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.”
I thoroughly enjoyed this insightful conversation with Dr. Erica Holmes on her role as Director of the Psychological Trauma Studies Specialization at Antioch University Los Angeles, covering the topics of:
her role as a trainer of soon-to-be therapists on the global impact of trauma
her role as a licensed psychologist
philosophies on the impact of psychological trauma
her book Dating with Purpose: A Single Woman’s Guide to Escaping No Man’s Land
“Erica Holmes, PsyD is Core Faculty and the Director of the Psychological Trauma Studies Specialization in the Master’s in Psychology program at Antioch University Los Angeles, Executive Director of Champion Counseling Center at Faithful Central Bible Church and the founder of HOMMs Consulting. Dr. Holmes has provided psychotherapy and counseling, training and consultation, education and research services to individuals and organizations for over 20 years.
Dr. Holmes is a frequent invited speaker at local, national and international conferences and media events. Her areas of inquiry and more than 150 presentations focus on psychological trauma, relationships and coupling, insight and empowerment, psychotherapy with African American clients and the integration of Christianity and Psychology.
Her recently released book, Dating with Purpose (DWP): A Single Woman’s Guide to Escaping No Man’s Land has been met with great enthusiasm and positive review. DWP guides women of all ages through a journey of self-discovery, self-acceptance, and self-empowerment on the path to finding the love they desire. The first workbook of its kind, Dating with Purpose includes a series of easy-to-follow reflective exercises designed to bring awareness to the patterns and behaviors that set up roadblocks to happiness in intimate relationships. It is now available on Amazon.
She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Sociology with a minor in Behavioral Science from California State University Dominguez Hills, as well as, a Master’s degree and Doctorate in Clinical Psychology from the California School of Professional Psychology. Further, Dr. Holmes holds post graduate certifications in the Psychology of Trauma from Antioch University and Diversity and Inclusion from Cornell University. She is an American Psychological Association Minority Fellow and past board member for the Los Angeles chapter of the Association of Black Psychologist.”
I so enjoyed the opportunity to sit with the soft-spoken, brilliant, passionate, and enlightened Sarah Peyton of Empathy Brain and author of Your Resonant Self: Guided Meditations and Exercises to Engage Your Brain’s Capacity for Healing to discuss:
the concept of time-travel practice (returning to a younger self for healing)
“Sarah Peyton, Certified Trainer of Nonviolent Communication and neuroscience educator, integrates brain science and the use of resonant language to heal trauma. She brings together depth work and self-compassion that integrate relational neuroscience with the transformative potential of language. She teaches and lectures internationally, and is the author of the book ‘Your Resonant Self: Guided Meditations and Exercises to Engage Your Brain’s Capacity for Healing.'”
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.”
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.
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.
Rev. James Encinas joined me on air for a heart-felt conversation to discuss his work with teachers on a trauma-informed and adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) healing level, his personal story of triumph, along with a discussion on his books: Wheeling to Healing: Broken Heart on a Bicycle and Your Own Wheeling to Healing: A Guide to Healing Yourself and Groups of People Who’ve Experienced Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), and much more.
“A former actor and grade school teacher, now a parent education specialist, teacher trainer and public speaker, James Encinas uses his creative skills in experiential workshops to instruct participants about the impact of trauma on childhood development. The non-judgmental space he creates allows probationers to engage in healing their emotional damage, learn about prevention of future child abuse and domestic violence, and to educate teachers to work with students who live in unsafe environments. James wrote Wheeling to Healing…Broken Heart on a Bicycle: Understanding and Healing from Adverse Childhood Experiences, a book and curriculum. He is a Fellow from the first class of Aspen Institute’s Teacher Leaders, a member of the Aspen Global Leadership Network and an activist for healing.”
Hello to all of you #traumawarriors (both survivors and advocates alike). Thank you for the work you are doing to help shine the light of hope into the lives of those with ACEs history.
I am back from my summer hiatus from interviewing guests on The Healing Place Podcast. Exciting news to share is that, as of today, the podcast has been downloaded in audio format in 38 countries around the world, along with video format views at 4,629. That is beyond exciting! People have been listening in on iTunes, Spotify, Blubrry, YouTube, and my website. Thank you for helping spread the word!
If you know anyone interested in joining me on air to discuss hope, healing, ACEs, trauma-informed practices, stories of triumph, book publications, etc., please feel free to share their contact info with me or have them reach out to me at email@example.com. I am looking to schedule in September, 2019 and beyond.
Thank you again for all you are doing to help others along their healing journey and helping me achieve my goal of reaching one million healing souls with stories of hope!
I loved connecting with a kindred spirit in Robyn Baldwin as we discussed her Autoimmune Thriving pursuits, her personal journey combating Multiple Sclerosis (MS) symptoms after living life as an over-achiever and fitness guru, her book Love Lost, Life Found, and much more.
“Robyn Baldwin is the founder of Autoimmune Thriving and an MS Thriver. Her mission in life is to empower those living with an autoimmune disease to thrive and not just survive. Autoimmune Thriving includes yoga retreats, an online program on healing and a treatment fund for those in need of holistic healing assistance.
Robyn lives in Ottawa with her husband and 2 fur babies. She is a full-time Digital Marketing Director, a health & lifestyle blogger at RobynBaldwin.com, the author of Love Lost, Life Found, a yoga teacher, the host of the Alpha Female Podcast and a passionate Essential Oil Educator. She loves weight lifting, running, yoga and making seasonal bucket lists. After being diagnosed with MS in 2014 and starting out on a new health journey she’s transitioned from being an MS Warrior battling an auto-immune disease to an MS Thriver and living well with the health sidekick.”
I am grateful to have had the opportunity to sit down with Carolyn Forrester to discuss her upcoming course utilizing The Matrix of Emotional Health, her nature-based artwork, and her own healing journey. Please join us on The Healing Place Podcast to listen in as Carolyn shares her thoughts on overcoming trauma and moving toward a place of peace.
“As a woman who has struggled to fit in and who has lost herself to pleasing others (so much so that she spent 15 years of her life on someone else’s dream), Carolyn Forrester knows what it’s like to feel lonely, unsupported, and disconnected.
Her nature based art is created to help you pause, feel a sense of peace, and connect with your deepest Self.
Her teachings using the Matrix are an enlightening guide to help you discern your Truth, identify any stuck spots, and heal the traumas of the past.”