Can you heal from abuse? What do I do after leaving my narcissist? What does a healthy relationship look like? These concerns cross the minds of over 20 people every minute; over 28,800 people every day. And the sad fact is, we still don’t talk about it enough. Healing from Emotional Abuse isn’t a bandaid situation. But it doesn’t have to be a five year process either. Millions of other survivors around the worlds entires lives have been impacted by their narcissist. Yours doesn’t have to. To show you how to live a free, confident and peaceful life, your host and Founder of the Healing From Emotional Abuse Philosophy, Marissa F. Cohen.
Today we’re joined with Dr. Leonie Madison. She’s an organizational and talent development practitioner, Author of the books The Thread: The perfect Steps for a God Ordained Purpose, and Beside Still Waters: 21 Days to Developmental, as well as the creator of Threads: 6-Step System to Help Survivors Free Themselves from Past Trauma and Live An Abundant Life. She earned a doctorate in organizational leaders from Argosy University, A Masters in Business Administration from Georgian Court University, and A Christian Life Coach Certificate from Light University. She’s a recipient of 2018 8th Annual Pacific Coast Business Times 40 Under 40 Award – Recognizing the 40 best and brightest transformational leaders on the central coast under the age of 40. Thank you so much for joining us today. I’m so excited to chat with you.
Dr. Leonie Mattison:
I am so excited about our conversation today as well. Thanks for having me.
Of course! So lets get started. Would you mind telling me a little about your story and what brought you to where you are today?
Sure! Thank you for asking! So, My name is Dr Leonie H. Madison. I like to consider myself an impact storyteller. I’m a trauma survivor, and I was chosen to be able to do this work of pioneering what we’re calling The Thread. It’s a project, it’s a book, it’s a devotional, it’s a 6-step system; all in the spirit of helping survivors to achieve intentional transformation. Helping survivors to rise from the trauma that they’ve experienced and to do some work. Take the steps forward to really force your life forward.
I am a single mom. I have three beautiful daughters and a dog. And they are all the highlights of my life, and I love them dearly. I love my job. It’s part of my calling; I am an organizational and development practitioner, where I get to really help organizations to shift strategy, improve performance and grow revenue. I always say that’s how I use my superpower in the marketplace.
And beyond all of those things, I am just one grateful girl speaking to another survivor, saying, “Hey, I survived.” Also speaking to your listeners saying, “I survived. And after survival, I had to do some work to survive. To thrive beyond the trauma.” So that’s a little bit about who I am and why I got here.
I have a background about my experience being a victim of abuse. I’m not sure if you hear my accent, but I was born on the beautiful island of Jamaica. The west indies. I suffered quite a number of years of abuse as a child. Sexual abuse, spiritual abuse, emotional abuse, and physical abuse. I immigrated to the US when I was about 15 years old. I am also the product of parents who, my father abandoned us. My mom had to leave the island to get work and so we grew up being bounced around from one city to the next in Jamaica. And that’s where a lot of the abuse started. And then when I came to the US, it didn’t stop. I thought it would, but it didn’t. I unfortunately suffered abuse in the faith-based community. I was abuse by a priest minister, sexually and spiritually. And so I have that traumatic background, and I didn’t allow the background to keep my back on the ground. I listened to quite a number of your podcasts and it was really using the power of my voice and my words to elevate myself from out of those situations. It’s one thing to get up, but it’s another to create a new mindset and to adapt new behaviors to truly live this abundant life that we were created to live. So, that’s in a nutshell who you’re speaking with today.
You gave a lot of really good information, so thank you for sharing. So, your book is called Thread: A 6-step System to Help Survivors Free Themselves From Their Past Trauma. If you wouldn’t mind maybe giving us a little taste of the six steps, or what you learned while writing the book.
I love that question. So, the 6-step system was developed as a result of my experience while I was on my healing journey. And I remember particularly, in addition to the abuses that I’ve gone through, endured, suffered, whatever word you want to use there, I am also a survivor of Delspalsy and a stroke. I had finally made the decision, it was almost like my awakening journey, I finally made the decision after hitting rock bottom that I was ready for change.
There was a dissonance between the girl I was living or the woman I was living, versus the woman that I deeply down in my soul thought I should become. And so I started questioning a lot of theories, philosophies, and just life on a whole. And my big question was to God. I wanted to know why I had gone through what I was going through (Why am I going through what I’m going through). I wanted to know why he abandoned me. I wanted to know why God chose this path for me. I had a lot of questions and I just felt like, books were great, and I would read and gain new knowledge, but I felt like I wanted to challenge God to give me the answers to the questions I was asking.
And so, I’m on this journey, and I felt so many times while I was on this journey, there were times where my back was literally on the ground. And somebody had to come pull me up, because I just couldn’t get up on my own. While on this journey I was bitter. I was angry. I was lost. I had no courage or energy to live at one point. And I remember distinctly. I was on, what I call, one of my excursions. And I remember I was sad, and I was crying. The sun was hot. And I had a radio, and I turned the radio on. When I turned the radio on, there was a minister on there, and I distinctly remember him talking and he said, “The prodigal son come home.” And I turned it off because I didn’t want to hear anything religious.
Then I went inside the living room and I remember turning the television on. And on came this woman. Her name is Juanita Bynum. She’s a female minister. And she started the whole, “Prodigal son come home.” again, thing. And i knew exactly the story in the bible. And at that point she got my attention. And I listened. And at the time, you have to understand, I had just gone through a physical abuse by a partner with someone I was dating. They had abused me physically, kicked me, I fell on the ground, knocked my head. There was an iron and the ground, and I burned a part of my leg. So, I was in a very bad situation, and I was self-blaming as well. So when she said that, I knew I needed help, but I didn’t trust anyone around me to help me. And I definitely didn’t trust God because I was blaming him. And so when she started speaking and she said, “There’s a woman watching and the Lord said to tell you, if you turn to Him, He will turn your life around.” And I turned the television off and said, “I don’t believe that.” I just don’t believe it. And I remember I just started crying and screaming and I got to the point where my mind felt sick and tormented. I took all of this glassware and I just smashed the house. I couldn’t hit him because he wasn’t there. And I took the television off of the wall and I smashed it. I was just so angry, I felt so alone. I screamed. I cried to the point that my neighbors called the cops because they thought something was wrong. Like I was being abuse. And when they came, they couldn’t believe how I had trashed the home.
And it was at that point I realized that I really needed help. And it was at that point that I started sharing my story. I actually got up and went and got help from a therapist. And I started sharing my story. I didn’t know, I had forgotten some of what I had been through. At this time, I was in my 20s, and I had forgotten some of what I’d been through, but she was asking the right questions, that triggered the memory. And i started connecting the dots of what happened to me in my past as a little girl, and being molested. From being inappropriately touched. From being raped when I was sick in bed. I started connecting the dots and I realized that these were patterns in my life. These were things that were happening to me every 5-10 years. I would go through a huge traumatic injury. And so i started documenting everything that I could remember. And the first thing I remember doing was, when the therapist asked me what is it that I want. “What do you want your life to look like?” I didn’t know what I wanted, because I was never given that option before. But I remember I went home and started thinking and dreaming of the best life ever.
So part of my system, the first step is to Think of the outcome you want. Think of that outcome. That’s the T. And the H is to Harvest the lessons you’ve learned and heal your heart. And what I know for me, the lessons that I’ve learned on my journey, one of the biggest ones was I was a big people -pleaser. In my book I refer to myself as, I was a “giving harlot.” I would give, give, give because that’s what I thought God wanted me to do. I give up myself, I’d give up my time, I’d give up my resources. I would give without being conscious of what I was doing. And I was doing that because I wanted, I needed, I so needed for love. I was so needy for affirmation and acceptance. Step 3, R for release. Release fear and break the painful pattern. And there are questions that are associated with each of these steps. And step 4 is Enlist. Enlist allies to become the person you lost inside. And what I love about E step. This is where I do what you’re doing. I empower women to speak up. To share your story. To release and get it out. Talk about what you’ve been through without changing or blaming. Share your story. Release it from out of you. So that’s the E. So, step 5 is A for Adopt. Adopt new mindsets and create new healthy patterns.
I see help as an equivalent to medicine. So if you’re taking medicine, you have to allow it to work. You have to give it time to take effect. And while it’s working, something is breaking apart or falling apart, and it’s okay. And this one of the most difficult steps because it forces us to step away from those behaviors. Or to step away from the things that we’ve been told. I remember listening to your podcast and you were talking about how victims are often times blamed. They blame us while saying you were wearing. Or it’s something you were doing. Maybe you said something to trigger a reaction from the person. So this is the step where we’re saying, you’re gonna demolish those accusations. You’re going to let go off of them because they’re untrue, and they do not power the better and most highest version of who you’re created to be. And the last step, step 6, the D. That is Design your joyful life. And it’s almost like I’m saying to women Dream Again. You get to dream of a new you, and design your joyful life with intention. Design that life that you really want. Design the life that will allow you to fulfill your mission and take the step. Take action. Be bold enough so say, I deserve to free myself of trauma. Those memories. Design that life that says, I will rise and go for the win, and be okay with that without feeling guilty. Without having to justify anything to anyone. To taking charge, taking your power back, and to really feel passionately about women taking your power back out of the hands of trauma. Reclaim your life and live it. And living with intention.
You are so inspirational, and you can just hear the passion in your voice. I loved listening to you, I didn’t want you to stop talking.
Thank you for doing the amazing work you’re doing. I think THREAD, those 6-steps are perfect. It’s like rewriting your story. It’s speaking it. It’s what I say. You have to Break Your Silence. You have to speak your truth. Because if you stay silent and don’t speak your truth, you can’t heal. You’re still not accepting it. And you’re still letting it weigh you down. And i think it’s so important that survivors always speak about it and break their silence because that’s the only true way to heal.
Absolutely. I couldn’t agree with you more. Well said. I have found healing writing a book. I have found healing just talking to you and sharing my story. The emotions I feel is one of joy and liberation. And that’s why I wrote the book. I wrote the book to create an avenue for women just like, just like you. Designed by abuse, and are desperately wanting to work through the past, so they can live the life that God envisioned.
This book is really a reminder to survivors that you’re not alone. You’re not alone on your healing journey. And I want them to know that God can heal them, to control their stories. To take control of your story. To rewrite it and to rewrite it with their own voice. To rewrite it out of gratitude because they survived. We’re survivors.
I was listening to one of your podcasts where you were talking about, again, the whole victim shame thing. I was angry. I listened to it and I wasn’t angry at you, but I was just so angry knowing that so many women never share their story. And either they’re living as victims in the space and the world of guilt and shame, or some of them have passed on never feeling that freedom that you and I feel today. And I want to help millions of women, even if it’s just through writing and sharing your story with me. Or we jump on my podcast and share it as a revamp in my podcast. And if even just one chapter of that story, I want you to share it. Share it without retribution. Share it without the guilt and the shame. Share it out of your spirit of survivorship. Out of that gratitude-ness. Out of that liberation. Knowing that you’re no longer a victim. You survived the hell that life put you through. Girl, rise! Rise. Share your story so we can help others to do the same.
I am so in agreement with you. Everything you just said. There are so many of us. One of these campaigns that I started a couple of years ago with a friend was called I’m a Statistic because the connotation of being a part of a statistic is so negative. You’re just a number. But if you think about it in terms of survivors, you’re a statistic, you’re one of a million, or one of one hundred million. Of this huge number of people that can all relate to you and empower each other to speak our truth. To let that weight get lifted off our shoulders and help us heal. So, I love that. I love everything you’re saying. When you started seeing your therapist, and I also saw that you used a healing coach, what techniques or tools did they teach that you helped you with your anger, and your bitterness, and also with your healing.
Number 1, breakthrough for me happened when I was taught to speak to the little girl when she shows up. That little girl was always ignored. She was always told to shut up. She was abandoned. She never felt like she mattered. So when that little girl shows up now, I don’t ignore her. When she wants to be acknowledged for how she’s feeling, I stop and I pay attention. So that was a breakthrough for me was to recognize acknowledge and pay attention to the little girl, Little Leonie when she shows up. And what that looked like for me while i was on my healing journey, an example is, I was diagnosed with breast lumps, and I remember I was angry. And I wondered why this happened to me. So when I went into the surgery, it left a lot of marks. The wounds and the things to deal with. And I wouldn’t touch my breasts. I felt shame, I wouldn’t touch it. And I remember the second tool that I learned was to do mirror work. And I remember, I’m in front of my mirror, and I didn’t want to look at myself. I was looking away. And finally, I said, I’m going to face her. I’m going to face me. And I looked in the mirror at myself, and I looked at myself and I said, “I’m not going to ignore you. It’s not fair. You gave my children, you breastfed my children, and now that you’re not well, I’m going to ignore you? No!” And I just started putting lotion all over my body. And I started lotioning myself and just thanking my breasts for what it has done and how far it has come with me.
And I lotioned my body and thanking my body, and thanking my organs and my hands and my feet. I just started being grateful. And then I said I love myself. I remember I looked at myself in the eyes and I say this to women, “Leonie, I love you. I love you. I’m not going to abuse you.” Because that’s what a lot of us as survivors do, and we don’t know we’re doing it. We end up abusing ourselves. We end up ignoring ourselves. We end up being so negative. And in the book, there’s a chapter in the book where I actually went through a whole exercise for what I learned. It’s around page 181. I remember listening to Lisa Nichols, she’s also a motivational speaker, and while I was attending on of her conferences, I learned this. About speaking forgiveness over yourself. And I wrote in my book, after hearing Lisa Nichols speak during one of her seminars, I started speaking words of forgiveness to myself in the mirror. Every day for 21 days I would look myself in the eyes, place my hands over my heart, and with no self judgement, would learn to speak forgiveness over myself. And affirm the value of my God-ordained existence.
Now here’s what I wrote, and replace your name with mine.
[Leonie] I forgive you for forgetting who God says you are, and for not accepting yourself completely. [Leonie] I forgive you for allowing others to corrupt your mind into thinking you weren’t good enough. [Leonie] I forgive you for lowering your standards and seeking love and acceptance in all the wrong places. [Leonie] I forgive you for letting people take advantage of you, and letting bitterness cause you to miss mistake lust, lies and loneliness for love. [Leonie] I forgive you for ignoring the warning signs. For not trusting your discernment.
I also honored my commitment to the woman I’m becoming through positive self-talk. So that’s another tool I learned and I wrote.
[Leonie] I commit to valuing myself and that my Yes will be a true YES. And my No will be a firm NO. [Leonie] I commit to pressing stop completely on the negative self talk. [Leonie] I commit to letting go of living in torment from living in past failed relationships. [Leonie] I commit to loving you always and will be okay with you when you’re crying, and when you feel sad. [Leonie] I commit to lightening up and not coming down so hard on you.
The next part, I wrote:
I celebrated with Love, the woman who is taking steps to write a better next chapter in her life.
[Leonie] I celebrate you for getting out of bed this morning. [Leonie] I celebrate you for showing up and operating with excellence at work. [Leonie] I celebrate for seeking help to heal, and I celebrate you for writing and sharing your story with the world. [Leonie] I celebrate your model in self-care, self love and healthy boundaries. [Leonie] I celebrate you for knowing, believing and appreciating the fact that your very existence is enough. You can rise above your limitations ands self defeating thoughts. To stand in the space of possibilities. In that space there’s plenty of room for pioneers of the possible. History makers. Navigators of the unknown; Change agents, and trail blazers.
God remains the same. He is the creator of life, the author of purpose, and the remodeler of old into new.
I love that. I think mirror work is so strong and so underrated. And your affirmations are phenomenally written. They are so powerful. You are such a powerful speaker and I really do enjoy listening to you. I think you should make your book an audio book so I can listen to it. Your voice just adds something to it. Your passion and your true love towards helping survivors and through telling your story is really infectious, and I just catch myself drifting off listening to you. Envisioning what you’re saying. I love it. So, thank you very much for sharing all of that.
And going back to mirror work. Mirror work is so important. It’s all about telling yourself how much you love yourself, and forgiving yourself and looking at the parts of your body and the things that happened to you, that hurt you. And learning to truly embrace them, because it’s all just a part of you and it’s a part of your story. I love it.
Thank you. Thank you very much.
What advice would you give to survivors that are still either on their healing journey or not yet on their healing journey.
Mmm. That’s a great question. So, if you’re a survivor of trauma, and you’re desperately seeking help and thinking about fulfillment in your life, and let me say there are a lot of people out there who aren’t, I think the best thing the woman or men who love us who are listening today can do, is to listen to your soul. It has a voice. I mean, really stop and listen to the wisdom of your soul that’s crying out for healing. That was what caught my attention.
You’ve got to make the decision to reclaim your life. You just have to. And take the determined steps to make sure that you do. That’s where I remember I got stuck. I spent my childhood pretending to be someone else, while I was hiding behind the pain of my past. Much of my adult life, I was hiding behind the childhood pain, while I was retreating back into darkness. And i remember I thought I was living up to what society expected of me, and I wanted to be something other than who I really deeply felt in my soul I was created to be. I made my soul sick. And when the soul is sick, it’ll vomit all over you. When the soul is sick, it shuts down. When the soul is sick, you’re confused about your purpose. When the soul is sick, then the body eventually manifests itself off the sickness. The mind manifests itself on that souls sickness. And so, I remember having to just pause, because I was realizing these symptoms, you know the bitterness, the anger, the sicknesses that I was experiencing, were all symptoms of a soul that was sick.
And so that would be my number one advice to victims and survivors. Listen to your soul. Listen to it. And because it’s during those moments that your soul will actually help you to see what you’re wanting and needing to help it to get better. It is during those moments that we will see that, “you know what, I need to listen and I also need to take steps to becoming better.” So embrace the wisdom of your soul, and turn off the noise of everything else that is unnecessary.
That’s great advice. One of the chapters in my second book, Breaking Through the Silence: #Me(n)Too, was “You’re Only As Sick As Your Secrets.” And I love that. You really are. You’re only as sick as your secrets. If you hold on to your abuse, and you don’t let it out, and you don’t heal, you’re truly killing yourself from the inside out. Is there anything else you’d like to share?
My book is now available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, almost everywhere books are sold. And in March, actually, I’ll be preventing at the Best You conference in Los Angeles and I’m inviting folks if you’re in the LA region to come on out and hear more about my book. The topic of the talk is Rise From Trauma and Reclaim Your Life. So, I’m really inviting as many women as possible to come out to March 20th at 5pm to attend to really important intentional conversation that I’ll be having with women. And my website is being revamped. My podcast will be ready around the April timeframe, and so I’m also welcoming guests who want to share their story of trauma and how they’ve achieved intentional transformation. And also, together we can learn so we can help more women to rise to become the women that they were created to be. So, you know, that will be my last little tidbit for our listeners.
You can follow me on instagram: Leonie H Mattison
I’m on facebook: Leonie H. Mattison,
and I’m on Twitter @LeonieMattison.
I really look forward to engaging with as many women as I can this year because I am on a mission to impact millions. And one of the last things I’ll share with you about how my book took another turn, too, I’m actually doing some work in the local county jail here in Santa Barbara. So the book is actually in the jail here, and the women are reading the book and they have tons of questions. So i’ll be starting a 12-week program online and also on-site to really be looking at how to achieve intentional transformation. SO people can check out my website, I’ll have more information in the coming days on how I’m really on this mission to reach a million women with a message of intentional transformation.
Great goals and thank you so much for sharing your story, and your work with us. You’re such an inspirational person and I’m so happy that I got to talk to you today. Thank you very much for being here today.
Hey! If you enjoyed this podcast, you have to check out www.MarissaFayeCohen.com/Private-Coaching. Marissa would love to develop a made-for-you healing plan to heal from emotional abuse. She does all the work, and you just show up. Stop feeling stuck, alone, and hurt, and live a free, confident, and peaceful life. Don’t forget to subscribe to the Healing From Emotional Abuse podcast, and follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/marissafcohen, and instagram @Marissa.Faye.Cohen. We’d love to see you there!