I’m a survivor of narcissistic abuse and chronic childhood emotional neglect. I’ve walked the path of loneliness, being haunted by the shame that never seemed to end, chasing love that no one ever seemed to be able to give me.
My childhood home was riddled with verbal abuse, violent fights, silence and denial, and gaslighting. Emotions were not allowed. Obedience equaled love. Complaining was sin.
Deeper than that was the emotional neglect. There were only two appropriate emotions: Shame for my mistakes and happiness. Anything else meant something was “wrong” with me.
This created highly tuned abilities in me to anticipate people’s reactions, plan around them, and please them. I also became deeply skilled in avoiding myself, shaming myself, and discarding myself.
To me until I started seeing how other parents treated their children. I saw homes where the parents listened to their children, respected what the felt, and even played with them.
That was huge to me. Their parents were interested in who their children were, not just in what their children did that pleased them.
The children could express themselves without anxiety and expressed so much more happiness than I could relate to.
As I grew into a teenager and moved out of the house, I began to get hints that I was missing something critical in my upbringing. I really struggled with intimacy and love. Love was scary to me, and connection with others felt deeply threatening and overwhelming. I thought that was all normal until I started seeing how my friends felt safe and secure with love and with sharing it and expressing it.
This rocked my world as I began giving myself permission to see if my parents were actually a problem. Maybe, just maybe, I wasn’t the problem, but how I was raised.
This is where I began to discover what codependency really is, how narcissistic abuse happens, and how a survivor can come to know who they really are and live from that in love.
I remember when I learned this in my first few weeks working with my first mentor, Robert Woo Du-an. “We don’t fix emotions or people.”
This blew my mind. “My feelings didn’t need fixing?”, I thought to myself.
This question started a burning curiosity in me that is a raging fire of discovery today. I wanted to know how one heals it if isn’t about fixing.
This taught me some crucial truths about healing codependency and abuse that I found (and continue to find) missing from mainstream therapies.
These truths started to teach me how to navigate the territory of healing and thriving.
You see, most therapy uses a map and tries to help you walk up a mountain with it. This is akin to a blind person teaching you how to drive.
But when you work with an experience driver who knows the experience of driving, you get expert skills and insight into driving.
The same applies to healing. My work with Robert began to show me why past therapists, books, and courses had not worked. They were using a map with no experience of the territory. This inspired me to master the territory.
Then I did.
Robert Woo Du-an asked me this question a few months into our work together. I was making quick progress and mastery of the tools and my own growth. I was also intrigued, but concerned. I wasn’t a therapist. I wasn’t traditionally qualified to be helping others. I was, though, drawn to help others have what I was getting: healing and relief.
I could see how people were suffering in therapy, lost in their own pain, and coping. Just like I had for over 20 years. So I said yes.
I started my apprenticeship and over the next 24 months, I studied in somatic processing, titration, pendulation, holding space, and meditation approaches for soothing and caring for the nervous system and helping the body thaw from freeze and re-engage in its natural fight-flight-rest responses.
I later met Robert Bilton, Ph.D, a relationship therapist in Manitoba, Canada. He brought me on to help his students with trauma. After seeing my work, he invited me to learn his approach to relationships, conflict, and communication. I studied his work from August 2008 – January 2011.
My formal training is outlined below. I take trainings from licensed therapists through the year. I have active oversight through Sonia Miller, MSW.
I am a teacher and a coach. I am not a therapist.
I have non-traditional training (as outlined below) and over 5,000 hours of private client facilitation experience.
I am trained in a variety of skills, including:
Here’s a breakdown of my training with Robert Woo Du-An (January 2008 – January 2010):
Here’s my training with Robert Bilton (August of 2008-January 2011):
Independent Study (ongoing studies):
I am a teacher. I am not a trauma healing facilitator. I offer practices and structure that help nurture healing in general.
When a student has a specific need for trauma healing, I refer them out to qualified professionals.
Having a therapist, seeking a therapist, or being open to being referred is a prerequisite for attending and working through all of my courses.
LEARN MORE ABOUT MARSHALL HERE: Getting To Know Marshall
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