Karin Calde, Ph.D., CPC
Relationship Coach

I Was Determined My Kids Would Have a Different Experience Than I Had

From the outside, it looked like I had the perfect childhood. I lived in an upper middle-class neighborhood with good schools, I had three adoring older siblings, I got good grades and had friends, and I was active in sports.

Appearances, however, never tell the full story.

My parents had fights that terrified me when I was young and they separated when I was 10. My comfortable, stable life changed suddenly and dramatically. On top of that, I suffered multiple losses in a short period of time and I was given more responsibility than any young child can reasonably handle. I was deeply lonely throughout my teen years and suffered multiple traumas. I desperately wanted to be in connection with others, but I was also terrified of more rejection. One parent leaned on me heavily for emotional support and the other one was emotionally disengaged. My emotional needs were either ignored or dismissed outright.

Then came the addition of stepparents and the pressure to adapt. It was yet another loss for me, even though from the outside it looked like I had it all together. Don’t get me wrong: I understand that my parents didn’t have a lot of information about how to navigate divorce and become a stepfamily. They did the best they could given the realities of their own upbringing. Still, it was HARD. I don’t have fond memories of that time in my life.

As an adult I created a family of my own. I found stability and some degree of happiness, but I carried with me the impact of the trauma I had endured. For years I minimized the events of my childhood and didn’t understand the extent of my dysregulated nervous system; after all, I couldn’t remember what it was like NOT to be at the edge of fight, flight, freeze, and/or fawn mode at all times. Again, from the outside it looked like I was fine.

After earning my PhD in clinical psychology, I started working in private practice as a psychologist resident. I only started to realize that I had serious healing work to do when I started experiencing health issues and mounting feelings of overwhelm. I made the decision to close my practice because I knew I could not effectively help others until I helped myself.  

I gradually made many changes in my life as I healed. I reached out to professionals and eventually found effective approaches. I found Internal Family Systems (IFS), Somatic Experiencing, and other alternative therapies. I found my voice – quite literally – through singing and started to experience more joy.

During this time I divorced after over 20 years of marriage, and soon remarried. I was determined that my three kids would have a different experience with divorce and stepfamilies than I had. I surrounded myself, my ex-husband, and my kids with support. My ex-husband and I remained friends, which made an enormous difference for my kids. I can confidently say that I created a more stable, loving environment for them than I had had growing up.

When I was ready to resume work, I found myself once again drawn to helping people with their relationships and self-growth, and I chose to do so as a coach this time around. Now that I’ve done my own work, I am in a much better position to help others.

Throughout my life I never gave up on love and the power of connection. My life experiences, education, and work with clients have all reinforced for me the vital importance of loving relationships. Those relationships have powerful, far-reaching effects on our health, families, communities, and life satisfaction. I feel privileged to help my clients bring more love and connection into their lives.

Headshot of Karin wearing a black dress with a bridge over a river in the background

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