Super excited to celebrate the 100thepisode of The Healing Place Podcast with Diane Petrella, a licensed therapist who works with sexual abuse survivors who struggle with emotional eating, weight, and body image concerns. Thank you, Diane, for joining me to discuss:
her role as a licensed therapist helping clients with sexual abuse history
food addiction as a result of childhood trauma
adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and hypervigilance
“Diane Petrella, MSW is a licensed psychotherapist and life coach specializing in mind-body-spirit approaches to self-growth, healing, and weight loss. Early in her career she co-founded the first child sexual abuse treatment program in Rhode Island and for many years routinely testified in court as an expert witness in the area of child and adult sexual assault and post-traumatic stress. She has 30 years experience working with sexual abuse survivors to help them overcome trauma and reclaim a loving and respectful connection with their bodies.”
As many of you know, I host the internationally downloaded Healing Place Podcast. I do my own editing using a fairly easy software, Wondershare Filmora, and can usually work through any hiccups found in the recordings. However, I ran into a snag last week when my own audio feed was scrambled. I had no idea during the recording process and only discovered the problem when I started editing. Needless to say, I discovered I am not a sound engineer.
That left me scrambling for a solution for the upcoming Friday podcast release. I could bump up the remaining recorded interviews, but one of them was a celebration of podcast episode number 100! That nixed that idea. I happened to be running around with my eighty-four year old mother the day after discovering my recording dilemma when the idea hit me to record an impromptu Facebook Live interview with her.
A little history might help.
I have described my mom as that cute little Gizmo character from the movie, Gremlins. She is sweet and cute and an angel on earth.
But add vodka . . . and just like those Mogwai in the movie, Gremlins, if they eat after midnight, all hell breaks loose. My mom would transform into a cruel, at-times violent and suicidal addict. I experienced flashbacks during EMDR Therapy of waking as a child to find my blank-eyed mother standing over me with a butcher knife in her hand. She denies such acts to this day.
I was the “good girl” in our family. Living a life of co-dependency, searching for my mother’s love and approval most often when she was drinking, and always there to clean up the mess alongside my younger sister. That is until July, 2019. I answered my sister’s phone call as I stood atop a mountain resort in Estes Park, Colorado. Hundreds of miles from home. In that moment, as I was informed of another hospitalization of my mom, brought on by a drinking binge carried out with the intent to die, that I reached my tipping point.
Hit a wall.
Broke the poor camel’s back with that last straw.
Said to the universe with zero hesitation . . .
I walked away from my elderly mother in that moment. And did not speak to her for the next three months. And it hurt my soul to do so. I cried. I shook off Catholic guilt. Yet I stayed firm. And as each day passed, I became more determined in my resolve to give her the space she needed to save herself. It was time for her to clean up her own mess and face those long-avoided demons of her own childhood.
She called me in October. I answered. And I’m not sure why I took the call that time. Something compelled me to do so. She was sober. Happy. And looking for resolution in our relationship. I was more than willing to honor her needs and give her a chance, yet again.
This past Christmas she asked if she could skip our traditional family gathering. I asked her if she was afraid she’d be triggered to crave alcohol and she admitted, yes. I, again, honored her needs and we changed our family plans. Instead we surprised her with a quick ten minute visit to her place which left her smiling and grateful.
Now here we are . . . six months in. She continues to celebrate her sobriety. As do I.
When grandma, or in our case GJ, celebrates sobriety, we share it with the world!
“Andrea Winkler, MSW, LCSW, LCAS has emerged as an engaging and informative practice-based trainer. She maintains a full-time caseload at the Duke Psychiatric Outpatient Clinic where she provides mental health assessment and psychotherapy. Her passion for trauma and gender related issues began early in her academic experience at James Madison University, and continued throughout her MSW program at UNC Chapel Hill. Completion of UNC’s Certificate in Substance Abuse Studies provided additional specialization in a population for whom trauma is a primary co-occurring feature. Andrea has developed training and consultation services that support the practical application of gender responsive substance use disorder treatment and trauma-informed care into medical, educational, intellectual/developmental disabilities, mental health, and substance use treatment fields.”
“Heather Ferri is the author of Victim to Victory: Healing Generational Abuse from My Bloodline. She works globally as a resilience and motivational speaker, and master healer. She spent a decade as a professional Broadway performer and created a Guinness Book of World Records for 16 continuous turns in tap shoes. Heather’s history of childhood abuse caught up with her as she began to have chronic pain, auto-immune symptoms, panic attacks, and eventually severe PTSD. Heather experienced a spiritual awakening that led her to two eastern sciences that not only saved her life but shifted her profession and mission. Now she is a guide for those suffering with pain and is masterful at customizing programs that heal.”
“Missy Garcia is a wife, mother of two as well as a powerful sex and leadership coach for women who are desperate to escape from their dull and disconnected lives. She is warm, authentic, funny and deeply vulnerable, offering sage advice about sexuality and leadership from a raw place that has developed through her own journey of self-transformation. Missy is passionate about empowering women with tools to come back into the true beauty of who they are, guide them to open their heart to completely loving all of themselves, and totally embracing their badass queen within. She coaches women to access their inner power, be healed from within and bring back the juiciness into their life, careers and relationships.”
Learn more about Missy and her mission at: W: missyagarcia.com E: firstname.lastname@example.org FACEBOOK: @themissyagarcia INSTAGRAM: @themissyagarcia LINKEDIN: linkedin.com/in/missy-a-garcia/ TWITTER: @MissyAGarcia YOUTUBE: Missy A Garcia
Book three in this blog series – Getting Past Your Past: Take Control of Your Life with Self-Help Techniques from EMDR Therapy by Francine Shapiro, PhD.
This book was recommended to me by my therapist in the midst of our four year, ninety-eight session, EMDR healing journey. For those unaware what EMDR is and how it helps, I will give you my trauma-warrior perspective, a view from the inside. EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. During most sessions, I would watch a light bar flash from left to right and back again or hold vibrating paddles in my hands, alternating left, right, left, right. This would result in my eyes naturally falling into a rhythmic back and forth as I was encouraged to revisit traumatic events from my youth.
What would arise during these sessions ranged from body memories, such as a feeling that someone was squeezing my left shoulder in a fierce grip, to flashbacks of images, such as seeing my mother’s face from beneath water as she held me down, to sensations of a spirit presence in the therapist’s office (I believe it was my deceased father trying to help me). Naturally, I would at times experience panic attack symptoms, and would almost always cry. Sometimes slow tears cascading down my cheeks. Other times full-on ugly crying, requiring a pause in the action.
While at times I found this to be terrifying, my therapist was always there to remind me to keep myself grounded, be gentle with myself, just notice the body memories or panic symptoms without judgment, and to guide me to tuck the session into a storage box, until next time, so I was able to walk out of her office, most days, emotionally exhausted but able to continue with my day. EMDR was life-altering. I would not be in the place of tranquility I am today without it.
This book, penned by the developer of EMDR, kept me holding on to hope as I weaved my way in and out of horrific childhood and young adult memories. It was my reminder that the symptoms of my Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (C-PTSD) diagnosis need not be permanent. I could learn to process the memories in a healthy way, release stored negative energy, rewire neuron pathways, and create healthy coping strategies and new habitual patterns. Whew! Sounds exhausting, right? It was. But, wow, was it worth it.
PTSD makes life unmanageable. It pushes people into trying to do something to survive the chaos within them.
Using real-life stories throughout this book to guide us readers through the lessons to be learned about trauma and its effect on us in brain/mind/body/spirit levels, helped me feel not-so-alone in my journey. Dr. Shapiro also took me by the hand, along with my therapist, and guided me toward a better understanding of the physiological processes that had occurred during the traumas, and helped me understand what being triggered was doing to me in the present day.
Dr. Shapiro takes us into exercises we can utilize as we move along our healing journey. Trying to survive the chaos within me was a heavy load to carry each day. Not knowing when I would be triggered. How severe the panic attack would be. Wondering if I would actually die from it this time (a racing thought that haunted me mid-panic). However, these self-help techniques outlined in the book encouraged me to believe in the possibility. The possibility of relief. The possibility of hope. The possibility of true healing.
Basically, life is not just about getting rid of suffering. It’s about expanding our potential while embracing feelings of joy and well-being.
This incredible book introduced me to life changing concepts such as mindfulness (which I practice on a daily basis now, particularly on my nature hikes), post-traumatic growth (which I can proudly claim has occurred in my life), and Hope for Healing (my own coined term for what I experienced in my life as a result of EMDR – and also the name of my monthly newsletter).
I hope you find comfort in this collection of stories and pertinent information on trauma-recovery. You are so very worthy of the possibilities EMDR can offer.
I climbed the step stool to peer at the book titles atop the shelves in my closet, hoping to find this week’s must-share for the book review series. I prefer to hold a collection of words in my hand (the smell of a bookstore makes me giddy). But, nothing jumped out at me. So I grabbed my Kindle and opened it to my Book tab. And there it was . . . The Power of NOW: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment by Eckhart Tolle. Definitely in my top ten most-inspirational books of all time. This was the first book that created a shift in me, an awaking of new perspectives.
The author takes us on a journey into a deep place within us, a place where the truth is known “within every cell of (our) body”; beyond the masks we wear, the criticisms we’ve cloaked ourselves in, our over-thinker personas, fueled by the old doubts we’ve absorbed into our beings.
One of the most difficult, yet rewarding, ventures I have embarked on has been that of learning to silence my mind in order to truly hear. I, personally, believe I am in tune with my spirit guides, angels, The Universe, whatever you would like to call those spiritual nudges, when I purposefully stop the chatter in my mind and welcome the calm. But, wow, is that a difficult task to learn. However, I shout out an even louder WOW for having gifted myself the transition. This was a life-altering read in that I started the learning journey with this book and that would evolve into my healing journey.
I used to be, most assuredly, an “incessant thinker”, an over-thinker, a ponderer. The ever-persistent bearer of logic. And when I could not “logic” my way out of a panic attack, I felt even more broken. Oh my God, Teri, you’re fine. It’s just a bridge. Yet, there I would sit, mid-bridge, frozen and terrorized, shaking and wanting to leap from it just to escape the invisible monster haunting me.
The Power of Now gently took me by the hand and guided me toward an understanding of tranquility. Yes, it took tremendous effort to change habitual patterns and “disidentify from my mind,” however, I was worth it! Eckhart Tolle shares: “Every time you create a gap in the stream of mind, the light of your consciousness grows stronger. This means that you no longer take the content of your mind all that seriously, as your sense of self does not depend on it.” Oh. So. True.
To continue with my poetic analysis as I did with my book review of Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life by Dr. Wayne Dyer, here is the impact of The Power of NOW: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment by Eckhart Tolle:
Silence my mind As I am worthy There is only Now Not what was I am still in my Being I am light Free from Fear I know God by its flow Joy is my purpose I surrender to Now without judgment
As I sat here contemplating ideas for my next article, I glanced around my sacred writing space only to find myself staring at a beautiful stack of books. This assorted collection of signed copies of books, written by my podcast guests, their pages filled with the light of hope and healing, reminded me how a perfectly timed read can truly change a life. I am that person who makes a book my own by highlighting those ah-ha phrases or drawing five giant stars on a page so I can easily flip through the book to find those “spoke to my soul” words.
Today my eyes fell upon the small stack to the left of my podcast guests’ collection. And there it was . . . Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life: Living the Wisdom of the Tao by Dr. Wayne Dyer. A deep, poetic, powerful, life-altering translation of the Tao Te Ching. While I can go on about what the Tao is and give you the low-down on its original author, Lao-tzu, I will merely allow you the opportunity to discover it for yourself in the reading of Dr. Dyer’s book, just as I did.
Instead I want to share its impact on me and my healing journey. Perhaps then you will be inspired to pick it up yourself and allow a similar transition to happen for you. There were many more books, which I will review in this series, which have had a powerful affect on my journey, such as Bessel van der Kolk’s The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma and The Power of Now: The Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment by Eckhart Tolle.
I have been saying for awhile now that I finally learned to “find the gifts within the chaos,” meaning I am now able to search for the positives that resulted from traumatic or what I used to only perceive as negative events or circumstances in my life. I told my sister the other day that I now look for the positivities of growing up with an addict as a parent. Instead of seeing an alcoholic who struggled to offer her children emotional support, a mother who dished out criticism as a “joke,” one who chose nights out partying with co-workers over tucking her children into bed, I now say to myself:
My mom worked six days a week; she taught me work ethic. My mom drank after work with her followers and fans; she taught me loyalty to friendships. My mom was a partier; she taught me how to entertain. My mom was traumatized, too; she taught me how to keep going in the face of adversity. My mom was a “Jesus-freak”; she taught me how to believe even when in doubt.
Learning to find my gifts within my chaos has changed everything. Everything.
In the preface of Dr. Dyer’s book, is the following quote from one of his journal entries, which speaks directly to this philosophy:
Nature doesn’t create a storm that never ends. Within misfortune, good fortune hides.
Dr. Wayne Dyer
This review will be poetic in nature as I could truly write another book in response to this book’s based on my highlights and exclamation points and stars scribbled onto its pages. Here is my simplistic analysis of the first twenty verses as translated by Dr. Dyer and how I try to live them based upon the lessons I learned in their depth:
I try to be present in the moment.
I live to be me and the universe simultaneously.
I want to serve others.
I give the gift of myself.
I let my creativity radiate.
I try to meet the needs of others.
I allow my thoughts to flow freely.
I seek joy in the act of doing in lieu of the results.
I let go of what is mine so it may become someone else’s.
I allow silence.
I treasure what is within rather than what I can possess.
I trust my own perceptions of me.
I practice walking meditations.
I allow my life to unfold as planned.
I observe life.
I allow others to travel their own path.
I am virtue, not virtuous.
I learn to let go of attachment through generosity.
I let go and let God.
There are eighty-one verses total.
Eighty-one powerful lessons surrounded by and filled with an infinite number more. Different for all. Yet, the same.
I hope you gift yourself this transformative translation of the Tao.
First off, I apologize for the feed issues with the sound in a few spots! I put forth my best editing efforts. Still on the learning curve with editing software. Thank you for your understanding.
Thank you, Christina Beauchemin, for sharing your beautiful insights with me and The Healing Place Podcast audience. Christina and I discussed her book, Let My Legacy Be Love, her work as a passionate speaker and truth seeker, as well as her coaching practice where she works to guide others along their healing journeys.
“Christina is an author, speaker, and truth seeker. She is an advocate of curiosity, courage and honesty as a path to personal transformation. She facilitates workshops as well as working privately with those who are serious about changing their life for the better.
Christina is married to her best friend, Rick and is a mother to two grown boys. A combination of running, Zumba, and yoga keep her healthy and a positive attitude keeps her happy. Her only real complaint is her unfortunate allergy to many dark chocolates.” Learn more about Christina and her mission at: