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.’
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’