The Redefining Love Journey
One woman's quest to change the world
What started out as a desperate search for healing and meaning became Redefining Love, a courageous journey inward, followed by an infinite journey outward. By healing from our trauma, we heal our culture, one individual at a time.
MEET THE FOUNDER
Sara Beth Wald
After working several years as a social worker, I chased my dream of being a writer and headed back to school to earn a master’s degree in journalism. In the last 20 years, I have worked as a writer, editor, and journalist in the academic, corporate, and print media sectors, and I published a popular weekly syndicated column for eight and a half years.
I never lost my heart for service, and continued to work with my passion causes professionally or as a volunteer. As a trauma survivor, I am passionate about empowering women to overcome domestic violence, abuse, divorce, and other hardships. I believe in the healing power of truth telling.
Through my own journey of healing, I created Redefining Love, a mindset framework based on The Three Pillars of Boundaries, Accountability, and Grace. Through Boundaries Coaching, I teach people how to set boundaries and hold themselves and others accountable with love and grace.
My name is Sara Beth Wald. I grew up in a family that was publicly perfect, and privately shattered. My family were big fish in a very small sea (more of a pond, really) in rural Montana.
I hopped the first bus out of town after high school. That bus happened to be in the form of an equally shattered person. We were both just 18. We spent 12 and a half years together, eight and a half of those married, none of them happy.
We were miserable, but boy did we look good. My husband and I earned lots of scholarships and degrees. We smiled in photos. We dressed well. I had excellent highlights.
All that posturing was exhausting. At the end of every day, I had nothing left to just be me. I understand now that all I really wanted was to be accepted (i.e. loved) by my family of origin. My marriage, such that it was, had nothing to do with the person I married. Neither of us had the slightest notion of what love really is.
Being “perfect” was the only thing I’d ever known. It was my heritage, a family tradition. I didn’t realize I wasn’t being myself until the façade finally crumbled when I was 31. Seemingly overnight I was a highly educated, unemployed single mom with a toddler son and almost nothing else. No flashy husband. No new house. No impressive job. No sense of self.
And that is when life started to get good. That is when I slowly began to redefine love. It took me nine years. Nine long, hard years of therapy, research, prayer, study, wash, rinse, repeat.
It took courage I didn’t know I had to use a voice I’d never even heard before. (Neither had anybody else, and a lot of people didn’t much like the sound of it, and still don’t!)
Not coincidentally, it was during these years that I fell in love – first with my son, then with my amazing friends, then with a man, then – finally! – with myself. It would have been far easier if I’d learned to love myself first, but I hadn’t yet Redefined Love.
My circle of love has now grown to another son, and the most incredible self-made family a person could ask for. My circle grows bigger every day. I am blessed beyond measure.
I continue to be a work in progress. I have so much more love to give. When I started on this journey, I wasn’t an expert. I was just someone who got tired of living a lie – the lie that love is always happy and warm and tender.
There are always going to be people who are harder to love than others. For me, it is those who have hurt me, who continue to attempt to hurt me, those who refuse any accountability.
But I forge ahead, loving myself and others through it. Love may not be the only emotion that I feel when I encounter these people. I have a finely tuned death stare that still rears its ugly head.
We all have complicated relationships and I am certainly no exception. It is these very relationships that have brought me to this place, and for that I am grateful. I am as imperfect as anyone else. I have been known to hurt others during my journey towards healing. If you’re not willing to admit your own fallibility, your own mistakes, then you cannot Redefine Love.
My journey began when I wanted to give my son something different than the life I’d known. Then I realized I wanted something different for myself. And thus began the quest of a lifetime – the journey to the center of myself.
I sought therapy. I read books and articles. I reached out to others who’d had similar experiences. And I spent a lot of time online, searching. What was I searching for? From every resource I was seeking the same things – validation, encouragement, permission.
Permission for what? I didn’t know at the time, of course. In hindsight, I know that I wanted permission to Redefine Love. I wanted permission to say “Enough!” to those who hurt me, but to still love them at the same time.
There is lots of information out there about love and forgiveness. And there is lots of information about setting boundaries. But too often the resources for dysfunctional families or broken relationships address one or the other – fight (stand up for yourself!) or flight (forgive and forget or leave those jerks behind).
I wanted a place to go that gave me permission to take care of myself without fear, without fight, flight, or freeze.
I was tired of fighting and falling back, fighting and falling back. My entire life had been spent endlessly battling and retreating, with no rest. I was physically and emotionally exhausted.
I hope Redefining Love gives you what I couldn’t find – a safe place to rest. You don’t have to fight or fall back. You can stand your ground without anger. You can set firm boundaries and tell hard truths with love. It’s ok to have it both ways. In fact, it’s essential that you do.
We live in a culture where everything is politicized, even love. But it doesn’t have to be that way. My life experience has provided me the unique opportunity to live and love people from all walks of American life. I’ve split my adulthood between two states, one red, one blue, and there are things I love about each of them.
Regardless of your politics, your religion, your income or background, rural or urban, we all have an equal capacity for good and evil, and an infinite ability to love.
I imagine a time when enough of us have mastered Redefining Love that we can be at peace with everyone, regardless of our differences. I image a time when we are fully at peace with ourselves. Our culture isn’t there yet, but each time someone heals from trauma, we are one step closer to healing our culture.
What I am
I am a Boundaries & Trauma Coach and the creator of the Redefining Love framework, which teaches how to set boundaries and hold ourselves and others accountable with love and grace. I have a bachelor’s degree in social work, and a master’s degree in journalism. I’ve worked in many different sectors of the economy, but I haven’t been a waitress (too uncoordinated) and I haven’t worked in the medical field (too squeamish).
I am married to a wildland firefighter. Yes, he’s as sexy as you might imagine. No, I am not the least bit biased. Together this amazing man and I are raising two beautiful sons.
I am an overthinker. I am an overachiever. I am a people pleaser. I haven’t figured everything out. I haven’t mastered my own theory. I make mistakes every day. But every day I’m growing, learning, and helping as many people as I can to heal.
I am a person on this journey with you. I am someone who has felt the sting of rejection on a massive scale, more than once. Almost 15 years ago I made a decision to figure out where everything went wrong. Since then, through a great deal of research, therapy, and soul searching I have learned a thing or two that I now have the opportunity to teach others.
These pages are designed to give you a foundation in the Redefining Love Framework. I hope that my ideas inspire you, and I hope you will reach out for help if you need it!
There is no shame in seeking help. If you feel alone, if you feel unloved, if you feel unworthy, reach out. There is love out there for you! Keep seeking it until you find it. Don’t give up!
Opportunities to learn more:
If you feel at any point like you want to harm yourself or someone else, seek professional help immediately or dial 911. You are worth too much to the world to choose otherwise.
The author of Redefining Love is not a licensed mental healthcare professional. The information included on this site is for the specific purposes of learning to set boundaries and hold yourself and others accountable with love and grace. For mental health diagnosis questions or clinical mental health treatment or concerns, please reach out to a licensed mental healthcare professional.