Kate and I are getting acclimated to each other.

I am used to how when I was coaching Kate she thought everything I said was genius. But now that she lives with me she would like me to not be so bossy.

Kate discovers that the best time to talk with me is late at night when the boys are asleep and I’m too tired to work—that’s when I’m the least stressed out. And she is getting used to me having an assistant for everything.

Jeanenne and Kate spend the morning on the sofa trying to figure out how to get Kate health insurance. But after all their effort, it becomes clear that Kate is not insurable until open enrollment for our family policy. I tell her not to do anything dangerous. Which sounds ridiculous coming from me; what could be more dangerous than her letting me buy her a plane ticket to come to my house when she has no money and she’s never been on a plane and she’s never met me?

I tell her to throw out all the clothes that have bad memories. She is hesitant. She unpacks her small suitcase. Then she takes most of it out of the drawers and gives it to me for the garbage.

I ask, “What makes these shorts bad?” and she says, “I wore them the day my step-dad threw me out of the house and I had nowhere to go.”

I want to ask about every item of clothing, but I don’t. Instead, we just buy new clothes. Kate has never owned winter clothes. Or a purse. She asks me to take a picture of her so she can post it on Instagram. I give her my necklace. It’s too preppy for me. Then I click.

Kate is nervous to leave our house. Finally I find out that it’s because her step dad wouldn’t let her leave the house to see her friends. She assumes we won’t want her to leave either.

I say for sure she should go out. “Be a nineteen year old! Nineteen year olds go out!”

My son says, “Where do they go?”

My other son says, “Bars.”

Kate says, “I am too young to drink.”

Kate goes on Tinder.

I say, “I think that is for one-night stands. I don’t think that’s good for you.”

She says she’s meeting good people on it. I think, okay. Maybe I am too old to know what Tinder is for. I think, maybe in small towns Tinder functions differently than in big cities.

She goes out with a freshman at University of Wisconsin-Madison. He takes her back to his room and she says she wants to wait a few more dates before they kiss and miraculously he does not date-rape her before he kicks her out.

While pretending that he is not waiting up for her, my son says, “Mom, I don’t think Kate should go out with guys she meets online. She doesn’t know anything about them.”

I say, “I think she can see the guy’s Facebook page from Tinder. I think it’s okay.”

He says, “She needs to meet girls, not boys. She needs to have friends.”

I say, “Uh huh.” And I wonder how a nine-year-old boy comes up with this stuff.

Then he says, “I know where she can meet girls. I saw an ad for a site that’s called Girls, Girls, Girls. And you just click to meet one.”

Kate stops looking for dates online.

She switches to dogs. She wants a husky and she finds a web site devoted to them.

My husband, who has owned about 20 dogs in his life, says a husky is a good outdoor dog because it can tolerate Wisconsin winters but huskies are not particularly loyal.

I suggest a golden retriever.

My kids want a dog that will sleep with them. But they have two beds. So they want two dogs.

“The dog will sleep with Kate, ” I tell them.

My husband makes sure Kate knows the dog will do everything with her. “A dog is a lot of work,” he tells her.

Then she announces she wants a puppy.

My husband says forget it.

I tell him I think we should tell her how hard it will be and she should make the decision.

He tells me it will ruin the house.

I tell him we can’t run her life for her. She says she wants a dog. She is lonely. She has no friends. She needs anxiety medicine to sleep at night. A dog seems like a good idea.

We pay $600 to a place that is pretty much a disgusting puppy mill only 45 minutes from our house. I consider reporting them to the police or something but my husband says it’s not against the law. And anyway, Kate is so happy.

It turns out that she’s a devoted dog owner. She wakes up twice every night to take the puppy out and assures me it’s no big deal because she did that for her nephews when her sister was in prison.

The boys love the dog and insist on being co-owners, though their part of ownership seems not to be related to walking or feeding the dog.

Kate can’t really go anywhere because she can’t leave the dog alone at home. That was part of the deal—he has to be crate trained to leave him at home.

He is not crate trained but he is good with the goats. And Kate finds herself spending lots of time with kids who are friends with my sons.

Kate is happy. The boys are happy. The dog is happy. For a moment, things are perfect.

And then things are not perfect. Then Kate realizes she will never get a life if she is with a dog all the time. Who will date her? How will she get a job? How will she ever leave the farm?

My husband says (I am summarizing here), “Duh.”

And I say, “Okay, so fine. She made a mistake. It’s okay to make a mistake. I made lots of mistakes when I was 19.”

Also, I tell him about how we should think of failure as an achievement. People can only fail when they take risks, and we can’t grow unless we take risks. I announce, “People who don’t fail are not doing anything interesting.”

He tells me how that’s great for Kate but not great for the dog.

I say, “It’s a $600 dog. I’m sure we can find another home for him.”

Melissa meets us in Chicago. She tells me that getting a dog that we can’t take care of is irresponsible.

I tell her I think it’s important to let Kate try things that don’t work. I tell her the New York Times says we are in the Age of Failure, and I am on trend.

Melissa snorts which is her version of rolling her eyes. Then she takes out a pile of New Yorkers which is her sign that she is unmoved by our conversation.

But Melissa puts down her New Yorkers when Kate walks in the room.

Melissa teaches Kate how to do her makeup.


Melissa likes the results so much that she decides Kate needs her hair straightened.

“What?” I say. “I don’t have straight hair. Why does she need straight hair?”

Melissa tells me, “You don’t need straight hair because you’re successful so you can look crazy. You don’t even change your clothes regularly,” she tells me. “Straightening your hair would be a waste.”

We all look at my clothes. And if you are wondering, I think they look clean.

Melissa says, “Kate needs to look very pulled together because in reality she is not.”

Kate is thrilled. She takes a picture the minute she leaves the hair salon.

Kate has been very expensive. I think I got carried away. She has three pair of boots and four coats and now she has hair that costs $400 to maintain.

Jeanenne thinks Kate needs a job. I brush off Jeanenne’s advice because I think Kate needs time to recuperate from traumatic living conditions. I give her books about family violence that she doesn’t read. I think maybe she’s not ready. I give her suggestions for how to teach herself about online marketing. I think maybe she is not the marketing type. I notice that coaching people is a lot easier when they are not at my breakfast table each morning.

I take her to my therapist who tells me that I should not rush Kate, and Kate needs her own therapist. I take Kate to her own therapist and then I tag along on her third session to say that I don’t know if I should push her to get a job or to go to school or just what I should do or say at all.

Her therapist says I should ask Kate.

Kate does not know.

And I don’t know. So we do nothing. Day after day. In very nice clothes.

And now I think that it’s true that mistakes are how we grow, and it’s great that failure is a badge of courage because I think I might be watching my own failure unfold right here, in this moment.

148 replies
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  1. MBL
    MBL says:

    I agree with YMKAS. Kate is probably at all different stages of development in different areas of her life. In some ways she probably is like a pre-teen and in others mid 20s as far as having had responsibility for her sister’s kids for a while.

    I had been assuming that she would be unschooling. Actually, first she needs to de-school. If a seventh grader who dealt with a mean math teacher needs to de-school, then Kate really needs to step back and get some distance from the crappy parts of human behavior. I assume that her education is somewhere around that of a 15 year old. I think that you should unschool her as though she were that age. She needs exposure to different things that she previously didn’t know were possible and see what resonates. And if right now she doesn’t know what she wants, perhaps she could start by eliminating things based on what she knows she doesn’t want.

    My sister is an ESTJ (my opposite.) The thought of her taking the time to comment on a blog is kind of hilarious. When she has some downtime, I’m going to ask she ever does. She gets shit done. Pure and simple. She takes on difficult projects for the challenge and not for what they might lead to.

    I would just suggest that Kate research ESTJs and see if any recommendations sound appealing and then go from there.

    Best of luck!! And keep the dog. And, for what it’s worth Kate, I think your original look suits you better. That last photo looks eerily like Melissa.

  2. malaika
    malaika says:

    I read Harriet’s comment and sometimes I think it’s so great to have commentary on our lives from outsiders who can see things more clearly. but the best is just having time and space to come to those realisations yourself, and to be able to insist on the time and space you need to do that. I guess Kate isn’t used to creating boundaries for herself, which she’ll figure out eventually. but it seems to me she’s doing just fine – where I live in Germany, every 19 year old lives with their parents and walks the dog. really, it’s all about context…

    some suggestions for making friends:
    okcupid – you can actually specify that you are there just to make friends
    meetup.com – people are really nice
    facebook groups focused around a particular interest or even from a certain town
    trivia night at the local irish pub
    fleamarkets – the BEST place to find the alternative women
    joining a choir, even if you “can’t” sing – so great for confidence too, and all E-types love public exposure :)

  3. PenelopeMelissaKate
    PenelopeMelissaKate says:

    am i the only one that thought penelope was in that picture on the couch and then when kate got her her straightened that she looked like melissa?

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      That’s funny. I see it now that you say it.

      And it’s interesting that Melissa got Kate to look like Melissa. Because I have noticed that I project a lot of my own stuff onto Kate – what would have been good for me when I was her age. And maybe Melissa does the same. Maybe all women would do that in this case…

      Penelope

  4. Ariane
    Ariane says:

    Teddy Roosevelt said he was so active because he was trying to outrun depression. His niece Eleanor said the same thing.

    Maybe Kate’s path to healing is in action – a job, or volunteering, or school. I also agree with your son that right now she needs friends more than dating. If she’s an extrovert she’ll thrive on the feedback from a good circle of friends.

  5. jestjack
    jestjack says:

    Couple of things….Bravo for doing a good thing taking Kate in. Second your husband is a “saint”….please listen to him more. Farmers for whatever reason are very good at sizing things up …. whether it be livestock, crop plantings or kids. IMHO the better way to go with the dog was to visit an animal shelter and “save a dog” instead of coughing up the $600. You save the $ and Kate get’s to “pay it forward” by saving “someone”… a project….just as Kate is your project. Next move?….Kate needs a job…ASAP… no matter what kind of job. This will give her confidence, help her figure out her strengths and weaknesses. And more importantly…who she wants to be…Good Luck…

  6. Ayanna
    Ayanna says:

    One of the things I truly love about this blog is your willingness to share your own trials and tribulations of learning. Nobody knows it all, there are just some people who try to pretend that they do. You don’t. Sure you know a great deal about your field and such, but in the end, you remind us that no matter how much we know, or think we know, there is always something new to learn.

  7. Karo
    Karo says:

    Only Kate knows what’s holding her back. I am not sure she has shared everything with you yet. This puzzle is missing a piece or two. I hope she can overcome all of it.

  8. Cat
    Cat says:

    Two things:

    1) I disagree that straight hair is needed to look well kept. The qualities of hair that enhance attractiveness (thickness, shiny, volume, no split ends) eventually disappear when curly hair is cared for like or forced to look like straight hair.

    Essentially, if you want to look better put together while having curly hair try these steps:

    A- Figure out your curl type http://www.naturallycurly.com/hair-types and then google or find youtube videos.
    B- Throw away any shampoos and conditioners with sulphates in them.
    C- Condition, condition, condition, condition. And once a week do a deep condition.
    D- Stop using brushes. Only use wide tooth combs in the shower to detangle while conditioning.
    E- Find a nice gel or curling creme and scrunch into wet or damp hair.
    F- Use cotton T-shirts instead of towels to dry your hair (towels have long fibers that pull at and break individual hair strands).
    G- Air dry after scrunching with gel or curling creme.
    H- Break the “cast” of the gel with your hands, turn your head upside down, shake it out from the roots and VOILA glossy well kept waves and ringlets.

    Bonus video on curly hair routines:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EIf5MRTwi48

    I know from personal experience this works. I grew up with frizzy, thin damaged looking hair that made me look less attractive. Straightening and blow drying was an expensive chore that didn’t always result in healthy looking hair. Throwing out my straightener and changing my routine was the best thing ever. I get compliments everyday, even from bosses and coworkers, and if anything it’s made me stand out in a positive way.

    2) For the commenters thinking a picture with a dog must be indicative of an F type…that’s simply not correct! F types are quite capable of logical thought and T types are quite capable of feeling warmth and emotions.

    3) I grew up with ESTJs and ESTPs, and it is true. They can seem like aliens to people with intuitive temperaments! (NF and NT) The reverse is also true. But I think a lot can be learned from one another, and the differences end up enriching rather hindering us. Whenever I end up in an argument with my ESTJs siblings, we always walk away with a new appreciation for one another.

  9. Beth L
    Beth L says:

    We are helping a 21-year-old young man in a similar situation. He is a hard worker – but won’t get ID so he can actually work. So anything I give him (piano lessons, occasional clothes, etc) comes out of the money I pay him for working for me (I have my own business so he can work occasionally). He is content enough living on the street, so we don’t let him stay here because he needs to get uncomfortable enough to change. It is HARD knowing what “love” really looks like sometimes.

    I agree with all the posters that say give her work to do. Farm work never hurt anybody, and she’ll feel so much better about herself and more competent (from a farmer’s daughter!)

  10. DB
    DB says:

    kate: wear your hair how u want- my Granddaughter gave me one of her old hair straighteners ($15.@CVS)-
    For when I Want to wear my curly hair like your layered cut. Hair is important to me too! Lol-
    Having been a poor, sort of starving musician most of my life- I learned to shop at second hand stores too- lots of designer stuff if u learn where to shop!
    Also- as a musician- I started a house cleaning service and rich folks always gave me great clothes!
    And although a lot of folks will say get a job ( which you’ll need for a car etc)- I wish someone would have a ” unwork- or Unjob” blog- something I’ve NEVER wanted to do-
    Ps,You will be fine- just don’t get caught up in elitist BS ( look it up)…

    • Dee
      Dee says:

      Ps The Professional Hobo is cool for anyone interested in not working at the same crappy job ( I think PT turned me onto her)…

  11. Di
    Di says:

    You know who I think is a cool lady (besides you, Penelope)? Jeanenne.

    You’ve said yourself, that you’re difficult to work for, and still she’s stuck by you for several years. And here she is, helping Kate find insurance. Yep, she’s a very special lady.

  12. Peter Degen-Portnoy
    Peter Degen-Portnoy says:

    Hi P;

    It’s a real pleasure to read about your welcoming Kate into your home and helping her find her footing. Yes, I agree with you that it will take time and I am so very pleased that you are giving Kate that time.

    Any thoughts about starting a fund for Kate so your readers can contribute and help? I’ll donate. It could be used for anything that will help Kate in her recovery and/or help her find stability.

    Warmly,

    Peter

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      That’s a nice offer, Peter. Right now, though, Kate doesn’t need money, she needs a plan.

      Penelope

  13. Jennifa
    Jennifa says:

    Didn’t Melissa live with P. forever and kind of do nothing? and she was older than 19. Seems like a 19-year old could get away with it for awhile.

    I prefer the earlier photos of Kate, agree the last one looks like Melissa. Kate looks more authentic in pics pre-makeover.

    I just started working with an ESTJ woman a few months ago, she is pretty amazing. As I learn more about them I want to have one as my best friend, to help me! :) and someone I can emulate. I kinda think as an ESTJ getting a job should not be a priority, because really for an ESTJ work is going to come quite naturally and most employers will love her. Why push it now? Maybe taking the time now to develop some other skills, like relationship building, would be a good way to spend time….things that are not a project, but a little messier and greyer and are never done.

    Good luck Kate!

    • MBL
      MBL says:

      “develop some other skills, like relationship building, would be a good way to spend time….things that are not a project, but a little messier and greyer and are never done.”

      And now is the time to read, read, read. Classics, self-help, best sellers, whatever. PT, this is your area. She should probably start with all of the children’s classics that she missed out on. I am reading some for the first time with my daughter’s book club. How did I not know to read
      A Wrinkle in Time, or the Half-Magic series, or The Phantom Tollbooth. My mother has some serious explaining to do. Bibliotherapy for the win!!

      • Penelope Trunk
        Penelope Trunk says:

        Newsflash: ESTJs don’t read. I didn’t know this until I started studying personality types, but pretty much half of the sixteen types don’t read. It’s just that readers tend to hang around with readers, and non-readers feel embarrassed to say they don’t read. But whatever. Half the people in the world don’t read.

        That said, it seems that increasingly the Internet is video-based rather than text-based. What I mean by that is kids use YouTube instead of Google.

        So maybe one day soon the tables will turn and the readers will have to fib and say they love watching videos.

        Penelope

        • Maria
          Maria says:

          Is it fair to assume that a person doesn’t read due to their personality trait? I don’t know what my dad was, he just never finished the 6th grade in Italian, then learned French, English and Spanish but was basically functionally illiterate his entire life….or so he believed.

          One day I was standing next to him and had a vision of a street sign. I asked him how could he tell if a street sign said “Commercial Blvd” and not “Las Olas Blvd” ? How could he drive around town and not get lost?

          He said, “I look at it!” I pointed out he could read, he just didn’t know he could. He taught himself to read from the street signs. He became depressed and said I didn’t understand and walked away.

          Then the next day for the first time he put on his READING GLASSES and attempted to read an English letter. You know what? His comprehension and confidence was 70%!

          I explained some nuances of the word “may” vs “must” and was impressed. As for my dad, this meant more independence.

          The point is, Kate’s vision should be checked and her reading comprehension should be tested. Start with the Sunday funnies as that’s how I learned to read French on my own with my mother’s newspapers. But first, get her vision checked.

          I did take the personality test on Penelope’s Quistic and the results were INTJ .

          Regardless of test results – we are what we choose to be. I taught my child this and I live by it. To be my authentic self. I am happier for it, even if it means not fitting in. I wear what feels comfortable, colors I like (except when past laundry day, then I wear whatever is left in my closet, lol) .

          I don’t agree to dress just to “cover up” our insecurities. I agree, people do react differently to how we present ourselves, but like eating disorders to be skinny in order to “fit in”, it’s unhealthy to externalize our happiness.

          Today I met the small town Mayor and admin people. They were not happy with me. I gave them my professional background and then how I’m trying to solve the rv parking issue. But before I started, I asked if they wanted to hear a joke I just made up. Some chuckled.

          They probably thought I was a goofball, I even jokingly introduced myself as the trouble maker.

          And you know what?

          I got an extension, they are working with me and gave me recommendations as to where I could move to.

          I was my frumpy, authentic and positive self.

          No shame in that.

  14. Karen
    Karen says:

    Hi Penelope,

    We just talked the other day, which I enjoyed immensely. I wish I could afford to do it every week!

    What I feel like I’m hearing here is Kate has never, until now, had anyone invest in her. So why, why, would she know how to invest in anyone, or anything? Dog, career, college, haircut? She hasn’t got the skills, hasn’t had them modeled for her, and to be the sort of success it sounds like she’d like to be, she needs to learn to invest and, sometimes (often), to stick it out until things get good. But so far she hasn’t had a lot of good, in fact if she’s hung around very long things have gotten worse.

    Also, 19=prefrontal cortex not all the way done yet. Everyone is different of course, but in general the executive functions of a 19 year old require a lot more effort than they will when she’s in her 20’s.

    I agree with the comment from, I think it was Marilyn, above school or job, give her a choice. It doesn’t have to be enrolling in college, maybe a Continuing Ed course on speaking, or dog care, or even just taking the dog to obedience school, which would be a benefit to everyone in a variety of ways. Earning money and helping support herself would go a long way toward making her feel good about herself though, I think.

    Just like you said I would prefer to buy my own ticket to Japan to see my son. Same thing, kinda.

    Whatever happens, keep us posted!

  15. Dee
    Dee says:

    Yea- I have mentored women in AA- a different scenario but one has to be careful not to become too much of enabler – anyone agree? I’ve done that with horrible results. JS

  16. MBL
    MBL says:

    I’m stuck on the to dog thing. Keep the dog. I think it was unrealistic (a mistake, if you will) to make the terms that Kate must be farm bound until the dog is crate trained or whatever. (And I think a rescue dog would have been the way to go.) But why can’t it just be that it is Kate’s responsibility to see that the dog is taken care of? Can’t she delegate?

    If she gets a job, then she can hire one of the boys to take care of the dog. If y’all are out of town, then she can hire one of the neighbors.

  17. NT
    NT says:

    Get her to sign up for dog training classes, and have her find the nearest dog park, where she cam meet other owners and make some friends. Find out if anyone needs dog-walking services.

    Hess things may be more appropriate for town/city living than for a rural area, but animal care skills will help her become more independent wherever she winds up.

  18. Mark W.
    Mark W. says:

    Failure is an interesting concept. What I consider to be a failure would not be considered a failure to someone else. I think failure is unique to the thought processes of an individual. That is to say, it is very dependent on what failure looks like to an individual for a given circumstance. In this particular instance, your expectations of helping Kate were based on your previous experiences and specifically your experiences of life and career coaching. As you’ve noted, coaching someone who lives with you is much different than periodic evaluation electronically, in person, or a combination of both. Kate presents additional challenges due to her childhood background. What comes to mind is a local organization named The House of Good Shepherd. They employ what is called The Sanctuary® Model – a nationally recognized framework for trauma-informed care. Their web site goes on to say – “It originated in the Philadelphia area in the 1980s with the work of Dr. Sandra Bloom and her colleagues. The House established Sanctuary as the foundation for all of our treatment programs and for the organization and support of our staff.” They discuss this model very briefly on their web site at http://www.hgs-utica.com/about/sanctuary-model/ . Look over their web site and similar type of sites that use this model. You may be able to get some ideas and insight from there that may help you help Kate. Best of luck to you, Kate, and everyone else who is helping Kate.

  19. Noretta Loum
    Noretta Loum says:

    In life, there is no true success without failure. When you don’t fail, it means everything comes so easy and find it difficult to value them because you think life is a bed of roses. And when the real trail come and you fail, you’ll find it difficult to stand up as you’re not used to such a concept. Also, failure make us better. Because it gives us the chance to examine ourselves to find out what went wrong and how we can change or improve it. And we come out better. Also, it is a great thing that you’re doing for Kate. You’re truly helping her move forward as it seems like she was almost losing herself while living with her step dad.

  20. robin
    robin says:

    Nothing like a 19 year old daughter to make you appreciate your own mother. :) Unfortunately mine had passed away by that time.

    Both my girls served in the AmeriCorps NCCC, and even though it was difficult at times, they remember it as one of the best times of their lives. There is a bond between the alumni that is long lasting, and the team members get almost $6,000 for college tuition. Maybe you and Kate might want to investigate. I feel the AmeriCorps is such a blessing to young adults.

    19 is a hard age… not quite an adult, but not quite a child. You are both very brave!

  21. holly
    holly says:

    Thank you for sharing such a personal experience. Who knows what failure is? I often don’t think of experiences as failure but as something that I felt I had to do at the time. It may not have worked out as I hoped but I had to do it. And sometimes it takes a while to see that it was actually a good thing to do. Ironic that a dog plays into this story because I recently wrote about my relationship with a troubled dog and how painful it’s been for me. It probably was a mistake to get her, but then again, it allowed other areas of life to open up.

  22. Mary
    Mary says:

    I agree with people said that this isn’t failing.
    I have been in Kates spot some years ago and i will never forget the people who helped me when i needed it.
    Keep up

  23. Ronnie
    Ronnie says:

    I think that it’s amazing that you are donating your time and resources to help someone who needs it. Taking her into your home is something that few people would do for people other than family. And no, you shouldn’t see it as a failure. Just ask yourself, is she better off now than she was before you took her in?

  24. Brenhna
    Brenhna says:

    I find myself drawn back to this post and the excellent comments again and again. I have family members who are in similar living situations as Kate was in. I wish her the best in overcoming the hurdles that have been thrown at her in her short life. It is very important that she is given the time and space to grow up a little before she jumps into what we might consider a normal 19 year old girls life. She isn’t typical. She hasn’t had the safety or acceptance that is necessary to try and fail over and over which allows you to grow up and have the confidence needed to support yourself. If she doesn’t finally get this opportunity and it sticks-she will likely always behave with a victim mindset and create more victims in her path. You are doing a good thing with the safe home environment, the approval and acceptance of her as she is now. Don’t give up. Now that you have gotten yourself and the kids and the farmer all in-don’t give up on her. Even if the situation ultimately fails for a time-you are weaving in to her life some of the good stuff that may pay off in time. Her situation makes me think of a blog I check in on ocassionally-Flourish in Progress. The women who writes that blog is incredibly broken/successful/loved/and doesn’t love herself. She had so much pain in her youngest years that it will give anyone hope.

  25. Mandie
    Mandie says:

    I’ve just started reading your blog. I’ve been laughing and laughing and reading it to my husband. You make me feel better about my life. Thank you.

  26. Aeryn
    Aeryn says:

    Please take care of the dog.

    Finish training him PROPERLY so that he can be left alone for appropriate amounts of time. Dogs need daily exercise, affection and a good training foundation for a few months. A dog is a lifetime commitment, but having a dog should not stop Kate from pursuing other goals. He just needs to be her first project. Maybe a checklist of things to achieve for the dog and what she hopes to gain from having it. Also a list of what the dog needs and how to give the dog what it needs. (I like lists BTW) Yes Kate needs a job, and she needs friends and probably other things too, but there’s nothing wrong with one step at a time. Please encourage her to take care of the dog first. What I have noticed about people who grow up in difficult circumstances (I have a teaching background) is that they have a skewed perception of what ‘normal’ is. Normal is a confusing mixture of horrifying and ‘an awesome high’ which might explain how people from such backgrounds end up on drugs. There is no ‘safe and mundane’ in their experience so they don’t know about the stability that people from luckier backgrounds take for granted. There’s nothing wrong with creating a schedule around ‘boring’ things like training the puppy, her night to cook dinner, farm chores, and even ‘one new activity’ each week. An important thing about learning ‘boring mundane normalcy’ is finishing what you start eg: decided to adopt puppy, so finish training the puppy.

    And also, please call the police about the puppy farm!

  27. Andrea
    Andrea says:

    You are handing Kate keys to things she’s never had. She’s completely overwhelmed. Someone like that has a lifetime of things being granted then taken away from her abruptly. Although she may trust you, there is a voice inside her saying, “This person is going to dump me in the street and take away these nice things.” That definitely alters your judgement. You’re asking her to sip from a fire hose here, with the very best intentions of course.

  28. Tracey
    Tracey says:

    Melissa says, “Kate needs to look very pulled together because in reality she is not.”

    This is why I dress impeccably. The better I look, the less people question my eccentricity. It’s amazing how difficult it is for people to get past appearances.

  29. Lenore Lambert
    Lenore Lambert says:

    The only possible ‘mistake’ I can see is that you’re protecting Kate from having to deal with the consequences of her choices. It’s awesome that you’ve taken her in and are giving her belonging and ‘stuff’ that she’s never had before. She clearly needs that nurturance.

    However owning a dog doesn’t prevent you from finding a partner or having a job. And natural consequences are a great teacher. Perhaps there are other lessons there besides the one you had on order. Don’t remove that source of learning from her life. She’s never experienced loyalty and unconditional love – there is no better giver of those experiences than a dog.

    Martin Seligman speaks of self esteem as the gauge of your state of commerce with the world. Kate needs to engage with the world to build her self esteem. You guys can help regulate the stress of that, be her oasis, and help her get the lessons from it, but I wonder if she is being ‘protected’ from earning her self esteem at present?

    It would seem to me that getting a job is critical for Kate now – paid or otherwise. Continuing to prop her up with no contribution from her side might have been necessary for a little while but it is not a good preparation for real life, nor a good way for her to grow.

  30. OG
    OG says:

    Seems kind of silly (not to mention immoral) to spend $600 to buy a dog from a puppy mill when there are SOOOOO many dogs needing adoption. Just sayin’. I do love what you’re trying to do for this poor girl.

  31. clement sadjere
    clement sadjere says:

    Absolutely brilliant and inspiring post. Some see failure as an end while others see failure as a taboo. For me, i dont see anything wrong in failing as long as one is resolute in moving forward towards his/her dreams in life. Thanks so mucch for sharing.

  32. Sanely
    Sanely says:

    After a divorce or a seotaraipn how do you get your life together when you have kids?I know it’s never easy to divorce or be separated from someone you’ve spend more than 10 years together. Now when it’s over and you end up being alone with young kids ? How do you rebuild your life? How do you get back to yourself and redefine your new identity I mean the new you without a husband? It’s scary just to think that you’re on your own now. Nobody to fix the broken table or fix the dishwasher etc but the most scary is question from kids ? Please help. I am not divorced yet but my marriage is near end and need advice how to get prepared to build a new life a new me. Been away from my family and country for so long because I have to leave and be with my husband . Now that he dump me and I don’t have a family really to return to . What do? I am desperate this is my third posting on the same subject here . But the more I read other people experience the stronger I get . It help me understand that I am not alone in this situation it help me clear my mind of evil thought. Please help me stay strong for my kids. Who is going to take a woman divorced with kids? I can’t imagine my new life.

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