My Story

Every healing journey has a turning point that marks a new beginning. This was mine:

March 10th, 2016, about 1:45 in the afternoon. I’m in a therapy session. 

I, the recovering people pleaser, have been working for about three years and four months, give or take, in a body-based therapy called EMDR. And I’ve had some breakthroughs along the way. 

I’ve had depression that has lifted, I’ve had anxiety that has settled down. I’ve had clarity come to me, understanding, insight. 

But this day, March 10th, was like no other. On this day, something clicked. There was a switch that flipped on. I was sitting there with my therapist, working through old feelings, old emotions, and doing an eye movement type of therapy, and all of a sudden this thought entered my head. It entered my whole body. 

I, Ariana, the recovering people pleaser, could now tell the whole world to fuck off.

And it landed just like that. No other wording would do it justice. I came out of that visit to my therapist a changed woman. I didn’t exactly know where I was or what was going on, what was happening. But I knew one thing. 

I knew I was Me. And I hadn’t known that prior. And I hadn’t even really realized it, because I had grown up with trauma, developmental trauma, complex trauma. There are different flavors of it, but in a nutshell, it was trauma that was affecting me and had turned me into that people pleaser as a coping mechanism that I had learned when I was a child.

To understand exactly what happened, it’s good to know to have an understanding of what trauma is. In a nutshell, there are two types of trauma. We’ve got simple trauma – say you’re in a car accident and it’s a single event and you can’t react and it’s traumatizing. That’s acute trauma. You can have PTSD, flashbacks from that. 

And then there’s the more complicated, more complex developmental trauma that happens over time, especially when you’re young, even when you’re a teenager. This type of trauma comes from the little things that people don’t notice that much. Say it’s your parents not validating what you’re doing. Or your parents or other adults shaming you and putting you down. And as a child, you need to feel safe, so you can’t really push back when that happens. The events happen to you, but the traumatic even happens inside you. It’s less about what happens “out there,” but more about we respond on the inside. Or, more specifically, about not being able to respond to it the event. 

When we are someplace where we are either unsafe or trapped, we can’t respond to an event. Say we’re in a car accident – we’re kind of trapped. It happened so fast, we can’t respond. All this information, all this sensory data is coming at us. We can’t process it fast enough; we get traumatized. 

Now, we’re a young child; it’s a big scary world. Our parents are god-like when we’re young; other adults, same thing. They’re giving us their input, and we can’t always respond because we don’t feel empowered or because we feel scared. If we don’t feel safe, we can’t risk our well-being, and so we especially can’t respond. And that’s just emotional safety, let alone physical safety. 

So when we receive an overload of overwhelming input, when our bodies receive too much sensory input – say the car accident, say as a child – we need to process it out. We need to push back somehow and respond in order to process the incoming sensory overload of events.

And when that can’t happen, it gets “stuck” in the body. And by”the body” we mean the everything in the body, but mostly the autonomic nervous system, or just the nervous system. Your nervous system pumps out all the neurochemicals that tell you how you feel. Your feelings are in your body. They come from your nervous system, so to speak. When trauma happens and you don’t get to push that energy out, it gets stuck. Inside. In your nervous system. And now your nervous system can’t do what it needs to do.  Your nervous system is supposed to guide you in life. That’s what feelings are for: they’re guidance. You try something, you don’t feel like you like it. OK! You try something else. That’s what a healthy nervous system does. When your nervous system is traumatized, then the trauma gets to tell the nervous system what to do, and now you’re responding to your environment from trauma instead of from your authentic self.

So what is healing all about then? Well, we’ve got this trauma, and we want it out. There’s a lot of therapy out there that’s about talking and you think, you talk about it, you think enough about it, you can fix it, you can see the pattern. “I can see I’m acting just like my mother. I have that same trigger. I do the same thing that she does. I can change that.” 

That’s correct; you can kind of change the behavior, but you’re not usually changing what’s underneath it in your body. And the past 10, 20 years or so, especially, there’s been a large movement among neuroscientists, therapists, researchers who are understanding that healing of trauma comes from the body up. They call it “bottom-up” healing. Instead of that cognitive “top-down” healing, there are various types of bottom up body-based therapies that help you release the trauma that is trapped in your nervous system.

When I went through my breakthrough on March 10, 2016, I was so changed and so inspired and so in awe of what healing could be, that I began to feel like this is something people need to know about. This is something that needs to be supported, encouraged, and not only that people who wish to receive the healing should know about, but that the people, the therapists and others who are delivering the healing services are also aware of. 

In that spirit, I started Hello Trauma. What I am aiming to do and what I have been doing is offering a place of safety and support for people who are looking to heal their trauma, are in the process of healing their trauma, or don’t even know where to start with healing their trauma, but know that something’s wrong. 

I started out with a support group and then I moved into an online education course and I also offer coaching. And my grander vision is to create a community of both people who are healing from trauma and others who are able to provide that healing. And there’s overlap. Some of the providers want the healing and need it too.

If we, as a community, come together and understand that trauma healing is not about that shame that we feel and that depression that we feel — that that’s our body’s reaction to trauma — then we can take away some of that stigma (or a lot of that stigma!) attached to healing and go out there and do the work. 

It’s not easy to heal from trauma. It’s very uncomfortable when you’re healing it from your body. You’re gonna feel it from your body. It’s going to bring things up and out. Because what you’re doing is you’re taking that sensory input, you’re processing it, and now, through a specific type of therapy, you’re pushing it out. 

It takes courage, it takes commitment, and it also takes community. Because we heal in relation to others, we heal in relationship. We were traumatized in relationship; you’re going to heal through relationship as well. 

Hello Trauma is about community. We’re about relationship, we’re about commitment, and we’re about courage. 

I encourage all of you to contact me any time with any questions. I’d love to talk more about Hello Trauma and all that we offer to help anyone, anywhere on the healing journey.


Overwhelmed to On Fire

How much would you give to sit across from someone who knows exactly what it’s like living every day with the overwhelm, anxiety, brain fog, frustration, and other effects of complex trauma–but has found their way out, to inner freedom, deep peace, and true joy?

Well, for anyone serious about living a richer, more rewarding life, the price would be quite high and worth every penny. But for a short time, for a small number of people, I’m offering that opportunity… without charge.
That’s right, with my Overwhelmed to On Fire call, you have the chance to work with me one on one, absolutely free.

Because I hold these calls personally, there are very few spots available, so if you’re serious about changing your life and would like the guidance and support of someone who has been in the trenches, worked their way out, and now successfully helps others do the same, use the calendar provided to apply for your session now.

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