I am a Florida girl who loves a simple life, Jesus, family, friends, football and the beach (usually in that order). While being introduced for a speaking opportunity a few years ago, the pastor asked me "who are you?". The words that followed shocked even me: "I am the precious daughter of the most high God". There were many years when I would not have answered that question as I did that day. I have spent most of my life defining myself by all that I have survived; all that I have accomplished or all the degrees on my wall. The truth is, my answer to that pastor's question that day is the definition that is most important, and one that I hope truly defines my life when I am gone. The rest: survival, accomplishments, and college degrees are certainly a part of my story; and why I write, mentor and speak. My description of "who I am" that day is why I stand proclaiming Him and Him alone.
As a survivor of a lot of things that tried to kill me, it is my desire to use my story to spread a story of Hope for any who may find themselves in similar situations as mine. If this story is interesting to you, sign up to receive an email, you will get notified when I add a chapter. It's a crazy story and one that only God could redeem.
This week, we are addressing attachment styles and how they play a role in adulthood. If you missed the blog right before this one introducing attachment styles you may want to visit that so that you can better understand the series.
There are four different types of attachment styles, and we find that these styles are formed in childhood and are heavily connected to our interaction with our caregivers.
Secure attachment is the result of feeling secure with your caregivers from childhood and being able to ask for reassurance or validation without punishment.
Ultimately, you felt safe, understood, comforted, and valued during your early interactions.
“Hence, children model (imitate) secure attachment as well as receive it from their caregivers,” Peoples adds. 
Secure attachment is the goal and certainly provides fewer challenges in adulthood. If you have a secure attachment as you see above you probably had a safe environment and at least one caregiver demonstrated nurturing loving care towards you when you could not car for yourself. Those with secure attachments are better equipped in adulthood as it pertains to trauma. This is true because they experienced a safe environment from a very early age, particularly as the brain continue to grow. Secure attachment, obviously, is the goal.
It would be reasonable to assume that a person would secure attachment could demonstrate any of the following behaviors and or coping mechanisms.
“[It’s] defined by failures to build long-term relationships with others due to an inability to engage in physical and emotional intimacy,” says Peoples. 
avoid emotional or physical intimacy
avoid asking for help independence
avoid expressing emotions
These are just a few behaviors demonstrated when we have an anxious attachment. This attachment style is usually formed when basic needs aren’t met by caregivers. Those with anxious attachments were made to feel like they were a burden and therefore become supremely independent, incredibly distrusting of others, and remarkably ill prepared for relationships. This causes issues in adulthood and ultimately any number of mental health issues as well as the perpetuation of generational trauma. It is important for us to recognize this so that we can heal and stop trauma in its tracks.
Anxious Attachment Style
“These children have difficulty understanding their caregivers and have no security for what to expect from them moving forward. [They’re] often confused within their parental relationships and feel unstable,” says Peoples.
“Children with this attachment style experience very high distress when their caregivers leave. Sometimes, the parents will be supportive and responsive to the child’s needs while at other times, they will not be attuned to their children,” 
Different from avoidant attachment, these children are left not knowing whether their caregiver will be there. Caregivers are inconsistent in the care of the child, creating this anxious attachment that plays out on the anxiety spectrum.
Adults with this attachment style may find:
A tendency to cling to people
A tendency to highly sensitive to criticism (real or perceived)
A tendency to seek and obtain approval from others.
A tendency to demonstrate jealousy
A tendency to stay busy and avoid solitude
A tendency towards low self esteem and unworthiness
A tendency to have a paralyzing fear of rejection and abandonment
The most common causes of a disorganized attachment style are childhood trauma, neglect, or abuse. Fear of their parents (their sense of safety) is also present.
Children with this attachment style may seem confused.
“Caregivers are inconsistent and are often seen as sources of comfort and fear by their children, which leads to their disorganized behaviors,” explains Peoples. 
These children not only have unmet needs, but their caregivers are more than neglectful, they are not safe for the child. This usually plays out in forms of abuse.
Adults with this style may find:
demonstrates fear of rejection
demonstrates an inability to regulate emotions
demonstrates contradictory behaviors
demonstrates high levels of anxiety
demonstrates difficulty trusting others
demonstrates signs of both avoidant and anxious attachment styles 
This attachment style is the most linked to PTSD and its friends. Next on the blog, we will bring resources to identify and treat the ills of trauma that created this attachment style. Follow the blog so you don’t miss this content, because we will never stop fighting for you!
There are interviews with therapist that addresses most of these issues, you can find those here.
This is a theory originated by British psychoanalyst John Bowlby. Simply put, attachment styles, according to Bowlby are developed in infancy and are dictated by our interaction with caregivers. Bowlby wanted to understand stressors to children who experience unhealthy (or no) interaction from their caregivers. He observed the behavior of infants who were separated from caregivers. He proposed that behaviors such as crying or frantically searching for caregivers were adaptive responses to unmet needs. He further hypothesized that the opposite was also true. Infants who were not separated or quickly reunited with caregivers also had adaptive responses by way of normal thriving.(1)
This is groundbreaking information inside the confines of healing trauma and understanding motivations behind behaviors as adults. The four identified attachment styles carry into adulthood and understanding each style (and what yours is) can help us flip the switch, change the narrative, and experience growth, perhaps even post traumatic growth.
The Wednesdays With Watson Podcast seeks to educate and provide access to help for those who have experienced trauma or those who love them. Currently, the podcast is covering childhood trauma, and providing hope, help, and resources to help mitigate the damages of trauma. This episode with Licensed Family and Marriage Therapist discusses attachment styles. Over the course of the next few blogs, we will continue to address attachment styles, including the four types. We will also address how understanding our attachment style also helps us heal and helps with interpersonal relationships. Follow the blog so you don’t miss this series.
We will simply never stop fighting for you. Because YOU MATTER.
Doctors are beginning to pay attention to this connection, and a good doctor will dive deep into the case before labeling it ADHD because many of the symptoms of trauma and toxic stress (discussed in part 1 & 2) are the same as a true, clinical case of ADHD. These symptoms include:
The age old question can certainly be asked here, which came first, the chicken or the egg? There is a proven overlap of symptoms, see image below:
Trauma & ADHD overlap of symptoms.
The reality is we don’t know if trauma is the causation of ADHD, but we do know there is a correlation. The question becomes of advocates, parents, teachers, and other caretakers is this: can we alleviate some of the symptoms of trauma and toxic stress by treating trauma accordingly? Are we misdiagnosing children all together, treating their symptoms and ignoring a probable causation of behaviors?
We know trauma in children is the causation of slowed or reversed development. For example:
The tendency for pediatricians at these points is to medicate children, and at times that may be appropriate, but we are then opening them up for addiction problems later in life. We are certainly challenged in this arena as we seek the best treatment for children. There is, however, great wisdom in investigating and treating trauma and toxic stress before we immediately label a child with ADHD and medicate them. If ADHD is, in fact, present, treatment of trauma and toxic stress will only help with symptoms.
Finally, studies continue to demonstrate that children with toxic stress and trauma often present with co-occurring disorders such as Bi-Polar, Borderline Personality Disorder, body issues and a host of others including anxiety and depression.
EARLY intervention for childhood trauma gives them the best shot at a healthy, productive life. Treat the trauma and you are treating the whole child.
There is never an excuse to harm a child, but unfortunately, children are traumatized and they may or may not also live with ADHD, but the best news ever is there is hope in treatment. So, parents, don’t just accept an ADHD diagnosis, investigate.
Here is a podcast episode where we discuss co-occurring disorders in children. Special thanks to Dr. Patrice Berry for this episode!
What is toxic stress? How is it different from other types of stress? Welcome, as we continue to investigate the oft misdiagnosis of ADHD when trauma is the culprit of unwanted behaviors and subpar academic performance.
Types Of Stress
“A positive stress response is a normal stress response and is essential for the growth and development of a child. Positive stress responses are infrequent, short-lived, and mild. The child is supported through this stressful event with strong social and emotional buffers such as reassurance and parental protection. The child gains motivation and resilience from every positive stress response, and the biochemical reactions that occur with such a stressful event return to baseline . Examples include meeting new people or learning a new task.” 
Tolerable Stress: “Tolerable stress responses are more severe, frequent or sustained. The body responds to a greater degree, and these biochemical responses have the potential to negatively affect brain architecture. Examples include divorce or the death of a loved one. In tolerable stress responses, once the adversity is removed, the brain and organs recover fully given the condition that the child is protected with responsive relationships and strong social and emotional support.” 
Toxic Stress: “Toxic stress results in prolonged activation of the stress response, with a failure of the body to recover fully. It differs from a normal stress response in that there is a lack of caregiver support, reassurance, or emotional attachments. The insufficient caretaker support prevents the buffering of the stress response or the return of the body to baseline function. Examples of toxic stress include abuse, neglect, extreme poverty, violence, household dysfunction, and food scarcity. Caretakers with substance abuse or mental health conditions also predispose a child to a toxic stress response. Exposure to less severe yet chronic, ongoing daily stressors can also be toxic to children . Early life toxic stressors increase one’s vulnerability to maladaptive health outcomes such as an unhealthy lifestyle, socioeconomic inequity, and poor health; however, these stressors do not solely predict or determine an adult’s behavior or health [10,14].” 
This study by the National Institute of Health beautifully describes the different types of stress and the consequence of that stress. Often, resiliency is built with healthy stress, our bodies recover and our brains aren’t affected at all. Toxic stress is unattended, caretakers fail to protect, and there are long term consequences including lower IQ, failure to thrive, and a host of physical issues. Early intervention is crucial and recognizing unhealthy attachment styles can help mitigate damage to the developing brain. Toxic stress trauma mimics ADHD and therefore misdiagnosis lead to medicated but not treated children.
How does toxic stress mimic ADHD? We will explore further in tomorrow’s post.
As always, I will never stop fighting for those who can’t and therefore, I remain humbled for this platform, because I truly believe, when we know better, we do better.
Attachment Styles is an important concept to explore here, we covered those in this podcast episode with LMFT, Eric Cuni
She is the kid the teacher expels to the hallway, she sits in the hallway were everybody sees the disruptive kid, her head often down on the desk where she replays the night before, and feels intense sting of rejection from her teacher. She closes her eyes tightly, but the scenes still play out vividly. Dad hitting mom, and then mom finishing a bottle of wine alone as they both hid in her closet. She waited for the inevitable blackout that would result in temporary safety and maybe even some sleep. Once her intoxicated parents were both asleep, she climbed in her own bed, tears soaked her dingy pillow case. Her sobs were silent, but her pain intense, and her body stayed in full fight or flight mode, her brain unable to process any of it. She slept with trauma interrupting her brain development.
The man she called dad spent time in and out of jail, and when he wasn’t chasing the bottom of a bottle, she adored him; those times were rare. Her stomach ached because the night before was also absent of food and water. She had taken seven trips around the sun, and her lived experience affected every fiber of her being, including her ability to stay on task, refrain from outbursts, or to self regulate when she grasped an academic concept before the teacher completed instruction. No one at school intended to miss the obvious, daddy was good at covering the bruises, and mommy lied for him. Frustrated, her teacher ordered a battery of test–with confidence she had ADHD, but the results shocked everyone. She is a good academic student, and unanswered parental communication frustrated her teacher.
Test results demonstrated no indication of ADHD, and so the issue of toxic stress was considered. According to a Harvard University study, “childhood toxic stress is severe, prolonged, or repetitive adversity with a lack of the necessary nurturance or support of a caregiver to prevent an abnormal stress response.” Suddenly, those entrusted with her academic care realized the effects of her environment mimicked ADHD in her developing brain.
The National Institute For Health published an article addressing this disturbing trend, and also delineating the difference between toxic stress and ADHD. Sadly, many children are given an ADHD diagnosis that follows them their entire lives, ensuring they are medicated improperly and the genesis of their behavioral issues are not addressed. The same study by the NIH draws a firm connection between toxic stress and lifelong physical issues. In order to help children, or surviving adults, we must dig deep into trauma work, healing toxic stress and giving the survivor the best possible outcome. A successful outcome is coupled with knowledge and understanding of children, trauma, and the developing brain. This series will address all of these things as we continue to highlight child abuse awareness month. There is no excuse for abuse, and we will never stop fighting to help survivors and those that love them heal, and live the life designed for them to live.
That little girl is here to help you understand all of it, because when you know better, you do better.
Keep it here on the blog all week as we attempt to help caregivers understand when there may be more at play than a brain that struggles to focus. We will help you understand, and pray you then either find some peace and compassion for yourself, or the much needed knowledge to help others.
In the meantime, here is a podcast episode where licensed EMDR consultants dives into brain science a little deeper.
If you are following me, in any of the forms in which I show up in the world, you know that it requires some work just to stay on the healthy side of all the trauma. I remember singing this song as a child and church, and I wasn’t sure that I believed it. A few years ago I ran into this version of this song by David Crowder. I love the authenticity in which he sings the lyrics, and the emotions literally reverberate off of his guitar strings. My favorite lyric in this entire song is this: “this child can chase uncertain days because He lives!” As we barrel towards the day that we celebrate that empty tomb I hope that you find some hope in this song today like I do.
If you came across this blog and have no idea about the redemption story God has continued to tell in my life, check out this podcast. My prayer is that you would find the same peace that I have. Because, He lives.
“How long have I been in this storm? So overwhelmed by the ocean’s shapeless form Water’s getting harder to tread With these waves crashing over my head If I could just see you Everything would be alright If I’d see you This darkness will turn to light And I will walk on water And you will catch me if I fall And I will get lost into your eyes I know everything will be alright I know everything is alright I know you didn’t bring me out here to drown So why am I ten feet under and upside down? Barely surviving has become my purpose ‘Cause I’m so used to living underneath the surface”
This song was first introduced to me by my friend Crissy. I had not known Crissy for very long after moving into that dark apartment after fleeing that domestic violence marriage. But, we sat in the middle of the night just miles away from each other typing the lyrics back-and-forth to the song. That middle of the night chat led me to borrow Crissy’s faith and believed that God did not, in fact, bring me out here to drown. We talk a lot about community and Crissy is a major component to my healing we talk about that in the episode below. It is my prayer that you will find community and if not please reach out to me and we will take care of that quickly!
Bring The Rain
“I can count a million times People asking me how I Can praise You with all that I’ve gone through The question just amazes me Can circumstances possibly Change who I forever am in You Maybe since my life was changed Long before these rainy days It’s never really ever crossed my mind To turn my back on you, oh Lord My only shelter from the storm But instead I draw closer through these times”
This song by MercyMe literally invites the God of the universe to bring hardship into our lives. It seems a little weird, but there is the sweet place of allowing him to show us what He can do with all of our pain. I wish I could say that I never thought of turning my back on God, but in those times when I feel that way I always land back at the same place the only place that makes sense. I talk about it in this episode called raising my Ebenezer.
Center Of The Mark
“Draw back your bow, let love go Shoot straight for the heart With all of your might, set your sight Take aim from the start To love God, love people That’s the center of the mark”
This song is 30+ years old, but it IS the reason I do what I do, because YOU MATTER, and I will spend the rest of my life telling you that. So, one day in April of 2020, I started telling this to the world. Because loving people IS ALL THAT MATTERS!
My prayer for you is that today you will know that you got this, and we are here to help.
READERS: This is a transcript of a podcast, and is not meant to present as a completed grammatically correct piece of written work. We provide these transcripts for our heart of hearing community and for those of you who prefer to listen to the podcast through the blog. We would love for you to be part of the Wednesdays with Watson family you can do that by clicking here.
Amy Watson 0:05 Hey everybody, and welcome back to the Wednesdays with Watson podcast, you are listening to a donor funded podcast, I cannot tell you how grateful I am for that. For those of you new to the podcast, our mission here is to help people via story. People that will talk about their their journeys on the road of hope and healing where trauma is present. That is our mission is to educate you and to share stories of hope and healing with you. Secondary to that mission is providing pro bono counseling for people that cannot afford it. And we are so honored to be able to do that, with the donations that are coming into the podcast. If you would like to be part of that, all you have to do is click that contact me button, there will be several ways for you to do that. We would love your support. Another way you can support the podcast is right there. When you’re in your app, go ahead and rate and review us even if you don’t like what you hear, we want to hear from you. And the way that algorithms work is the more rates the more reviews, the higher it will come up and the search engines the people who are looking for hope and healing. today. I’m so excited to bring the second episode and the second half of season three. It is a season that we are calling trauma spaces, places and aces and so on the podcast before this and you can go back and listen to that if you want it is in the show notes. But I spent a fair amount of time really educating on some trauma terms and introducing the place that we are going to be talking about that and that is trauma in the home. And the space is childhood trauma. Today. This guest is Sherrie Pilkington, host of the finding God in our pain podcast. Sherrie is a podcasting friend of mine. And if we’re ever in the same city together, we might need some bail money but but she has a story of continued redemption and healing to share with you guys. And I can’t wait for you to hear it. So let’s dive into this conversation with my friend Sherrie Pilkington. And first of all, Sherrie, hope I said your name properly. Did I do that?
Sherrie Pilkington 2:10 You did really well actually because I get a lot of different variations of that. But you nailed it.
Amy Watson 2:14 Well, welcome to the podcast. I have here with me speaking of humdinger of last names my co host Crissy Lougridge, Crissy, this has just become normal for us say
Crissy Loughridge 2:30 hey to the people.
Amy Watson 2:33 Sherrie, I would love to formally introduce you to the podcast. As I mentioned, you and I met at a podcasting event PodMov in Nashville. I think that we all agree that there’s podcasting events are more for the social aspect of it than for the learning aspect of it. And I said, I sat down on a bus beside you after a party that iHeart Radio shout out I iheart had for PodMov 2021 in Nashville. And before you even opened your mouth, I knew there was something special about you. There’s just there’s just something very special that suffering does to us.
And, and so I knew that I wanted this day to come when I would have you on my podcast. And so to formally introduce you, you are the host of your own podcast called Finding God in your pain. And unlike me, people know what your podcast is about by the title. So that is why you’re here today because you have and continue to find God in your pain. You are the mom of two and probably would have chosen this first but the grandmother of two as well.
Sherrie Pilkington 3:40 Grandmother to five,
grandmother five. How did I forget that? Okay, grandmother of five. Wow. So youngest and his wife are talking about having more. So how excited?
Amy Watson 3:49 Oh, yeah, I bet you are. Yeah, most parents say that they would have them first. Well, thank you for being here. But let’s just jump right in. So this is a season that we spent the first half of the season speaking about an ace that it talks about trauma. And so you are my first guest in the second half of it. And we’ve asked the same question. This is one of Chris’s questions to everybody. And so I’m not going to steal it from you, Crris, you get the first question to our to our esteemed guests here today.
Crissy Loughridge 4:16 All right. I’d love asking this question. What is your favorite thing about how God made you?
Sherrie Pilkington 4:24 funny when you guys gave me a heads up on that question, I thought that was you got a lot of wisdom with that because people who come from a background of trauma I have sometimes have a hard time answering questions that give a personal identity to them. So it did stumped me and I did have to give some thought to it and process it with the Lord and ultimately what it came down to is that I I am very grateful for the fact that God has made me what’s the word unoffended. I am not easily offended and I believe that is such a gift to have because I can let people be people and I’m not keeping score or worried about
what somebody else is doing or trying to be ever in somebody else’s yard judging them. And so I feel like that’s just a sliver of gold for me that I’m extremely grateful for.
Amy Watson 5:09 And true. Just the little bit that I know about you. True is so true and that and I Crissy, what a great point when she said that people who have trauma are going to struggle to answer this question, Did that ever occur to you? As we’ve been asking it?
Crissy Loughridge 5:23 It hasn’t occurred to me, but it makes a lot of sense. And I’m really glad we’re asking it. Because I’ve had to answer it. I know, it’s, it’s hard. And it forces you to look at the good of what God has done instead of Oh, I wish I had I wish I did. I wish. And so I like it for that reason.
Amy Watson 5:41 Yeah. And it really pushes us into this bigger question. Do we believe in a God or a Creator? Right. And so we could talk about that forever? I love that answer. And by the way, that’s one of my favorite things about you too. Well, as I mentioned, we took some time on the podcast episode before this one. So talk about some terms that we hear when we discuss trauma, because most people Sherrie, think when they hear trauma, that you have to be a Vietnam vet or something. And, and it comes with the stigma, right. And so that episode, while you don’t have to listen to it to understand this one, that one before this does talk about that, and it does accomplish my goal of educating you guys about trauma, and what it means. And doing that I provide, I decided to add a term that’s fancy in the psychological world called adverse childhood experiences, since we are focusing on childhood trauma. And it’s a thing so listeners out there, if you just Google adverse childhood experiences, you’re going to get way more information than you ever want. And you’re also going to get a quiz. Because this is a widely accepted measurement of how much a child’s developing brain is affected by different types of trauma. And they’re in its 10 categories. And so Sherrie, you and I process this, and I really loved doing this, we process this episode on Voxer, which for those of you that don’t know what that is just an audio app, Sherrie and I are talking back and forth, and we’re growing in the Lord together, and we’re coming to aha moments and all the things. And I thought for sure, when I asked you this question, you were gonna say, No, I’m not doing that at all. You’re, you’re not allowed to do that. But I asked you if I could rapid fire these 10 questions at you. And so listeners these 10 questions help the experts know, what level if you will have trauma that a child has experienced, because they then can clinically with all the studies and all the things kind of kind of within a range understand how a child is going to be affected. So these are rapid fire questions. You are so brave, probably the bravest, a guest I’ve ever had on this one. So I’m going to so these are the 10 General adverse childhood experiences recognized in the psychological world as going to affect you as an adult, which is our point here. Here we go. Rapid fire, so no, yes or no answers. yes or no answer, my friend because we’re gonna have plenty of time to talk, I promise. All right. Did you experience physical abuse in your home as a child?
Sherrie Pilkington 8:15 Yes.
Amy Watson 8:17 I’m going to get through this without crying. Did you experience sexual abuse? In your home?
Sherrie Pilkington 8:24 No, I did not. You did not. Did you experience verbal abuse?
Okay. So I was doing the math in my head, I think it’s a six or seven, your scores of six or seven.
Okay, and so let’s talk about what that means. Okay. So that so that so the pine tree Institute, which is one of many people who deal with these adverse childhood experiences. Before we get there, though, Crissy, you had something you wanted to ask here that you think is going to be advantageous to other listeners? Can you can you pop that question in here for me? Yeah. So when I’m looking at those, they’re very specific. And so I wondered if underlying things like if if a parent has
Crissy Loughridge 9:27 cancer, and there’s the threat of them dying or someone outside of the nuclear family threatens a family member so so that type of thing that maybe isn’t quite in here. I don’t even know where you’d put any of those in there but they would be real and
large and affecting the childhood experience.
Amy Watson 9:51 Yeah, so I’m so glad that you you added that in here because I don’t want I don’t want is for people to hear Sherrie’s episode today and go Well, I only have one of those
And so that, you know, I’m, I’m fine. I’m fine. I don’t need any help. And so Crissy, your question speaks to something very, very interesting, especially coming from you is the way you just phrase that question is do other things that threaten the security of the child, whether it be a sick parent, a suicidal parent, they are whatever that threatens that Maslow’s hierarchy of needs food, shelter, water, sleep, rest? Yes, is the answer to your question. And so, so the experts say if you’re saying if you have a score between one through three without a physical adverse childhood experience, and so a physical abuse is one of them, then you already get pushed into the next category. one through three, you’re moderately likely to have some toxic stress moving into adulthood, and we’re going somewhere with this, I promise, guys. So you blew that out of the water? Sherrie My so did I. Okay, so anything above a three, so from three to 10, you are 100% likely to experience toxic stress through your life. Your body, your brain, your the child’s developing brain is also experiencing that toxic stress. And so there are damages that happen as a result of it with a score higher than four.
Crissy Loughridge 11:26 Can you explain what toxic stress me? Yeah, so toxic stress. We talked about a little bit on the on the episode before this. That’s a really good question. Crissy. Toxic stress is stress that affects us at the cellular level the most. And this is where epigenetics comes in. We talked about that in the episode before this too. But yes, Crissy when we experience toxic stress at the cellular level at the DNA level, that DNA is actually altered and and the way it works or doesn’t work. This is why we get defense, we get diseases as an autoimmune issues and all the stuff when we see childhood trauma, because it affects us on a, on a basic, basic level. It’s not just your normal stressed out and traffic stress, it’s toxic stress, it’s exactly the word you think think about toxic dump in your brain, and then what it does to a child’s brain. And so that is and so you know, stress is not always a bad thing. But so Sherrieat a score six or seven there.
Amy Watson 12:32 I wonder something? What would have happened, you think
if you would have known this information 30 years ago,
Sherrie Pilkington 12:40 wow.
It would have empowered me to find peace faster, to walk in freedom.
And to pursue the calling on my life. I feel like that’s three areas that I could have definitely right off the top of my head, I definitely could have benefited from had I known the impact of cellular level damage.
Amy Watson 13:05 Right? And we’re going to get to parenting later. But Crrissy, how do you think you would be different? If you think I would,
Crissy Loughridge 13:12 I would have more grace for myself and for my responses to things because, you know, I’m typically going to beat myself up for for what why is that affected me? Why don’t I feel good today in any number of things. But understanding that this is traumatic, and you have a reason and and it would it would give me the freedom to give myself some grace.
Sherrie Pilkington 13:38 And you know, Amy, something that you just said, it reminds me of an incident that I’m watching today with someone that I know and there is a lot of there’s physical abuse and domestic violence, there are fits of rage from a parent. And I’m watching the smallest one who is a toddler. And but he has endured this since he was an infant and now he has fits of rage and his identity is in question and he’s gravitating to the parent that he wants the most attention from. And so I’m looking at all of this, because I don’t think trauma has to be a car accident or even get to that physical, you know, all of those things to that level. When you’re an infant and a toddler. I think in the environment, it would appear to me that in the environment, they are absorbing these things, they have no ability to process they have no point of reference to understand, but yet they are taking on all of this that they’re seeing and hearing and experiencing in front of them.
Amy Watson 14:33 100% And I’m so I’m different because if somebody like a quiz gives me a reason to feel like I feel to her point just now with freedom. It’s like oh, okay, well, I you know, there’s a reason for me to feel some of these things. But to your point, though, Sherrie, the more we understand this, and this is the point we could stop trauma begetting trauma and stop the generational curse.
Exodus four tells us that the second, third and fourth generation. And so just understanding adverse childhood experiences, and I’m using that term interchangeably with trauma, because there’s people out there that says, I don’t have trauma, but I have some of those adverse childhood experiences. And so it had I known this information.
A long time ago, I would have not ended up in a lot of places, I ended up doing a lot of things I did, because I just didn’t understand what I didn’t understand. And so for those of you listening out there, and the other thing I want to do here is I don’t want to freak parents out thinking you’ve screwed up your kids, because we’re all going to make mistakes. But the the the trauma, or the adverse childhood experience at the cellular level, like Sherrie just gave an example of this child is not only watching it, but is absorbing it. And we know this because kids, babies don’t even get hunger pains. They they feel uncomfortable, they cry, the need is met, we’re good. But when we talk about trauma at the most basic level, and we’re talking about the baby, throw in the bottle on the floor,
babies uncomfortable cries, parent ignores cries a little bit more parent ignores more finally, and crying doesn’t do me anything. So I’m just going to be uncomfortable. And their brains to your point Sherrie are absorbing that. And so as we move into your story, though, I would love to know more about some of your questions, per se for for Sherrie, too.
Crissy Loughridge 16:30 Well, one of the one of the questions you listed one of the aces you listed was mental illness in the home, can you share a little bit more about the mental illness in in the home where you grew up?
Sherrie Pilkington 16:41 Sure. My mother, We later discovered she was diagnosed with bipolar. But who was talking about, you know, bipolar situations or conditions back in the 60s 70s, and very early 80s, no one that I knew of I had never heard of that term. And the other thing is, we never got our clinically diagnosed. But my siblings, and I have a brother and a sister picked up on these personality, she had a second personality that was childlike. And while she did not get diagnosed, we were still subjected to those personalities. And again, we wouldn’t have termed it that way. When we were younger, we just couldn’t understand why you couldn’t get through to her. She would be acting like a child or laughing like a child or ridicule. And you try like, Mom, what are you doing? And then she would not acknowledge you. So it was just very strange. And so we just tried to get out of the room, because we didn’t understand what we were supposed to be doing. So she had that bipolar condition where you just did not know which end was up, you did not know what personality you were going to get. And you didn’t know weather today was going to be an okay day. Maybe I’m used the indoor broom on the outdoor porch. And so that was all wrong. And then, but yesterday I did it now was fine. Or the way I wash the dishes was okay today, but it’s not okay. Yesterday, I mean, the next day. So it was the way that I described my childhood is that I never had anywhere solid to rest my feet. And that’s contributed to issues that I grew you know how when you’re trying to make sense of something, I was just speaking about this child and so you’re trying to make sense of something that you have no point of reference for. So what do you do you conjure up your own lens of looking at life and trying to function in what you’ve experienced, but don’t know how to process it?
Amy Watson 18:29 Because Because like you said, you have no context for it. Right? You have zero context like as far as you knew everybody else’s houses were like that too. Sure. Yeah. You know, and Crissy often is one of the things why this works so much. And you said this Crissy in my episode, that you interviewed me, like our childhoods couldn’t be any different. And so
you don’t know what you what you don’t know. You know, and so I, I have a question that I didn’t prep you for, but it’s easy for you to answer because I’m just curious. What where are you in the birth order?
Sherrie Pilkington 19:05 I am the middle child, the one that’s overlooked and ignored. The one that’s really, it wasn’t me. I was kind of mouthy. So I didn’t hide but it was my sister who got looked over really, to really dig out like she stayed out of a lot of trouble, but was in trouble she was doing so she got in trouble. But but because she was just ignored,
Amy Watson 19:22 younger or older than you younger. Got Yes, she is younger. I have an older brother one. My brother is one year older my sister is two years younger. The reason I asked you that question is because I will talk about this through this episode, as we see a lot of children turning into caretakers in homes like yours. And and it’s interesting to me that you’re a middle child because normally you see that in the older child. But finally you you were like I am I’m going to leave this house I know at some point, but I don’t know when and you said something to me. I don’t think you know you said to me, is I needed
To make sure my mom was okay. And I needed to make sure my sister was okay. And it fired off all these things in my head, because that is so, so typical. And these and these traumatic homes were, where were that are not healthy where you became the adult. So, during our prep interview said something to me that I want to highlight here, I want to ask a question before that, how old were you when you left home, and then tell us why you finally left home.
Sherrie Pilkington 20:31 I left home at 18 because I had just graduated. Because on each last day of the year, school year, it would be my birthday. So I just turned 18. And I’ll say a couple of months later I had so when I turned 18, I was planning to get out of there. But I’d got kicked out before I could leave on my own. And you told me tell you what, I get kicked out. You know, I do not remember why. And it could have been that I use the wrong wash cloth for the dishes. I don’t know, it was just that random and that unpredictable. So it could have very well been but she had kicked my brother out. So now it was my turn to get kicked out. And then of course, my sister coming up behind me as soon as she graduated, and she graduated at 17. She got kicked out.
Amy Watson 21:10 Wow.
Yeah, there’s a pause there for a reason, because that just even makes me shake my head. I’m so sorry.
Sherrie Pilkington 21:20 That Thank you. I appreciate that. And then my dad who’s never in the picture, he shows up to pick me up. I was like, wow.
Crissy Loughridge 21:25 Okay.
One of the things you mentioned Amy in the prep, you left your house with survival skills, but no relationship skills, Can you expound on that a little bit,
Sherrie Pilkington 21:37 I would not have termed it that way. When I first left the house, all I could think of is I want to get out of here. I was already preparing to leave she just got to me before I could get out the door and I left the house feeling like finally I’m getting ready live my life I do not have her hanging over my head. But I did not realize that the lens with which I had created in order to survive in that
atmosphere that condition that environment was what was going to equip me for later because it did not equip me at all when I was outside of that environment. The skills that I had created did not serve me well at all in relationships with people who had no attachment to that type of abuse or understanding of who I was or what I’ve been through. So yeah, I ran headlong into a wall but not really realizing it first because the time that I went for counseling
I didn’t I wouldn’t have said it was my survival skills I would have said somebody else’s making my life difficult that’s what I would have responded to what I didn’t make the connection that I had to take responsibility for that which lens was kind of backtrack a little bit to your point I that was one thing that I could have been equipped with was taking responsibility for my life in a way that would have produced a much more mature and beneficial lifestyle with relationships and whatnot.
Amy Watson 23:05 Except you understand that there is no way you that could have happened right because you did not have it modeled for you and so for you to take responsibility for something would be like somebody asking me to send Crissy to the moon yeah.
So you so I want to I want you to give yourself grace that Crissy just talked about like if had we understood had you understood what you’ve been through 30 years ago, you would have walked out and and next time I see you and give you a big giant hug and give you a big pat on the back and say you made it it was those survival skills that made you make it and I did the same thing I aged out the system at 18 went to college and and we’re not here to talk about my story but I did the same thing. And here’s the issue listeners and Crissy can even speak to this a little bit the problem with those of us who have incredible survival skills is that those skills is a skill that the world denominates or pays us and the thing that matters right so survival skills aren’t going to run are going to run I’m not going to quit something knock me down finally get back in and and the world absolutely rewards that with the green folding stuff. And so why would we want any other skill but I want you want to speak into you there’s no way you could have learned or known to take responsibility for your actions. However, there is a point where and I tell Crissy this all the time. One of the reasons why I do the podcast is because my power company doesn’t care that I had trauma, they care that I write them a check. So we got to even though it’s not fair, those of us with these stories have got the do the thing. But most of us before we do the thing, do a bunch of other things in between. So you turned 18 You left your house tell us about what happened then.
Sherrie Pilkington 24:54 When I left my house I was determined to get well I had a job I just got a job. I’m so happy
had the job but I needed a car. And I needed an apartment somewhere else to stay, I wasn’t gonna stay in the area where my mom was at, I was gonna go back to an old neighborhood, or at least in that area, where I had gone to school with people prior to moving where we were. And so when I went back there, I just wanted an apartment, a car and a job. That was all I was worried about, wasn’t worried about dating, none of that stuff. And so I connected up with a friend of mine who she had gone to school,
and just started to hang out with her. And so one night we were out dancing and
her friends, she knew a friend, let me see if I can get this right. One of her friends showed up and she introduced me to him. And then the guy in tow with him. She he introduced us to all of us. So then we hung out for like 10 months because I was not into he kept asking me to date I saw him date and other people wasn’t interested, just fine. Have yourself a good time. We enjoy dance and him out usually ended up on the floor longer than anybody else. And then we’d all go to dinner or breakfast at Denny’s or whatever. And then we’d all go our separate ways. Well, I went my separate way. I can’t speak for everybody else. But But I but again, I just was finally he asked me out one more time and he’s just like, I just really wish you’d go out with me, we have a lot of fun. And I just think we would make a really great couple something along those lines, because but I don’t have as much fun with you as I have with other people. So I was like, okay, all right, whatever. So we go out and I you know, I’ve really the fun just continued and we connected on humor. Before we even started dating. Our relationship was built on humor, the marriage when we’d have tough times, we were together a little over 33 years, we laughed through some of the hard parts or just found some common ground of humor, dumb, stupid humor that you know, couples share and, you know, nicknames you call each other things like that. But and, and so that kept us going even to this day, what I missed the most about him is his humor.
Amy Watson 26:53 So let me ask you this. So we’ve not really talked about God yet at all. When you got when you got married, were you walking with the Lord? And was Larry a Christian.
Sherrie Pilkington 27:05 Funny thing, and I don’t know if funny is the right word is really not laughable. But I, I got saved at 13 and I an aunt, I credit, one of my aunts for modeling who God was in a realistic way, and continue continually drawing us into a relationship with God. She played the piano. And when you were at her house, she was extremely generous. And she, you know, fed you and sang hymns with you. I love the hymns. I grew up on the hymns because of her.
And so her modeling who God was was always in the back of my mind, because I was getting mixed signals and mixed messages at home. I mean, they would talk about God, but nobody really rely on God. And we’d only go to church when things were really bad like dad had left us or something, then we’d go to church. So it was a lot of mixed messages. But rainy, her name is Lorraine and we call her aunt Rainey was very consistent. So I came to the knowledge of Christ at 12 years old professed him as my Lord and Savior or his salvation. But then He later becomes the Lord of my life, because you know, you can have salvation, but not really make him the Lord of your life. And that was always a saving grace for me if you will, because once I was saved, I began to read the word I did not understand it, I probably read the word through three or four times the whole Bible through three or four times between 12 and leaving the house at 18. It’s not so much that I walked
with the Lord, I just felt his presence, I felt I had this underlying feeling that what was going on was not right and to hang on. And not that anybody told me that but except that, you know, I’m praying and I’m reading the Word. And when I was hanging out with my friends, I was desperate to go anywhere because mom wouldn’t let you go anywhere. Shouldn’t like you answered the phone. She didn’t want to go anywhere. And when I finally got a chance to go somewhere, you know, we’re probably doing stuff we shouldn’t be doing but so it’s not like I was walking with the Lord but I knew his presence. And so when I leave home strangely enough, I love the Lord. He had been so good, so kind, so faithful to me, but for some reason I walked out the door going, Okay, now I got to make this happen. I gotta do life. And so no, I was not walking to the Lord. I gave my husband a reason to believe I was a believer at all. And he was not a believer at the time that we got married.
Amy Watson 29:07 So tell us about the journey of when. So you got married? Actually, before before I asked that question. I do want to ask you something cuz I think this is more for the listeners out there. So you let you when you left home, you walked away from the Lord. I did something similar. I got in an air quoting When I say this church hurt, I stopped going to church and and I wasn’t a bad kid. But there are there’s a question I want to ask you. And this is really for those of you listening.
A lot of women especially who have been through what you and I have been through and what listeners have been through because their brain didn’t develop properly and attachment disorders and all the things. We find a lot of promiscuity. We find a lot of
partying, we find a lot of drug abuse, we find a lot of that. Was that ever part of your story before you met and married Larry?
Sherrie Pilkington 30:09 Not a lot. But I when I was in high school, I had a boyfriend who was not in school. As a matter of fact, he was like, I guess, please tell me that all of us have a bum magnet in our pocket during high school or something like that. Because I dated a guy who was not in school. He was on probation. Yes. You know, what was I think, and I do not know. But anyway, it gave me an excuse not to date the guys in school because I was scared to death, mom’s idea of abstinence, or at least teaching you about relationship was get pregnant. And you’ll need to find somewhere else to live because you’re not living here. So that was my introduction to sex Ed if you will, as far as being careful when you’re on a date. So all I can think of is oh, crap. I can No, how do you prevent all that? Okay, well, I’m just not gonna date. But I do end up having sex with the guy. But I was so guilt ridden like, and I didn’t know I. It’s not that I felt like I was raped. I don’t. But I didn’t know how to say no, I didn’t know I had a voice. I didn’t know that I had options that you could speak up and that somebody would actually listen to you. And so I ended up having sex with him, but it’s like three or four times and I’m like, I can’t he wasn’t using any sort of protection. So I’m like, I’m out of here. I can’t do this. I don’t not want to end up pregnant. Oh, my gosh, not to you.
Amy Watson 31:23 yeah, I mean, at least I had some sense. I guess I was thinking like the wrong guy. So I break up with him. And then I date a few other guys. In course, I don’t know what it is. Maybe this is not not the right thing to say. But it was my experience. My Country guys were more respectable than my city guys, my city has really pushed the limits so so I was able to maintain abstinence, all those My friend says oral sex and all the still sex.
There was some of those behaviors because I know when I when I went to aged out of the system, and walked away from the Lord really, is when I may, I wasn’t I wasn’t promiscuous, but I married somebody who was not a Christian, which I had been taught my whole life right along with, you know, hellfire and brimstone marry a Christian hellfire and brimstone marry a Christian. And John was not a Christian and I paid for that for a very, very long time. In our prep, he told me that Larry was not a Christian, I would love and I think Crissy would love to know this too, because I’m kind of asking your question.
Tell me about yours and Larry spiritual journey.
Okay, now I will, if I misunderstood your question, proud of that and put myself out on Front Street. Maybe not forgive me for that. But
okay, our journey, okay. Larry was tender hearted. He really was a tender hearted guy he liked to act like he was, you know, nothing. He was tough, and nothing really bothered him. But he was a very tender hearted guy. And so as I began to talk about the Lord, and of course, this I am flipping the script in his book, I am flipping the script on him, because he has no reason to believe I’m a Christian. But now I’m married. And now I want to live the Christian life. And he’s like, Wait, hold on a second. No, what are you doing? So that is when this lens of how I had created life really got under the heat, if you will, because he’s the one I’m doing life with every day. And now I’m discovering under this pressure, that wait, this, my skills aren’t, aren’t working here, I’m doing nothing but creating strife in this marriage. And he’s got his heels dug and he’s not given up because rightfully so. Right? Um, one way before we’re married, then I want to be another way
you baited and switched him. I did.
Sherrie Pilkington 33:37 I mean, I did. I really did. Not my intention and even thinking about back in highs back in when I was younger and swearing, I swear, I will never let her Let me I will never let her make me cry again. I will never cry a sweat. And I even had to repent for that later. Because I didn’t understand that when you’re swearing like that, and taking on these oaths, they cost you something. And so I had to later repent for that, and to release those types of things, and even those types of attitudes. So he, he does eventually come to the knowledge of Christ. We were at some play. It was like a hellfire and brimstone type production by one of the churches and he goes forward. Now did his walk immediately take ground? No, it did not. There was that whole struggle between soul and spirit, what the soul already knew what the Spirit is trying to redeem. And there’s that whole struggle. So it wasn’t a perfect walk. But then again, you know, who has the perfect role, right. But it did take him a while. And I would even venture to say that in the last four.
Last four years of his life, that was the strongest I had ever seen him walking with regard to the people that he he put his self in like on a constant basis, pastors and strong Christian men, and he was leading people to the Lord. He was so cute though. He would talk to them about why they needed Jesus and why he was such a good
Man a good God to know. And then he would bring like, hey, come over here they want to except you need to lead them to
wasn’t quite competent enough to say the prayer, you know, confession around them confession but the prayer of repentance that’s what I’m looking for.
Amy Watson 35:13 That’s so awesome because it means that you brought God into your home, right?
Sherrie Pilkington 35:19 Yeah, yeah. You know he was looking at me going girl, you’re a hot mess and you want to try this now but let’s go come on.
Crissy Loughridge 35:26 In your opinion, how was your adverse childhood experience colored the way you parent? Did that? Can you share with listeners? How if you had any struggles parenting since you didn’t have that model for you? To clear?
Sherrie Pilkington 35:44 Yeah, it did not even
breach my train of thought until I was pregnant I found out I was pregnant, then I was like, holy moly. I’m going to have a baby, I have no clue how to do this No clue. And that became even more afraid of repeating what because I did not understand right now I think about bipolar. We didn’t know anything about double, you know, dual dual or multi personalities. And so I’m like, This is terrifying me. But it is also the ground in which God showed me who he was as a parent to me. He and He, yeah, he showed me the difference between discipline for the purpose of correction, and abuse. So then I was like, okay, that’s abuse. That’s what I was experiencing. I also put things in place because I did not want to somehow
become her and not realize it. And one time I did, I broke my rule. So my roles were maximum because we did paddle. But it was a maximum of three like they could be fully clothed, because a lot of times we had to have bare legs or bare butt. So they could be fully clothed, maximum three could not do it when I was mad because she would just if she was mad, she would just get on you and not let up until she felt better. And what else did I have? It was a last resort. We had tried everything else we had like a strike three system, there were things that you lost or privileges you lost, or time that you spent without friends, that kind of thing. And so it was the last resort. One time I broke my rule, I paddled my son, when I was mad. And if God corrected me immediately, I go back into my room because I’ve been in his room, I go back to my room and my hand was hurt. And I looked down at my hand had blood on my hand, I absolutely panicked. I ran back into the room, I said, Son, let me see your legs because he had a long head when his dad’s T shirts on se, I thought that was enough, again, didn’t make sure his legs were covered. So when I lifted his shirt, there was nothing on his legs, not marks, not anything. So I had at least caught the shirt. But what I also caught was my hand when I did it, and it made me bleed and it made me hurt. And so the Lord corrected me, I went and got on my knees laid on the floor, I mean, laid on the bed across the bed with just repented to the Lord, because he had already shown me how to correct for the purpose, you know, discipline for the correct for the purpose of correction, and I did not do it. And so I never did that after made sure that, that those three things were in place. Wow. And it’s just being that father, him showing me how he cares for me as a father and understanding his heart for me, by the way that I felt about my children. That was super powerful for me that was transformed, forming for me.
Amy Watson 38:12 And that is something I’m just speaking for myself that I wish I could I could I could take to heart a little bit better is is God as my father because as my counselor so often says, Sherrie, what the way you parented your children, you shouldn’t be able to do that. And we go back again to Exodus 34, with the trauma and the sins of the father or cat, or the Bible says the second, the third, the fourth generation. And so you with only Jesus, and I say that really tongue in cheek, because on this podcast, Jesus is the star of the story. And for you to be able to answer that question like you did and that your your children were seemingly normal? I think it probably probably depends on whether you asked that question to them. But But you shouldn’t have been able to do that. And I’m grateful to the star of the story. we’ve alluded a couple times and listeners are probably hanging on by a thread. You move it along in life. You have two children, you’re married, you’re growing in your faith. Marriage not without its issues.
went to counseling, which is another thing that we really focus on in this podcast. Then life changed forever. Please tell us why and how.
Sherrie Pilkington 39:33 Had no indication whatsoever.
When he left that morning, February 21 2018 everything seemed fine. gave each other a kiss. Hug. Call me later. Love you. You know yes, I’ll call you later.
So everything seemed pretty normal. And then about I’m gonna guess around 1010 30 He calls me to say hey, I’m sick. I don’t feel good. I’m gonna go try to eat but if I can’t eat
I’m going to go home and I said, Okay, well, I have one more stop to make and then I will, you know, or no, at that point, I said, Call me, let me know. And so at about 11, he says, I feel worse, I want to throw up. So I’m going to go home. And that’s when I said, All right, I have one more stop, I will go to the grocery store. And I’ll pick up some ginger ale and crackers and soup in case you start feeling better. I’m still mad at myself to this day, because he’s never sick. And so why didn’t I pick up on anything? It’s not like it was flu season, or at least we had, again, it could have been flu season. He’s just never sick. Well, about 1130.
He, we get a call, my son gets a call from a friend.
And he’s told that your dad’s been in an accident.
You know, I’ve called the ambulance. let your mom know. So my son calls me and I didn’t pick up on it. But he’s in shock. I didn’t, I didn’t pick up on it. And he says, Mom, dad’s been an accident. Do you want me to go? If he had been this right, man, he’d gone. There was no way he would have asked me that. And I said, let me get checks with her. I know he didn’t feel good. Maybe He clipped somebody because our roads are very narrow out here. And my mind is not processing the fact that I don’t know. I don’t know where you’re maybe your mind goes into this place of protection. I guess at least that’s the only thing that makes sense to me. And I said No, honey, don’t worry about it. All right out there. Right now I’m getting ready to head home, I gotta go the grocery store, but I’ll just go check on him. As I’m going out there, I try to call him and he doesn’t answer. I’m thinking, oh, man, this is probably, I wonder if it’s a bad accident. So then I try to call again. And I’m like, Ah, I need you to call me. You know, when I left that ultimately, I thought, What if you got into a head on? Like, what if he would if he was throwing up and he got into a head on accident. So then I’m starting to panic? Well, about that time I sang the same son. The youngest one calls me says Mom, I told me, which is I don’t know if she was his fiancee? No, it would have been his wife at that point. I called Mary and asked her to go out there because she was close by. I said, Okay, so I call her I said, Mary, let me speak to Larry. And so she hesitates. And I said, You alright. And she goes, yeah. Now you gotta remember. She’s like, 22. And she’s having to process that she already knows it’s not good. And I am on the other end, saying, Let me speak to him. And what is she going to tell me? Right? She doesn’t even know never dealt with anything like this before. Her husband’s I mean, father is dead. And she’s having to wonder what she’s going to tell me. She was very close to him. He loved her. And so now she’s having to look at that. Watch all that go down. So she says, I can’t and I said, why not? And she goes, Well, because they’re the ambulance is with him. And I said, well ask the ambulance if I can talk to him. Again, I think your brain just goes off area where you’re like, not engaged in what’s going on. And I hear her say, can he? Can she speak to him? Now? He’s on a respirator at this point. I don’t know this. But he’s, I later learned that and they’re like, No, we’re trying to, and then I didn’t hear anything. And so she goes, Well, they’re trying to stabilize him. Okay, that’s when it kicks in. For me. I said state my voice raises stabilize, what do you mean stabilize? Tell them to define stabilized right now? And so that poor child as for state, what do you mean by stable? Now she’s watching them work on this man. You know, they’re that she loves dearly, and he loved her. And so she’s trying poor thing that I wonder if I’ve ever apologized to that baby, or haven’t done that to her in that moment. And she says, Well, they’re trying to stabilize him because they’re trying to make his heartbeat or something like that. Okay, that’s when I totally lose it in a sense, and I’m like, What hospital are they going to? And she’s like, well, we’re right on the line between Chesapeake Virginia Beach. So they’re arguing about what hospitals are taking us if you tell them to take him to Princess Ann and I will see you there now. And she goes, Okay, I will. And so I had started, I’m calling people. Look, you have got to pray. Larry has been in a car. I still think it’s a car accident. I don’t know that he’s had a heart attack. So I’m trying to process all that I get to the long story short, I guess I’ve gone on long enough is that I get to the hospital. They pull us my sons and I pull us into a room. I’m waiting for them to come tell me I can see him. My heart is still hanging on to that.
in walks this white coat, little petite doctor, and I’m like, she does not have it in her to tell me what I do not want to hear. But sure enough, she opens her mouth and outcomes. We’ve done everything we can. There’s nothing left. Well, I start arguing with her. You could still be in there trying to do something. Have you tried everything? How do you know you’ve tried everything? So I’m like poor woman. I’m bullying her? Because I will not take her answer. For the final answer. I got one son who’s collapsed. I got one son who’s beside me with his arm around me and I’m still arguing with this woman. So long story short, I did not get to see him like I thought I would or at least when I did see him. It was in the hospital. And it was on a steel gurney. But it was not the way I had hoped to see him.
Amy Watson 44:45 Yeah, I want to let that breathe for a second because
it’s the third or fourth time I’ve heard it. And
I just I’m so so sorry.
And I would be
Sorry, to anybody that that experiences that.
But uh, particularly today on this interview, it makes my heart sad because it’s sad. But you just got done talking to our listeners about how
God has been your father and, and he really is the reason why you raised your kids like you did and all the things.
here’s, here’s this reality that you’re living in. And I can’t help but wonder, did you ever feel abandoned by God?
And let me let me let me let me expand on that a little bit more. Because this is the desire of your heart, Sherrie for this podcast.
Because you said to me, I wonder if the way I responded to Larry’s passing, I responded as though he abandoned me, I was mad at him that he abandoned me. And I’m here to tell you with my not so psychology degree, but Google went a little bit of a brain, that that’s absolutely your childhood trauma, that abandonment, now your husband leaves you.
Crissy Loughridge 46:11 And not, not of his free will, he leaves you. But that logic leaves in those moments. And I can only imagine your childhood came home to roost.
Sherrie Pilkington 46:23 Satan attaches himself to our traumas. And he uses every opportunity that he can to bring them back up to us. But the beauty of a relationship, a personal, intimate relationship with Christ is that when Satan brings those things up to us, like he did with abandonment, we have God who wants to heal them. I believe that when we’re under pressure, when we’re under that fire, and those things in us come up, then that’s God wanting to say, give me that child, give me that daughter, I want to work that out for you. I want to heal that place for you. I want to bring in my peace, my healing, and my save for that pain that this world has put on you, I have something different for you. I have a different value system for you. And that’s really what happened to me here. My husband would have picked divorce
to abandon me versus checking out at 52 years old because he was very much a family man. He loved his boys. The grandbabies were starting to come. He was the youngest of eight babies. He loved babies. So I know in when you put it look at it in a realistic way, then, yeah, he did not abandon me that is not the truth. Right. But did it come up in my spirit and my soul? Yes, it did. And then
pardon me, I even told the Lord, I don’t. I’m a little exhausted with this whole abandonment thing. I don’t really want to go back and process this again. But God heals in layers. And so he said to me, Sherrie, I don’t take you back to hurt you. I take you back to heal you. And so when he said that, to me, I was like, Alright, let’s go. What have you got? What? How do you want to rewrite this lie that I have embraced in my life to the point that it would come up under this in this way that it is not the truth, but yet I? It seems to be the truth. Yeah. And so God brings those things up, or at least he’s right there when they do come up.
Amy Watson 48:20 Right. Right. And I think that it because what one of my next question says and you just really answered it eloquently, is what would you say to people who are 18,28, 38,48, 58, who have childhood traumas, and then experience trauma later in life. And those are the they’re the same, right? But they’re different. I have a huge fear of abandonment. This one right here. And I told you this story on Voxer. But for listeners, Crissy and I were running errands one day, and she needed gas, and I needed something from the bank. And I needed to go into the lockbox make very long story short, I came out with the bank, she wasn’t there. And I was convinced that she had left me and was never coming back to get me. And I was 36 or 37 years old. So listeners I’m honing in on that because
that I want you to understand that if you’ve experienced childhood trauma, you’ve got real issues, physical issues with your brain. And so when you’ve it’s so important for parents, teachers, youth pastors, all anyone who has agency over a child to understand how important the developing brain as and how they will experience trauma later. I am so grateful that you just spoke life into people by just saying you know what, God heals our pain and layers that even took my breath away a little bit and it’s helping me understand why my pain has been healed and layers. So yeah, thank you for that so much.
Crissy Loughridge 49:58 Yeah, what really
came to mind for me is what Satan meant for evil God meant for good. And so that bringing up the abandonment, again is satan’s way of going haha. And God was like, oh, bring it. I got more healing to do. Yeah, go go for it. Yeah. And and so it’s it’s always encouraging to me when God turns the tables on Satan in his tricks.. And so
Amy Watson 50:23 God turns the table one Satan has tricks that’s a Louridgeism y’all that is fantastic.
Sherrie Pilkington 50:31 That’s not to say that’s a table to flip right, that is a table to flip?
Crissy Loughridge 50:36 Well, um, as we close out the podcast, what shouldn’t we do when we are doing live closely with someone who has experienced what you have? What what has not been helpful?
Sherrie Pilkington 50:49 You know,
my first initial response to that is that I don’t
I don’t know that I would put that on someone else. And what I mean by that is,
when I’m triggered when I go through things that pertain to my childhood experiences.
Would it be helpful if someone understood that, but how can they if they haven’t been through it? Or if they’re not even relating to the fact that this is it because a lot of times, that was my situation, I didn’t put the pieces together. When I think about this child that I’ve made reference to I think about the journey that this child is on, and the heartache and the possible identity issues as this child grows older, but what if this, this child knew what if this child knew what had happened and then could get help immediately. So my point is, I think the burden of responsibility falls on me
in order to get the help I need when I’m triggered, can kind hearted people make a difference? Oh, yeah. Yeah. Can patient people make a difference? Oh, yeah.
Amy Watson 52:09 But what about what do you say to the name it claim it you got a problem? I got a Bible verse. So you’re walking along life with people with trauma?
How do you experience the the name it claim it? misused even dare I say weaponizing the gospel had? That’s, that’s what I that’s how I would have answered that question is,
we can’t throw words that people may not even believe at them, and expect them to do something like overnight unless God tells that story.
Sherrie Pilkington 52:48 I agree.
I can say Scripture all day long. And I do believe that the word will is powerful, and it will transform anything and everything. It also transcends this life into the next life. So I’m not trying to take anything away from the word. But if there is no intimate and personal relationship with the word and the word being Christ, then there is no change, unless you engage God over that word. And that’s going to be a process. And it makes me think about, there is a process to this. I would tell anyone, to not rush, the process of having this hard conversation with God and asking these tough questions like Where were you? Did you even care? Or whatever is a tough question for that individual person. So I would say get in there and get real with God, you ain’t fooling him about anything anyway. So just lay it on the lay all your cards on the table, because change starts. I don’t know if you remember when God asked Jacob, what’s your name? It’s not like he didn’t know Jacob’s name. He’s like, you want to be honest with me? Now, if you can be honest with me that we got somewhere to go? Avoiding?
Amy Watson 53:51 That is a fantastic take on that scripture.
Sherrie Pilkington 53:54 Yeah, you want to keep avoiding me and keep acting like we’re not gonna talk about the real thing, then I got nothing for you. I can’t work with you. So I think that’s what happens for us, we get real with the Lord. And I don’t care how painful it is meaning a lot of my grief came out as anger. But the Lord never shamed me for that he never turned me away. It was almost as if he absorbed all of my pain because he knew where it was coming from. And it wasn’t just the death of my husband, it was the death of childhood, it was the death of things that I had to
go through and process. So he understood I felt like he understood it.
And so what once I got to the point where this processing became obvious to me that I could not lift my hand there was nothing I could do or a resource I could have. That would change my situation, because the one who could have stopped my husband’s death did not. And so I had to face the fact that the Good God, I confess did not intervene and my husband’s death. And so what do you say to God what the good god profess? What do you say to him at that point? And so when that became a real
It, it collided with God’s sovereignty. And at that point I submitted to God’s sovereignty, I chose to just lay it down. But when I did, submission with God is got to be one of the most powerful things there is because that’s when healing begin to happen for me, is when I laid down the argument because I had rights. Right? I mean, I wasn’t making up my situation. I had rights.
Amy Watson 55:23 And where was he? That’s a great question. Right? He was right. There wasn’t?
Sherrie Pilkington 55:26 Yeah, yeah. Right. They’re engaged. I think that’s another thing too, that people miss that even when we do not use our Gift of Choice in the way that we that God intended for us to do it. God’s still in there, he would never, ever let you endure those things by yourself. Yes, people are making the wrong choice. Yes, he is heartbroken over what they’re doing. But he ain’t gonna let you be there by him by yourself and go through it alone. And I think people miss that. Because it’s such a beautiful thing to know that we’re never alone. Because if I, if I could strip humanity down to one thing, you like, take all the little ways that we protect ourselves. And the way we make things, look in our our vices and whatnot, and we strip it down is the fear of being alone. Being left alone abandoned. I think that’s where, because we were created for a relationship, right. And so that’s why Satan takes that is such a powerful weapon. But God comes along and rewrites it, saying, I was right there. There was an incident I shared with you. And if I’m talking too much, just let me know. But there was an incident that I shared with you about that the reason I had abandoned issues with my mother, she would always threaten to leave you, she would always threaten that you do that I’m gonna leave you right here. Well, she did one day, she left me there for a couple hours with my brother. And so we’re walking along the side of the road trying to think I mean, I was trusting my brother, He’s a year older. So I’m thinking he knows where he’s going. I think he said him, when all of a sudden she pulls up, and we get in the car. So her threats became very real to me. And so I began to have a reoccurring dream of her leaving the various places. And that was just a fear of mine that I had for many years. And I asked the Lord through some Theophostic prayer counseling, and I said, Where were you? Like, where were you in that moment that the change my life, and he gave me a vision, I’m getting a little softer here. But he gave me a vision, and that he was walking beside me. And he had his hand on my back in the middle of my back. And he’s looking down to me, like he’s either talking to me or caring for me in some way. And that healed my abandonment issues. And I’m not saying I feel like it’s the last piece of abandonment. But if I get triggered again, then that just means I have some more healing to bring to him to talk to him about it. But that one, vision, healed years of abandonment issues.
Amy Watson 57:34 That’s so precious.
It was it really was so precious. And it’s just the faithfulness of our God who we don’t understand. I say so many times, probably one of the most
recited verses on my podcast, is Hebrews 4:15. Or the Bible says we do not serve a high priests who is unfamiliar with our sufferings. And so for me, when I got into the Where were you, you could have an even Sherrie thinking, you were there you watched, and the vision that the Lord gave me, and this has been many years ago is Jesus hanging on the cross and his father having to turn his back on him. And then then just that understanding of Hebrews 4:15, that we do not serve a high priest who doesn’t get to be an abandoned, you know what I’m saying? Jesus, as far as we know, had a decent childhood, so no childhood trauma going on there. But he absolutely understands our suffering. Well,
I feel like I’ve been to church today. It’s not very often on my own podcast that I walk away with my cup filled, but you are the host of a podcast called Finding God in our pain. And I think that you have absolutely found God in your pain. I had the great honor of being on your podcast. And we will put how to how to contact Sherrie into the show notes. And so as we close here, Sherrie, you will hear this when the podcast drops, but there is a song by Phil Baker called marked by you that he has allowed me to use and your life is marked by him. And so before I finish up here, Crissy, do you have any final parting words for for our guests here, Sherry and for my buddy,
Sherrie Pilkington 59:11 what an amazing story. Thank you so much for sharing with us.
Amy Watson 59:16 Do you feel because Chrissy and I are kind of going through some stuff. Do you feel like God just Yeah, I’d love you through Sherrie Pilkington today. I really do. I really do. Thank you, ladies for allowing me to be part of my redemption story because I believe that being able to turn around and extend your hand out to someone else or give somebody a heart hug along the way after sharing what you’ve learned.
I believe that’s us taking part in our redemption story. Thank you and it is Joel 2:25 and other verse so often recited that the Lord will restore the years that the locusts have stolen and I’m just so grateful that you refuse to continue to not believe the lie. And so thank you so much for being here today. You are an incredible
An incredible steward of your pain. I want to thank you for your vulnerability here today. It really is my hope that listeners out there, no matter where you are in the world will find hope. Because there is hope. And Sherrie’s story, even though there’s plenty of pain, because she found God and her pain and found him to not to be the only analgesic that sticks for her pain. That doesn’t mean that life is easy. But in the body of pain of real life, she is proving the truth of Philippians one six where God promise, Paul writes, that he will finish that which he started in our life. Sherrie’s life also embodies one of my favorite verses that just mentioned it Joel 225, where we see God redeeming all of the years that the locusts have stolen, we’re behind microphones both of us all the time redeeming the years that the locusts is stolen. Finally, it is my hope that in this episode is highlighted the importance of community, paying attention to Sherrie, the Sherrie’s of the world, the Amy’s of the world, and the Susie’s of the world and the Johnny’s of the world, those experiencing trauma or adverse childhood experience and need your help. Guys, early intervention is so important in healing the negative effects of trauma on the developing brain, who knows how much less traumatic this this loss and Sherrie’s life would have been had she not had to work through a process with God on being abandoned. So as you had so so as we head out of here, we’ll be back in two weeks. It is my prayer, that if your story is like Sherrie’s, and you have not gotten help, that you would seek that help today, either through our efforts here to provide pro bono counseling, you can contact me with that contact me link, or through your own efforts. You don’t have to live in misery, and activated all the time. While childhood trauma can and often does leave lifetime effects, it is never too late to get better. Finally, it is my prayer that Sherrie’s story will help you pay attention
to children in your life. Step in as a community when you feel that you can help on talk on youth pastors, parents, teachers, friends, children are the most precious humans, they aren’t little adults, they need us protecting them. Can you imagine a Sherrie or an Amy with somebody that would come up and protect us? Can you imagine what we would have not had to walk through? When we do this, we equip it. Finally, for you parents out there, you’ve not screwed up your children, I promise. This is for those 10 adverse childhood experiences, not you just yelling at them because they throwing stuff at each other.
We want healthy people walking around. We know that the star of the story who is Jesus the only one to accomplish that for us. If you don’t know the star of story, I would love to share him with you. And I know Sherrie will want to both of our contact information is in the show notes. We are honored I am honored and having a voice to tell people about the God who heals you the God who sees the God who provides and Sherrie to speak over to you when I speak over everybody. When I speak over to Chris he would speak over to myself and when I speak to my listeners all around the world, seven continents. Guys, you are seen
you’re known. You are heard your loved and your valued. See we’ll see you back here, two weeks in the healing zone.
Last year, I did an interview with a young lady who had experienced quite a bit of child abuse. Her story is an important one because as she pointed out child abuse doesn’t always look like the Amy Watson story. Sometimes child abuse can occur in a two parent “intact families”. In some ways, that kind of child abuse is the worst kind, because the child isn’t getting any attention from people like teachers, pastors, youth pastors or any adult because we’ve gotten in our heads that child abuse does not occur in two parent intact homes. This interview with this young lady who tried to take her life as an adult as a result of her experience with child abuse is paradigm shattering and gave me an idea last year.
I called at the lost childhood challenge and for the most part I dreaded it every day because it was just something else that I had to do, something that I had to put on film, meaning that I would tear it apart and be hyper critical of everything that I posted. I have determined that I wouldn’t do it again this year, but so many people responded to it and indicated to me that it made their heart happy to watch an adult who had their childhood stolen from them seeking child like activities. So, here we are April 2022 and the loss childhood challenge of 2022 is on in full force. Those videos are over on my Instagram page and I would love for you to join us, and perhaps seek your own childlike activity and tag me in it and join the fun!
As I was filming one of the videos for this year, it occurred to me that maybe I should try to enjoy it. I did enjoy it and I hope you do too! Since I know not everyone has Instagram, I will also post on Facebook on the podcast page.
Along the way this week, I will post short blogs on child abuse, and I hope you enjoy me acting crazy, keeping it mostly on the ground because gravity is not my friend, and keep it tuned here and the podcast let’s get after this together, because it is never too late to heal!!!
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Amy Watson 0:00 She told me that she thought the machine was broken. Or perhaps the technician was brand new, and just kind of learned in her way. It was just after her 40th birthday. And the mom of six probably found the day spent at the doctor as a huge inconvenience annoyance. Her children ranging from ages 10 to 17, or no doubt at home, wonder where Mama was, and what was for dinner. She described the ultrasound and how she laid on the hard table and a probable cold room. She talked about when the technician took a multiplicity of pictures, and then left the room, returning only to capture additional images. When the phone call came a few days later, the voice on the other end, described her diagnosis as invasive, aggressive, unusual. She described the gut punch, because she heard that news as a mom of six, and the word stroke, fear and all of her because the doctor said you have cancer. She thought of their six children who were dependent on her who had raised them, who would teach them the ways of the world who would keep them safe, who would be there for all of the hallmarks, the graduations, the weddings, who would teach them all of the things that was her responsibility? Aggressive, invasive, unusual. She told me that that’s a good description for maybe some character traits or something else but not a diagnosis. She told me how it felt to lose her hair, and how that made her feel like she was losing her identity. She told me how she had her husband shave her head. She told me how they both sobbed. She told me about her throat closing up as she had an allergic reaction. After her second chemo treatment, she described the fight that often ensued because she had several fainting spells. Sometimes in front of her children. She told me of the radiation. She told me of how she just continued to wonder who would be there for her kids who take care of them. She told me she wasn’t afraid of dying. She told me she wasn’t afraid of meeting Jesus. She just wanted to be a mama to their six kids. But then she told me what Jesus did in the form of his people. She told me about the piece that only comes from him. She told me her story, and she’s here to share it with you today. Today, Tammy Williamson is here to give us the hope of her story as she finishes the rest of the story. The rescue story. This is the Wednesday’s with Watson podcasts. And we are in October of 2021. Let’s drop into this episode with Tammy Williams and as we observe Breast Cancer Awareness Month, but more importantly, the hope that comes Starr.
Hey guys, and welcome to our bonus episode, Wednesdays with Watson. This is October of 2021. And this is the month that we highlight breast cancer awareness. And so today’s episode is a interview with a breast cancer survivor. It is a bonus drop. I hope that you enjoy this conversation was dropped to that right now. Okay, so today I have here with me, the young lady that is going to represent for us this year and the year 2021 As we highlight Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Tammy Williamson. Hey, Tammy, welcome to the podcast. Hey, thanks. It’s so funny because you and I have some connections that are interesting. Your mom and dad worked at the children’s home that I was in. They were not my house parents because by then I had left I was working there actually but so you come from a family of people who love kids you yourself work in and maybe we’ll have some time to talk about what you do you also work with children and at risk youth it seems to me and then we also went to the best College in the world hashtag we are Clearwater, Clearwater, Christian College Alumni right here. And perhaps the moderators of the Facebook page, the CCC memories will allow us to post this episode because we are Clearwater Christian College alumni. And so well, let’s just jump right into it. And so I have one question for you. Because this is, this is just something that everybody’s gonna want to know. And I especially want to know, you are a mom to six kids. And okay, and they range from right now what ages do they range from?
Tammy Williamson 5:32 The youngest one is 18, and the oldest one just turned 26.
Amy Watson 5:36 Okay, so six kids. So did you always want a big family?
Tammy Williamson 5:41 No, well, no, we were gonna have three.
Amy Watson 5:44 Yeah, and then, and then not. I wanted one more. And then Surprise, surprise. Gotcha, gotcha. And how do they break up between boys, boys and girls?
Tammy Williamson 5:54 boy, girl, boy, boy, girl, boy. So we have four boys, two girls.
Amy Watson 5:58 Wow. Very, very cool. And so I bet that makes life interesting. Although you’re kind of on the back nine of it now with your 18 year old is that is your 18 year old in college or a senior in high school.
Tammy Williamson 6:09 He is leaving maximum for the Air Force.
Amy Watson 6:12 Oh, my gosh, thank you and him for that!
Tammy Williamson 6:15 he will be our fourth military child.
Amy Watson 6:18 Wow. Do you guys come from a military family?
Tammy Williamson 6:22 My dad was Air Force. But that’s all
Amy Watson 6:25 Wow. Well, thank you on behalf of a grateful nation, but especially me, because that is a heat. We know that the families also, you know, pay the price, you know, and it’s so interesting. As a segue, this is a podcast about post traumatic stress disorder. And one of the reasons why I started is because people just thought, hey, you know, PTSD is just a military thing. And we have spent I think, by the time your episode drops, it’ll be 44 or 45. episodes, telling people that PTSD is not just something in the military, and full disclosure, you have not been diagnosed with PTSD. But we are going to discuss today your breast cancer journey and how how you can help those people who are on the other side who have earbuds in right now who are listening to your story. And so let’s just jump right into this. So our listeners heard your story. At the beginning of the podcast, of particular potency to me, when you were telling me the story was that day when you and I got chills, even speaking to you right now, the day, when you were laying on what was probably a hard table in a cold room, getting an ultrasound, you’re going to be able to tell that story better than I can walk us through that day. So obviously, you had found something that the doctor said, we need to take care of this, you ended up in a room with an ultrasound tech. Tell me that story.
Tammy Williamson 7:55 So the doctor had said he was he was going to send me for some more testing because I had found this lump and I was already at the doctor’s office. And he said it would probably just be a mammogram, no big deal. And then if they need to, though, they might do an ultrasound, just wait and see. So I got there and they did the mammogram and the one side, she did like three images. And she was done. And she did right side where my cancer later they found it almost seemed like she didn’t know what she was doing. Because she kept redoing some of the tests and then having me move just a little more and doing it again. she’d leave the room, she came back, she left and it just didn’t feel right. But she wouldn’t say a word about it. And then after a few minutes, the next time she came back, she goes, You know what, Here, put this on, and she gave me like a little robot, she goes, we’re just gonna go down the hall. Like, I don’t think the machine’s broken. Here I am with my sarcasm like that I break it. Like what happened, you know, she still doesn’t give me any indication. And we go to another room and, and they do an ultrasound on it doesn’t tell me anything else just, oh, we’re just gonna do a quick ultrasound to double check things. And then she sent me home. And I had to wait for the doctor, like, you know, they’re not super fast to call you, like a week or so. And they scheduled an appointment, how many come in? And so not only did they call and say, Hey, we need you to come in, but they wouldn’t tell me anything.
Amy Watson 9:23 Wow. So when you because a lot of people are going to be listening to this because we’re going to promote it everywhere, you know, in 50% of this country. And there are men, by the way who get breast cancer, you know, are women and so there are going to be people listening. And we both went to Clearwater Christian College. So it stands to reason that we’re both Christians. And so I know that you believe in the star of the story that we talked about on this podcast, but can you can you invite us into your headspace for a minute, especially when she was walking out and walking in walking out walking in? I mean, were you just kind of like your typical Enneagram seven which we’ll get to In a minute, and this is no big deal, just something’s going on, or did you go to a dark place in your head? At that moment?
Tammy Williamson 10:08 You know, I started out with what is she doing? She does not know what she’s doing. Yeah, maybe she’s new and then I kind of and and before I even got there, I was like, it’s probably something stupid like an ingrown hair or a bot fly or something really ridiculous. Like I was just picturing just weird. And but then the more she came in and out, and she showed no expression, the more I was like, this is like a sucker punch to the gut like this is this is not right, whatever it is, I could tell. I had never had a mammogram before, but I knew that what was going on wasn’t normal.
Amy Watson 10:47 Yeah, cuz you were barely 40. It either just turned 40. Or what was turning,
Tammy Williamson 10:52 I found the lump the day before my 40th birthday. Wow.
Amy Watson 10:55 And so then the doctor when they finally did give you the diagnosis they gave, they use words like aggressive, invasive, unusual. Invite me into your head now.
Tammy Williamson 11:10 I believe I actually said to him, something to the effect of well, in fact, that might be a good thing as as a character trait or a way to describe somebody that is not one I hear what I want to hear about a diagnosis. anything positive, you can say about this. And if he he had no humor, and he just just kept saying all his other big words. And he’s like, Well, this is not normal. people your age don’t get this. This isn’t it? He didn’t. He didn’t make it sound like I was on my deathbed. But he also wasn’t encouraging at all. It was very surreal.
Amy Watson 11:51 Were you scared?
Tammy Williamson 11:53 It oddly enough, I wasn’t scared. For me. I wasn’t scared about dying. I wasn’t scared about meeting Jesus, I was scared. Just a minute, I don’t I don’t like emotions. And I was scared that my kids were gonna have to grow up without a mom.
Amy Watson 12:18 Yeah. And I want to let that breathe for a minute. Because I think that that is going to resonate so heavily with our listeners, is that you are afraid that your kids are going to have to grow up without a mom. And so as we were going back and forth on preparing for this episode, we talked about this. And I gotta be honest with you, Tammy, one of the things that I did not see coming when I developed the Wednesday’s with Watson podcasts. And this keeps happening is that my guest began to enter into even more healing as they tell their story. And it’s just the power of story. And particularly if you’re a Christian, the power of story to impact somebody else. And so, so I dive down a little bit. And this is the second time I’ve heard tears from you. And I cried when I first heard it, because we process this over, over Voxer. So I pushed a little bit, tell the listeners this story about your daughter. And the question that she asked her dad, and then I want to lead into something else from there.
Tammy Williamson 13:27 So we raised our children in a Christian home, and they were all in Christian School to different schools at the time because of their age ranges. But she was at a Christian High School 15. And she was at the same school where her father taught. And one day right after a couple of days after the diagnosis, it might have been like after their chapel or something. She she went and found her father in the hallway. And she was emotionally a train wreck. And she just buried her head in his chest. And she said, Why did God give my mother cancer?
Amy Watson 14:07 Another thing that I want to let breathe because from from the mouth of babes, right? And so this was in 2000. And it was 13. Right? And so then, so as you and I were processing through this, you sent that same daughter a text message because I said, I asked you I said what did Jeff say back to her? And you said about oh, no, let me ask her. So I want to read. So when you reached out to her and said, What did your dad say to you? When you asked that question, this was her text exchange with you. And I’m going to read the text message with your permission to do that that she sent to you. He said something along the lines of I don’t know why. Sometimes God puts us in hard situations in our life to grow us into teach us and ultimately to draw us closer to him. I don’t know why He chose to give us his heart situation and the form of mom’s cancer. But we need to trust that he has a bigger plan than we can see. And that was a good answer, because he just said, I don’t know why God decided. And I think that was, that’s the best thing a parent can say. So then after that, you thanked her. And then after that, this is what she said. She said, I was 15. And so this is for those of you out there, maybe with a mom who has cancer, she said I was 15. So if I were to give another 15 year old advice, if they were in the same situation, is that I wish that someone would have told me that it wasn’t about me, I wasn’t the one sick, I wasn’t the one in pain, I should have thought of what I could have been doing for you. And for the family. Too many people kept checking on me to see how I was handling it, which made me think that the situation was about me having a sick mom, I wish someone would have showed me how I could have been more of a help to you or the family, I was so consumed with the fear that I might lose my mom, and what that might look like for my future, instead of what my mom was actually going through. The best advice I have for a child going through what we went through, is that it’s important to be persistent. And to remember, the person is sick is probably more scared than you are. And so that is her message to children out there who have moms with breast cancer or really any terminal disease. And then you sent me another message from your son, who also is given advice, I would say, and he quotes life is unknown and painful. But we have right now at least spend as much time with people or the person that you love as you can while you can. Because we never know what tomorrow may hold. Anything can happen at any time, no need to worry about what may happen when things are uncertain. He goes Idk. And for those of you don’t know what that means, I don’t know. That’s tough. And so I’m really grateful that your kids was able to give us messages. And that was just two of your six that gave messages to children out there whose moms are have breast cancer or really any other terminal disease. I do want to ask you, though, on that first text that your daughter sent you. Was that surprising to you? Like she thought it was about her? How did that hit your mom’s heart this many years later?
Tammy Williamson 17:45 It wasn’t surprising, because she she was a little more standoffish and she was like I was always checking. Are you okay? How’s everybody doing? You know? And I guess I didn’t know that she felt like that. But I don’t think I was super surprised. Her sisters reply. I was a little more surprised.
Amy Watson 18:05 Do you have that right there? Can you read that to us?
Tammy Williamson 18:08 I do. Now her sister was only 11. Kira, she says I felt scared, mostly just scared of the unknown. I think I was 11. At the time, I wasn’t sad. I didn’t cry. Because I just didn’t know what was going to happen. I was scared of not having a mother kept picturing this sad image of dad holding our hands and crying and telling us you’re gone. That would instantly put me into a very dark mood. Didn’t feel like talking to anyone really, because what was there to say? We didn’t know anything about how bad it was in the beginning. As time went on, and we learned it wasn’t too severe and wasn’t necessarily life threatening. I felt a bit more peace, that seeing you become disabled and sick was hard. The Times you passed out or especially terrifying. But how do you as a child, protect the person that’s meant to keep you safe? It was a strange thing. I’ve never really had to sit and think about it. And you feel very helpless. Like you’re just a bystander watching the invincible force in your life fate. And watching you cry over your hair and your body was upsetting. I can’t put my finger on what but it made me cry. I wanted to shave my head for some reason, because to me hair wasn’t a big deal. And I didn’t understand. But you are a grown woman in your eras important part of beauty to you. If I were to give advice to a kid to go through this, I’d say protect them from the harsher parts. Give them the reassurance of your love for them. Keep them by your side during the times that you’re home healing and give them as many hugs as you can. I still treasure the memories of me and mom just hanging out into her room watching old movies and laughing and making snacks or going to the grocery store together and she let me help get the stuff off the shelf. That made me feel less helpless. I didn’t get that one on one time with her a lot I think gave me a lot of comfort in the moment. But she did, I think I sent you a little picture of her in the grocery cart pushing me at the grocery card, and
Amy Watson 20:09 I’m not crying, you’re not crying listeners, you’re crying. Wow, so powerful. And so while you’ve never been diagnosed with PTSD, and I’m not saying that your children would have either this is just me being a friend to you, it is likely that as you’re seeing that there is some residual effects to them. Because PTSD, by definition, is when your safety is compromised. And while my mom was an a great mom, and I didn’t live with her my whole life, I was 10 years old when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. And I remember how I like I couldn’t have articulated it better than your daughter just did. And so for those listeners out there who have kids, Tammy is clearly on the other side of this and you and you heard that in the cold opening. That’s the spoiler alert is that she is a survivor of breast cancer. But you can see just he can hear in her voice, and I’m watching the tears and I’ve had tears and we’ve all had tears over this, but no breast cancer survivors out there. If you have children to watch for these things, we talk about counseling all the time on this podcast, this is probably a good time to get your children in counseling if you’re a parent, and particularly if you’re a mom with a terminal illness. There’s another story I want you to tell and then I promise I’m done making you stop crying is and your daughter they’re referred to shaving her head. I sobbed. When you told me this story, I want you to tell listeners.
Tammy Williamson 21:42 Ah, so the doctor told me that yes, I would probably lose my hair. But it would probably take maybe six weeks till it started fall out. I had really long hair. I’ve always had long hair. It’s very thick. People usually comment on it when I go places. So when he told me it would probably fall out, I cut it really short, like, almost to my shoulders because I didn’t want clumps and clumps of long hair falling out. I thought that would be easier to deal with. And I was horrified. Even with it short, I didn’t like it. So I was I knew once it came out it was I was I was gonna be very unhappy. But I thought I still had time. Two weeks, maybe it started coming out by the handfuls like, there was no way to hide it. There was nothing I rushed to the store the wig store and looked at all these wigs. I didn’t know what I was doing. I did a lot of them didn’t fit well, because small My head’s kind of small to have like little things where you can tighten them. And then while I was there, cracking my jokes as usual. I I thought you know what, I never dye my hair, I’m gonna do something different. So I did, I got a blonde wig. And I went, Oh, we’ve won like platinum, blonde. And short it was it was cute. And I went home and after the kids went to bed that night, I had my husband shaved my head, and I don’t think I’ve ever cried that much about myself that I can remember. Um, we both cried. We both sobbed. And then I think I cried myself to sleep that night. Because I felt like I was losing my identity.
Amy Watson 23:31 Yeah, that will resonate with other people out there who, who you know what I’m saying? Cuz it wasn’t really about the hair. I think it was kind of about this emotional release. Which kind of leads me into this next question. We do not have you. I wish I could do a whole series on the Enneagram and trauma but you’re not part of that series. But I do want to address it because you said something a couple times. Now. You say you’ve taken the test and it typed you as a type seven, which I call the good time Charlie’s, which my memories of you is just that right Enneagram type seven because we want it we’re trying to help people know that if you’re aware of how you how God made you, then you could also be aware of how to process loss and trauma. So as an Enneagram seven sevens do not like to be trapped in emotional pain and they will do anything they can do to not be trapped in emotional pain. I have a friend and as a matter of fact the person that that will be our Enneagram seven in that series would travel the world and you know, some people abuse substances, food, all the things you clearly use that unbelievable sense of humor and sarcasm, didn’t you? Oh yes all the time. I everything everywhere I go everything I do. Yes. Yeah, it’s so so any gram sevens out there hear me you know when I say that? She used sarcasm and humor and all the things and Tammy is doing okay. You know, I’m looking You never hear on Zoom. And she doesn’t appear to have have been incredibly traumatized by this. But there have been tears because as you revisit this time in your life, it is kind of like that poem footprints in the sand, when at the very end when there’s only one set of footprints, and and Jesus says it was Ben that I carried you. And I don’t know about you to me, but I look back at my own breast cancer journey and my own life and my own all of that. And I think, how in the world did I get through that, and I get those words in my head from that poem, it was then that I carried you. And so for those of you out there listening, I think that it’s just by the pure grace of God, that when we’re going through something as intense as this, that we don’t feel the intensity of it, because we can’t really wrap our heads around it. But don’t be surprised at breast cancer survivors or any survivors of any trauma. Because that’s happened to me when you get on the other side of it sometimes, that is when you fall apart. That is when the emotions happen. And that is when and life wasn’t great for you. And that this is not something we’re going to cover on this podcast, because it’s not our story to tell. But life wasn’t great for you after this, you had a significant loss after this. And so So you’ve had a tough road, but you’ve just remained faithful. One of the things Tammy that this podcast also focuses on is the importance of community. And you gave me a couple of examples. And I just want you to pick one, maybe your favorite of how community showed up for you and your family during this time.
Tammy Williamson 26:31 Absolutely. It. It was amazing the amount of people and it was hard for me to choose just one. But I think the biggie the most shocking, amazing one. Mind you. We had six kids, we did not drive a minivan. I drove a mega van, it was how do you fit eight people. And one morning, well into the chemo and treatments and all of that. The van didn’t start and come to find out I believe we needed a transmission, which we were already strapped for money from bills, cancer bills to six kids in private school to, you know, food. So my children, you know, a Christian school they have, they had prayer time every morning with our class and the youngest one when they were the teacher asked for prayer requests. He raised his hand and he told them to pray about a vehicle wasn’t working. And he didn’t know all about what it was. He just the vehicle wasn’t working. And all the kids in the class already knew his mom had cancer because they’d already been praying for it. And one of the little girls in the class she went home and she told her mom and mom told her ladies prayer group, ladies prayer group prayed about it. One of the ladies and ladies prayer group has a husband who owns a local dealership. She went home and she told her husband about it. And he I don’t know what he did. He ran she had the thing towed to his one of his dealerships because he had multiple ones had it repaired. And when I went to pick it up a week later, they handed me this bill itemized and it was huge. They crossed out the final number. But everything I mean, I didn’t pay a dime, but they gave it back to me crossed out with with everything on there, what they did change replacing a transmission. In the meantime, the little girl the first little girl, her mother loaned us her father’s car. He’s a surgeon. He rode his bicycle to work every day that week. And I swear it rained every day it was rainy season as a surgeon rode his bicycle to work every day so that we would have a vehicle that can fit the kids and get everybody to school because you can’t put eight people in a Toyota Corolla. And and then while we had his vehicle, one of the guests window down and it didn’t go back up. And we had yet another friend come in, who owned a different dealership and fix that window and didn’t charge us for it. And wow, that day. I mean, it was just amazing.
Amy Watson 29:12 Yeah, and, and we know that we can’t do life. We just can’t do life without community. And you also told me of meals that were brought, and we could go on and on and on. And so survivors are people going through this right now. Do not forget the importance of community. I know that not everybody that listens to this podcast believes in Jesus or the star of the story. And in this case, this is how this has happened. This happened. This came from basically local church wood or a Christian school, that it came from the body of Christ and the way of community. But this question is going to be a little a little raw and a little hard for you to answer but you’re a strong woman. You have six kids Hashtag we are clear water. We’re strong, smart and dependent, well educated people. How was it for you? How did you feel when all these people were pouring into you given that, like I said, at the beginning of the podcast, your parents worked at a children’s home, you now are kind of in a similar vein. And so clearly you’re you have a heart for service. How was that like for you? I really, really want to know.
Tammy Williamson 30:28 It. It was almost awkward, like I had hadn’t been in that position very much. Because usually I was on the giving end of things and making sure everybody else was okay. I’m also a mental health counselor, I’m always making sure everybody else is okay. And most people don’t ask me and if they do, I say something witty, and we move on. So to be on that receiving end, it took a little getting used to the kids loved all the food, they were like, Wow, mom, this is better than i Whoa, let’s not go there. So, it but it was, I believe it’s harder for their father than it was for me to accept it. But it was just unusual. It was almost like being in an awkward situation where you don’t know what to say. I didn’t know what you know what to say?
Amy Watson 31:19 Yeah. Do you feel like that? And you can decline to answer this question. But was there pride involved? Like, I don’t, I don’t need a hand up or hand down or hand or anything. I don’t need this. I can fight this. We can do this. Was there any of that for you?
Tammy Williamson 31:35 I don’t think so. I just felt like I was so surprised that I don’t know why, because it’s the body of Christ. But I sometimes felt surprised that they would do so much. I mean, people from out of state that I barely knew from former churches were sending things. But I’m on the flip side of that, again, I was a mental health therapist, I work for a mental health facility, not one coworker, or employer sent me a note checked on me, gave me a paid day off, like, I didn’t get paid unless I work, nothing from work. Everything was from the body of Christ, from the Christian schools, to the church to family and friends from out of the area that were also Christians from work.
Amy Watson 32:25 That is so sad to me. And so, you know, again, we go back to church, which is one of the season our podcasts and the importance of church. The other see that I want to ask you about is did you ever, during or after seek counseling to process any of this?
Tammy Williamson 32:47 As a matter of fact, no, I am a mental health counselor and I, I did not. I’m very good at getting other people to tell me about their emotions. But I very good at not talking about mine.
Amy Watson 33:01 Do you? Can you when you look back on it? Do you see how maybe counseling could have been advantageous for not only you but for your children?
Tammy Williamson 33:09 Definitely. Especially for my children. I felt like I I wasn’t as worried for me. I was just wanting to make sure they were okay. And I spent most of my focus on them. So I didn’t have really a lot of time to worry about what was going on with me. I was just like, long as my kids are okay.
Amy Watson 33:27 Yeah, yeah. And so you know, and I don’t think that’s uncommon. I think that when, when you’re faced with a crisis like that counseling is not going to be top of mind. But for those of you out there listening, who are still struggling, or maybe did get PTSD, and we’ve talked many times why some people will actually get a PTSD diagnosis after something like this, and why some people won’t. It’s just the way your were made. It doesn’t have anything to do with how strong your faith is. It doesn’t have anything to do with, you know, how smart you are, how much money you have, some people are just going to be pushed outside of that window of tolerance that we talked about, and some aren’t. But it’s always good to go out and push it out in this particular case, particularly your kids. And I want to close the podcast with this story. Because I think it’s so powerful. You told me a story, because you brought your kids up several times now. And even when we talked about it, and you have six of them, and so they’re a big deal, right? You told me a story that I think that maybe people who are going through breast cancer right now would love this thing that you did as it pertains to your children. And it just speaks to your heart and the heart of mom who who loves Jesus and who clearly knows how to be a parent and that’s foreign to me. I have no context for this. And so when you told me this part, I actually kind of ugly cried because you were so concerned with your kids. What did you do that first Mother’s Day
Tammy Williamson 35:00 So all along the whole time, I was so worried about every event was could be our last because I didn’t know. I mean, I had heard that a lot of people survived it. But I also heard some people don’t. So every event was a, this could be my last. And so Mother’s Day that year, I insisted on taking the kids to lunch, we, we don’t go out much we never did it just, you know, it’s expensive. But I took them. And I, of course, went to a place that kids like, I didn’t pick, you know, my favorite restaurant and pick their favorite restaurant. And we had a fun little lunch and shakes and and then I wrote them on Mother’s Day cards, which most people are like, Why would you do that? Because I wanted to tell them how important they were, how unique they were, how loved they were. And I didn’t want them to have a question. That, yeah, so I wanted to make sure I’m and I actually, somehow along the way, I feel like I managed to steal each one of them back and I put it in their baby book so that one day they they will have that still because who knows where kids put things you know, like, under their dresser in the closet. So I just wanted to make sure she would something happened down the road, they still would have that little bit of an oftentimes I find myself when Mother’s Day come around. I don’t know that I’ve done it every year. But I wasn’t in the me to note something just unique. Just telling them why they’re so important not because of any thing they’ve done no trophy they’ve earned but just how I love them for them.
Amy Watson 36:41 You know, you bring up that that last thing that there’s less words that you just used is happens to be a lyric of one of my favorite songs that’s popular right now, where it says I’ve never been more love than I am right now it doesn’t take a trophy to make you proud. But I’ve never been more loved than I am right now and what you did, Tammy, and again, I have no context for this because I didn’t have a mom that that cared, or that needed to be a mom. But how precious that you did that for them. And that you and that’s what this podcast is about to is that you are known and seen and heard and loved and valued for who you are not because of what you do that because of who you are. Because God decided to wake you up that morning. And so I love that. And I thought that the listeners would love that. And I think it’s just so precious, especially that you kept it. And I just think of I think of a verse When I think of you now this now you have to kind of read the entire chapter of John chapter 11. Because when Jesus says this verse that I’m getting ready to say, he’s talking cryptically a little bit, right. But we can apply it here in some ways where it was when Lazarus was sick. And of course, Jesus didn’t come didn’t come. And he’d said to his disciples, and John 1124, it says, this sickness is not unto death, but unto the glory of My Father who is in heaven. And what I want to say to you, Tammy is that sickness, thank you, Jesus wasn’t unto physical death of Tammy Williamson on this planet. But today, on this day that we’re recording this podcast, and it’ll be out there in podcast land forever. This sickness was unto the glory of our heavenly Father, the star of the story, Jesus, who we highlight on this podcast. And so thank you for being here today. And I just want to I want to give the microphone to you as we close out the podcast or any message you have for anyone out there, who who is either diagnosed and surviving his children. The mic is yours for anything that you would like to say to people who find themselves in the position that you were in. Well, I
Tammy Williamson 38:48 found a lot of people when they go through something they they keep going back to why me why me and one of my biggest thoughts through the whole thing was why not me one an honor that God would choose me to use as an example for my kids as they hadn’t gone through any hard times before. Why not let them go through that in a safety of their home for for the people that I’ve talked to since then, that are going through stuff to help them through and to show him like, you can go through this gracefully however, I mean, probably wasn’t perfect. I probably really messed up a few times, but he got me through it, you know, why not? Me so that that that was kind of the biggie and, you know, spend a lot of time in prayer. Find find an older Christian lady to talk to they have a lot of time on their hands, they love that kind of thing. And then they’ll pray for you like nobody else. Go to a counselor. You need to tell get your close friends a lot of my Clearwater buddies like, we we get together twice a year and through that time, we we got together There are a couple times and it wasn’t just me gone through it, one of the girls daughters was going through cancer. So we I mean, we had that bond where we were there to support each other and pray for each other. And they check in on me all the time.
Amy Watson 40:12 So basically, Tammy is preaching the Wednesday was with Watson podcast message, she’s saying, Go to the star of the story, go to your community, get counseling if you need it. And I love what you just said, Why not me? So often, we will indict God and say, How can a good God give a mom of six cancer? How can that even happen? And if we flip that question of, I’m so honored that he picked me as a steward of this suffering. You know, one of my favorite verses in the Bible often quoted on this podcast is is Romans chapter eight, verse 58, where the Bible says, I want you to know that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared to the glory that will be revealed in us. And the translation of that is like what we deal with down here cannot be compared with the beauty that is going to be made in eternity, the weight of glory, some translations say that this suffering cannot be compared to the glory that will be revealed in us. And so thank you so much for being here with us today. We are Clearwater hashtag. I’m so grateful for you, I am grateful that you’re in this world. I’m grateful for what you how you show up in this world. And I hope that this experience has been somewhat cathartic for you as it has for me. And both of those things have been really unexpected for me on this podcast. And so I so appreciate what you do. I so appreciate you being here. And this episode will drop on the October the 27th 2021. And attached to that episode will be a little gift from me to you. And so I can’t wait for you to hear that. So thank you so much to me for being here with us today. Thank you guys, I hope that you enjoyed that episode. My friends call me William said, I hope that it brought hope to you. I hope that you gain some knowledge as to how to do life with people with terminal illnesses or illnesses that lives. While you’re at it, make sure while you’re on that podcast app that you if you’re not subscribed that you just open it up, follow or subscribe an apple podcast that’s the top right hand corner and other than that, I encourage you to head over into our patreon account where we have bonus content.
Happy Thursday! Here is what is in my earbuds today! Music heals, maybe you will find some encouragement today! Comment on the blog any songs I should add to my playlist!
“Sparrows, by Cory Ausbury”
My favorite lyric in this song…”You Take Good Care Of Me” over and over I recite these words, because I believe them. I know that God can operate inside His character even in a world that is not kind. The Bible tells us He cares about the sparrows, how much more does he care about us?
“Believe For It”
This song has been in my ear buds for two years, it was a go to track for me during the pandemic. This song is filled with Hope, “we know that Hope is never lost, for there is still an empty grave…”. There is so much power in His name! Do you believe it?
“They say this mountain can’t be moved, they say these chains will never break, but they don’t know You like we do, there is power in Your name. We have heard there is no way through, that the tide will never change, they haven’t seen what You can do, there is power in Your name. Move the immoveable, break the unbreakable, God we believe, God we believe for it. From the impossible, we will see a miracle, God, we believe, we believe for it.”
“The God Who Stays”
This song is like sweet honey to my sometimes bitter-ish spirit. It is hard to trust in a God Who we can not see, but I find Him incredibly trustworthy because..
“You are the God who stays, You are the God Who stays, you are the one who runs in my direction when the whole world walks in my direction when the whole world walks away, you are the God who stands with open arms and you tell me that there is nothing that I have ever done can separate my heart from the God Who stays.”
“Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus”
Natalie Grant and The Belonging Company
This has been a long time favorite of mine, but this version by Natalie Grant took her to her knees as it did me. The things of earth and the things we worry about truly are dim when outshined by Jesus. Will you turn your eyes upon the anchor of our Hope?
“No light in the darkness you see, but just one look at the Savior is life more abundant and free, just look up, help is on the way. Turn, turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full, look full in his wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim, when you turn, turn your eyes upon Him”