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Kim Garrett, Licensed Professional Counselor
How I Almost Lived in a Garden Shed
Even though I am a counselor, I understand how hard it is to open yourself up to people you don’t know very well. To be really honest, it has been difficult for me to write this. So much so, that Campbell and Amber have even written their own versions of my back story to help me along. True story.
The part of me that does not want to write this is the same part of me that lends me to working well with girls and women who have a hard time with being vulnerable in their own lives, and by saying vulnerable, I do not mean weakness. I mean it in the way that Brene Brown (nationally respected therapist and author) means it: having the ability to show up in your own life with your own voice. Learning to be vulnerable is something that I have definitely struggled with and I guess you could say, it takes one to know one!
Some girls come across as shy and quiet while other girls may come across as really tough, but either way, it’s the same underlying cause. Shy and tough are just two different ways of trying to protect yourself.
We all develop defense mechanisms in childhood which help us cope with difficult situations. These defense mechanisms are often useful at the time of their creation; however, more times than not, they become problematic in adulthood. They can become so habitual that you are left with the inability to turn them on and off because you lack the awareness or skill to do so. Therapy is extremely helpful at this point because often times we can’t put our finger on what’s not working, we just know that something is not right.
When I was young, my mom remarried more than once. I remember having to adjust to new people and new expectations. Needless to say, it was not fun. It was during these years that I learned to protect myself by building walls and boundaries around myself. I did this with logic; yes, logic. I love some logic!
I don’t know how many times the words “I have a theory…” came out of my mouth between the ages of 9 to 19. You see, logic and theory bring certainty to uncertain situations and uncertain situations make people feel exposed and vulnerable. There’s that word again… not a weakness.
So, here is the part where I almost lived in a garden shed. I was 13 and we had just moved out of our family home due to a divorce. My 15-year-old sister and I were now sharing a room, something we had not done since we were very young. To say the least, it was not going well.
One afternoon, my mom, sister and I were at a lumber store and we walked by the garden sheds. Just to paint the picture, I was super mad that day. I don’t remember why; I just remember being fuming mad! So, we walk by the sheds and they were just glorious! Green with a small white trimmed window and I thought, “Problem solved, genius, I’ll buy a garden shed!” I figured I’d buy the $110.00 shed and live in the backyard.
My mom didn’t really think I would follow through with my “flawless” plan, so she humored me and didn’t say much, thinking I would not save the money and if I did, I certainly would not spend it on a shed. Fast forward three months and the room situation with my sister had only gotten worse. I went to my mom with my $110.00 ready to buy my freedom. Obviously, she did not let me move forward with my plan. However, what this did do was solidify my relationship with logic and taught me a valuable lesson in regaining my personal power. This was the beginning of a beautiful love story, and I moved into the laundry room as a compromise.
Going through the difficulties of relationships can be tough, and if you’re the type of girl who has a hard time being vulnerable, it can magnify the problem. As hard as it is to open up, it is important that you do. When we keep our problems in our head, they tend to get magnified and distorted. Talking about things out loud can help you gain clarity and perspective. Sometimes just the process of talking about things will reveal the answers you’re looking for.
No matter how tough you are, we all need a little help sometimes. As much as I like my independence, there have been times I’ve had to reach out for help and I am so glad I did. Who knows; I might still be trying to live in a garden shed in my mom’s backyard.
Kim is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC). She was an inpatient counselor at Carolina Center for Behavioral Health and has also worked in Intensive Outpatient and Partial Hospitalization Programs. With her years of experience working with families, Kim brings insight and objectivity to any situation. Kim got her BA in Family Systems and Psychology, she obtained her master’s degree from Websters University while working full time.
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