This episode is Part 1 of Anne’s interview with Coach Connie.
Part 1: How to Heal the Chaos of Emotional Abuse (this episode)
Part 2: Heal the Trauma in Your Body
The chaos of abuse can leave victims feeling confused, broken, lost, and fatigued.
But BTR Coach Connie brings light and hope to trauma victims – your journey to healing isn’t complex or out of reach. Simple, moment-to-moment choices can help you begin to heal from the chaos of abuse and start feeling joy again.
Live in the Present to Heal the Chaos of Abuse
“Whatever it is, whatever direction your mind is going, if you can bring yourself back to the present, focus on right now, today, what am I going to do? I’m going to recognize it, I’m going to correctly label it, and then I’m going to see where it takes me tomorrow. What is the next thing that I need to do? I don’t have to think about it right now. I have to think about it in the moment when it comes.” Coach Connie, BTR.ORG Coach
Victims of abuse will often live in extreme anxiety, worrying about the ramifications of future decisions – should I stay? Should I go? What about the kids? What about our church community? Choosing to live in the present and make decisions that are pertinent to the present moment can calm the chaos and empower victims to step back into their own power.
Try Meditation to Heal the Chaos of Abuse
An incredible tool in a victim’s arsenal is meditation.
Abuse and betrayal can create a wide schism between a victim and her ability to feel and experience her own body. Meditation helps victims become aware of their bodies and bridge the gap between body and mind.
Meditation can help victims process trauma, grieve, and express emotions that have been blocked.
Accept & Speak The Truth to Begin To Heal The Chaos of Abuse
“Many injured women don’t even know why they’re feeling the way they’re feeling. And when you could put a name to what’s going on, there’s a whole bunch of peace that comes because you can label what’s going on.” Coach Connie, BTR.ORG Coach
When victims courageously choose to speak their truth, they jumpstart the healing process.
Accurately labeling abuse and betrayal can help victims to find the support and self-care that they need in order to begin healing.
BTR.ORG Is Here To help You Heal The Chaos of Abuse
At BTR, we know how confusing and devastating the chaos of abuse can feel.
We know that healing can feel insurmountable and even unobtainable.
However, we know that you can do it.
With the right tools, including self-care, support, and education, you can begin your healing journey today.
Attend a BTR.ORG Group Session and find the support that you need today.
I have one of our amazing coaches, Coach Connie on today’s episode. Connie is a BTR Coach, who helps women discover and move forward on their individual paths of healing and recovery from abuse and the consequences of victimization. With nearly four decades of experience in narcissistic partner abuse, spiritual abuse, emotional and psychological abuse and sexual abuse, Connie is passionate about helping women get to safety by moving upward and forward to create a beautiful life. Welcome Connie.
Coach Connie (00:32):
Thank you, Anne. I am thrilled to be here today.
Attend a BTR.ORG Group Session Today
It’s so awesome to have such a strong coaching team here at BTR. All of our coaches are incredible and amazing, and Coach Connie, like every single one of our coaches, does several BTR.ORG Group Sessions. So when you attend a BTR.ORG Group Session, you’ll be able to meet Coach Connie and all of our other amazing coaches. I love how it becomes a community where you can meet all the coaches and get feedback. They all have their different personalities.
I’m just so glad that you get to know her. Today, Connie and I are going to talk about healing, which is of course the whole point of Betrayal Trauma Recovery. So many women when they come to BTR, they just want to feel peace. They want to feel calm and connected, and they want all of the chaos and the pain to subside and to be able to live a peaceful life. What do you think is the first step to healing when someone is faced with betrayal trauma?
“You immediately feel understood”
Coach Connie (01:31):
It’s really hard, Anne, because big part of trauma and abuse is the chaos inside of ourselves. We don’t know which way is up or even where to turn. Coming to a Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group is a great place to go because you immediately feel understood. You don’t have to say a whole lot. There’s not a whole lot of explanation that has to happen in order to know that your experience is not so unique. It’s the same experience with different spokes, kind of different players that we women go through.
The women who come to BTR, you see a lot of nodding of heads when somebody’s sharing an experience, and I think that might be the first step is to be able to actually voice how you’re feeling or what’s been going on. That’s kind of a hard thing. You get stuck in the secrecy and all that does is make the impact of the experience bigger and stronger and deeper and wider.
Emotional Abuse = Chaos at Home
I found that when women find out about their husband’s porn use or they start to realize, wait, this is emotional abuse, right? They’re hoping that things will get better quickly. For example, maybe they could get their husband into some kind of quick program, like a weekend retreat or something, or that maybe they’ll just file for divorce, right? Some kind of thing that’s going to solve the problem quickly. What would you say to women in terms of expectations for the length of time it takes to heal?
“Healing equals intentional action plus time”
Coach Connie (03:03):
Well, that’s unique to each situation, but it is not fast for anybody. So I love the saying that healing equals intentional action plus time. So you need both. You can’t just sit there and let time pass and eventually things will just get better. So you have to effort towards it, but all the efforting like putting in a whole bunch of effort, as soon as you find out there’s a problem, doesn’t immediately fix the problem. You need to have time,
Right? So one of your jobs at Betrayal Trauma Recovery is helping women navigate their healing journey. So it’s more of a journey than it is a destination, right? You mentioned that the stories are similar, but the spokes are different or the people are different. And I like to say the patterns are really similar, but the details sometimes are different. We see the same patterns over and over, but of course the details of everybody’s stories are different. How do you help a woman determine where to start with her healing once she is at Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group and once she is getting coaching?
How do BTR.ORG Coaches help victims begin healing from the chaos of abuse?
Coach Connie (04:10):
Well, one of the things I love about BTR and just a general truth out there is that there are methods that have been tried that really honestly work that are universal work for everybody, and BTR coaches are trained in those methods and can help everybody. But another thing that I love about it is that every journey, every individual is different. Timing is different. How much effort to put into a specific type of healing or a specific practice is different depending on the individual.
So for anybody to presume that they know exactly what another person should do and when they should do it and how they should do it in order for them to get to a place of peace and joy and healing is presumptuous and frankly arrogant. None of us knows.
None of us are really in another person’s situation. And so with the empathy comes a lot of freedom for the individual to use her agency to figure out really what is best for her. That’s done with talking with me, asking questions, and with the survivor, not just sharing answers, but having thoughts be triggered in her head and figuring out her own journey, just being guided by the coach.
Synergy in the BTR.ORG Community
I love that all the coaches have kind of a different perspective or a different personality or they have different experiences, but they also know these tested methods that you were talking about of healing from trauma. So everyone takes kind of a different perspective on it, but it’s all the same pattern that we know works. And same with every individual woman as she’s going through it.
Coach Connie (05:59):
It’s really interesting that the BTR coaches, it’s a synergistic group. It’s a bunch of ladies who come from all different situations who really understand each other, but approach healing from a different perspective. And I just love the synergy in the group which goes out then to all those who attend group in search of healing and peace. And so bouncing around from group to group is actually kind of a good idea there. Grab what you can. Get the little gems from each of the coaches. There’s a lot of value there.
The First Stage of Healing
So speaking of patterns, the general pattern that we know works is the three stages of trauma recovery. The first is safety and stabilization from the chaos, then processing and grieving, and then reconnecting. So in the first stage of safety and stabilization, in my mind it’s a step to healing.
It’s getting yourself on the healing path, but it’s not necessarily going to be healing in and of itself because if you’re not safe and you’re not stable, then healing is very difficult because you’re still being injured all the time. So you can heal some parts of you, but then you just get injured again. So can you talk about the healing that can happen in that first stage, even though you’re still being injured?
Coach Connie (08:28):
Yeah. I actually think that there is a lot that can happen in that stage, and the first is recognition. Many injured women don’t even know why they’re feeling the way they’re feeling, and when you could put a name to what’s going on, an abuse is a good overall name for what’s happening. But then there are specific names, and once you’re able to do that, there’s a whole bunch of peace that comes because you can label what’s going on.
Once you’ve labeled it and recognized it, then you can start to categorize your abuser, his chaos, and his actions and put those in mental columns, what’s happening that helps to depersonalize what’s happening to you. Then all of those actions, they land on him, not on you. I love this first stage for recognition and for categorizing and for letting go of the responsibility of someone else’s actions.
Why is recognizing truth important?
And even though complete healing is a lifelong journey, and it’s certainly not going to happen if you’re not safe and if you’re not stable, right? If you’re continuing to be injured, if his chaos is injuring you, it’s really important to know that there are things that start working in your life as you attempt to get to safety as you start working on bringing security into your life.
For women who are hesitant to call this abuse, right? Perhaps their husband’s in a 12 step program or doing pornography addiction recovery or something, and they think, no, no, no, no, no, he just has this porn addiction. This is not emotional and psychological abuse. For women who are hesitant, why do you think recognizing the truth of their situation is a step to healing for them?
“When you carry a secret, the effects of that grow”
Coach Connie (10:07):
Well, it’s a form of secrecy to not recognize it for what it is, and when you carry a secret, then the effects of that grow. So you may label it as just a little problem that he has something that he’s trying to overcome. And when you do that, then you take the incident that happens that may be big, maybe small, it doesn’t matter, but it’s a specific size and you set it inside of you and your body says, oh, this is something I’ve got to carry.
So the effect grows and grows and grows, and it keeps getting bigger and bigger and there’s more and more chaos because you won’t acknowledge what it is and start to process it to get rid of it. We can shrink that effect. We’ll never be able to get rid of what happened to us. That will always exist.
The incident or the incidents will always exist. The things that cause trauma, we can’t make the past go away, but we can get rid of the effects, and it starts with recognition and with a desire to move forward out of that chaos. And it’s amazing how freeing it is just to label it correctly. It’s hard to do when you are stuck in that, but when you do it, then all of a sudden it’s like you’ve been given wings.
“If you don’t recognize it as abuse, then the consequences don’t seem as dire”
It’s really scary for women because I think the consequences of this abuse word are much more intense. They may have to work towards separation, they might have to actually take action, and that seems pretty scary. Whereas if you don’t recognize it as abuse, then the consequences don’t seem as dire. But what I really want women to know is that regardless of what you label it, you could label it whatever you want.
You’re still going to get the effects of that abuse, and you’re still going to end up carrying those in your body like what you talked about. So for women who don’t know they’re being abused, for example, an argument could be made, well, it’s not as traumatic for them because they don’t understand what’s happening, and I would say it’s just as traumatic. They might not know, but they’re still being injured and they’re still carrying those wounds with them all the time.
Listening to Our Bodies
Coach Connie (12:13):
Yes, and you know that the woman would know that as she listens to her body, many victims of abuse cannot label it exactly for what it is. Our emotions get turned off, our minds are tweaked. Everything is turned upside down and chaotic because that’s what abusers do to us. They sort of steal our ability to do that, but our bodies never lie to us.
So if you’re getting shaky or if your digestive system goes cur fluey or you’ve got so much tension in your shoulders that your head won’t stop pounding, I mean there’s any number of things. You start sweating. You know that he’s coming home soon, so you hurry and run around the house because your heart’s beating fast and you make sure that everything’s in order. Whatever it is, your body is not going to lie to you. Your mind and your heart will try different methods to cope, which is a good way of trying to protect you, but it’s not going to heal you and it’s not going to get you better.
I have heard from many members of our BTR.ORG Group Sessions say that they are loving the meditations that you sometimes do in group. Can you talk a little bit about that and how that helps women get that stress and tension out of their bodies?
Can Meditation Help Betrayal Trauma Victims?
Coach Connie (13:24):
I’m so happy that women are loving the meditations. I love doing them, and I do meditations on my own too because sometimes we can’t get our minds and bodies to do what we know we need to do, especially when it comes to abuse and like you were talking, it’s so scary to label it correctly because of what the future might bring.
And so if we go in working on our bodies first, our bodies will allow our minds and our hearts to start to let go, start to release some of the emotion, some of the pain, and just a lot of the injury that’s there. If we can’t work on it from our hearts and our minds, then we can work on it first with our bodies, and meditation really helps with that.
The guided meditations that I do in group allow women at the end of the group to let go of all of the heavy things that they may have heard or may have been feeling and focus on letting their bodies relax so that their minds and hearts can come to a place of peace and calm, and even sometimes surrender.
I have different topics that I use for the meditations. I decide on which meditation I’m going to use depending on how the group goes. What are people talking about? What is everybody carrying that’s super heavy? Tonight or today, exactly what is needed? And that’s the meditation I’ll use.
Anne’s healing journey has included yoga & meditation
In my healing, I have found that meditation is the most useful. Meditation and yoga, in case you hadn’t noticed that. I’ve talked about this a lot over the last four years or six years or however long it’s been. This is my full-time job, right? So I talk about recovery all the time. I talk about what’s happening with me all the time, and sometimes I just get sick of talking.
I just want to get in my body and feel the feels and focus on that. And I have found that in my particular stage, that is the most helpful thing. And so I really wanted to make sure that that was available to women in group.
Coach Connie (15:24):
It is so scary when you begin your journey of healing because of recognition, having to be first and admitting it to ourself that it actually really is abuse. And then the what ifs. Okay, so what road am I going to end up taking? I don’t want to be divorced, or I don’t want to be separated, or I need to get out right now.
Whatever it is, whatever direction your mind is going, if you can bring yourself back to the present, focus on right now today, what am I going to do? I’m going to recognize it. I’m going to correctly label it, and then I’m going to see where it takes me tomorrow. What is the next thing that I need to do? I don’t have to think about it right now. I have to think about it in the moment when it comes. And it’s so interesting when you’re able to let go of the secrets and label something.
“Just do the next right thing”
You have your choice, your agency, nobody is going to tell you that you have to take a specific path if you don’t want to get divorced. You don’t have to get divorced if you don’t want to be separated, you don’t have to be separated. You’ll know your own path of safety. And the wonderful thing is you get to change your mind anytime.
So you can say, I don’t want this in my life right now. And then tomorrow you can say, I’m going to embrace this very thing I said I didn’t want. And that’s kind of my platform is it’s individual. You get to decide and you get to decide again tomorrow and the next day and the next day, and your path will lead you. You don’t have to be afraid of your path.
It’s reminding me of the frozen two song. Just do the next right thing.
Coach Connie (16:59):
Just do the next right thing. Should we all break out in song? We’re going to pause the conversation right here.