Tag Archives: grief

Healing Childhood Traumas with LOVE

When we have, childhood traumas, our natural responses are shut down. We are not able to fight or flee.  This activates our, stress hormones. It changes our body and puts us into a sympathetic state, to ready us to  fight, flight or freeze; but when we can't, when we're impaired, we have to stay frozen in that situation.

Our body's, stress response, does not shut off. Our hormones continue to be elevated. And so, what happens over time, if we are constantly experiencing that stress over and over, it changes our biology.

In this episode Mandy Harvey shares her, LOVE Methodology, to help us return to the parasympathetic state.

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Mandy's childhood trauma

Myrna: How did you get into coaching?

Mandy: I got into this work because of my own trauma and my own healing process. I grew up in trauma.  I was just kind of born into it. I grew up in a home with a single mother who had her own traumas, and as a result that affected my experience with the world. She sometimes was there and sometimes she wasn't. There wasn't always love.

She often had men in the house that were very abusive and that abuse was often directed towards me. She remarried a couple of times in my childhood, but at the age of 14, she and the man that she was married to, took their lives, and it was a result of me coming forward sharing with a counselor at school what had been going on in my home as it related to sexual abuse, and emotional abuse.

Myrna: Wow. Similar to my story,

Mandy: So, my whole world instantly changed. I was placed in a home with family members, and, still kind of grew up with family, but I was very deeply affected as you can imagine by that experience. That was the start of therapy for me. And I spent a couple of years in therapy doing, EMDR therapy, work. Really processing the grief, and the guilt, because I felt very guilty.

Myrna; It was just about to ask you that but was gonna wait for you to finish. But yeah, I mean, gosh, that's huge guilt.

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Feeling guilty for telling

Mandy: I really took on the belief through that guilt, through that process, that I couldn't trust my intuition, that my ability to make a choice for myself would turn out into disaster. And I held that belief for a very long time, throughout my adult years. But as a child I was trying to navigate this guilt and hit a wall. At a certain point, I just couldn't talk about it anymore. My body started to ache. Every day I woke up in pain, physical pain, emotional pain, and I just started to get numb, and number and number and it was just like, I had no relation to the world anymore.

All I could see was this grief. It felt like I was being sucked down into this black hole.  All I could see and feel was just guilt, this pain of suffering, this thought of I just want to be back with my mom, even though it was traumatic, even though it was abusive and neglectful. That's all I knew. And for me that felt like love. As crazy as that sounds.

Myrna: How did you come up with the, LOVE methodology, as therapy.

Mandy: Well, it's something actually it wasn't, it wasn't named love. I named this after a year ago doing this work myself.

There was a moment when my daughter, my youngest daughter, she is someone who exudes emotion from one side of the scale to the other side of the scale from like pure bliss and joy to pure anger and rage. I mean, she has a wide spectrum. And anytime she was over in this rage part of her spectrum, I would get so uncomfortable.

One day she was in a moment of pure temper tantrum screaming she was really mad about something insignificant. And I had my back to her and I was washing the dishes and I could feel like a wave of heat moving through my body. And as I was getting higher and higher,  I could feel the rage. Like I could feel my jaw gets super tight, like, oh my god, I could just scream at her right now. Like she needs to shut up.

And I'm washing the dishes trying to ignore her. And she's just letting loose and finally I turned around, I had a glass in my hand and I threw it at her feet and I said :SHUT UP” she was shocked. That was the first time I'd ever screamed at her. And the look on her face was just fear.

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What is Somatic Experiencing

I started crying. She was crying. She's like, I'm so sorry. I'm a bad person. I didn't mean to upset you, you know like, so we're trying to pick up the glass and I'm crying and thinking like, what is happening? What is going on in me that I immediately revert it like this feeling what is this feeling in my body so I sought out, Somatic Experiencing, therapy work.

Myrna: Did you stop your original therapy at this point?

Mandy: Throughout my adult years, I had been in therapy off and on. So, at this point in time, I had not been to therapy in a while, but over the last 20 years I've been through multiple forms of, talk therapy, processing my abuse, processing the anger towards my mom, processing my childhood over and over again. But this was a whole different level.

And this is why I knew I needed something different because I've been talking about my story for 20 years and I can intellectualize it really simply and be like I know this is why I'm upset and you know that I'm like doing the job for the therapist. Right? But this was like a whole different level of awareness that somehow, I was holding more in my body than I was able to reach through just talking; because our body has a different story than our minds do about what happened to us.

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Releasing childhood traumas with meditation

Myrna: So true, I do this meditation from Dr Joe Dispenza about getting the mind out the body. Actually moving the energy up through the nervous system to the head. It is the Kundalini rising.

Mandy: It makes a lot of sense. We all have traumas that we hold in our bodies, we may not even really be aware of that influence, how we show up our behavior, our thoughts, our actions. But for me, it was once I started that Somatic therapy for about two and a half years. I healed more than I did in the previous 20 years of just talking about it. And it really gave me the tools to understand how to connect to my body, because up to that point. I was like a head, walking around in the world. I had disconnected from my body.

Myrna: So, how do you how do you heal women or help them heal from a stress and trauma using your, LOVE methodology?

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What is the Love Methodology

Mandy: The methodology called LOVE is an acronym. It's four steps, it stands for:

  • Listen- Listen to the thoughts, the beliefs that you that run through your mind on a consistent basis.
  • Observe – observe where you hold them in. Example your body. Where's the predominant location where you hold that thought of, I'm not worthy, or I'm not good enough or whatever that thought is?
  • V is for validated. So oftentimes, we are not taught to validate our emotions or experiences, which sometimes this is a hard step for people, but this is all about, if I feel that unworthiness in my heart space, you know, it's about teaching people how to have compassion for that part that's feeling very unworthy and very unseen. It's giving them a language to tap into that part of them. So, they can make a connection and start to repair and build trust and heal that part and integrate it back into their core self. Use experience. So, experience, meaning or sorry.
  • E is embrace with love. So, what does that part need? Tune into that part, that's feeling unworthy, that's feeling very heavy in my chest. And I get a validation and say, You're right, I can understand why you feel that way. What is it you need from me right now? That kind of sounds a little weird to talk to ourselves like that. But our bodies full of wisdom and insight into what we need in the moment.

So, if it's like, I need a hug. Let's go find someone who can really give you a hug or give yourself something else. Like I need to just sit outside or maybe take a walk, going to walk Great.  But it's in the process of meeting our needs. In the moment learning how to ask for what we need and meeting those needs starts to build up trust again.

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Transform Your Mind Podcast Podvine

How to talk to ourselves with LOVE

Someone who's been traumatized and holds a lot of stress and anxiety in their body, and most likely be in a sympathetic nervous system state.  In order for us to heal and go deeper into some of the traumas. We must slowly help our nervous systems to release that trauma.

Myrna: So, what is the language that we're using?

Mandy: Well, the language is a little bit different for everyone. And what I mean by that is, my nervous system talks to me in a very specific way. And that might be different than how your nervous system talks to you. So, this is all about first getting people comfortable with recognizing they have a body that’s feeling.

So, for me, anytime I'm stressed my guts, my stomach gets so bloated and in intense discomfort. And the instant I feel that sensation. It's like a switch. I'm like, oh no, I'm feeling stressed right now. Okay, I need to take a minute to acknowledge that you know, reflect what's really making you stressed right now. Or when I would feel like it wasn't safe for me to speak up. I would feel it in my throat. I would feel like I can't swallow.

Childhood traumas and autoimmune disease

Myrna: What is the connection between, Childhood Traumas, and chronic health disease?

Mandy: Yeah. So, when we're a child, and you know, our natural responses are to fight flight or freeze. And when we're tired if we're in an environment that's abusive, or traumatic, and I'll just use mine as an example, if you are sexually abused, I was not able to fight or flee. This activates our stress hormones. It changes our body and puts us into a sympathetic state, to ready us to do those things and fight flight or freeze but when we can't when we're impaired and we have to stay frozen in that situation.

Our body's natural processes don't shut off. They continue to be elevated. In that stress response. And so, what happens over time, if we are constantly experiencing that stress over and over, it changes our biology, in that we become more sensitive to stress we get stressed faster and faster and faster every time that happens.

And it starts to create this low-grade stress response in our bodies and in our brains and sort of affects not just our physical body, but it changes the neuro chemistry in our brain, because of that constant assault. The, stress hormones, are running through our bodies through childhood and then into adulthood, where we have maybe more responsibilities or even more things that we have to be worried about. And starts to really degrade our system because the, stress hormones, are meant to be short bursts to help us get out of that environment, they're not meant to be long term.

So just like you were saying that inflammation over time, deteriorates our gut health, deteriorates our immune system, deteriorates our ability to digest foods.

The stress response to traumas

Myrna: a little bit more about your work, the LOVE methodology, the soothing way to heal many traumas, tell our listeners where they can connect with you and the kind of trauma that they need help with. Talk about your website, talk about your social media handles, and this is the time where we talk about your work.

Mandy: Awesome. Thank you. Yeah, I do I share that, LOVE methodology, in a few different ways. So, I do corporate speaking, I love to reach out to companies who are interested in helping develop their employees through health and wellness. Helping them manage their stress, learning how to regulate their nervous systems. And in those talks, and in those workshops, I often share this, LOVE methodology, because it's something very simple. You can do even at work. You can do it for five minutes. You can do it longer, but it's an empowering tool that can help you start to take control over experiences that you  feel like you don't have control.

And it can help you try to limit and shift how you are triggered in the workplace. So that's one place in which I share that. And then I also work one on one with people and do healing sessions. And so, in those healing sessions, we will leverage this methodology sometimes in one session. And other times maybe it's introduced over a series of sessions to emphasize that. And then here locally where I'm at I do guided hiking sessions where we hike and heal. I'm in Colorado.

What I would like to share with your audience is on my website, free downloads, video and a workbook that goes over this, LOVE methodology. So that's on the front page of my website. My website is www.Mandylharvey.com. My Instagram is @MandylHarvey

Additional Resources

What is the Connection Between Childhood Trauma and Autoimmune Disease?

Bipolar Faith: Dealing with Depression and Faith

In, Bipolar Faith, Dr. Monica A Coleman openly talk about some very personal and intimate details that happened in her life as an evangelical minister.  Such as living with, depression, and also being raped by a fellow minister. She shares how that experience effected her faith and why she was angry with God.

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Bio

Monica A. Coleman is Professor of Africana Studies at the University of Delaware.  She spent over ten years in graduate theological education at Claremont School of Theology and Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago.  Answering her call to ministry at age 19, Dr. Coleman brings her experiences in evangelical Christianity, black church traditions,  and indigenous spirituality to her discussions of religion. 

Dr. Coleman is the author or editor of six books and several articles that focus on the role of faith in addressing critical social and philosophical issues. Her memoir Bipolar Faith shares her life-long dance with trauma and depression, and how she discovers a new and liberating vision of God. Her book Making a Way Out of No Way is required reading at leading theological schools around the country. Dr. Coleman co-hosts the web series, “Octavia Tried To Tell Us: Parable for Today’s Pandemic.” 

 Dr Coleman speaks widely on mental wellness, navigating change, religious diversity, mental wellness, and religious responses to intimate partner violence. 

Myrna: How you were called into the ministry at an early age? How did your grandfather influenced you in that?

Book Bipolar Faith
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My Bipolar Faith story

Dr Monica: In my book, Bipolar Faith, I tell the story of my great grandfather, my maternal grandmother's father. Whom I've never met of course, and his experience as a black man in a small town in South Carolina.  The story I tell how he decided to hang himself and had one of my great uncle help him to hang himself. My great grandfather asked my great uncle to pull the chair out from underneath him and allow him to hang.

I did not know this story until I was well into my 20s. So, it wasn't the story that I was told as a child.  Even though many people in the family knew what my grandmother meant when she talked about being orphaned or having her parents die at a very young age.  Her mother died from complications with childbirth. And then she said, six months later, my father died. And so, I understand how she came to that conclusion, that there was this deep sadness that leads this kind of activity.

This was actually just part of my family's story that was talked about in these metaphorical ways, rather than in more direct ways. So, I think it shaped me in the sense of, there was something in me that knew that you could get so sad you will die.

That deep grief kills.

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Grief and faith

And I think this is a kind of backdrop to a lot of the many other things that I ended up talking about in “Bipolar Faith” as it's my story.  I am also hoping that other people see themselves in the story in ways in which, poverty and class and war and sharecropping and the effects of slavery and all types of things, contribute to what we would now call, mental illness.

Being black in America, is very complicated. And a lot of times people aren't stopping to ask “How do you feel?” And so, a big part of this book is really trying to shine a light on, mental illness. Having people ask,

  • How are you doing?
  • How are we feeling?
  • How are you managing these various things that we know that we all manage?

And so, I would say that's really where I was going to push through and I think it became a part of my calling whether I was not aware of it all.

It is important to talk about these things, whether that's around issues of, sexual violence, or, domestic violence, or issues around, depression, and, mental health.

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We inherit mental illness from our ancestors

Myrna: This is so true, we inherit the blessing of our ancestors, and we inherit the, curses, of our ancestors.

Dr Monica: I don't want to quite use that language of, blessings, and, curses. But yes, we inherit what our ancestors have.  We can get the bad stuff and the good stuff, we get the things we would rather live without and we get a lot of their, survival techniques, and their joint, faith, as well. And you know, when I think we you know, so in the fact that we get genetically right isn't new or knowledge, but the fact that it's kind of part of who we are and it shapes us and part of our experiences and put up our family stories that we've known for a long time.

My great grandfather could have been depressed and that is why he decided to commit suicide, no one was giving a clinical diagnosis of, depression, in that time period.  So, what I want to say  it's not about checking the boxes and saying that is what he had, because maybe it was the grief of losing his wife and being like oh, my gosh, I have to take care of these eight, nine kids, that's overwhelmed for anybody plus  sharecropping and, racism. I'm saying I think it's all of those things. I don't think you can say, oh, let's take one out.

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Bipolar faith of Black Women in America

Myrna: I understand the horrible things that our ancestors had to go through.  So, you have something like, mental illness, or, depression, or something like that. But this segues right into the next question I have here. You say that, Black women, we've been overlooked, black women, in the United States. What do you think, Black women, have been overlooked?

Dr Monica: I've seen things change a lot in the last five years, but for the last five to 10 years, there's so much more conversation.  I would say, since the COVID pandemic, everybody's got some kind of, depression. I mean, we think about how we talk about political movements, and the political activism and the voting power of, black women, and the sense that we're going to hold it all together, we're going to raise a family, go to work, do all things.

And oh, by the way, while you're doing that, there's I think, still is very much expectation that if you're able to do the things and handle business and make ends meet, that you're okay or even better, that you're better than okay that you're strong.

There's very much a sense that if you are a person of, faith, then you should be fine. And you should be okay. You shouldn't have challenges and problems and we have specific expressions that actually imply that.  We all need some help, and I am thrilled to see more of those conversations, but I think they're still very much sensitive to that.

Transform Your Mind Amazon
Transform Your Mind Amazon

The Superwoman Syndrome and the Black Woman

Myrna: I got to circle back on that the first one was the, Superwoman, tendency of, black women. And you’re right, black women, they're raising children and a lot of times there's no man and so they're holding down two or three jobs and, and they pride themselves on being, Superwoman. In fact, my mom was one of them. She raised four children by herself, had two or three jobs, I came around and did the same thing.  I would say, I can look after my kids, my mom did it, that's the, Superwoman, tendency that we can do it because we’re strong.

White women, they all have husbands and who may stay home to look after their kids by choice.  The second part of a circle back is that you're saying that the, superwoman, syndrome creates some kind of, mental illness, and, depression,  they should go to a doctor and get a checkup.  What are you leading to with that?

Dr Monica: My friend and colleague Dr. Chanequa Walker Barnes has written a wonderful book about chocolate the strong black woman is called “Too Heavy A Yoke,” I highly recommend.  Whether it's legacies of war and poverty, these are also the ways in which black families look on legacies of slavery. And in the United States even the enslavement has manifested in parts of the African diaspora in terms of how families are structured. Even the policies and practices around what family structures look like.

Therapy wasn't always covered by insurance, but I think it's getting better. There are more, black therapists, and more culturally competent therapists who will understand all that people are bringing in terms of their racialized and gendered experiences.

Google Podcast Transform Your Mind
Google Podcast Transform Your Mind

I was raped by a fellow minister

Myrna: In, Bipolar Faith, you kind of cut yourself open and talk about some, some personal issues and personal things and you're sharing so you can help others. So, you share some very intimate details of your life, such as living with, depression, yourself and also being raped by a fellow minister. How did that experience effect your, faith? Was there a time where you know you're angry with God?

Dr. Coleman:  I think experiences of deep suffering cause all of us to have, at the very least a hiccup in our, faith, walk. You're going to have some kind of pain, whether it is the kinds of, traumas, that I discussed. There's going to be some level of suffering and no one likes it. No one's ready for it.  Nobody wants to suffer. It's not a part of the human experience that we're happy about or that we're going to welcome and say, hey, let's have some pain here.

There are levels of grief. That's all part of our life and because our spirituality and our, faith, is part of our life, it's part of our, faith, as well. And for some people, faith, is very helpful and instrumental and holding them up and they find great resonance in the, faith community, and a lot of support there. But at some point, people don't ask why me? Why someone I know and love died? I need some answers here.

Deezer Transform Your Mind Podcast
Deezer Transform Your Mind Podcast

Crisis of Faith

We act like asking why is a problem like it's a crisis of, bipolar faith, and you're not supposed to do it? Why do I have to do this? Why is this happening? Why it's happening to my people? It's a very natural part of the spiritual life to ask why. I think what doesn't happen very often is people don't always say, you're going to lose the, faith.

And that's okay. For a lot of times, there's a sense that losing your, faith, is the end of the world and it is like heresy or some terrible thing.  We've all lost, faith, at least once, maybe 2-3-4 times. And it is our responsibility, I would say as a, faith community, to stay with you while you find it again, and to hold the space for you, to walk with you to hold you and bring you food.

Until you and God find your way back to each other or something like that. Because of course we don't have the same, faith, we had as five-year-olds. We don't have the same, faith, we had as 15-year-olds, because we've seen more and we've grown more, we've evolved and had different kinds of experiences.

Doesn't mean I don't have a relationship with God. I don't have a, faith community, but that's not what it looks like anymore. And so yes, it definitely caused me to have some questions and to be angry and to say, what I've been taught, is not matching up with what I'm experiencing, and I'm trying to figure this out. So, I kept changing, faith communities, until I found one that was able to hold that space of, faith, for me.

Transform Your Mind Luminary podcast
Transform Your Mind Luminary podcast

Does Depression follow grief

Myrna: So, my circle back to that is when did you become, depressed?

Dr Monica: I really can't quite pinpoint when did I become depressed or say Oh, well I have this very deep grief, my grandmother died when I was 13 years old. I named it as, depression. You know, my family negative, depression. I didn't come up in a context where people were like, Let's label this as, depression. Let's give you some therapy. That came much later. But that's how a lot many black families were in the 70s and 80s. No one said, let's go to therapy like white people do.

Oh, yes, I can look back and say this was, depression. I felt that there were definitely some challenges and hard places in life. That made me sad, but to me, I was like, well, sadness is the appropriate response to some of these things. And I would later have clinicians say, well, most people feel sad in this way and you seem to be sad in a deeper way. And I'm like, oh, because I don't know most people only know me from the inside.

Transform Your Mind Podcast Player FM
Transform Your Mind Podcast Player FM

Making a Way out of No Way

In many ways, I would say “Making A Way Out Of No Way” is the theory behind, Bipolar Faith.  So, Bipolar Faith, is my story.  It's the story of my family. And I like to think that there is there's some gray threads that feel like an African American story, it presents like an American story.  And I think Making A Way Out Of No Way is the belief system that's behind, Bipolar Faith.  This is what I believe about community, what I believe about salvation and that salvation in the what gets us to heaven.

Salvation is the root word set out to heal, to be evolved and to make us well.  Salvation is what I believe helps us to be whole and helps us to do well. And then it is making a way out of no way.  But it's really not no way, it's just a way we can't see.  And that's where the God part comes in. It's, you know, God and hopefully us as you know, as creative people's humanity and the rest of creation, working together to in the best of worlds to make the world a better place. Transforming creative ways.

Myrna: So that's great, it's like, blind faith. Of us knowing that regardless of how bleak it looks right now, that God is going to make a way out of no way tomorrow.  Joy comes in the morning kind of thing kind of thing. So, I like that. So, do you feel that your story and, Bipolar Faith, you said that was the foundational principle? Do you feel that that is how your life progressed, that you had the spiritual power, that propelled you along and God always made a way for you to prosper?

Dr Monica: I'm not even sure if I'm prospering, I think I'm doing meaningful and I would even say needful work. Trying to creatively transform what we got, whatever we've inherited, into something better. Sometimes it's great. Sometimes it's this is what we got to work with, to transform what we have into creative ways. To make the world a better place.

Podfriend Transform Your Mind Podcast
Podfriend Transform Your Mind Podcast

Conclusion Bipolar Faith

Myrna: How can people connect with you and pick up copies of, bipolar faith, and other books?

Dr Monica: You can always pick up a copy at www.bipolarfaith.com.  If you go there, you'll find more than you ever want to know about the book. Find ways to buy it. You can also always call your local bookseller and ask them to order it for you. You can use larger online booksellers, if you prefer. If you go to www.bipolarfaith.com. I do a lot of music in the books. So, you'll see some playlists there. You'll see a couple of videos there. You can grab a little bundle I call, behind, bipolar faith, where there's a workbook available if you want to do this like a reading group, for example.

And you can also hear a couple interviews from a psychiatrist and other, faith leaders, with me about, bipolar faith. You can also go to www.monicaacoleman.com and find more information about me and you can also grab a free devotional. If you go to the homepage, you'll see a free five-day devotional there. And that's just my gift to others a little devotional that I use for the spirituality.

Additional Resources

What Are You Patiently Waiting on Almighty God For?

How To Turn Your Pain Into Power

Abigail Damoah was wrongly convicted and sent to prison for 12 years. During this dark time in her life, she used inspiration for the bible story of David to find her, life purpose, of helping the women in, prison. She turned her, pain into power, and achieved tremendous personal growth by not seeing herself as a, victim.

Download podcast here: 

https://pdcn.co/e/https://chrt.fm/track/897G7/www.buzzsprout.com/1761155/9986464-how-to-turn-your-pain-into-power.mp3?download=true

Bio

After serving five years in a Florida state prison for a crime that she didn’t commit, and then two years later being diagnosed with ulcerative colitis and undergoing major surgery to remove most of her colon, Abigail learnt one very important life lesson; you will find treasure in the darkest places if you simply change your perspective by turning her, pain into power.

During her, incarceration, Abigail became a Christian and learnt that life isn’t just about her. She was surrounded by women who had endured the most horrific traumatic childhoods and were now being victimized by the very system that was supposed to help them. She found the strength to end her pity party, opening her eyes to the immense suffering of others.

She began to use her gifts to make an impact on the lives of the women she was housed with. It was during the worst season of her life that she experienced true peace, contentment, and fulfilment because she found her life’s purpose, and learned how to turn her, pain into power.  Abigail is the author of ” She is Risen from Destitute to Destiny”

book: She is Risen Turning Pain into Power
book: She is Risen Turning Pain into Power

Using Adversity to turn pain into power

Myrna: All right, so here we have a whole bunch of, adversity. Being sentenced to 12 years in, prison, even if it's for a crime you do commit, it is very traumatic. It is worst when it is a crime that you didn't commit.

Can you share your story, why you were sentenced to 12 years in, prison? I know you said you only served five of those 12 years.  Tell us how you survived that and turned that, pain into power?

Abigail: Okay, so I had my dream to live in America.  I'm from the United Kingdom and after I finished my undergraduate degree. I relocated to Atlanta, Georgia to study and pursue an MBA. I got an internship in Florida. I flew down to Florida and I met a man.  One night he called wanting to go out to a nightclub, and I agreed. He came and picked me up and we made our way to the nightclub and ended up having a car accident where he was killed, and I was seriously injured.

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Transform Your Mind Luminary podcast
Transform Your Mind Luminary podcast

My injuries were so extensive that I spent over six weeks in the hospital. My parents at the time decided the best course of action was to take me back to the UK, because there's no way I was going to be able to look after myself in the USA.  I recuperated and got back on my feet. And then in 2011, the state of Florida issued an extradition warrant for my arrest. I was charged with vehicular homicide. The legal definition for that is reckless driving.

So, I was accused of driving in such a dangerous manner that caused death or great bodily harm to another. While I was waiting for the extradition, I began to study the laws surrounding my case and discovered that I should never have been charged with a crime in the first place. The state of Florida had sent over the deposition, the discovery and detail they had a very detailed chronology, of exactly what happened. And one of the things that should have exonerated me from the beginning, was the fact that the road was under reconstruction at the time, so they had taken down all the speed signs.

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Transform Your Mind Podcast Pandora
Transform Your Mind Podcast Pandora

Extradition to the USA

There were no warning signs that the road was about to change and if you're not familiar with that road, you would not know that you need to slow down. So, when an accident happened, all of a sudden, a curve came up and I hit the curb and the car ended up flipping over and going into a tree. So, based on that alone, I should never have been charged with a crime. But if you know anything about the laws in the United States, you know, sometimes it can be a bit one sided.

I was extradited to America to stand trial. I had a judge who had no legal integrity, because of the way my case had been portrayed in the media. She was determined to make an example out of me. I was found guilty sentenced to 12 years Florida State Prison. After serving 5 years, the case was dismissed.

Myrna: Wow. So sorry to hear what you have been through. I'm assuming you were driving.

Abigail:  Yes, I was driving, it wasn't my car.

Myrna: Yeah, that's what I thought because he came to pick you up.

Abigail: The reason I was driving was because he got so drunk, that he was unable to continue the journey.  I was at the wrong place at the wrong time.

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Google Podcast Transform Your Mind
Google Podcast Transform Your Mind

The Pain of prison

Myrna: So sorry for your pain. But the fact that the case was dismissed, I'm assuming that you've cleared your name.

Abigail: Yes, yes. My name is completely cleared. The sentence was vacated, and I was released from, prison.

Myrna: Did you get any money for it?

Abigail: No, absolutely nothing. The state of Florida had laws to protect themselves against wrongful convictions. So, I was knocked out of financial assistance there. But, it was a driving force behind what I do now because I had to start my life from scratch.  I had to use the gifts that I had been given to build a life for myself, and turn my, pain into power.  I didn't have anything. I came back to nothing, but God worked it out for my good.

Going through the tunnel of adversity

Myrna: Well, they say that a lot of times, we must go through the tunnel, we must be beaten down all the way to the bottom, before we find our, purpose.  We all go screaming into it because we really don't want to go through pain, we don’t want to hit rock bottom. I'm in this space where I interview a lot of people and I remember talking to this woman.  Her husband died and she started her coaching practice helping other women handle, grief. She turned her, pain into power, but we all prefer not to go through the pain even if it is the fire starter to our, life purpose.

So how did you manage after also being diagnosed with ulcerative colitis and having most of your colon removed?

Abigail: I wasn't raised in a Christian household, but I had a lot of Christian friends. If there's one thing that I learned from them, even while I wasn't a believer, was that they had this ability to see past their circumstances. So, before I even arrived in America, they were already speaking life into my situation. They were already telling me that this was going to work out for my good, something good is gonna come out of this.

And it wasn't until, I became a Christian and I began to read the Bible and I began to apply those principles, that I was strengthened in that area. God gave me a perspective that enabled me to see things through his eyes, he gave me the ability to step outside of myself. I was surrounded by people who are who were suffering, who have been through women the worst heinous things.  My whole perception changed.

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Deezer Transform Your Mind Podcast
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Helping people in prison turn their pain into power

Not only are people dying from much worse situations than I had, but I had to reframe my situation to say, okay, I'm in, prison, now, what can I do while I'm here to make an impact on the lives of the women that I am housed with? How do I turn my, pain into power?

I had a writing gift and there are women that couldn't read or write. I remember the very first time I tapped into that.  There was a woman that I was, bunking in, prison, she had a terrible situation, her children have been taken into DCF custody because of her arrest.

So, I wrote a letter for her. explaining the situation to DCF, speaking in legal terminology. She wanted her children to be put into the custody of her sister while she was in, prison, and lo and behold, that's exactly what happened. Two weeks later, she came to me, I mean, she was in floods of tears. She was so grateful that I took the time to do this for her, and it was at that moment that I realized that what my, purpose, is connected to my gift of writing. Writing was how I was going to turn my, pain into power.

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Transform your Mind TuneIn Radio
TuneIn Radio

Figuring out my life purpose

I also realized that my, purpose, had nothing to do with me, it was to enrich the lives of the people that I am surrounded by. So, from that moment, my prayers changed from Lord get me out of here, I can't take this anymore to Lord who are the people in, prison, that you want me to impact?  That started a tsunami of work. My inmates just started coming to get the help they needed.  I started helping them write letters, probation letters, letters to their family, etc. It was one of the most, fulfilling aspects of my time in, prison.

Myrna: Now, how did you take own ownership of your situation? What was your internal dialogue?

Abigail: I dropped the, victim mentality. You know, it's so easy when you're going through a situation whatever it is, it's so easy to point the finger and say is your fault that I'm here, but when you play the, victim, you are not helping anybody. You're not helping yourself and you're not helping anyone else. When I was in the, victim, state I felt so sorry for myself. You know, such an injustice had taken place.

Transform Your Mind iHeart Radio
iHeart Radio

Victims have no power

I was depressed, I was in a place of desolation, I couldn't sleep at night, I had no peace. But the moment I relinquished that, victim mentality, I came to the revelation that it wasn't the state of Florida that put me in, prison, to punish me. I was placed there strategically to be empowered, and then to empower. I was placed there to turn my, pain into power.

So once my, mindset, changed, I was able to say I am going to use this situation to become the best person that I be and to help as many people as I can while I'm in here. That is exactly how I took ownership of my situation. I took the power out the hands in the state of Florida, and turned, my pain into power, because, victims, have no power.

Myrna: This is so true. Victims have no power. In my book, Out of the Snares, A story of Hope and Encouragement, I have a full chapter on, victims.  My story was that I was abused as a child, but I never became a, victim. In fact, what I suggest we become a, player. You know, when you are playing a game of blackjack and the cards that you're dealt with are bad cards?  People use those same bad cards to win, in the same way when you become a, player instead of becoming a, victim, you play with the cards you are dealt.  And that's exactly what you did, you became a, player in the game, you decided that these are the cards that I've been handed, and I am going to make the best of the situation. I am going to turn this, pain into power.

How to become a player and turn pain into power

Myrna: You could have played the “what if game”. What if I didn't go out? What if I didn't agree to drive?  But instead you said it happened. There's no way you can go backwards, all you can do is make the best of the situation that you have right now and use it to help people and learn from it and turn your, pain into power.

What is the lesson that that that you took out of that? Were you able to equate it to a, Bible story? I want to talk about Joseph who was thrown in, prison, and it was strategic to God’s plan for him.  And I am also thinking of a Job which is the chapter reading now in the Bible and all the bad things that happened to him.

Job declared God does only do good things for you. God does good things, and he does bad things.

Abigail: Joseph was one of my favorite stories in the Bible. And it wasn't until I got to that Genesis chapter 37, where Joseph was put in, prison, that I found strength in my situation. Prison, shaped Joseph into the man that God needed him to be. I knew that my time in, prison, was in God's hands, just based on that story alone. I learned a lot from Joseph and his, mindset, during that time. He refused to be a, victim, he used his time to assist other people. He was looking for others to help while he was, incarcerated, and it opened the door to his freedom.

Myrna: Yes, exactly helping people got him introduced to the king.

Transform your mind PTWWN TV
PTWWN TV – How to Trun Your pain into power 

Using dreams and visions for your purpose

Abigail: That was a very powerful story for me, and I used that, bible story, to empower myself.  So my God has given me dreams and visions, and I knew that, okay, I'm not living the dream and the vision now, but it is this situation here that is going to lead me to the destiny that God has for me and I had to remind myself of that daily.

Myrna: That's amazing, I am loving our conversation.  One of my personal mantras is that just like an airplane needs resistance to take off the ground, we need resistance to move up our next level. And whenever I have resistance in my life, when I was working full time when I received resistance eg. one door closed or something, I always knew that resistance was supposed to push me forward and up. The door closing from being fired got me into, Life coaching, helping women to, transform their mind.

A lot of women, especially minority women live in the, wilderness, and in order for them to get out of the, wilderness, they have to change their, mindset.

Transform your Mind Stitcher
Transform your Mind Stitcher

She is Risen from Destitute to Destiny

Tell us about your book, your book is called “She Is Risen from Destitute To Destiny.” Why did you write it? And what do you want people to walk away with?

Abigail: I wrote the book because I knew that I had a story to tell number one, and it wasn't a story of the tragedies, but stories of, empowerment. The book a memoir, going back to my childhood, I packed a lot of things and I think that's very important that you need to go back to, to know why things are the way they were. So, I went through that process in the book, I had a very turbulent teenage years, connected to childhood. But despite those challenges, I still managed to make something all my life, and it didn't come easily, or immediately at all.

It was a very, very difficult situation and a very, very difficult process. And I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy, but what I do know is that you can, turn your pain into power, if you change your perspective on a situation.  I could have not written this book. I could have so easily come out of, prison, and just felt sorry for myself, and accept government assistance and nobody would have blamed me

Teaching others how to overcome adversity

So, I had to look at the situation and ask myself what have I learned from this? And not only what have I learnt from it, but now what can I do about it? I decided I can teach other people about how to overcome, adversity.  One of the things that helped me while I was, incarcerated, were the different, prison ministries. People would share these terrible stories, but they got through it, and that’s something that inspired me.

Myrna: Well, that's the reason I asked you if you're going into the, prison, and doing, prison ministry, because I know your story is powerful. Now you are on the radio, podcast and PTWWN TV, sharing your story, not only the people that are in, prison, is going to hear this, but people all over the world. Your story doesn’t just speak to someone in, prison, but speaks to any women in the, wilderness, the, wilderness, can be any dry place.

Additional Resources

Does Serving a Prison Sentence Affect Change?