Episode 52

Trauma + Family Estrangement

What is trauma exactly? And how do we cope with it?

In this episode of Uncomfortable, I chat with Joyous D. Williams, a mental health professional, art therapist, and coach. We discuss trauma, the different ways to cope, and dealing with family estrangement.

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Host: Debbie Roche

Guests: Joyous D. Williams


Uncomfortable the Podcast. Listen on Google Podcasts

About Our Guest

Joyous D. Williams is a Mental Health Professional serving the greater Cleveland, Ohio area. She is a nationally board-certified Art Therapist, specializing in brain-based, trauma-informed care. She’s also a coach studied in “Transformative Presence” and has lived experience changing the very fabric of her own life. Personally, Joy is also a Growth-Oriented Mama of 1, a Life Partner, a Dog Mom to 3 unruly beasts and a voracious reader.

Please note that there is some adult language in this episode so pop on those headphones!

If you enjoyed our conversation then feel free to leave a comment at the bottom of this page or rate us highly over on iTunes!

You can also listen to our interview over on YouTube by clicking the video below.


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Episode 52 Show Notes


You can follow Joyous over on her website + social media:


Joy’s mailing list/Free Coaching Download: coach.everywomxn.com

Instagram: @recreatingdawn and @traumaclearingbadass

Other Resources:

Loveland Foundation – https://thelovelandfoundation.org/
Open Path Psychotherapy Collective – https://openpathcollective.org/
Coping Skill Printable Resource – http://www.indigodaya.com/resources/

If you are dealing with trauma and need help immediately then know that you can always call the Crisis Canada Hotline at 1.833.456.4566. They have amazing trained volunteers available 24/7. For more information visit their website www.crisisservicescanada.ca.

If you are having suicidal thoughts then please contact 1–800-SUICIDE.

The LifeLine Canada Foundation also has a list of Canadian, USA and international crisis centres.

Click here for a list for a list of Suicide Crisis Hotlines in other countries.

Episode 52 - Transcription + Time Stamps

Debbie: [00:00:00] You are listening to uncomfortable, comfortable conversations around uncomfortable topics.

Hi, and welcome to another episode of Uncomfortable. The podcast that has comfortable conversations around uncomfortable topics. I’m your host, Debbie Roche. And in this episode, I have a conversation with Joyous D. Williams about trauma and family estrangement. Now, before I tell you more about Joy, I just wanted to mention that uncomfortable is an independent podcast and needs your support.

If you want to support us, you can sign up to be a monthly patron and pledge as little as $2 per month. You can visit uncomfortable.blog/donate for more information. And if you happen to be a small business that aligns with our values, then reach out to us about sponsorship opportunities. You can email me at hello@uncomfortable.blog. And you can’t financially support this little podcast, no worries. Just keep on listening and consider giving us a review over on Apple podcasts. Now, let me tell you a little bit about, my guest. Joyous D. Williams is a mental health professional serving the greater Cleveland Ohio area. She is a nationally board certified Art Therapist, specializing in brain based trauma informed care.

Joy is also a coach and studied in transformative presence and has lived experience changing the very fabric of her own life. And personally Joy is a growth oriented mama of one, a life partner and a dog mom to three unruly beats and a voracious reader. I hope that you enjoy our conversation, but as always, here’s a warning. There is some strong language. So when you’re listening, pop on those headphones.

This podcast was recorded and produced in Vancouver, BC, and the land on which I work is the unceded shared traditional territories of the coast salish peoples, including the territories of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh nations.

Joyous, thank you so much for joining me on Uncomfortable the Podcast today. Are you doing?

Joyous: [00:02:59] I’m doing great. I’m so very excited to be here with you today.

Debbie: [00:03:03] I’m happy to have you and trauma is one of those, it’s like a topic that’s just so huge. That I’m not even sure I understand it. So I’m, you know, happy to be having this conversation and hopefully you know, get some clarity along with listeners who I’m sure feel the same.

So before we get into the topic, tell us a little bit about the work that you do.

Joyous: [00:03:26] Yeah, absolutely. So I am an Art Therapist. I’m a Trauma Therapist and in the state of Ohio, I’m a Counselor. And I’m also a Transformational Coach. So I am a woman of many hats. I’m also a mom and a wife and a dog owner. And, um, the main focus of what I do is trauma.

I’ve found that all of those modalities help with trauma and are valuable at their own different levels. So that’s why I kind of do many different things.

Debbie: [00:03:58] Yeah, definitely. It’s like, you’re juggling a lot by the sounds of it. Um, yeah, I, I’m a bit of a multi passionate entrepreneur, so I wear many hats too, but I don’t have the motherhood part yet and I’m waiting for that to happen.

So, you know, I definitely bow my head to, to working moms for sure.

Joyous: [00:04:20] I have, I have some fortunate aspects to that. My husband is mostly home with my daughter and, um, we have my mother in law there too. So we have support and also kids can be, you know, challenging that it’s amazing to be a mom. And also they shine a little mirror at us, right. To tell us where we’re not done with our work yet.

Debbie: [00:04:42] I can only imagine. I’m looking forward to hopefully that part of my life happening soon. Also terrified. So yeah, let’s get into trauma. As I mentioned, it’s just one of those huge things that I can’t even quite wrap my head around. So tell us what that word means to you. Like what does trauma look like?

Joyous: [00:05:04] So a lot of people are confused about trauma, and they think that trauma, the really big things that they see other people experience, and they don’t really realize that they’ve also probably had some traumatic experiences or things that can be defined as trauma. Trauma by definition is really, that is really anything that overwhelms our ability to cope. That’s it? It doesn’t really matter what it is.  It just matters that it’s a stressor that’s bigger than, you know, what our system can handle. We all have sort of like an innate window of tolerance of distress, and we can expand that window through practices and coping skills, but anytime we’re outside of that window, it can cause problems and be traumatic.

Debbie: [00:05:54] Yeah. I mean, like, I usually think of trauma being something like really huge that’s happened to someone for them to then have to kind of, go through counseling. But I guess it could be something just really small as well that it’s affected someone quite deeply. Right. So there’s. I never really think of it that way.

Joyous: [00:06:17] Yeah, absolutely. So in the field we talk about big T trauma and little T trauma.

Debbie: [00:06:22] Oh I love it!

Joyous: [00:06:24] Yeah, totally. So the big T trauma are the things like, you know, you see veterans with PTSD and you’re like, Oh, that’s trauma, right. Or we think of childhood sexual abuse, as you know, that’s a big T trauma. And because nothing like that happened to you, you don’t feel like you have trauma.

But there’s also small T trauma. And that could be as simple as moving a lot or having a family with a lot of like, uh, emotional dysfunction for example.

Debbie: [00:06:54] You work with, let me hopefully I get this right, “adverse childhood experience scales”. So can you tell us a little bit more about that? Cause that’s something I’ve never heard off. And then you talk about how that connects like briefly to, to racial advantages and disadvantages of trauma. So yeah, that’s a whole new thing for me to ever hear. So yeah, if you could tell us more about that. That would be great.

Joyous: [00:07:23] That’s a huge topic. So we’ll take a, take a section of it and talk about it. It is, um, on the CDC website. So for those listening, they can do some more research and learn about it. I sometimes do use the ACEs as it’s short for, in my work, just to assess some of the history, but essentially the adverse childhood experience scales is a survey about experiences that folks have had in their history.

The study was done in like 1995 originally, and it includes things like abuse, neglect, parental incarceration, a parental separation or divorce, having a parent with mental illness, things like that. And they found a pretty direct link between childhood trauma and chronic disease that people experience as adults, heart disease, lung cancer, diabetes, autoimmune disorders, depression, violence, being a victim of violence and even suicide.

So it’s a huge, huge link between the traumatic experiences that we have in our early life. And then the later health issues and experiences we have later in life.

Debbie: [00:08:41] So is that something like anybody could access or is it just therapists, counselors that have access to those scales?

Joyous: [00:08:52] Nope, if you Google it, you can look online and see that I’m sure lots of websites have the ACEs and it’s just a yes or no there, I think there’s about 10 questions that are yes or no.

And it’s a one for one. So I, my personal score is a two, for example, so I can look that up.

Debbie: [00:09:09] And if you don’t mind elaborating, like, so you get the results of that. You kind of go through this online, you get the results. And then what do you do with those results? Like, would it determine that perhaps you should speak to counseling or maybe it offers like some sort of resources that you can use to kind of help get get over a few can get over or even just cope with the trauma that you’ve had.

Joyous: [00:09:33] Right. Um, we can talk about, you know, I know we’ll talk about resources later. Uh, it just gives you that information. I think it’s helpful. Most people know that they’ve had trauma, especially those big T traumas, but some of the questions you might review and go “oh, I, I do have a one or a two on the ACEs scale”. They’re very common. I think that that’s a misconception as 61% of adults who were surveying across 25 States in the U S reported they had at least one type of an adverse childhood experience. And then one in six reported they had four or more.

Debbie: [00:10:14] Okay. Yeah. I mean, I guess it would be common for people to have like one or two, but like having yeah more than. Four seems like a lot to me I’ve lived a very privileged life, though so, you know, thankfully I haven’t had to experience a lot of the trauma that other, and especially, you know, other minorities I’ve had to experience.

So yeah, like how does that help you in the work that you do? Does that just kind of help you then determine how you can work with your clients?

Joyous: [00:10:45] Yeah. I also use other PTSD scales too, to assess like how it’s affecting people in the present in their lives. I think that the most important thing to know about the ACEs is how intergenerational trauma lives in our bodies.

And then our own trauma affects the expression of our DNA. And you know, whether or not we get a certain disease or not, you know, we can have a genetic disease in our encoded in our DNA, but it may not come out because we have, I’ve had a privileged life and we haven’t had to deal with traumatic experiences.

And so we never know that we could get some form of cancer or heart disease. What, whereas others who have had a lot of trauma may have that already in their lives and see it in their family and have health effects because of that.

Debbie: [00:11:35] Yeah. Hmm. Interesting. I’m I’m going to definitely take a look at that and I’ll post the link in the show notes too, to the CDC website.

So one thing that I’ve always wondered is what exactly is the difference between going to therapy or a counselor, and then going to coaching, especially for people who have experienced trauma, like is one way better than the other?

Joyous: [00:12:02] The biggest question to ask with coaching is how, as a coach trained in trauma? You don’t currently have to have any training to call yourself a coach. And so that can be a really big problem. Um, it can also be really dangerous when we’re talking about trauma, because it is so vast and so personal that coaching could easily slip into the treatment of a mental health condition and it by definition should not be doing so. I think that there’s a place for both therapy and coaching and supporting folks with trauma.

Our stories need to be witnessed and shared, and you need to have coping skills to deal with trauma. And all of that comes from therapy. Uh, for myself in coaching, I’ve found that it’s the next level of healing, so to speak. That it looks at some of those like resilient, adaptive strategies that we’ve used to survive.

And how they’re not working anymore. And they might be getting in our way, like if we’re perfectly functioning and happy and healthy for the most part. So it helps us to look at like where we can take action to change, who you’re being in the present moment. And. Um, it’s personally impacted for me, like how happy and fulfilled I am in my own life.

And it’s really changed a somatic therapists often say the “dis ease” in our body versus “disease”. And I think that it’s, uh, it’s changed how that’s expressed for me in my life, uh, both the future and just like currently how I feel about life and relationships and everything. Yeah.

Debbie: [00:13:42] Were you at therapist slash counselor first before you went into coaching?

Joyous: [00:13:48] Yes.

Debbie: [00:13:49] And like, why did you feel the need? Did you feel like there was just that other step, like, as you say, it’s kind of the next step that was needed. Was that the reason why you just thought, okay I feel like there’s something else I need to do to help my clients.

Joyous: [00:14:05] Yeah, absolutely. I think that therapists can only take their clients as far as they’ve gone in the healing work that they do.

And so when I found coaching and started to do it for myself and realized that it’s possible to have another level of healing that I didn’t know existed, even as a therapist, that it naturally became something that I wanted to add to help other people too.

Debbie: [00:14:32] You’ve gone through your own trauma. So how does a trauma therapist actually navigate coping with their own trauma? Because I imagine you’re dealing like a whole whack of other people’s trauma. Yet, you still have yours, so yeah, what do you do? 

Joyous: [00:14:48] The same as everyone else?

Yes, of course. I know about more coping skills and I have probably widened my window of tolerance over the years of listening to and sitting with other people’s stories and dealing with my own. But for example, in the last five years, I personally had a lightening strike fire my home while I was pregnant.

I, uh, that was followed pretty quickly by a relationship breach with my mom. And I almost lost my job because of the layered stress factors at the time. And so like how, how did I deal with that? Is I sometimes dissociated and I dealt with the crisis in front of me. And I had choice words for the news reporters who were had cameras in my face.

You know, that like we, I was outside of my window of tolerance and we do things when we’re outside of our window of tolerance that we wouldn’t normally do.

Debbie: [00:15:49] That is so true. It’s so true. So like, were the camera’s there because your house was struck by lightening, which is a very rare thing to happen.

Joyous: [00:16:01] Exactly. Yeah. Yeah. They were, it happened at three in the morning and they were there in about 15 minutes. Um, so it, because of the lightning strike, that’s why they said they were there. It was so rare, but you know, it was on the news for like four hours in the morning that day.

Debbie: [00:16:20] Oh my god. And like trying to cope with that while you’re pregnant is not a great scenario. And then plus you have other clients. So when you you’re, you know, you’re going through all of this, but you have to sit down and be with your client who is also dealing with trauma. Like, how do you kind of just, switch your brain for the focus to be on them.

Joyous: [00:16:43] Thankfully, at that point in time, when I was actively in, you know, what could be described as a crisis situation, I was in management. And so I took a week off. I dealt with the crisis in front of me and I didn’t have to actively sit with folks. I also ended up taking FMLA after a few months and towards the end of my pregnancy and I needed that time to recover. We were displaced from our home for awhile. There were a lot of stressful factors that were involved and it would certainly be incredibly difficult to be present to clients at the same time as actively dealing with any immediate crisis situation.

Debbie: [00:17:26] Yeah. I mean, I doubt it happens very often, but you could always add to your website that, you know, you take on clients whose homes have been struck by lightning because you’ve gone through that.

Joyous: [00:17:38] Funny. You say that because I thought of doing like a side business of somehow integrating home renovation as a therapeutic tool with my support, for people who have gone through that, because obviously I have so much more insight into like the recovery process. We were in a rental home for a while. We had to make all the decisions about repairing our, or getting rid of and replacing our belongings, you know, just all the things.

Debbie: [00:18:06] Yeah. Yeah. It’s just so much trauma. So much trauma. So you alluded a little bit to, you know, having like family estrangement or just having a bit of conflict with a family member. So can you share just as much as you want about that experience, but in particular, just how that affected your life and the work that you do?

Joyous: [00:18:30] Absolutely. So I think. Uh, it’s probably more of how has it not affected the work that I do?

Debbie: [00:18:37] Yeah.

Joyous: [00:18:39] Um, my mom was young. She was 17 when I was born and she had some of her own family estrangement at the time. And so I was what, what we call a parentified child and I think that that has affected my life path in terms of I’m really good at listening to other people and helping problem solve and look at things a different way because my brain has been doing it since infancy.

As far as the family estrangement piece, now there was, my mom was a therapist at the time. And there was a professional issue that happened and because we were close and because I knew about it, I had some ethical obligation to address it. That particular thing wasn’t what caused our estrangement, but it was more the underlying issues in our relationship and the issues that happened at the time that I felt required me to take a step back from that relationship.

Debbie: [00:19:47] Talk about uncomfortable conversation having to, you know, having that ethical, that obligation, right? Like that must have been, yeah not a comfortable conversation at all. It’s amazing that you can kind of look back and see that that has affected what you do.

And I, I had never heard of that term parentified child, but like as soon as you said it, I totally knew what you meant. And I can’t really relate, but I’ve spoken with friends who have talked about being in similar situations. So if you want to, if you can talk a little bit more about what that term means and why you think that happens in some relationships.

Joyous: [00:20:32] Parentification there’s two different kinds, but it’s essentially that a child has to act as a parent to their own parents or their own sibling. And one of the kinds is instrumental, which is really about the parent acting as the caregiver physically, for example, feeding, changing clothing, paying bills for their siblings or their family, all of those things.

And then emotional parentification is when a child or adolescent has to take on the role of a confidant or a mediator for, between their parents, that kind of thing.

Debbie: [00:21:08] Yeah. Like why do you think that happens? I know sometimes like if my. For example, if my parents come and visit me or I go and I travel with them, I don’t know why, but it’s like, I turn into the parent. Like sorry mom and dad, I know you’re probably listening. And I don’t know if it’s just the fact that I’m a bit of a control freak, and I want to do all the the planning of what we’re doing and make sure they see everything. But I feel like I turn into be the adult and I don’t know if that’s the case for them, with their parents. I know for my mom, it probably was, but it just seems like maybe that gets passed down in generations. Do you ever see that when you’re working with clients?

Joyous: [00:21:51] Yeah, absolutely. I think that there’s, I don’t know that parentification specifically gets passed down, but what I think happens is that intergenerational trauma that lives in us gets passed down.

And then how that expresses is different for everyone. So, for example, if your childhood was chaotic to you, right and you needed to control, that’s how you stayed safe and that’s great, but I’m sure that there are ways that, that holds you back now, right. That you might want to go skydiving and you never will because you’re terrified.

Yes. Yeah. So it happens because of the trauma. I think when we think about instrumental parentification, I think about parents with severe substance abuse issues who are literally not able physically, or they’re not present to be able to care for their children or mothers who or any parent, right, who has a spouse who’s gone, or who has their, their other caregiver is incarcerated and they’re taking care of their children and they’re working and they literally can’t be present all the time to their children. That parentification is a natural cause of that. Right. The emotional version, I think is different, although it’s still traumatic and still trauma-based because it’s like, for example, my mom was very young, as I mentioned, and she had family estrangement that was related to religious trauma at the time. And so she was mostly alone with me as a young woman and she talked to me and that’s how she coped from being very isolated and being very alone. And when we look at that, we can’t really blame her for that at the time.

Right. And there were effects from that. So good news is there’s always hope with trauma. We know now that you can recover and you can heal that our brains are quote unquote plastic, and that we can rewire our brains with everything that we do every day. And so that’s really hopeful and exciting in general.

Debbie: [00:24:07] Yeah. I mean, like kind of, I don’t know, can you just overcome trauma or is it something that you’ll always live with, you just have to find coping mechanisms?

Joyous: [00:24:21] It’s really both and… So I’ll take my example from the lightning fire that, you know, four years ago, that was a very dramatic incident. And I did therapy after that.

I did EMDR therapy, which was very helpful. And currently does it still bother me when I see photos of house fires or a year or two ago, there was that commercial with Aaron Rogers and his house was burning for an insurance company. Right. I did not like that commercial and I don’t think I’ll ever be expected to be comfortable with seeing images or dealing with that, those kinds of things.

Also it’s important to know. And a lot of people don’t know this, that sometimes when a traumatic events happen in our lives, the anniversary of it can be triggering and can bring up feelings in our body. And so, do the anniversary for me is coming up and will I expect that uh, what is it, July 18th will always be a day that maybe I want to take off or be kind to myself?

Yes, absolutely. And at the same time, like I am healing and recovering, and I’m not actively afraid of unplugging everything in my house or preventing something that is not preventable.

Debbie: [00:25:39] Yeah. But I mean, that’s a good point. Like take the day off. Cause you know, even if someone like dies or yeah if someone has had a traumatic, like a car accident too, like that on anniversary comes up and it almost bring back the trauma for that person. So it’s like, yeah, what can you do take the day off? How can you care for yourself that day and know that that trauma is real, right?

Joyous: [00:26:03] Yeah, absolutely. And I think that when we talk about that, we also have to acknowledge the privilege of being able to take a day off or the privilege of knowing that it’s a specific incident and a specific day that this happened, whereas for black indigenous and people of color in our community, sometimes walking around every day, is inherently traumatic and that that ability to just take space is not always there.

Debbie: [00:26:30] Yeah. And so what can people do, especially, you know, where perhaps yeah, you can’t take a day off or trauma is something that you just live with every day because of the colour of your skin.

And I mean, this is a huge question. Like how you can, we just slowly start to like unravel and find, small things to cope on a day to day basis.

Joyous: [00:26:52] Absolutely. I think that there are so many levels of the healing. And when we go back to the ACEs, that prevention is really important, but things in the community like access to work and food and quality childcare, mentors, mental health treatment is so important.

And that, that is a barrier for many people that they can’t access those things. And. And that is a huge piece of it. So yes, if you can access mental health services again, where have some resources at the end of this to share, um, that that’s super important. And also the, one of the barriers is like culturally competent care too, because you know, obviously I’m a white woman with my experience and I can cause harm without being appropriately trained, to acknowledge and address the experiences of people of colour.

Debbie: [00:27:49] Yeah. I mean, it’s like, I don’t know how many therapists are there, like in the Orleans, especially in the States, because your system is a little bit different, but is like therapy, something that is covered if people, cause I know you pay for your medical care, and there’s certain plans. And then what’s the option, you know, especially for, for minorities and for people of colour who don’t have that income, like what, what options are out there for them, where they can get support?

Joyous: [00:28:25] Absolutely. Those are the resources that I wanted to provide.

So, um, one source that I love is Open Path Psychotherapy Collective, and they’re a nonprofit. You pay a one time lifetime fee, and then you have access to the list of therapists. I’m on there. Who are willing to take reduced fees. Like out of pocket in a, in a lower range compared to what maybe those normal fees are, that can be over a hundred dollars.

And then in addition to that, I want to point out the Loveland Foundation who is founded, uh, that was founded by Rachel Cargel. And it’s a nonprofit that provides financial assistance to people of colour, specifically black women and girls in order to access therapy. So those of us with more privilege can donate and then people will get vouchers in order to get free and reduced cost therapies, services that way too.

Debbie: [00:29:22] No, that’s cool. I’ll make sure to post those links. Do you have any, I mean, your website is a huge resource as well. If people want to find out about you, but yeah, what other kind of resources do you point people towards?

Joyous: [00:29:37] I can also share with you a link to, um, a coping skill sheet that I love that really talks about the different domains of coping and the pros and cons and gives examples.

Cause I think that we forget that there are a lot of things that we do every day that help us, um, taking three deep breaths, calms your nervous system down, for example, and being present in the present moment is really important. Because a lot of times with trauma there’s triggers and we think that we’re seeing, or feeling something that’s happening in the now that is, that really happened in the past.

And so grounding is really important for that. I also want to acknowledge that with grounding and trauma and you know, racial trauma, that it’s hard to feel like you can be safe in the present moment. And so sometimes when you’re actively feeling trauma in your body and you’re in an unsafe situation, that grounding might not be the only tool, you know, we’ve talked about I can’t breathe and and just breathe. And then sometimes that’s invalidating too. So all of these things are practices that we have to do multiple times in our lives, regularly. In a training, I heard that you need to do something about six times a day in order for it to rewire your brain. So a lot of people will say like, Oh, they tell me to do breathing, but it doesn’t work for me.

And part of that is the active stress in your body. And part of that is also that it takes time to build a sense of safety and it takes a supportive therapist or a supportive community or a supportive family to be able to do that healing work as well.

Debbie: [00:31:27] Yeah. I mean, even, you know, a lot of the team meditation is something that’s suggested. It’s hard trying not to F bomb there, but it’s F* Bomb sometimes.

Joyous: [00:31:42] It’s my favorite word.

Debbie: [00:31:44] I was attempting to do one episode where I don’t use Fuck.

Well, like. Event just finding that time and, I mean, I don’t have kids, I have a fairly flexible job. And even I struggled to kind of like sit down. So, you know, someone who has lots of children, maybe works one or two jobs to make sure they’re feeding their kids. How do you even find that space? Right. Just for yourself.

Joyous: [00:32:15] Yes. Sometimes it is just the fear be once a week, you know, and that’s really challenging. And we do have to find communities. I think now with Corona virus, we’re going to have to do some of that community connection. You know, parents are going to have to connect with other parents and share caregiving and do some of these things that we’ve lost in our society these days, just to survive and cope.

Debbie: [00:32:40] Yeah. I mean, I’m curious to know how your practice is going in the midst of Corona Virus. I know we mentioned, I mentioned at the time of this recording where I am, we’re starting to open things up. You’re in the States. There’s still a lot of cases there. And so who knows how long this thing’s going to continue, but like how has been working in this time and how you have, you know, your clients been?

Joyous: [00:33:06] Yeah. So I transitioned from working in a hospital to full time, private practice, pretty much at the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak. And I’m basically full in my practice now. Yeah. So that tells you a lot.

Debbie: [00:33:20] I know. Yeah. I can only imagine like how hard it is for people and especially people in the front lines who have to go out and continue working.

Right. Like it’s, it’s pretty frightening.

Joyous: [00:33:40] I mentioned too, just about general resilience and hope. And when we talk about a lot of these really stark difficult realities, I want to come back to the whole point of all the work that I do, which is to remind people that, you know, you can heal and you can rewire your brain and you can recover. Um, As far as the parental child thing goes, I think that I personally see now because of my own healing and that I’m not living in that place anymore, that I have many amazing skills and abilities and pieces of myself that came from being a parentified child. Um, uh, I’m in good company as well. Carl Yung was a parentified child. So there’s that.

That you know, the trauma when we’re talking about trauma, that yes, it’s difficult. Yes. It’s a vast, huge subject matter. And we can feel very disempowered for ourselves and we can also feel disempowered for like how to create those societal changes that contribute and cause you know, harm. But that we, we have an obligation now to heal, you know, as a mother, I think it’s important for me to heal my own intergenerational stuff for my daughter so that I don’t cause unnecessary wounding on her and that mothers need support, parents need support, caregivers need support in order to do their own work in order to make a decent wage. And you know, all of that, like the individual work, the relational work, the social community work, and then the greater society work come together. And. I think just by virtue of being me and being a parent, I have to believe that we can do that.

And we can create a different society in a different world that is safer and healthier for, for everyone. Everyone’s children.

Debbie: [00:35:44] Yeah. I think like that’s beautiful to kind of bring it back to hope because as someone who wants to have children, sometimes, you know, when I’m watching news after news after, you know, not good news.

Um, and seeing Donald Trump on the television again, or tweeting something stupid again. And I actually, sometimes I, it kind of can get me into a dark place where I’m like, maybe I shouldn’t have kids. Do I, you know, really want to bring someone into this world right now. Cause it just doesn’t feel like a safe space at times, but it’s like, you’ve got to come back to all the people who are doing really great work and trying to make it a safe space and turn that negative mindset around and know that there’s people like you out in the world who are helping.

Joyous: [00:36:37] Thank you. Yeah, absolutely. I think that just to touch on the coping piece, that we forget to turn the TV off, or we forget to turn social media off and we share things very unconsciously on social media platforms. And we don’t realize unless we’ve gone through it, that it can have hurtful effects, especially for example, black trauma porn.

Like it’s important to be aware of incidents that happen so that we can do something about it, but it’s really terrible for black people to watch black people being murdered all over their social media and have it be turned into memes and things like that. And it’s not okay. So there is that aspect of like the micro of like, pause for a second before you share on social media, just think about the impact of, of what you’re sharing and why you’re sharing it.

And we’re all guilty of that.

Debbie: [00:37:31] So you could just think it’s the most like regular post you could write and that it wouldn’t cause any trauma to anyone, but you just, you never know.

Joyous: [00:37:42] Absolutely. And then as far as like the bringing people into the world piece, I think I had a friend one time, remind me, you know, when I was having my daughter, that there have always been struggles and difficult times and that we’re not alone, even though we’re in a really big moment of upheaval in a lot of ways that there were children who were born into the 1918 pandemic. There were children who were born, you know, during the Rodney King riots, there were children who were born all throughout history and all through these big dramatic times as well.

And my daughter is a force to be reckoned with. And I think that. You know, the new generation of folks to come behind us will hopefully carry on the work that we can start now to create a different, different experience for everyone.

Debbie: [00:38:38] Um, so yeah, my last question would be more related to family estrangement. Like what advice do you give to clients who come to you who are estranged from a family member? And they’re trying to cope with that. Cause that’s, that’s a huge thing, right? How do people. Deal with that?

Joyous: [00:38:57] Absolutely. It’s so huge too, because of all, all of the layered messages we get about family, like blood is thicker than water and you, you know, you don’t tell family secrets and all of these old narratives that we have around family, but the truth is that like there, there is not a one size fits all answer about family estrangement.

You do have to do what’s best for you and your own family. If you have children, whenever you’re able to do it, learning about boundaries and how to practice them and how to set them. There are lots of people out there who can help guide you in terms of how are therapists, how to say and communicate your boundaries and what is okay.

And what isn’t okay. And we have tons of internalized messages about what we’re allowed to do or not allowed to do to unpack. So that’s a big thing for therapy, right? Yeah. And then, uh, knowing. That any structure you set up can be changed. Nothing has to be permanent unless permanence is required due to a parent or a family members like persistent, abusive or harmful behaviour.

That was really helpful for me, because I think there are times when. You’re going through therapy and you’re addressing this childhood stuff that then your parent or your sibling, or whoever is really triggering for you in that moment, because you’re dredging it all up. And then it’s a perfectly okay to go non-communication with people sometimes when you’re doing that deeper healing work and that it’s also possible to have a different kind of relationship than you had with them as a child, then you have with them while you’re actively doing therapy or what you might have with them in the future.

Debbie: [00:40:43] Yeah. Yeah. I never thought about that. Right. How your relationship will be kind of moving forward. Yeah. Well, thank you so much Joy.

This is, this has been a joy talking to you. I’m sure you hear that terrible joke. Right. But it is a beautiful name, like what a wonderful name to have.  It definitely suits you. Um, so yeah, it’s been fantastic chatting with you and learning more about trauma. I feel like I’ve got work to do. We all have work to do, and thank you so much for all the work that you do.

Joyous: [00:41:16] Yeah, absolutely. I think a really good example. You mentioned my name and a lot of people say like, Oh, so my name is actually Joyous Dawn. And a lot of people are like, “Oh, amazing. Your parents were hippies” or whatever else. And it’s a really good example of the narrative of my life, because I was actually named for like the religious afterlife of the religion that I grew up in. And so I had a lot of, to unpack about my name and what that meant and what as a parentified child I was here to do for my parents and for the world and what that looked like. And I think that I’m at a place now where I do see that greater vision of of where I am now, where, where, where, and when I was born and how that could contribute to hopefully what is a Joyous Dawn that we’ll all create, but it didn’t come without, you know, struggle and unpacking and lots of therapy and personal healing.

Debbie: [00:42:19] Like you had to do the work really hard. Amazing. Well, that was beautiful. Thank you for sharing and thank you again.

Thank you so much for listening to this episode, my friends know, make sure to connect with Joy over at her website. Everywomxn.com and that’s. Every woman, W-O-M-X-N.com. You can also follow her over on Instagram at @recreatingdawn and @everywomxncoach. And of course the links will be in the show notes.

You can find this little podcast by visiting uncomfortable.blog or head over to our social media channels. Uncomfortable.blog on Facebook and Instagram and uncomfy_podcast on Twitter. Now, as I mentioned in the beginning, you can support my little indie podcast by becoming a patron and giving as little as $2 per month.

And that will actually just help me cover my podcasting expenses, such as hosting, editing, and little equipment upgrades when needed.

This podcast was recorded and produced in Vancouver, BC, and the land on which I work is the unceded shared traditional territories of the Coast Salish Peoples. Including the Territories of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh nations.

Thank you again for listening. Now, go out there and get uncomfortable.


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