Survivors Empowering Survivors

Is Personal Advocacy Worth Risking Professional Backlash?

“Don’t you worry an employer will see the personal stuff you have shared online?”

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When I began writing publicly about my life and experiences with depression, and as a parenting survivor of sexual abuse, my career in the mental health field was already on hold. At the time, I was a stay at home mom who needed an outlet. Now being back in the field, I sometimes get asked the question above. Truth is, yes, I do worry. But not for the reasons you may think. It has more to do with my feet, than a fear of compromising relationships and employment.

I “came out” as a sexual abuse survivor online a year before I resumed my career as a mental health care manager. I wrote about my experiences on a personal blog and for popular sites like Scary Mommy and Huffington Post. I talked to other survivors and supporters online, and face to face with people in my personal life that never knew.

I went back to work about six months before publishing a book on the topic of parenting as a survivor of abuse. I didn’t tell anyone at my new job about my blog or the book, and had no idea if anyone had Googled me before I started. I felt like I was walking around with this hidden identity tucked away. Which wasn’t much different than the way I’d always felt.

Survivors are professionals at covering up the scars that society uses to brand them broken.

The difference now was I had exposed myself online, leaving a part of my identity and reputation in a new place of employment vulnerable to judgment. I leaked a “secret” safely from the comfort of my own home, and it was only a matter of time before I had to come face to face with it in public.

There came a point when I mentioned in casual conversation at work that I enjoyed writing. I could feel my feet turn to stone, and start spinning like the roadrunner at the same time. Before the last word fell from my mouth, I was formulating a plot to run. I knew I had just opened the door for someone to ask, “What do you write about?” Inevitably, the question came up and I directed a few people towards essays I wrote about the trials and tribulations of motherhood, with only a dash of my “crazy” sprinkled in.

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Slowly but surely the word started to trickle out that I was co-publishing a book, in and outside of work. I started to talk about what the book was about – parenting as a survivor of childhood abuse – and had to answer “Yes” when asked, “Are you doing this because it happened to you?”

And again, frozen but fidgety feet.

I felt empowered by being in control of the conversation, but it stung my insides a little, as if the word sexual abuse sent a message to every nerve in my body to go electric for a split second. Before then, I had only written about my experiences. Being exposed like that, on purpose, looking someone in the eye as pieces of my story willingly poured out is something I had never experienced. It set my heart free, but imprisoned my feet in a constant state of “Freeze” and “Run!”

Even though every single person around me was supportive and championed my goal to speak about and for parenting survivors, I worried. I worried that I was breaking the unspoken code that people in the mental health field aren’t suppose to open up their own baggage and allow others to see what’s inside. We are suppose to draw firm lines in the sand, because exposing ourselves could make others uncomfortable, damaging the chance for advances in your career, and/or jeopardize relationships with clients. I kept waiting for the backlash.

Two years later, it hasn’t happened yet.

Trauma, more often than not, is at the root of the psychological and medical illnesses mental health workers help people manage. I have become someone who is recognized as having the ability to understand what that means in regards to a person’s recovery work. I am at times sought out to work with clients who have extensive trauma histories, because I am capable of acknowledging pieces of their stories that aren’t commonly recognized as important, while helping them to navigate recovery through medical, mental health and community services.

I’m able and willing to share so much about myself and my story because I recognize the reality of how prevalent my story is. I know this not only from the hundreds of charts I’ve read and the countless mental health patients I have worked with throughout the past ten years. The confirmation that my experiences are far from rare show in the lingering eye contact among those I’m speaking to – the unspoken coming out among survivors.

I’ve been contacted by college professors, stay at home moms, a neurophysicist, administrative professionals, those living in houses surrounded by a white picket fence and those that are constantly chasing a rent they can actually afford – all with stories about how being a survivor of childhood abuse has affected their ability to be a parent. I have experienced and witnessed the abuse a person experiences bleed out as mental health symptoms, ranging from full on delusional thinking, to unexpected panic attacks, to not a fuck given about living or dying.

I share my story not because it’s easier for me, but because I choose to use empathy and validation to establish connection. Experience has convinced me that connection permits scars to evolve into re-birth marks.

Setting appropriate boundaries is a priority in my line of work. I recognize that disclosing personal information to clients can be counterproductive in their recovery, but that doesn’t prevent me from allowing my own experiences to join me quietly in interactions with clients. Allowing all of me to be present enables authentic eye contact, compassionate body language and an empathetic attention span. That can speak volumes to a person sitting across from you.

I don’t worry that I am going to be fired from my job, or that I won’t be considered for a different one in the future, because my personal advocacy work exposes pieces of my life most in my position would keep hidden away. I worry about those damn feet of mine.

quote_2I worry that with even the slightest indulgence of vulnerability, I’ll feel the hangover that always follows. I’m worried that my feet will never be still and calm.

That my volume button is defective and I can’t or won’t talk loud enough or often enough to actually make a difference. I worry that my feet will give out.

I worry that the chatter in my head will convince my feet to give up on carry the weight that comes with advocacy.

You see, my brain gets it. My body doesn’t yet. I still have work to do. It’s daunting to stand at the top of one mountain you just conquered and realize there is an even bigger one in the way of where you’re going. My feet are tired. Some days, I don’t think they will ever get the message that it’s ok to stand still, tall even, when the sting of vulnerability hits.

So back to the original question – Do I get nervous about the amount of personal information I share? Yes! There is a risk involved when exposing personal aspects of my life while professionally working with the public. However, to me, it is more of a risk to not acknowledge where my empathy and knowledge comes from – especially in today’s cultural and political atmosphere.

And as far as those damn feet go, I can only hope that in time, as they carry me further and further into the public view, they will keep me grounded in spirit, and not fear.

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Survivors Empowering Survivors

A Second Wound: A Survivor’s Decision to Cut Ties with Family

Many survivors mourn the loss of the life they feel they were born to live, as the ripple effects of abuse lead them in a different direction. Often times, as they heal, survivors have to cut toxic people out of their lives to continue on their path to recovery. Sometimes, that entails another major loss – the loss of his or her family. This is a dilemma many, many survivor’s face and we’re very grateful to share Miranda’s story and powerful point of view on this topic today, as part of the #SurvivorsEmpoweringSurvivors Series.

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I have come a long way. From the fractured child who was silenced when I tried to speak up about my abuse to the whole and healthy woman I am now. I rose from confusion and pain, and faced what I knew to be true. But like many other abuse survivors, I paid a painful price with regard to my family of origin. I tell my story not just because it helps me heal, but to help other survivors who recognize my struggles in their own lives – in the hopes that they will feel less alone.
It was always complicated with my family. When I was twenty-five, I revealed that I had been sexually abused by my older brother as a child. My mother and older sister believed me and even expressed regret that they hadn’t prevented it. The brother who perpetrated the abuse wrote and told me he was sorry, at least at first.

 

The problems with my family started when it became clear that I had a lot more to say. I needed to focus on what had happened to me in order to heal. Living in the truth meant holding my brother responsible, examining the environment that allowed it to happen, and trying to prevent further abuse by pointing out red flags and problematic behavior that still existed within our family.

With hindsight, I was probably naive to think that we could address dysfunctional patterns together, learn from them and go forward. Instead, my family members seemed increasingly aggravated with me as I refused to move on from the subject. My sister suggested that I be grateful for my brother’s apology. “What more do you want?” she asked. What I wanted was more than a closed door and a singular acknowledgment of an event that changed my world forever, instilled me with shame, stole my innocence and shook my sense of trust.

I felt like I had become the family troublemaker. As a child, I had been taught to be quiet, to read the temperature in the house and adapt my behavior to avoid conflict and chaos – if that was even possible. I was an adult now, with my own family and out from under their power. But when I spoke up, I still felt shut down. I had pointed at the Emperor and declared that he had no clothes. It was not a popular move.

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I began to stand up for myself more than ever. I pushed my mother to hold my brother more accountable for his treatment of me since I had revealed the abuse. She defended him, insisting that he was a “good person,” even after he said he pitied me, told me to stay away from him until I changed back to the way I used to be, and suggested I get a refund for my therapy. In certain moments, my mother’s capacity to understand my stance and provide empathy appeared to be just out of reach. She seemed to grasp the truth she’d been denying as she acknowledged her mistakes with words of regret. But these flashes of insight never seemed to last.

The abuse had long ended. The shame and self-doubt that had haunted me through my childhood and adolescence were healing nicely with therapy and time. Yet, my pain was still alive and well. Now it was centered in a desperate desire to gain my family’s understanding and support. I would never accept feeling that my voice was being ignored again, just as it was during my childhood.

I loved my mother and wanted to continue our relationship. But to do so felt like I was betraying myself. Eventually, I found a way to live with this dilemma. I decided that I could love my mother for her many positive qualities (including her love for my children) without accepting that she couldn’t see what I needed, and why it mattered so much. I kept her in my life and we maintained a level of closeness. Of course, I made a point to speak up and stand my ground whenever I felt the need, even if it brought about discomfort or confrontation. For a long time, this arrangement worked for us, more or less.

Throughout this journey with my family, it occurred to me that there must be many more people like me: sexual abuse survivors whose family relationships added to their pain. I wanted to shine a light on this subject and create a community of support. I decided that I should write my story.

Not really knowing where to start, I practiced my writing and learned more about family reactions to sexual abuse survivors. There were doubts and concerns that slowed me down, though. I was hesitant because I knew that going public with our family secrets would likely cause greater conflict with family members. Perhaps they would even retaliate against me.

While my goal has never been to stir up trouble, sometimes it can’t be helped when standing up for what I believe is right and just.

I worried about my kids too. I have always focused on giving them the kind of safe, nurturing home that I never had and I was reluctant to tell them my abuse while they were still young. I wanted to protect them from the darkness that I had left behind. Also, I worried that if I wrote about my story while they were still in school, they would feel embarrassment or shame among their peers. I also feared that they would lose their grandmother.

As it happened, I ended up feeling that I had no choice but to break most of my ties with my mother. She and others in the family had attached themselves more intensely to the brother who abused me, aligning with him in ways that I experienced as deeper levels of betrayal. At the same time, I felt my mother’s opposition toward me increase. Finally, I reached the limit of what I was willing to accept. I was exasperated, infuriated and just plain tired after a lifetime of feeling dishonored by the people who were supposed to love me the most.

I stepped away from my relationship with my mother and decreased the little contact I had left with other siblings. For about a year, I grieved for the loss of my first family and the lifelong hope that they would ever protect or truly support me. Then I took my first steps forward with a lighter heart – and a mission. I am writing now. I hope that through my story, I can offer solace and a sense of recognition to others like me. I recently created a Facebook page and Twitter account to offer support and solidarity to fellow survivors, called The Second Wound: Coping with Family while Healing from Sexual Abuse. I have blogged for other sites, including Trigger Points Anthology.

Now that my kids are older and know the truth, I’m working on larger projects as well.  It still takes courage to put my story out in public, but it also feeds my spirit and gives my pain a purpose. The wound of losing my family never subsides – it just loses its sharp edge in increments, and some days are definitely worse than others. But every message of solidarity or support reminds me that I am raising an important aspect of the effects of abuse, and that survivors like us don’t need to be alone in our struggles. We can join together in the truth and create a different kind of family.


Bio:  Miranda Pacchiana is a mother of three and a social worker who lives and works in Sandy Hook, Connecticut. She has started a Facebook page and Twitter account called Second Wound: Coping with family while healing from sexual abuse.

Twitter: @SecondWound
Survivors Empowering Survivors

Walking Each Other Home.

jodiI belong to a club.

This club is called the trauma club.

Trauma survivors share an unspeakable bond. In their face I recognize the familiar pain that can easily go unnoticed by non-survivors. We are relieved to be given space to talk and be understood without the burden of explanation. We feel at ease to show our pain, rather than hide it for the sake of others who find our suffering unbearable to witness. In short, survivors often times need the kind of understanding that only a fellow survivor can give you.

We survivors have a lifetime membership to an inclusive club we didn’t ask to belong to and there’s no way to leave. We speak a language we never wanted to learn but somehow became fluent in it, replacing our native tongue. We seek out others, whether publicly or silently, who speak the same language.

At first glance, the trauma club may look like a pretty shitty club to belong to, but it is full of the most bravest souls I have ever known; extraordinarily courageous and insightful souls who have risen above the countless judgements of others.

And yet we all wish we could jump ship– that we could have met another way– any other way but this.

Over the past three years, I have had the honour of knowing and working alongside these life-changers, game-changers, relentless survivors and thrivers.

Every member in this club redefines the word brave. They are not victims, they are heroes; heroes of their own story.

The brave souls in this club move mountains every day in honor of their childhood gone too soon, in honour of those that did not get the chance to survive and thrive and in honour of those who have chosen to not break their silence publicly.

With our collective wisdom, us members of the trauma club start movements, lead trauma informed yoga classes, and spearhead crusades of tireless activism.

We create tightly knit support groups of four or ten who meet in one another’s homes during the week or in our local community centres.

We create paper trails of letters to journalists and politicians.

We volunteer our time to conduct abuse prevention workshops, raising awareness in schools, empowering children and youth about their bodies.

We conceptualize and bring to life healing retreats, campaigns, and fundraising events.

We dedicate our time working alongside the government to dismantle a broken justice system by creating institutional changes.

We form alliances with other activists, developing local, national and international networks.

We educate others within the universities we teach, becoming the spark that starts the dialogue.

We push for tougher laws in order to create safer communities for those yet unborn.

This club will stop, listen, and act while the world carries on.

Why?

Why do we do this?

So that LESS people join the club.

I dream of a hypothetical situation where there’s a big sign outside a town hall meeting for the trauma club that reads;

“Not Taking Any New Members”

One member is one too many.

If you’ve ever wondered who some of the greatest world changers are, spend some time with a couple of members of this club and watch how they live, see what they do in a day, a week, a lifetime. Watch how they alchemize their pain into a force to be reckoned with, watch how they transform inconceivable trauma into victory.

We are relentless. In the face of adversity, we are and will continue to be relentless.

Because if it takes a village to raise a child, then it also takes a village to heal an abused one.

Get to know a survivor in your life.

You will see that their healing paths are no doubt filled with false starts, obstacles and messy residue from the past, but they will endure, push through and thrive in spite of them. You will see that they lead extraordinary lives putting others before themselves. You will see that they are beyond “surviving”.

Get to know us.

You will see that we are a welcoming community full of caring, non-judgmental souls who offer support and compassion that extends beyond our own personal experiences. Through the sharing of our trauma, we take those stories and weave it into a strong and supportive safety net, providing each other a fighting chance today — and tomorrow, and the next day.

I am certain we will leave an imprint of our profound sense of courage, our strength, our wisdom and our sincere desire to be of service to others.

You will be profoundly impressed. Our survivor instincts will render you speechless.

And maybe then, through getting to know one survivor, you will finally cease in calling us victims.

The truth is, we need each other, and we are all basically trying to walk each other home.


Bio:

Jodie Ortega is a Hip Hop dancer turned advocate, spoken word artist, and TEDx Speaker (Take that, PTSD!).  She has been able to flip the narrative of victim hood into a unique brand of storytelling, combining the arts with the celebration of surviving, thriving, and everything in between.  Her work has been recognized by Vancouver Rape Relief and Women’s Shelter and her TEDx talk has caught the attention of UN Women, Greater Los Angeles Chapter.  To date, Jodie has publicly broken her silence in Vancouver, Toronto and San Francisco. Jodie is excitedly preparing for the Love Your Body Summit in Port Moody, Canada on February 6, 2016.  She will be sharing her story and facilitating a slam poetry workshop at a day that is dedicated to empowering girls and women to love their bodies.

Twitter: https://twitter.com/dontrunbabygirl

Instagram: https://twitter.com/dontrunbabygirl

Survivors Empowering Survivors

The Power of Community: 3 reasons you need a tribe, and how to get one.

I was at a neighborhood party a few weeks ago. It was a celebration of the successful completion of our annual block party. I sat down with a glass of wine to chat with one of my neighbors, and she told me during our conversation that her daughter had died under tragic circumstances at age 30.

“You probably read about it in the news” she told me.

She also told me that across the hall from her lived another woman whose daughter had died at the same age, and that when she was having a hard day she would walk across the hall and knock on the door, knowing that there was someone who would understand.

A week later I was talking to a friend of mine who confided that she was starting the process of separating from her husband. We talked about the overwhelming list of practical details she had in the weeks ahead, including finding a full time job and a new place to live. And I thought of another friend of mine, who is also going through a separation. I thought they would probably get along really well, and could both use someone to talk to. Someone who would understand. So I put them in contact and they got together over coffee.

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Human beings are a funny species. There are billions of us on the planet, and yet many of us live our lives feeling alone. We often feel that no one else could understand what we are going through, or no one else has the crazy thoughts that we have. This feeling of separation makes us sick, both emotionally and physically. We are a social species, we are meant to live in connection with others. But in order to be truly connected, we have to be vulnerable. That’s the scary part. We have to admit that we need help sometimes.

Before I became a parent, someone told me that parenting was like turning the amp up to eleven. Life is just more intense. The highs are higher and the lows are deep abysmal valleys. As a survivor of childhood abuse, my experience of becoming a parent certainly fit that description and more. I was suddenly confronted with the reality that no matter how much healing work I had done prior to having children, a whole new level of issues were arising for me. Anxiety, depression, and PTSD all reared their ugly heads. I knew it was related to my childhood trauma, but I couldn’t find any information about how other parents survived this. Until the day that I did. When I read Dawn’s article on Scary Mommy about Raising a Daughter as a Survivor, I knew I needed to talk with her. I did, and together we formed a community for other parents like us. Because when we are “in the rumble” as Brene Brown would say, with the hard things of life, we need to talk to someone who will understand.  And the ones who understand best are in the rumble with you.

Thinking about my experiences in the two years since Dawn and I started the Trigger Points community and anthology project, I realized I have learned so much about the power of community, and why we need it. Here are my top 3 benefits from forming this community:

  1. It normalized my struggles

Before I had the Trigger Points group, I didn’t have a baseline to compare against. I could talk to other moms about the developmental transitions my child was going through, but I didn’t feel like I could talk about what I was going through. And I really needed to hear that what I was experiencing was perfectly normal for someone with my history. Now when something comes up for me, I know exactly where to turn.

  1. It gave me a place to talk freely without censoring myself.

Have you ever had one of “those” days and then been asked “How are you?” by the grocery store clerk? And you really want to tell her “Actually I feel like total shit right now and I would like nothing more than to curl up in a ball and cry or better yet punch something, but instead I’m here buying fucking groceries.” But instead you just mumble out a “Fine”?  I hate those days. As a survivor, I learned from the reactions of people around me that my story was too much for most people. So as I grew older, I self censored. A lot. Now I have a place where I don’t have to do that, and it is such a gift.

  1. Advice & Resources

The Trigger Points community has been an amazing resource for me. Books to read, therapy modes to try, and more have been recommended. Even something simple like a playlist of songs (link to post) to listen to on hard days has made a huge difference.

Some other amazing things have happened in my life since Dawn and I started the Trigger Points Community. For instance, I shared my story in a spoken word performance at She Talks, and learned that not only could I speak publicly about being a survivor, but I would receive a standing ovation for doing so. That was so incredibly healing for me.

And one of the best things to happen after creating this anthology and community, is getting messages from other survivors that say things like “Thank you, I felt so alone and now I don’t feel alone anymore.” Knowing that Dawn and I have created this safe space for others is so incredibly rewarding.

I have always had a strong pull to create community, because I have seen the benefits of it in my own life, and in the lives of those around me. I have learned that I need different tribes for different phases and stages of my life, and that if I outgrow one tribe, I will find or build a new one. So I urge you, if you are feeling alone in any part of your life, go find your tribe.

How to find your tribe:

  1. Start with who you know and ask around. You may be surprised to find that a friend of a friend is in the exact situation you are, and is also looking to connect.
  2. Look to Facebook groups, Meetups, and libraries. Librarians are some of the best people to ask, they know everything!
  3. Start one yourself. If you can’t find what you are looking for, then the world needs you to step up and create it. You are never the only person going through anything. Never. Someone out there is wishing that they could find you, I guarantee it.

I know it can be scary to show your vulnerability and admit you need help, and often we are afraid to reach out because we don’t want to be a burden. But we need each other. There is someone out there who will hear your story and it will not be a burden at all. It will be a gift. Go find that person.

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Author: Joyelle Brandt

Joyelle Brandt is a radical self love warrior, on a mission to help women understand that their ugly is beautiful. As an artist, author and speaker, she uses the creative arts to help women heal their relationships with their bodies and recover from abuse trauma. She is the author/illustrator of the children’s book Princess Monsters from A to Z, and co-editor of the Trigger Points Anthology, a groundbreaking collection of writing by parents who are survivors of childhood abuse. Joyelle believes that her purpose in life is to be a beacon of light, and that the three most important things are love, kindness and gratitude. When she is not busy raising two rambunctious boys, she is most often found playing her guitar or covered in paint at her art desk.

Website: www.joyellebrandt.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/joyelle.brandt

Twitter: www.twitter.com/joyellebrandt

Instagram: JoyelleBrandt

 Tomorrow is the big day! For our one year anniversary we are having a Kindle giveaway of the Trigger Points Anthology!

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The Trigger Points Anthology sheds light on a topic most parenting books never address: what is it like to raise children when you were abused as a child? With contributions by 21 writers, this anthology and workbook covers the common triggers that arise as parents navigate everything from pregnancy to the teenage years, and helps to let survivors know that they are not alone. As Brene Brown says, the two most powerful words when we are in struggle are “Me too”. This book is a me-too for all the parents working to break the cycle of abuse.

Buy on Amazon US at: http://amzn.to/2fRMwGC

Buy on Amazon CA at: http://amzn.to/2eTCNLy

 

Survivors Empowering Survivors

The Essential Drives of Love, Peace and Purpose

elisabeth-coreyMeet Elisabeth Corey. Elisabeth is a contributing author to the Trigger Points Anthology and one of the most accomplished, driven advocates I know. She uses personal and  educational experience to offer services for survivors and parenting survivors, the kind of practical, soul-healing work we need in the pursuit to breaking generational dysfunctions. And now she has authored her first book! Elisabeth, you are an asset to the survivor community, and what the #SurvivorsEmpoweringSurvivors series is all about.


As a survivor of family-controlled sex trafficking and abuse, I have always known my purpose would be tied to my childhood experiences. But for many years, it wasn’t clear what that purpose looked like. It was marred by my past trauma. My beliefs that safety and security were the most important priority were holding me back. But over time, I discovered my understanding of dissociation and inner parts could help others heal. With Beating Trauma,  my personal blog, I helped others understand how their inner conversation was impacting their lives.

I expanded my offerings to including virtual one-on-one and group life coaching. At first, it was terrifying to offer my services. I heard my doubts telling me I was not worthy. I could not help others. But I proved them wrong over and over. As I helped others, I realized I was indeed taking steps toward living my purpose. But there was an elusive goal which seemed out of reach for me. I wanted to write a book. As a matter of a fact, I have wanted to be an author since I published my first poem in a kid’s magazine at 8 years old.

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And in October, I achieved a huge milestone in my life. I released my first book. When I started this journey, I thought the hard part would be writing enough words for a book. I figured since I knew how to blog, I would just write more words. Right? That sounds logical. I hate it when I try to be logical. In reality, the past two years (yep, two years) have been an obstacle course of self-sabotage and defense mechanisms. In fact, writing the words was the easy part. Getting out of my way was a nightmare. I heard constant phrases like:

“Who do you think you are?”

“You’re not good enough.”

“Nobody’s going to like it.”

And for a while, I believed it. But I kept pushing anyway. I changed direction a few times. I wrote several outlines. I started writing several concepts only to put them aside. It wasn’t the right topic, not yet, not now. But then, I had an epiphany.

I woke up to a new understanding that our inner parts are driven by something greater than trauma.

It came to me as I wrote a blog post and I knew this had to be the basis for the book. To back it up, a mentor emailed me after reading the post and said, “You should write that book now.” But even from this point, there was plenty of self sabotage to overcome.

A year later, I have completed something I always thought was impossible. And I’m proud and terrified at the same time. Today, I want to share with you an excerpt from that book in which I introduce the essential drives.

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An excerpt from One Voice

Discovering unconscious beliefs was one of the most important early steps in my recovery. I started questioning why my life had taken so many disastrous turns. And I started to take responsibility for it. Before I knew it, I was getting a sense of the beliefs I was carrying. And it was shocking. I had always seen myself as an independent, smart and reliable person in my conscious mind. I had no idea what those conscious thoughts were covering up. It was a mine field of unworthiness and self-hate. I was blown away.

After many years of struggling through those beliefs and the memories that created them, I became aware of my inner parts. I realized my beliefs and memories were held by parts of myself, and these parts had certain ways of viewing the world. I spent time building relationships with these parts, and they shared more and more information with me. That said, I didn’t always have the highest opinion of them, especially the parts who liked to curse me out and send me down the wrong roads.

But last year, I had a new epiphany. It spurred an idea so pivotal, this book is based on it. It also led me to a new relationship with my inner parts, a better relationship. I came to understand that my inner parts were not just trying to ruin my life with their crazy belief systems. They had a plan. There was an end goal to the ridiculousness. They were attempting to achieve something. This came to me when I was writing a blog post about the belief of “not enough”. I realized these beliefs are based on something innate within us. The beliefs are there to support our reason for existence on the planet. I refer to these reasons as the essential drives.

I came to understand three key reasons for being: love, peace and purpose. Are there more? Of course there are more. But I could always categorize them under love, peace and purpose. As I wrote about them, it became clear how they were driving my own beliefs. My essential drive for love was fueling my beliefs about losing myself to find it. My essential drive for peace was driving my beliefs about self-blame and control. My essential drive for purpose had birthed my beliefs around unworthiness and not being enough. These beliefs existed for the purpose of getting back to those essential drives.

There was a problem. My inner parts were going about it all wrong. The beliefs were encouraging behavior that would never lead to true love, peace and purpose. The trauma was skewing my approach. The trauma was fueling some bad choices in my attempts to do the right thing, to come back home. In some cases, it was making my essential drives mutually exclusive. I could only have one, but not all three. When I figured that out, I was able to work with my inner parts in a different way. I knew their end goals, so I could facilitate their journey by providing a different perspective on how to get there. And I think my inner parts knew it. They started responding differently to me, as though we had connected on a deeper level.

Now, I can share those ideas with you. Now, you can ask those questions of your inner parts. What is it you really want? What is your goal? How can I help you get there differently? I am hopeful this perspective changes your understanding of your inner relationships and leads to breakthroughs in your work. In reality, your parts mean well. And you have what it takes to help them come home to their essential drives.

An excerpt from One Voice


Bio: Elisabeth Corey is a life coach for trauma survivors. She offers one-on-one guidance, virtual groups and workshops to help survivors build awareness of their inner conversation and heal their trauma. Her guidance is informed by her personal recovery from a childhood of family-controlled child sex trafficking and abuse, her life experiences as a parent breaking the cycle of inter-generational trauma, and her education in social work. She helps survivors take life back from their dissociative defense mechanisms through memory recovery, emotional expression, awareness of unconscious beliefs and inner parts work. Elisabeth’s writings and offerings can be found at BeatingTrauma.com.

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