• Kara Kihm

A Loss of Identity

Updated: Aug 2, 2018

When my marriage ended at the age of 32, I could no longer hide behind my perfect image. I could no longer hide behind the beautiful home, the designer clothes, and the skinny figure which I desperately clung to to make me feel as though I was ok deep inside. I went through a scandalous, public divorce in a town where everyone knew what was happening. This event sparked the unraveling of my entire life and led me on a five year quest to discover who I was at my very essensce. Who was I at the age of 32 without my “dream life”? Who was I without a husband, a career, and everything I had worked so hard for?

I'm going to share an excerpt from my book. In this struggle I learned that the more attached we are to something the harder we fall when we lose it.


Everything can be summed up in one sentence. My life didn’t go as planned.......

~Rachel Wolchin

It was November of 2012, my life was falling apart, and it was anything, but what I had dreamed it would be. We could safely say that nothing was going as planned. Not only was it not going as planned, but what started out as my dream life had turned into a nightmare. I was separated from my husband, Mark, and living alone in our Beautiful Home that we had worked so hard for.

When we first toured the three story five bedroom colonial brick home with white columns out front just blocks away from Carytown, I just knew this is where we would raise our children. Like many women in their early 30’s I was desperately longing for children. All I had ever wanted was to be a mother and moving into this house represented entering the next phase of our lives. We had made it! We had finally saved enough to buy the house we would raise our family in. This was a symbol of our success, a beautiful home and a future family. Life was on “track.”

As Mark and I walked inside, the house looked pretty bleak. It honestly looked as though some sort of sociopath or serial killer had lived here. Gazing at the remaining copper piping where ceilings had once been I looked at the realtor. “Hmmmmmmm, I love the outside, but I’m having a hard time getting past the fact that the walls have been torn down and there are no ceilings. That’s throwing me a bit.”

“Yes,” the realtor replied, “The man who previously lived here had a very successful company, belonged to the country club, and his kids went to Collegiate (a private school in town that Mark and I had attended.) After his company went under, he turned to drugs and removed the ceilings and walls to sell the copper piping for money.”

That should have been the moment where I realized this house did not have a history of glamourous stories and perhaps represented a path to demise! Perhaps it was a foreshadowing. Despite the fact that the house was in foreclosure and complete decay, Mark and I saw such promise and hope. We spent months breathing life into this decrepit home and weekends consisted of projects and painting. Together we renovated this home turning it into everything we had ever desired. This was OUR home! OUR project! OUR baby! Now, I wondered what in the world I was doing here alone, and I was deeply depressed; self-medicating with alcohol to survive each day.

This dreary bleak wintery Saturday as I tried to soothe my heartache I laid in the warm water in our upstairs bathtub and as I sipped wine out of a white hand painted tea cup with coral roses, I noticed how it perfectly it matched the painted coral walls in our bathroom. My life had once seemed as perfect as the scene around me. Early in my marriage, life was actually quite idyllic. I married my dearest friend from high school, and we had worked hard to buy a nice home in a neighborhood where all of our friends from high school had settled. Everyone had flowering yards, beautiful homes and we took turns hosting barbeques on the weekends. During warm summer days, the ladies would sit by the pool talking and reading Us Weekly while our husbands golfed. Aside from the fact that I was a golf widow, I couldn’t imagine a better life.

Just a few months ago life seemed to be on track. I had everything I had ever desired and it didn’t seem possible that a world beyond this could exist. Now I was more uncertain than ever what my future held, and all I wanted to do was slide under the warm water and never come back up.  

Even worse than the thought of losing my dream life was that my Catholic guilt was setting in. The Sunday following my separation, I sat in church focusing on the statue of Mary wondering how my life had become such a mess. I couldn’t get divorced! My parents had been together since they were 15. My dad attended the all boys Catholic school and my mom the all girls Catholic school. They met at a mixer their sophomore year and had been together ever since. Mark and I met when we were 15, and while we didn't date until later, wasn't that supposed to be my story too?  We had been best friends the majority of my life.  

I was so positive that we could work through anything that I informed the minister who married us that we would not need premarital counseling. “We've got this one!” I proclaimed out loud during our first counseling sessions.

I had been taught since childhood that it was against my religion to get divorced. That only people who didn't value the sanctity of marriage gave up and got divorced. Would I be one of those people? The failure who couldn’t make her marriage work? Sure to be an alcoholic as a Catholic was one thing, but to get divorced was another. The realization that I could be one of “those people” ate away at my soul. Wasn’t I supposed to make my marriage work at all costs? I felt as though something was wrong with me. As though I wasn’t worthy. I struggled deeply with how off-track my life had become. In that struggle I began questioning everything: my values, my morals, and who I was at my very core.

How was it possible that at the age of 32, my life was collapsing around me? How was it possible that everything that I had worked so hard for seemed as though it was ending?  

When we loose everything we thought that we ever wanted, it's natural for a dark night of the soul to consume us. But if we allow the process to unfold, these uncertain times are where miracles occur and anything becomes possible. It's where we can redefine ourselves becoming empowered in ways we never dreamed.








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