earth-shaking, painful and hard to watch kind of rocked.

not everyone would respond the way i did. there’s no wrong or right in how we show up in life, there just is.

i know that sounds hella esoteric and kinda flaky but i don’t mean it that way.

i think life throws us some rotten apples from time to time and how we react is based on our past experiences. it makes sense. if someone has a nervous breakdown (clears throat) and needs to take a good hard look at how and why they were so vulnerable in the first place, that’s just life.

they … ok, let’s be real, I, reacted that way for many reasons … walk with me as i explore a few of them:

my childhood was filled with trauma. trauma, layered on trauma, layered on mother fucking trauma. generations of it. and what i’m learning now is the science behind transgenerational trauma and how it actually impacts our DNA and its response to stress and its environment (epigenetics).

i’ve basically spent the past 2 years working on identifying the triggers and learning ways to self-regulate and improve my response to that stress so to care for my DNA, nervous system, gut and brain. i’ve been learning to break transgenerational trauma patterns and live a life that’s different from my past generations’. one that’s healthy, happy and calm.

my breakup 2 years ago was hard, no doubt. not because i lost someone wonderful. nope, not even close. i picked and committed to someone who was playing into my trauma and attachment style. it wasn’t a good match - it was hard because it shook my stability by taking away my home, what i thought was a partnership, a step-daughter and sweet pup all in 1 week.

because i didn’t have a strong foundation growing up, loss of that kind, until i learned how to protect myself and choose better, would compound. that stress actually negatively physically impacts the brain and its functions, leading to, depending on your genetics, a host of illnesses and symptoms.

for me it looked like sleepless nights, waking at 4:30 am to a racing heart, overexercising and orthorexia. constant anxiety, terrible PMDD, worsened gut health, smoking chronic and the list goes on.

the brain is vulnerable to injury from emotional trauma. this is researched and a proven fact. the brain controls everything in the body. when it gets hurt like that it's then our responsibility to learn how to fix it. and it can be fixed (google neurogenesis).

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not everyone has severe childhood trauma that leads to this, but in my years of studying the brain and coaching many people who’ve suffered with gut health issues (food intolerances are often just the tip of the iceberg), i’ve learned that there’s a lot of people out there struggling to get their bodies, brains and emotional states back on track after stressful periods in their lives.

we’re missing education, coaching, support networks and ample nutrition from our food sources as well as toxin-free water. we’re flailing as a society to keep up with the demands we’re putting on our bodies and souls. the road to becoming an advocate for our own health and lives as well as heal from our traumas is long, expensive, and exhausting.

but i’ll say this…it’s definitely worth it.

i’m almost 2 years out from trauma so deep that i almost checked out. not kidding. my therapists at CAMH said this: “suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem”.

i thought it was bullshit and that no one would deny me that permanency if they only knew how much pain i was in. limbic system impairment and serotonin imbalance will fuck. a. girl. up.

though looking back now, in the state of mind i’m in this exact moment, i’m so happy i didn’t go through with it.

the work i’ve been doing over the last 2 years has landed me somewhere i wouldn’t be if it weren’t for that breakup. this is what i did to recover:

  1. i surrendered to western medicine. i went the allopathic route and worked with my GP to create a mental health plan. i started anti-depressants, started 2 out-patient programs at well-respected hospitals in the city and gave up on the idea that i had to fix my body solely using holistic approaches. sometimes we have to use both modalities as complementary medicine. and in my case, it saved my life. side note: we should never judge someone's decision to use medication. we often don’t know the whole story, nor have the education to see the picture wholly. our judgments often come from past experiences as our brains are association machines. we can’t project our under-qualified and strong opinions on others, i believe it to simply not be our place. rather, i’d advocate for people to become curious about others’ choices and support them during their struggles.

  2. i began learning about my attachment styles in relationships. i learned to identify co-dependent behaviours, red flags, what an emotionally healthy person looks like and how to speak my truth, own my emotions and use appropriate boundaries. victims of childhood abuse and neglect often become stuck in co-dependent patterns, have an anxiously attached or dismissive-avoidant attachment style and repeat trauma cycles because that’s what the brain does well. pattern and repeat. (until we choose to change it).

    the brain loves familiarity and acts based on what it’s already experienced. the work and healing lies in us being willing, and patient enough to re-pattern our grey matter and lead it in a more intentional, healthy and safe path.

  3. i learned how the brain is plastic. it can heal itself and regenerate nerves when we stop the trauma-fuelled negative thought patterns and beliefs. i learned to identify my negative and self-limiting beliefs and lovingly, diligently, guiding it in a direction where i see and feel my ultimate outcome. my healing was in stopping the constant negative playback and narrative around my suffering. i knew my problems well, my ideal outcome? not so much.

i would be full of shit if i were to sit here and share with you that that’s all i did to heal lifetimes of passed-down coping mechanisms that hurt us, victim-like mindsets that stunted our growth and a digestive/immune system that handed every single person in my family cancer (except my dad, thank god).

though i’m being honest when i say that these have been the foundational pieces of self-parenting that have helped me finally be in a place in my life where i’m not ruled by my pain. i am finally trusting life. trusting myself. and trusting that this calm and confident place i’m in is just the beginning of life working out.

how do i do that? i’ll dish the goods in next week’s blog where i cover My Top 5 Brain Strategies That Build Self-Trust Again…

until then,

Be Well With Hope,
Cassandra Hope RHN | NLP | CPT

  • how do you practise learning to trust again? comment below 💛