Overcoming Childhood Abuse-Dana's Story-Part 2 - Deb Sheppard

Overcoming Childhood Abuse-Dana’s Story-Part 2

Apr-04-21

In this episode, Dana continue's her powerful story of escaping from an abusive home. You'll be inspired as you hear how she worked through the trauma and eventually discovered the power of unconditional love.

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Transcript

Deb (6s):
Welcome to spirited straight talk the ultimate podcast for anyone who is ready to live a life with intention and help from spirit. I am your host, Deb Sheppard, spiritual teacher, medium and author hoping you open up to the whole enchilada or like, we like to say this soul enchilada so you can truly make your soul rise. So let's go! Welcome everyone back to part two of the story about your journey, Dana, and what you've been through so far, we're getting so many people that have listened to it, and we have a lot more to share.

Deb (48s):
And also where you want to talk about the healing process you've been through, because we want to give everyone hope and understanding that this is not who you are. This is what you've experienced, but you really worked hard to kind of change a lot of things in your life, which is pretty amazing. And in the last podcast we left off with your brother,

Dana (1m 11s):
It was, yeah, it was pretty, I was probably maybe around 12 or 13 at that point, I think, and somewhere in that range, but there were a few things that happened over the course of a couple of years after that that were very impactful. And I think began my journey towards finally getting away survival. Yeah. Yeah, it was survival. One of the stories I want to talk about is because I, for a long time, I believed that some of this was happening due to drugs in the home.

Dana (1m 60s):
And I was one of those kids that I was exposed to drugs from a very, very young age. I remember even at the age of four and five, seeing a bong and seeing these drugs being surrounded, it was not legal, but I was a child. And I remember it being passed about one time as a very young child. Not long after I was moved into my father and stepmother's home. And I remember all their friends surrounded by all their friends.

Dana (2m 43s):
They were all connected to these drugs.

Deb (2m 48s):
You even mentioned cocaine and other types of drugs of it, not just marijuana,

Dana (2m 52s):
Right. I'm not sure the extent of it, but I do know for sure that I saw a lot of marijuana and I did see cocaine. And I know that I have at least one family member that was connected to heroin. So I know there was a lot of different things that took place, but in my young mind, I thought, you know, these drugs are a part of it. And I ended up they were kind of commonplace. I had no concept of value or anything. And I do know that at one point there were drugs being, or marijuana plants being grown in a greenhouse behind the house, in the backyard.

Dana (3m 36s):
And this was 35 years ago. So this was way before it was legal, but I took some of my father's weed and traded it. Mm.

Deb (3m 49s):
For what reasons for money or what,

Dana (3m 52s):
For money to buy food. And I would sneak down to the store that was across from the school. On a 10 minute break, I would run as fast as my legs could carry me across the street and then run all the way back to gym class actually. And so I would buy like just small things that I could hide to have food, because I never knew when I was going to be fed in that house. Or if I was going to meet that, especially during the summertime school, I would always, I knew I could count on school lunch. And other than that, I had no guarantees.

Deb (4m 30s):
You're at least one meal a day during school, but not anything else that would guarantee you

Dana (4m 35s):
That I would be taken care of. Yeah. So, so I was caught, of course they recognize that their drugs were missing because I'm sure they had counted and knew exactly. Of course they would have. But in my mind, as young as I was, I don't think I had the concept or I didn't care maybe at the time, but right. I was caught. And I remember just thinking they were going to murder me and, and I really thought that was going to happen. And they didn't. Although I think I remember getting kicked with steel-toed boots because it happened right after my father came home from work and I had to pay back their drug money.

Dana (5m 26s):
So I had to, I was told, you're going to find some way to pay us back.

Deb (5m 32s):
Wern't you like 11?

Dana (5m 34s):
Yeah, I was 11. And I remember I basically said, I then I'll get a paper route or something to, to pay the money back. And so I got a paper route, and then it was probably maybe 70 pounds, but I would carry the big, huge, I would walk the paper route and I would carry this humongous front and back. It was a backpack thing, but it had a front and a back to it filled with papers.

Deb (6m 0s):
And you were probably 60 pounds.

Dana (6m 4s):
Yeah, I was, I was pretty tiny, but I worked to, to pay back the money for their drugs. And then after it was paid back, I was made to continue to work, to give them money. Yeah. My stepmother told me that I was going to continue to work and that they were going to take the money from this paper route. So I did for, I don't know for how long, but for quite some time after that. And I think the only reason that I didn't continue the paper route is because I ran away at a certain point.

Dana (6m 47s):
I started running away trying to get away and sharing my story with authorities. So I had that paper route for quite some time

Deb (6m 59s):
Before we go any further, I want to talk about, you had a dog in this family too. That was tied up in the backyard.

Dana (7m 4s):
Yeah. Yeah. He was tied up in the backyard,

Deb (7m 8s):
but you said that the dog was fed more often than you, but eventually they starved it.

Dana (7m 13s):
I found out, I found out later that, and this is heartbreaking. They never treated their animals well. They had two animals at one point. I can't remember what happened to one of them. Her, she was a tiny dog named Daisy Mae. And Muffy was always chained with a big chain in the backyard. He was a black, fluffy dog. He was a chow and they never treated the dog well. He was kept outside, never brought inside. The only times I remember him being brought inside, maybe it was like a really, really bad storm or something.

Dana (7m 59s):
But the only time I remember him being brought in or being in the house, I remember my father taking a belt and beating the dog. And like, he didn't mean, yeah. And the poor dog was just crying and he had grabbed him by the hair. And just, I mean, he was just awful.

Deb (8m 20s):
Not only is this happening to you, but now you're visualizing him doing this with an innocent animal that is sort of victim.

Dana (8m 27s):
Right. And I found out years later from my sister that the dog starved to death, he was always kept outside and that the poor thing just wasted away and died. And they didn't even realize he was dying. Like they just didn't didn't feed him. And I heard it was one of the children's responsibility to feed them, but they just completely ignored dog. And he just eventually died and it just breaks my heart. I wish I would have gone to take the freaking dog. It, that is, I wanted to stay far away as possible at the same time.

Deb (9m 8s):
Yeah. I mean, so some of the things that we've talked about that you shared, which I know one of the stories that I probably will share that you had a couple teachers that treated you very cruelly.

Dana (9m 22s):
Very cruelly

Deb (9m 23s):
And one of them brought tears to my eyes. And I know that there's times I bring you cupcakes just in those memories. But do you want to share a few of those?

Dana (9m 33s):
Yeah. I had a couple of teachers. I was still in grade school and of course I was very different. I, my clothes were horrible.

Deb (9m 41s):
Kids bullied you.

Dana (9m 42s):
I was, yeah. I was bullied all the time, but you knew I was different. I had shoes that were taped together with duct tape. I tried to hide the duct tape inside the shoe to tape it together, to not have it be visible, but it was, yeah. My clothes were falling apart. My shoes were falling apart and none of that was taken care of ever if I had clothes there, if I got clothes, they were secondhand, which was fine, but I would wear them until they were worn out. Yeah. And there was a couple of teachers.

Dana (10m 22s):
One of them was Mrs. Bieber. And she was just mean, she was a mean soul. Like if, if I ever said anything in class, she would jump right on me and shut me up.

Deb (10m 34s):
And you were a smart kid.

Dana (10m 36s):
Well, I wasn't stupid. Yeah. But I was very clearly in an abusive situation. And not only did they not really care or ever try to help, but, and I don't know how much they could have done, but they could at least be kind

Deb (10m 55s):
And show compassion.

Dana (10m 57s):
Yeah. And a couple of grades later, this, I was probably in fifth grade, maybe sixth, there was another one that made a huge impact on me was Mrs. Watkins. And I remember being excluded from the class several times. And in this one particular instance, there was a birthday party going on. And so one of my classmates had cupcakes for their birthday and she put me outside in the hallway and wouldn't allow me to participate in this birthday. And not only was I being starved, but a chance to have something, a treats or food of some kind was taken away by a teacher that would want it to be cruel.

Deb (11m 44s):
I remember the first time you told me this story, I, I mean, still to this day, I want to weep, but I remember buying you cupcakes. Yeah. You just like,

Dana (11m 55s):
I can have cupcakes.

Deb (11m 58s):
It also just broke my heart that someone would, a teacher would do this.

Dana (12m 3s):
Yeah. And, and the only reason, like we said, the only reason I share these stories, this I think is impactful in the way that people have to know their kids out there, that this is still happening too. And every time I see a story pop up, every time I see that another kid has died from this type of abuse, I'm like, why I, I think right away, why have we not progressed? Right. We're not, we haven't gotten anywhere since I was a child. And this is

Deb (12m 38s):
It's important to have the healing, if you've been through it and you do it, how do you do it? Because so many people that have had these things experiences, they it's shameful. They're blamed. They don't feel like they're deserving. They don't have a value. I think they end up with really horrible relationships, ones that continue to be mean to them. And it's getting out of that cycle that you were,

Dana (13m 5s):
I think things started to shift for me in my mind, say, I think it was maybe I was a freshman in high school or right around that area, maybe a little before, but for sure that year I started running away, I would climb out of the window of the basement. I would take the screen out and climb out of the window of the basement. And for one reason or another, I just was pushed to that point, whether it was an impending beating that I knew was coming, or it was, I can't take this anymore. I am in this basement by myself in this room 24 seven.

Dana (13m 46s):
It was usually in the summertime when it got really bad.

Deb (13m 49s):
Well then also you were tied up by your step-mom.

Dana (13m 52s):
Yeah. There was one time. I remember that. I can't remember if I, I probably took food. It was probably a food thing. Cause that's really what it was focused on my trying to survive. And I somehow i got caught, I always got caught, but that's, she was one of those. And so she, I remember her taking rope or a cord of some kind and, and tying my hands behind my back and then tying that to a door knob. And I was made to stand there all day. I was a criminal basically. And I heard my sister asking her why very nicely asking her mom, why do you have to tie Dana up?

Dana (14m 39s):
And I heard her answer because she's bad. And she has to know what it's like when you're a criminal and this is what it's going to be like for her. And so, you know, there were multiple little things like that constant. It was, it was a constant barrage of being beaten, physically beaten down emotionally being made to feel like you were less, less than a dog. Yeah. And you know, but then again, we know how they treated the dogs. Yeah.

Deb (15m 12s):
Yeah. But then you decided at one moment or several moments. Yeah,

Dana (15m 17s):
I did. I kept trying to get away and I kept being put back in the home. So I had a social worker and my aunt reminded me today that social worker's name as it's kind of funny, who knows if she's even still around, I'm sure. You know, who knows her name was Paula Comfort of all names. And she, at some point got involved and I don't remember all the timelines, but she, at some point got involved. And, and I remember there, the first time I ran away, I was put, I was picked up by the cops.

Dana (15m 59s):
And I remember sitting down and talking to a quote unquote friend who would help me. And I kept asking different people, will you help me? Will you help me? And this friend allowed me to come to their home. And I talked to this friend's mom who happened to work in a school. And of course the next day I went to school because I had nowhere else to go. And the cops picked me up and, and took me cause I was reported as a runaway. So they took me to a halfway house in a halfway house. This particular halfway house had troubled kids in the top part and had criminals coming out of jail in the bottom of this halfway house with these kids mixed with these mainly young girls.

Dana (16m 52s):
Yeah. I mean, I was with maybe there was two sides. Maybe there was boys on one side and girls on the other, or what have you. I don't remember much about the boys, but I remember there being like four or five girls and these criminals in the basement of this halfway house, the authorities recommended a 30 day out program at this halfway house. And so I was put into that and you know, I had food, I had a bed that was a comfortable bed. I had, you know, attention from people counseling. And I, I did share a few things that was going on. And one of them was the lock on the door.

Dana (17m 33s):
And so throughout this halfway house experience, one of the things that towards the end of it, one of the things that they, that we had to do was write down what an ideal night with my family would be. And my night was to have popcorn and watch karate kid with the rest of the family. Like they would do every night, they would watch movies and all that stuff. And that was my ideal night. And so you asked, yeah. So I think it was a weekend stay. So I went back home for the weekend and that was to take place. And I can't remember what happened, but I was punished for something and I think I was smacked and got a bloody nose.

Dana (18m 21s):
And so when I went back to the halfway house, they asked how it went. And I told them I was then called a liar by my stepmother. But this actually did happen. It was called a liar. And they pulled me out of the 30 day program and made me come home. And so it was like, no matter what I said, no matter how much I told people, I was never taken seriously. They didn't listen. They didn't help me change my circumstances. They kept letting them take me back and put me back into this situation. I don't know how she did it, but she manipulated every single person she was ever in contact with throughout this whole situation.

Dana (19m 2s):
I was, I was home for a short time. And then I remember her and my father getting into a fight of some sort and she kicked him out. So he stuck me in a foster home. And this was all within the same time period. So had counseling there, talk to people, their social services again, you know, this was a, it's a recurring theme,

Deb (19m 27s):
Basically. You're, you're telling your story to the wall. Yeah. Because there's nothing done other than, Oh, we, we hear what you're saying. We're not going to actively do anything for you.

Dana (19m 37s):
Somehow they would convince social services. The counselors that I was a troubled child, that this was me, that I was troubled in lying about all this stuff. Well, social services showed up at the door after I was sent home and made them or asked to see if the lock was removed from my door. And it was at that point, but at the door, they were stopped from coming in.

Deb (20m 10s):
So they never got to have an actual view of,

Dana (20m 12s):
They never know. She started cussing and, you know, leave us the fuck alone and all this stuff. And social services ended up walking away without confirming anything. And I could hear all this going on and you just felt, I just felt so alone and isolated. I had no hope. There was no hope at that point. I'm like, I'm just, I'm not going to get away. I'm not going to get away. I'm going to get, I'm going to be murdered. I will be murdered by my father or my stepmother. I had no doubt that had I stayed there any longer. My father would probably have killed me because the beatings that I was withstanding, if I made a sound or cried, he would cover my nose and mouth.

Dana (20m 60s):
And he would cover my nose and mouth to the point where I would almost pass out. So he would hold my nose and mouth as he was beating me so that I couldn't make a sound. So people couldn't hear me screaming. And so I learned to try to not make any noise so that he wouldn't cut off my breathing. And this is during beatings I learned to, to not cry, which is probably why I still have problems today with my emotions and not pain does not make me cry. Happiness makes me cry. Pain does not make me cry. Emotional or physical pain, I dont cry from it.

Deb (21m 42s):
Yeah. I've heard the stories a few times. And even when I'm hearing them now, as we're recording this to share, my heart is just hurting and not for anything other than no one, no one took an opportunity to be there during this time. Okay. Let me take a deep breath. Yeah.

Dana (22m 7s):
Deep breath. It does. I mean, we do the, there were lots of other things that happened. I think a lot of it was emotional, emotional abuse as well. I was an, I literally wasn't it or I was a, she, I didn't have an name. I didn't have birthdays. I didn't celebrate holidays. I didn't get gifts. I didn't get to visit family.

Deb (22m 29s):
You were locked outside during the summer.

Dana (22m 31s):
I was locked outside during the summer to be made, to pull weeds or whatever other chore to earn my meals. If I, if they were done right. If they were done good enough, whatever chores she could come up with to not only make me do things, to help with the family, which is fine. But it was more to make me do things as a way to control me and to control meals and to control what I could and couldn't do. So she created these things. It was always a creation of a thing to make me try to chase if I could have a meal that evening.

Deb (23m 18s):
Okay. But then you decide,

Dana (23m 23s):
You ready?

Deb (23m 24s):
Are you ready? So what eventually got you to,

Dana (23m 30s):
Well, so what happened was it was during the summer and my siblings were playing some sort of game in the basement, outside of my room. So the basement in that there were two, two bedrooms. There was like a, the drug room. I'll call it the drug room. But basically my father had his stuff in there, some sort of workspace. And then there was like a little seating area with a TV and a couch and stuff. So they were in the TV couch area playing some sort of game and the lock wasn't on my door.

Dana (24m 10s):
And I was allowed to go to the restroom and back to my room. So I stepped out to go to the restroom. I was probably, I was 14 for sure. I was 14. I was almost 15 at that point. So this had been going on from the age of eight and I'm now 14, almost turning 15. And so I walked to the restroom. I walked back to my room and on my way back to my room, I, I pause for a second. And I asked my siblings what they were playing. And I believe my sister answered me, but my stepmother had snuck down the stairs and she heard my sister answered me and answered the question.

Dana (24m 57s):
And she came around the corner. She saw me standing in front of the doorway to my room, as opposed to, you know, I was not allowed to speak to them. I wasn't allowed to speak to her children. Those were her children. I was in it. I wasn't allowed to speak to them. And so I had to go back in the room without, you know, I should have, but I didn't. I paused. And I spoke to them and my sister answered and she caught us. And so she came over, I believe in shoved me in my room and said, wait until your father gets home. And she proceeded to take the belt and beat every one of her children so that I could hear it.

Dana (25m 40s):
So she started with the smallest upstairs. She beat her with the belt and I could hear her crying. She was right above me. Then she came downstairs and she beat the other two with the belt and they were crying. And so she didn't touch me though. She was going to save that for later. And I knew what that meant. She knew what that meant. That meant that he was going to get home and I was really going to be in for it. And I was scared out of my mind all day. So I sat there, you know, for hours for a couple hours and thought about this, cause it was probably maybe late morning.

Dana (26m 21s):
I contemplated hanging myself. I started thinking, you know, I can't do this again. I can't go through this again. So I had it all planned out. I was, I was going to hang myself. And as I sat there and started thinking about this, and I started thinking about my grandmother and my grandfather who were such a positive influence in my, when I was a little girl and I had them for four years, you know? And, and I think without the memory of them and without the memory of the love that they gave me, I don't think I would have survived as long as I did. I believe that. So as I'm contemplating suicide, I just, I started thinking about them and said, no, I'm not going to do it.

Dana (27m 8s):
I'm leaving. I have to, I have to get away. I have to figure out how to get away and how to find them. And so I climbed out of the window. One last time I crawled out. And before I did, I wrote a note, I wrote a long letter and I told them how this time I was not coming back. And I apologize to my brothers and sisters, each one, I said, I'm really sorry that I got you in trouble. I'm really sorry that, that you had to go through getting beaten by your mom because I made the mistake of talking to you, you know?

Dana (27m 48s):
And I, so I apologize to them. And then I told my step mother and father, how I was done, that I wasn't going to be there for them to beat me anymore. That I wasn't going to be there for them to call me names anymore or treat me like they treated me or, you know, I listed it all out for them to read, wow, I'm not going to be here for you to do this and this and this and this. And I listed it out and I climbed out of that window. And I started running down the street. And as I'm, you know, I didn't have this all planned out, but as I'm running down the street, I'm like, who can I get to help me? Who can, where can I go? Disappointed. So many times I knew the cops weren't going to help me.

Dana (28m 31s):
Cause I tried that I knew teachers weren't going to help me. I knew social services. Wasn't going to help me. So how can I get somebody to believe me and help me? So I wasn't going back. So either I was going to live on the streets and just be homeless and live on the streets, or I was going to find somehow find my grandparents. And I really didn't know where anybody lived. I didn't have contact information. I just wasn't aware of things because I was so isolated. I wasn't aware of lots of things in the world. I was very, in a way, some, some things were good. You know, that I was as innocent as I was, but I just was not aware of anything.

Dana (29m 14s):
And so I ran to a girl's house that I went to school with, which ironically, her big brother was the next door neighbor of my stepmother and father. Wow. So that's kind of a bizarre twist, but so they kind of all knew what was going on, what was going on, but they didn't get involved. And I ran to this girl's house and I didn't have friends. I didn't have friends. I was very bullied through school. Kids would make plans on how they could beat me up after school. And it happened many a time.

Dana (29m 55s):
So I was one of those kids. I was very bullied. And this girl though was kind and her family, her mom was Hispanic and her dad was Japanese and they were just the cutest little couple. They were always so sweet. And I think it was the Hispanic thing that drew me, but they helped me. They, I was there for a week and they're trying to figure out, and I'm telling, you know, the mom, these things, and, and this girl I'm telling her some of the things, you know, maybe that were going on and they decided to help me through this and what ended up happening.

Dana (30m 42s):
I was there for about a week. And then they had one of the older brothers, his girlfriend, fiance had been, had some bad situations when she was young. So they came and got me and they took me to another house and it took a couple of days to get me to do this. They were so kind, I mean, here I am, this weird little kid, you know, completely screwed up. And they had me call finally convinced me to call social services. And I called and they were trying to convince me social services was trying to convince me to go in.

Dana (31m 24s):
And I said, I am not going in. I am not going back. I'm not going in to see anyone. So after back and forth with this social services worker, they finally said, well, your grandparents are looking for you. And they gave me the phone number and I called and within a half hour, my aunt and uncle and my grandparents were there to get me. And they just, I remember my grandmother crying and just thanking this family for helping me finally and, and excuse me for helping me get away. Yeah. And, and my grandmother, you know, they were all, they were terrified because I guess what happened is they found out that I had run away because my father and stepmother called them to see if I was there and I wasn't.

Dana (32m 19s):
And so then they started looking for me and they posted a note on their, their house that they used to live in to call them. And they weren't living there at the time. It was vacant, but they started looking for me. And so I think it took a couple days for them to let everybody know that they had me. And during that time, things are a little bit fuzzy because I was always in such fear that, that they were going to force me to go back or somehow is going to be made to go back. And I know that my entire family that was surrounding me was working really hard to not have, let me go back, but they didn't know what to do.

Dana (33m 1s):
And so my aunt who was also my godmother

Deb (33m 4s):
We love her

Dana (33m 6s):
yes, yes, very much. We we've had a journey too, but my aunt decided to figure out how to make this work. And she was, in my opinion, she was a genius because these two people did not want me to be away from their torture, his household. And so however she did it, you know. Yeah. And I know some of the stories, but I will say that I lived in fear for years because I really thought anytime they could take me at any moment.

Dana (33m 47s):
And so I know that there was a time period. I went through nightmares and night sweats and I'm sure, I mean, I still have PTSD. Like right now I can feel my insights, quaking like shaking. And it just, it just happens. You know when you go to that place where you remember some of these things, it just happens. It's like a flight or fight response that I have. And I think created probably I have fibromyalgia. I know I have that. I know I have, my joints are bad. My teeth are bad. So I think the malnutrition affected my body and it's affected emotionally. You know, there there's a lot that was affected, but then the healing began, you know, that's, that's like

Deb (34m 34s):
The whole reason why we're telling the story is because there is light at the end of the tunnel, there is a healing. And, but there's a lot in between that. You also went through that, still some objections to things and challenges that you've been through and partners that were not very kind. So those things continued. I think what's important is to understand how you were able to basically push yourself through all of that and not continue to be that victim.

Deb (35m 14s):
And I don't think you were ever a victim, but that's how they made you feel. But from the stories you shared with me, I mean, you just took off like a rocket.

Dana (35m 23s):
Well, I think, and I have to give, I mean, I know it could not have been easy for my aunt and uncle taking me in and I have to give them a ton of credit because I know there were times I was probably pretty difficult, but I was also one of those kids. I didn't get into a lot of trouble. I didn't like go out and create trouble. You know, I was very innocent in that way. So I, you know, I probably had the teenager attitude coming out and all that stuff, and I know it couldn't have been easy, but my aunt and uncle were very good influences on me too. And allowed me to find myself, allowed me a couple of years, you know, to wrap my head around, get my grounding.

Dana (36m 9s):
Yeah. And unfortunately it is about 18. They started going through some personal things and I had to find my own way from there in a way that was probably a good thing, because it really made me figure out a way to excel and not to go into a negative spiral, you know? And I know a lot of people in my situation, they do go on that negative spiral, no matter what, you know, but that was not, I, that was, I put my mind to it. That that was not the direction I was going to go. I'd seen other people go there in my family, had visually seen them go to those bad places.

Dana (36m 57s):
And I just, I decided it was not the direction I was going to go. And I had to find a job quickly because I had to support myself very quickly. I finished high school. I had a Pell grant to go to school out in California. And I was too scared to go because they didn't have guidance. I didn't have. So I ended up staying here. I just got the job and started supporting myself, ended up in a situation where I was managing people. By the time I was like 20, 19 or 20, I was managing a crew of people and it was in retail at the time. So it was probably more just abuse!

Dana (37m 40s):
Retail! A whole nother story. But So I started managing people and started learning a lot of things about that world of managing. And yeah, I grew up very quickly from there and, and had some good friends along the way. One of, one of my good friends, I'm still friends with, even though she lives in Seattle, still very good friends with her. And she helped me get through a lot, but what ends up happening? I think for a lot of people, when they're in situations like I was in, they try to find love and they don't know where they're looking for love or how to get it. So I picked all the wrong partners.

Dana (38m 23s):
Over and over again, the same. It was like Groundhog Day. The same, which is horrible, crappy partners every time. But one of the things that happened, I was 21 when I got pregnant with my son. And I think that, so I was still very young. I think having my son put me in a place of understanding, unconditional love for the first time having him was like a godsend. It grounded me immediately. I stopped destructive behavior with relationships.

Dana (39m 3s):
It was always with relationships. I was never like drinking or into drugs, or it was always relationship crap. And so having him really helped ground me. And you know, when you have this innocent little guy looking at you and depending on you for everything, you really change how you function.

Deb (39m 26s):
Well, at least you did.

Dana (39m 27s):
At least I did. Yeah. I mean, that was my way of thinking is I was not, I didn't want children to begin with because I was scared that, that repeating patterns, even though I know I'm not the way they were, but also you just get scared of that. And I don't want to, I didn't know if I could raise a child, but when he came into this world, my world changed and that was the first time I experienced unconditional love and his biological donor wasn't involved in his life and that's okay.

Deb (40m 11s):
It is okay. That's okay. He was mean to you too.

Dana (40m 14s):
He was, yeah. Yeah. But it was, it was that same pattern. You know, when I found out I was pregnant, he threw water in my face and told me I was trying to trap him. So my response was, I'm going to raise my child on my own and goodbye and you do thanks. And I did. Yeah, I did. Then the next relationship, the same pattern. And then when, Thomas was about 10, I was in another relationship that ended up being emotionally abusive. He used my childhood against me in a way that was very hurtful.

Dana (40m 54s):
And I couldn't talk about it. I couldn't talk about my childhood because every conversation had to be about this narcissistic person. So my experience could never be talked about, unless it was talked, unless it was thrown at me in a hurtful way. So through all these experiences, I learned not to talk about it. You know, even with family, I didn't really talk about it very much. The couple of times I brought some things up, I was told, well, you're okay, they'll look at you. You're doing just fine. So, you know, why bring it up? And it's like, well, I haven't dealt with it. I've never dealt with it. I've never actually talked about these things and just in my head.

Dana (41m 38s):
And so right around the time I met you, I had met with a psychotherapist that was going to start doing some because I was really struggling. I was starting to struggle more and more. And I was in a situation where I owned a business and I had a team of like, at one time it was like 25 people. But I think at the time I had downsized it a little bit and it was maybe more closer to 20 or 19 or whatever. And I was struggling. I could not hold it all together anymore. And the relationship thing was really, really bad.

Dana (42m 19s):
And I had wanted to be out for years, but couldn't figure out a way to get out of this. And then there was a situation that happened about a year before I met you, that really spun things out of control. And I had just started a new job. I had, I mean, so there were, I couldn't just leave.

Deb (42m 39s):
You had an investment of a home and everything else.

Dana (42m 41s):
Yeah. And the other party, wasn't it In agreement with getting rid of the home. And I just, I could, I was in a place where I really wanted to just run away And disappear. I really Wanted to just run away. Yeah. And there was some things that happened with my son that, you know, I may never forgive myself for, but I try and I try to be there for him every day I had saw, I saw the psychotherapist and the inner child work just did not resonate with me. It just was not something that I didn't want to go back to pretending I was that child to feel all those feelings again and be powerless.

Dana (43m 27s):
And, I tried, I tried, I was just like, I can't, I can't be that. I can't go there and comfort that child. I have to be me and figure out a way to connect all the dots and have this make sense for me. And so I think that's when we started talking and I had a session with you, and then we, I started mentoring and I started, and I'd always believed in reincarnation and the possibility of things other than what we've always been taught anyway.

Dana (44m 8s):
But when we started going through our soul contracts and how, even in my Vedic astrology chart, it shows and through soul contracts, the understanding that we create these situations prior to our birth. And it's, even though all these things happened to me and I'm not happy that they happened to me and free will is involved in a lot of this too. I still chose those parents. And I really did choose to have a very challenging life. And I believe that a hundred percent,

Deb (44m 48s):
It was able for you to put your head around, then how do we heal? How do you heal these circumstances? And what did you go through? And you learned about the archetypes and the lessons and the teachers and the soul group and that, so that you had words for it and explanations for it. Absolutely.

Dana (45m 7s):
And I think I will always, there are certain things I will always struggle with. I will always have PTSD from this. So I may react differently to certain things than other people. I'm not as emotional as other people outwardly, but you, you get to see my emotions all the time, of course, because I trust you, but outwardly I'm not that emotional. I can cut people off like that. And you know, if I'm not emotionally invested with somebody and they crossed my boundaries, I will never speak to them again. And I'm just fine with that. I have no guilt, but if it's somebody that I'm emotionally invested with, I will be loyal to a fault.

Dana (45m 56s):
You know? So there's that balance. Like, you know, if I love you, I want to do everything I can to do well. I'm just, I'm just saying, I'm just saying, like, I know that there some, some issues with that too, you know, so it's, I think it's something that I constantly work through, but it can be done. And I refuse to let what they did to me define me. I will never let it define me.

Deb (46m 30s):
Aren't you proud of yourself that you have come to that understanding that that's not you, that they didn't take away your spirit?

Dana (46m 42s):
They almost did. Yes. You know, and when I talk about it, I can, I can feel those same feelings that I felt back then. Yeah.

Deb (46m 53s):
Just, know, this not been an easy conversation for both of us. It talkes a lot to get up here and go, okay. Let's tell the story. So, you know, I'm very proud because this is being very vulnerable and transparent and sharing this, and it's taking a lot of energy for you to, to share even the pieces you have, have shared. And there's so much more as you and I know. What's your best advice for everybody.

Dana (47m 23s):
My best advice. If you see something, say something, you know, and I didn't realize this when we put this together and decided let's, it's time to, to just share a little bit about this, but April is child abuse awareness month. And I didn't know that. And so this was kind of divine timing, but you know, one of the biggest things in my situation was I asked for help and asked for help and asked for help and what we see in a lot of these situations, when I read about them with other kids, they keep asking for help and it doesn't come.

Dana (48m 5s):
So finally, the inevitable happens. And I know that would have happened to me. Had I been there longer because situations, it just got to be really bad. And you know, if, if you're a teacher or your neighbor, a neighbor, or you're a family member, many family members of mine saw what was going on and did nothing, many friends of the family that were connected to the family, knew something was very wrong. They could see it. And they would even ask questions of the, my father and stepmother. And they never did anything. You know, they never did anything.

Dana (48m 47s):
Somebody mentioned to me that that saw what was going on, that, you know, he handed me a candy bar one time, like I didn't need a freaking candy bar. I needed help. I needed help to not be in that situation to live a normal life and not have the consequences of being an abused child later in life. But it is what it is. So all I can say now is be an advocate. And I plan at some point, and I know you, you will feel me on this is at some point being involved somehow with helping kids that have been in those situations or talking to them, at least talking to kids, talking to schools, maybe to, to bring these things to light that you can stand up for yourself.

Dana (49m 39s):
And a lot of times these kids are abused consistently because they don't stand up for themselves. And I didn't stand up for myself when I was a child, because I knew it would make it worse. Yes.

Deb (49m 51s):
Okay. my heart is a little sad but proud. And I'm grateful that you shared this story with all these people that follow us, and please share with us your stories or insights. But I think our next podcast is our view on forgiveness because people expect you just to forgive and that's not what we believe. So join us on the next podcast.

Dana (50m 20s):
Thank you for joining us for this episode of Spirited Straight Talk. If you enjoy the show, make sure you subscribe so that you get notified of new shows. We'd also love it. If you'd leave us a review and let's connect, visit Debsheppard.com for more insights support workshops, and to book a session with Deb, plus enter to get a free reading with Deb. All you have to do is sign up for the email list and you'll automatically be entered. Just go to Debsheppard.com. That's Deb S H E P P a R d.com.