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The Healing Power of Community and Connection

Healing happens in community, not in isolation.

Key points

  • Deep healing and connection can be found outside of the therapy room.
  • Trauma heals in healthy relationships where one is seen, heard, validated, and respected.
  • Everyone deserves to thrive and it is more likely to happen when they allow themselves to be receptive to love, help, and support.

For most of my life, I felt like I was different and that I didn’t belong. I felt defective, stupid, lonely, unwanted, and less than. As a child, and especially during my adolescent years, I was sometimes described as unusual, weird, cute, funny, mysterious, angry, oppositional, and sweet.

I went up and down in my physical size, my interests changed a lot, and people…well, they were not to be trusted. Based on having experienced extreme trauma as a young child when I was sex trafficked by my own father and my mother's emotional unavailability due to her own history, I was left with a complete lack of trust in people and the world around me.

As a psychologist who has engaged in countless years of healing practices, this makes complete sense to me now. Yet it does not make up for the fact that a lack of trust and safety in the world caused me and those around me a great deal of pain. I was hard to get close to and would often disappear. As a person with multiple parts, I simply had parts that were unwilling to establish trust and connection with others (for my own safety and survival).

To earn the trust and respect of someone with dissociative identity disorder (DID) means you are probably a very special human, at least in my opinion.

Every interaction with people is assessed in great detail. The energy in which I surround myself today, even as a person in recovery, has to be warm, inviting, safe, and calm. When the energy of others presents itself as intense, angry, rageful, unkind, rude, sarcastic, and gossipy, I will take a step back, observe mindfully, and reassess. The thing that is often said about trauma survivors on the dissociative spectrum is that we have a “sixth sense,” meaning our systems of parts can sense inauthenticity.

If we as humans are not mindful of the energy of others and our own emotional and physical boundaries, we are more likely to end up in unsafe and chaotic situations. I know I am certainly not interested in sacrificing my peace to accommodate the unhealth of another. There is a term in the recovery community called “detaching with love,” and sometimes we must do that for the betterment of our own mental and physical wellbeing.

When I found the ability to trust myself after my parts developed internal communication and cooperation, I was then ready to explore what it meant to trust others. That primarily started within my marriage and my connection to my healing practitioners. I remind myself and others that trust is not all or nothing and to be patient and curious.

Trauma heals in relationships—healthy relationships. Relationships where you are seen, heard, validated, and respected. Ones where boundaries are upheld.

After over a decade of engagement in healing practices, I joined a community called Powerhouse Women, founded by Lindsey Schwartz. This community offered me a safe place to connect with women from all walks of life and various industries who have entrepreneurial dreams, aspirations, and a desire to make an impact by serving others.

Saying goodbye to my long-term trauma therapist was a necessary component of my healing and she and I both had to grieve the therapeutic relationship coming to an end. I’ll always have love in my heart for the healers on my path, especially her, but it was time to find a deep connection outside of the therapy room and outside of my marriage and friendships.

Lindsey built trust with me when I was unable to attend an event one year when my mother passed away. She graciously honored my event ticket for the following year. To be honest, had she not honored my ticket, which to me meant honoring the devastating loss I just experienced, I would not have gone back to Powerhouse Women. She showed me her pure humanness in this one simple human exchange. An acknowledgment of loss, compassion, and understanding.

My intuition could sense that she was a special human. After getting to know her a little better, I discovered that she’s loving, kind, compassionate, smart, talented, confident, assertive, and the kind of courageous woman I aspire to be. She’s become a role model and mentor for me as I bravely step out into the world with my lived experience and writing career aspirations. She and I have never directly talked about stigma but I can tell you with certainty that I have never experienced feeling stigmatized by her or within the Powerhouse Women's community.

I am grateful for the incredible community that she has built. It is inclusive, loving, warm, kind, and sacred. It’s contributed to my healing in ways I never thought possible. Joining Powerhouse Women was confirmation for me that I truly had reached a place in my healing with what it truly feels like to thrive. I was no longer hiding. I was ready to be myself fully and to embrace my story of recovery.

I’m feeling confident on my path now to write and speak so that I can continue to bring hope and inspiration to anyone wanting to improve their mental health. Lindsey always says we aren’t meant to do business or life alone, and she’s right. There is so much healing when we are connected and when we get the experience of belonging to a community that aligns with our values. The community of An Infinite Mind, founded by Jaime Pollack has also been an integral part of my healing—two completely different communities, yet both with a mission to serve others and led by kind, brave, and compassionate people.

So, if you are reading this post and feeling alone, isolated, or lost, I hope you’ll stay curious about the kinds of support you’ll want and need. You deserve to thrive but it won’t happen until you can allow yourself to ask for help and support, accept help and support, and not give up until you find it.

I thank Jaime Pollack and Lindsey Schwartz for modeling for me what it is like to bravely use your voice and boldly stand behind a mission that is near and dear to one's heart. Their loving communities reinforce the belief that I can lovingly embrace my authentic self and that there are people who accept, love, hear, and see me for all of me. It also fosters my continued hope and faith for others in search of connection and community. The women of Powerhouse Women and the individuals I have met through An Infinite Mind are changing my life in ways I would I have never thought possible. I am so grateful for each of them.

Your community is out there and they are waiting to love you, see you, accept you, and hear you. You owe it to yourself to take the first step. You deserve it. Please don't ever give up.

The information shared in this blog is not a substitute for therapy or any other form of professional mental health or medical care. It also does not constitute a doctor/patient relationship with Dr. Fletcher. The information provided is for educational and informational purposes only. If you are experiencing a crisis or need help, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

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