This show marks the kick-off of themed episodes, where we’re looking at the question, “How do we heal ourselves?” In the episodes coming up over the next couple of months I'm going to be talking to therapists, psychiatrists, psychologists, and others who have a different perspective or expertise around the topic of healing. To begin, I’ll be talking to experts who are sharing their wisdom about family roles, trauma responses, epigenetics, attachment styles, and even healing ancestral wounds.
You know how much I love talking about the deeper stuff and the things that we talk about in counseling, therapy or even in the company of trusted friends. I'm kicking off this theme with Elizabeth Kupferman. She is a woman that I met on TikTok. (Yes, the app is not just for kids!) Elizabeth is a Licensed Professional Counselor and is the author of The Irreverent Grief Guide and the Irreverent Trust Guide: How to Trust Again After Trauma F*cked You Up.
In this episode, Elizabeth and I discuss Complex PTSD, the impact of familial roles on our lives, and explore the trauma responses and the importance of replacing the responses with personal development tools to help heal.
In this episode you’ll hear:
- How trauma work helped Elizabeth heal her eating disorder and how it led her to the work she is doing today. (9:14)
- The different “roles” children are put into in a family system, The Hero, Golden Child, Scapegoat, The Lost Child and Mascot; and how these roles impact us later in life. (11:49)
- The four trauma responses: flight, fight, freeze, and fawn and the importance of learning to replace the trauma responses with tools. (22:43)
- What Elizabeth means when she says, “Complex PTSD is the autoimmune disease of the psyche.” (40:37)
Resources mentioned in this episode:
Retreat with me! Get all of the details and apply to get notified when registration opens
Apply for coaching with me or one of our lead coaches
Complex PTSD: From surviving to thriving, Pete Walker
Codependent No More, Melody Beattie
Elizabeth on TikTok @advancedbitches
Elizabeth on Instagram
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Find a complete list of our sponsors and their offerings visit andreaowen.com/sponsors. Thank you for your support!
Elizabeth Kupferman is a Licensed Professional Counselor and has a private practice and is the author of The Irreverent Grief Guide and the Irreverent Trust Guide: How to Trust Again After Trauma F*cked You Up. She teaches all about CPTSD, grief and loss, introversion and high sensitivity, codependency and all things Advanced Personal Growth Work in her counseling office, online classes, and she's on Instagram, TikTok and YouTube @advancedbitches.
That's part of my process of healing is trying to find out where I am, who I truly am versus what were my trauma responses and I want to heal those.
You're listening to make some noise podcast episode number 424 with guest Elizabeth coupe Furman. Welcome to make some noise podcast your guide for strategies, tools and insights to empower yourself. I'm your host, Andrea Owens, global speaker, entrepreneur, life coach since 2007, and author of three books that have been translated into 18 languages and are available in 22 countries. Each week, I'll bring you a guest or a lesson that will help you maximize unshakable competence, Master Resilience and make some noise in your life. You ready? Let's go. Welcome to the podcast, everybody. I am so glad that you are here. I am doubly excited because today, this episode marks the kickoff of the new way that I am presenting you with the show. What I have decided to do is to divide the months up into themes. So with each theme, we are going to kind of centralize and have our conversation around a particular question. This theme that we're kicking off 2022 with is the question of how do we heal ourselves? In all of the episodes coming up over the next couple of months? You'll hear me ask that question at the very end. How do we heal ourselves? I'm going to be talking to therapists. I'm talking to psychiatrists, psychologists, different people who have a little bit of different perspectives, definitely different expertise. And I'm always going to ask that question at the very end. So you're going to hear various answers to the question, how do we heal ourselves? Over the next few weeks, we're going to be talking to experts who are sharing their wisdom about family roles and ifs, which is internal family systems. It's a modality of therapy. We have experts talking about trauma responses, epi genetics, attachment styles, healing ancestral wounds. I am so excited about this. You guys know how much I love talking about kind of the deeper stuff and the things that that we can talk about in counseling or therapy or even in the company of trusted friends. So I'm kicking it off with a woman that I met on Tik Tok. Yes, I know, it's not just an app for kids, y'all. I've been telling you about it for a little while I'm having so much fun over there I met Hey, Andrea. Oh, and if you do decide to download the app, please follow me. It's fun. And Elizabeth kupperman has a account an account called advanced bitches. Which is so funny to me. And it's all about what you love the the advanced learning, if you will, around personal development. And before I tell you more about her and we jump in, I want to tell you that it's a go for a retreat in 2021. If this pandemic at least somewhat behaves, we are going to go ahead and book house in Asheville, North Carolina, I have narrowed it down and I got some interest from many of you about possibly coming to this retreat. So if you are interested in it, I would love for you to head on over to Andrea o n.com/retreat. So you can read about the logistics, the price range that we're going to offer it, just all of the things you like the big things that you need to know to be able to make your decision. If you want to come with us. I have not settled on a date as I'm recording this. But very soon, we're going to open up registration. And if you sign up on that page, and Andrea o.com/retreat, you are going to be the first to know two things. First, I'm going to send out an email just to that list saying hey, I'm going to open registration on this date at this time, and I'm going to do my best to make it a time that is that is easy for all time zones. And then after that, we're gonna open up registration and send out an email saying, hey, the doors are open, you can sign up if you would like. And the reason that I'm doing not is because a few years ago, the last time I held these retreats, a couple of them sold out within an hour. So I wanted to make sure that people who were truly interested in and really wanting to come that you had a first chance at doing this it's going to be a daring way retreat. This is the modality the methodology, if you will Based on Brene Brown's research that I'm trained and certified in doing since 2014, and it's an incredible set of modules and tools and skills and strategies that you will walk away with. I'm so excited and reopened.com/retreat Alright, let's get into today's episode. Let me tell you a little bit about our friend who has graced us with her wisdom today. Elizabeth Cooperman is a licensed professional counselor and has a private practice and is the author of The irreverent grief guide and the irreverent trust guide, How to trust again after trauma fucks you up, she teaches all about complex PTSD, grief and loss, introversion and high sensitivity, codependency and all things advanced personal growth work in her counseling office, online classes, and she's on Instagram, tick tock, and YouTube at Advanced bitches. So without further ado, here is Elizabeth. Elizabeth, thank you so much for being here.
Oh, it's my pleasure. I'm so excited.
It's so fun to meet people that we follow in real life that we follow on social media and you are one of those people and I probably at least half of the people that I'm interviewing for this series on on healing have come from tick tock.
So that's amazing, isn't it? Yeah. So
health is huge over there.
Yes, yes. There's so many freaking cool people over there.
Creative. Funny, deep. Wise, smart. Yes. It's, it's really great. It's really great. So I encourage everyone who who is an over there yet to download the app. But I have some juicy questions for you. And I have I have so many and we might kind of bounce around. So buckle up everybody. So can you I was super curious. Because I don't think that I saw this and you know, following you now for a while on tick tock, if you wouldn't mind, sharing whatever you feel comfortable with what brought you to this work in particular that like drew you into sharing, and also specifically helping people with their own trauma and their own complex PTSD? A
few answers to that. One of them is I was born like this, like I was just born. I'm an INFJ. And I came out of the womb when somebody says they're fine. And I can read their subtext, oh, you're absolutely not fine. It's just a part of who I am as a person. If you look up INFJ in, you know, like, do
e Nf? J.
So are many of the largest Do you know, like, what's the main occupation for years?
I don't know what that means. I don't know that much. So like,
I had this chart once, and it had like an occupation for like, the main like, not necessarily like what you should do for a living. You mean? Yeah. So like mine, just INFJ just as counselor, like
mindset, it must have been the same thing that we're talking about occupation for each of the letters.
Okay. Yeah. Okay, so there's that. And then I'm 100% Fucked up. And so I've been in therapy, you know, I have like, substance abuse and addiction in my family. And then when my daughter was born, I, you know, my whole thing was like, I am not going to be an alcoholic. I'm not going to be an alcoholic, like them. Like, I'm not I'm not that's never happening. And I wasn't great. But you are that with food 100% of food addict. And, and so when my daughter was born, I just remember I mean, it was a very, you know, it's one of those moments in life where you're like, you'll never forget, like, it was huge for me. And I just looked at her and I'm like, Oh, my God, I have to break the cycle. Oh, no, oh, no, I have to break the cycle. So that was the moment when I said I will do whatever it takes to get better. I will do whatever it takes. I don't care how long it takes or how hard it hurts. I'm not. I'm I'm going to break the cycle. So that was how old is your daughter now? She's 32.
Wow. Okay, I thought you were gonna say she's like a teenager.
No, she's 32. So so. So I've been in therapy for 32 years. I started. Yeah. So that's how I know how long I'm like, Oh, how old is she? Oh, okay. Um, and so I I, you know, just started different than first it was like, I need to figure out how to stop binging and purging like all day long, like, I got to stop doing that. That's not healthy. So that was my focus. I went to a bunch of eating disorder therapists. And then I went into, you know, I was in it for a while, but I couldn't stop relapsing. And I was really stuck and I was still lost and I still was a mess. And then I finally met the woman Men who saved my life and who just retired, it's breaking my heart because I saw her for over 20 years. She's like, okay, it's basically buckle up, it's time to do trauma work. And so that's what I've been doing. And that's the thing that helped me heal my eating disorder more than anything else was healing that because that really gets to the root of the root of the root of the issue. And so and so as I was learning, you know, I just as I started healing, I think I want to become a counselor like I want to do because I was doing as, as a lot.
People identify as addicts.
Totally. And I was a sponsor. I'm basically a therapist since I was in LA. So anyway, um,
Overeaters Anonymous for those
Yeah, yeah. Yes. And so I finally decided to go to grad school when my kids were in middle school.
Okay. Okay, that's so interesting. We have very parallel lives. Very similar. I've been in therapy since I was 18. But mine was more unwilling. It was more like, you know, like, court appointed how to go my, my parents divorce or like, yeah, therapy, even though we still won't talk about anything. Okay, now I have. So I have so many questions just based on that. But I want to, I want to stick to the script, because I am really interested in a few things, because you talk about different roles. This is one of my favorite sort of topics that you that you make tic TOCs on, like different roles that are put into a family and a family, about the hero, the golden child, the scapegoat. And I see myself in some of them, I actually kind of overlap with a couple of them. So can you talk more about that? And maybe, like, give an example of your own family? Or just a an, you know, an
absolutely, absolutely. Okay, so in a toxic family system, and this was invented, the theory came from like addiction, families who have addiction, but I see it as all dysfunctional families have, you know, they're on a continuum. And so, but I think that the, the, the, the roles still apply. So there's the hero slash golden child, that's most usually the firstborn, not always, but it's the one who the overachiever does all the things Shiny, shiny. And that one is, you know, the family needs to be saved, of course, so we need a hero. And the the heroes usually, you know, helping the parents helping the emotional life of the parents saving double one, enable the responsible one, and the family needs somebody to brag about the family needs somebody to point to to say, see, we're fine. Yeah. And then you have the scapegoat. And that's the one that the patient, the family can call the the identified patient, it's kind of sounded like that's what you were at 18. Like, you need to get the problem wrong with you. But we're fine. So the identified patient, the scapegoat, the problem, the one who's always in trouble, the one get that's blamed. You know, I did a tech talk recently about like the hero and the goal, the scapegoat can do the same thing, but the scapegoat is gonna get in trouble for it. And the scapegoat is needed in the family because the scapegoat needs, the family needs somebody to say, that's the problem, not us. That person, that's the issue, not us. And the scapegoat breaks my heart. Because they don't know like, we're all the roles like we're all you know, it's very hard when you're when you when you identify, when your identity is swallowed up by these roles. It's it's a heartbreaking thing. But the scapegoat especially because I just escaped go doesn't know that they're great. The Escape, don't go doesn't know that they're the same thing as the hero, that they're the opposite side of the hero, but the hero is going to get all the glory. And and then they take on the identity of being bad. And that's just heartbreaking. And I think it's I I don't know if it's true, or not, but my hunch is, it's very, it's much harder for the scapegoat to heal.
I'm wondering if anyone, can people change roles, like as they get older, okay, and bounce back between, like, depending on what drama is going on in the family?
Yes. Okay. The psyche is complex. So I think we all have all of these roles. I know I live out all of these have lived out all of these roles. I think that the roles can shift. So one of the things I talk about is when the hero decides to heal, and stop saving the family and stop and start doing boundaries. They can then turn into the scapegoat. That type of day has betrayed the family.
I just got goosebumps when you said that because that's what happened to me. I was the golden child, who then grew up and started to heal, and then saw all the dysfunction and started pointing it out. And then now I'm the scapegoat. Yes, absolutely.
That Absolutely. Because when you start stop filling the role and and you might see other kids or other whatever family ngModel Start rising as the hero, they'll take over your role because especially like a scapegoat might, can slip into it. Usually it'll be the other kid because the scapegoat needs to stay the scapegoat, because they still need somebody to say that person's bad. But they can rise up and kind of over, you know, slip into more of the hero role. Because it's a, you get a lot of accolades, like you. I mean, you pay for it with a pound of flesh every single day, but you get you get rewarded. It's really hard to sacrifice that. It truly is. One time my mom, my mom is a teacher, and she says something like, oh, I have one of you in my class. And I'm like, I feel so sorry for her. Breaks my heart poor thing. Is she okay, this student? Yeah, it's like the a student, the girl the front of the class, like the wanting to learn it all the good one the teachers Pat. Yeah. And that you play the role in different so if I'm the hero, then I'm also going to be the teacher's pet, I will show up and I'm the best worker, you know that you play the role. You can't escape from it, it's just up to you. It follows you wherever you go. Yeah. And so for me, a Student, magna qumola, you know, all the things like, you know, I'm just an all, you know, always needed to hate getting in trouble. Like, if I have a panic attack, if I get in trouble, I guess so. Because it's just because, but remember, all of this is to survive. Yeah, the reason I would get a panic attack if I get in trouble, because now that's messing with my survival, I'm a hero to survive. Okay, so the third one is the Lost Child. And so the lost child is okay, so you have the hero Shiny, shiny, shiny, and the scapegoat, shiny, shiny too, but in the opposite direction, the lost child, we just don't have the energy for you.
We don't like flying under the radar. Yeah, it's like,
and also it's too much like it's over. They're more like they, they they're usually more of a maybe a sensitive soul highly sensitive. And I mean that in the best way, when I use the word somebody is highly sensitive. I mean, it's another word for saying they're highly intelligent. And so it's just so they will, they're invisible in the family, their voice is not heard, they're not seen. They're not appreciated, they will also escape, they usually can be they use that they might have the flight trauma response. So they might always be at a friend's house or just always in their room or always in a book out,
right when they get the first opportunity. Totally,
totally. And so like the hero might wish they could go read a book, but the hero has to entertain, you know, the has to take care of and be present and accounted for and, you know, parents best friend and all that. The Loner kin, you know, the loner that they're allowed to do that because it's like, well, we don't have to Yeah, the last child doesn't get what they wants or needs, Matt. Just invisible. So then you have and so I'm a lost child in the way so when I was in school, yes, I was getting A's, and the only friend was the teacher. The teacher was the only one who liked me. I was super shy. And so I'm lost in the sea of kids. Like I'm lost. I'm I don't know how to and I'm Plus, I'm always been a grown up like I was born and grown up, you know, like, we don't addicts, as you know, like, You are the same way like, well, who are these kids? And what do they want from me? Like I don't I don't I only know how to deal with it. So because we were busy saving them. And we knew how they work. Do we don't know how these kids work? I'm a Lost Child in a lot of ways to like shut down. Hide. So that's how even though Matt heroes my main one, that's that's a part of me too. I'm invisible.
So is it helpful to identify, you know, whether you identify with more than one depending on the time of your life, in therapy so that you and your therapist can kind of talk to that role and the person like how does that actually work?
I love labels except when I don't. I love labels when they are helpful to me. Yeah, labels help me feel seen. It's like hero Oh, Matt scapegoat Oh, la Chapelle mascot, which I'll talk about a minute like, oh my gosh, like, that's my family. Like I can look at those four roles. And my mom has three siblings and they might as well their pictures might as well appear like it's It's uncanny how normalizes it in a totally And she's like, Oh, that's what this is. For me. It's always this. Oh, that's what that is. Oh, I'm not crazy. And also to see it, it's like, oh, this is a thing. This isn't just me. I'm weird. I'm, you know,
is it just our family? Yeah.
Yeah. So it's like, oh, this is, this isn't a textbook, like this is real. And so for me if it's helpful, also, it could language is helpful. And so as a metaphor, like I might, I might use it as a metaphor. So like, the other than I did this again, or I fell into a hero trap again, or something like that in therapy. And then my, my therapist and I, we have a shorthand, it becomes part of our lexicon together. And so that those roles might slip in like like that. Or it could be a teaching moment, that therapist, I teach you moment either way, by the way, the therapist could say like, oh, did you know that's last child and then you're Oh, like it? That's the thing. But sometimes some therapists don't know this stuff. Like they don't actually know these things. And that's what makes people like me, and you beneficial, is it because we've been there done that we we know like we are, it's who we are. The mascots are there to cut the tension. The mascots are there to entertain perform the foot fucking funny to bring levity to that's the thing about a lot like my family is so funny. In the midst of all the dysfunction, it's like, it was still a good time. I mean, not really, but you know what I mean? Like, it wasn't all just dark. There's some family, some kids that come from the family, there's just so much darkness, but with alcoholic families or families of addiction, a lot of times, not always, but there's a mascot there. Some of the disasters, you know, families will laugh at them because of the mask.
And I think before like I think for anyone who identifies as like, probably elder millennial, definitely Gen X and probably baby boomers. That's how we survived. Like, we made fun of problems and people who had feelings. And I think that's that's kind of the the toxic side of it. But we learn to have humor through through things that really needed that were like a bleeding wound.
Agree, Agree. That's what I think a lot of families of addicts, like we have gallows humor, like where it's the dark of like, these are my people like the darkest humor. Like sometimes I can't post a tick tock. It's just for my friends, because it's just too dark.
Yeah, I am the same. I hesitate sometimes to. Okay, so let's move and talk about the four trauma responses.
You got it. So the for the there, hold on, my brain just went
like I just I asked you to move really fast.
Fight or fight or flight. So we know those we've taught those in school fight or flight. And so you either fight the battles live, or you flee from the bear run from the bear. That's flight mode. And then, and then in the late 80s, I think a psychologist came out with Hey, by the way, there's also freeze. So freeze mode came into, you know, the psychological vernacular. And freeze mode is you freeze so the bear doesn't kill you. And so like deer do that bunnies do that, like they freeze when they're scared? And so the question is, well, what do you do if your mom is the bear, so you can't run from your mother for up like when you're a child, and you can't fight your mother, although scapegoats do and fight some fight. Most kids do as well. But they're fighting so they'll, they'll take care of them. They found that fighting is the only way that the parent fighting with the parent is the only way like a scapegoat. Exactly. So that's how they live as to fight.
That's how you choose my ex husband. I felt like the only time paying attention to me was when I was acting crazy, but he would call me crazy. And then he would have to take care of me.
Yes, exactly. So, so freezing is it checking out mentally, checking out mentally, and it's also You were so exhausted from trying to survive this, that we get so tired. It's just physically and mentally draining, to where we can't get off the couch or can't get off out of bed or whatever, just just tired. So that's freeze mode. And then, oh my gosh, if you haven't read Pete Walker's book Complex PTSD from surviving to thriving is incredible. There are lots of great, great, great, great books on trauma. I love his book because he's one of us. So he's teaches it from I have this perspective and I've lived this perspective. And so the the, the words are so it's just resonant. So he came up with the fawn trauma response, which all this time people have been calling codependency. So the fawn trauma response is just basically codependency and the fawn trauma response is you fun the bear compliment the bear on it's for, you know, tell the bears so nice. So the bear won't kill you and keep you around telling people pleasing to which it is people pleasing in order. I call it extreme people pleasing in order to survive. Okay. And so again, we do these things. And that's what's so hard about I don't know if you found this to so all this whatever Instagram is Don't people, please that's that but but but it's like, I wish I could stop. I mean, this is a trauma response. This is life and death for me. Yeah. And when we stop, it's very uncomfortable. Like we don't know what to do when we're not allowed to do our trauma response because it has served its beautiful purpose, which is to help us survive. And so what we do what I teach my clients is slowly but surely we replace the trauma responses with tools. So then we have something else to rely on besides strictly our trauma response. That
is some big work. And I'm glad you said that. So in 21 Did I write that 2016 I wrote how to stop feeling like shit came out in January 2018. And I talked about people pleasing in there. And one of the things that and I still stand behind everything I said, because they have to dig in like you you can't just like you said, like you can't just like tell people to stop people pleasing. It's like telling them to cut off an arm like and just go at your life.
Yeah, I also stopped thinking about polar bears, right? You're gonna
like polar bears? Yeah. Yeah. And one of the things that I've learned since then, and I'm, I'm actually updating the book and it's gonna it's gonna rerelease next year. And one of the things that I've learned through some continuing education about trauma. And so in my own work is exactly what you said that it's a trauma response, like we are trying to get people to love us, because there's some need that's not being met. And that's the thing that you need to dig into with someone who is qualified to do it. You can't just quote, I don't want to I don't want to generalize. It's I in my opinion, it is extremely challenging to just coach yourself through it, or read a book and be like, Okay, I'm not going to do this anymore. I have found as someone who identifies as a recovering codependent that takes some very critical and compassionate self awareness, and yet, vigilant about it. Absolutely. Because, yes, anytime there's kind of like a conflict. I have to pause and this has taken years of work, pause and think about okay, what is my next thought? Like, what is my instinct want me to do? My instinct wants to take care of anybody else. It was an emotional, ignore my own like, you have to get to know your even if they're not your instincts, they're your patterns and your habits so that you can have compassion.
Yes, I think codependency I think of codependent. I mean, again, language. I think of it as an addiction. It helps me to think of codependency as an addiction. So it helps me to think of fawn response as an addiction. So you said it's like, We want somebody to love us, I actually think it is. So we will survive, because the psyche is going to figure out how to survive. We have a psychological immune system, we have a physiological immune system. And just like if I decided to hold my breath, my body would say, Oh, that's so cute. I'm gonna let you pass out now. Because I'm a brain and I need oxygen, you know, or Yeah, so the psyche does the same thing, in my opinion, that when we're threatened that it will take over and do what it does. And so for me, so for me, codependency is the hardest addiction because if I'm an alcoholic, okay, PS, this is asterik. All addictions are a nightmare. They're just different. However, so alcohol, I can stop drinking it. I don't need to drink alcohol to live drugs. I don't need to have them to survive. I don't have I'm a food addict and a balsamic and I have to freakin eat to survive, like I have to actually eat food. So I have to figure out a way to In just food and not have it trigger my addiction. Okay, but food is still outside of me. codependency is in my brain inside the house. Yeah. And so it's like, oh my, it's how I think, you know, one of the things I teach people in my like when they come to me for a session is and they are have somebody in their life who has a personality disorder. And then they're like, I don't know why that person's not going to therapy about this. And I said, well, because it's in their personality. People don't think there's something wrong with their personality. So why would I go to therapy? Why would I go to therapy for my personality? That's ridiculous. I'm amazing. Yeah. However, that so that's what I think of codependency it's part of our personality. Well, then
everyone has some aspects of it. I think that that's why in the conversation, like if somebody just picks up melody Beatty's book, like, probably the most popular one on codependence, and they read like the first chapter, the introduction, and all those all those bullet points, you're going to highlight some of them, because these are just human characteristics of like being in relationship with people. It's where it like crosses the line.
Yeah, just like in the DSM, if you look up narcissism, we might be able to highlight a couple of them, but we don't have all of them. That's what makes that a narcissist. And so I think of all of this on a continuum. There's some that I have and those I love those bullet points on those pages that I do,
do you highlight and then so what I do is like I highlight something that I relate to, and then if I really relate to it, I put stars all around it and arrows. Yes.
Yes. And I might have to like, take a step back and like, okay, oh my gosh, you know, it was one of those like, I feel seen, oh, this is a thing. This is just I'm crazy. It's so that's part of my process of healing, is trying to find out where, where I am, who I truly am versus what were my trauma responses, and I want to heal those
two. I like what you just said, I feel like that is the ultimate work that we are going to spend our entire lifetime doing. Do you feel that way?
Oh, that's that's what I'm on. I have big fan of Carl Jung. And so I'm on the individuation path, I'm trying to become whole in this lifetime, as much as I can.
I was I was doing some continuing education. And I can't remember his name. I didn't take the class, I was just watching like the preview of it. And he's actually an addiction. who specializes in addiction therapy, and his philosophy that he teaches people as that to come to that place where you are already hold, you know that you're already whole, and that you are not broken. And I that's so interesting to me, you know, like looking looking from the outside in at people's different kind of philosophies of healing and therapy and things like that. Do you find it? Maybe this is just a personal question? Do you find it helpful or unhelpful to consider yourself hole or not hole or broken or not broken? How do you feel about like those kind of words,
again, only if they're helpful, the person who said that, and there were saying the same thing, great news is regardless of the four roles of a dysfunctional family, Hero scapegoat, etc. And regardless of our trauma responses, they didn't kill us. We farm those trauma responses, those are our coping skills, it feels like we died. It feels like we pose because part of trauma is like we don't really know who we are because we had to create a false self in order to survive. And part of how we did that was through our trauma responses. But I'm, I'm everything that I need is within me like everything, my true self, my my self with a capital S is untouched, it's just very far away. It's just very far away. And now it's just less far away.
Yes. That deserves an applause I love that
language. It's just depends on what we find helpful. For me the language of becoming whole is just again, being somebody who is fascinated with Union psychology, and that's what I teach. And that's what I what has helped me the most for me the language of becoming whole. I'm kind of saying the same thing he is except I'm using different words, but is to find those places in me that are already whole and live them. Okay. Yes,
I agree with that. And I've really gone back and forth like as someone who talks about this a lot and writes about it and writes books, and and I like the notion of helping people come to a place where they don't feel broken. However, I think the thing that's been conflicting personally is years ago, especially when I was first out of my super traumatic experience. I felt invalidated when people said, You're not broken. And I was like, oh, oh, you don't understand what happened to me, like the profound humiliation that I that I dealt with. I felt broken. However, it feels empowering to me to have come from that place, and be able to learn to heal myself and love myself and come back from that. So I think that's kind of what you're saying. Like you have to use what works for you.
Yes. And I mean, I was the brokenness bit you ever did me like I was fully broken and if someone says over here, you know it to me some of it is like the toxic positivity. So you're not bro. Okay, great. And don't manifest broken. Like, okay, I just need to express to you a truth of my life, that I feel broken. I and you know, if you are going to sit there and art like, just think about it. This just think about the toxicity of that moment. I'm broken. No, you're not okay, great. Another gaslight? Do you know what I mean? Like, no, like, let me express my truth.
Yeah. And that was that was step No, no, I agree with you. I don't think I've ever I've even talked about that a whole lot on on the show. And just, I think that there was there was a long period of time where I don't feel in my last therapist I had who also retired and I was very sad about who was who I was doing trauma therapy with. She commented on how I come to sessions, and she's like, you're always so she called me a performer. She's like, you're an entertainer. And I'm like, yeah, it's just part of my personality. And she's like, You don't have to be that way here. Like with me, and I was like, but if I don't do that, you might see me for all of my woundedness like, I'm getting emotionally even just talking about it. If you see me and all of my woundedness I feel naked. And I really want you to like me, I really want you to be my friends. Like, I It's like that inner child of like, no, no, no, no. Like, that's not your role. Your role is to entertain, to make people smile, to have people tell you how funny you are and how magnetic you are. And that's it. Like anything else. You go do that in your room? Because that's all I was told.
Absolutely. And do you recognize that as mascot?
Yeah. So I've and and my family system like to go back to that is is tricky. And I'm assuming there's other people listening, who were either an only child, or who had step siblings who like lived with them part of the time. And with my family system, I was the youngest of five. But my siblings, my older siblings were half siblings that came from my parents previous marriages who were much older than I was. So it's our roles have kind of shifted depending on our age. And also depending on like, when my dad died in 2016, I saw all of our roles when my homies are adults. well into adulthood. I'm the youngest by far and I'm 46. So I noticed that when we got together, I found that they were treating me like a little girl. It was very subtle, huh? My brother patted me on the head. Oh. What just happened? There was a little bit of mansplaining going on love him to death. But then I realized, like, Oh, this is what we're doing. We're doing this dance. Yeah, yes. Yeah, it was awkward. And I think I'm the only one that either I can I can't speak for them. But I feel like I was the only one that saw it and desperately wanted to point it out, but knew it would not be helpful in the moment.
No, and it's invalid. I wanted to get away. It's visible to them. You know, and comfortable. Totally, totally.
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PTSD is when you have a traumatic event, and then that's it's in the DSM, like it's a, you know, an actual disorder, where you have a traumatic event, and that you can point to it, it was the car accident, it was the war, it was the robbery slap in the face. Yeah, what I like that, that was the thing that is causing me this. And you it's crazy. Make is very upsetting and hard. But but you do have a thing that you can point to see PTSD, or complex PTSD is another way of saying childhood trauma, where there's not just one thing, it's just I think of it as like being a fish in water. It's just the water. And that's complex PTSD. It's just, and it's complex to heal. Because some of this, we don't know how, you know, we don't there's not again, one particular thing and the thing about most people think, well, I don't have that because my parents didn't beat me or I don't have that because my parents were alcoholics or I don't have that. And I don't think any of us get through childhood unscathed by some kind of traumatic thing. I mean, it could even be like, Mommy, can I have more dinner or whatever? And it's like, oh, you know, mommy's busy, because she's actually busy. That the child could get a complex Do you know, they're just little psyches? And they can, you know, they don't know. So isn't it and it's not parent blaming, like we were indoctrinated by our culture or society, our schools, our other people in our lives. So we don't know a lot of us do know, really horrific things that happened in our childhood. But that still doesn't mean that what we don't remember is the invisible messages about like, no one's going to tell you to a lost child, Hey, I just want to let you know, we're not interested in your wants or needs. And could you just shut up and be invisible? That's never sad. But the message message comes across, through little things like being patted on the head. And little, you know, it just the micro expressions like we know, we can feel the toxicity in the room and even of that, and a child enduring. You know, I think about like people overstaying to get together for the kids, but they hate each other. Just like the kids know, they know we can feel it like, like you're not it's not a secret. And so now I have to be raised in a home where I have to endure to people's hatred of each other every day. That's trauma.
Yes, I think so many people are probably thinking of things and and for some, maybe it's memories that they don't remember, but something is going on in their body, or they get triggered by something that seems innocuous and they're like, What is that and it might be something that the memory has been suppressed. So talk to us about the metaphor of the auto immune, autoimmune disease of the psyche,
I think you know, autoimmune diseases, it's like the it's the body attacking itself. Like it's, it's the body. Yeah, and I'm not an expert on those. I just, I just, it's like the body's turning on itself in one way or another or something's, you know, there's not like an external bacteria or something like that. Okay, so it's the body doing that. And the psyche of childhood trauma. CPTSD is like, I hate myself. It's the mind it's the psyche turning on its own self. You know, I'm stupid, I'm lame. I'm ridiculous. I I don't deserve good things. I'm bad. You know, the abuse the abuser or dysfunction, or whatever we had to do or that it made us in end up with C PTSD. That's gone. Like it's, I mean, we still have to deal with toxic family members sometimes or it was toxic spouse or something. But were those that's formed now we're doing it to ourselves. Yeah. To survive. Again, it's not we're not being bad. And it's an also like, it's like, well, you should just accept a compliment. You deserve it. Okay, great. Thanks. Okay. That's not helpful because I, there's trauma in there, and we have to, so it's in us, that's what I meant by that.
I'm assuming to the thing that I was thinking of when you were saying all those things that somebody with an adult with CPST might think is, it may it may be it also manifests as believing that the world isn't safe, that people are not safe that you cannot trust anyone or anything.
Correct, that's well earned. They figure that out, they learned that my just wrote a book on trust, and CPTSD that's what I call them. CPTSD kids, one of the first developmental stages is trust versus mistrust. And we don't pass that one. Like we don't develop trust because we're just constantly being betrayed or let down or we learned that we can't trust anybody. I mean, I was a rock I was an island like I the only, you know, I was taught by my grandmother, the, you know, if you're looking for a helping hand, look at the end of your arm.
Wasn't that such a like a baby boomer like your net rugged individualism, my mom was the same. It's like, one of the earliest pieces of advice that I remember her telling me is the only person that you will ever be able to rely on is yourself. Yeah, and I she meant well, she meant well, because she got me 17 had two kids and her husband was a jerk.
I just say, fonds. The that's a fun response that she didn't mean well, because the messages is that in that is also you can't rely on me.
Yeah, I remember her telling me that more than once. Yeah, I interpreted it as like that's her own trauma, talking about, of course, let her down over and over again.
But I think funds we all need to lose the phrase they meant well don't know they didn't we can acknowledge that that wasn't, you know, I mean, we can say she said it. That's fine. She said it, but I don't. That's just passing on something that that's not very healthy. And again, the message in that is, if I'm telling my child that the only person you can rely on is yourself, I'm also telling them that means PS you can't rely on me. traumatic. That's traumatic can't rely on me or your father. Yeah. And that's not meaning. Well, sorry. Yeah. But I just I and the reason molecules like that, the reason I'm saying it like that is we're indoctrinated to say to people who have said hurtful things to us that they met well, and when doctrine ated, to say, well, we have to give them a benefit of the doubt. It's true. They're also have childhood trauma, like they that you know, and that they pass it on. And I'm not saying that, I don't mean that they're bad. I'm just saying like, it's just a truth. And we can finally finally, finally stop saying that they meant well, we can just say about those things happen. And I wrote my favorite one of my favorites, my favorite word. And also one of my favorite tools is and my parents hurt me. And I could cry rivers about what they went through. But it's still true that they hurt me. Yeah, you know, both can be true.
Yeah. And I've also because I sort of obsess on like my own parenting, and like trying to get everything right, and trying to do things differently, and like, break the cycles. And I finally several years ago, so my kids are 14 and 12. Now, I have come to the realization, and I'm like, my children are going to talk about me in therapy someday, because I can't control how they interpret my parenting.
Oh, well, I My thing is like, I there's at least 10 good reasons why my kids need to go to therapy to talk about me specifically, like at least 10 Not incidents, reasons like global like, no, no, I got into recovery, I wanted to break the cycle for my firstborn child. And so what I found, so when I had a baby, I was like, Oh, my gosh, I have to break the cycle. So that was the beginning of my, my adventures in therapy. And what I found out, which was very sad, very, very sad. You can only break the cycle for yourself. Because these things and and so me overcompensating for things that I didn't get was also not that helpful to my kids.
I realized that too. Yeah, it might be not the thing that they need.
Right. Exactly, exactly. So me finding my kids. I mean, it's just ridiculous. Some of the fawning that I did with them, to get them to like me, but also a quick for instance, is one time my daughter. So my mom, oh, God, please never let her find the spot. I guess. never apologize. Ever, ever, ever, ever, ever. And so one of my things is, you know, as God is my witness, I'm going to apologize to my kids when I mess up because I'm human, and it's a blow. So then I apologize to my kids. Mommy should not have said that. You know, mommy, like whatever. Sorry, Mommy did that and that was dumb, or whatever. And then and then one time, my daughter, you know, over the ages, I said, Hey, I just want to and she goes, what are you going to do apologize? And I was like, Oh, it doesn't matter. You're the mother and it's gonna be you know what I mean? It was too much what I was doing, and I appreciate her.
Oh, Man, do you know what I'm saying?
So that yes, I did, like, save my child's life break the cycle by saying, but maybe I was doing it too much. And is that even a good example for a woman to teach her daughter to apologize all the time? So I'm like, Fine, you know, but here's what we do know, is that it's better? Yeah, it's better. It's better. It's better.
Yeah, I agree. I could talk to you all day,
I could talk to you forever. I'm
gonna have to have you back on. Because I still have questions that I didn't ask you. I'll do a part two with with Elizabeth. But I do want to ask you the question that I've been asking all the guests on this theme is it's a gigantic whopper of a question. And I just, in your own words, how do we heal ourselves?
I love this question. And I actually don't think it's a whopper of a question. I love it. I got into therapy because I wanted to stop throwing up in the toilet 50 times a day. And I wanted to save my child's life, and break the cycle for my children. And I just wanted to stop doing that. Like, I just wanted to stop being so messed up. And I stopped wanting to be sad all the time. And I wanted to stop hating myself like That's after I got through the addiction. And then I thought you know how to do all that stuff. And it just kept going. And then what I have found is that when you heal your trauma, your life can become so magical. It is it is magical to walk around in the world and actually love yourself and find yourself. I'm great company with myself. Like it's just and so for me, what has happened is that when you heal this stuff, like life is magical. I'm magical, like in part of all the things that I teach people to do, you know, just so the answer, the question is, how do you heal the psyche is vast. And when a client comes into session with me, and they say, I'm wasting my session, or I don't, I don't want to talk about the wrong thing I want to talk about the right thing. What I tell them is this, the psyche is vast, and it has many doors, it's like it has a lot of doors. So if you come in and talk about your boss being asshole, you're gonna we're gonna learn a tool, and that tool. So that door goes into the psyche. And now you have that tool and you can use it with everyone. It heals everything. And then if you want to talk about how you know, a client want to talk about their kid being bullied at school or something like that, we walk in that door, and then those tools and then there might be some healing in them because maybe they were bully too, or what? And so it's so how do we heal, it doesn't matter. It doesn't matter what you do to heal, you want to read a book, read a book, you want to go to a meeting, go to meeting you want to go to therapy, go to therapy you want to do you want to follow some, you know, mental health people on tick tock or, or Instagram do that like, and so what I always say is you follow the thread. So I've mentioned a few books, you've mentioned a few books on this podcast, somebody is gonna hear this, and they're gonna be like, Oh, that book sounds interesting. And I'll say follow the thread. So you follow the thread and you get that book. And then you read that book, and then you learn something else. And then you follow the thread again, to the new thing, or the the other book or you know, you just follow the thread to the new person that says the thing that you needed to hear and, and you just keep going and keep going. And you never stop. And the consequences for me of living that life are truly magical. Like beyond beyond, I want to cry. It's so great. It's so great. It doesn't mean I'm happy all the time. And it doesn't mean I'm not a bitch. And it doesn't mean I'm not a nightmare. or annoying or don't go into my trauma responses. But it does mean it's magical. Still.
I believe you and I wholeheartedly back that message. Thank you so much for giving us your time. I am for sure gonna have you back on Elizabeth's books are going to be in the shownotes links to those as well as her social media and her website. Everyone please go message her on Instagram and tell her how much you love this show or tag her as you share this podcast episode. And remember everyone, it's our life's journey to make ourselves better humans and our life's responsibility to make the world a better place. Bye for now. Hey, everyone, thanks so much for listening to this show. I hope you truly love this conversation that I had with Elizabeth. And if you are someone who would like more support in your life, I encourage you to check out our private coaching. You can do the easy way and go to Andrea Oh and.com/apply And you'll answer some questions and then my team will be in touch letting you know what the next step is. And that's probably putting you together with the possible right coach for you. It might be me or it might be one of my lead coaches, Sabrina or Liz, we all specialize in something slightly different. So if you're interested again head on over to Andrea o n.com/apply.