh my gosh, there are emotionally available men. The first thing he did when he walked in the door, I mean, we haven’t even said hello yet. He started doing left eye eye-gazing. I’m like, what’s your name again? It was crazy. And now here you are like, it’s just, I’m so amazed by the universe. And yeah. [VERONICA]: So, another thing that I want to ask is, what do you imagine love to be like? Let this… so we’re just gonna do it. I’m gonna be here with you the entire time. I wasn’t… I had a whole list of questions, but we’re not going to do that. We’re just going to be here. Because here’s a couple things. I think you are a frickin badass, like, not because of all of the things you’ve done. Don’t get me wrong – you’re badass because of that, too. However, I think you’re this badass. Here’s why: because there’s this level of willingness to go ahead and sit in fear. Not a lot of us want to do that. And you were right, I was listening to a couple of your videos and it’s like, therapists go to cognitive behavioral therapy, they go to all of these tools – which I’m going to tell you right now, yeah, they’re great to go ahead and let you ride some of the wave and not have extreme panic – but what do we do after? We gotta challenge this and what I mean by challenging is we got to sit in it. So here we are, we’re both gonna sit in it. And yes, we’re both experts, blah, blah, blah, look at our degrees, look at our education, whatever you want to look at. However, we’re also human beings. So we’re going to be here right now, human beings, sister to sister, riding this uncomfortable wave together, that we both love to hate. Right? Right? [KRISTEN]: Oh my gosh, whoever suggested that life should be about the pursuit of happiness has really screwed us all up. [VERONICA]: Bingo. [KRISTEN]: Life is just about learning how to be with what is, and just feel what you feel. I mean, the cognitive behavioral therapy, it is well meaning… [VERONICA]: It’s great, and… [KRISTEN]: And it works. It’s scientifically proven to work to help people with anxiety, and PTSD, and depression, and all that. But it’s a lot of work. Six months of just intense concentration, it’s like, yeah, with a lot of work you can control and create your reality. But then if you stop doing it, you’re just gonna slowly morph back into whatever you were before, and the reason why is because it’s a top down approach. [VERONICA]: Kristen, we’re going back to you. We’re going back to you, girl. We gotta go back to you. Yes. [KRISTEN]: Okay, I mean, I’m doing this podcast… can we at least do another one where I talk about [unclear]? [VERONICA]: Oh, hell to the yes, girl. Hell to the yes. So we’re, right now, listen, we’re just going for it. And it’s unscripted. I don’t even know where my questions are at right now because with regards to that one, I’m going to save it for later. This is just going to be me and you, two women, having a discussion. Two experts having an honest discussion, because this isn’t… this does not happen enough. I shared with you, I shared with you my struggle, and it was a real struggle, girl. I’m gonna tell you right now, I was on my hands and knees, begging for something different. So I know. I’m not gonna lie to you and say, oh my god, I totally know what you’re going through, because that’s a lie. However, I know what that pain feels like. And I know that you’re watching your world come to a complete end and not knowing what the hell to do. [KRISTEN]: I read on your page that from the outside in, everything looked great in your marriage. And everybody in our lives think that Kirk and Kristen are the dream couple. It’s like everyone that I know aspires to have a relationship like me and my husband had, and we weren’t miserable. We weren’t. We were really super compatible, like, we’re a power couple, you know? And then my husband just had an emotional breakdown. He woke up one morning and he looked at me and for the first time in his life, I think he felt empathy. And he said, I treat you like shit. He goes, I am… he didn’t say, I’m sorry. Instead he said, I am embarrassed about who I am. I can’t even look at myself in the mirror, and so I want a separation. It was a shock. I’ve never been so shocked. [VERONICA]: Yeah. [KRISTEN]: And this is in the middle of the pandemic. We’re in rural Mexico. In our house down there, there’s no flights out, we only have one car. I’m like, well, what do I do? Do I go in the other room? Like, I… what’s the next step? And then he had what our therapist calls a narcissistic episode that has lasted for three and a half months, where he just became so self absorbed and narcissistic, and made it so ridiculously unpleasant that I finally had to get on a plane. 24 hours I had to fly to leave – normally it’s a two and a half hour flight – and took the cat, and then have been stonewalled ever since. And I said, just tell me you love me and I’ll support you, and he’s like, I can’t do that. I’m like, just say something kind to me, anything. No. Then he went through the whole blaming me; it’s just been torture. So right now I just, finally… it’s like my head and my heart are at war. Like, at one point my head will be like, no, you have to stay, and my heart is like, no, you have to go, and then the next moment my heart is like, no, you have to stay, and my head is like, no, you have to go, and this tug of war, and here’s the bottom line though: I know that if I leave, eventually I’ll be okay. And probably pretty quickly, because I know how to be in flow with this stuff, like, with my dad. I know how to be in flow with all my emotions; I don’t get stuck in them. I know though if I stay that all bets are off, I might not be okay. And I just choose myself. I choose loving myself instead of loving him, or trying to get love from him, you know, can’t get water from a stone. And so I’ve, I mean, it was the boldest thing I think I’ve ever done in my life, telling him that I want a divorce yesterday because he’s saying I want to get back together. And he’s being quite wonderful. And he’s being really sweet and he’s doing all these wonderful things for me, but I’m like, you know what, this is not what I want. When I go through a trauma, I move towards other people, and love, and like, let’s do this together. When he goes through trauma, he runs away and goes into pain. It’s like, I have learned all I can from pain, and trauma, and like I went through six other breakups and I went into the depths of hell with all of those. And I don’t need to do that anymore to learn and grow. I need to go into love and at this point if I can’t love him… I heard a quote the other day, “grief is love with no place to land”. Like, if somebody dies, you love them, but you can’t tell them, so that’s grief, you know? Like, I have so much love in my heart. I just love my clients. I love my friends. I love Kirk. I love my cat. I love the world. I love… and I have no place for my love to go right now. And so I’m choosing out so that I can go find somebody that can actually… not even somebody, because that somebody is actually me that can actually receive my love. I’m tired of loving him and having it not be received. I now need to love myself and receive that. [VERONICA]: Absolutely. [KRISTEN]: And love. It’s like, just love the planet. Right now the planet needs a lot of love, like, that’s the externally directed love. And so that’s why I said, okay, I’m done. [VERONICA]: But let me ask you something. It sounds like you’ve spent your life loving and giving and doing all of these things. My question to you is, how often do you receive it? Because it sounds like you have to be this person in order to receive it. And whenever you’re not, you’re stonewalled. And who the hell did this to you first? [KRISTEN]: Well, I’m really proud of who I am. And my background as an athlete made me really fierce; I was very masculine though, and self absorbed, during my ski career. A full on, hedonistic, self absorbed, egomaniacal, like… I don’t know if you have to be that way to be the best in the world at a death defying sport, probably though, and I feel like the pendulum swing for me – because I’m really ultimately embarrassed about who I was during my ski career – is that I’ve pendulum swinged into the opposite, radical opposite, where I’m all about being of service to other people, loving other people. I can receive love, though. No problem. Like my clients… [VERONICA]: Yes, but what I’m saying is, I get that. But listen to how you’re going from one extreme to the other. You went from being that person that like, I’m not letting anybody in, to, I’m gonna love the world and hug every tree. [KRISTEN]: Yes [VERONICA]: Not saying you went that far but you get what I’m saying? [KRISTEN]: Yeah. [VERONICA]: My question is, how… I know you receive love from your clients, but how often do you receive love from the people that are in your life? [KRISTEN]: I’m good at it. [VERONICA]: I know you’re good at it. I get that. I get that. [KRISTEN]: I see love like a color. Like if somebody… [VERONICA]: Kristen, you’re avoiding right now. I’m saying, who has shown you love? Who has loved you? [KRISTEN]: My friends. My mother. This man last night. That was the most incredible first date I’ve ever had. It’s probably the most incredible connection I’ve ever had with another human being to be honest. [VERONICA]: You didn’t mention your dad. Why not? [KRISTEN]: Oh, yeah, my dad sucked. [VERONICA]: You’re… I’m gonna tell you right now, you’re doing this thing over and over. And you’re attracting the same people over and over. [KRISTEN]: I know that. And what it is, is that my story from my childhood is not that I’m unworthy of love. My story of my childhood is that I am so wonderful, why can’t people see that? [VERONICA]: Keep going. [KRISTEN]: Which I think is very different than what you find out there. And my dad was… my dad wasn’t diagnosed a narcissist; I don’t think they really did that back then. My husband has actually been diagnosed as having a narcissistic episode. He’s not a narcissist, but he’s having a narcissistic episode. So anyway, my dad, I kept trying to get my dad to see me, and care about my feelings, and love me, and recognize how wonderful I am. And during my ski career, he started bragging to everyone about me, but it was just so that he could get attention. I would say, hey, you need to not wear your underwear around the house. Right? I’m 16 years old, it makes me feel uncomfortable. And he’s like, you have a problem and he would make a point to wear his underwear more, like, no boundaries. And I tried so hard to get him to care about my feelings. And he just couldn’t. He was mentally ill. And to the point where I finally just gave him everything that he needed, became the really loving person, like, became A++ Kristen when I was in my 40s because I realized he was going to die soon, and if not now, when? Like, okay, I’m gonna do everything I can to have the best possible relationship with my dad before he dies. And as soon as I did that… now keep in mind, I’m a spiritual artist, a teacher, I’m obsessed with personal work, right? Like, I’m as evolved as you’d hope somebody to be at my age, and here I am in my 40s and my dad and I are now seemingly having a great relationship, and one day he tweaks my nipple, and grabs my ass, in my 40s. [VERONICA]: Yeah, yeah. [KRISTEN]: I’m like, there are just no… the boundaries. It just wasn’t ever going to happen. And that was the end. [VERONICA]: What’s that like to say? What’s that like to say? It was never gonna happen. [KRISTEN]: Yeah. And that’s what’s happening with my husband right now. It’s never gonna happen. It’s like trying to get water out of a stone. [VERONICA]: What’s that like? What is that like for you? [KRISTEN]: It’s releasing, because then I don’t have any guilt. I don’t have any guilt with my dad, but I have guilt with my husband right now. Like, because I think that he’s capable of all this stuff. [VERONICA]: Yes. [Unclear]. [KRISTEN]: But I don’t want a frickin project. I don’t want my precious gifts to be burned out helping one man figure it out. What I teach is what he needs. [VERONICA]: Bingo. [KRISTEN]: And I would rather give my love, and considerate attention, and gifts to people who I’m not entwined with. [VERONICA]: Yes. Well, it makes it easier. It makes it easier because there’s not that expectation, there’s not that emotional connection, and it’s easier to see it with other people than the people that we love and adore. And you mentioned your dad doing what he did, and it’s like, okay, wait a minute. This is so freaking confusing. Like, I thought we were good. I thought I was finally gaining acceptance from you. And then this happens, like, how in the hell is that even okay? How did you think that this would be okay? And then the other part of, how the hell did I fall into the lie? How did I get trapped in here? How did I get baited? [KRISTEN]: I know why. I’m an enneagram eight, and I love challenges. And, you know, there’s a saying, the Four Agreements – and I’m gonna butcher this quote – but from that book, you know, somebody will abuse you only as much as you are willing to abuse yourself, or you’re abusing yourself. And so I thought, well… because my husband was verbally abusive, was I just okay with that because I verbally abuse myself? And I don’t think that that’s it. I’m definitely different. I think more what was going on is that I saw this as a challenge. Like, oh my gosh, okay, I’m married to a man who takes his anger out on me. Well, this is a perfect opportunity for him to learn something, and grow, and figure out where his anger comes from. And this is a perfect opportunity for me to like, stand up for myself and be a strong woman, and for the first three years that he did this, every time he would say mean things to me, I would say, babe, what’s wrong? You’re saying really mean things, like, what’s going on with you? You know, I’m unhappy at work. Well, let’s change that. And I just was of service, of service, of service, which makes me feel good because I was so self absorbed for so long, to now be of service, it’s like it’s balancing out so that I feel good about myself. Like, for every moment of self absorption, I needed to have a moment of just complete caring and selflessness. And so I got to feel really good about myself in those moments and negate the bad feelings that came from his criticism. And I also didn’t take it personally, until I did. And probably three years ago, I started taking it personally. Like, why is this man…? Why can’t he love me? Is there something wrong with me? Like, I started to believe it. I’ve been reading all these books about the verbally abusive man, and angry controlling men, and it’s like, I have literally highlighted six out of every sentences in these books like, classic disintegration, like frog in slowly boiling water, heating water, and I actually have to thank my husband for being the one to snap us out of it. [VERONICA]: There’s this other part though – here’s yours. With every relationship, we have fault too. Yours was making him a project. Something you can heal with the, okay, let’s go ahead and figure this out. You had a rough day at work. Let’s go ahead and change that. You were attempting to be his coach. [KRISTEN]: Yeah, I was and I wasn’t. I actually refused to do that. [VERONICA]: Yeah, I say that, however, I’m wondering, why didn’t you just let that happen? You know, if that’s where he was at, why didn’t you allow him to just be frustrated? Would he have taken it out on you? What would’ve that looked like? [KRISTEN]: He did, and he… a lot of the kind of common explanations for things, I mean, I’m a… [VERONICA]: I just want you to just be here, Kristen, because you go into, what’s the right answer? [KRISTEN]: Yeah, well, I am, but it’s like, I don’t fit any cliches. [VERONICA]: I’m not saying you do. I’m not trying to… you are so set on making sure that I don’t put you in this box. I’m not gonna put you in this box. ________________________________________ We are not finished yet. Tune in on Wednesday for part two of this episode. What’s up, ladies? Just want to let you guys know that your ratings and reviews for this podcast are greatly appreciated. If you love this podcast, please go to iTunes right now and rate and review. Thank you, guys. Many women lose their own identity in the shadow of being a mom and a wife. 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