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The Day My Soul Closed From Family Abuse and How I Recovered

Healing From Your Family’s Toxic Legacy of Trauma


I remember the rage in her eyes like it was yesterday. She was angry at something I did, or didn’t do, I could never tell.


I was only 10 years old, woke from my bed with covers being thrown, scrambling for retreat when the curvature of the belt hit my leg. It stung. It penetrated all of me; the sound reverberating through my head.


I swallowed my fear and mounted up against my mother, but it was too late, she struck my soul. My father joined the whipping, careful not to spill his Scotch before taking another swing, growing angrier for having pulled him away from his single malt.


His little boy had disappointed him yet again.


I didn’t care. I protected myself behind a sense of dignified rebellion and a spectacular resilience in me was born that day.


But that day, it also introduced me to the mask.


They taught me to hide.


They taught me to man-the-fuck up and be perfect.


They taught me it was wrong to feel.


I became an athlete that day and now, even years later, approaching 50, I’m in epic shape.


One morning on a jog along the ocean while living in Southern California, I thought about that painful night so many years ago. Stopping in my tracks, I watched a wave break against the shore and wondered to myself, how long has that wave traveled to find its home right now on the banks?


Mystified and yet also humbled as wave after wave crossed its finish line like I too have done, so many times in life’s endless journeys to the reward.



Then it all came clear, paralyzed in my speechlessness from one of nature’s blissful lessons. You know the kind. The wave’s journey wasn’t over, it had only crested to land in a display before returning to sea and repeat the cycle once again.


I’ve reflected on that 10-year-old boy and learned this: I revealed myself in that spectacle of drunken abuse.

Over time, the pain recycled into the ocean of life’s grandness and reformed itself to a beautiful, no, breathtaking, display of life.


If you’ve suffered from family abuse and/or trauma, you probably relate to my story.


Nearly every day, we as family abuse survivors often relive our trauma in daily triggering, PTSD symptoms, hyperactivity and a slew of acronyms, including ADD and ADHD.


We suffer at work, holding a job, getting along with coworkers, and seem to always be short of money.


We isolate and often become addicted to substances, some life-threatening, some partake just enough to stay numbed out from feelings too painful to handle.


Our family and friends try to help, but we can’t take another trite comment of “you’ll be okay” or “just get over it”. Instead, we’d prefer to hide from the world in a sea of being misunderstood.


If this is you, I see you.


I see you because I AM you.


The good news is we can recover.


Here are six helpful resources for beginning your journey to healing.


1. Know that you’re not alone — but you won’t heal alone.


Often our egos and pain cycles mercilessly try to convince us we’re damaged beyond repair, unwanted, and must be the only human being on the planet with this problem that feels this way.


Nothing could be further from the truth!


“On average, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States. During one year, this equates to more than 10 million women and men.” — The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (N.C.A.D.V.)

According to The Bureau of Justice Statistics, “a person is abused in the United States every 9 seconds.”


Everyone is in a constant state of change and either tolerating a trauma or recovering from one. Decide which camp you want to be in and the healing process becomes easier.


Others in their healing journeys will magically appear alongside you, you’ll hear words common in the healing communities like, “trigger” and suddenly you’re whisked into a new set of language where people are talking through (versus dumping and complaining) their own problems by taking responsibility for them.


You’ll wonder where these people have been all this time.


You’ll feel lighter and more optimistic.

If you’ve heard the proverb, “When the pupil is ready, the teacher will appear”, you’re introduced to others that will warp you into your healing journey at lightning speed.

You just have to DECIDE to be ready, embrace your shit, and walk down the path.



Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash


2. Be your own rescue. Nobody is coming to save you.


Twelve-step programs literally save lives.


“But I’m not an alcoholic,” you may be saying.


Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) founded the 12-step program, and they operate on a set of guiding principles and accompanying steps that, if you work them with a sponsor and regularly take part, your life will drastically improve in twelve months or fewer.


Alcohol has never been the problem for many of us, rather just another substance used to keep us trapped in pain cycles and numb our feelings.


12 steps programs are teaching-based and self-paced so you can discover your wounds and get group support to work through trauma.


They meet everywhere in the world, in person, online, they’ve organized sophisticated phone systems and use ZOOM.


With Covid keeping us isolated, never has humankind been more disconnected and polarized in our collective viewpoints, paralyzed by fear.


Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. with over 1.4 million suicide attempts yearly.


We need each other, and we grow by reflection. Healing almost NEVER happens alone, and truthfully, we only get worse than left alone to dramatize our trauma stories.


Alanon helps the families of one’s dealing with alcoholism.


Adult Children of Alcoholics and Dysfunctional Families (ACAoD) is the Ph.D.-level program of twelve steps, complete with multiple workbooks and a strict model to follow. In this circle, you’ll find a place to purge the trauma that our bodies hold on to, acting out our pain cycles.


I attended these last two groups for four years, walking through the workbooks, working the steps with two different sponsors, and made a lot of friends along the way. I sat in probably a thousand meetings, all of them slightly unique but sharing ONE common thread: a commitment to working steps and getting better.


3. Therapy is great (but expensive and slow).


Many find relief with a trusted therapist, but almost everyone says that talk therapy is cathartic but doesn’t change behaviors.


In my opinion — it lacks action.


The best results are when you couple the work of ACA with a therapist that specializes in the work of the wounded child so you have a professional guiding you through personalized work. (More on the wounded child below.)


“With a creak and the exhale of an old man, I would slumber out of bed, lethargic from nightly alcohol consumption kept.” — Learning to Let Go of Depression


4. Give art therapy a try.


The American Art Therapy Association says, “Art therapy is an integrative mental health and human services profession that enriches the lives of individuals, families, and communities through active art-making, creative process, applied psychological theory, and human experience within a psychotherapeutic relationship.”


There are a LOT of forms of art.


I’m a writer, and much of my healing has come from journaling, sharing, even writing these articles hoping to help others that are suffering.

If you’ve ever considered writing your memoir, I wholeheartedly recommend it. The popular blog Daily Om offers an inexpensive memoir writing class that is excellent.


I’ve coached dozens of people in getting their book written and successfully published on all the online channels and they all agree, your personal story carries a lot of power and help for others.


5. Go on a retreat.


In 2015, I was at the end of my pain and considering suicide because of extreme depression and anxiety. I just couldn’t take it anymore!


A friend recommended a 2–6 week retreat center where he’d experienced relief. After weeks of excuses, I finally made the phone call, applied and booked my ticket to go.


“Fuck it!” I said, abandoning all my ideas and tricks I was using to keep my emotional house of cards from falling over.


I booked a one-way ticket to The Bridge to Recovery, in Bowling Green, Kentucky where they picked me up at the airport, checked my bags for non-allowable items and checked my cell phone.


I committed to two weeks. At the end, I stayed another two. At the end of those two, yet another two weeks.


That’s right — no internet or uncontrolled media filling my head and heart for six weeks!


I emerged from that retreat center with a complete understanding of my trauma, no longer asleep to the hurts, habits and hangups that dominated my life with alcohol abuse, sexual acting out and rage filled depression.


I had a full tool bag of ways to moderate my behaviors and truly love myself.


I learned about boundaries, how to ask for my needs met, peaceful conflict resolution, and more.


Retreats, at any length, are great ways to get a reset and elevate your healing journey.


6. Explore plant-based medicine.


In the summer of 2018, a retreat center contacted me about one of my articles on awakening and natural healing. They invited me to their center to experience and write about the miracles in healing people found on their seven-day retreat.


The retreat is Rythmia in Costa Rica, a medically licensed plant-based medicine center.


The first night began with a group welcoming meeting with a conscious breathing class followed by five nights of Ayahuasca ceremonies with trained shamans.





I had NO idea what I was getting into. I created videos on my experience and talk about it often and, I’ve never been the same. (Thank God!)


My medicine journey deepened with introducing Tepezcohuite, which is a much more nurturing and gentle plant that introduces the euphoria of pure love.


I now practice monthly with microdoses of mushrooms, usually referred to as Psilocybin to release fear, old paradigms and stabilize my mood back to a state of peaceful wholeness.



No two healing journeys are the same and it’s important you find your own way, and with these six steps, you’ll find the needed support and relief you’re looking for.

Photo by Alex Iby on Unsplash


Much of healing and trauma based upon the work of the inner child, pioneered by the late Dr John Bradshaw in his revolutionary book, Homecoming.


The inner child becomes wounded, halting development at the age of wounding, like a piece of your personality splintered off, creating a distinct reality from your true essence.


Example:

You’re three years old, a sweet and happy little girl playing and daddy walks in and screams at you to pick up your toys.


In that moment, you make a judgment about yourself and form a belief regarding playing, or you’re right to your own space, or that men are dangerous and won’t love or accept you.


The pattern repeats itself out for decades in broken relationships and emotionally unavailable men, all because that three-year-old little girl formed a pattern in your brain with all the beliefs to support your skewed reality.


This is a more minor example that once discovered, grieved, forgiven and quickly let go.


But what about more abusive situations of physical trauma, beatings, sexual abuse or emotional abuse?


Those are harder to find because we don’t know the wound is there, we only see the (bad/negative) behavior as adults and don’t know how to stop it. We make matters worse by mounting up a range of behavior management tools to combat the negative thing we do.


1. Overwork.


2. Set impossible goals for ourselves.


3. Shame and blame ourselves - very common in overweight people that have body image

issues from trauma.


4. We excel in one or two areas, to the detriment to other areas.


5. We're emotionally unavailable.


6. We self-sabotage, have poor self-esteem and let others walk over us.


7. Avoidant addictions such as drug & alcohol abuse or sexual misconduct.


The list goes on and on. The key is to STOP looking at the behavior, get into a place of self-love. This requires a safe space or created container so you can relive that trauma.


That’s right, relive it, but as an adult.


This is the magic of group circles, retreats, and the six solutions above — they are ALL a safe container for you to heal.


Careful, trying to heal with the wrong people or in forced scenarios will only drive the trauma deeper.


Healing happens when we, as adults, go back to the time of wounding and BE with that scared and hurt, little child, grieve with them and invite them to live life in present day moment with us.


It’s called re-parenting ourselves, and it’s the number one way of experiencing relief from pain and trauma. I created a comprehensive video about it here:



If you know this, you can choose your best method from the list above to walk through your pain and get relief.


The journey is scary, I will not tell you differently.


However, the payoff is immense.


In the five years I’ve been on my healing journey, life is 180 degrees different. It’s not been all roses and unicorns. On the contrary! Once you peel off the first layer of the onion, more continue to drip away, the resources stripping the ego and falseness away, leaving nothing but pure spirit — the spirit of the child.

I often wonder if this is what Jesus the Christ meant when he said in Matthew 18:3


“Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”

Hell and heaven exist RIGHT here on earth, in daily living, and we create it with every passing thought, feeling, interaction, belief and action we daily take.


We’re one step closer to heaven or hell. If you’re like me, you’re straddling both in the wasteland of pain and being torn apart by the division in yourself.


You can’t go around or under it. You can’t avoid it. The ONLY way is through, returning to that scared little child crying in the corner that is angry for being hurt and abandoned.


Return to the little one, as children, and you will enter the kingdom of heaven on earth.


Today is a new day and I make a daily commitment to see others in this way, others that are somewhere along this same recirculation of self so they too can reach their pinnacle, climb their summit and slay the dragons of darkness to stand refined, as men, as women… as beautiful children of God.


I love you. You’re NOT alone.


~Robin


. . .



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6. We self-sabotage, have poor self-esteem and let others walk over us.

7. Avoidant addictions such as drug & alcohol abuse or sexual misconduct.

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