Shame, Trauma, and Self-Worth with Gail Wisner

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In this episode, Gail Wisner joins me for a deep conversation on boundaries, addiction, self-worth, emotional suppression and expression, the value of sitting in discomfort, and learning to trust your intuition after it has been inhibited. 

This deeply vulnerable conversation highlights some of the darker sides of being human while simultaneously shedding light on the power of self-love and the deep connection between pain and joy.

We also discuss women’s role in the patriarchy and how our relationships with ourselves influences our relationships with partners. This episode encompasses themes that plague many of us (especially women) but may not always feel appropriate to talk about—unless you’re paying to sit on a therapist’s couch. In a world rife with division, this conversation is deeply human. 


Over the past 10 years, Gail’s health and business coaching has evolved into coaching parents and teens. She says, “Health and well-being is defined not only by where you live and what you eat, but how you treat yourself and those around you. We are deeply connected and affected by all those in our family unit, even when they are not in our physical proximity. Therefore, our health and well being directly impacts the health and well being of our spouse and children. When we take the time to integrate past traumas or other life challenges, it allows us to live a life that is free of worry, stress, sadness and fear. Instead, we get to live a life of vibrant health, meaning and purpose, and of course joy and abundance.” 

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Alyssa Patmos 0:04

This is Make It Mentionable. I’m Alyssa Patmos and this is the show about being human in a world that encourages us to be robots. I invite you to join me as we journey through the mess, the magic and the mania in between. Because what we can talk about, we can manage. This honest conversation extravaganza includes free flowing conversations and high doses of vulnerability to remind you that you aren’t alone. No topic is off limits, and episodes are designed to leave you smarter, aka more self aware than when you came. I am so glad you’re here. Welcome back to make it mentionable. Today I am here with Gail Wisner, and we are talking about relationships with men. And in a world where a lot of times you know, we’re blaming the patriarchy where we’re expecting more of men, we’re talking about the things that that influence for relationships with men as a whole. So Gail, thank you so much for being here. I’m really excited to have this conversation with you.

Gail Wisner 1:20
Thank you so much for having me.

Alyssa Patmos 1:23
Can you let listeners, watchers know a little bit about you? who you are, what lights you up? What do you love?

Gail Wisner 1:35
Okay, well, let’s see if we can do that in this think manner. Because I’m still multi dimensional, so many different parts of me as there are with a lot of other people. Um, so right now I am, I’m coach. I’ve done health coaching, business coaching, parenting, coaching, Relationship Coaching, kind of all of it. And I guess the common thread is really transformational coaching, which is about transformation. That is what lights me up. I also am a real estate agent, and I do real estate. So I, they’re both parts of my life. One is the cerebral one is in my heart. And both of them feed me and allow me to really connect and be of service to people, which is what really lights me up.

Alyssa Patmos 2:29
That’s great. The world needs more of that. So I know a little bit of your story. And I want to feel people tuning in in on that as well. So how did you What about this transformational process? How did you get involved in it in the first place?

Gail Wisner 2:51
Yeah, great question. So my childhood was very challenging. I grew up in an alcoholic home. My father was an alcoholic. There was a lot of chaos and drama, intense emotional and verbal abuse, and sometimes physical abuse too. And I’m also an incest survivor. My mother was pretty much emotionally absent, completely, oftentimes physically absent because she couldn’t handle my father. So she would run away to her mother and leave us with him. And she never touched me growing up. I got zero physical touch. When I was walking at seven months, I was very early in everything. I was very verbal. You know, by the time I was a year, I was talking. So once I was walking on my own, I don’t remember her ever picking me up touching me. No, I love you nothing. That was a distancing. I do suspect they don’t know. We’ve never talked about it. But I do suspect that she was sexually abused too. Because I am a strong believer, you know, after the work I’ve done that it’s generational. And when we are sexually abused, and we don’t feel our own trauma, we pass it down to the next generation. And that is ultimately I mean, I’ll get to that, but that is ultimately what led me on a path of really healing. Because at the time when I started my healing, I didn’t love myself. I hated myself. So why would I do all this work to heal myself? But when I learn and realize that I’m going to be passing the song and do I want you know, um, you know, my children? Well, I mean, I have one son, but I’m like, you know, it could be my granddaughter do I want my granddaughter to be sexually abused? Because she doesn’t know how to speak up and say no. And and I said, No. So I went on a path of healing, you know, and it’s been a long journey. I think I really started my healing journey in 2002 when I got divorced because I married somebody just as abusive as my father and that’s what we do you know when when we have abuse unless we draw and really understand the dynamic and the pattern behind it, it is inevitable that we’re just going to repeat it and so it’s been a long journey of understanding with love and compassion why I did what I did not from a place of judgment because in my experience it doesn’t work when we’re judging ourselves or pushing ourselves to change though that will be loved you know, when it’s for the wrong reasons it just doesn’t work and so there were definitely times when it was for the wrong reasons and it always backfired but um but ultimately what I learned and what I believe in my entire you know with every essence in my body is it doesn’t matter what our background is it doesn’t matter how much trauma and abuse that we went through we all have the power to transform and yes it’s a lot of work and yes it takes time and it’s and they’ll always be remnants of it and triggers and stuff but we can learn how to feel it processes let it go and not get sucked into the same whirlwind and do the same thing and then wonder oh my god why am I a victim yet again? So that’s been my path

Alyssa Patmos 6:46
First I think I thank you for sharing this because there are so many women who who have been through similar things but haven’t found their voice yet and they haven’t felt like they’ve been able to talk about it and there’s power and not feeling alone so thank you for being willing to to share about your story there in furthering helping people not feel feel alone What What was your you talked about judgment and so in the in the self judgment and healing when we’re healing we have to get to this place where we’re able to forgive ourselves and and sort of approach things with more curiosity than just being so incredibly harsh on ourselves but it’s that can be difficult You know, there’s a lot of intense emotion when you get to the point where you’re where you’re actually able to heal so So growing up what what was your relationship with being able to express your emotions and and how did you how did you manage the emotions that that were present? Was it were you burying them down and then eventually they boiled up? What was your journey with that?

Gail Wisner 8:08
Okay, so I didn’t even know what emotions were until. So the way I dealt with it, let’s just say the way I dealt with it was through addiction. Addiction is a big part of my story. Um, alcohol, drugs, men. Food, definitely food I had, you know, exercise bulimia or and eat and worked out for hours because I tried to stick a toothbrush down went through so many times, and it wouldn’t work. So I found drugs so I didn’t have to eat. So I got the drugs instead of the food. And, you know, I grew up in a household where if you felt emotion and someone sense, you’re vulnerable, you’re dead. Like, you’re, you’re the target, you’re the scapegoat. Now you’re going to get laughed at put down. Like it wasn’t safe to feel emotions. Nobody felt emotions in my house. So I learned the first time I even knew what an emotion was, and learn what an emotion was, was when the alcohol and drug use was out of control. And it couldn’t function and I landed in aa. And, you know, it was only when the addiction was down, that I learnt what a feeling was, and that I learned that it’s really safe to feel your feelings. Feelings won’t kill you. It doesn’t matter what the feeling is, the feeling will never kill you. Whether it’s terror or rage, which I had a ton of vote. It was always like a ping pong ball. I’m either in a state of panic or I’m like, going to kill anything and anyone that was the state of my existence. And so yeah, to answer your question, I didn’t feel until everything and it was like, whoa. Yeah, and then

Alyssa Patmos 9:58
So what was that process? Like then because if we go through massive amounts, or very long periods of suppressing emotion, not being able to articulate it, it gets trapped in our body, you know, it’s getting stored somewhere. And then we have this moment of being able to see and feel everything in a different way. It can also feel overwhelming. So what was your experience once the flood hit where it was like, Okay, oh, this is what emotions are, and it’s safe for me. How did that? How did that shift your trajectory?

Gail Wisner 10:33
Right? Well, in the beginning, I was like a raw nerve. I had to literally isolate myself from my entire family, from everything, and everyone I knew. And I, I literally just sat in meetings, like five meetings a day, I just sat in meetings all day. And then I actually ended up doing a six month outpatient program in a hospital because I have to be in a setting where I couldn’t hurt myself, because that’s also part of my story where when the drugs were down, I just wanted to kill myself because I couldn’t handle the emotions, they were too intense. So it was like a tsunami. And, um, you know, I cried, you know, I made up for the entire time in my life when I didn’t cry made up for like a couple of months. So I cried, and I just had to, for me, I just needed to be in a very supportive environment. And then, basically, once I stabilized, you know, off the drugs off the alcohol off the bingeing, and all that once I stabilized, and for six months got like intensive intensive support, I was able to find a coach to be there for me to help me transition back into life. Without the 24 seven support, well, not literally 24 seven, but like without the intensive support. And that is when I knew in my heart, like, this is what I want to do. This is what I want to do coaching because I never realized how powerful coaching is. Now, obviously, some people don’t need to be in an intensive setting for six months, because it all depends on where you’re coming from. But I would never, ever be where I am today, or have been able to slowly learn how to stand on my own feet, how to feel my emotions in my own apartment, because I didn’t trust myself, I was afraid of myself. And so for me, what helped, you know, once the extreme part was over, was the constant coaching and, you know, knowing that I have this person to talk to every week and that I can email her in between. And I’ve had various coaches throughout the year because I think we get different things from different people and at different stages in our life. But coaching I would say is what got me through up until today.

Alyssa Patmos 13:12
So I’m glad you brought up self trust because that is a that is a thing that gets weekend in so many different types of relationships and and whether we like it or not, other people have a lot of influence over us, especially when we’re especially when we’re not in a place where we’re designing our own thoughts where we’re taking full responsibility for our lives. And so you brought up self trust and and not being able to trust yourself, which is something that many people who have been through, you know, almost any type of abuse, they bring up where where it’s this, I no longer knew, like, what was mine, I didn’t know what was theirs. I didn’t know what what was reasonable to ask for. I don’t know, I don’t know how to trust myself anymore. And so for you, I’m assuming given the nature of your story that started young, is that correct?

Gail Wisner 14:07
Yeah, I mean, I know for me that started when I was, you know, when the sexual abuse started, which was I was 11 years old, because and the confusion was, it was a family member. And so you which I trusted completely and totally and loved and admired. So there’s that part of like, here’s this family member that I trust, so they’re older than me and everything they must know what they’re doing and they love me Still they would never hurt me right? When you love someone, you don’t hurt them. But then, you know, I believe that we’re he born with an internal compass that knows right from wrong and deep inside, we know truth, truth is embedded in us. We are born with truth. And so for me, the battle started with my body saying this doesn’t feel good. Emotionally, it just doesn’t feel good. But another part of me says, oh, but this does feel good, because I’m getting a lot of attention right now. And I’m making somebody really happy right now. And I’m feeling really loved right now in this moment. And then there’s huge tremendous guilt and shame around that, that how am I feeling? Even a little bit good? In a situation that is clearly not okay. So that’s where the whole self trust erodes, you know, because of that inner turmoil. So that’s where I believe it happened for me, and similarly with other abuse that wasn’t sexual, but just, you know, my dad belittling me or laughing at me of like, I love my dad. And you know, she is so smart, and he never makes mistakes. So if he’s saying that something’s wrong with me, he must be right. But my instinct says, I didn’t do anything wrong. Why is he yelling at me? So you stop trusting yourself? Because you want to trust the authority figure, because it’s too scary. What am I nine years old, and my dad’s a piece of shit, now I got to figure out how I’m gonna live life without, you know him on my own luck is scary. So it’s easier to negate your own beliefs and your own truth than to acknowledge that somebody else is just, you know, severely damaged, you know,

Alyssa Patmos 16:51
right. I mean, it’s, it becomes a survival mechanism, you’re, you’re dependent on that person, because you’re a child. And so you have to find a way to, to cope and adapt in a way that makes sense of, of your world. And I want to mention that this lack of trust, and I think you explained how the erosion of it can happen really well, where we have this, we have this inner compass, as you said, this inner knowing, and and it’s piping up, it’s having a voice, but it’s in direct conflict with, with what we sort of know we need to survive, and these other things that that we want and desire. And that can happen. I the example that you gave, even with how your dad talk to you, because that can happen, you know, even without sexual abuse, this erosion of self trust from the time when we’re younger. And I think that that ultimately ends up shaping how we can relate to other people. how we relate to ourselves directly informs how we can relate to other people. So So I wanted to talk a little bit about like, obviously, the relationship with your family member the relationship with your dad, those had severely negative consequences, which is the most light version of saying that. But how did that how did that influence your relationships with men in general, when you were younger, other other men in your life?

Gail Wisner 18:17
Yeah, in so many ways. So first of all, I the messaging that I got was that in order for me to be loved, I need to not have any needs. I can’t have needs if I want to be loved, because it has to be all about the other person and their needs. My father was the ultimate narcissist. And still, I invited Narcissus into my life. And the part that I played in it was that in the very beginning, I allowed it to be all about them, you know, what do you want to do? What do you need? Um, there was no me in the equation. And that’s my part. I never asked for anything. And when, you know, a guy would show up habitually late or cancelled. I didn’t speak up and say hey, that’s not okay. My time is valuable. Are you serious about this relationship or not? If you know if you’re not able to keep your commitments, that’s okay. But you’re not the right person for me. See, I never I wasn’t able to say that. So. So the first thing was, I had no needs. The second thing was, which was the biggest thing is the word no, wasn’t in my vocabulary. You know, it was if I say No, he won’t love me. You know, if he won’t love me, and then I’ll be all alone, and no one else is going to want to love me because I’m carrying so much shame around how I was treated growing up, so I had to hold on, you know, To each relationship with dear life, because I just believed that each guy was the last guy that was ever going to love me, this is my last chance. So if I don’t just admit to anything, and everything, even if it went against my own values, you know, um, you know, then then I’d be alone. So there was that. And then it was also the other part was, I did a lot of switching roles, I was the masculine, instead of the feminine in so many of the relationship where I did all the planning, you know, because they were just lazy, like, we’ll do this, this and that. And then also, I would be the one to always surprise them with a gift for, like, be the thoughtful one to leave a note. So it was like, I was doing all the work basically, in the relationship, I was doing all the work. And, you know, and I wouldn’t, you know, I wouldn’t just I’ve never been able to, like in the past to just let go and see what happens. Like, if he doesn’t call again, somebody else will, somebody else will, I don’t need to call him to show him I’m interested. If he’s interested, he will call me and find out if I’m interested. So it’s even those, those those things where, you know, I showed my dependency and my neediness. And the only guys that are attracted to neediness are guys that want to take advantage of women. So, you know, it was like, I had it written all over my forehead abused me, I’m here for abuse, because I don’t believe I’m worthy of more.

Alyssa Patmos 21:49
So that’s wild statement. And, and I, I’ve had experiences of being in in some of the things you said in a less intense way. But some of the things where it’s like Dude, doing everything possible, because they’re gonna leave you if you if you don’t, never saying no, because if you say no, like, are they ever going to say yes to you? Or is it just going to be this perpetual gap in between them eventually going to have to fill back up. And then the similar to never being able to have needs and not knowing how to articulate a need or to say a want in a way that’s, that’s really impactful. And so I think these are coping mechanisms that happen in many forms of, of how we’ve been searching for love, no matter how that was interrupted in the first place. With that, so you just said basically, that these things, these, this, this lack of skill, this this lack of self worth, this lack of recognizing your own worth, and your own value in the situation left you wide open for this type of abuse day, internalize that correctly?

Gail Wisner 23:08
Yes. Yes.

Alyssa Patmos 23:10
So the thing I want to distinguish here, because this is obviously it’s it’s so nuanced, and I mean, those are the conversations that are worth having. So so the new friends here to me is that you are very much a victim. But there’s a difference between the facts of you being a victim, and then you taking on victim consciousness and thinking that everything always fast to happen to you. And so what I’m hearing is that in this, yes, you were absolutely a victim for a large portion of your life. But you had a choice around. Okay, what role did I play? Because life isn’t just happening to me all the time? What, what role did I play in this? And how can I? It’s not even taking control. It’s like taking charge, how can I take charge so that so that this pattern gets interrupted? Is that is that kind of the process that unfolded?

Gail Wisner 24:08
Yes, yes, that is, and one of the things that I learned is that at least for me, this is my experience is that men treat me the way I treat me and specifically my body, my emotions, you know, do I dismiss my emotions because I got to get this done in that done and I don’t really have time to deal with it. So then you get a man who’s in attentive to your needs, and he loves you but he’s just not attentive because he’s busy doing stuff because that’s what I do to me. So what I learned I mean, the thing that shifted for me completely was that I learned that the man in my life is just going to be a mirror. All he is is a mirror. He cannot be any Kinder or meaner to me, than I am to myself. And if I want a man who’s going to be kind and loving, and affectionate, and attentive and supportive and present, and honoring of me, Wherever I am, in whatever moment I am, then that is what I need to be for me, because we all radiate at a certain frequency, right. And that’s just the way it is. And if you’re, you know, if you’re radiating at a really high frequency of 500, and you’re in a state of love, you will never attract or spend more than five minutes with someone who’s looking, you know, just to sleep with you for the night, it just, you won’t even meet the you won’t even need. And so I, I believe that the biggest way women can empower themselves, is by loving themselves. It’s that simple. The more you love yourself, the more the safer, and more protective, you will be with men.

Alyssa Patmos 26:08
I think it’s so important because I mean, I had to, I had to get to the same to the same point through very different circumstances. But there were relationships in there that were completely unhealthy and verbally abusive, at times, never physically abusive. But in that, I spent years and 1000s and 1000s and 1000s of dollars trying to fix myself, it was like, okay, like, I have this person in front of me, who is sending me this message that I’m broken. And I’m throwing money at it, I’m going to sex therapy alone, I’m going to, you know, a version of couples therapy alone. And, and nothing is changing. And so eventually, I had to get to the point where I was like, No, like, I have to accept myself, I have to fully accept myself where I am. Because this endless trying to fix it is is bypassing all of these things that were stored in me that needed to be accepted and and to come out. So my, my experience has has gotten me to the same conclusion that like, the best thing we can do for ourselves is to truly love ourselves the problem that comes in, or I guess it’s the opportunity, and the challenge that comes in is that what the heck does that mean? You know, when you start to get on that journey of like self love, and we have all these messages on Instagram and Facebook of Oh, self love is you know, self care. And then all of a sudden, you have a bunch of women taking bubble baths. But that’s not helping you set better boundaries, that’s not helping you save more, and to get in touch with your own desires. So that the next time someone asks you something, you’re not like, you know, we have that initial inner compass come up, but we shut it down and ask someone else for their opinion instead of trusting our own. Those are the things that are self love. So how did you start to unpack what it and redefine what it was to love yourself?

Gail Wisner 28:18
Yeah, I think that is such an awesome question. And I love that you brought it up. I’m not against bubble baths. But to me, that is relaxation. That is a healthy escape from life, which we all need. And that is not what I define as love. I mean, it’s a part of love relaxation. So for me, what really, really works is I asked myself this every day, you know, whenever I’m having a moment is where’s the pain? What’s the pain, and that’s how I that’s how I love myself as I go where the biggest pain is. So sometimes it’s extreme anxiety about a certain situation. And the old me would ignore it, push it away, get busy, just like not deal with it, or I’m going to go take a boat up and put on music and like it’s just going to go away by itself. So wherever the pain is, that’s where the love needs to be, because that’s the only way we heal pain is through love. So if I’m feeling anxiety about a certain situation, then I stop. Number one for love. For me, number one is presence, being present with whatever is happening because without presence, you can’t make a conscious decision, then you’re always if you’re not present, you’re always defaulting to an old pattern. That’s just the way it’s going to be the only way to change your pattern is to get really present. So for me, the way I love myself is I learned the art of being incredibly uncomfortable and being okay with it. And asking myself so for example, if let’s just say I’m in pain because there’s a hard conversation I need to be having with someone and I don’t want to have it because I’m afraid of the consequences of it. Then I stopped first I acknowledge what’s going on. And as soon as your knowledge, even what’s going on and aware of what’s happening, there’s a shift that happens just from that from not doing anything, but just saying, Okay, this is what’s happening. And then I stop and say, What tools do I have at my disposal? Do I need to write about it and journals, so I can process how I’m going to deal with this, maybe I need to call a friend and have someone just listen and have me talk through, maybe I need a coaching session right now, because this is a complicated relationship. And it’s important to me, but love is showing up for and dealing with everything that’s causing us any kind of discomfort. And it’s kind of like, you know, being our own parent, you know, if your child’s in pain, you deal with the pain, sometimes your child’s in physical pain, because they just fell and they have a bloody knee, and then you just need to get the first aid kit and maybe a hug. Sometimes they got into a huge fight with a best friend. And what they need is for you to sit down with them and help them process what happened. But that is what love is love is showing up for whatever is a rising in the moon.

Alyssa Patmos 31:15
That’s such a beautiful definition of love. And obviously, it I’m assuming many of the people watching this are in the self help world as so many of us are. The same age, whether it means it’s your profession, or if you’ve read, read the books on it. And there, there’s so many ways to talk about love. And so many skate versions of that on the Wu scale, as I’ll say, you know, and and your definition here and brings in so much of the practical wisdom, where it’s about presence with the pain so that we can transform it. Like we can’t transmute something unless we’ve been able to sit with it and given it a voice and recognized, okay, here’s where I’m at. And that’s, that’s been a similar path for me as well. And I want to acknowledge for people that it’s not easy, you and I are both coaches, and so we have a lot of tools at our disposal. And I know for me, at times, when we bump up against a boundary, when we bump up against something that like we really don’t want to deal with, it can be hard, it can be hard to use the tools. Do you have the same experience? Oh, absolutely,

Gail Wisner 32:31
I’ll be lying. If I said that there wasn’t resistance. And sometimes I have to be in discomfort for like a little bit. And I’m like, Okay, I need to stop and deal with this. You know, so it’s not like, the moment I have a feeling I stop everything. And I’m like, I’m here it takes, it’s usually I mean, the way I noticed it is I have for me, very strong disciplines in my life that I implement, I train three hours a day, religiously, I eat really healthy diet, I have impeccable boundaries with men, you know. And so what happens is, I have you know, showing up for work for my you know, real estate work, because I have such a full life, I have a lot of disciplines to keep me structured, because I work for myself, nobody’s on top of me, I live by myself, I work for myself. So I have a lot of discipline. So for me, the way I noticed that you know, where something’s off is if all of a sudden, I don’t want to do my discipline, like all of a sudden, I don’t want to work out today, I don’t want to, like I don’t want to work out or like, I don’t want to eat a salad. Like I just want ice cream. You know, so like, the minute like I’m off from the disciplines that were self created. So they’re they’re, they’re they come from in me, nobody put them on me. But they keep me in line. So when I’m out of alignment, I don’t judge myself anymore. I act to say that this is something that took me years, but I’m in a place where I don’t judge myself but I stop and say What’s wrong? What’s wrong? Why don’t you want to do what you know, you want what you know you should be doing in order to get the results that you want to get. And then there’s always some pain or grief or sadness or you know, fear that the future is going to be just like the past so why should I bother putting in the effort because it’s going to be just like it was before and you know, whatever it was the negative thinking and, and I have to say for me also, like the most important thing I have to stand guard on more than anything else is my thinking. Because everything starts with our thoughts. We don’t you know, you can’t pick up a drink, you know, without thinking first that you’re going to take a drink and put it in your glass and drink it. And so it’s a practice. It’s not easy. I definitely miss thoughts, you know, and that’s what gets me you know, in a negative state, but I know how to get out of it very, very quickly. And that’s, that just comes from practice that that’s, that’s just a skill you build over time. But the more you can think about what you’re thinking, the easier it is not to get into negative patterns with yourself or with

Alyssa Patmos 35:24
I totally agree. And the other thing that has happened for me is, is, you know, I’ve always been more intellectual, like, one of my coping mechanisms was like, okay, be perfect, like, get all the straight days, like, nobody cannot like you if you’re being the perfect one, you know, which is such a joke and cause so many other issues. But part of that for me, then was always being in my head, I was always in my head trying to solve the problem intellectually trying to control my thoughts and and eventually I realized, and then and then the the cluster that is OCD entered my world. And that was a cosmic lesson in learning, truly, that I have to be okay with uncertainty. And the amount of reframing and reshaping thoughts I had to do after I was diagnosed with that, and still have to do is bonkers and frustrating at times. But it’s also one great lesson because I, I started to realize how so much of my coping mechanism was to only be in my head. And the other thing that I had to do was learn how to be present with my body. And I learned I had to go through this process of learning how I was making thoughts about physical sensations happening in my body I was making meaning, you know, if our heart starts racing, it could, it could mean two things, it could mean we’re excited, or it could mean you know, we’re in terror, and we’re nervous. And there’s a choice there around the meaning that gets made. But for me to get out of my head and start to integrate more of our senses of knowing I had to get develop an entirely new relationship with my body to be able to help me learn how to take charge of my thoughts better. And that process which is ongoing, and, and this sitting in the discomfort that what I’ve recognized and I want to ask you, if this if this has been your experience to what I’ve recognized is that we know we have this baseline that we operate and it might be you know, like an inch wide. And if we’re if we’re willing to just go through life go through the motions, you know, we we have some joyful moment. We have some sad moments, but we’re not really exploring either end of those so we we end up living in this like inch, this inch width. What I found is that the more that I go deep into what, like there are no bad emotions. But the more I go into the the uncomfortable the more negative emotions, the the bigger that gap gets, instead of it being an inch, it’s it became six inches, and then it became a foot. And the amount of joy I experienced on the flip side of that has also increased a time, do you have that same experience where when you have been able to go into the depths of what feels so dark, you also now have newfound levels of joy?

Gail Wisner 38:35
Absolutely, absolutely. I mean, I believe that underneath all the pain is where the joy lies. And in order to access joy, you have to walk through the pain. Otherwise, why would we want your pain we would just we wouldn’t do it. And, and so if you have a level 10 pain, that means you’re capable of a level 10 joy, but depth is depth and it goes both ways. So so the deeper you go into the pain and and I find that there’s almost like a comfort level when you drop the resistance. And you just let yourself cry and out and fall apart. And know that you know there that’s the self trust that I put fall apart. I could cry on my floor, I could scream and yell at the top of my lungs. And yet I know I’ll be able to put myself back together and I will find joy again and there will be beauty in life even though I’m in the midst of a really dark moment. And the more you’re able to be in that space of uncertainty, discomfort, despair, you know despondency, whatever it is the more you can just be in it. You’re not resisting it.

You relax into it. It’s like a relaxed state and you’re like okay, this is what it feels like to feel absolute grief you know, absolute grief over how I lived and how I was and and just to let it take its natural course but it subsides naturally it always subsides and, and the other thing I know in this is my experience is that our bodies will never allow us to feel what our psyches are not ready to experience. So I had a lot of memories surface about my childhood only this year, because it was so intense that I wouldn’t have known what to do with it. So we have built and this is, and I want to say this, so people are afraid to feel their emotions, because we have built in us an internal mechanism that wants to keep us safe. So if our mechanism feels that we’re not ready to know certain things about our parents, you know, or certain family secrets or whatever, if we’re not psychologically ready, you won’t get that memory so you don’t need to worry about you know, what, if it’s too much, the universe loves you, and it wants to heal you. And so it’s only going to give you as much as it knows you can handle and that’s when you know, you know, that’s a whole nother conversation. But that’s where for me I found a spiritual practice, you know, and I think that’s really important whatever it is, it doesn’t matter i’m not i’m not attached, I have no monopoly on spirituality. But I really do believe that when some when a person can tap into something bigger and greater than themselves, whether they call it God or a higher power or group or whatever, it’s this feeling of I don’t need to do this alone. I don’t need to do this alone, I don’t need to rely on my own strength because to rely on my own strength I’m really limited but if I can tap into unseen energies that I believe are all around us, you know higher dimensions, if I can tap into them and have them you know, I ask them to hold space for me like when I’m going through something before I allow myself to get into the depths of the emotions you know, first of all logistically, I track my phone like I make sure there’s nothing that I need to deal with so that I don’t you know, forget to pick up you know, forget that I have a client you know, so I also know how to manage my emotions that even if I’m feeling a lot of intense emotions, if I have certain responsibilities that I have to take care of, I can acknowledge that there’s stuff surfacing that needs to be dealt with and I can just put it in a file and say I’m not ignoring you but I’m going to deal with whatever I need to deal with so I could be a functioning healthy adult and then when I’ve dealt with what I have to deal with I can you know take some really deep breaths and you know get spiritually connected so that I know even though I’m physically alone, I’m not spiritually alone and that’s when I’m able to like deal with the tsunami of whatever’s coming up it’s like Alright, what’s up now and then you just deal with it and then it just naturally passes and then there’s just this feeling of absolute serenity and peace and joy and it’s like this feeling of you know, the universe is the parent I never had and it is taking care of me and providing for me if I can drop my resistance and not use and not go into addiction to disconnect from myself which is what addiction is

Alyssa Patmos 43:55
right? I totally agree and my form of addiction is the compulsive thoughts from OCD and I had so I had to learn a very similar lesson there when I when those thoughts come up more I am resisting something and it sometimes it takes a while for me to see what that is and and I want to touch on on one other thing you said because I think it’s so so so important. Actually two things the first one is I have a spiritual practice too and we talk about spirituality here and I love translating things in in the the hyper spiritual world into into the practical and I think you’ve done so much of that in this conversation. Once that helps me because I dated a lot of guys who like are very new to spirituality or they don’t believe in it and they’ve never been religious. And and so one of the things that helps me in case there’s anyone listening who who has a hard time with that is just thinking about like the same energy that makes up The trees is what makes up me. And, you know, a plant doesn’t have to prove anything. You know, even even animals like they’re they’re instinctual and and they know how to move throughout the world in basically a state of surrender to, to their instincts, because that’s how they’re gonna get what they need. But the same energy that makes up like these trees that just blossom through the seasons is the same energy that makes up me. So who am I to think that I don’t also have seasons, and now I’m going to fluidly move through them, as long as I’m nourishing myself. So that’s how I kind of translate what you were talking about with being held by this universe, which I totally believe in, in a way that that might, you know, work for someone who isn’t quite there yet, or, or who doesn’t believe at that level. The other thing I wanted to touch on is, is, or just retouch on because you did it so well is this notion that we’re not going to be given more than we can handle. And I think there’s something you shared that you’ve had new memories come up even this past year. And this is something that has happened for me as well, there’s something that in the past year, just has come out randomly, I’ve always had a relationship with terror that I don’t fully understand. And in different trainings and in different work with coaches like that word has always come up. And I never fully understood it. And I started just allowing for it, I didn’t need to understand it, I just started allowing for it. And then weird things started happening, like I would cry after sex randomly, or not wanting to be touched in a certain way, or, or just having this weird feeling that I couldn’t describe in particular places. And that has been intense. But I want to near I share that only because I want to echo that we’re not, we’re not going to be shown more than we can handle. And if we can allow the pieces of information that come up, and without judgment, that’s the key part. Like I haven’t judged when those moments come up, I haven’t judged myself for bawling my eyes out after you know, amazing sex. And so then it allows us to process that information in a new way. I think there’s this this assumption, especially in the hyper intellectual world, that we live in that we have to understand everything, and that we have to know it intellectually and know why and understand every piece of it. But sometimes the processing of trauma can happen through our bodies, and then we get to a place where we feel safer, and can show more. So I know that was long winded, but I had to echo that because I think it’s so so so important. Because it can be scary as all get out to embark on the healing journey.

Gail Wisner 48:07
Yeah, yeah. And, and it’s interesting, what you just shared about, you know, crying after sex, that can be you know, when you have a really positive experience and feel loved, and safe and supported, then you’re able to cry because of all the fear that you experienced for so many years of not feeling loved, you know, and that’s for me when I had terror, you know, I can’t speak for your terror, but I struggled with terror my entire life. And for me, that was fear of not being loved, all of my terror came down to one thing that is a fear I won’t be loved. And when you experience love, you know, sex isn’t necessarily love, obviously, you can expect in a situation where there’s no love but when you have sex in a situation where you’re actually loved and cared for, and, you know, everything is in the body and you’re you’re you’re having an experience of what it’s like to be nurtured, you know, and, and contained and held, then it’s so natural, that all the tears would just shed of like the anxiety of not being so that I look at it as a positive thing. Because clearly there has to be a trust with your partner. If you can fall apart and cry, you’re not going to fall apart and cry and a one night stand. You know, still that’s that’s it’s uncomfortable, but it’s a good thing.

Alyssa Patmos 49:42
I 100% agree. And it’s it’s interesting because, you know, I talk to a lot of women and and when things like this happen, you know, we have this instinct of like, Oh my god, something has to be wrong. And so they can start to freak out around like, wait, I thought I was in this amazing relationship, but this is happening, and now it feels like something’s wrong. And then we start looking for the things that are wrong, when really, it can be exactly what you just said, when we start to see ourselves differently and can hold that space for ourselves, we attract a different level of partner. And then that safety that is established can hold space for emotion in an entirely different way. So it actually is this very beautiful thing I love that you that you’ve brought that around, because I’ve been told that by numerous women and have have definitely started to see how that’s true in my own life. But it’s, it’s important to recognize that when we feel safe after years and years and years of not feeling safe or not feeling like we’re able to be loved, that alone can push us into more discomfort at first. So we’ve covered a lot of things in in this conversation. And I, I want to, for anyone who has been through something that just feels like it’s not manageable, or it’s terrifying to go into or it’s overwhelming to start healing. You know, the thing that shifted for me is when I started making healing the lifestyle, but one of the questions that came up along the way is who the hell am I to take time to heal? And you mentioned that you put stuff in a file, it’s like, Okay, put it in a file over here. And now I can go handle the things that I need to handle for the day. But what would you say to someone who might be asking, like, Who am I to take the time to heal? They have so many responsibilities, they have numerous kids, they, they feel like, you know, their job is gonna fall apart. If they’re not super present there. What would you say to them?

Gail Wisner 51:54
Yeah, well, I would say Who are you not to take the time to heal. You know, when we, you know, when we self deprecate and make are so small, that’s no different to me than someone going into grandiosity, you know, you’re a child of God, that’s who you are. And every single person that you are connected with, from your colleagues at work to your children, in your household, to your partner, are deeply affected by your healing or not healing. So when people when parents especially use the excuse, of, well, I got to take care of my kids, there is no better way for you to take care of your kids than your yelling, because guess what, you can hire a cleaning woman to wash your floors. And you can hire a chef or buy takeout to cook your food, you can not hire anyone to do your healing. And it’s, I understand the resistance because I had the same thing. And I also, I mean, the ultimate shift for me was seeing how massively my life shifted. When I did my healing work. You know, when you start to see the results, you’re like, like you, this is my lifestyle, just like, you know, going to the gym is my lifestyle, I will continue to do it. And so with healing, it literally affects everyone you’re energetically connected with. And so that helped me a lot. I went into recovery for my son, I have one son, and I was, you know, I was throwing temper tantrums at him when he left toys on the floor. And I experienced so much shame. I’m like, What am I doing? He’s seven years old and he left toys on the floor. That’s what seven year olds do. You know, am I going to be the same? Am I going to be my dad the way my dad was to him. And so it was out of love for my son that I went on the healing journey today. I continue it regardless of him because today I do love myself enough to continue on this path. But at the time I didn’t so what I would say to people who are new is think of the people you love and do it for them until you’re able to do it for yourself.

Alyssa Patmos 54:14
There’s so much power and being able to borrow borrow beliefs from other people at times being able to borrow like they’re hoping us when we don’t quite have it in ourselves. So I love that advice. I think the only other thing for me that I would add is the in this world where productivity takes center stage and that seems to be the thing that you’re rewarded for. I had to redefine what productivity meant because I learned that I was way more productive when I had prioritize, do the healing. And so there are absolutely times where it comes up and it is so inconvenient. It’s just like seriously right now is when you have to choose to come up and then walk I have to forgive myself and be compassionate and be like, okay, I hear you. And I know you need advice. And so yeah, we got to put that aside for like, I don’t know, 20 minutes, sometimes it’s a few hours, sometimes it’s like, I will get to you this weekend. But you’re here, and I’m holding a space for you and I do you really write it down, like I physically write it down or type it, I have a file where I store like things I’m working on or patterns that keep coming up. Because when we ignore them, they’re just going to find a more disruptive way to come up. And so I learned that, ultimately, my productivity is way better when I prioritize this stuff that bubbling to the surface.

Gail Wisner 55:43
Yeah, and I just want to add to that, that, that is another reason why I think coaching is crucial, because there’s continuity. So when you have a session every single week, and you’re working on something, you know that, you know, someone’s holding space for you, even obviously, we hold space for our clients, even when we’re not in session with them, right, we’re still always connected. And when you have a coach who just show up, you know, a lot more and I think that is really important, always but especially in the beginning, when you need that extra motivation and you know, support because yeah, healing work is hard. It’s freakin hard work.

Alyssa Patmos 56:38
It just is, it is it is it at first, it doesn’t always feel safe, which I think is the other thing that’s important to mention there like it doesn’t, we’ve talked about safety this entire time, because so much of your journey has had to be establishing safety within yourself. And and then being able to afford that to yourself, this gift that you’re not given as a child. And so healing work, though, it doesn’t always feel safe at first because it’s doing something new. And so we can hit a boundary or we can come up with to some resistance and, and definitely not want to say yes to going into it. And so that’s the other value I think of coaching too, is it’s, it’s someone can hold that container even and allow for safety, when it doesn’t yet feel safe. And, and so if if someone who’s listening is struggling with I don’t know how to dive into this, and it feels hard to do alone, it might be for that reason alone, is that it’s pushing you out of your comfort zone, and it might not feel safe yet. And there’s power in being in community with people who, who are choosing that as a lifestyle, and we’re doing it routinely and who can hold space for you, as well. So Gail, I just want to wrap up with a it’s a big question, but I think it’s one that helps paint the picture of what changes so so we’ve been talking about relationship with men, we’ve been talking about how, how we play a role in our relationship with men and how how we’re treated, which is never to say that we deserve to be mistreated. But we do have a role in how how we allow ourselves to be treated and obviously that’s nuanced. But I want to I want to ask what what is your relationship with men now you’ve given us snippets where you have amazing boundaries, and it sounds like you have a good relationship with your son but what what has changed? What What is the relationship with men like now? Right?

Gail Wisner 58:53
Well, I went from hating men to loving men I actually love men now and I’m able to see the goodness in them I do think that men are ultimately really good and they want to please women they actually really want to please women they actually really want to take care of women and make them feel safe and secure and make them feel good and they actually want to give to women but the hardest part for me is being open to receive it because my receiving door was closed and so I attracted men who wouldn’t gift to me because receiving you’re in a vulnerable state when you receive you’re vulnerable and now do I owe something to him you know if I receive a dinner does that mean I have to sleep with him tonight you know and so my relationship with men is just to see the goodness in them I currently don’t have a boyfriend I’m not in a relationship I’m open to one and I’m you know I’m but I’m incredibly okay on my own which is Great and I also really love and enjoyment I have male friends and I feel safe with men I think that’s really like the ultimate differences I feel very very safe with men I don’t feel afraid. When I’m with men, they’re just human beings just like me.

Alyssa Patmos 1:00:19
That that’s powerful, especially for anyone who has experienced you know, something where you where you don’t feel safe around them that’s that’s powerful to hear. So thank you so much for being willing to have this conversation and sharing parts of your story with us. If people want to connect with you What is the best way for them to do so?

Gail Wisner 1:00:41
The best way would probably just be to email me at Gail g a IL at Gail which is gi l w i s and E are calm you can also go to my website Gil wizard calm but I would say emails probably the best way

Alyssa Patmos 1:00:59
to connect. Awesome. We will link that in the show notes and the post all over the place as well. Thank you so so much for being here.

Gail Wisner 1:01:08
Thank you. It’s my pleasure.

Alyssa Patmos 1:01:12
You’ve just finished listening to another episode of Make It Mentionable with me, your host, Alyssa Patmos. If you’re looking for more in between episodes, then sign up for The Peel. It’s my free newsletter that gives tips for how to navigate whatever life dishes and it’s also the place where I share the juiciest of stories. To check it out, head on over to Thank you so much for tuning in, and I’ll see you next time.

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