When a woman has been betrayed and emotionally and psychologically abused, she often loses herself.
She loses her joy… sometimes even for life itself.
She loses her desire… for pretty much anything.
She loses her self-worth… after all, she’s been told she’s worthless.
She loses her identity… she’s given her whole self to trying to make her husband happy.
She loses her creativity… she’s tried to conform to this idealized image of what a woman, wife and mother should be.
When she loses all of this, she’s left with a gaping hole in her soul.
How can she restore her creativity?
What does that have to do with healing?
How can meditating help her restore herself and her creativity and help her heal from emotional abuse?
Anne Blythe, founder of Betrayal Trauma Recovery, is joined by Peggy, Shero and BTR coach, to talk about how creativity and meditation can lead to healing from emotional abuse.
What Is Meditation?
Often, when people think about meditation, they think of a person sitting on the floor eyes closed, with the right foot resting on the left knee and the left foot resting on the right knee, both elbows bent with the palms facing up and the first two fingers gently touching the thumb. From this person’s mouth comes an incessant “Ohhhhhmmmmmm.”
That’s not exactly what meditation is or what it looks like but meditation has become increasingly popular and not just among those who sit in an awkward position on the floor.
Realistically, that just looks uncomfortable and would not be helpful for an inflexible person, trying to meditate.
Meditation is a way to help the body and the mind relax, which sometimes leads to falling asleep, according to Coach Peggy.
“People don’t need to feel guilty if they fall asleep or that it didn’t work or something, because we’re not really talking to the conscious mind. The conscious mind is kind of going, ‘Oh, I don’t have anything to do here.’”-Peggy, BTR coach
As she points out, meditation focuses on the unconscious mind, leaving the conscious mind behind.
This means leaving behind all thoughts of to-do lists, potty training, doctor’s appointments, kids’ school issues, and that mile-long list of other things a woman thinks and worries about.
Coach Peggy does point out that meditation doesn’t involve no thinking at all.
“The guided mediation that I do is not just sitting still and not thinking any thoughts. Although, we do get into a deep meditative state, it’s guided and there are words that are guiding you. we give the thinking mind, or that trauma brain, something to do during the process. The trauma brain has something to do during the process so we can keep it busy and get to the deeper part and find that healing down deep.”-Peggy, BTR coach
By digging into the unconscious mind, a person can find deeper, more meaningful healing from trauma, than by simply working on the conscious mind.
Leaving behind those conscious thoughts provides relief to an often heavily burdened woman. Coach Peggy says it’s especially important to take time to meditate during extremely stressful times.
“It just feels so overwhelming. The partner that you had counted on or invested in and hoped would be there when something crazy is happening and disrupting all of our lives, they’re not there. They’re actually causing stress in their life. You have to up the self-care and figure out ways for you to be grounded and find your center.”-Peggy, BTR coach
Anne says it’s difficult for friends and family to relate because they haven’t experienced the loneliness.
“Women in abusive relationships, when there’s a crisis, the person that should be there to help them financially, emotionally, physically, protect the family, is not only gone but they’re harming the family through lies, manipulation, and other things. That’s this added layer of stress that’s so hard for people who haven’t been through it to understand.”-Anne Blythe, founder of Betrayal Trauma Recovery
Coach Peggy has been working with women on helping them deal with the current crisis of COVID-19.
“[My clients] are more acutely aware of their pain, their fear, so we’ve just been working on more self-care, more ways to handle things when they’re at home.”-Peggy, BTR coach
Giving the conscious mind that break can provide some relief, especially during crises.
How Meditation Can Help Restore Creativity
Many women used to turn to creative outlets to relieve their stress.
Creativity gives the conscious mind a break and lets the unconscious take over.
“I’ve worked with clients who this is a part of their self-care. They’ve dropped their creative life. They’re no longer dancing, they’re no longer writing, they’re no longer spending time listening to music or they’re no longer doing things creatively in their home or creating the kind of life that they want. It doesn’t have to be artistic, but that’s their personal power.”-Peggy, BTR coach
Creativity is a way of meditating.
Many women have found great healing in rediscovering their creativity and using those creative outlets to relieve some of their pain and regain their power.
“With me, during this time, this has been huge for me to do some of my own work to regain my personal power and to let go of some of the fear and the stress because I have felt it. I really have felt it too.”-Peggy, BTR coach
“That was my way of expressing what had happened to me in the verbal abuse. That was something that was super helpful for me, to be able to verbalize this.”-Peggy, BTR coach
Being able to use her creativity to talk about what she felt and what she experienced, empowered Peggy and helped her on her own healing path.
How Meditation And Creativity Can Help You Heal From Emotional Abuse
Of course, meditation can be healing and creativity can be healing, but can putting them together be healing?
If creativity is a form of meditation, then why not?
One of Coach Peggy’s clients used to dance, so she encouraged her to try doing that again.
“For anyone who’s in trauma, movement is really important. You can put on happy, sad, or angry music and just allow your body to move. You can dance with your kids, if that feels appropriate. Of course, if you’re trying to get out anger, or something like that, you may not want to be around your children, but it’s such a powerful tool to be able to just move your body.”-Peggy, BTR coach
Movement, as Coach Peggy points out, is very healing for anyone if they’ll let it be.
“It really helps to loosen up the trauma. You might start crying. Allow yourself that opportunity to feel and to move through those emotions. Those emotions are stuck in your body and you want them to get out.”-Peggy, BTR coach
The way music guides the body when dancing, the way the pen guides the writer when storytelling, or the way the canvas guides the artist, Coach Peggy guides the unconscious mind through the meditation process.
“It’s very much a creative process that way. The thinking mind wants to try and get it right, but there is no getting it right, when it comes to the unconscious. We trust whatever comes up because that’s the deeper part of you and it can make for some really amazing healing, and relief too, for the people that go through it.”–Peggy, BTR coach
As Coach Peggy does individual sessions, she may ask for a response through the meditation process. At first, it may seem silly, but Anne recommends responding with whatever pops into the mind because it may end up being very interesting.
Meditation Can Be Empowering
“If I was to give anyone any tips it would be, just say the first thing that comes to your mind. If you ask, ‘What do you picture?’ and I picture a big cotton ball, I say, ‘A big cotton ball.’ Even though it seems weird, just go with it. It gets you to some really interesting and cool places. I really like that about it because, instead of worrying about what is the right answer, you can just go with whatever comes into your mind. It’s fun.”-Anne Blythe, founder of Betrayal Trauma Recovery
Whether it’s guided meditation or creativity, finding an outlet that leaves behind the conscious mind, even for a short time, can be very helpful to healing from emotional and psychological abuse.
Especially in the midst of trauma, this part of self-care is vital, as Anne points out.
“This is super helpful during that safety and stabilization phase to get your emotions regulated, so that you can make wise decisions. Also, during that first phase where you’re not safe and you’re not stable and you need to get to safety, things get extremely intense emotionally, and you have to take a little break from the intensity.”-Anne Blythe, founder of Betrayal Trauma Recovery
Of course, women’s safety is always top priority for Anne, Coach Peggy, and Betrayal Trauma Recovery.
Finding safety in the crises of the current pandemic may be difficult. Betrayal Trauma Recovery wants all women who have been betrayed and abused to find safety.
Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group provides a safe place to share with other women facing similar circumstances. With UNLIMITED access to more than 15 live sessions a week, it’s easier than ever to find a BTR Group session that fits your schedule without having to leave your home. Each session is led by a Certified Betrayal Trauma Specialist.
Welcome to Betrayal Trauma Recovery, this is Anne.
I have Coach Peggy on today’s episode. She is an amazing coach. I go to her for meditation sessions, which are super helpful to me. She does one meditation session in our online Daily Support Group, which is Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group. When you join, just look at that schedule and you can join her session. What time is it Peggy?
Peggy: It’s 8:00 pm Mountain Time, on Thursdays.
Anne: She also coaches regular BTR Group sessions and does individual sessions. Peggy has been coaching me, and I’ve been doing meditation sessions with her for about six months, ever since she joined BTR. I love the meditation sessions.
I just want to talk about our recent one just really quickly. There’s no real specific topic for today, we’re just going to be talking about the current situation, self-care, and a bunch of other things with Coach Peggy.
We did one last week. I have been stressed out and not sleeping well, because of the “zombie apocalypse” and also trying to help women throughout the world be delivered from the bondage of abuse—both those things weigh on my mind quite a bit.
I actually fell asleep multiple times during the session because I was so relaxed, which was awesome because I hadn’t been that relaxed in a really long time, then I slept super well every night after that. Last night was the first night that I had a rough night. It really helped me process the stress, anxiety, and all the things that I’m going through. I really appreciate Coach Peggy.
Is it common that you see people relax a lot during the meditation sessions?
Peggy: Oh, yeah. Sometimes, I’ll have people say, “Oh, my gosh, I haven’t been that relaxed in so long.” It’s very common and falling asleep is okay too. I wouldn’t want somebody to sleep through the whole thing, but people don’t need to feel guilty if they fall asleep or that it didn’t work or something, because we’re not really talking to the conscious mind. The conscious mind is kind of going, “Oh, I don’t have anything to do here.”
Anne: It was weird because when I would fall asleep it was for a nanosecond and then I’d realize I didn’t hear what you said.
Peggy: Yeah, and that’s usually not a problem. It still works.
Anne: On our Instagram account, we had a post that says this, “The whole world is feeling afraid and hypervigilant right now. For a betrayed and traumatized person, this is their normal. They feel this way all day long. The world doesn’t shut down or come to their aid when they feel unsafe. Remember this please.”
Right now, we’ve got trauma and the effects of abuse compounded on, I’ll just call it the “zombie apocalypse,” for lack of a better way to say it, the stress is just compounding.
Meditation Is Important For Healing
Why is it important for victims of abuse during these times of high stress to be able to let go of the stress for a time?
Peggy: Because it just feels so overwhelming. I’ve had clients who have said, “I feel this, added layer of feeling lost and alone,” because the partner that you had counted on or invested in and hoped would be there for you when something that seems so crazy is happening and disrupting all of our lives, they’re not there.
They’re not there helping them. They’re actually causing stress in their life. It’s just really important. You just have to up the self-care and figure out ways for you to be grounded and find your center. It can just get very overwhelming.
Anne: I think that’s one thing we really need to acknowledge. Women in abusive relationships, when there is a crisis, the person that should be there to help them financially, emotionally, physically, protect the family is not only gone but they’re harming the family through lies, manipulation, and other things. That’s just this added layer of stress that’s so hard for people who haven’t been through it to understand.
Peggy. Yes, so you need to just up your self-care. It’s a great time to try and refocus on, maybe, some creativity. It’s so interesting. Patricia Evans, in The Verbally Abusive Relationship, she says this which really made me stop and think, she says, “Through our relationship to our creative self, we experience our personal power.” That has really come home to me through this chaos that’s happening through COVID-19, or this “zombie apocalypse,” as you call it, Anne.
I’ve really been going through my own process with this. This quote, I’ve just had it up in my bathroom and looking at it every day going, “What is it? What is it? What is it?” Because I’ve really been stuck, and working on some creative projects. One of them is some drawings that I’m doing for a coloring journal, based on my poetry.
I’ve really been stuck, so I received my own guided meditation around this and, BAM! it just broke wide open and I’ve been running ever since. My creativity has just come back and I’m super happy about it.
I’ve worked with clients who this is a part of their self-care. They’ve dropped their creative life. They’re no longer dancing, they’re no longer writing, they’re no longer spending time listening to music or they’re no longer doing things creatively in their home or creating the kind of life that they want. It doesn’t have to be artistic, but that’s their personal power.
There’s just a real connection here with that. I just want to share that, with me, during this time, this has been huge for me to do some of my own work to regain my personal power and to let go of some of the fear and the stress because I have felt it. I really have felt it too.
Anne: What have you seen with clients, during this time, with the effects of abuse compounded with a worldwide crisis?
Peggy: Well, I’ve just seen that they’ve noticed more acutely, it’s just been more acute, their pain, their fear, so we’ve just been working on more self-care, more ways to handle things when they’re at home.
Anne: Speaking of creativity, do you have any examples from some of your clients, that you’ve coached them through, that has helped them process the emotions through creativity?
Peggy: Yeah, so I have a client who ordered a learning piano thing online for her kids and she’s going to be doing that. She started to hear songs and started writing those down. I encouraged her to get back to dancing and she said, “Well, I like to do choreographed stuff.” I really encouraged her to just put on music and dance, to not have to worry about the choreography.
Part of the reason I did that was because, for anyone who’s in trauma, movement is really important. You can put on sad music, you can put on angry music, you can put on happy music and just allow your body to move.
If you want to be in a private space, you can make sure you’re in a private space. You can dance with your kids, if that feels appropriate. Of course, if you’re trying to get out anger, or something like that, you don’t want to be around your children, but it’s such a powerful tool to be able to just move your body. It really helps to loosen up the trauma. You might start crying. Allow yourself that opportunity to feel and to move through those emotions. Those emotions are stuck in your body and you want them to get out.
Meditation Can Help Trauma Survivors Thrive
Anne: You mentioned you’re doing a coloring journal and you also talked about poetry, as a way to process some of the things that you went through. Would you feel comfortable sharing one of your poems with us today?
Peggy: Sure. I would love that. When I started doing Journey work, which is what this guided meditation is, it’s called the Journey Method, years ago it just opened a floodgate of poetry for me and I just started writing a lot of poetry. This coloring journal is based on that but it’s going to be a coloring book. It’s going to be helping people tap into whatever is going on inside of them. For women really, because I’m a woman and it’s all from my perspective.
I’ve written a lot of poetry over the last ten years. A lot of what’s going to be in this journal is more like self-actualization, tapping into my little child, listening to the voices in my head, playing, and trying to get around that. I did write a very poignant poem, more recently, after I was divorced and the pain of that came out in the realization. Maybe we can start with that poem because it’s a little bit heavier.
I Got Hit Last Night
I got hit last night. I didn’t see it coming. It wasn’t like I knew it. It crossed me with a thumping. A thumping that was bumping, but not in black and blue. It bumped and thumped inside me and I knew it wasn’t true. He said it like he meant it, but something seemed so wrong, The words he said I said, to me, did not belong. “I’m sure I didn’t mean that, It wasn’t my intent. So please forgive and let this rift not cause more discontent.” But on and on he threw it, and kept the pummel round until he’d gotten to it and left me on the ground. I didn’t even know it, But, somehow, I could hear, my heartbeat had been beaten and I had disappeared. I’m sure that something happened last night, and all I know is this, it wasn’t with a pumping of a tightly wound up fist. It’s not like I could see it or even feel the pound but something had been beaten and the swelling was profound. I got hit last night. I didn’t see it coming. It wasn’t like I knew it, It crossed me with a thumping.
Peggy: It was about one particular time. That was something that was super helpful for me, to be able to verbalize this.
Anne: Well, and it’s helpful for our listeners to listen to it. I mean, listeners might be listening right now and be thinking, “Well, I don’t write poetry,” but you can listen to poetry.
There are so many different ways to express our emotions, and Peggy, that poem was beautiful, and I really related to it. I thought, “Wow, I feel like I’ve been through this as well.”
Peggy: Thank you.
Anne: I think every woman listening to the podcast can totally feel what you’re saying and relate to that poem.
Peggy: Yeah. It’s interesting because this one I actually wrote a long time ago, when I was in the middle of that relationship that was so controlling and abusive, but this was my escape. This was my way of really tapping into myself.
A lot of the poetry that is going to be in this coloring journal is going to be from that time period, and it really was me discovering more about myself, within myself. It was a great way to help me get through the relationship when it was hard.
Tub O’ Lard
Tub O’ Lard, that’s not me. But I have a thickness, sure as can be. It creeps on in and paints me fat, Keeping me worried about all that. Then the thoughts come flooding, judgments too, They keep me from really seeing you. For I’m worried about me now, how I look. I know it’s not the cover, but the book… Yet, I have a critic in my head that makes me feel so bad that I eat bread, Or stuff my face at night when I’m sad. That old fart, she makes me feel so mad! So, I worry, and I fret, and I work out and I sweat. And the thickness starts to go, and the critic starts to say— “See you’re not so fat now, you’re better than the rest.” And I should kick her out and lock the door, But I really like the fact that she thinks I’m the best! So, I see-saw and I gloat, and I float, and I sweat, And I put her in the closet, and I play this little game: If I just forget about her then maybe she’ll go away! Then the thickness starts to creep and at the door, she starts to peep And here I feel all bad again And names start flying like fat again! OH, STOP IT NOW, I’m done with this! And hug her big and plant a kiss. “I love you anyway,” I say “Any way you choose to play.” And so, it starts, I change the game To loving me and her the same. So now, no matter what she says, I send my love and go to bed.
That’s about loving yourself.
Anne: So many women are trying to learn these skills of self-love and being able to emotionally regulate and art can really help us do that as well as meditation. That’s what I love about our BTR coaches, every coach has such a different personality or different skillset and can help in different ways.
I’m at the point where talking, in terms of actual progress, doesn’t help me a whole lot, so movement, as you talked about, like yoga helps me and doing your meditation really helps me.
Why do you think so many women put off meditation until later and they don’t realize that it could help them in the very beginning?
Peggy: I think it’s because they have so much emotional dysregulation and trauma. There are so many thoughts going on in their head. They don’t think they can. They think they have to control all of that. That it’s got to stop.
What Is Guided Meditation?
If I have someone that comes into group meditation, most of the time people don’t have a hard time with it, but if I have someone that that might be a big deal then it might be slowing them down. Then I encourage them to work with me privately and we can kind of talk through that.
The thing that’s interesting is that the guided mediation that I do, as you know, is not just sitting still and not thinking any thoughts. Although, we do get into a deep meditative state, like you said, where you get so relaxed that you feel like you want to fall asleep, but because it’s guided and there are words that are guiding you, and because we’re activating the deeper part of your psyche through the five senses, which is visualizations, auditory, the sounds, emotions, or the sensations in the body.
The way that I do this guided mediation, we give the thinking mind, or that trauma brain, something to do during the process. The trauma brain has something to do during the process so that we can keep it busy and get to the deeper part and help you find that healing down deep. Does that make sense?
Anne: Yeah, it absolutely does. It’s very, very helpful. When you join Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group, you can go to Peggy’s group meditation session and group members get 10% off individual sessions. If you find it to be helpful, then you can do an individual session with her, which you can really get specific to yourself and really deep.
I love being able to respond during the meditation session, so even though I’m relaxed, Peggy asks me questions and then I can respond and tell her what I’m seeing or feeling. It’s an interactive experience. It’s not like you’re just sitting there, and someone is talking at you.
Peggy: When you’re ready for this, it’s not hard, but you’ve done a lot of meditation. I think it’s very easy for you to do this.
Anne: I think if I was to give anyone any tips it would be, just say the first thing that comes to your mind. If you ask, “What do you picture?” and I picture a big cotton ball, I say, “A big cotton ball.” Even though it seems weird, just go with it. It gets you to some really interesting and cool places. I really like that about it because, instead of worrying about what is the right answer, you can just go with whatever comes into your mind. It’s fun. I like it.
Peggy: It’s very much a creative process that way, and you’re absolutely right, Anne. The thinking mind wants to try and get it right, but there is no getting it right, when it comes to the unconscious. We trust whatever comes up because that’s the deeper part of you and it can make for some really amazing healing, and relief too, for the people that go through it.
Anne: This is super helpful during that safety and stabilization phase to get your emotions regulated, so that you can make wise decisions. Also, during that first phase where you’re not safe and you’re not stable and you need to get to safety, things get extremely intense emotionally, and you have to take a little break from the intensity. 12-Step programs will tell victims, “Don’t numb out.”
But I’m thinking you can’t feel that level of intensity and that level of pain all the time. It’s just exhausting, so you do need a break from it. Meditation is a way to take a break, while also processing at the same time. I find it so helpful.
I think Netflix is another great way to take a break, but your meditation is a productive, progressive way to take a break.
Peggy: Absolutely. I would like to say something about that too. Sometimes, I have clients who come to me and they’re like, “I just want to work on me, and I want to start into this meditation.” We do a coaching session or two and then I’m like, “I don’t think you’re safe yet,” so we step back.
Sometimes people want to do that deeper healing work, when they actually need to be setting boundaries and we need to be working on some tools to help them get safe first, before we dive deep into some of that stuff.
It really depends on the client and where they’re at. Sometimes, when they come to me, we’ll start right in with the guided mediation. That’s perfect for them, and sometimes if I see that they need to be doing maybe a session or two to work on values or boundaries or she just needs to talk, and we need to figure out how she can move forward first and then we figure out when it’s time to start doing the guided meditations. It just depends on the client and how that goes.
Anne: Coach Peggy and I will continue our conversation about her meditation sessions and other topics next week, so make sure to join us next week to hear the rest of our conversation.
If you’re interested in meeting Coach Peggy and talking with her, one way to do that is to join Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group. You can see the session schedule at btr.org, and she’s also available for individual sessions.
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