The Books That Helped Me Transition from Trauma to Triumph: A Book Review Series – “The Journey From Abandonment to Healing”

Moving on to book-review number four in my books-that-changed-my-life series is “The Journey From Abandonment to Healing: Turn the End of a Relationship into the Beginning of a New Life“.

I have said for years, as I felt my way along a sometimes rugged and dark healing path, that I had to return to the darkness in order to make it into the light. Those dark spaces held my trauma, the negative energy needing to be released from my body, mind, and spirit. I used to dish this advice to my then-best-friend in regards to her traumatic past. She would scoff me off.

Just when I thought I had processed the worst of my traumas (sexual abuse, bank robberies, murder, physically abusive parent), this said-friend ghosted me. Gone. Just like that. No closure. No good-bye. No “piss off” to send me on my way. Just silence. After seven years of texting every day, weekend hang outs, girls’ trips adventures, deep talks, and laugh-til-we-peed gatherings. Done.

Only two weeks prior had I sat across from her at one of our impromptu lunch dates, telling her that my therapist and I had discovered my biggest fear during my last EMDR session: the fear of abandonment. I told her how it linked back to my mom and her alcohol addiction, how she had left me feeling emotionally abandoned my entire childhood. She knew most of the history of life with my mother: partying with her co-workers after banking hours, stumbling into our apartment hammered a few nights a week; pouring herself a vodka over ice with a squirt of lemon juice on those nights she came straight home from her teller job, sinking into the worn recliner, held together in places with duct tape, losing herself in a book from the library, yelling for my dad to silence the children, which always came with the jingling of a belt-buckle prepping to beat us quiet; belittlement at our not using our God-given talents and, therefore, disappointing Jesus, God Himself, and all of the heavenly hosts; attempted stabbing of my dad when she raged at him with a butcher knife; attempted drowning of her children when she decided we’d be better off with Jesus in lieu of living in this “valley of tears” called life; showing my school photo to church friends, in my presence, and laughing as she declared, “Look how ugly she is!”, later to remind me, “I was just joking”; and so on.

I was struck with an inkling of curiosity when this friend’s head cocked a bit to the side as she replied, “Really?” to my announcement that my biggest discovered fear was that of abandonment. Not bridges or highways, even though I cannot drive on them. Not death, even though I had faced it too many times, from beneath bathtub water, when staring into a revolver placed to my head, when confronted with the firing end of a Luger during a second bank robbery. Not heights, even though my dad had found it funny to dangle me from the Natural Bridge in Kentucky on a rare family outing or had me look out the window of our beat up station wagon at the Ohio River below us as we crossed the humming bridge into Covington, Kentucky to visit my grandparents, as he proclaimed, “See those river sharks? Some day this bridge will crumble. It was built in the 1800’s you know. And when we fall in, those river sharks will eat you”, then he’d laugh and laugh at his humor, while I stared at the muddy water, positive I saw those river sharks. Not flying, though I could not even think of climbing onto a plane without Xanax in my blood. Not cockroaches. Nor being buried alive. Nor fear itself. Abandonment – linked to my fear of rejection, my insecurities, my unstable sense of self, and my deep craving for approval and affection.

Really? That word would haunt my next year as I sorted through the processing of her disappearance from my life.

Only by giving yourself over to your feelings can you find your way out of them.

Susan Anderson in “The Journey from Abandonment to Healing”

I am guessing God’s timing was, yet again, perfect. It was time for me to visit the darkness that was my relationship with my mother. Still swirling in the chaos of her addiction, I never knew who I would encounter upon my calls to check in or visits to her retirement community. Sober mom was kind and doting. “Teri, I don’t know what I’d do without you. Thank God I have you.” Drunk mom was cruel, “I hate you. I want to put a meat cleaver in your forehead.” When I brought that one up during a sober conversation, she insisted, “Oh for Pete’s sake. I was joking. Get a sense of humor. You know I’d never say something like that to you.”

Okay, mom.

And then the friend-ghosting occurred. And I cried into my journal for a year. I cried at restaurants. I cried at sappy commercials. I cried when I’d hear songs, listening purposefully to tear-jerker ballads. I cried at Facebook memories popping up. I cried all . . . the . . . time. I just cried. For a year.

And as I did so, I read this book. This amazing book filled with comfort and wisdom, reminding me I would survive this, too. Just as I had survived all of the horrors of my past. This ghosting was a reminder that I had not yet faced the pain I had stored away in regards to trust and love, a heart-hurt melded in the hands of my parents. God was opening that attic door and shining a light on that long-avoided box of sadness.

Being left by someone we love can open up old wounds, stirring up insecurities and doubts that had been part of our emotional baggage since childhood.

Susan Anderson in “The Journey from Abandonment to Healing”

My grieving journey had begun. What was triggered by a ghosting, turned into a beautiful journey of healing those old insecurities and heartaches, helping me find forgiveness for my parents, as well as helping me release the ghosts from that abandonment attic. All of them.

The author takes us into an understanding of the five states of abandonment: shattering, withdrawal, internalizing rejection, rage, and lifting. All of which I circled through. The beautiful gift I discovered during this grief journey was that of embracing my own vulnerability even more than I already had. I learned to console little Teri all the while learning to empower adult me.

Susan Anderson, author of this powerful book, offers an action plan for readers to help us along our continued healing journey, as well. An action plan I fully implemented.

The key to change is opening your life to new experiences. Even small changes in your daily routine can lead to new discoveries about who you are becoming.

The key to reconnecting is to cherish the gift that abandonment has given you, to remain open to your vulnerabilities and to the vulnerabilities of others.

Susan Anderson in “The Journey from Abandonment to Healing”

Since reading this beautiful book, I have done exactly that. I opened myself up to new experiences: starting a successful podcast with a growing global audience (The Healing Place Podcast); meeting amazing souls from all over the world who are working to help others along their healing journeys; starting this blog; creating a website aimed at helping others heal from ACEs (adverse childhood experiences) and trauma; becoming a YouTuber (that is still in its infancy stages); standing on stages to share my story of hope; creating our Sammie’s Bundles of Hope project to help children struggling with anxiety and trauma history; volunteering with our sweet therapy dog, Sammie Doodle; and opening myself up to new friendships.

But, most importantly . . . I set my ghosts free.

The Ten Books That Changed My Life – Healing ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences) and Building Resilience

After struggling with severe panic attacks for over twenty-five years, following horrific trauma during my first twenty-two years of life, I finally found my way onto the healing path in 2013. I began EMDR therapy (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) along with reading everything I could on trauma-recovery. I began practicing mindfulness exercises, meditation, yoga, tapping (or EFT), and many other healing modalities in order to “fill my coping skills tool box.”

Following is a list of those books that had a profound impact on my life and have helped me create a life filled with tranquility and joy. While I may not have agreed with every word written, I did find powerful answers, delicious little tidbits, and inspirational guidance within each book.

I am always amazed when my podcast guests refer to these same books during our interviews. I would love to know if you have read any of these empowering books and their impact on your healing journey: https://teriwellbrock.com/contact-us/ .

I wish you continued healing and success in finding the tools that best help you along your path to recovery.

Trauma is a fact of life. Veterans and their families deal with the painful aftermath of combat; one in five Americans has been molested; one in four grew up with alcoholics; one in three couples have engaged in physical violence. Dr. Bessel van der Kolk, one of the world’s foremost experts on trauma, has spent over three decades working with survivors. In The Body Keeps the Score, he uses recent scientific advances to show how trauma literally reshapes both body and brain, compromising sufferers’ capacities for pleasure, engagement, self-control, and trust. He explores innovative treatments—from neurofeedback and meditation to sports, drama, and yoga—that offer new paths to recovery by activating the brain’s natural neuroplasticity. Based on Dr. van der Kolk’s own research and that of other leading specialists, The Body Keeps the Score exposes the tremendous power of our relationships both to hurt and to heal—and offers new hope for reclaiming lives.

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You are not doomed by your genes and hardwired to be a certain way for the rest of your life. A new science is emerging that empowers all human beings to create the reality they choose. In Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself, renowned author, speaker, researcher, and chiropractor Dr. Joe Dispenza combines the fields of quantum physics, neuroscience, brain chemistry, biology, and genetics to show you what is truly possible. Not only will you be given the necessary knowledge to change any aspect of yourself, but you will be taught the step-by-step tools to apply what you learn in order to make measurable changes in any area of your life. Dr. Joe demystifies ancient understandings and bridges the gap between science and spirituality. Through his powerful workshops and lectures, thousands of people in 24 different countries have used these principles to change from the inside out. Once you break the habit of being yourself and truly change your mind, your life will never be the same!

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In The Power of Habit, award-winning business reporter Charles Duhigg takes us to the thrilling edge of scientific discoveries that explain why habits exist and how they can be changed. Distilling vast amounts of information into engrossing narratives that take us from the boardrooms of Procter & Gamble to the sidelines of the NFL to the front lines of the civil rights movement, Duhigg presents a whole new understanding of human nature and its potential. At its core, The Power of Habit contains an exhilarating argument: The key to exercising regularly, losing weight, being more productive, and achieving success is understanding how habits work. As Duhigg shows, by harnessing this new science, we can transform our businesses, our communities, and our lives.

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In this beautiful and lucid guide, Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh offers gentle anecdotes and practical exercise as a means of learning the skills of mindfulness–being awake and fully aware. From washing the dishes to answering the phone to peeling an orange, he reminds us that each moment holds within it an opportunity to work toward greater self-understanding and peacefulness.

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A totally accessible user’s guide from the creator of a scientifically proven form of psychotherapy that has successfully treated millions of people worldwide.

Whether we’ve experienced small setbacks or major traumas, we are all influenced by memories and experiences we may not remember or don’t fully understand. Getting Past Your Past offers practical procedures that demystify the human condition and empower readers looking to achieve real change.

Shapiro, the creator of EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing), explains how our personalities develop and why we become trapped into feeling, believing and acting in ways that don’t serve us. Through detailed examples and exercises readers will learn to understand themselves, and why the people in their lives act the way they do. Most importantly, readers will also learn techniques to improve their relationships, break through emotional barriers, overcome limitations and excel in ways taught to Olympic athletes, successful executives and performers.

An easy conversational style, humor and fascinating real life stories make it simple to understand the brain science, why we get stuck in various ways and what to do about it. Don’t let yourself be run by unconscious and automatic reactions. Read the reviews below from award winners, researchers, academics and best selling authors to learn how to take control of your life.

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How can we live our lives when everything seems to fall apart—when we are continually overcome by fear, anxiety, and pain? The answer, Pema Chödrön suggests, might be just the opposite of what you expect. Here, in her most beloved and acclaimed work, Pema shows that moving toward painful situations and becoming intimate with them can open up our hearts in ways we never before imagined. Drawing from traditional Buddhist wisdom, she offers life-changing tools for transforming suffering and negative patterns into habitual ease and boundless joy.

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Waking the Tiger offers a new and hopeful vision of trauma. It views the human animal as a unique being, endowed with an instinctual capacity. It asks and answers an intriguing question: why are animals in the wild, though threatened routinely, rarely traumatized? By understanding the dynamics that make wild animals virtually immune to traumatic symptoms, the mystery of human trauma is revealed.

Waking the Tiger normalizes the symptoms of trauma and the steps needed to heal them. People are often traumatized by seemingly ordinary experiences. The reader is taken on a guided tour of the subtle, yet powerful impulses that govern our responses to overwhelming life events. To do this, it employs a series of exercises that help us focus on bodily sensations. Through heightened awareness of these sensations trauma can be healed.

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An astonishing new science called “neuroplasticity” is overthrowing the centuries-old notion that the human brain is immutable. In this revolutionary look at the brain, psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Norman Doidge, M.D., provides an introduction to both the brilliant scientists championing neuroplasticity and the people whose lives they’ve transformed. From stroke patients learning to speak again to the remarkable case of a woman born with half a brain that rewired itself to work as a whole, The Brain That Changes Itself will permanently alter the way we look at our brains, human nature, and human potential.

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The fear of abandonment is one of our most primal fears, and deservedly so. Its pain is often overwhelming, and can leave its mark on the rest of your life. In the midst of the hurt, it’s hard to see an end to your feelings of rejection, shame, and betrayal.
 
In this updated edition of the groundbreaking book, Susan Anderson, a therapist who has specialized in helping people with loss, heartbreak, and abandonment for more than thirty years, shares recent discoveries in neuroscience that help put your pain in perspective. It is designed to help all victims of emotional breakups—whether you are suffering from a recent loss, or a lingering wound from the past; whether you are caught up in patterns that sabotage your own relationships, or you’re in a relationship in which you no longer feel loved. From the first stunning blow to starting over, it provides a complete program for abandonment recovery.
 
Going beyond comforting words to promote real change, this healing process will help you work through the five universal stages of abandonment—shattering, withdrawal, internalizing, rage, lifting—by understanding their biochemical and behavioral origins and implications. New hands-on exercises for improving your life will teach you how to manage the inevitable pain, then go on to build a whole new concept of self, increase your capacity for love, and find new love on a deeper and richer level than ever before.

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A leading neuroplasticity researcher and the coauthor of the groundbreaking books Brain Lock and The Mind and the Brain, Jeffrey M. Schwartz has spent his career studying the human brain. He pioneered the first mindfulness-based treatment program for people suffering from OCD, teaching patients how to achieve long-term relief from their compulsions.

Schwartz works with psychiatrist Rebecca Gladding to refine a program that successfully explains how the brain works and why we often feel besieged by overactive brain circuits (i.e. bad habits, social anxieties, etc.) the key to making life changes that you want—to make your brain work for you—is to consciously choose to “starve” these circuits of focused attention, thereby decreasing their influence and strength.

You Are Not Your Brain carefully outlines their program, showing readers how to identify negative impulses, channel them through the power of focused attention, and ultimately lead more fulfilling and empowered lives.

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