Dr. Marvette Lacy Ph.D., (she/her) is the founder and CEO of Qual Scholars where she helps higher education folks finish their dissertations and start a profitable consulting business.
Content warning: I will be discussing anxiety, depression, and suicidal ideation during this podcast episode. Please take care of yourself in the best way possible for you. If you decide to continue to listen to this episode, please take a moment to identify some supports that you can lean on to process any emotions or memories that may arise for you during or after this episode.
At the end of what was supposed to be my last year of undergrad, I was in a deep state of depression. I was having severe suicidal ideation and couldn’t think of a reason to continue to keep going in life. I will share more of the backstory in a future episode but today, just know, I was ready to call it quits.
I spent days stuck in my childhood bedroom watching anything that came across the television. I wasn’t really eating, drinking water, or even going outside. I wouldn’t talk to anyone and just had nothing to give to anyone.
Fortunately, my brother and sister in love were preparing to have their first baby together. The baby decided to make her grand entrance into the world in the middle of a hot August night. We all rushed to the hospital excited to see our new family member. It was the first thing I was excited about in months.
As I got to lay eyes on McKenzie, the baby, for the first time, I just remember being amazed at how calm she was. As a baby, she didn’t really cry, she was just chill. Even if she woke up in the middle of the night, there was a quiet short cry and then she was done.
McKenzie spent a lot of time being with me and my mom as a newborn. My mom was recovering from a knee replacement, which meant I had to do a lot of the heavy lifting to care for the baby. In hindsight, this saved me. It gave me something else to focus on other than my thoughts.
I remember one day holding McKenzie in one arm and putting laundry in the washer with the other and notice that she was tracking my eyes and smiling. I just stared at her for what seemed like forever being in trance of her innocence and life. I remember thinking that I had to keep going for her. I wanted to be an example of what was possible for this little person who just came into the world.
That moment was simple and mundane from the outside but for me, it gave me the spark I needed to keep going.
I’m not saying that life was 100% better. I’m saying that I had enough of a push to keep trying to stay on this planet.
Here’s are 3 of the major takeaways from many moments just like this:
One: You are not broken.
One of the thoughts that frequently comes up for me is that “I’m broken.”
I feel like I’ve been through too much shit to be normal.
This thought of “I’m broken” leads me to feel dirty and damaged.
Feeling dirty and damaged causes me to hide.
I hide from other people.
I don’t want to be seen or be the center of attention.
I say things like, I’m just here to learn and do my job. I’m not here to make friends.
Team #NoNewFriends for such a long time.
I even prided myself on having this attitude.
I prided myself on being a loner, being low maintenance, and not needing much.
I thought it made everyone else’s life better because I wasn’t a burden and I didn’t have to worry about being hurt.
The thought of “I’m broken” is just my brain’s way of trying to protect me from being hurt.
Childhood trauma in its various forms has a great influence on the way we come to understand the world around us. Trauma interrupts how we relate to others and impacts our capacity to connect and trust others.
Trauma, especially trauma related to your caregivers, created a survival mechanism that causes you, causes me, to avoid deeply connecting to others. Our brains have learned that deep connection and dependency on others means danger.
However, the rub is that as humans we are not designed to be alone. We are made to need people for our survival.
Therefore, we are constantly in a state, even if it’s subconscious, of wanting connection and intimacy with other people. We want to be close with others but our brains are also telling us it’s dangerous.
I say this because I want you to know that you are not broken. Your brain is doing an amazing job at protecting you.
You can learn how to transition from a place of survival. Other people have led the way and left clues.
Two: There are people out there who are just like you.
Trauma is not new.
The language and concepts of trauma may be new or foriegn to you.
I believe that it’s impossible to live in today’s modern society without experiencing some level of trauma.
Trauma is the response to a deeply distressing or disturbing event that overwhelms an individual’s ability to cope, causes feelings of helplessness, diminishes their sense of self and their ability to feel a full range of emotions and experiences.
Trauma runs on a continuum and can include a wide range of experiences. Trauma doesn’t always have to be capital T trauma such as rape, murder, or abuse. Lower case t trauma can include betrayal in relationships, teasing about hair, or telling you not to pursue a career in math or science because you are a girl child.
Rather it’s capital or lowercase T doesn’t mean anything about its impact. I’m speaking more from a societal norms and views point of view. We more commonly hear about trauma from events on more of the extreme end of the continuum.
And because we all have some level of trauma means we’re not alone in feeling broken, depressed, anxious, shamed, guilt, fear, or disaccioaction in our daily lives.
The issue is that because we believe we are broken and alone, we don’t talk about it with other people. We don’t want to be a burden or we are used to being the helper.
This is most likely the reason why you do the work that you do and start a coaching business. You want to provide the support and resources you need.
Here’s the thing: You cannot truly support your clients if you don’t do your own work. If you are not constantly exploring your trauma and their impacts on your life, it will be difficult to provide safety and clarity for your clients.
A note: There are plenty of people who have successful business and practices although they have so much unhealed trauma. However, those people are most likely living a lonely and hard life. Eventually, when the money continues to not be enough or be able to fill that void, they will have a crisis and/or awakening.
I want you to be a coach who is product of her product. I’m using this podcast to continue to explore my traumas effects on my life. I’m not saying you need to keep replaying past events over and over. I’m saying those events have lasting impacts on your life and the ways through those impacts and healing is to be in community with others who can related, validate, and affirm you.
That’s exactly why I created the Healing Lounge.
Three: Your people are out there waiting to support and love you.
I am willing to bend over backwards to be a listening ear, or showing up and helping in a crisis for people that I love. However, I don’t allow people to do the same for me.
In the rare scenario that someone is offering me support, I feel uncomfortable, shameful, and guilty for not being a burden to other people.
For example, I didn’t have enough money to pay my rent last year. I was so scared and nervous and was unsure of what to do. When the pain became too great, I broke down and told my partner, Carly, what was going on and he sent me money for my rent.
I avoided him for days. I couldn’t talk to him. I just had so much shame that here I am having a roster of clients, having a fulltime job, and I couldn’t even pay my rent.
Carly, because he knows me, wouldn’t stop calling me until I picked up. He is always loving and patient. He told me that it was okay and that he would do anything for me. He doesn’t always understand but he loves me.
I have worked hard to allow myself to receive the love and patience from him and from others. It makes sense why it is difficult for me to do so because of childhood trauma. This is a work of compassion, empathy, and kindness.
We cannot keep giving and giving to other people without it being manipulative or selfish. In order to come from a place of love for others, we first have to give it to ourselves. The first step in the process is learning how to tolerate and receive love and kindness from others.
I use the word tolerate because you can’t instantly jump to full receiving of something you never really experienced before.
Tolerance means the capacity to endure continued subjection to something without adverse reaction.
Tolerance looks like feeling the tightness in your chest as you reach out to your friend to say you need help.
Tolerance looks like being willing to feel uncomfortable and just saying a simple thank you when someone loves you.
Tolerance looks like resisting the urge to reciprocate when someone brings you a gift just because.
Inside of the Healing Lounge, we go deeper into learning to tolerate love and kindness from others and developing that tolerance into a full receiving of love and kindness not just from other people but also from yourself.
You give so much to others and I want you to know in your bones that you also are worth the same effort and love.
Join the Healing Lounge so we can do this life altering work together.