Healing from witnessing your parent being abused

Last night I watched ‘The Drover’s Wife’ on Netflix. It broke my heart wide open and then I closed it over to cope with the grief, the anger and the pain from domestic violence and alcohol fueled violence that affects so many women and children, myself included.

It is devastating as a child watching your parent be verbally, emotionally, physically and/or sexually abused. It is infuriating that you are too small to save them, to fight back, to stand up to the abuser and tell them to “STOP. Take responsibility for their pain and their life, to be a caring, mature adult and do the right thing”.

The joy of life gets stripped away as you deal with your anger, your resentment, your fear of when it is going to happen next or if it will get worse. You worry about your parent getting seriously hurt or killed and you being left alone with the perpetrator. You worry about when he/she will turn on you. You feel so helpless and hopeless.

You wonder why none of the other adults in your life step in to help. You wonder why your parent stays and allows themselves to be treated so poorly.

You struggle to lift your head up and live. You wonder “What’s the point of trying if it is always going to be like this”. You don’t ever relax fully just in case the fighting breaks out again.

Fun times, parties, are not fun for you as you know once the perpetrator gets drunk the fighting is likely to start. So, you brace yourself ready for what is to come. You hope and pray it doesn’t occur this time. You pray that maybe just once they will pass out before they attack and abuse.

You wonder whether there is any goodness in them at all and how they can live with themselves afterwards, after being so cruel and destructive.

You wonder why life is so hard and why humans can be so cruel. To survive you harden up, you numb yourself to the pain, you become bitter, cynical and angry. You do what you have to do to survive, even if that means isolating yourself from those you love, never letting anyone close because you don’t want to see their pain, face them being hurt anymore.

You close down and retreat into yourself or you leave, run away physically or energetically, no longer being a part of the family system. But energetically, spiritually we are always a part of our family system. They are in our blood, our DNA, the cells of our body. We live because they lived and passed on life to us. We can’t cut ourselves off, that’s like cutting off our own arm.

If we do cut ourselves off fully we will eventually get drained, exhausted, burnt out as we have cut ourselves off from the goodness, the energy supply, the river of life force that flows through our ancestors to our parents to us.

They are a part of us. We are a part of them. Our job as adults is to find our way back to our hearts, to feel our pain and to humbly stand before our parents and speak our truth.

“It hurt so much to see you suffer. I just wanted you to be safe. I wanted to feel your love and play. I wanted to be seen and listened to, to be heard and cared for. I accept you couldn’t give me that, you didn’t have any more energy, love or joy to give to me with what you were facing.

Thank you for giving me what you could. What you couldn’t give me I’ve had to find from elsewhere. It’s taken a long time to find it Mum, but I have found it. I honour you and all you went through.

I thank you for my life and for the closeness we now have. Thank you for finding your way through too. I’m so glad you won’t let anyone treat you that way ever again. I love you so much and I welcome you back into my heart, my life, my love and I look forward to spending more time together actually enjoying life. Thank you Mum, thank you for my life”.

When we can do this, we set them and ourselves free. We get to have peace in our hearts and calm in our bodies and nervous systems. We get to step out of hypervigilance, scanning for danger and isolating for protection.

We get to rejoin life and to see that there is love and goodness out there. There are lots of people who treat each other with love and respect. We start to let ourselves participate in life more fully and receive the love and goodness we have always longed for.

In time we also see that the perpetrator didn’t know how to behave better, how to cope with their hurts and disappointments from their life. As we heal we eventually find compassion for them and their journey. We see that they had deep pain inside which leads to their lashing out and hurting others.

We see that as an adult we can now walk away from that. We don’t have to stay entangled in their pain. We can hand it back and leave it with them. We can bow, honouring their difficult journey and then turn to face our own life, to walk forward into our future, using what we have learned to create as much goodness, love and joy as we can.

May all children and parents who have suffered from domestic violence find peace. May they heal and come back together to honour the love they have for each other and enjoy the rest of their lives as much as they can. Blessed BE.

Here’s a link to my page with free resources to assist with healing from child abuse.

(The healing process I’ve explained above is just my life’s example. A lot of the deep healing occurred through doing Family Constellations sessions where I could feel my feelings and speak my truth to someone standing in as a representative for my Mum and my Stepdad. I didn’t have those conversations with my actual parents. That would have been too confronting with the level of pain I had and they may not have been able to hear it.

Family Constellations creates a safe space for you to speak your truth and heal. Once you have healed and found more peace you might have a truthful conversation with your parents. When you’ve reached a greater level of peace within you, you are less vulnerable, less likely to be reactive or defensive if they can’t hear you or acknowledge what you have been through. Your parents will have seen what occurred very differently to you. If they have not dealt with their pain they may simply deny it or push you away as it is too hard for them to face it.)

Doing Tension and Trauma Releasing Exercises (TRE) helps you to clean your internal house.

yellow concrete house

Inside of us, we have all the emotional residue, the stress, tension, trauma and unfelt emotions that we’ve bottled up inside. If we use the analogy of a home it’s like we have filled up our spare rooms and it has overflowed into our living areas making them cluttered and less enjoyable to be in.

This residue, this clutter shows up as physical pain, sore muscles, even tight shoulders, necks and backs. In its more severe forms, it shows up as frozen shoulders, shallow breathing, lowered immune systems, digestive disorders, and if left to worsen this can lead to a range of diseases. This is because when our body is in the fight, flight or freeze, survival mode, it doesn’t focus on restoration and recovery. It’s preoccupied with scanning for danger, being hypervigilant and on edge, ready to flee, fight, freeze at any hint of danger, real or imagined. Over time this takes an adverse toll on our bodies.

When there is deep emotional pain or trauma locked into our bodies it is like a mould in the bathroom. If we don’t deal with it then it spreads and it affects our ability to breathe deeply. It lowers our health. Tension and Trauma Releasing Exercises (TRE) can help us to shift out these blocked emotions, traumas, stresses and tensions. But you want to do it gently, bit by bit, befriending your nervous system, helping your body to feel safe, held, looked after and cared for. You want to be kind to yourself as you shake out all this old residue.

Just like when we spring clean, we need to open the curtains, look inside those unused spaces and sort through what’s been hidden away in there. We have to acknowledge it and let some of it go. In the body’s case, this involves feeling some of the emotions as they shift out, allowing parts of our body that have been numb, disconnected, to come back online. We need to reinhabit them. If it becomes intense or overwhelming then we slow down. We use other tools and processes to support our body and mind to integrate the shifts and changes.

Just like mould in a house we have to use special care to get rid of it, to clean it out. We have to open the windows and let air through. We have to reduce any moisture and fix any leaks so that the room can dry out. We have to use mould cleaner, bleach or vinegar to wipe away the stains and once cleaned thoroughly, then and only then can we repaint over it. Because if we do it too soon the mould will come back.

Our traumas and emotional pains are similar. We can’t keep them locked away, pretending they are not there. We have to learn how to feel them, breathe through them, support the younger versions of us who feel them and set them free of the pain. We need to reclaim all the spaces within our body, so our energy and vitality can flow freely, joyously, fully and our body can drop out of survival mode back into rest and digest mode, where it can focus on living more fully again. Where we enjoy interacting with others and feel safe, playful and joyful.

TRE can be your partner in this journey back to wholeness, back to living within your body, not escaping out of it with dissociation or numbing it with addictions, busyness and distraction. It’s time to come home to you, to spring clean, redecorate and enjoy life more fully being comfortable in your own skin.

If you don’t have the tools to clean your own house or the mould is too big a job for you to face, then you always have the option to pay a professional to clean it for you, to partner with you on your journey. With our analogy this is the difference between doing TRE on your own and doing it with a TRE provider, like me, helping you to go within, feel and heal. If you’d like a safe space, a comforting support person to cheer you on and make sure you’re on the right track then having TRE sessions with a TRE provider is a good idea. It can make a huge difference to how fast you heal as your body may need that support person to feel safe enough to release and you may need it to find the courage to go within and look at some of those darker corners, those unused spaces within where the hardest emotions and traumas have been hidden away.

Over 5 million people have learnt TRE. It is taught in over 60 countries worldwide. TRE can be learned via an appointment in person or online. A minimum of 3 sessions is recommended to ensure that you have learned how to self-regulate your tremoring. You can bring a friend and share the cost! Once you have learnt how to self-regulate you can continue using TRE at home for the rest of your life as part of your self-care routine. You do not have to see a TRE provider regularly. However, you may choose to have occasional or regular sessions with a TRE provider if you want more guidance or support with your tremoring process.

TRE can also be learnt in workshops and through a free TRE online course. Please note the free online course is not suitable for:

  • Anyone with psychological/psychiatric conditions that require strict regulation
  • Anyone with fragile psychological defences
  • Anyone who has a history of complex trauma (near-death experiences, abuse, violence, major accidents, natural disasters, surgeries, severe losses, etc)
  • Anyone with physical conditions that require strict regulation
  • Anyone with physical or medical limitations.

For anyone in the above categories, it is best to consult with a TRE provider, like me, to make sure TRE is suitable for you and to teach you how to use it safely. To learn more about TRE click here.

Many blessings,

Jodi-Anne

Free TRE online, self-study course

Here’s a video launching a free online self-study course for Tension and Trauma Releasing Exercises (TRE). The online course is suitable for anyone WITHOUT any major medical or mental health issues. It will help you learn how to use TRE to release stress and tension and to relax your body using its natural tremoring mechanism.

The online course is NOT suitable for:

  • Anyone with psychological/psychiatric conditions that require strict regulation
  • Anyone with fragile psychological defences
  • Anyone who has a history of complex trauma (near-death experiences, abuse, violence, major accidents, natural disasters, surgeries, severe losses, etc)
  • Anyone with physical conditions that require strict regulation
  • Anyone with physical or medical limitations.

For anyone in the above categories, it is best to consult with a TRE provider, like me, to make sure TRE is suitable for you and to teach you how to use it safely. Once you have learned TRE and are confident in your use of it you will be able to use TRE at home on your own to help heal, balance and calm your body. If you would like to learn TRE with Jodi-Anne you can book an appointment.

The video I’m sharing here is the official Australian launch. Richmond who created the course gives an explanation of TRE then there is a group tremoring session (starting at approx 26 min into the video). Here you can see me and the others present tremoring. Each body moves in a different way as it shakes out what no longer serves it and integrates the shifts and changes.

Here’s the link to the free online, self-study TRE course.

The healing journey demystified

This video contains an overview of what is involved in healing and finding peace within. It discusses the different levels of attention needed for deep healing to occur. Traditional counselling, psychology and psychiatry have largely focused on our thinking patterns and emotional reactions, but there is a lot more that needs to be done to heal and calm the body so you can enjoy life.

Jodi-Anne summarises these issues and explains why each level of attention is required, including reprogramming our subconscious beliefs, calming our body and nervous system and doing inner child recovery work to help complete trauma and let it finally be a thing of the past, rather than feeling like it could occur again at any moment.

Jodi-Anne is putting together everything she has learned into an online, self-study course for people to use to help themselves to heal and find peace. She expects the course to be available mid-2021. For now, there are lots of free videos and resources on her ‘Life Insights‘ and ‘Healing from child abuse‘ webpages. She is also available for individual appointments in person or online via zoom or phone.