I don’t really talk about this, but…

My Story of Disconnection

Happy 4th of July weekend. I talk little about this, but I went through hell a handful of years ago. Now I’m working on a TED Talk and keynote with one of my sons, which requires me to go through old letters and journal entries to remember the details of our shared trauma. I’ll share more of the story in due time. For today he and I suffered through a painful season of complete, utter disconnection. I was dead to my son. Today, I’ll share my advice on how to overcome disconnection with your children.

How does this relate to Independence Day? 

Stay with me…

My story of disconnection with my son

During that horrible season of disconnection, if I had relied on my external circumstances to find freedom or peace, I would have been toast. In my outer world, I was relentlessly taking steps to correct the wrongs that were fracturing my life. In my inner world, I had some big hurdles, and as I cleared each one, I found more peace.

My Tickets to Freedom from Disconnection: How to overcome disconnection with your children?

My hurdles, which ended up being tickets to freedom, were:

  • Learning to tolerate others believing things about me that had no basis in reality. I had to grind in the concept that “What other people think of me is not the source of my well-being.” The source of my well-being comes from something much deeper inside of me than other people’s opinions.
  • Finding the strength to parent for the sake of sound parenting, not for the sake of keeping a surly teenager happy with me. Hard but important.
  • Learning not to ride the wave of a teenager’s moods. It used to be that if my teen was salty in the morning; I had a bad morning. This is not tenable. Raise your hand if you want to have an adolescent’s mood be the source of your well-being. Ooof.

What Does Freedom Mean to Me?

Learning to accept my life as the imperfect mess that it was inched me towards freedom. This does not mean I liked it! It means I moved toward the emotion rather than away from it. I deliberately felt it all: I raged, I sobbed, and I felt my fear and regret.

This process repeated (seemingly) ad infinitum with a loving witness, created a solidness inside of me that life could be messy on the outside and I could still be OK-ish on the inside. I’m not gonna lie: it never got easy, but there was freedom in embracing my life as it was instead of what I wished it was or thought it should be.

So, what does that have to do with the 4th of July? It’s about the ability to find internal calm independent of external buzz.

My RV life this past year has taken me to historic sites of the Revolutionary War where I learned so much about the courage and strength it took to free our little baby country from oppression. This year, I celebrate our courageous founding fathers and their vision for this country. 

Let Freedom Ring

how to overcome disconnection with your children

That vision, no matter how imperfect, was predicated on the notion of liberty and justice for all. If you have not read their declaration to the king recently, then I urge you to reflect upon the affronts they suffered, the tenacity of their resolve, and the relentless passion of their response.

Take note that many people in our country don’t feel free. They don’t feel equal, and they don’t feel hopeful. They certainly don’t feel united. All they feel is disconnection. There is pain, dissent, and heaviness. I ache for the pain.

I go back to the lessons learned during my personal hell: 

  1. Relentlessly work towards justice in the external part of our lives. 
  2. Remember that even when life feels like a hot mess, it is possible to have a degree of peace on the inside. 

To me, that is freedom. 

With that as my definition, I can say, “Let freedom ring.”


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Kerry Stutzman MSW, LMFT

My passion is helping my clients develop close, connected families and healthy relationships. For the past 20 years I have been helping people discover the best version of themselves.  Learn more

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