Listen on iTunes episode #304 or The Trauma Therapist Website
I was interviewed by Guy MacPherson for the Trauma Therapist Podcast and it went live this week. Guy is experienced and asked good questions (I’m episode #304!). He asked about the physical assault in 2005 where I developed PTSD and I also spoke about the isolation and trauma of my teen years.
It is an odd experience to listen to the interview as I reflect on my journey to here. I did a lot of dangerous things in an attempt to escape and cope. My “bottom” wasn’t death and for that I am immensely grateful.
I was a child who wasn’t adequately parented. I had a stable, secure home. Like so many middle class families of the fifties and sixties, the prevailing rule was “Don’t Ask. Don’t Tell.” We were expected to live up to certain standards of behavior, rewarded when we did and shamed when we didn’t. The wisdom of older generations in my family mostly involved survival and avoiding risk.
My parents actually had no idea what to do with me. I was 12 years old when a popular grade 12 boy lied about sex with me. That started 6 years of shaming and bullying at school, drinking and drugs when I could find them, and many thoughts of suicide as a way out. At 14, things got so bad my parents couldn’t ignore it (a call from the police tends to break through denial). I asked for help. They sent me away to boarding school.
From this desperate isolation, shame and confusion, I somehow made it to a functional, happy life. It didn’t happen at once and there were many stumbles and a lot of pain on the way. In my twenties and thirties I had a child, came out as a lesbian and became a feminist activist. By 25 I could no longer drink and I also stopped using drugs. In my mid to late thirties I worked in the AIDS movement. I discovered strength. A voice. Agency.
Then I found meditation! For 5,000 years yoga masters have been exploring and teaching about the mind and our own basic goodness. I had so much trauma stored in my body from my teen years that I was very disconnected. I started to experience softening in my shoulders. Deeper breath. My nervous system began to heal. My heart opened! At 40 I began to know and unconditionally love and accept myself. I soaked it up, worked with the principles and practices in my own life, and began to teach.
That was 25 years ago. There was more trauma to come. My son was misdiagnosed with an untreatable form of lymphoma and I thought he was going to die. A year later I was physically assaulted and thought I was going to die. I used my 12 years of meditation in healing the PTSD from the assault. And in 2012, I learned about Developmental Trauma, how abuse and neglect as children affect our brain and our whole lives. I trained and began facilitating people in the Living Inquiries.
You can get a sense of my life from my website. I love teaching. I am honored to have the presence and skills to support people in healing trauma and coming to love and accept themselves. At 12 and 16 and 25 and 40 I was confused and suffering. I had no real idea of “how it works”. I had internalized the shame and ostracizing as something I had caused by being somehow bad or deficient.
Every single day now I am grateful to be alive. My life is in service. I allow myself the joy of walking at the ocean and playing flute again in an amateur jazz band. I love being with my adult son, grandchildren and dear friends. I am authentic and kind and happy.
If I had used that razor that night at band camp when I was 14… I didn’t. I made it through that and I persisted and I healed.
Please reach out and connect, with me or another trusted person. You can heal. Suffering does not last forever! No matter where you are in your healing journey, you are loved and innately good. You can know this for yourself. I do.
It really does get better!