Camino Story 2. Emma – Saying goodbye on the camino (and in life)

Emma’s (46, Germany) story is about overcoming the stranded relationship with her husband, who had found another love, and how she found self-confidence again.

Why did you walk the camino?

I had a happy life together with my husband and two beautiful children. Everything went like in the movies. I married my childhood sweetheart, we lived in a beautiful house, and both had good jobs. When we got children, a boy, and a girl, it was the culmination of our life. We were happy. At least, now, in retrospect, I know that I was mainly the happy one. My happy life ended abruptly when my husband suddenly announced that he was in love with someone else and wanted a divorce. After that conversation, he left home immediately. When he closed the door behind him, I felt nothing at first. I was stunned, in a frozen state. But soon, I felt all kinds of emotions simultaneously: sadness, anger, fear, and panic. Later came the doubts. Was it my fault? What signals did I miss?

“I felt I was in a bottomless pit of agony.”

A few close friends pulled me through the first few weeks. I felt I was in a bottomless pit of agony. When a few weeks later, someone from my church community told me about his experiences walking the camino, I didn’t hesitate for a second. At that instant, I decided that I would walk the camino. The next day the doubts started to haunt me. I took immediate action so that these doubts could not undermine my decision. My parents lived nearby and could take care of the children for a few weeks. From my savings, I bought a ticket. Three days later, I was on a plane to Spain.

What is the most valuable insight you would like to share?

I regretted my decision after just one day of walking. I was not in good shape, and it was much harder than I had expected. But I had a lot of support from the people I met along the way. I was overwhelmed by the love I felt. For example, a complete stranger gave me walking poles, and my backpack was transported by car a few times in a support vehicle of a fellow pilgrim. I walked with someone else every few days. Every time I said goodbye, I was intensely sad, even if I had only walked with someone for one day. I’m still ashamed of it, but I even got angry once because someone indicated that she wanted to continue walking on her own the next day. After walking together for three days and sharing our deepest secrets, I thought we were best friends forever.

“I then regained what I needed most: self-confidence.”

Now it’s abundantly clear why I felt that way. Strangely enough, because of the anger at the time, I didn’t immediately make the connection to what had happened to me at home. When I wrote down the incident in my diary in the evening, the penny dropped. I realized that I had been clinging anxiously to others from day one. I can imagine that this could have been a bit too much for some of my fellow pilgrims. Then I realized that I had often been highly dependent on my husband. From that moment on, I started to walk alone more often. I also learned to say goodbye to people realizing that I would meet new people along the way. In real life, it is not that different, I suppose. At first, it felt somewhat unpleasant, but soon I started to enjoy it. I then regained what I needed most: self-confidence.’

Continue reading:

Carla (36, The Netherlands): Recovering from burnout while walking the camino

Sofia’s (54, Brazil) camino story: ‘At Cruz de Ferro came the sadness

Nagela Alexa’s Camino Story: ‘The Camino changes your life if you allow it.’

Fabrice (38, France): ‘I realized that walking the camino itself was self-imposed pressure

Andre’s story (58, Belgium): ‘On the camino, I had to face the hard fact of how horribly I treat myself.’

Emma’s story: ‘I learned to say goodbye on the camino (and in life)

Maarten’s story: The power of vulnerability

Agne-Henrik’s story: ‘The camino changed my life

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