Learning to Let Go of Control

All survivors of child abuse have control issues, whether they are aware of it or not. And I was no exception. I grew up in a home that was out of control. I had no power over what was happening or the abuse inflicted upon me. And because of that, as soon as I was out of that environment, I sought to take control whenever and wherever I could to make up for the lack of power I felt growing up. My inner child was reacting to the adult world in defense, controlling all in order to possibly prevent any further harm from coming to her and I. Consequently, I spent many years being a terribly controlling adult.

But it took me a long time to realize that I was. Child abuse survivors are so disconnected from their bodies and emotions that we don’t know we’re control freaks. And we have no idea why we desperately crave control. We just need it to be that way to feel safe and it feels so risky to even question why.

I was an extreme case. I would actually complete other...

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The Healing Benefits of TRE®

Most of you who follow me have heard me mention or discuss TRE® at one point or another. I often mention it in my YouTube live videos as well as in social media posts. I use it with my clients and I practice it regularly in my daily self-care routine. And I'm very excited to be teaching a group class in my home country, Iceland, next month with Deva Laya Guleng.

So what is TRE®?

Tension & Trauma Release Exercises (or TRE®) is a simple yet innovative series of exercises that assist the body in releasing deep muscular patterns of stress, tension, and trauma. Created by Dr. David Berceli, Ph.D., TRE® safely activates a natural reflex mechanism of shaking or vibrating that releases muscular tension, calming down the nervous system. When this muscular shaking/vibrating mechanism is activated in a safe and controlled environment, the body is encouraged to return back to a state of balance.

There are lots of benefits to TRE®. But the main reason I...

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Which Story Are You Telling?

Child abuse survivors don't have just one story. We have three.
 
The first story is no story, the hidden story, when we are living and breathing out of the toxic shame of our past and spending every moment of our day distracting ourselves and disconnecting from the pain. We don't want to feel it, we don't want to think about it, we don't even want to acknowledge that it happened. But that can't happen for long before the truth catches up to us.

The second is the "Trauma Story," the one that takes the most courage to tell. It's the one about what happened to us. It's a story of trauma, abuse, and victimization. We all have to start there. It's important to realize this is actually a story about the abuser, the person who hurt you and betrayed your innocence, heart, and trust. It's the story of what happened to you, not who you are.

You can't move forward with your healing until you acknowledge the impact of this traumatic experience and allow yourself to feel the...

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How You Care For Yourself is How You Feel About Yourself

I struggled with self-care for a long time. It wasn’t an easy task for me. Back then, I was solely focused on numbing myself. I was in too much pain and too ashamed of what had happened to me. It hurt too much to think about it. In the process, I had completely disconnected from myself, my body, and my needs. 

What helped was when I learned about the long-term impact of trauma, what the long term impact of toxic stress on my body. I could easily see how the abuse I suffered made me not want to talk about the past, feel my feelings, or want to take care of my body. But what was invisible to me was how the toxic stress from my childhood was still fueling the high level of cortisol in my body. The high levels of stress hormones in the body can create and contribute to long-term problems with our heart and our blood vessels. This information became a complete game changer for me. 

I had to start to practice good self-care to help my body counter the years of living with...

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How to Reach Your Healing Goals

Summer is almost here and we are already on month 6 of the year, I can’t believe it. Now is the perfect time to review your healing progress, to check in with yourself and the tools you’ve been using and what’s working for you and what isn’t.

But first, I want to celebrate you for your commitment to your healing. I know it can feel like two steps forward, one step back sometimes. Remember to not focus on what you didn't accomplish. Because that's not important. The only thing that matters is what you did accomplish. I know you had several victories so far (even the smallest changes can be HUGE victories in the healing journey) and I hope you celebrated them. If you haven’t, do that now. You deserve it!

What healing goal did you set for 2019? It’s easy for abuse survivors to forget change is a growth process and that part of healing is to learn to trust the process. The journey is the healing, not just the destination.

Survivors often ask me if...

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How Adopting a Dog Made Me Face My Inner Child

On April 8th, 2019, I was babysitting the toddler of a family in Portland. The mother messaged me in the days before letting me know that a dog would be there. When I got there, a small Pitbull mix came to greet me at the door, very timid and shy. The mother introduced her as Roxy but quickly made it very clear that she would not be staying with the family for long. She explained that they had rescued Roxy from another family who had not adequately explained that she had separation anxiety and that between raising their first young child, full-time work, and still getting the house in order since they had just moved to town, they did not have the time or energy to properly train her to not be so anxious and simply had to heavily medicate her when they left her alone.

This instantly broke my heart and it broke even more to watch this poor dog fall apart once the mother left for her appointment. The dog was so panicked and so unsure, it took her minutes to even walk over to allow me...

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Becoming the Parent Your Inner Child Needed

A couple of weeks ago, I posted a quote on Facebook that really struck a chord with my followers. The image went on to be shared 102 times, with 12,825 people reached. The quote was, She held herself until the sobs of the child inside subsided entirely. I love you, she told herself. It will all be okay. (H. Raven Rose)

I believe that this quote resonated with so many people because the words finally put a scenario that they had dealt with so often into simple words. It’s a strange situation to explain but one that I guarantee most, if not all, people have experienced often. After a particularly hard day or after a triggering event, you might feel overwhelmed, upset, angry, and sad but confused because they don’t feel like your feelings. The feelings are in your body and something is pushing you to feel them but it doesn’t feel like it originated from you, or at least from your adult self. So where are these feelings coming from then?

They are coming...

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Reconnecting With the Power of Your Breath

Self-awareness is an ongoing part of the trauma healing journey. It can feel a bit overwhelming in the beginning, as you are literally choosing to counter your biology in choosing discomfort, learning how to navigate stepping outside your comfort zone and taking a hard look at your helpful but toxic coping strategies. Are you aware of your coping strategies? We can also call them habits.

Part of what I do to support my clients is to provide a bit of trauma education. I know it provided me with comfort to know that there was nothing wrong with me in how I had responded to and lived through my trauma. In fact, I was in many ways a textbook example of a child that grew up in a household with domestic violence and was being abused emotionally, physically, and sexually. The outcome, like so many others, was my living with toxic stress (Learn more about ACE study here) as a child and growing into adulthood with the toxic stress keeping my systems on high alert, all the time.

As I began to...

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Giving Yourself the Gift of Compassion

On Periscope Live this past Friday, I wore my heart shaped glasses. We had been digging deep that week, asking some hard questions about healing, so it was time to lighten the mood and laugh a little. 
 
Not only do these silly heart shaped glasses help us to laugh, they also remind all of us to lead from our hearts. To lead with warmth and kindness and love and to choose to see the best in ourselves and in other people. This is called self-compassion.
 
These are stressful times in our world and for many survivors the holidays are hard and can be very painful. Either you are being reminded of the past by your family's presence (more than usual) around the holidays or you are triggered by the fact that you have cut off your family as a part of your healing and feel alone. For many survivors, the holidays rarely feel safe or enjoyable.  
 
So I wanted to send out this reminder, that no matter where you are on your journey and despite whatever hard...
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My Hope for Healing Weekend Retreat

Over the years, as I struggled to find the perfect solution to healing, the winning combination that would lead to my breakthrough and initiate the deep healing I so desperately wanted, I always felt like I was missing something. I tried many things for my healing but still I was struggling.

I’ve talked about one of the key ingredients to my healing before and it’s the same answer I give to my clients when they ask me what the turning point was on my own healing journey. And I am here again today to talk about it once more, not just because it is so important and I want to share the secret to success with all survivors, but also because I have exciting news.

I am hosting a weekend retreat next year in April, to bring together survivors in a safe place to explore their healing, learn from myself and others, celebrate their story and their strength, and create a community that will support one another for years to come. Why?

The turning point in my healing was when I found...

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