Kathleen and Rochana explore the challenging terrain of toxic shame that is forged by experiences of emotional and physical abuse. Flower essences can help lift the burden and bring to our conscious awareness the realization there is nothing wrong with us, we deserve to be here, and we are enough — regardless of what we might have been told in the past.
Warning: this episode includes some personal stories of abuse and may be triggering for some.
If you are not safe, please contact a hotline:
National Domestic Violence hotline 1.800.799.SAFE (7233) https://www.thehotline.org/
Flower Essences discussed during the show:
- Pine – Healing Herbs
- Redwood – FES
- Pink Monkeyflower – FES
- Agrimony – Healing Herbs
- Gold – Alaskan Essences
- Lady Banks’ Rose – Flora of Asia
- Innocent Formula – Flora of Asia
- Rosemary – FES
- Evening Primrose – FES
- Queen Anne’s Lace – FES
- White Lily – Flora of Asia
- Devil’s Club – Alaskan Essences
- Centaury – Healing Herbs
- Black Tourmaline – Alaskan Essences
- Pink Yarrow – FES
- Soul Support – Alaskan Essences
Rochana Felde: [00:00:10] Welcome to The Flower Essence podcast and join us on an exploration of the healing wisdom of flowers
Kathleen Aspenns: [00:00:18] With combined decades of experience in the study and practice of flower essence therapy, I, Kathleen Aspenns, and co-host, Rochana Felde guide you to reconnect to nature with these potent vibrational remedies.
Hi, flower lovers, it’s nice to be back with you. Rochana and I today wanted to take up the topic of toxic shame. We have been reflecting on this. And as we go into the fall season, sometimes it’s really useful to kind of do this inner work. And we’ve been discussing it and thinking about how much of our practices are really about helping people release this legacy of the emotional abuses we’ve received, of the toxic relationships, of the toxic patriarchy. There’s a lot and we wanted to talk about some essences that helped to relieve shame because it’s a really big topic. It’s a really big troubling experience internally. And the good news, flower essences are incredibly helpful for helping to release this. So that’s our topic today. I’m really glad to be talking about this with you, Ro.
Rochana Felde: [00:01:41] Yeah, it is. It’s just so important because I think as we– you know, it comes up over and over again as really a root cause for sort of these more superficial relationship challenges or emotional challenges. You know, when you dig into it during a flower essence therapy session and over the course of time, I’m sure that, you know, you’ve seen it time and again with your clients, Kathleen, just as I that there’s kind of– a lot of the time there might be this sort of deep sense of shame hiding out somewhere that is sort of at the core, you know, it’s one of the core issues. Don’t you think?
Kathleen Aspenns: [00:02:25] I so agree. You know, that we can come into a recognition of I’m really unhappy or I’m feeling anxious all the time or whatever the sort of the presenting complaint might be. And by just spending a little time with it and doing a little inquiry into where it’s residing in your body, what the kind of constant emotional state is. We can often find underneath of it is an experience of feeling like you’re not enough. There’s something wrong with you. There’s just something– like, I’m not right. I’ve never been enough. I’ve never been– ugh, it’s just, it’s so big.
And to have that running under the surface all the time is such a burden on your emotional system, on your nervous system, on your life. And to be able to relieve that, to be able to bring relief to that is an extraordinary gift. I’m sure that you’ve had some experiences with that also.
Rochana Felde: [00:03:41] Yeah, and it’s that idea that there’s something wrong with us and that can be, so, you know when I talk about shame, I mean, I think that’s what it ultimately comes down to. So it’s not like being embarrassed, although that might be a part of it, right? But it’s not that– it’s not that shy embarrassment. It’s more of that deeper feeling flawed. And then also the fear that other people are going to discover that about you or that they see that about you and trying to hide it.
I guess what really brought this up for me recently, you know, the way that it’s tied in with emotional abuse and sometimes physical abuse is the Gabby Petito case that is, you know, all over the media. It’s gotten a huge amount of media attention, and so I happened to see, you know, the body cam footage and read a bit about the case just because there’s so much information out there about it. And, you know, we can’t know anything about her based on social media. There’s a million internet sleuths out there digging away, but her body language triggered me. It triggered me in seeing and recognizing that feeling. That feeling of something’s wrong with me. I don’t have a right to be here or to take up space or to verbalize my needs. And so, you know, I– that’s, Kathleen, why I kind of pinged you. I think we need to talk about this. I think we need to talk more about this. And I also want to make sure that, you know, it’s not just about Gabby, you know, a white woman who’s gone missing and murdered because there are literally eight times as many women of color that go missing and murdered all the time. And it’s a horrible situation. So any way that we can just help bring awareness to recognizing the signs of being abused or manipulated or controlled and then what we can do internally to sort of change that dynamic, I think, would be helpful.
Kathleen Aspenns: [00:06:11] I completely agree. And also, we want to just express for you listeners, you know, if you are not safe, if you’re not safe at home, if you’re not safe in your relationship, please get help. Please, please, please, please reach out to the National Domestic Violence Hotline at the hotline.org and their phone number is 800-799-SAFE. There’s also the VictimConnect resources, national hotlines, and that is absolutely paramount to if you are not safe, please ask for help. Please get help. Please make a plan and get out. That is, your safety and your well-being are very important to us. And so we want to make sure that you know those things and you know that people care, and there are resources for you available. And you know, there’s a whole spectrum of that sort of abuse that happens. And if it’s, I’m going to use air quotes, “just emotional”, that is no less important for you to be looking at and to be taking care of yourself. So we really want to encourage you to get help there, too. Shame thrives on silence and secrecy, and the more that you can speak out, you can find your voice, you can connect to those who care, to your friends, to your family, whoever you can reach out to, to your community, to be able to share what’s going on and not need to hide behind a mask of that everything’s okay, that is oftentimes a really important step and often a first step because a lot of these things take place in the shadows. A lot of these shaming experiences take place in the shadows and the cure for that is a little sunlight and to be getting support and people to really see you and they really want to help you. So I wanted to make sure we talked about that too.
Rochana Felde: [00:08:16] Yeah, absolutely. And then just to– you know, also to clarify, you know, when we’re talking about using these flower essences, we’re working on those deep inner levels for somebody who’s sort of already in the process. And as Kathleen said, you know, if you’re in the crisis of where you’re in danger, don’t– you know, like maybe if you have flower essences to help you, but that’s not going to solve the problem. So you need to reach out to the hotlines or whatever support system you have to get out of any kind of immediate danger. And so with flower essences, you know, Kathleen, how would you go about, say, a client comes to you who’s been recently in the situation or maybe doesn’t even realize they’re being controlled and manipulated?
Kathleen Aspenns: [00:09:10] Yeah, I’d like to start just by telling a little bit of the trajectory that I’ve experienced because I think that it’s useful, and by being able to tell my story, it’s very empowering to me as well. And I found that when I have been able to share it, a lot of people recognize themselves in certain aspects of it as well, and that’s also part of this shared experience that, you know, everybody has a story, everybody has an experience. And so in my particular individual scenario, you know, I was born into and grew up in a fundamentalist Doomsday cult. And the part of the system was women were, you know, subjugated. And the levels of misogyny and toxicity in this scenario were very, very high. And I was, you know, raised up to think my greatest version was essentially to be a servant and to be obedient and compliant to authority, and that was enforced, you know, with physical spanking and that sort of thing from, you know, more or less the time I was born. And so I developed this, you know, this learned helplessness. I didn’t realize I had a voice. I didn’t realize I had the ability to stand up for myself. And it took me many, many, many years, decades to figure this out, to start to work my way through it. And I started to work my way through it sort of more intellectually at first, and I knew that there was nothing wrong with me. I knew that this experience of shame that was just absolutely, you know, buried deeply within me. I knew that wasn’t right. I knew, but I didn’t know how to do anything about it. And you know, I mean, nature has always saved my life. You know, growing up in that circumstance in that, you know, truth only came from outside of you, that, you know, these authority figures were telling me what life was and you know that God was angry and obviously a guy, women were very secondary. And this toxicity that got built into my system, the only peace I had was in nature. The only peace was outside. That always had truth. It felt like truth to me. And inside with the people, it always was very confusing and distressing.
So growing up and getting out of that scenario was one thing physically, but to get out of that internally was another thing. And you know, I remember this situation of talking to some friends. And one of my friends said to me, you should forgive yourself, you know? You know, I felt so bad and I was feeling horrible about things that I had done when I didn’t believe I had any value. Forgive yourself and I’m like, What a great idea. How does that work? Because I knew it. I knew there was nothing. You know, intellectually, I knew like, Yeah, of course, I was a victim. But to be able to actually release it, my cells believed it. It was baked into my physical form, into my heart. And, you know, years later, I thought, you know, I really have to do something about this. I really have to do something. This is unhealthy.
So I had known about flower essences a little bit from working with my birds because they’re safe for using with your animals. And I looked into it and I thought Pine, Pine, inappropriate guilt. Yeah, that seems right. And so I started to use it and I started to use it reliably and, you know, regularly. And, you know, after a few weeks, after a month, I looked back and I went, Oh my god. That feeling is gone. It was just gone. And I haven’t felt that way ever since. I continually kind of touch back in with Pine because it’s been an ally to me. And even just talking about getting ready for this episode, I’ve been touching back in with Pine because it’s helpful for removing these layers over time, but I cannot tell you how much Pine changed my life. It’s one of the Bach essences and I’ve told other people and they’ve had similar experiences, so that is absolutely my first go-to essence for this topic. Have you worked with Pine? Is that a friend to you?