Podcast: Play in new window | Download
What happens when your partner does not meet your needs? How can you let go of resentment? When is it time for you to accept the unacceptable?
In part 2 of this podcast episode, Veronica Cisneros talks to Kristen Ulmer about building a wall of resentment, being vulnerable and accepting the unacceptable.
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
- Watching your partner struggle
- The wall of resentment
- Fear and sadness
- Accepting the unacceptable
Watching your partner struggle
Veronica’s husband, Willie, had PTSD and, as a therapist, Veronica had the tools to help him but he didn’t want her help. Watching her husband suffer killed her because she couldn’t do anything about it. She struggled with wanting to be his therapist, because she knew she could help him, but realized that she couldn’t be his therapist and his wife, she had to pick one. When we’re watching our partner struggle and we see their potential but they refuse to do whatever they need to do to get better…it takes an emotional toll on us. Veronica had to let Willie fall and walk down this path on his own. He had to do his own work.
The wall of resentment
Oftentimes, we refuse to accept what is, we fall in love with what we need our partner to be and ignore all of the red flags. We don’t accept them for who they are and who they’re not.
We all have our needs that we’re focused on and we rely on our partner to meet our needs. When our partners don’t meet our needs, there is a wall of resentment that goes up between us. It’s not being done right, so why even try? We stop and slowly let go of doing what we thought the other person wanted because now there’s resentment there. We refuse to be vulnerable and we slowly disconnect.
Fear and sadness
I’m like that bird who sees a forest fire and wants to do something. So it does what it can and it grabs a little beak full of water, and flies from the lake to the forest fire and dumps a little beak of water on it, goes back to the pond and grabs another beak full of water back and forth, back and forth until the bird dies as the story goes righ,t and falls into the fire of exhaustion. At what point does the bird just kind of stop and just let the fire do what it’s gonna do. It’s hard for somebody like me. I’m very action oriented and so I’m just, it’s a sad story, you know the bird, it’s a really sad story, but it’s also really a beautiful story. So I feel very beautiful in my sadness.
Kristen is so afraid of getting it wrong and that’s what is keeping her from connecting. She set up her relationships to look and feel a certain way and tried to maintain that. However, the other party wasn’t doing the same so she ended up doing all the work. Kristen only saw the good and overlooked the bad but what she ended up trading for feeling like a wonderful wife was ultimately her own happiness because she was in denial of the negative.
Accepting the unacceptable
Maybe the analogy for me isn’t that I’m the bird that’s trying to put the water on the fire but I’m maybe the bird that’s seeing the forest burning and I just sit there and just cry until eventually I get burned up with it.
Kristen knows that at some point, she’s going to look at the last three and a half months of her life and know that it’s the best thing that could ever have happened to her. She has to accept the unacceptable. Kristen can be at flow with her emotions but she’s not great at being in flow with the external world and what she sees out there.
Smart people learn from their mistakes. Really smart people learn from people who have learned from their mistakes.
Meet Veronica Cisneros
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 community, join 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.
[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. We’re back for part two. Did you miss part one? I have to say, most of my recordings are totally scripted. Not all of them but a good majority of them, and the reason why is because just pushing record, there’s something about pushing record and then being on, and possibly failing, that scares the crap out of me if I’m just being completely honest with you. Why am I sharing this with you? Well, because as an expert, it can be difficult to admit our own pain. It’s not that we can’t necessarily sit in it, or even challenge it and get through it, it’s just saying some of these things out loud to the world. It’s like, holy moly, I’m exposed when I don’t want to be. Well, this is kind of like my conversation with Kristen Ulmer, a complete badass who is real, raw, and unedited. And I have to say I admire her like no other because she was just so willing to go ahead and jump in and share her pain with you. So here we go, grab a tissue because it’s about to get real. ________________________________________ [VERONICA]: You are so set on making sure that I don’t put you in this box. I’m not going to put you in this box. I’m going to share. [KRISTEN]: Tell me. Tell me, what…? [VERONICA]: So, my husband, he came back from Afghanistan. He was blown up twice. Of course, he had PTSD when he came back, and all the symptoms. And as a therapist, I work with people who have endured such trauma, and I specialize in this, I can help him. I can actually help him. And he didn’t want my help. However, when there was fireworks, we were at Disneyland, and we were on the tram, he would automatically just hover over all of us to protect us, but he was fine. Those moments when we’d go to the restaurants, and he would have his back against the wall, constantly scanning, he was fine. Those moments when he would just stay quiet, or be quick to anger, he was fine. He was not fine. I was watching my husband suffer, and that killed me. That killed me so much, because there wasn’t a damn thing I could do about it. And I struggled so much with wanting to be his therapist because I can help him. I can help him. And at the same time, realizing I can’t be his therapist and his wife; I have to pick one. Because if I’m his therapist, then I’m gonna lose myself in this, and this is what I’m watching in you right now, and girl, you are a frickin expert. You do not fit in a box. And you’re also human, just like I am. And so when we’re watching our partner struggle, and we see all of the potential and what they can be, however they refuse, they refuse to do whatever they need to do to get better. Hell yeah, it takes an emotional toll on us. How could it not? And so this is why I say, for right now, because I’m going to tell you right now, this is the whole reason why I even created Empowered and Unapologetic, because there were so many women like us, that were established, that were successful, and there’s something going on that we can’t say out loud, because it can’t be our reality. How the hell is this possible? And so here we are, and what I had to do with my husband is I had to let him fall. And I hate saying that. However, it’s true. Until one day… you know, I don’t mean like, fall, ignore him. It wasn’t like that. It was, I’m here as your wife, and I’m gonna allow you to walk down this path on your own. And there was one day that he had come back from a visit, and they were giving him all of these diagnoses. And he was coming back and I just happened to be in between sessions. And he called me and I just happened to pick up – usually I don’t pick up in between sessions – and I picked up and he was having a full blown anxiety attack on the freeway. That was his breaking point. And I still couldn’t help him. I coached him through it. I coached him through it, helped him calm down, and he was able to come home safely. However, he had to do the work. This is what you weren’t allowing your husband to do. You’ve never allowed him to do the work. I’m gonna take it even further. You didn’t trust that he would. [KRISTEN]: We have a lot of similarities. And there’s a lot of differences between our experience. I actually take great pride in the fact that I didn’t try to therapy him, and just let him, you know, do his process. And, you know, there’s, for me, the… we were together 13 years, the 10 years that he was verbally abusive, and that’s one conversation, and then the three and a half months that we’ve been separated and he’s been stonewalling me, and that’s another conversation. And the three and a half months that we’ve been separated, I haven’t injected myself in his process in the slightest. The 10 years that we were together, I don’t see, babe, what’s what’s going on? Like, that’s not what I would have done if I was his therapist. That’s what I did as his wife. And so I feel like I was his wife during the process, and, you know, the 10 year process of him verbally abusing me, and ironically, it’s fear that is the thing that he wasn’t dealing with. It was showing up as anger. And I, in 10 years together, I think I may have talked to him about it for all of 20 minutes. You do realize, right? He came to all the insights that he had about it, though, on his own. He’s never read my book, which is interesting to me, for crying out loud. And I wrote the book, not for him but I mean, it’s like he’s the ideal person to read my book, you know, he has emotions that are coming out sideways that are, you know, comes from the repression of fear. [VERONICA]: All the answers. All the answers. [KRISTEN]: That’s what I wrote my book about. So I haven’t actually done that thing. But what my fault was, in the creation of our pathology is, I didn’t expect more. I couldn’t even see that he had no empathy until probably the last month and somebody pointed it out to me. I couldn’t even see that. And if he doesn’t have… if he’s not in touch with his feelings, he’s not in touch with this vulnerability, and he could never then feel for somebody else. If he can’t even feel for himself, how can you feel for somebody else? And it’s like, I didn’t… and I even wrote about it in my book, about how you lose touch with vulnerability and empathy, and it’s like, I was so close to it I couldn’t even see it. And it’s like I have my rose colored glasses off now. And my biggest issue in our marriage is that I just locked in on some fixed belief and perception about who my husband is, that he was like the most amazing person I’ve ever met in my life, and he checked every single box, and I couldn’t even see it. It’s like a penny will hide the moon if you hold it close enough to your eye. It’s like my beliefs about him just were… I was in some sort of trance about him, thinking that he was amazing. And so if there were problems in our relationship, then it must be my fault. [VERONICA]: Bingo. Yeah. [KRISTEN]: All right. And like, the last three and a half months, thank God he ripped that band aid off, and yes, it was torture – stonewalling is the worst form of abuse you can ever employ. [VERONICA]: Oh, god, yes. Oh, god, yes. [KRISTEN]: Withholding of love and all that. But I mean, at least it took me three and a half months of just dealing with my emotions, all that, where I finally got those rose colored glasses off and started to see who I’m really married to, like, who is this person? And I have compassion for him. And I want more. And all across the world, or certainly America – I mean, there’s a hierarchy of needs – women are like emotional geniuses. We’re having some hard time navigating it, but… and men struggle so much, and like, I’m sure that right now there’s a lot of women that are wanting to get a divorce because their husband is emotionally crippled, and not capable of vulnerability or empathy. And they just, they want more and it’s like, oh, should I become a lesbian because that will… right? Certainly, being a lesbian is not a choice because right now I would totally be a lesbian, knowing what I know now. Damn it, I can’t be lesbian, so it’s just, it’s like, it’s so hard to find men that are emotionally present and available, and willing to be vulnerable, and willing to cry without apology, and not hide their fear, and own their anger, and not project it on somebody else, like a monkey throwing their shit. And it’s just, it’s so rare. And so the biggest fear that I have right now is am I really ever going to find somebody that actually is what I want? [VERONICA]: Yes. Yes. I’m gonna say, yes. [KRISTEN]: I was in love with who I thought Kirk was, not in love with Kirk. I don’t even know who he is. His therapist knows him better than I do at this point. Ah, now I’m starting to speak in circles. But, any comments? [VERONICA]: Well, I… that’s the biggest thing, is I don’t even know who the hell he is. I don’t know who I’m married to. And, in so many words you also said, I fell in love with the idea of who he is, not who the man is right in front of me. [KRISTEN]: And he might have not just been an idea. When he romanced me, he tsunami’d me. I mean, he turned on the charm and he was irresistible. I was dating a rock star, like a world famous rock… I was having the time of my life. I did not want to get married, and all of a sudden, he’s like, get rid of the rock star. I’m like, what, uh, but rock stars are hard to find, and I’m in love with him, you know, and he’s like, no, your mine, come with me, and I’m like, okay. So I think that he is all those things. But the second I said yes to his proposal, a switch flipped. And he stopped being all those things because he won. He got the girl. [VERONICA]: You changed too though. So I love that you said that. You also changed. You both did. Oftentimes, oftentimes, we refuse to accept what is, and we fall in love with what we need them to be. And we ignore all of the red flags. We don’t accept them for who they are, and who they’re not. I did that in my marriage. I’m gonna be completely honest. I am now married to somebody who is very much emotionally connected. [KRISTEN]: And it’s the same man. [VERONICA]: It’s the same damn man. Here’s why. So many of us… I’m gonna give you an, uh… We all have our needs, right? And we’re so focused on what our needs are, and we rely on our partner to meet our needs. However, what ends up happening is resentment. And I see this so… I see this every day, on the hour. There’s this wall of resentment that ends up coming in between us, because you’re not meeting my needs. You’re not doing it right. And that’s what happens in the marriage. You’re not doing it right. So guess what’s being communicated to us? Well, I’m not doing it right, so why the hell am I even trying? So we stop and we let go. And we slowly let go of doing what we thought the other person wanted because now resentment’s in there. We’re trying to meet each other’s needs over and over, and we try to switch, and we try to change, and we do all of these things, but yet we’re still met with resentment. So what ends up happening? We refuse to be vulnerable. Because how am I going to be vulnerable with somebody who won’t accept me? And then slowly we start to disconnect. And now stonewalling happens – why not? I can’t trust this person with my emotions. [KRISTEN]: He didn’t feel safe showing me his weakness. [VERONICA]: Bingo. Neither did you. [KRISTEN]: That’s why he’s stonewalling. [VERONICA]: So I want you to think about this, Kristen. [KRISTEN]: Well, hold on. [VERONICA]: Yeah, go ahead. [KRISTEN]: You understand, this is what I teach. [VERONICA]: No, I get it. I understand it. I respect it. [KRISTEN]: Like, this is my life, like, showing… if ever there was a person on the planet that is willing to just be vulnerable and weak, and own my shortcomings, I would say I’m it. I am… [unclear]… [VERONICA]: Yes, however, right now… [KRISTEN]: … my superpower. [VERONICA]: I get that. However, you constantly remind me of that. You’re constantly reminding me, Veronica, don’t take this away from me, don’t take this away from me, and I’m not. I’m not trying, at all. I get that. Like I said, I respect that. However, you’re so… I have to say this. You’re so afraid. You’re so afraid of getting it wrong. And that’s what’s keeping you. I’m going to tell you right now. That’s what’s keeping you from connecting. It is, and I don’t want to take away your title. That’s not my goal. You deserve that frickin title. And at the same time, I gotta call it out. Otherwise, I’m doing you a complete disservice. [KRISTEN]: Well, it’s true. I’m terrified of making the wrong decision. [VERONICA]: That right there, that’s yours in the relationship. You’ve set up your relationship to look a certain way. And you tried your hardest to maintain that. However, the other party wasn’t doing the same thing. So you ended up doing all the work. [KRISTEN]: I set up my relationship to feel a certain way. [VERONICA]: Beautiful. [KRISTEN]: You know, this is going to sound really weird, but I only saw the good and there’s a problem with that, because then you overlook the bad. [VERONICA]: Yes. [KRISTEN]: And I had like a sense of accomplishment that I only saw the good, like, what a wonderful person I am. And what I traded for feeling like a wonderful wife and wonderful person is ultimately my own happiness, because I was in denial of the negative. [VERONICA]: Bingo. You tried to recreate your childhood, except for this time you wanted to win. [KRISTEN]: Right. Yes. Every relationship I’ve had, I’ve done that. Like, okay, well, you’re an alpha male who’s emotionally unavailable. Can I get you to love me? Okay? No? All right. Well, you look like you’re an emotionally unavailable man and if I can get you to love me then finally the world will become perfect, right? Oh, nope, you can’t do it. All right. How about you? [VERONICA]: Yes. Yes. [KRISTEN]: I have systematically gone from one emotionally unavailable man to the next, trying to heal my wound with my dad, like, if I can just get one of these guys to finally see me, and see how amazing I am, and see how beautiful I am, and see how… and I just… [VERONICA]: So this is where you’re going to hate me. [KRISTEN]: Why? [VERONICA]: You’re gonna hate me and love me. You’re gonna love me after, and you’re gonna hate me right now. What if you can’t? [KRISTEN]: I mean, you can in the first six months of any relationship, when everything is perfect. [VERONICA]: I’m asking you. I’m asking you, what if you can’t? Where does that put you? [KRISTEN]: Disappointed. [VERONICA]: Keep going. [KRISTEN]: Disappointed in the world, and in many ways that’s the reason why I became a therapist. [VERONICA]: Stay here. Stay here with me. You go there. Stay here; you try to intellectualize it. [KRISTEN]: Well, there’s a point that I want to make, is that I want to fix the world… [VERONICA]: Yes. [KRISTEN]: … to be how I need it to be. I want to get this man to be who I need him to be. My neighbors did something atrocious the other day, well, a couple months ago, and I spent four months trying to figure out how to tell them, like, I just… so what if I can’t fix the world? What if I can’t get a man to finally see me and how wonderful I am? Which is probably gonna happen, I mean, I’ve looked at studies… [VERONICA]: Stay there, stay… do you see what you’re doing? [KRISTEN]: Well, I’m trying to… well, here’s the thing, I process verbally. I need to talk about it. [VERONICA]: I want you to process. Yes. [KRISTEN]: I can’t answer the question until I kind of mull it over a little bit. I can’t… [KRISTEN]: Do you know what you’re doing? I’m gonna tell you right now. You’re avoiding the emotion, and you’re intellectualizing it. I’m aware that you’re verbal. And I’m aware that… I’m the same way. However, what you’re avoiding is the emotion attached to this question. You mentioned disappointment. And then after you went to disappointment, you didn’t allow yourself to explore that. You went straight into, well, studies. And so right now I’m teaching you how to process, and I’m doing it in the moment on purpose. So what is it like? What is the emotion that comes…? [KRISTEN]: How I access my emotions is what I’m doing. So just let me keep going, okay? I promise that I get there. [VERONICA]: You’re good. You’re good. [KRISTEN]: I’m a very… I can be very heady sometimes but I always wind up back in my body and feeling. So I’ll get there. I’ve had some realizations in the last three and a half months that haven’t necessarily led to disappointment, but more to acceptance, that world ain’t ever going to be what I need it to be. And I’m never going to meet the guy that is as emotionally available as that date last night. And I’m sad, I guess, is the predominant emotion. Fear is my thing, then I wonder, okay, am I feeling sad so I don’t have to feel anger, or so I don’t have to feel fear? I’m like that bird who sees a forest fire, wants to do something. So it does what it can. It grabs a little beak full of water, and flies from the lake to the forest fire and dumps a little beak of water on it, goes back to the pond and grabs another beak full of water, and back and forth and back and forth, until the bird dies as the story goes, and falls into the fire of exhaustion. At what point does the bird just kind of stop and just let the fire do what it’s going to do? It’s hard for somebody like me. I’m very action oriented, and so I’m just… it’s a sad story, you know, the bird. It’s a really sad story, but it’s also really a beautiful story. So I feel very beautiful in my sadness. And it all comes back to, for me, self love and just like instead of trying to get water out of a stone, like, okay, I have this huge love, like, can I just really love myself and… not love myself like I loved myself when I was in my 20s, which is a very ego, like, look at me, look at my tits, you know, like, look at how beautiful I am, like, oh, yeah, check me out, like, I love myself and don’t you want a piece of this? Like, it’s just… when you get to be in your 50s it’s very different, and going into the, you know, what if it never works out? What if I can never put that fire out? What if I’m never gonna get a guy that loves me like I… I say, need to be loved. Is it need? [VERONICA]: It’s whatever [unclear]. [KRISTEN]: Need to be loved, want to be loved. If it’s need, I’m in big trouble. [VERONICA]: It’s okay. It’s whatever it is right now. It’s whatever it is, whatever comes up, we’ll work on that later. For right now, it’s what’s happening. So if that’s a need, it’s a need. [KRISTEN]: I’m sad, and I’ve cried every day for three and a half months, without apology, and I find it beautiful and I just… I’m really sad, Veronica. I’m just really sad. [VERONICA]: I see it. Kristen, I see it. This is why I said, you know what, fuck it. This is where we’re at. So we’re just gonna go with it. And this is why I said, with that question, you’re probably not gonna like me. Because I’m asking, I’m asking you… you’ve never met me. I’m asking you to just share this moment of vulnerability. [KRISTEN]: What if I never get it? Then I’ll die feeling like I didn’t succeed. Or if I learn how to truly get that it ain’t never gonna happen, then I’ll die… So, the middle way would be knowing that I gave it everything I got. But if I give up and just acquiesce, and let the world be whatever it’s going to be, and let Kirk be whoever he wants to be, and we see what that would feel like on my deathbed. It’ll just be beautiful. It’s like, you know, we didn’t come here on this planet to feel happy or sad. We just came here to feel. And I will just have felt everything. [VERONICA]: There’s disappointment in your eyes. [KRISTEN]: You know, people say that this is the most magical time to be a human being. I don’t think it’s true. I think the most magical time to be a human being will be after people get in touch with their emotions. [VERONICA]: I agree. [KRISTEN]: And we’re still not there. We’re not even close. [VERONICA]: No, I agree. [KRISTEN]: And I’m like, devoting my life to just be one cog in that wheel to taking us there. Like that’s, you know… [VERONICA]: It sounds like you have to be everybody’s hero. And to watch somebody fail, to watch somebody fall, would crush you, because you don’t want anybody to ever experience the pain you’ve experienced personally, as a kid, as an adult, in this marriage. [KRISTEN]: That’s not me. I don’t have that issue. Like my niece, her first boyfriend just found a new girlfriend, and my brother called, and she was depressed and couldn’t get out of bed. [VERONICA]: Yeah. [KRISTEN]: And I just called her up and said, it sucks right now, you know, I’m going through this too. And so let’s just cry together. We cried together. And I called her the next day and I’m like, have you gotten out of bed yet? And she’s like, no. I’m like, yeah, I’m like, I want to die. I’m so sad. So we cried together again. And we just did this. And then the third day, I said, what are you doing? She’s like, I’m going for a hike with some friends. I said, how’re you feeling? She said, sad. I’m like, yeah. I’m going for a bike ride. And I’m going to go and, you know, take my sadness for a bike ride. And she’s now flying out to see me tomorrow. We’re going to spend the next month together. And we’re just… and she just, like, hates her mother right now. She’s 19 years old. She’s just a teenager that’s going through all these tumultuous emotions and she has anxiety problems, and depression problems, and you know what, come out, let’s just be emotional together. [VERONICA]: Rescuing. There it is. [KRISTEN]: No, no. I want somebody to play with. [VERONICA]: Yes, you’re a teacher. I know. I get that. There’s some of that in there, Kristen. Listen, girl, we’re already here. I already love you. There’s some of that there. Here’s why. [KRISTEN]: I’m not here to rescue her. [VERONICA]: No, no, I get that. When I say… when people experience something similar to what we’ve experienced in the past, we try to take it from them. You’re not taking it from her. You’re allowing her to feel it and you guys are doing it together. You’re doing yours. She’s doing hers. Right? What would it be like if you didn’t call her? And you allowed yourself to go through this? And you allowed her to go through it on her own? [KRISTEN]: I would be fine with that, too. Yeah. My inclination is actually to be alone. But I’m going to try this and see what it’s like. [VERONICA]: I think this is great. I do. I think this is great because it’s kind of like you guys are both going through the motions. It’s not the same. Just kind of going through the motions. I love that. I just want you to be mindful of how often you do go to the rescue. I’m not saying you’re doing that with this thing. [KRISTEN]: [Unclear] that to me right now, is you’re trying to go to the rescue. [VERONICA]: No, I’m helping you process through what’s happening. I’m helping you see what’s going on. I’m giving you a different version of it. [KRISTEN]: Okay. [VERONICA]: One thing I’ve learned as a clinician is I can’t save people. I can’t. That was one of the hardest lessons, because just like you, I did everything I could with my dad, and with my mom too if I’m being 100% honest. Anytime I would do something. I was in high school and, you know, I’ll share, I’ll give you an example. I was in high school and I got into UCSD, this program for kids that were underprivileged and they wanted to pursue college. I got into UCSD in this program. You got to stay in the dorms and go to classes. I remember going to my dad feeling so excited. Like, just blown out of my mind with this is an amazing opportunity. And I went up to my dad and I was like, Dad, I’m going to go to UCSD while I’m in high school for summer, and my dad’s exact words were, what is that going to do for me? [KRISTEN]: What? [VERONICA]: Yes, yeah, yeah, yeah, the exact words, like, I kid you not, what is that gonna do for me? And it was like, okay, shit. Well, UCSD is not enough. So, let’s go ahead and figure it out, what’s going to be enough? and I’ve done this thing where, you know, I’m going to do everything in my power to succeed, I’m going to do everything in my power to be this amazing person, the successful person. I have my own private practice, even though nobody’s ever taught me how to have a private practice, you know, and charge privately, you know, nobody’s done that. Everybody’s taking insurance. And then build a group practice and do all these things. And it’s like, all these things that were impossible. So I think you and I are here, you know, with regards to success. The thing that I found myself doing was trying to rescue other people because I didn’t want them to feel the same pain that I’ve experienced. [KRISTEN]: Yeah, I can see that. That is… I see that. It’s a tough place to be, and that’s your journey to unravel. I’m not a rescuer. I am so not a rescuer. I have my issues, I… let’s see if I can pinpoint what my issue is, is… my issue is I feel when I see people act in a way that doesn’t have integrity, I hurt inside, but I don’t want to go and rescue them. And maybe it shows up for me as me trying to be perfect and like, have complete integrity, and never do to other people what was done to me that hurts me. And I mean, that’s a lot of burden to be carrying on my shoulders, because every time you step outside the door you see somebody acting like an ass, right? And I know that I act like an ass and I don’t get it right. And I think that the fire that I’m trying to put out, like that little bird, isn’t other people’s problems, or like… it’s more that I just… my issue I think is that I just wish the world were different other than it is. I have resistance to what is, I have resistance to what is in the world. And so my practice that I need to learn how to do is not try to save people, but my practice is more I just got to relinquish all control and let the world be whatever it’s going to be. I know that intellectually, like, I know that on some level, telling Kirk I want a divorce – which is, I’m sure he’s devastated – it’s exactly perfect. It’s probably exactly what he needs. Right? And me going through the last three and a half months of just suffering, I do realize it’s exactly perfect and real. And I know that at some point, I’ll look upon these last three and a half months of my life, which I say are the most devastating three and a half months in my life, and I know at some point, it’s kind of like getting cancer, like, you know, it’ll be the best thing that ever happened to me, two years down the road, but while you’re in it, it’s like, this is the worst thing that ever happened to me, right? So I’m just… [VERONICA]: It’s accepting the unacceptable. [KRISTEN]: Right, exactly. It’s like I have to just… I’m okay, I’m great with being at flow with my emotions, but I’m not great at being in flow with the external world, and what I see out there. [VERONICA]: Bingo. [KRISTEN]: I think that’s it. I think that’s what this whole conversation has been leading to. It’s like, I can be not only embracing and intimate with my sadness, my fear, my anger, within my internal world. But when I witness the external world and I see something that I don’t like, I’m in resistance to it. [VERONICA]: Well, that’s why you’re with your little bird… with your little bird, you know, beak. I was gonna say peek. I don’t know why. With your little bird peek trying to put out a big ass fire and killing yourself in the process. [KRISTEN]: Yeah. [VERONICA]: This is so crazy, how you and I… like, how this happened. [KRISTEN]: I know. And maybe the analogy for me isn’t that I’m the bird that’s trying to put the water on the fire, but I’m maybe the bird that’s seeing the forest burning and I just sit there and just cry until eventually I get burned up with it. That’s more the analogy I think of who I am. And it’s… [VERONICA]: I love that you said that. [KRISTEN]: Yeah. And it’s… what do you do with that? I love this conversation. I’m so glad that we… I mean, I can’t even tell you how many podcasts I’ve done, sort of been like Groundhog’s Day. I mean, it isn’t because it’s always somebody different and there’s a [unclear] the podcast , and they’re always fun. I always look forward to them, but I always try to get my points in about fear, which I haven’t done any of that. So, this has been really wonderful. You’re wonderful. You’re a wonderful human being [VERONICA]: So are you. So are you. [KRISTEN]: Your husband’s a very lucky man. [VERONICA]: I’m lucky too now. I didn’t think I would ever say that. I was in the spot with you. I didn’t think that it was a possibility at all. And what I’ve learned is, I have to be vulnerable, which is 100% the opposite of what I was taught as a kid in growing up. [KRISTEN]: How did you get your husband to be vulnerable? [VERONICA]: I didn’t. [KRISTEN]: Or how did… well, that’s the wrong… [unclear]. [VERONICA]: I get what you’re asking. [Unclear]. [KRISTEN]: How did he wind up ultimately also being vulnerable? [VERONICA]: Okay, it’s a beautiful question. Change happens, right? So the minute I start to change, the minute I start to set boundaries, say no, and be open to pain, well then, guess what? It then gives my partner and everybody else permission to be the same thing. Just as we both experienced right now. I allowed myself to be 100% vulnerable and share my story. I started out with it. Which then, in so many ways, gave you permission to do the same thing. Obviously, you have to consent to it. You have to be willing to do it. So there has to be this level of willingness. I can try to pretend like I have power to control and script everyone, you know, write everybody’s script. Or I can realize that I don’t have that power. It’s an illusion. It’s an illusion of control. And so instead, I bow down to it, I surrender to it. It sucks. I’m gonna tell you right now, I hate [unclear]. [KRISTEN]: Yes. [VERONICA]: It sucks. And when I want something, then I do it. If I want to be, if I want to create my version of the perfect day, then I set it up that way. And it’s interesting because not pushing it on him, not telling him anything, he, as well, starts to do things. I’ll give you an example. The other day I wanted to create… I was like, you know, what do I want to do? What do I want this day to be like? Spent all day in the pool with the kids, playing, my husband, and just watching them play with each other – we now have three girls – and just playing with each other. And I wanted to capture that moment. I wanted to feel it. I wanted to feel it. And so that’s what I did. And then I participated in it. And then I decided, you know what, I want to grill and I want to listen to this music when I’m grilling. And so there I was, I was grilling – and my husband does the majority of the cooking – and I was out there grilling. And I went to go get a drink. And I gave my husband a drink, didn’t ask him if he was thirsty, I just gave it to him, gave him a kiss on… a peck, went back outside and continued to grill and dance, by myself in my backyard, grilling and dancing. Told the girls to set up the table. They set up the table. We all set up the table outside, because I wanted to eat outside. And we all ate, and I just kind of watched everybody laugh, and what my kids were doing, what my husband was doing, and it’s like, smiles and just watched it happen. I was mindful. And then while we’re eating music, I put on romantic music, things that get me in the mood. And I asked my husband to dance, and so he danced with me, and then he started singing to me. And kids were doing finger puppets, or shadow puppets, and turned on the jacuzzi after we were done dancing, kids put food away. You know, we ended up going… I asked my husband, do you want to join me in the jacuzzi? And he’s like, hell yeah. So on my way to the bathroom is the laundry room. My husband was doing laundry, it’s 8:30 at night. He just started to do laundry. Is that essentially meeting my needs? Absolutely. But there was no expectation. I didn’t ask him to do it; it was just happening. So walked back out, didn’t say anything at all. I took a picture of him because I posted this experience on my Instagram page, watched the fight with him, allowed the jacuzzi to get all warmed up, watched the fight with him, and then proceeded to go outside. This time he grabbed the speaker and put on romantic music, and told the kids to stay inside, and we made out. We made out, and then it led to other things. It was the perfect day that I created. Sure, I would have loved for my husband to create that perfect day. Sure, I would have loved to drop hints and breadcrumbs and let him know hey, this would be great if you did this. But for what? Why? Why play games? So you asked me, how did this happen? How did he become vulnerable? Because I decided, this is the way I want to live. And this is what I need to do to live that way. And he joined me. Because it also gave him permission, and trust in me, that I’m not going to throw expectations on him. I’m going to tell you right now, I am absolutely in love with my husband – and I’m not saying that as bullshit. I absolutely love him. I love the way he loves me. I love the way he looks at me and I think he’s the sexiest man alive. We don’t have the perfect relationship. Don’t get me wrong, I will spartan kick his ass in a heartbeat. It’ll happen. It’ll happen, you know, and there’s times that I want to drop kick him. Of course, we’re human. If I’m going to show up, then I have to show up as mature, authentic self. And instead of asking, I need to do it. And it’s been like this… we’re going on 21 years. And my daughter that we had just had when we were on the verge of divorce, she’s gonna be 18 next month. [KRISTEN]: Oh, my gosh. [VERONICA]: Girl, yes. [KRISTEN]: Wow. [VERONICA]: Yes. [KRISTEN]: Wonderful. Wow. So that happened a long time ago. That is a beautiful story. And you know, it’s interesting, I’m remembering being in Mexico right before our separation, and a song came on the radio and I got up and started dancing. And I started, like, doing the kind of sexy dance, like, kind of… and it was funny too, like, I was just sticking my butt in his face and just, like… I had clothes on, but I was like kind of wiggling and looking over my shoulder, and he’s smiling, and then I said… and maybe probably the issue was I said, you want to dance with me? And he said, no. And then I thought, well, dancing is not his thing. And that was the end of it. What is that? [VERONICA]: That’s a lie you tell yourself to protect him? [KRISTEN]: Yeah. And to protect the marriage and… [VERONICA]: Yes. [KRISTEN]: And yeah, okay, dancing is not his thing. But what really was not his thing was having an intimate moment. [VERONICA]: He doesn’t know how. [KRISTEN]: No, he doesn’t. [VERONICA]: And you’re not the person to teach him. [KRISTEN]: No. [VERONICA]: That’s the scary part. That’s the really, really scary part, is coming to that realization. [KRISTEN]: Yeah. I think I finally got it yesterday. I’m not the one to teach him that. [VERONICA]: Be careful. Be careful though, with this new guy. Be careful. And I’m not saying that… [KRISTEN]: Be careful about what? Like, meaning so I don’t hurt my husband, or…? [VERONICA]: No, no, no, no. I’m saying, be careful with you. Because right now, the minute you see something that you’ve been yearning for, it’s here, girl, you’re gonna attack it, which is fine, do your thing, but… [KRISTEN]: Hold on, here’s a funny data point. This guy, like, there’s no way I’m gonna wind up married to him. We’ll just put it that way. [VERONICA]: Well, then whatever you want to do with him, knock yourself out. I’m not gonna go against anything. [KRISTEN]: Oh, my gosh. [VERONICA]: All I’m saying is, because I care about you, just be careful. [KRISTEN]: I will. I will. Yeah, yeah, there’s no way I’m gonna wind up marrying him. God, but he is Mr. Right now, my God. [VERONICA]: Well, then, hey, then let that be what it is. Whatever it is. Let that be what… I’m just saying, let that be what it is. No judgment here, girl. [KRISTEN]: Yeah. I feel it. Oh, my gosh. Veronica, thank you. It’s been really wonderful talking to you. And you’re really smart and just, I mean… again, I wish I was a lesbian. Being in a relationship with you must be a dream. I’m just so impressed by you. And, you know, I’m sure we’ll have a conversation about your audience at some point, and fear, and flow, and you know, let’s bookmark that. Let me know. [VERONICA]: Yeah. [KRISTEN]: Thank you for your insights, and thank you for your pushing me, and asking difficult questions. [VERONICA]: Absolutely. It’s women to women, like, we’re all going through this. So why not be able to say it out loud? I know I needed it. I’m gonna tell you right now, I needed this so badly. But there was nothing like this back then. And I was miserable. I had to figure all this out. And it took me 10 years – 10 freaking years – of this back and forth and like, what do I want? What do I not want? It was just non stop. If only… [KRISTEN]: Here’s a great quote: “Smart people learn from their mistakes. Really smart people learn from people who have learned from their mistakes”. [VERONICA]: Hell yes. [KRISTEN]: So we’re learning from your mistakes, there are people learning from my mistakes, the mistakes I made about fear. We’re all helping each other out, especially women, like, the women helping other women out is really, I mean, it’s my new favorite thing, being involved in women’s groups. I’ve been radically opposed to them for the longest time because I figured that, well, men and women need to be coming together, not just women, and I’m just falling in love with women more and more every day. There’s just, it’s like, there’s a code amongst us, you know? [VERONICA]: Bingo. Yes, there is 100% a code. And I think if we’re able to go ahead and drop down that guard, and just be. You and me, we’re not going to agree all the time and that’s okay. And some of the things, you know, it’s right there, we hit it on target and other things, it’s like, okay, well, there’s a disagreement or difference of opinions. We could still do this though. We could still connect. We could still be vulnerable with one another, without judgment, without criticism, and just say, you know what, I’ve been there too. I’ve been there too. [KRISTEN]: Yeah. Yeah. We’ve all been there, ‘there’ being, you know, in crisis and just like wondering what the heck is going on and feeling completely out of control. Thank you for helping me navigate. [VERONICA]: Absolutely. It was a pleasure. It was a pleasure. 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. We are a community of women who support each other. We leave perfectionism behind to become empowered and unapologetic. I know you’re ready for the next steps. If you want to become empowered and unapologetic, get my free course, Unapologetically Me over at empoweredandunapologetic.com/course. This podcast is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered. This is given with the understanding that neither the host, Practice of the Practice, or the guests, are providing legal, mental health, or other professional information. If you need a professional, you should find one.