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Breaking the Silence and Embracing Your True Self: I am Expressive. I am Enigmatic. I am Empowered.

Good morning! And Welcome to my Blog - Nomadic Gemini - Where we hold space for transforming trauma, igniting your purpose, and rewriting your story, one chapter at a time.

This is part 5 of a 26 part series: Unraveling the Past from A-Z: Exploring the Layers of Trauma and Uncovering a Path Towards Healing.

This series delves into the enduring impact of childhood trauma, unraveling the persistent memories that linger and shape our adult selves. 

As we navigate the intricate web of generational trauma, we are exploring its influence on our thoughts, emotions, and identity. 

By confronting our ghosts, shedding layers of false identities we’ve accepted as truth, and rewriting our narrative, we embark on a journey of healing and self-discovery.

Each chapter rewritten is a step towards healing the deep-seated wounds that bind us. Today, I delve into the layers of the letter “E” in my life through the lens of: 

I am expressive (reconnecting with my childhood self),

I am enigmatic (unraveling the effects of trauma),

I am empowered (embracing transformation and purpose).

Some of you might be wondering why I am going through the trouble of spending 26 weeks unraveling the layers of trauma as they pertain to my own life, in hopes of helping you.

I saw this quote the other day. I guess it sums up why I’m here and why I’m exposing my own vulnerability to share with you.

That quote reads: 

“I’m not embarrassed about anything I went through.

What may be “tea” for you, is a testimony for me.

If you’re gonna talk about what broke me,

Invite me to the table so I can tell you what I did with the pieces.”

I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of just talking all the time about what broke me. 

I am inviting you to my table, so I can share with you what I did with the pieces and how each one changed me and acted as the catalyst for growth in those deepest darkest life lessons to make me who I am today.

I am expressive (reconnecting with my childhood self),

I’m going to start with an exercise I did on the last episode.

Think about some of your earliest memories. At this point in the podcast, we are looking for positive attributes. Happy memories. Things that made your childhood full of joy.

Okay, now I’m going to ask you to close your eyes for a moment and think back to your childhood. What do your surroundings look like in your mind. Are you in your bedroom? Your childhood home? A friend's house? Perhaps your grandparents' home in your hometown? 

Maybe you are sitting around the dinner table during a holiday meal. Or outside playing with your friends.

Focus on the sounds around you. Who is talking, laughing, playing.

Are there any specific scents that tie you to this memory? Perhaps it is great-grandma's hot apple pie, or a homemade meal your mom made and you just got home from school and you walk in the kitchen to find her cooking, or baking perhaps.

Stop to think what that room looks like. Look at the color of the paint, wallpaper, or even paneling back in the day, the furniture placement, the carpet or linoleum pattern in your favorite room of the house.

So if I do this exercise and close my eyes, I find it hard to pick just one place that connects me to my favorite childhood memories, so I’ll briefly share with you just one for now.

One would be Dorothy’s house - my childhood babysitter’s home growing up. 

Her house sat on a steep hill on Franklin Avenue with a screened-in porch, a giant heated steel floor grate in the middle of the room, and a kitchen with a tiny t.v. where she’d watch Days of our Lives while we ate peanut butter and jelly or cheese sandwiches cut into perfect triangles and talked about the fun we’d have that afternoon just as soon as we took naps.

There was Trisha, Colleen, Amy, my brother, and me. And man, were we quite the little team.

We’d play little people, and barbies, and ‘house’ in the upstairs creepy attic and make believe we were at work or taking care of patients at the hospital we worked in.

We’d go for long walks across town and stop by Taco Bell to get an enchirito or Sam’s (I think it was called) for a burger and fries and shake. We’d walk to Bayliss Park and make up adventures to pass the time along the way until we got to the big fountain and then we’d have a picnic before making the long trek back home for the day.

You can guarantee that no matter what, we’d stop to chat with anyone that said hello during our walk and they would always comment on how well behaved we were, our happy little faces beaming up at them.

Maybe they didn’t know this, but on this adventure of ours, we were having - the time of our lives!

No matter where I was or who I was with during my childhood, Imagination was always at play, and I was expressive in many ways from a very young age. 

Now what do I mean by expressive? The dictionary states that being expressive is anything that conveys thoughts or feelings. Smiling, laughing, shouting, crying, and pouting are all expressive forms of communication.

I was able to express myself without limits. And I didn’t hold back my emotions, whatever it was I felt.

When I was young, I told stories of imaginary friends, I wrote poems and stories and music, I played the piano and sang my heart out.

 I talked a hundred miles an hour to anyone who would listen and was willing to engage in conversation with me.

And when I felt things, I expressed them. And I didn’t worry if it was appropriate or who it might upset, or how it made others feel, as most kids would until they mature a little and realize that their actions affect others.

I don’t remember a time when I didn’t feel things on a deep level either. I sometimes wondered if I was the only one being affected so deeply by the actions or tragic stories of others.

Until I realized that I was an empath. And that’s when my storyline of expressing myself changed.

When Did I Become Enigmatic - closed off - hard to figure out?

I’m not sure exactly when it happened, but over the years as trauma often does, my voice became a little quieter. And I wasn’t as quick to express the way I felt.

I wasn’t as open to sharing my feelings or to expressing myself verbally in ways that I always did.

I just saw an email this morning from one of my instructors that said “Life serves as a reflection, and sometimes we bump up against others in their traumas and triggers.

Sometimes in life, we don’t recognize our negative or unhealthy responses to others we are communicating with, are actually triggers. At least I didn’t understand that they were in the early years of either one of my marriages.

Things often felt like they were beyond my control and I was doing my best to figure things out day by day.

This led to some difficult relationship issues throughout my life as I found it hard to open  up when things got tough and I didn’t feel like I could trust the person I was having a critical conversation with and I would shut down.

Ever heard of the silent treatment? I became a pro at that. But it wasn’t intentional, at least not in the ways you would think.

Some women just outright refuse to speak to their partner when things get heated and purposely shut them out until things blow over or he/she apologizes.

This is not what I mean by that. My mind would sometimes literally just shut down, or check out. I’m not sure how to explain it. We would be talking or arguing or having a heated discussion and if I felt like my needs weren’t being validated, or if I was being backed into a corner, or if I was ‘in trouble’ - yes even as a grown adult - I would just shut down.

The words wouldn’t come. I couldn’t force them to come. And so I would sit in silence while the other person grew angrier because I wouldn’t talk. 

And I’m not really even sure what happens during that time - it’s like I disassociated from my own body and I couldn’t express any longer how I was feeling. 

It was like being separated entirely from myself and my emotions during that time.

At some point, my mind would rejoin my physical body and I could then continue the conversation and work towards resolving the conflict. 

By then, sometimes, it was too late.

Thank GOD my husband understands my trauma response and can predict the way I react sometimes and we are able to work around it. It wasn’t always that way though, and sometimes I still falter and forget to use healthier coping mechanisms so that I don’t let myself get as triggered as I used to when there is no reason to. But it’s taken us almost 25 years to figure things out, and like I said, sometimes, I still suck at verbalizing and communicating what I really want to say.

I have spent a lot of time - too much time actually - in my own head and trying to rationalize everything on my own.

I still do it to this day. So I guess in that way, I still withdraw sometimes when I don’t intend to.

And I still struggle to not be so enigmatic or closed off, or difficult to read or understand. My husband has helped me with that a lot more than he gives himself credit for.

Sometimes I think he knows me better than even I know myself.

But it was during those times of being quiet, reflecting, and keeping myself a safe distance away from others, that it has allowed me to witness and focus more on the internal struggles of others. 

I also became an EMPATH, so I’m thankful for the chance to experience that life lesson too.

I have more empathy for others walking in similar shoes, and soon discovered that being an empath shaped the way I see people in general and, in turn, changed the way I look at the whole world.

So what does it mean to be an empath? explains that “An empath is a person highly attuned to the feelings and emotions of those around them. Empaths feel what another person is feeling at a deep emotional level.

Their ability to discern what others are feeling goes beyond empathy, which is defined simply as the ability to understand the feelings of others. Instead, being an empath extends to actually taking those feelings on.

We know that researchers have discovered what they’ve dubbed “mirror neurons” in the brain, which may help us mirror the emotions of those we come in contact with.

Empaths are not just sensitive to emotions but tend to pick up on other aspects of the environment. This means they may be more aware of sights, sounds, smells, and other physical sensations that other people might not notice.

As a result, an empath may be more bothered by certain scents or more easily distracted by noises in their surroundings.

I’ve learned to control how I let those things affect me in certain situations and might be why I require more downtime or more quiet time to unwind and release those pent up emotions I carry from others energy.

Creative outlets such as writing, playing the piano, singing, creating art, reading, and even doing this blog and podcast are ways that I can release those emotions in a constructive, healthy manner as well.

Now there were other aspects beyond my control that kept me from being in control of my emotions or as expressive and carefree with words and as I was before.

When I was 29 years old, I contracted the meningitis virus that changed the way I’d speak for, apparently, the rest of my adult life. 

What I didn’t understand at the time was that once the virus is over, it can leave many debilitating symptoms in its wake, some of which I experienced and didn’t completely understand.

Being a meningitis survivor means that you might have permanent brain and nerve damage, behavioral changes, cognitive disabilities, lack of muscle control, seizures, and memory loss.

I read once that it is comparative to having a traumatic brain injury and that wasn’t something I had ever thought about.

For years, I tried to fight the effects and felt embarrassed by the way I talked in front of others. I was terrified of public speaking or being put on the spot when asked a question because my brain misfires sometimes and my words become a jumbled mess.

Becoming an author has been liberating for me because when I write, or type, my thoughts normally come out in a pretty cohesive pattern. It’s why I write most of my podcasts ahead of time, when I can think clearly and organize my thoughts.

Of course I speak to you from the heart and I do riff and adlib as I’m talking, but having bullet points and ideas jotted down beforehand helps me so much.

So, as I said, things that were out of my control, like having Meningitis stole my ability to express myself in ways that are a part of my genetic makeup.

So I had to pivot and find other ways to cope.

This blog and podcast has been therapeutic in that way for me, but I had a lot of fear that you wouldn’t accept me or continue listening because of the way I sometimes speak or can’t think of my words or trip over simple sentences that others have no problem saying.

But that hasn’t been the case. You’ve all accepted my quirks and nuances and haven’t judged me for the mess I make of things sometimes or the emotions that sometimes spill out when I don’t mean them to.

I’m just thankful for you all, that’s all. For giving me the space I need to express my thoughts and feelings as I heal.

I hope that in some small way, I am helping you, too.

Empowered (and educated)

So how am I unraveling the effects of trauma and embracing transformation and purpose in my life now?

The first thing I did was educate myself. Not only by going back to school and earning three degrees after the age of 40 while still having 5 kids at home at the same time my husband went back to school and earned two of his degrees.

I don’t say that to brag either. Not in the least. It was hard. It was so hard some days. But I’m telling you this to give you hope that things can, and will, change if you work hard enough to make it happen.

For me, in order not to become stagnant or fall into the trap of ‘poor me’ or ‘look at all I’ve been through’ I have chosen to continue to listen and read and learn in order to help myself (and my brain) heal.

I would caution though that you can’t just ignore what you’ve been through and continue living in denial, wishing it might all just disappear one day without putting in the work.

I can assure you, it doesn’t happen that way, and it WILL come back to bite you in the butt someday.

But there are a few things you can do to help you on your journey as you are putting one foot in front of the other and figuring things out as you go.

So what are some therapeutic tools to help you get out of your enigmatic shell and put yourself out into the world as you empower yourself and others to heal?

  1. Therapy

  2. Seeking support and advice by talking to an actual therapist either in person or online

  3. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy - talk therapy that aims to help you manage problems by changing how you think, act, and respond

  4. EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing)

  5. Psychoeducation and Trauma helps you understand trauma and how it affects the body

  6. Listen to Podcasts from others who are on the other side of that pain about: hope, healing, resilience, thriving, dreaming, growing, surviving, recovery, 

  7. I’ll share the link for those wanting it with a list of the 60 Best Trauma Podcasts for 2024:

  8. Journaling

  9. Start Writing Your Memoir

  10. I’ll get into this more in a later podcast because I am a writing coach and my heart and purpose lie in helping others write and tell their trauma stories as they write new narratives and learn to leave the past behind.

  11. Art Therapy

  12. Music Therapy

  13. Narrative Therapy & Storytelling - encourages individuals to share their trauma narrative in a supportive, non-judgmental space and learning to cope with trauma by shifting the focus away from the trauma and viewing your experience through a lens of personal growth and empowerment

This is where I am at in this pivotal moment of my life - I’m desperately trying to move through the acceptance stage of grieving the person I was (or could have been) because trauma interrupted that phase of my life.

But I want so badly to see things through a whole new lens, from a different perspective. It sometimes feels like I am on the cusp of something profound and I am excited for the first time in my life to see where this new path, this new season leads.

The bottom line is that I want you to know, I NEED you to know, that there is hope. No matter what stage you are in right now on this healing journey, there is hope.

I am learning to break the silence and reclaim my voice as I educate and empower myself by sharing personal experiences that are directed at inspiring all of you to find your voice and embrace your power as you heal too.

I am learning to embrace this journey, no matter how difficult the path may still seem at times.

In conclusion,  I want to remind you that there is light at the end of the once dark tunnel. I can see it. And I know I’m heading in the right direction because I feel a weight lifting as I shed these layers that I’ve hidden within to protect myself.

It’s time to embrace our true selves and stop hiding, stop living in shame because you haven’t done anything wrong.

You’ve merely picked up coping mechanisms, some healthy and some incredibly detrimental to your authentic self. But what matters is you’re still here.

You keep moving forward no matter how much it hurts. And you get up every single day and fight like hell to find the person hidden beneath the layers of trauma that have imprisoned you for far too long.

In the journey called  life, we often encounter experiences that shape us in profound ways, molding our beliefs and burying layers of emotions within us. For some, like myself, this journey involved a transformation from being naturally expressive to becoming enigmatic, harboring unspoken truths and silenced voices out of fear. Unraveling the layers of trauma that have accumulated within us is a challenging yet essential step towards finding our way back to ourselves.

As a child, I reveled in the freedom of expression, wearing my heart on my sleeve and embracing authenticity with every fiber of my being. However, life's unpredictable turns introduced me to pain and struggles that I was ill-prepared to face. Gradually, I found myself recoiling into a cocoon of silence, wrapping myself in layers of protection that suffocated my once-bold voice.

But as many of us have learned the hard way, healing is a journey, not a destination. 

I embarked on a path of self-discovery and restoration, committed to shedding the shell of protection I had constructed around me. Picture a turtle with a hard shell around it and its tiny little head just barely emerging until it knows it's safe to come out. 

It wasn't easy; there were moments of darkness and despair when it seemed as though the light at the end of the tunnel was but a distant flicker. Yet, in those moments of doubt, I clung to the belief that within me resided a spark of resilience and hope that could never be extinguished.

Reclaiming my voice and embracing my true self required courage, vulnerability, and a willingness to confront the shadows within.

Through therapy, self-reflection, and introspection, I began to unravel the tangled web of trauma that had ensnared me for so long. I unearthed buried memories, confronted deep-seated fears, and released the pent-up emotions that had held me captive.

As I peel back each layer of pain and hurt, I discover a newfound sense of empowerment coursing through my veins. I realize that my silence was not a sign of weakness but a survival mechanism, a coping strategy that had outlived its usefulness. With each step towards healing, I found myself growing stronger, more resilient, and more attuned to the whispers of my inner voice once again.

Today, I stand before you not as a victim of my past, but as a survivor who is emerging from the pain and I am emerging transformed. 

I am expressive. I am enigmatic. I am empowered. And I carry within me a beacon of hope that shines brightly, for all of you to cling to, just when you need it the most.

And what I CAN control, above all else, is the ability to learn the lessons I am meant to learn and reset those triggers and imbalances that trauma caused to become who I want to be, who I am GOING to be instead.

As you embark on this journey of self-exploration and healing, remember that it is okay to feel vulnerable and uncertain at times. Embracing your true self after trauma means acknowledging the pain you carry, while also honoring the resilience that sustains you.

Be gentle with yourself as you navigate through the complexities of your emotions and memories. #grace #mercy #selflove #patience

Reclaiming your voice is a powerful step towards empowerment. Through therapy, self-expression, and connecting with supportive communities, you can gradually realign with your authentic self and let your voice be heard once more. It is through speaking your truth that you break the silence that once held you captive and take ownership of your narrative.

Never underestimate the strength that lies within you, even in the darkest moments. As you continue to unravel the layers of trauma and work towards healing, hold onto the flicker of hope that burns within your heart.

Know that you are not alone on this journey and that there are resources, coping mechanisms, and support systems available to guide you towards the light at the end of the tunnel.

Remember, you are not defined by your past pain or present struggles. You are a resilient soul, capable of rewriting your story and stepping into a future filled with empowerment, healing, and authenticity. Embrace the journey, never give up on yourself, and trust in the transformative power of reclaiming your voice.

There is always hope, and within that hope, lies the key to unlocking your true self.

I hope this episode has motivated you as much as it has me to want to unravel those layers so that eventually we can learn to thrive, not just to merely survive as we’ve done in the past.

Most of all, hope, I hope you know that you are loved, you are worthy, and you are enough, no matter where you are in your healing journey.

Together, we can, and will, heal as we learn to let the past go and welcome in this next chapter, turning pages of transformation, healing, and change.

I can't wait to see where this new road takes us as we embrace this new year and make it into everything we need it to be.

Thanks for being here. And thanks for making a difference in my life.

I wouldn't be where I am today without you.

Hang in there, and know that you are loved from here to the universe and back.

Until next time, I am unconditionally yours,

All my love,

~ Sadie


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