We continue our conversation about healing ourselves with guest Melissa Parks! Melissa is a licensed therapist who specializes in Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy and trauma therapy. I learned about her work through TikTok when she kept appearing on my For You Page. I have since come to learn just how insightful she is around the topic of attachment styles and the modalities she uses in her practice.

In this episode, we explore some of the modalities, such as EMDR and Somatic therapy. Melissa also describes the four different attachment styles, anxious, avoidant, disorganized, and secure; and how they may manifest in our lives. She also explains how we can move through rigidity (avoidant or anxious, for example), to a place of security and healing.

You’ll hear:

  • EMDR: what it is and what symptoms it can help treat. Plus, it is not just a modality for treating trauma, it can be used for treating anxiety, depression, or even lack of motivation. (6:47)
  • Melissa explains how attachment styles are like strategies, shares the four different kinds, and explains how the goal is moving from rigidity to consistency. (18:55)
  • How someone can move into a secure attachment style. (27:39)
  • Examples of when unhealthy attachment styles can cause conflict in a relationship. (33:22)
  • Somatic tools and skills: what they are and when someone would use them. (40:32)

Resources mentioned in this episode:
Registration is open for The Daring Way Retreat in May 2022!
Registration is open for The Recovery Retreat in September 2022!
Melissa on Instagram
Melissa on TikTok
Melissa’s TikTok about Somatic Therapy


Melissa is a licensed therapist in South Carolina that specializes in Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy and trauma therapy using EMDR and Somatic Experiencing. She has been practicing as a clinician for 18 years this year and has recently incorporated coaching into her services for those looking to grow and heal outside of the therapeutic space. She reaches her communities on social media through a mix of education, humor, and compassion and she wants everyone to realize what they do and how they are in the world makes so much sense.

Right-click to download the .mp3



Melissa 00:00
In the dances that we do together, it's all about like attunement and knowing that sometimes our needs might shift and might change and we have to be present with our partner.

Andrea 00:12
You're listening to Make Some Noise Podcast episode number 427 with guest Melissa Parks.

Welcome to Make Some Noise Podcast, your guide for strategies, tools and insights to empower yourself. I'm your host, Andrea Owen, 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 confidence, master resilience and make some noise in your life. You ready? Let's go.

Hey, everyone, welcome to another episode of the podcast, I am so glad that you are here. Hey, if you're enjoying this series, I think we're only on the third episode at this point, there's several more to come. But if you know anyone who is interested in therapeutic modalities for healing, or just people who are interested in sort of the advanced personal development, healing, therapy, all that good stuff, I would be so grateful if you shared with them this podcast and let them know about this particular theme of episodes that we are doing. Thank you so much.

Also, I have a really exciting announcement. So I have decided to open registration for not just one, but two Daring Way retreats. That's right. One is going to be in May and there's going to be a second one in September of this year that is focused on recovery. I asked you to sign up for advanced notification to give me kind of a gauge. Is anybody interested is anybody out there. And you responded and a fair amount of you said that you would be interested in coming to one of these retreats that was focused on addiction, sobriety, recovery. So that one is in September, I also wanted to open up registration at the same time for those because I didn't want the people to sign up for the first one… I didn't want it to be confusing. So I'm going to not say any more words about it lest, make you more confused and just tell you where to go. I'm recording this about a week ahead of time and we are, we are just working our hearts out here to get the page ready for you to sign up. And for those of you that signed up for first notification for advanced notice, if registration was open, you already know. You got the email that said hey, we're opening registration on this day and then registration opened. I highly doubt that we have already opened registration up by the time this episode drops on February 2, however, it will be shortly after that. So it's AndreaOwen.com/retreat for the regular retreat, and there will be a link on there for people who are interested in the recovery one. And the recovery retreat is at AndreaOwen.com/recovery-retreat. Okay, if you're confused, no worries. Shoot an email to Emily@AndreaOwen.com. Emily is the one who is my right-hand woman and we say, we decided she was just going to be…you have direct access to her email because I know time is of the essence here to sign up because there are only 12 spots for each retreat. Okay. And if you are somebody who is in recovery, but you can't make those September dates, they don't work, then by all means sign up for the May retreat. But if you are someone who is not in recovery, or struggles with any kind of addiction, and you can't make the May retreat, you can sign up for the recovery retreat, but do know that we are going to be focusing on recovery and sobriety. The curriculum is going to be the same for both retreats, but most if not all of the people who are coming to the September retreat, we're going to be focused on that. So that means you know, as we talk about shame stories, which is a lot of what the curriculum involves, they're going to be focused on that. So I just don't want you to feel left out. I don't want you to feel like oh, okay, I'm the only one here who doesn't struggle with any kind of addiction. And truth be told, I'm a firm believer that we're all recovering from something so it might be codependence that you have struggled with, that might be love addiction that you have struggled with, it might be an eating disorder that you have struggled with. All of those qualify you for the recovery treat. That's in September. But I just wanted to let you know that a lot of the women in this community that will sign up for that retreat, including myself, have struggled the most their focus will be around drinking. But again, any kind of disordered relationship that you have had with a process or substance, can be included in recovery. I hope that I'm not confusing. That that was all clear. At any rate, all of the information is at AndreaOwen.com/retreat for the one in May, and that's just general Daring Way retreat. And then AndreaOwen.com/recovery-retreat is The Daring Way retreat in September that's going to focus on recovery.

All right, I have another therapist for you. I met Melissa Parkes on TikTok, and she kept popping up in my For You page and had such amazing advice and insight and wisdom. I reached out to her to see if she wanted to be on the show. And she said yes. So for those of you who don't know her, let me tell you a little bit about her. Melissa parks is a licensed therapist in South Carolina that specializes in emotionally focused couples therapy and trauma therapy, using EMDR and somatic experiencing. She has been practicing as a clinician for 18 years and has recently incorporated coaching into her services for those looking to grow and heal outside of the therapeutic space. She reaches her communities on social media through a mix of education, humor and compassion. And she wants everyone to realize what they do and how they are in the world makes so much sense. So without further ado, here is Melissa.

Melissa, thank you so much for being here.

Melissa 06:47
Yes, I'm so glad to be here.

Andrea 06:49
Yay. We were chatting before I started recording and you are another person that I followed on TikTok and invited to be on the show. There's been a few therapists that I've tapped on the shoulder and I really appreciate… just the medium in general. And I appreciate you coming on. And I have a lot of questions. And I know we don't know each other. So I'll just tell you like, I like to dive right into the deep end. I've had some experts on and they’re like, oh you ask like the big questions. I’m like yes, but I just want to start with, can you talk to us about the healing modality of EMDR and can you kind of tell us what it looks like on a like a logistical level? Like what do people do, can you do it virtually, and what is it actually doing to the body in the brain. Let's start with the MDR.

Melissa 07:37
So EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing and it's an evidence-based psychotherapy model. So that just means it's got lots of research behind it, lots of proven outcomes. And it's used to treat things like trauma, complex trauma, but also other things like depression, chronic anxiety, stuckness, sets of symptoms associated with like over activation of the nervous system. So not only like, you think of anxiety, but maybe people pleasing, over functioning in relationships. So sets of symptoms like that. Or under activation of the nervous system, like I said, depression, a sense of stuckness, lack of motivation. So it's not just a trauma model, which is really lovely. A lot of people that when they think EMDR, they think trauma therapy, but it's not just for trauma. So that's I'm not Yeah, I'm not sure if you've heard of that whether or not but that's sometimes enlightening for folks.

Andrea 08:40
I think I only know it in in the realm of trauma that's interesting that it can even help people who maybe haven't experienced, like acute trauma or anything like that, but do struggle with anxiety and depression.

Melissa 08:52
So it's based on a model or a theory that says within us is a natural information processing system. So this system will take distressing experiences, and process them. We talk about it, we feel about it, we think about it, we even dream about it and then we take that experience, and we store it in our explicit memory where we have recall. So we're able to have a coherent narrative and we can move on and we can say that was then and this is now. And the symptoms that we are struggling with, based on this model says that this is due to unprocessed memories or experiences. So at some point, this natural system that we have kind of got interrupted a little bit. So it wasn't able to integrate the experience in a way that kind of tells us that was then in this now and as a result, we have all these symptoms popping up in our present that really belong connected to the experience and in the past.

And so these fragmented pieces kind of show up for us, and become really problematic, and become the symptoms that sort of plague us in our day to day. And EMDR helps us by sort of setting up this brain state in session where we can kind of have another go at processing the experience, or the memory or whatever it is that we're struggling with. So we it's almost as if we're activating the memory or activating the thing that we didn't get to process again, but in a way that feels safe, that feels, but it's not overwhelming, and then we're able to have this coherent narrative again, and so that we can, not again, but we have, we're able to create this coherent, coherent narrative so that we can move on, and that the symptoms won't pop up for us anymore.

Andrea 10:51
Is it kind of when you were describing that I was thinking of like, unclogging a drain is tht fair?

Melissa 10:56
Yeah, I love that metaphor. I do I like that metaphor. Yeah, at some point, our natural system where we would kind of like flush through and get things moving through, kind of got something happened, something but the experience that we were having was just so upsetting, and so overwhelming, that it created this clog. Right, right. And so it's not that there's something wrong with us, it's just that that something was so overwhelming, that our beautiful nervous system came along and decided, you know what, keeping this thing all together is just too much. We're gonna fragment this into pieces, and we're gonna make it a little bit more survivable in this way. That's how we're going to move on from here.

Andrea 11:39
Okay. And so what is it, what do you actually do during the process? Can you kind of walk us through if you were meeting with a client to do that specifically?

Melissa 11:49
That's a big question because really EMDR, when we think of EMDR, we might think of like someone waving our hands, their hands in front of our face, or tapping on us or something. And sure, that's a component of EMDR, because that's what's called bilateral stimulation. So we're activating and integrating information from both the left and the right side of the brain. And we're doing that by these movements, where we're stimulating both sides of the brain with tapping or sounds or, like I said, moving the eyes. But that's phase four. I mean, some of that can be involved in phase two, too, but EMDR, as a model is all is eight phases. So from the day one, when you walk through the door, we're just taking a history. We're looking at you through that lens that you make sense, and everything that you've experienced, and your symptoms, all your current symptoms, are based on these unprocessed experiences. And so we're looking at you through that lens, and we're taking a history, and that's part of EMDR.

And then, you know, as we move through these phases, based on different things, I mean, we're certainly going to go slower, if you've had more complex trauma. If you've had intense neglect, and you don't have the capacity to let's say, just sort of feel like you can function day to day. We're probably going to move a little bit slower than let's say somebody who maybe feels like they're functioning, okay, but they're just having a little bit of a hard time. We're taking a history, we're doing some things to help you with coping in a day to day, as if you can sort of feel like maybe you can find a little bit of regulation or soothing throughout the day. So that might be giving you some practical tools in some of the sessions so that you can cope with whatever might come up through an EMDR reprocessing session. And then the actual act of desensitizing a memory or desensitizing the thing that maybe is feeling like got you stuck in the first place involves more of this bilateral stimulation.

Andrea 14:09
And that can be different things right? Some therapists use because remember, when I did it, it was to not vibrating pulsing things in each hand and they would they would vibrate each other.

Melissa 14:21
So I use, a lot of the time a lot of the research is, is behind the eye movements that that's where most of the research is, but definitely you can be using the tactile stimulation. So it's the buzzers or someone tapping on your knees. There's so many different options. And there's so many, so much more research actually coming out of you know, not only using bilateral stimulation but just what's called dual attention stimulus. So it's something that's keep that's helping me, hold this really difficult experience, but in order to desensitize it, that therapist is going to distract you with something. So maybe it's bilateral stimulation, but it can also be something that's called a dual attention stimulus where it's like, I'm asking you to say tick tock, tick tock, tick tock, tick tock throughout the session, as I asked you to hold this really distressing experience, and maybe wave my fingers in front of your eyes. So all of that, yeah, it sounds kind of intense. It's very interesting. And a lot of the research is just very compelling. So, yeah, I'm really, I love EMDR.

Andrea 15:35
I encourage a lot of people to look into it. I've had I've had a lot of clients or people that have come to my retreats have such great things to say about it. So I think it it's a great option for a lot of people.

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I know in your social media, you talk a lot and teach a lot about the different attachment styles. So can you can you briefly like go through what those are and can someone be a combination of a couple of them?

Melissa 18:55
Before I say anything about the styles, I would definitely like to say that attachment styles are more like strategies. So we've come to learn through our relating typically with the people that matter the most that to figure out how to get our needs met for connection and survival, we may have had to adapt. And we may have had to figure out different strategies to do so based on maybe what we weren't getting, or we're getting too much of and most of what I'm talking about is in childhood. But of course our attachment strategies may change when we're in different relationships certainly in adulthood. So, to answer your question, that first part about can we be different, can we use different strategies or may we have different attachment styles, the answer is yes. I may be one style with my partner, but be a completely different style with my boss and this so the answer is yes. So these things these styles these strategies are fluid, they may change they may ebb and flow and I can certainly go from an insecure attachment style to a secure attachment style. Absolutely.

Andrea 20:05
That's kind of the goal, right is to like, hopefully mostly be in the secure attachment style, maybe like, you know what, 75%?

Melissa 20:15
I think the goal is to move from rigidity to more consistency. That's what we're looking for, I think, like, so…

Andrea 20:25
What does that more say more about that?

Melissa 20:29
Look, sometimes when we're thinking about these attachment styles, they're, we're very rigid with things or we might even be inconsistent. So we're either rigid or we're inconsistent. That's where really the problem is, is across the board rigidity is something that's, you know, just not, that's not what a nervous system and thinking about nervous system health. That's not what a nervous system and just like human, that is not a nervous system, a healthy nervous system looks like we want to have we might be triggered into something and that's okay. But can we come to a place where we can sort of move through that in a way that feels okay.

But essentially going back to the strategies, so there's four of them, there's anxious, avoidant, disorganized and secure. And this comes from the work of John Bowlby, the father of attachment. But we adapt with our anxious, with an anxious style when our caregivers have kind of shown up with lots of their own activation and it goes unchecked. Perhaps maybe in the form of like fears and worries, and that manifests in the home. And so maybe they do respond emotionally to me sometimes, but sometimes they don't and it's very inconsistent, and it's unpredictable. And so what results for those anxious folks is like this heightened awareness of, am I going to get the love or am I not. And so they're constantly looking out for that.

Andrea 21:55
So what those people grow up to, in their adult relationships be like poor boundaries, pleasers, they kind of bend to whatever their part, whatever they think that their partner wants.

Melissa 22:06
And this is what you might see. The big, the big word these days is like codependent and so it's not like I'm knocking codependency, I think we have a lot to learn from that topic and a lot to learn from that. But when it comes to our attachment, when it comes to relating, I feel like that that's more of a harsher lens. Because we are meant to be in relationship where we are meant to depend on someone, and that's okay, it's okay to depend, but it's also okay to be independent, both. So we want to think about this, this, I want to be okay in the world on my own, but it's also okay, if I'm waiting for someone and needing the help of somebody too. Both of those things can be okay. Um, so yeah, what you're what you're sort of talking about, it sounds like…

Andrea 22:51
I'm talking about myself is what I'm talking about. I described that through personal experience. And being attracted to avoidance.

Melissa 23:00
I love it, we can talk about this too, this might be fun, because I actually am in the other camp, personally. My home away from home, I've definitely worked on myself and I've gotten to that place where I have more of a secure attachment on my home away from home, my strategies come from more of that withdraw or more from that avoidance side. And when we're talking about avoidantly adapted folks, they've experienced emotional barrenness, you know, in their childhood, they may have gotten lots of attention and praise for being successful or being good, but not a lot of help with emotions and understanding the inner workings of their inner world. None of that was reflected to them and so they're sort of left, like, you know, knowing like, relationships aren't going to help me with that. So there's no point. And there's definitely no point of sharing that stuff. And so that's sort of where we're at. And some people look at that and cast these judgments on the avoidant folks and then withdraw our folks and say, oh, they're so cold and, and yet, it's very sad to think about the experience and how they come to be where they are.

Andrea 24:07
How they've adapted, yeah, from childhood. Well, and the reason I know about this is because I'm a love addict. And I actually long story short, in 2007, I was I was dating someone who went to The Meadows, and I went for family week and was introduced to love addiction. And I bought Pia Mellody’s book Facing Love Addiction at the bookstore and I was reading it and I was only in chapter one and I was like, oh my god, this is this is my life, this is my behavior. The cycle that she has in there of like the nine steps of the love addicted and love avoidant relationship was exactly what I had experienced for over a decade in a long relationship that I was in. So I understand it deeply. And like you, I've done a lot of work and I feel like most of the time I spend in this place, but I've always been attracted to avoidance. And I find myself when things get a little dicey, I find myself going back into that anxious place.

Melissa 25:08
Well, you know, the brain likes familiarity, you know and sometimes it can go to sometimes familiarity feel safe. So when we feel like anxious, or we feel maybe a little bit threatened, we might slip back into those, those wirings. And that's not because we're bad, it's just because we make sense. And safe, feels better and sometimes familiarity will take us to those places. And it's also this unconscious drive of the nervous system to experience healing again, you know? So I love that that phrase that we all make sense. It just feels good to say it.

Andrea 25:52
Yeah, that's a great one to go on a t shirt. Okay, so just so disorganized, I'm assuming is a combination of all three, or is it a combination of just avoidant?

Melissa 26:02
Disorganized definitely doesn't have that secure at all. It's, I would say it's it, you can see the components of both anxious and avoidance that the key is, is that there is absolutely, there's no consistency. I can't like, for the avoidant folks, it's pretty consistent in terms of their strategies and how they show up. And same thing for anxious it's pretty consistent and how they show up. For the disorganized, you might see a little bit of the anxiety stuff or the anxiousness and then you might see the avoidance stuff. It's, you don't know what you're going to get and that, and that is because the disorganized styles, all about the echoes of trauma, the experiences with a caregiver, where the caregiver was the scary person, and out of control, and there was no repair, and the brain and the nervous system got confused, because a part of us when we're scared, wants to go to our caregiver to get soothing and safety. But that caregiver is the very thing that's causing me fear. And so there's this freeze experience on the inside. And without repair, we're left with all of that trapped nervous system activation, and that really is trauma. And when we take that with us without repair, and we are triggered in certain ways as in our adult relationships and beyond, that makes so much sense why we have all these symptoms of like push pull and, and I want love but I'm terrified of love, go away and on all these ways that the disorganized adaptation will show up in relationship. It's very, very, very painful.

Andrea 27:39
Sounds like it? Oh my gosh, it? Well, I'm thinking about because I think the people listening probably are intrigued and also seen themselves in your descriptions. And then the big question of like, okay, well, how does someone move into a secure attachment style and, and I can just speak for myself, and I'm curious what your thoughts are in this. This was even back before I knew these weren't buzzwords and I was working with, yeah, my therapists and it was, it was a lot of talk therapy. And just on a personal note, it was a lot of taking responsibility for my behaviors, but a ton of self-compassion, not making myself wrong for it, working for shame I had for all these bad choices that I had made with men that I had been in relationships with. And then also, I'm trying to think like, you know, cognitive behavioral therapy was a game changer for me personally, because I have such high anxiety and the worksheets and just like walking through the thoughts of like, okay, what's the worst-case scenario in this, in this situation Andrea. That type of just slowing down and kind of seeing my fears for what they really were, and kind of like looking at him right in the eye, that was super helpful. But I'm curious what your thoughts are about that and then anything in addition to that, that people can look through.

Melissa 28:57
Well, I think that's wonderful. And I believe your experience to be 100% true that that is what helped you. And that's so great. And a lot of what you're talking about all I was thinking was like that, you know, that's very, like, you know, the CBT that all this this work on metacognition like figuring out what is it, what stories am I making up in my head about this, and that is helpful, that's certainly helpful. The other piece is that's equally as important is the piece where we do more of that, that stuff with your limbic system, which is the stuff that's on the bottom part of the brain, which is where, you know, where you know, all that nervous system stuff and how the body comes into play. And so it's not necessarily that sophisticated part of our brain, it's working with what's happening more primitively on the inside. That's very, very important too, because that's the part that shows up where we have zero control. And that can create that experience of shame inside like, oh I knew better, I know that this this is a better way to think about it. And yet here I am. I'm having this reaction. So that's an important piece too. Yeah, but I love that you found CBT helpful for you. I hear a lot of, of knocking on CBT, sometimes on these apps and I think that's unfortunate, because even in, for example, EMDR as a model, see, there's pieces of CBT incorporated in EMDR, as well.

Andrea 30:22
I think, having options, and to be fair, when we have spent almost two years when the pandemic first hit, I, like many people had kind of an uptick in my old behaviors, and had to go through the process, again, of finding a therapist, and I specifically went through trauma therapy, where we looked at, like, when did this start? Like, what was what was happening? And so we, you know, we found it, it was when I was 13, and stuff with my dad, and, you know, just because you need, you're moving away from him, and he wasn't there anymore. And like, and it was like, oh, that's why, and then I turned to boys instead of my caregiver, to, you know, be myself, place to land, which doesn't always work. It doesn't always work out well with our parents and caregivers, unfortunately, too. But for me, it was this steady and consistent caregiver in my life was suddenly not there anymore. And so that's what I figured out cause like, was really spurred the anxious attachment style. And my love addiction of just like constantly looking for that high of having somebody pay attention to me, someone loved me.

Melissa 31:29
What you're saying too, is so beautiful, because it almost takes us right back to what I was talking about with EMDR. When we experience difficult situations, whether they're categorized as trauma or not, we sometimes don't have a coherent narrative around them. Even if you use CBT, look at this beautiful coherent narrative that you came across, came upon, you took it back to your little, little girl at 13 and what she experienced and the difficulty with that pain with that, and then you also came up with this, this beautiful way of kind of outlining what your healing will be, even though you've experienced that, like, that's so lovely. That's amazing. That's amazing.

Andrea 32:08
Thank you. And I think what I'm realizing just now having this conversation with you is that this CBT was super helpful at the time, but it only took me so far. Because, you know, and, and I think it was gonna come up eventually, sooner or later, but the pandemic, I think, with just the stress of everything, and maybe it was just where I was in my life, you know, like this middle age stuff, malaise, existential crisis, whatever. It was, it became kind of like the CBT wasn't enough anymore. And that's when I knew like, okay, this is something that's deeper, and I need to I need to uncover it.

Melissa 32:42
Yes, yes. Yes, yes, I love the self-compassion piece, as well, I think that's so important. And I love this balance, where you're holding so tenderly, the idea of telling myself that I make sense, again, with that self-compassion, and maybe the nervous system perspective, but also you're selling, you're saying I wanted to hold myself accountable. And I wanted to own, I wanted to own, own some of the ways that I showed up in the world, and not to judge them but just to own that and because that gives me a sense of empowerment, and it gives me a sense of feeling like, you know, I can I can I can move through this.

Andrea 33:22
Yeah, I love that. Exactly. Yeah. I like the way that you articulated that. Well, can you give us some examples of what might, like someone with unhealthy attachment styles, like in a partnership, whether they're married or just in a long term relationship, can you give us some examples either made up or that you see in your clients, where things can get, can kind of like, go off the rails a little bit and like when you see people land in in your office.

Melissa 33:46
I think it's important to note here that the conflict necessarily isn't the concern because we can create more richness within or resulting from conflict. But the key with these, these insecure attachment styles, is the disconnection within the relationship. That's where the issues stem from, and when our strategies come from that deeply wounded place, and we're wired almost to anticipate and live in the disconnection, that's where that rigidness is coming from. That's the issue. That's where these unhealthy, unhealthy and I'm doing air quotes, attachment styles, insecure attachment styles can begin to really wreak havoc. So we really need to figure out how we can break out of those paths, those patterns of relating.

They show up even in my marriage in the day to day. But the key is, is that we catch the ruptures quicker, but those with insecure attachment styles tend to not catch the ruptures and repair them. And so it can show up in the day to day. Maybe somebody buys something without letting the other person know and it's part of their shared goals to like, be open about purchases or something. But maybe the more insecure avoidant person isn't in touch with their hurt about that. And rather, it's like anger and frustration and based on that anger and frustration, they pull away from their partner because they've learned to not get in touch with their inner world. And they've learned that even if I did, and I go to my person, there's emotional bareness. It's not going to work anyway, so might as well pull away. And so there's an example. And then if we take that from the anxious side, let's say the anxious person notices, Hey, where's my partner, they're withdrawn. And their alarm bells start screaming to them. Right, danger, danger, because…

Andrea 35:46
I'm laughing because I've so been there so many times. I plan out like, I'll go so far within like 30 seconds I've planned out like, which apartment complex I'm gonna move into, because I'm convinced that my husband's gonna leave me. Exactly hasn't happened in a while. But I remember a couple years ago,

Melissa 35:59
Like listen to that, that all that hyper activation that nerd that dysregulation because they're so hypersensitive to disconnection. I'm not sure what that means. Are they going to be there or they're not going to be there? And instead of learning how to regulate, because they weren't taught how to regulate by their caregiver, they go to their partner with criticism, anger, so much activation. Yeah, exactly. And they're serving their partner this plate, that's so freakin hot that the partner up, has no other choice but to drop it. And so that's a great just day to day example. I mean, we're just talking about like buying something that we…

It can show up with anything, I buy something that I forgot to tell you about. I told you I was going to take the garbage out, and I didn't. I, um, I text you the wrong words about something or I mean, it can show up in any little way. But the bottom line is, is I sense the disconnection and I don't know how to communicate clearly and give you a clear signal about what pain that causes me. And then I do so in a way that I either avoid altogether or I come at you too hot. And then we're just off to the races going, going.

Andrea 37:20
So yeah, yes, I see so much of myself and I'm sure people listening can see maybe themselves too. I did realize when the first time that my husband and I had a disagreement, and he was upset with me about something more specifically, he was upset with me and I didn't go down that path of he's going to leave me. I didn't like that he was upset with me, and I knew, but I knew that we could fix it. And I knew he wasn't going anywhere. And I'm like, this is just normal. And I remember when it happened. I was like, am I secure? Is this secure attachment style?

Melissa 37:54
Yeah. Oh, my goodness. Yes.

Andrea 37:58
It's happened several times now. And I'm so proud of myself.

Melissa 38:01
Yeah, and that is like one of those things. Like if, if we think about from that wiring perspective, that we're sort of wired with these old patterns, we need to make explicit those new patterns that we create. It's almost like digging a ditch, and we need to celebrate them to say, oh, my gosh, look at what we just did here. Like I was, what do you think about what we just did here? Do you see that? And, and celebrate that together?

Andrea 38:25
We talked about it? Like I tell I told him? How exciting. That's one. Yeah. Another thing too, that I was a pattern of mine that I'm I'm, I'm assuming is a common pattern, especially with people who identify as women. I always felt it was my responsibility to take care of his feelings. And now what I do is, so like, if I knew that he was upset about something, even if I was not the cause of it, I would do this dance of like, trying to do whatever I could to make him feel better to make him comfortable. And now I understand that like he's an adult, he is capable of regulating himself. It is not my responsibility. I'm not he's not a baby, I'm not his mother. And I'm able to walk away with him knowing that I'm here if he needs me but like knowing that he needs time to himself to process and that I'm not going anywhere, he's not going… It feels so safe now which is another was a huge milestone for me several years ago in our in our marriage.

Melissa 39:25
That's a big deal and I love that and it's another thing that came up for me while you were talking about that as like we're, each couple is very different and just as each nervous system is very different and I love that we're you're able to see and know what works for your partner. And, and maybe be in tune with that. Because, you know, we can slap these like rigid statements of like, don't help, we don't need to help them with this or whatever. But maybe in a moment I see that typically I'd like to let him kind of, you know, work out his own feelings. But maybe in a moment I look at his face and I see I think your struggle there, maybe I go towards this one time to see, are you okay? And do you need help with this? Like, I don't want to leave you alone in this. I know we kind of typically take our time to do that. But I feel like you need me right now. And just lo and behold, in that moment, yes, he does. And that's just the thing is that there's the in these dances that we do together, it's all about like, attunement and knowing that sometimes our needs might shift and might change. And, and we have to be, we have to be present with our partner.

Andrea 40:32
That's very true. Thank you for saying that. And I want to, before we close up, I want to ask you a question about because I love when people can take things, practical things and tools into their, into their lives as they walk away from this, this conversation. And so I know that you help your clients with somatic tools and skills, so can you talk about some of them and when someone might use them.

Melissa 40:55
Yeah, I just did a TikTok.

Andrea 40:57
Course you did link to it in the show notes because this will come out for another few weeks.

Melissa 41:03
I think one of the main ways that I help people in terms of that somatic journey and connecting with their body is through like tracking and settling like patterns of autonomic activation. So just being able to just kind of get to know your nervous system and get to know what happens on the inside, whether it's just like in a moment, or if it's in a moment of being triggered. And one of the ways that we do that, it would be in session, where I would kind of lead them through a settling exercise of like, maybe orienting to their space, which is what I did on the TikTok, kind of looking around, letting the eyes kind of just take in the space, and then just starting to sort of notice and recognize and turn their focus inward just to see what sort of sensations are there. And of course, that can be triggering to some people. So it's, it's again, very nervous systems specific. We have to see like, what feels good for some people and what feels off for some people. But even just doing like a tracking, kind of like seeing and noticing what's happening on the inside.

But other like practical tangible tools would be things like self-holding exercises, you know, where I'm actually like placing a hand, maybe on a certain part of my body, or I'm sort of like, kind of experiencing like a like a sort of self-hug to kind of feel the boundaries of my body and my skin. We can work with different sounds, there's the sounds of boo and boo-ah and you know, if you if you Googled somatic experiencing exercises, you probably see a whole host of things online. But those are like some specific things.

Andrea 42:45
Don't you have a TikTok playlist of those?

Melissa 42:47
I think I do. Probably.

Andrea 42:49
I think I might be confusing you with another practitioner, but I could have sworn that you had one that was titled, you know, Somatic Exercises or Things That You can Do At Home. And yeah, those are great. Thank you.

Melissa 42:56
Yeah, yeah, yeah, of course.

Andrea 42:58
Before we close up, and I want you to definitely tell everybody where they can find more of you. I'm asking this question to all the experts I'm having on my show, as we're talking about this topic around trauma and healing. And the question is, in your words, Melissa, how do we heal?

Melissa 43:23
Okay, and I almost don't want to make it so like, so magical sounding because I feel like healing happens in a moment. Like I really do. And I can in one moment where I can experience healing the next moment I can experience like a feeling of setback. So how can we experience healing? We can experience healing through relationship. Certainly things that are hurt in relationship must be healed in relationship. But we can also experience healing on our own. We can experience healing, through connecting with our, just on a day to day like mindfulness kind of way. Like noticing what I'm feeling in a moment is something that's very healing, or even just noticing, you know, how something shows up in my body, whether it's, quote, unquote, good or bad, I think is an experience of healing because it brings awareness. So I just feel like healing doesn't have to be something that's magical or mystical. I think it's something that happens, can happen at any moment at any time and is very subjective. And, you know, I also don't want anyone to think that it's, like, follow these five things and, you know. I think it's very personal. Yeah.

Andrea 44:45
I absolutely agree with that last part. It's very personal. It doesn't have a specific timeline. As much as I would like it to.

Melissa 44:52
Yeah, and it also isn't a plate like oh my gosh, I feel like I'm going to be doing healing work for the rest of my life and that's okay. I think that's lovely. I don't think I don't think that that's a bad thing. I'll never arrive. I've always think to learn because I'm constantly messing up and that's okay because life is messy, and relationships are messy and that's okay. Yeah.

Andrea 45:18
I love that. Thank you so much. This has been so helpful and informative. And I know that people have seen bits and pieces of themselves and what you were talking about. So where do you want people to go to find you? And of course, all these links are going to be in the show notes.

Melissa 45:31
I would say the main place would be, you know, either probably Instagram because I have a lot of my links there. I've got an upcoming cohort-based course which I'm super excited the first of its kind in terms of my work. And so for people that want to work with me that can't work with me in a therapy perspective but can do, want to do a coaching kind of perspective.

Andrea 45:57
This is like an online like group program that you meet live?

Melissa 45:59
Yeah, online.

Andrea 46:01
Awesome. Sweet.

Melissa 46:03
Yes, I'm so excited. I've been working so hard on it, but Instagram is probably the best way. So @MelissaParkSays, but of course I'm on TikTok. I've, I've got a following there. And then I'm on Facebook, too. But I'm mostly active on Instagram in and TikTok.

Andrea 46:21
And TikTok. Okay, awesome. Yeah. As we said, we'll put all those links in the show notes. And when does your group start by the way?

Melissa 46:27
I definitely think mid-February or the at the latest March 1.

Andrea 46:31
Perfect, thank you so much. We'll put the link in the show notes to the cohort and your socials and all that. And everyone, thank you so much for your time. It's so important, and I value you so much for being here. I'm so incredibly grateful. And remember, it's our life's journey to make ourselves better humans and our life's responsibility to make the world a better place by everybody.

Hey, everyone, thanks again for listening to the show. And just a quick reminder that if your company needs a speaker or a trainer, I might be the right person for you. I speak and do keynotes on confidence and resilience for mixed audiences as well as do trainings on the daring way, which is the methodology based on the research of Dr. Brené Brown. So if you think it might be a good fit, hit me up at support at Andrea o n.com. or head over to my speaking page AndreaOwen.com/speaking.