Episode 69 - Transcript - The Trauma of Divorce - Therapist Kaytee Gillis

By Michael Rhodes | June 11, 2022

This is a transcription of Episode 69.  The transcription was done by software, apologies for anything that seems out of whack. A link to the episode is below.

Michael 0:00
What’s up, gentlemen, this is Rising Phoenix Podcast, the podcast about how to rise up after your divorce. I’m your host, Michael Rhodes. Let’s get into it. Joining me today is Katie, Katie, let’s just jump right into it. Why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Kaytee 0:15
Okay. Um, so I’m a licensed clinical social worker, I specialize in family trauma and intimate partner violence and relationship trauma. I recently published a book actually, it wasn’t recently it was a year ago, called Invisible bruises. I have a blog on Psychology Today under the same name and visible bruises. And I have a podcast Katie with a why.

Michael 0:38
Okay, so yeah, you’re one of your articles on, or one of your blog posts on Psychology Today is what brought me to you. And it was essentially, and I just read it today. So forgive me if I butcher the title, but I think it was somewhere along the lines of can. People that have been through trauma have a healthy relationship? Yep. Yep. Good. And so that’s why I wanted wanted you on trauma is a frequent topic on this podcast, because I believe divorce is a trauma. So let’s, let’s define that. Let’s what is trauma? Number one, and then there’s sort of some follow up to that.

Kaytee 1:16
So trauma, trauma is so hard to define. It’s like saying, like, how do you define, you know, life, it mean trauma, it’s subjective, and then it’s subjective at the same time. So clinicians always start by saying, you know, there’s big T, little T trauma, like big T is like, Okay, if you had, you know, something happened, like an assault, or if you were in a war zone, or something horrible like that, that you went through. And then little t could be like, you know, verbal abuse or being, you know, fired from a job or things like that, that you identify as being traumatic. And maybe there was a bunch of things that happened, you know, together can equal the same kind of effects as a big T so to speak, you know, that that kind of makes sense.

Michael 1:55
Yep. And so, the question then is, is divorce a trauma?

Kaytee 2:02
Oh, absolutely. And I, you know, I work every day with, you know, survivors of relationship trauma and things like that. And of course, not every divorce leads people to therapy. But, you know, it is, there’s grief that comes with it. There’s abandonment that comes with it. And, you know, things like that. And so I mean, you there’s an ending of a relationship. So it is absolutely, absolutely traumatic. Absolutely. Yeah. And

Michael 2:26
so that’s sort of what we wanted to hone in on today, is that ending of a relationship piece? In that it ended? Because probably, there was some dysfunction, there were some issues. And so if we can, I don’t know, if we want to talk about what are some of the typical ones? And where do they come from? Or do we want to just start sort of some of the dysfunctional behaviors that maybe are typical, especially from our, my generation? Yeah. You know, I’m not sure which which path but essentially, we want to sort of lay the foundation that there are fundamental issues with relationships that begin very, very early. Right.

Kaytee 3:12
Okay. So so usually, what I see are, you know, most when I say most, because, of course, there are exceptions, most relationships, and just because the people were, you know, incompatible they be there was some dysfunction going on. And, and I always say that dysfunction occurs on the spectrum, you know, there’s no normal or perfect childhood, there’s no normal or perfect relationship. You know, I know that we have seen, you know, videos and movies and things like that. I’ve wasn’t Leave It to Beaver and stuff like that, or, you know, the, it’s the stuff from the, you know, early 80s, early 90s, and stuff that that’s not real. You know, nobody has that kind of, you know, relationship and things like that. So, most relationships are some, there’s some kind of dysfunction, but dysfunction isn’t always someone’s fault. It’s more of just like, Okay, this is the pattern that is kind of manifesting. And this is how we’re meshing together. But then, of course, there are relationships where, you know, the dysfunction has moved into more abuse category. And that’s, you know, of course, a completely different thing. But most of the time, I would say relationships are just, you know, to people that they kind of developed some unhealthy patterns. And it’s a lot of times, it’s stuff that they bring in from childhood, you know, patterns that they’ve learned and because we all learn dysfunctional, unhealthy patterns from childhood from our caregivers, and then we carry those into our relationships. And sometimes we’re trying to kind of work through some of those traumas and things like that. And sometimes we don’t even know what we’re doing. Sometimes we’re just like, Wait, why are we having this impasse of, you know, it’s like, you’re speaking Greek and I’m speaking Russian. Like, why? That’s another common thing.

Michael 4:53
Sure. And what are some of the common I would like to specifically some of the things that you see that that you can trace back pretty easily, I guess

Kaytee 5:00
So I would say are like different ways of arguing. And I know that people are saying, you know, sometimes people think that’s weird that I bring up, you know, arguing, like, why would you want to argue, but the thing is, is if if we can teach children how to have a conflict in a healthy way, then that’s a really good thing, because then what ends up happening is children don’t learn how to have conflict in a healthy way. So they both you know, both people are the couple, both members of the couple, they navigate the conflict so differently. So a lot of times what I’ll see is almost like the distance, sir. And the pursuer is something that we call it in therapy, where we have one person who’s like, no, no talk to me, talk to me what’s going on, tell me how you feel, tell me what you’re thinking. And the other person is like, I just want you to leave me alone. Now, that in and of itself isn’t dysfunctional, it’s just a different communication style. But what ends up happening is if one person goes all the way into avoidance, where they’re like, oh, no, I want to pretend like the conversation never happened. And I want to just go on like, like, it never happened, and just, you know, carry on as normal, and the other person’s like, wait, but I want to talk about it. And I want to kind of talk it to death. That’s when it kind of goes into like, dysfunction category. And that is something I see really common, really frequently with couples is, you know, is is this mismatched communication style or mismatched way of being able to navigate conflict, that almost you so then you’re almost like fighting about the fight? Like you’re fighting about how you fought instead of the issue? If that makes sense? Yeah, for

Michael 6:33
sure. So how do we trace that back? What what do we trace that back to so so let’s start with maybe. And man, so many people, I know so many people, including myself that can relate to this? The guy who the typically is the guy, thank you. Yeah, that’s fine. You can garden the avoider, the guy who has an avoidant sort of strategy? How does Where did that? How does that develop? What does that come from? What in childhood made that manifest?

Kaytee 7:01
So and it’s interesting to you said, you said the guy because it is it a lot of it is how we’re conditioned through our gender. You know, women, we are conditioned to talk about stuff. I mean, look at little children on a playground. And little girls are talking. And boys, they don’t sit around and talk, you know, and it’s not reinforced in the same way. Little girls that they’re reinforced, oh, talk about your feelings and talk and go to the bathroom together and talk it’s really reinforced in the behavior, or as little boys, they’re told, you don’t talk about that. I mean, Don’t be a sissy. And, and I like to think that that’s getting better with each generation. But it is something that is very, you know, I mean, even millennials, millennials, were raised by boomers, boomers were raised by, you know, I mean, it’s, it’s very big. So. So what ends up happening is like we have, you know, kids who, maybe they watch their caregiver have this huge, blowout fight, and then they both stomp into their rooms, and they sleep in separate beds at night, and they never talk about it again. And so they can the kids learn, okay, that’s how we navigate arguments is we just kind of pretend it didn’t happen. So then that person grows up, you know, to him, he gets married, and he doesn’t know how to talk to his partner, because he never saw his dad. Talk about feelings, you know, and, and that was something he never learned. And so as an uncomfortable feeling. And so he learned, okay, I’m just gonna, you know, shut down or, you know, kind of go away and go go outside, and my dad used to call it like, go out and Potter in the, in the garage, you know, and whatever you do, you know, and

Michael 8:38
so you’re basically you’re, you end up modeling the behavior of, of your parents, right? Oh, for

Kaytee 8:46
sure. And, and a lot of times, like, we, we don’t realize how much we model it, you know, but But kids will learn, you know, because they’re seeing things and they’re seeing the conflict that’s happening and they’re seeing the conflict that’s avoided. And you know, they grow up in it. A lot of times, even in the same family, you’ll see kids who one will be one will avoid conflict and one will be someone who’s, you know, maybe more anxious and more of the pursuer even in the same family.

Michael 9:15
Every time I do these interviews, it just always makes me think about my own life and I was just thinking about and it’s a bit of a rabbit hole but just how I’m probably not modeling the best behavior in terms of how I deal with my ex like I don’t talk to her I don’t communicate with her you know, the attacks but not in front of the kids very very very very rarely there’s really nothing to say nothing nice anyhow and yeah, I do recall that role but if you don’t have anything nice to say don’t say anything at all so generally

Kaytee 9:45
worried that we’ll get into some kind of argument like does pass communication with her lead. Yeah,

Michael 9:50
um, I honestly if I’m being honest, I’m worried about interaction hurting me Oh, okay. Like, I just would rather avoid it.

Kayteer 10:03
Okay, I can understand that. Yeah. Because when she

Michael 10:06
left, it was very much a. And I understand the psychology, there’s a lot of shit that I understand, you know, philosophically logically. But so I understand why she had to say all this shit about me, because it made it easier for her to leave. I completely understand the logic behind it, but man, that shit hurts and so that’s hurtful. It doesn’t. Fuck yeah, it’s terrible. You know, the person that not only did she leave me and the person that I loved and and thought loved me, and that’s another one of the things you said, I don’t think I don’t love you. And I don’t think I ever loved you. We’re together for 15 years. So it’s really you know, and so I don’t want to, and I was accused of being a lying manipulative narcissist, which is just, I don’t even know everybody’s in narcissism. And

Kaytee 10:56
that’s another like soapbox that I get on is the over diagnosing of exes. And

Michael 11:01
what? Yeah, and again, it I understand why people do it understand why she did it. She had to justify her actions, right? Because if I if I was, well, he’s okay. Or I do love him. But maybe he’s flaw or whatever. But it’s, he is a complete and total piece of shit. It’s a lot easier for me to walk away from it all. For sure. I understand it, but it still hurts. And so I avoid that because it’s hurtful. And I try I’m trying I just interviewed Robert Enright who’s like the forgiveness guy and I trying to get to a point where I can not be of not of not avoiding her not being so angry at her. But man, it’s really really hard because I learned as a kid to disassociate. Oh, yeah, I shut down.

Kaytee 11:48
You know? Yeah, that’s so common. So common.

Michael 11:51
Yeah. And that’s my, that’s my go to the silent treatment was like, I deploy that shit. Like, I was a ninja. You know, the little, little did I know, that’s really, really bad relationship. But, but I worry. So you know, long story, I worry that I’m not modeling the best behavior for them, in terms of dealing with issues, but

Kaytee 12:12
so with that, because I get that all the time. And I always tell people like there is no perfect parent. And there actually literally is a term in psychology called the good enough parent, it’s actually a thing. It’s because we know that there’s no such thing as a perfect parent, just there’s no such thing as a perfect person. So it’s actually a thing that you can call you can google good enough parenting? And I know that sounds I know, it sounds horrible to say, but I’m telling you, because what it means is like, are you doing the best you can with what you have in the moment?

Michael 12:44
Yeah, well, yes. To me, it sounds like a goal I can actually achieve. Yes. Like,

Kaytee 12:48
I’m it’s a thing. It’s good. Good enough parenting. And there’s a whole attachment theory based off of it. And, and I say that just to tell you like, you know, it’s parenting is the hardest thing anyone ever will ever do. So I

Michael 13:01
it’s, it feels Yeah, it sure feels like it and doing it. Well, you know, going through the divorce. I mean, it’s having somebody today about well, and even you and I had it a little bit before we started about how overwhelmed I am. And we are I think as a society, perhaps it can be so much more overwhelming when it’s just you. Oh, for sure. It’s it’s, it’s it can be very, very debilitating. It feels like sometimes but so let’s talk about the other if we can, we kind of touched on it. But so we have the sort of avoidance the I don’t want to talk about a guy and then you know, we’ll we’ll stick with the stereotypes. I guess. It works the female that wants to fix it, or at least talk about it until they feel better. Yeah. What what how does that manifest in them?

Kaytee  13:57
So that’s what we would call the pursuer and again, if we’re going on stereotypes, it is you know, women are conditioned to be the caregivers we are conditioned to the be the pursuer, the emotional pursuer. You know, like, let’s, I’m gonna follow you in the room, and you can tell me how you feel. And let’s talk about endless processing and data. Yep. Yeah, no, um, that is that is real. And that’s something that is very common. And of course, I’ve seen it, you know, I work with couples of all genders. And so I’ve seen all different dynamics, but it is something that is pretty common. And so then what ends up happening is you have one person who’s, you know, we call the pursuer and then the other person is more of the distance or sometimes it goes back to their attachment. So if one person has kind of an avoidant attachment and the other person has more of an anxious attachment, a lot of times it’s that’s usually what’s kind of being manifested in the relationship dynamic, but so the person is, you know, let’s go with her. She’s she gets that anxiety. Oh, no, he’s gonna leave. You know, and this isn’t necessarily logical. It’s not like, you know, we’re sitting there saying, okay, he’s going to leave it as a logical statement. It’s like, keep in mind, we’re talking like little child brain back in the back of the head. You know, the little child, inner child, if you will, is saying, Oh, no, they’ve walked out of the room, you know, mommy or daddy is leaving, I’m going to be abandoned, I can’t take care of myself. And so then it’s almost like this panic. And I got a quick follow him into the room, please tell me what is going on, let’s talk about it and data. Because in the moment to someone with an anxious attachment, arguing about something is better than nothing. It’s better than silence because silence means I’ve been abandoned, silenced means I’ve been left alone. Whereas, you know, to the other person, they’re thinking, I just need a minute. Just give me a minute, or however long. And so then, then you sometimes that’s when you see the most explosive arguments is when you know, both people, both people aren’t getting their needs met in that way.

Michael 15:58
It is. And we’re gonna, I think we’re gonna kind of get into this, but are these attachment styles and argument styles? Are they dysfunctional in nature? Or are they just how we are? And as long as we navigate that, and in other words, I know, she knows. And I don’t want to, I hate to say which ones first, but fuck it. She knows I’m avoidant, and I need time. And she gives me my time. And but then I also I have to respect the fact that she’s anxious and worried and pursuing and I have to give her my time eventually, right? I mean, isn’t it the goal is, is the goal to eliminate? Or not eliminate, but maybe less than maybe eliminate those two styles? Or is it a matter of meshing them together? Like, in other words, is it a guy who has to stop avoiding and just fucking talk about it? And she has to stop pushing and just relax? Or is it sort of working together in terms of like, okay, I know, he needs time. And and I know, I need to come back, you know, I’m saying, Yeah,

Kaytee 17:04
absolutely. So when in doing couples therapy, that’s usually what clinicians will say is that each one of you needs to give an inch. So I need you, if if, you know, if you John, usually take, you know, two or three hours to yourself, and you, Sally, pursue him instantly, I’m going to need you, John to to reduce it to an hour and you Sally to give him you know that those 59 and a half minutes before you go knock on the door. And, and I know what it sounds like, it’s a lot more. I’m trying to make it a lot more simplistic, you know, in the therapy session, you know, you’re, you’re working on tools and ways and things like that. But so, too. So to answer your question, it’s a little, it’s a little bit of everything. Attachment styles are something that we all have. You know, if some of us are blessed with a secure attachment style, some of us have an anxious attachment, avoidant attachment, some of times, there’s combinations, and you can take these little like fun quizzes on Google and come up with yours and stuff like that. You know, and some people read it, they’re like, Yep, that’s me. Some people are like, Oh, that’s interesting. But when it goes into dysfunctional category, or territory is when you’re infringing on another person’s boundaries. So like me, like I could say, you know, or Sally can say, I know, I have an attachment, anxious attachment, I know that when you walk into the room, I’m anxious, however, that doesn’t give me the right to then go break down the door. And while you’re trying to take a shower by yourself, because I need you to talk to me. And you, you know, you might, you know, John might know, hey, I, I need some time to myself, I have a little bit more of an a, you know, I kind of need some time to myself before I can process this, it doesn’t give you the right to just leave and go down to the bar for three days. You know, the both of you have the responsibility of like, so usually what I do with couples is I will say, you know, you need to agree on a time and you need to stick to the time, like, you know, if usually there’s an you know, if usually John needs three hours, I’ll say, look, take an hour, and Sally needs to know that in one hour, you will be home. Yeah, because she’s waiting and she’s counting on the minutes.

Michael 19:23
Again, just thinking about this is like describing my my relationships.

Kaytee 19:27
Oh, yeah, many, many, it’s probably one of the most common dynamics. So we see.

Michael 19:33
So, on that note, we want to talk about, you know, how do we change some of these things and I’m going to guess that the first step in this is knowing what kind of argument and or attachment style or you know, know thyself, right. I mean, if you don’t know where you’re at how the hell you’re gonna change it. So I’m guessing step one is figure out what how do you handle conflict? Is that

Kaytee 19:57
fairly that’s usually how I phrase it. I I actually work like with I work with a lot of men and maybe it’s just me I, you know, I’ve had four brothers growing. I don’t know if I just like, No, I don’t come usually when I’m working with men, I don’t come at it with like, oh, you know, your attachment style. It’s like, what’s your conflict style? Like? Are you like a leave me alone? kind of guy? Or are you like a look, let’s just put this to bed kind of thing. So we can go to bed kind of thing. You know, like, what, what do you want to do? Like, how do you want to get through this? Because I find that, you know, going and talking about attachment styles, sometimes people kind of get like a little loss. And you know, this is getting into like psychobabble stuff and not all the time. I know, I know, I’m going off of stereotypes. But I also know that sometimes it’s true that sometimes I think people are just like that people are just like, I don’t want to hear all the you know, the stuff behind it. But let me know, you know what I need to do to change this. And so I usually like saying, you know, what’s your, your conflict style? Are you more of like, a? I need a minute to myself, you know, and, and or are you more of like, let’s talk about it now. So that’s one of the first things is just learning, you know, what is your preference, and then also validating that, like, if you’re someone who needs to talk about it, you’re not going to all of a sudden wake up tomorrow and be like, oh, yeah, that’s fine. We can take three hours. It’s not going to work. You’re gonna be crawling out of your skin with anxiety, you know, waiting for your partner to come home.

Michael 21:24
Yeah, I got it. I would I am speculating here. I would think that for the avoidant type, the Give me a minute type could which could turn it for me turn into today’s Oh, no, no, I never talked about it. Yeah. Right. So it seems like it will be much easier for that person. And in some ways, or at least initially, right? Because they get their space or like, Oh, thank God, and then maybe they forget about it, or whatever. So I would just speculation guessing you’re the person that has to like, pump the brakes, so to speak, must have must be really, really difficult. And I’m sure it’s the same when it when and hopefully if it does come back around, but I’m guessing that anxious sort of person that must be really difficult to flip that switch and be like, oh, yeah, okay, now you can have two hours, no problem, have fun. We had a therapy session, and I get it.

Kaytee 22:19
No, it’s very hard. And usually what ends up happening is we work on like self soothing techniques, you know, if you need to go to the gym, if you need to take a hot bath, if you need to stand in the middle of the room and scream, you know, and listen to music, I mean, whatever you need to do. And and then we work on ways to like, because a lot of times with couples, like, you know, I’ll find that one person, you know, maybe their idea of needing spaces that you know, the whole night. And the other person is like, I cannot fall asleep. You know, and it’s not like one person, one person’s needs are better than the others. You know, I mean, sometimes, you know, with with couples, it’s like you’re working on Look, can you maybe give her five minutes of attention? Or can you give him five minutes of attention? And then with the understanding that both of you will talk about it in the morning? You know, can you agree to that? Because it’s midnight, and people want to go to bed, that kind of thing.

Michael 23:12
So with that, with that said, right? It sounds like there are strategies for those types of people, which is good. How about the other guy who eventually has to, you know, come around and talk about some shit, he probably don’t want to talk about like, what are the strategies for that guy? And how do you coach coach him up, so to speak.

Kaytee 23:31
So it’s the same kind of thing of like, I’m working on ways to self soothe. Just like the person who, you know, needs to talk about stuff right now can’t all of a sudden be comfortable waiting seven hours, the person who needs a lot of time to themselves, or maybe doesn’t want to talk about it at all is not all of a sudden going to be comfortable having a three hour conversation. So what I’ll say to couples is, look, if you feel like it’s gonna be a two hour conversation, set a timer for 30 minutes, because what happens is, after the first couple rounds of conversation, you’ve kind of lost the person anyway, we’re not hearing 100% of what the other person says. And so, you know, I’ll tell people, you know, find two or three points and say them and then you know, get off your chest. Sometimes couples have a ritual that lets the other person know, I still love you. And I’m still here, I just need some space. And that’s different for each couple. Some live some couples, they do like a forehead tie, or like, you know, like a fist bump or whatever, which is like a playful way of being like, I still love you. I’m not going anywhere. We’ll talk about this tomorrow, I will see you tomorrow and that it does helps both of them and helps the person who needs that self soothing because they’re anxious and it helps the person that’s like, I don’t want to talk about this right now. So they kind of both get it.

Michael 24:52
Essentially what you’re saying is relationships are fucking hard.

Kaytee 24:55
Yes. Like the hardest thing like, I know what I said earlier about parenting going hard. Well, yeah,

Michael 25:01
I mean it. It takes work, right? You can’t, you can’t expect. And to back to your earlier point, and I wanted to touch on that too is I think we’ve been screwed by Disney and Hallmark. All these fucking shows and movies that oh, it’s easy. You’re the one What a bunch of fucking nonsense.

Kaytee 25:20
I know like, oh, well, this is how it’s gonna be. And then you know, the second that they cast they go into, you know, never never whatever they they go into happily happily ever after just after the first kiss and it’s like no,

Michael 25:35
I don’t think so. So I want to shift a little bit and I don’t know, we talked about healing in the pre interview. And this is something that comes up all the time in the groups that I run, guys. And I think women probably do it too. But I know in my group, it’s all men, and I see a lot of guys that just want to run to the next relationship right away, or at least pretty pretty quickly.

Kaytee 26:03
And that’s a common trauma response.

Michael 26:07
It first of all, I mean, I can’t think that that’s a good idea. But let’s say it’s been a little while six months, I think I think that’s still too soon. But let’s say maybe eight months? I don’t know, can you here’s the question, can you go through the healing process? With someone in a new relationship? Or do you absolutely have to take your time and fully heal whatever that means? And those are, again, definitions like, you know, everything’s different to everybody. But is it possible to get into a new relationship and heal through that new relationship?

Kaytee 26:42
So the thing is, is it really is different for each person. If you’re still healing with a new person, I would my God is always with that one no, like, now what ends up happening is sometimes people are at different stages of healing, like there are some people who, by the time the divorce is finalized, they’re like, I’m ready, because I’ve been emotionally grieving the relationship for so long. And, you know, since way before the divorce was even started, that I’ve done all of my stages of grieving, and I’m ready. And then there’s,

Michael 27:15
isn’t that typical? Sorry, I didn’t mean to interrupt. Isn’t that typically the woman because she started the process way before. I mean, typically,

Kaytee 27:23
I’ve seen it honestly, I’ve probably seen it the same, because I know a lot of people who it’s usually the person who is like emotionally left the relationship sooner, which necessarily isn’t, isn’t always the person who is the one who says, Hey, let’s end it, but the person who because sometimes what happens is the person who tries to call the other person’s bluff by filing paperwork or breaking up, sometimes they’re trying to call but not all the time, but and then the other person wasn’t ready. And so a lot of times, what happens is the person who’s like emotionally kind of checked out, and they’re already have started the eating process, you know, just because they’re, their underwear still in the drawer next to yours doesn’t mean that they haven’t checked out, which is sad. And, and it isn’t always the case. And there is, of course, some grieving that comes from ending of a relationship. But I see people who leave a relationship and then a couple of months later, you know, they meet the next level their life, and that’s great. And then other I’ve seen other people who they need few years.

Michael 28:25
And how do you again, this is probably subjective, right? It’s up to you. Yeah, but how do you let’s, let’s say, for instance, and I know this for instance, because I do hear quite often you’re you’re you I’m a man on and she says she wants to divorce and I find out she’s cheating and all these things and and we’re still living together. But we decided we’re gonna get divorce, but we’re still living together. And I say that I’ve you know, I’ve been done for a while and I’m, I’m fine. But yet things that she does, say you’re saluting together be things that she does still annoyed and upset you. Does that? I mean, is that a flag? If someone’s still able to push your buttons, does that mean that you’re not healed?

Kaytee  29:17
Usually, if they’re pushing your trauma wound buttons versus your human buttons, because like we as people are gonna get annoyed by other human beings, and it doesn’t mean that we have a personal relationship with them. So if me someone in my home is going to annoy me, you know, if they’re always in my home, but if they’re pushing your trauma wound buttons, you rarely do I see someone who can still live in the same house with someone who they’ve broken up with. That’s, that’s very rare. I mean, I’ve seen it but it’s like those both those people have to have very healthy secure attachment, very healthy backgrounds. They’ve done you know, or they’ve done a lot of work, because it’s just it unless both people are very secure. and very healthy emotionally. It’s usually not a good idea.

Michael 30:06
What what do you what do you think a percentage of the population is actually truly emotionally healthy?

Kaytee 30:11
Like, oh my gosh, I know, I get asked that. And I’m like, This sounds really sad. But I, I don’t know. I mean, it’s so many people have trauma. And I think right now, the, it’s being normalized to even talk about it. Yeah. So I think now is like the generation now this is the time to talk about it. So it’s not like, you know, people are saying, Oh, do you think trauma is getting worse? No, I think people are just talking about it more, whereas previous generations ignored it. But I mean, that’s a good question. I don’t know.

Michael 30:39
I just have and maybe I’m cynical and negative? I don’t think so. I think I think there are a lot of fucked up people. Yeah. Yeah. And I’m not saying it like this, they’re bad, per se, or they’re not even

Kaytee 30:52
their fault. It’s not their fault. And then those people fall for other people, you know, who are also fucked up, and then you know, and they have their trauma wounds, and they trigger each other’s trauma wounds, and then it’s just like, you know, fire.

Michael 31:06
So you’re talking about, if they’re, they’re pushing your trauma wounds, or if they’re just pushing your human buttons, so to speak. What are some of the specific things that you can tell like, okay, that, like, if you hear from a person, I don’t know. She, she stayed out? She didn’t come home last night, in standard boyfriend’s place? Or, I don’t know, like, how do you how what are some of the things that are maybe sort of specific ish, about like, can you that you could be like, okay, he’s not healed.

Kaytee 31:34
So for me that that’s why it’s so hard with people who’ve had a romantic relationship to live together, until you can look at the person with complete neutrality, almost like a roommate, like, you know, if I have a roommate who comes home, you know, at four o’clock in the morning, am I annoyed? Because they woke me up when they stub their foot on the coffee table? Or am I annoyed? Because they came home at four in the morning? And where were they? If I’m annoyed, because they woke me up? Because they stub their foot? That’s a human annoyance. If I’m like, Where were you? And where were you doing, then? The Curiosity is like, you know, telling me that I’m more interested in what the person was doing, you know, because it’s a boundary, you know, and it’s impossible to have, you know, you’ve ended a relationship, it’s impossible to keep that boundary.

Michael 32:24
Stuff is so complicated, but yet fascinating. Yeah. I mean, I think I missed my calling in life, I should have been a therapist, but

Kaytee 32:33
I’ve heard you say that other podcasts and I was like, Yeah, you know, it’s not too late.

Michael 32:38
You know, I had this conversation with my own therapist. And he’s like, Well, you know, you could you could still become a licensed social worker. And I’m like, yeah, that has clinical hours. And I don’t know, maybe I should really fucking look into it. I don’t know. Because I love this shit. I think it’s fascinating. I think it’s much better to understand at least a little bit how this thing up here works, rather than just willy nilly going through life.

Kaytee  33:00
It’s so fascinating. Yeah.

Michael 33:03
I wish I would have done that. But so I think I mean, we covered pretty much everything that we talked about in the pre interview. And and I think there’s so much here. I guess one of the things popping up in my head is in terms of your clients, people use the do you see, just out of curiosity, use I think you kind of mentioned, you see more men than you do women,

Kaytee 33:31
I actually have a lot of men who seek me out as survivors of relationship trauma. And I know that sounds really vague, but it basically is just saying, like, you know, where you traumatized in a relationship, where you, you know, whether it was a victim of violence or survivor of violence, or whether it was just a traumatic situation? You know, and, and I’ve had a lot of people, you know, seek me out for that. So yeah, I do I see a lot of men

Michael 33:57
in terms of the healing process. Um, I’m sure some things are fairly universal. Is there a difference? Do you notice a difference between your clients, your male and female clients in terms of their healing and timeframe, steps, you know, tools, whatever, is it it? Was it just universal?

Kaytee 34:16
Um, I would say that there’s a definite difference between. And I know, I always kind of talked about the generations, but between boomers and millennials, it’s almost like, you know, if each generation you know, we’re a step on a on a staircase, it’s like boomers, some millennials, the person was trying to see how many steps they could, because it was it’s so different, you know, versus millennials to, you know, what Gen, or what are we generation, the next one, Generation X, I was forget what my students are. You know, the next one is Generation X, but it’s not as much of a leap but because men you know, millennials are a lot more able to, you know, say hey, this happened to me and it was really shitty and And you know, and I own it, whereas boomers there still have that, like, there’s so much shame. But I say all that to say that men everywhere in the world are shamed for trauma. For the, they’re shamed for coming forward. They’re shamed for admitting that, that they’ve had trauma. Like, you know, you shouldn’t have that it, shouldn’t you, you know, man up and all that to just, you know, go find someone else and toda and you know, just have a beer, like, there’s all these like horrible messages that, you know, that kind of gets you to like, push it, push it back down. So I would say that it’s a combination, it depends on you know, I’ve had people that come in, and they’re their parents are really open with them about talking. And then they’ve done a lot of work themselves. And then I’ve had a lot of people who’ve just had so much shame from it that it takes a lot to open up.

Michael 35:49
Well, Katie, I want to thank you. This is great. I really appreciate it. Thank you. Yeah, I’m sure we can we can do it again. There’s there’s no shortage of things to talk about, I think for sure. In this realm. I want to ask one more thing. And then And then the final question. And that is it goes sort of goes back to your article. Is it possible for people that have been through trauma to find themselves in a healthy relationship?

Kaytee 36:17
Oh, yes, it is. And, and I would say it takes work. I mean, there, there are times where, you know, like, I’ll say to my partner, and we’ll kind of like look at each other. And I’m like, wait, you know, was I doing the thing I do? And he’s like, Yeah, you know, I mean, because I get that I get the anxious, I get in the thought loop and the data and he’s like, whoa, whoa, calm down, you know. And so I say that to say, you know, if you have enough self awareness, to be able to say, Okay, this is the thing I do, you know, and to be able to say that your partner like I realized that I’m more of the pursuer. You know, I’m working on it, can we work together that kind of thing. But both people really need to be able to be self aware and to be able to work on it. Because if only one person’s working on it, only one person’s self aware, you know, a lot of resentment will happen and things like that.

Michael 37:06
Well, that’s good. I mean, it’s good. It’s good news for me, please.

Kaytee 37:09
But yes, it is possible. Yes, absolutely. Every every day.

Michael 37:13
So then the the final question, as everyone knows, is what words of wisdom would you impart to a man who had just found out that she wants a divorce or she’s left or she’s cheated? Or she’s filing? What are some words of wisdom you would impart to that man? So for

Kaytee 37:29
that, I always want to say, validate your truth, validate your truth. You know, I want I want all men to know like, this is your experience. And you know, shame is not going to take that away. But increasing self compassion can kind of help you along the way like right now is the time to to validate this experience and say, Yes, this is gonna be traumatic, this is kind of shitty. and validate that and validate the the need for increased compassion because what happens is, you know, I see a lot of men Oh, I’m gonna put a lid on this. I’m gonna put on the backburner, and I’m going to try to focus on something else and it’s going to still gonna be here. Friday is still gonna be here Monday.

Michael 38:08
Excellent. I couldn’t agree more. Katie, again, thank you very, very much. How do people find you? What’s the best way to contact Katie?

Kaytee 38:15
All right, so my website www dot it’s my full name Caitlin Gillis LCSW m.com And I’m also under Clara’s voice on Instagram, c l a r a, and there’s two underscores Clara’s voice on Instagram.

Michael 38:32
Awesome. Thank you. Thank you again, Katie. I really appreciate

Kaytee 38:34
it. All right, thank you so much.

Episode 69 – The Trauma of Divorce – Therapist Kaytee Gillis


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