My Healing Journey After Childhood Abuse (Includes Extensive Resource List)

Nearly 40 years ago at ~4 years old.

[***NOTE: IF YOU ARE VISITING TIM.BLOG/TRAUMA FOR THE RESOURCE LIST, PLEASE CLICK HERE OR SCROLL DOWN***]

[A transcript of this episode can be found at this link.]

For me, this is the most important podcast episode I’ve ever published.

In it, I describe the most life-shaping, certainly the most difficult, and certainly the most transformative journey of my 43 years on this planet. I’ve never shared it before.

My dance partner and safety net in this conversation is my friend Debbie Millman (@debbiemillman). She has been named one of the most creative people in business by Fast Company, and she is the host of Design Matters—a great show and one of the world’s longest running podcasts. She is also Chair of the Masters in Branding Program at the School of Visual Arts and Editorial Director of Print magazine, and she has worked on design strategy for some of the world’s largest brands.

But I didn’t ask Debbie to join me because of her bio. I asked Debbie because she’s a close confidante, she’s an excellent interviewer, and she’s been an incredible support for me in the last few years, including late-night emergency phone calls. Last but not least, she and I have experienced similar trauma but have taken two very different paths to healing using very different tools. So, you get a two-for-one deal in this conversation.

#464: Tim Ferriss — My Healing Journey After Childhood Abuse
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Listen to the episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Overcast, Stitcher, Castbox, Google Podcasts, or on your favorite podcast platform.

The transcript for this episode can be found here. Transcripts of all episodes can be found here.

***

All resources mentioned in this episode—and many more—are listed below. If you have tips, advice, or resources that have helped you, please share in the comments. We will moderate to eliminate any bad actors, snark, or other nonsense.

And if you remember only one thing, remember this: there is light on the other side. I wouldn’t have believed this even five years ago, but I now consider myself living proof that deep, lasting change is possible. Don’t give up. You are never alone, and it is never hopeless. I’m right there alongside you, as are millions of others.

Much love to you and yours, 

Tim 

P.S. Disclaimer: Debbie and I are not doctors or therapists, and we don’t play them on the internet. This episode and blog post are for informational purposes only, and nothing is intended as professional or medical advice in any capacity. Please be smart and be safe.


LIST OF RESOURCES

CLICK ANY LINK TO JUMP TO THAT SECTION, OR SCROLL DOWN FOR ALL:

DOCUMENTARIES
BOOKS AND SUGGESTED READING
MORE EXTENSIVE BOOK LIST FROM DEBBIE MILLMAN
RESOURCES, ORGANIZATIONS, AND TOOLS
MOST MENTIONED PODCAST EPISODES
LIST OF RELATED PODCAST EPISODES

DOCUMENTARIES

BOOKS AND SUGGESTED READING

MORE EXTENSIVE BOOK LIST FROM DEBBIE MILLMAN

Please note that there is some natural overlap with the above list.

Self-help (the books that helped me in my twenties):

Newer book about rape culture: 

Particularly good memoirs, all of which are about sexual abuse and/or rape:

Novel or Semi-Autobiographical about sexual abuse and/or rape:

RESOURCES, ORGANIZATIONS, AND TOOLS

MOST MENTIONED PODCAST EPISODES

LIST OF RELATED PODCAST EPISODES

SELECTED LINKS FROM THE EPISODE

  • Connect with Debbie Millman:

Website | Design Matters Podcast | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook

SHOW NOTES

  • Despite enormous discomfort, here’s why this is a conversation better put in motion sooner rather than later. [04:42]
  • From amnesia to hypermnesia—how I began to remember what I’d long forced myself to forget. [09:45]
  • Where my first 10-day Vipassana silent retreat took me, and why I’m grateful Jack Kornfield was there to ensure I made it back. [11:54]
  • Taking note of behaviors that seemed strange and inexplicable out of context but make perfect sense when memories of the pain and trauma they’re meant to alleviate resurface. [14:23]
  • Excuses I made to put off this conversation and the realization—whether through breakdown or breakthrough—that choosing not to deal with my trauma was just dealing with it poorly. [17:10]
  • A concerning symptom of delving deeper into the trauma of sexual abuse that I hadn’t expected to experience and some wise words a fellow trauma survivor had to say about the evolutionary miracle of dissociation. [18:14]
  • How common is sexual abuse, and why has it been so difficult for victims in our society to seek the help they need to heal? [21:59]
  • Debbie shares the extent of her own trauma that was imposed upon her beginning at age nine and how she’s tried to cope with it from then to now. [24:44]
  • What is the Joyful Heart Foundation, and how is it working to eradicate the rape kit backlog that keeps victims from getting justice and allows offenders to walk free? [28:38]
  • How disclosing her experience to this show’s audience changed Debbie’s life, and what she discovered in the aftermath of telling the truth. [30:32]
  • Reiterating the importance of having a guide who can help you through the rough parts of an immersive experience that might dredge up darkness you’re not ready to face. [37:45]
  • Trauma toolkit resources I’ve found particularly helpful. [39:03]
  • How heart rate variability (HRV) training has been useful in treating my cardiac hyper-responsiveness to daily stressors. In other words, it’s allowing me to better control my physiology in order to change my psychology. [43:32]
  • While skeptical of Enneagram personality typing, I do think it may be useful in certain circumstances. [46:03]
  • Why ayahuasca might be an overkill treatment for trauma in many cases, and what might prove to be better alternatives for most—provided they’re legal where you live. [47:06]
  • What does Debbie recommend to people who are trying to work through their trauma perhaps for the very first time? Where should they begin? [50:22]
  • What did Debbie’s very first talk therapy sessions look like compared to what they look like now, and what’s the one stipulation she has for them to be truly effective—even during the COVID-19 pandemic? [54:39]
  • While antidepressants may be helpful for many people, here are some of their potential drawbacks and dangers that patients considering their use should be aware of. [59:34]
  • What we, according to Stan Grof, are really trying to kill when we contemplate suicide and how a chance delivery was instrumental in preventing my own suicide. [1:05:38]
  • Trauma toolkit resources that Debbie has found particularly helpful. [1:09:29]
  • What I discovered while seeking an answer to the one question that truly matters, as conveyed by mindfulness teacher Tara Brach: what are you unwilling to feel? [1:14:39]
  • How who we are today can be better equipped to help heal the wounds of—and nurture—who we were yesterday. [1:20:48]
  • You’re stronger than you give yourself credit for. Aim for the work that will allow you to retire at the end of the day with, as Debbie says, one notch more hope than shame. [1:25:53]
  • Why the seemingly perpetual act of recovery isn’t incompleteness—it’s connection. [1:27:47]
  • How reading the stories of other trauma survivors and learning what they did to incorporate that trauma into their own lives has helped Debbie. [1:32:30]
  • Why Debbie is hopeful that trauma survivors in our society will increasingly build and adopt the tools required to shift the shame of their experiences where it belongs but also advocate creating a new vocabulary that replaces words like “victim” and “survivor” with terms that don’t paint people who have endured trauma as other. [1:33:37]
  • Debbie and I share thoughts on tracking and confronting our perpetrators—which today has become as effortless as a Google search. Is there anything to be gained from seeking such contact? Can true forgiveness prevail over our desire for vengeance—and if so, should it? [1:34:39]
  • Is forgiveness more than just letting go of anger? How do you know where the line is between useful anger and anger that just consumes you? What can you do to reexamine how you process and utilize that anger in a way that’s constructive rather than destructive? [1:44:00]
  • Beyond the expression of anger, how has childhood trauma contributed to our other signature behaviors? What have we used to keep us “safe” from what we’ve been unwilling to feel? [1:56:19]
  • Another point in favor of having other people looped in on what you’re going through to act as a support system and, in turn, being available to support others who need you to be part of that system for them. [1:59:02]
  • When nearly 75 percent of a dozen male friends I’ve talked to about this have relayed their own stories of sexual abuse, is it time for a #HeToo movement? How can we most supportively respond to women or men who choose to share their experiences with us? Here’s how Jack Kornfield responded when I told him about mine. [1:59:22]
  • How has understanding and integrating my own trauma changed me and my perspective on life to this point? [2:06:45]
  • What do I hope listeners take away from this conversation? [2:13:07]
  • Parting thoughts and much gratitude to Debbie for having this conversation—and many other late-night conversations like it—with me. [2:15:28]

PEOPLE MENTIONED

The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 500 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.

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333 Replies to “My Healing Journey After Childhood Abuse (Includes Extensive Resource List)”

  1. Thank you Tim. Thank you so much. For your sharing, for your drawing attention to trauma, for the incredible honesty and courage you have to speak about this.

    We’re so honoured to witness this and to hear your story. So much love to you and all the best in this week (and coming weeks) which must be incredibly challenging for you.

    You’ve done a courageous and insanely beautiful thing in sharing this. Thank you so much.

  2. Tim, I haven’t listened to your podcast yet, and I will, but I just wanted to leave a message of support and just general hurrah for your beautiful, courageous, creative act of sharing your story and your journey. I respect your spirit and your voice and listen to your podcasts once in a while. The amount of effort and heart anyone can tell you have put into this is just mind blowing and testament to the Human that you are. Thank you for shining your light so that others may follow, and better still, find theirs again, or share theirs with yours. Many blessings. 🙂

  3. Thank you Tim. The book that helped me forgive was “Forgiveness the greatest healer of all” by Gerald Jampolsky MD. Forgiveness doesn’t make the past right, or require me to restart a relationship from the past, but it helped me heal. A recent quote on forgiveness said “it means letting go of the wish that the past would be different”.

  4. Thank you so much for sharing this, Tim. I have also experienced sexual trauma and deeply appreciate the fact that you are sharing this. I have been a fan of you since you started out and had no idea you were carrying this horrible experience with you. I’m so sorry to hear you had this experience. I actually admire you even more now after your story. Here in Norway I can recommend two different centers who help people who had this experience: “Støttesenteret mot incest og seksuelle overgrep” and “Dixi Resurssenter for utsatte of pårørende av seksuelle overgrep” which is located in many regions arund the country. Check out “Din vei ut” : Dinveiut.no to find the right resources for you. They both take care of people who have experienced sexual abuse/ assault/ violence, in addition to the “victims” relatives, family and friends. It is for free. People can also call them and receive support over the telephone. People can also call this telephonenumber which is 24 hours open: 800 57 000 or Mental helse telefon: 116 123 anytime.

    Sending you and all the people who read this lots of courage, strength and love! YOU are worthy and your story has great significance!

    Best regards from Anna in Norway

  5. My son was raped by a Boy Scott leader. He hid it until he was in his 20’s then sued the boyscott organization. He could not bring the perpatraitor to justice because of the statute of limitations. the guy is still out there. Thank you dear Tim for sharing your story. I am a 70 year old women that admires, respects and loves you dearly.

  6. This was powerful and brave. I am not sure what my next steps will be but you have described this perfectly and have put words to what has been unspeakable for me. Best of all, I am not alone! KB

  7. Support you tim and thanks for being brave enough to liberate yourself from the silence.

    I had a mentor who guided me through the painful, tough and yet deeply liberating and freeing work of my sexual abuse. I’m forever indebted to her consistency, gentle persistance and grace as she guided me through one of the toughest phases of my life. I rallied against her, tried every trick i had in my toolbelt of dysfunction…and she held me emotionally and eneergetically until i could emerge from the fog and anger. Her name is Lynette Arkadie and she is at https://www.myenergymentor.com She saved my life!

    Thanks Tim (and Lynette) for sharing your stories and helping others

  8. Debbie and Tim,

    thank you so much for your courage to share this! This is so valuable for so many people and certainly the most important podcast episode you have ever done, Tim! I strongly appreciate how both of you manage to turn even the worst experiences into something positive by helping others!

    I would like to share another – incredibly powerful – tool for dealing with trauma. Some of you might have heard of it: Acupoint tapping. It can work miracles.

    It is based on the meridian system of Traditional Chinese Medicine and on the idea that negative emotions from trauma, memories etc are caused by blocks in the body’s energy system. And those blocks can be released.

    In acupuncture, meridian points are stimulated by needles, in acupressure, those points are stimulated through pressure of the fingers, and in acupoint tapping, these points are tapped with the finger tips. While it may sound odd that this has an effect on trauma, the method works really well and sometimes even quite fast.

    There are several versions of acupoint tapping which – despite having different names – all basically work in a similar way. A popular one is Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) which was developed by Gary Craig (who originally is a Stanford trained engineer), based on the works of chiropractor George Goodheart, psychiatrist Dr John Diamond and psychologist Roger Callahan. Many other people have contributed valuable work in that field.

    Tapping charts that show which points to tap can easily be found on the internet.

    Meridian tapping can very well be combined with other techniques like NLP, talk therapy, meditation, and many more.

    There has been a lot of research on the effects of acupoint tapping in the last years. Among others, Dr David Feinstein, Dr Dawson Church, Dr Fred Gallo and Dr Peta Stapleton have written scientific articles and/or performed studies on the efficacy of acupoint tapping.

    Some of the studies can be found on Researchgate on the internet and on the websites of the experts mentioned above.

    Good reading:
    Pratt/Lambrou, Instant Emotional Healing
    Eden/Feinstein, The promise of Energy Psychology

    While acupoint tapping is a powerful self-help tool, not only for trauma, you have to work with an experienced practitioner when dealing with traumatic experiences or memories! It is certainly not only about tapping the points, but about how to approach certain memories and deal with them in the most gentle way that is possible. There are techniques that allow to deal with traumatic memories without having to talk about them directly.

    To those of you who have experienced trauma: I strongly encourage you to take a look at acupoint tapping/tapping/EFT. It may help you more than you can imagine. If you work with a well trained and experienced (!) practitioner, it can be dealt with without being retraumatized and even without having to go through all of the painful memories again.

    Last but not least, acupoint tapping can already be taught to children in order to empower them to deal with anxiety, fear, or stress of any kind. Books on that topic include: “The Wizard’s Wish” and “A Garden of Emotions”, both by Brad Yates.

    Tim, your work is incredibly valuable!

    Sending lots of love and strength to all of you from Berlin, Germany –
    Ulrike Strohscheer

  9. Ultimate leadership. Profound Creativity. Courage is not enough to describe what you have done here. For you to share such private and personal experience. More comments to follow when I get time. I have a busy job, unfortunately can’t do only 4 hour a week yet.

  10. Wow! Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you. Your honesty and courage is a huge gift and contribution. Thank you! Many blessings to you.

  11. As a victim of sexual abuse by a trusted male teacher, I appreciate your story. It took me 45 years to tell my all-boys’ school which thoroughly investigated and confirmed my story. I wish I had a Tim Ferris-like podcast years ago. No doubt many people will benefit from your truth.

  12. Dear Tim,

    I am deeply touched by your vulnerability and generosity in releasing this podcast. What a struggle it must have been to decide to actually release it! You have done the right thing in every way possible, and I hope it serves you as much as it will serve countless others.

    One thing struck me that I really wanted to mention. You speak about dissociating, both throughout your life as a coping mechanism, and even in these last few days before releasing the podcast. While I totally get it and why it’s happening, I wanted to offer another perspective on it – even if it may seem obvious.

    In Vedanta teachings (and I’m no expert nor do I play on on TV, lol), the “absolute truth” is that there is only the Self. Our true nature is as that which is real, and that what is real is eternal and not subject to birth and death or to duality in any form. What is that, the Self? They call it Sat Chit Ananda, the meaning of which is Existence (Sat), Consciousness (Chit), Bliss (Ananda).

    I know and feel how the dissociation of “yourself” with your body is due to profound pain and trauma, but, from another perspective – just something to consider – is that if YOU are disassociating, then YOU cannot BE that which you are dissociating from! None of this is in any way to minimize the trauma or the pain or anything about what you are experiencing, but, it might be valuable to contemplate the experience from the point of view that when you disassociate, in some ways your are “closer to” who and what you really are.

    From the perspective of Vedanta (as best I understand it from James Swartz via his books and youTube videos), you are whole and complete, limitless, non-dual, action-less, ordinary, unconcerned awareness. This is true of course always, whether you’re disassociating or not. But when you’re disassociating, perhaps there is an opportunity to understand what you really are, and that incredibly (and beautifully) you are whole and complete, and feel the bliss of that.

    In addition to having an amazing holistic therapist with whom – through talk, breathwork and hypno – I have been able to heal and change a great deal, Vedanta is the most effective means of knowledge imaginable (its a MED for Freedom). I just had to share.

    Offered with deep appreciation for all you’ve given me an countless others. Thank you Tim!

    Dave

  13. Signed up to your newsletter a couple of days ago when I ordered Tools of Titans… Item No. 1 on Newsletter No. 1 and I’m already kind of stunned. Thanks to you and to Debbie for sharing this conversation with us, I’m sure many will be helped by it but I’m sorry about what happened to each of you to cause it.

    Also, a general thank you for all you’re contributing to the world, Tim. I happened to get the book today and I’m looking forward to seeing what I can learn from it.

    Rest up, and see/hear you on the other side of the next few days. – Marlla

  14. Thank you Tim for such a powerful brave, and important podcast!!! I am overwhelmed!!!
    What would you think about doing an episode on Compassion Fatigue – about how those who help people traumatized are also traumatized and how they can learn to cope?

  15. Tim: Thank you for your courage, wisdom, vulnerability, compassion, and insights. I am sorry for what you have had to go through. Yet, your words will bring more healing than we can likely estimate. One book I would add to this discussion and a great guest that I would be so excited to hear you interview is Dr. Brian Weiss, author of “Many Lives Many Masters” as well as several other extraordinary books regarding healing trauma through hypnotic regression. Please keep up your important work. Our world needs more wisdom that shines through a well calibrated moral compass such as yours. Godspeed. Love and Respect, David W. Lawler

  16. Thank you so much for this deep and courageous conversation that offers so much, on so many levels. Your honesty, compassion and the paths you have taken for your healing are an inspiration. I truly believe this will save lives and offer hope to people who have not believed they will find the light. Hearing this podcast has touched me, and my heart resonates with what you say in many painful ways.

  17. Tim, thank you for sharing your experience. I’m so sorry this happened to you. It takes a great deal of courage to share. I felt like my own experience with childhood abuse was finally “normalized” while listening to you and Debbie discuss your experiences. It felt so validating to hear that I’m not alone. May I suggest an additional resource – Beverly Engel’s book “It Wasn’t Your Fault” has been extremely helpful for me. She has exercises in there that teach a person how to cultivate self-compassion. The first part is tough to get through and might be triggering with the abuse statistics but the exercises in the back half of the book changed my life. Also “Honor Your Anger” by Beverly Engel was very helpful.

  18. Tim! Listened to this episode via Apple Podcast.Tears. It is so stunningly painful. At the same time, it’s uplifting. I love you determination, your approach to self healing, to reclaiming what I am calling stolen energy. It’s beautiful and so loving. So much of our chi is required to keep these monsters in place in our subconscious mind. Name the monster. It’s a wonder you got anything done. Are you a freak of nature? No. However, you are a freaking hero for uprooting that experience and exposing it to the light. It can be done. And we need examples. And by the way this is not hero worship. Mine is genuine gratitude as you reveal your process. Thank the Source of all things for plant medicines. Thank the Source of all things for knowledgeable healers and researchers. Thanks for all you do.

  19. Thank you, on so many levels, for this conversation

    An infinite number of powerful takeaways from this. I’ll just mention one thing I don’t see in the other comments. It may come off as broad and a bit mundane compared to so many of the other responses, but here goes.

    It took me a good four hours to listen to this podcast because I kept stopping to write, write out ideas and insights and questions I’d never been able to articulate before. I realized, I’m not sure I’ve ever listened to a conversation like this. At therapy, I’m always wondering if I’m “doing this wrong.” There are so few examples out there on how to simply have a purposeful yet deeply empathetic conversation, with someone else or, for someone who like to journal a lot, with your Self. This is that example.

    I’m not sure what direction my own healing is going in, but it feels like you and Debbie’s leading by example has prompted a breakthrough of sorts. I hope that’s the case for many, many others too, regardless of the type of difficulties they’re experiencing.

  20. Wow Tim & Debbie, THANK YOU!

    I cried for most of your show. I’ve never felt so connected to what felt like my mirror reflection.

    I’m a 43 year-old male, father of 3, married for 20 years, who drank Ayahuasca for the first time around 6 years ago after meeting an amazing shaman at the 2013 MAPS conference in Oakland.

    Similar to Tim, I had visions of things that happened, but didn’t want to deal with it. I’ve been in ceremony probably around 30 times since, and done some amazing healing work with geniuses like Dennis McKenna in Peru.

    I still have much healing to do and can now thanks to these resources better help heal myself. I don’t know how express the gratitude to you both!

    I’ve watched your amazing support with MAPS recently and have wanted to be able to help you in some way.

    [Address link and description removed by moderator.]

    I’d love to share other success and failure (learning) stories that might help listeners, like our Journey to the Pranic World Festival in Coccore, Italy last year and then doing a Breatharian Initiation in Colchester, England.

    Thank you again for your amazing beautiful message!

    Love and Light to All,
    Brent

  21. Tim you have always been my go to source on all things related to trauma. I am so glad you shared your experience and helped heal people too. Take care of yourself buddy.

    1. Tim,

      Thank you for this podcast, as it came at the perfect time. I am grateful you didn’t wait another week to share this experience as it may have been too late for too many. Something that resonated with me is when you spoke of forgiveness. I use to associate forgiveness with letting someone off the hook and saw myself as having to offer grace to an evil person receiving nothing in return.

      I have found that forgiveness is not just a journey to gain inner peace. From my experience, true forgiveness prevents me from harming others. If we don’t forgive offenders, we will unknowingly become the pain in another’s life.

      When wronged, we take steps to protect ourselves. I did this myself only to realize years later that I treated all the people I cared about as if they were the perpetrator of the original offense towards me. I wouldn’t let friends or family get close, and I sabotaged relationships treating all around me as if they were potential sources of pain and betrayal. This book, The Bonds that Make us Free, allowed me to forgive. I was able to heal my relationships, marry, and have a child. I stopped hurting the ones I loved once I was able to forgive my offender. Thank you so much for this healing message, it is helping on my journey. I hope that this book can help others like me struggling with forgiveness.

  22. Tim,

    I was 22 when you published the 4HWW, and I have literally grown up with you over the past 13 years. You have gradually transformed (along with many of your fans) from a self-help bro into a spiritual and cultural leader. From focusing on lifestyle design and getting rich quick to searching for deeper meaning, wisdom, and healing. It’s been a pleasure and an honor to go along for the ride.

    I’m writing you now, after a decade of silent fandom to say this on behalf of myself, and I’m sure thousands of silents fans:

    Your bravery in this episode, and your commitment to constant learning and growth over the years is an inspiration to me. You’ve made me stronger, smarter, wiser, and bolder. The impact of your work echoes out into the world in ways that you can’t even imagine, as thousands of us become better people and share our gifts with the world.

    Thank you for everything that you do. I hope you can pause at this moment, celebrate yourself, and enjoy this day of your life.

    With sincere gratitude,

    Mark

  23. Fellow childhood trauma survivor here. I’m finally doing the work with a therapist at age 42. It’s so incredibly hard but worth it. Thank you Tim for sharing your story with so many. It took such tremendous courage. My therapist is having me read and work through the book and workbook called “The Wounded Heart” by Dr. Dan Allender. Just about every sentence feels like it was written about my life. Powerful stuff. It does have a Christian tilt to it, which as a non-christian is challenging at times but I try and equate the use of God to energy. Best of luck to anyone contemplating taking this journey. I’m nowhere near finished but have seen some significant change and progress over the past 8 months.

  24. I was hoping for a resource for finding a good therapist. Over and over we are warned that you can’t do this alone. That having a good therapist made all the difference. set and setting are critical for a successful psychedelic experience. Be very careful! Be sure you are working with a professional!
    I’ve read half the books that are on this reading list. I cannot read myself out of my dysfunction. I recognize I need professional support. But I have not been able to find it.
    My prayer to you Tim, is that you will create a database or some online clearing house where people can recommend and rate therapists in their area. If this is something you would consider using your resources to set up, I would be happy to put in the hours it takes to set it up. 

  25. Tim,

    Many people think that brave men “slay dragons”, defend the innocent and other masculine pursuits, but the truth is being vulnerable is far more difficult and takes a level of bravery that most will never understand. Good for you! This podcast will help many people, for years to come. We (your fans) love you, we got you. Keep doing what you do.

    Stephanie

  26. When Tim Ferriss interviewed Brene’ Brown (episode 409) he asked her about the seemingly completely out of character responses Brene’ Elicits in others. Tim asked, “what chord do you think you have struck, or what archetype are you providing that gets that response?” Brene’ at first, very humbly did not provide an answer to the question, but Tim gave a theory… “that it has something to do with vulnerability.”

    Fast forward to Tim and Debbie Millman’s published conversation Sept 14,2020; a powerful dialog of their individual journeys toward healing. The best part for me as a listener is that I know the journey is not done for either Debbie or Tim and that I have the gift of future podcasts from each of these incredible humans to continue to add to what feels like a shared experience of healing.

    Tim thank you to you and Debbie for this gift of such a critical conversation at such a critical time in the world – a time when it feels like the world is for connection and healing. This conversation between Debbie and Tim is a gift I plan to come back to time and again, I am a different person for having heard this conversation. I will be a different, and better human every time I listen to this conversation it is that important.

    Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

  27. Tim, I just wanted to take a moment to express my appreciation. Like countless others, I read the 4HWW way back when, it opened my eyes to a different way of living and sparked a long and fruitful journey.
    I have met literally hundreds of people who are traveling entrepreneurs, who enjoy amazing freedom and who probably wouldn’t be where they are if it weren’t for your book.

    But more than the 4HWW, you’ve been a positive influence on me, just living by example. I’ve learnt a lot from your books and content, but more from the impressions of how you think and how you live. I’m grateful for what you do and grateful that I get to learn from you.

    You continue to lead the way with this episode. I can’t imagine how much of a shining light this is to how many people.

    Thank you, Tim.

  28. Tim, I’ve been on similar journey with trauma and psychedelics. Thank you for your courage to share this. You are not alone. You are an inspiration.

  29. When I saw the title, I didn’t know what to expect. You’re right, this is a taboo topic that needs to be brought out of the darkness into broad daylight. This podcast was a model of transparency and authenticity. By making yourself vulnerable, you’ve opened the door of healing for millions of people. In a cynical world, this 2 hour and 20 minute podcast is a beacon of hope.

  30. Thank you for having this conversation Tim & Debbie. I am filled with inspiration, admiration and HOPE. Words can not describe the respect I have for you both. Sending love & compassion.

  31. Bravery on a whole nother level. I appreciate the vulnerability, last weeks recommendations of ‘The Work’ documentary, and the various podcasts. I’ve never been physically abused and suffered from the regular emotional/mental abuse that the majority of males come up with. However, along with the recent reading of Daring Greatly, it has given me a large respect for and the ability to open up vulnerable thoughts within myself.
    Keep pushing forward, I think you have become one of the most important faces for males dealing with longstanding issues and have helped many people find ways to handle it.
    Much appreciated!

  32. Thank you Tim. Along the lines of reinforcing a hopeful outlook, and the possibility of advances in scientific understanding aiding people who have experienced trauma, I am writing to share research (published today in Nature) that takes steps towards understanding the neurobiological basis of dissociation. A technical summary of the work can be viewed here: https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-02505-z
    And a journalist’s summary here: https://med.stanford.edu/news/all-news/2020/09/researchers-pinpoint-brain-circuitry-underlying-dissociation.html

  33. This remembers me a quote from Brené Brown “Strong back, soft front, wild heart”. May you be at peace, Tim, and live an ever increasing, incredible life.

  34. Thank you for sharing so bravely Tim. I’m a psychologist who uses IFS with clients, and it is by far the best modality I’ve found to enable true healing. Trauma, anxiety, depression, stress, burnout – it’s blessing to know that we have the resources within us to heal and come back to who we truly are.

  35. Long-term fan here. So sorry that happened to you, that’s absolutely horrific. I really admire your strength of dealing with this. How compassionate of you for sharing your story, and everything else you do. Wishing you all the best.

  36. I appreciate how you reframed from the limiting ideas of being in recovery, or of being a victim, to the more powerful and expansive ideas of taking it as part of your path, and of finding meaning and purpose in life. As someone who has experience a life filled with trauma, those are the ideas that keep me going, determined to live my life filled with beauty and purpose. I am definitely sharing this with friends who need to hear this. ❤

  37. I’ll admit that I’ve always been curious about what drives you with all the magic mushroom stuff etc. for me this was the missing puzzle piece. Like Hemingway said: the writers task is not to criticise but to understand.
    Stay safe, party on and be excellent each other; and yourself.

  38. Thank you so much for this very special personal episode, this gives us power and let’s us know we are not alone thank you for giving yourself permission to be vulnerable. I took shrooms and what my sub conscience was hiding has been a nightmare I’ve since been in therapy. I was molested by my father and I had no idea until the shrooms then I discovered the reasons for my behavior. Once again thank you for sharing.

  39. Wow, what a journey you have taken us on. I feel like I’ve been a witness to your growth while learning so much from you. My heart breaks for you and the pain, but I’m happy for your healing and Debbie too. Thank you for sharing with us❤️

  40. A gigantic THANK YOU x a trillion for this episode, and for offering this profound and invaluable contribution to humanity. The impact of this contribution will cause ripples of healing across the globe and already is. Gratitude

  41. Tim, thank you for sharing your story. My 19yr old adopted daughter was sexually assaulted by a classmate at 16yrs old which brought to the surface a memory of being sexually abused by her biological mother’s boyfriend when she was about 3-4 yrs old. For the last three years, her dad and I have struggled to support her and to provide the “right” treatments, resources, tools and access to therapists. She is still early on her path to grappling with what was done to her and isn’t exactly what I would say thriving but, she has moments of beautiful lucidity and maturity beyond her years and seems to know that she has power to take control of her future even though so much of her past control was taken from her. Mostly I wanted to let you know that I think that you and Debbie are both extremely brave. The details of hard-won self knowledge you both shared are helping me to understand my daughter more deeply. For so long I have wondered why she always had such seemingly outsized reactions to situations; I’ve struggled with my inability to help her directly and the more I hear the stories of people who have experienced sexual trauma, the more I understand that she has to be the one to take ownership of her story and of her path to healing. Thank you, thank you, thank you. May the gift you have given by sharing your story be given back to you a thousandfold.

  42. And here you are again improving and saving lives by turning your experience into wisdom. I’m just so sad and angry as this experience was NEVER one you should have gone through. The fact you chose to share your hurt and your recovery is testament to your courage, determination and generosity. You will no doubt save lives because of your bravery and it was Debbie Millman’s bravery that called forth your truth so thank you to her too. For me, on the day I broke and was about to take my own life I found myself on my knees praying to god I didn’t believe in. My prayer was “ I quit, it’s over and if for some reason you decide to save my life it will only be because you want me to help others. I cannot live for me anymore but I’ll live for others.” I’m still here! The most perfect people appeared in my life and I started to heal. And in accordance with the prayer and what I now believe was the plan, I have been sent countless people over the years that I have been able to help. It is my greatest honour to have been sent these people. I know that they know I’ve been where they are and I can call them forward. it is hard and messy work but people do heal. There is recovery! Many things helped. I did something called “Empty chair Work“. I did it in the UK but I think it comes from the Survivors Programme – Pia Melody. The work of Julia Cameron, Geneen Roth, V (formally Eve Ensler),Chanel Miller helped immensely too, in addition to many of the other people you have listed. Please look at the work of survivor Janes Rhodes who has the most incredible story and is now reforming sex abuse law in Spain. He’s also fast, furious, passionate, talented and determined. Finally, fluffy, very soft fabrics got me back in my body and made me feel safe. So simple yet so effective…… I wish you all the love the world has to offer. Love too to all those who hold you, guide you and love you back to wholeness. This is hard important work and it takes a tribe to save a life and heal a soul, which is why, as you say “none of us are alone with this” we cannot be for this work is done together and needs a chorus of beings to bring about healing. Some sing plant medicine, some sing talk therapy, other voices are found in books – there is hope and healing and miracles do happen. Love you Tim. Xxx

  43. Couldn’t sleep well last night as a result of this. I’m owe of the powerful message this brings and of course also bc the connection to your authenticity as a long term follower. Much needs to be done to safeguard our children. I will take some actions towards helping that. First of all tho by speaking out it reduce these perpetrators’s power to almost zero. For a long time people keep it a secret such that the crimes gain its power , both psychologically and practically for people who have such mental illness (or at least we can call it an issue) to hurt children. The root cause have to be found and resolved.

  44. In sharing the dots this piece of work you’ve created help connecting , I can feedback that it does make me suspect that the reason why I too have some sort of urge to share my own psychological work(aim at improving my own outlook on life and general day to day happiness) may be driven by my own experience as a child. I don’t have an abusive experience but I do have a very strict father who would beat me fiercely for the smallest things you can imagine and he didn’t allow me to cry. this is not a story from an abnormal, underprivileged family. My father is a bit of a mathematical genius and done well in his life , but he also had a strict father who would beat him for rather peculiar reasons such as not sitting upright. So for people to know. The problem is more extensive than you think and we need to educate people to protect children . my father also loves me so it didn’t have that great of an impact on me , at least none that I have strong evidence of. It certainly shapes some of my personality traits and more importantly a hidden urge to share about “something” with people. I guess it is may be driven by the urge to regain the power from the powerlessness I felt as a child who needed to bear such physical and psychological pain for things she wasn’t equipped to fully understand. The power to reach out a powerful hand to people in need by sharing, just as I wished I had a powerful physical and psychological shield at the age of 5 to defend myself. In doing so (by sharing insights) we regain that power back from childhood. You just have done today and so I congratulate you in taking the smart action in rescue yourself from that situation and in the process rescued many more than you can imagine

  45. Tim and Debbie, thank you so much for sharing these personal and tragic stories. I am so sorry to hear you had to go through this. I deeply admire you for your courage and generosity in sharing this, reaching out to connect and offer help to so many others. I am deeply moved and send you much love. Thank you for the reminder that we all probably know someone who is affected by trauma (even if we are not aware of it). You inspired me to get more informed about this topic, so I can be more sensitive and aware and potentially offer help to someone one day. All the best for you guys. You are greatly appreciated.

  46. I have been fearing to listen to this episode, as you have been part of my life since 2012 through your books and podcast.. And reading the title made me realize that something terrible happened to you, my friend.
    So I waited for a good day, went walking in the forrest and listened deeply to your and Debbie’s stories. I cried through 3/4, for you and for myself.
    It is truly a gift that you have given all listeners, and I can feel the healing through the connection to you. I am not alone – nobody is! Thank you from the bottom of my healing heart!

  47. Tim and Debbie, you both sound like beautiful, honest, empathetic individuals adding tremendous value to each other, yourselves and those around you! It was a privilege to hear your stories. I am so sorry to hear what happened to both of you. Tim, I appreciated your thoughts regarding the complexity of the word forgiveness and what it means. I loved how you mentioned the word non-hatred as being part of the word forgiveness. How do you forgive these people? An experience relating to forgiveness I found helpful (I’m Debbie’s age – this lightbulb occurred recently – maybe you’ve both experienced this already) may not work for everyone (it sure wouldn’t work for me if anyone did anything to my kids!). I also understand every individual has different life experiences. But a turning point for me, personally, was feeling sad for the perpetrator (you don’t have to like them, analyze them, forgive them or understand them). It was an awareness that this person must have been incredibly broken to have done what they did to me. The sadness for them, personally, freed me from a nagging link in my chain. I realized they were (and probably still are) very broken. This understanding gave me power. I’m not broken like them. They gave me the opportunity to search, grow and evolve at another level, through a lot of hard work and set backs. I found greater self love and compassion for others – for this I am grateful. I am still learning. This has allowed me the opportunity to give back more openly, honestly and in a more loving way creating a deeper purpose and meaning to life.

  48. Tim,
    Thank you SOOO much for sharing this, not only the story but who you are and how you feel, the anger, the fear, and the vulnerability, all I have to say is how much I identified my story, my life, with yours. I think I will always feel incomplete and I have wondered whether talking to my attacker will bring the completeness I need and give me back the confidence. As you said I thought I had everything under control and that this did not affect until 4 years ago I learnt that my attacker had done the same thing to his own daughter and that she was pregnant (a little girl of only 13 years old), of course he went to jail for that and now he’s serving the sentence. But for me, that moment has been by far the worst in my life, I blamed myself (and will always do), he raped me from ages 5-7 and I told no one. I always ask myself what would have happened if I had said something.

    Caro

  49. Hi Tim,

    To heal my condition of complex PTSD caused by the trauma from childhood neglect I’ve found the somatic therapies of Irene Lyon to be helpful (https://irenelyon.com/). I believe she was a student of Peter Levine.

    All the very best.
    Regards Virginia.

  50. The “gift” of a negative event that changes your life in an instant. I refer myself to this type of gift when I talk about the transformation I experienced after the car crash in which my siblings died. It is a very strong word to use, but I feel this way too. You also made me reconsider the root of some of my behaviors. From the depth of my gift of life.Thanks for sharing Tim!

  51. Thank you both so much for this necessary and open discussion about healing from childhood sexual abuse. I’m a survivor in my 70’s and continue to explore my healing from eight years of sexual abuse as an infant and small child. There is healing and my life continues getting better and better. Blessing to you for your openness and honesty. I hold encouragement and compassion for all who are going through their healing process. I wish I could do more to stop the continued abuse of children around the world.

  52. Tim… I have listened to every episode of your podcast, many multiple times, took countless notes and learned so much along the way. You’ve been present in my life in various forms since 2009 and accompanied my entrepreneurial journey for which I will be eternally grateful. This episode broke me. I literally broke down in tears in the first 2 minutes. Thank you so much for who you are, for who you are to me, and for the work you do. I am so sorry you and Debbie had to go through this. Nobody should have to. But I’m so grateful it made you the people you are, as you took charge of the narrative and embarked on this healing journey. You and Debbie make this life make sense. <3

  53. Thank you Tim and Debbie for your incredible bravery in releasing this podcast.

    I was abused as between 3 and 4 by a family member. I completely blocked it out. It came back in a shower of disgust and complete terror about 20 years ago. It felt like a massive huge big deal at the time and explained why my whole life I felt like I had a shameful secret. (and had a truly terrible 15 year eating disorder). I only told a few people including an old therapist. I felt this was a piece of the puzzle and I didn’t want to make it the whole puzzle.

    I have also carried a lot of hatred towards my mother for not protecting me too.

    And the pattern of secrecy and shame has also continued.

    This morning someone made a joke about talking to someone else about another secret I have been keeping from everyone. I completely exploded (and I remembered Tim and Debbie talking about outside reactions to things being a complete hallmark of childhood abuse).

    I’ve had a few suicide attempts in the past plus deep suicidal ideation (I have ZERO suicidal ideation now) when my ego was under severe stress (like Tim at Princeton).

    Thank you for letting me download here. I realise that there are lots of wounds and scars.

    Just writing this out has helped a lot.

    Thank you Tim and Debbie ❤

    1. I wrote this comment in a middle of a Shame Storm this morning, thinking it would be anonymous. Turns out it’s not really 👀👀👀. Since secrecy is the disease I am trying to cure, I’m not going to worry to much about it staying up. The only person I would hate to see this is my mother. I’ve never told her about this. Plus we’ve done a lot to heal our relationship. So I thought I’d add this just in case. ❤

  54. Thank you Tim. I admire and appreciate your approach. You are brave and the strongest person I know.

    I have struggled and continue to struggle with all sorts of trauma (physical violence, family violence, being abused as a child, becoming a refugee, becoming a political victim and much more).

    Your conversation was exactly what my soul needed to hear. I feel strong again.

    Thank you for giving me hope. I hope to acknowledge all my traumas when I am as brave as you.

    Best.

  55. This podcast- hands down- was the most accurate description of what sexual trauma/PTSD does to a person’s brain and to their whole life. It’s what I live with daily and even though I consider my life to be moderately successful, it is always with me, in my head to a certain degree (with brief moments, days or weeks of respite) like an unwelcome tune. Thank you. I was scared to listen and it took me two days to complete this episode but from the bottom of my heart, I want you to know it really made a difference. Thank you so much for sharing with us and helping so many people.

  56. Wow. Thank you for making this public. I haven’t experience childhood trauma like that (I don’t think), but I have struggled with depression for a long time, and so much of what you talk about in this episode resonated with me deeply, especially the part about ‘extinguishing the loop’ and ‘being fatally flawed in a way that dooms you to unhappiness and self-loathing.’ It’s kind of haunting to hear you articulate thoughts like this that have almost endlessly cycled through my head for the past decade or more.

  57. Tim, thank you for sharing your story. It must have been incredibly difficult and heart wrenching.

    To say I am grateful for you would be an understatement. Your podcasts and books have served as the driving force behind me taking charge of my life. I’ve always felt connected with you through your words.

    I stumbled upon this episode early this morning as I usually don’t explore my podcast library until later on the weekend. However, I read the title and immediately tuned in. As soon as you started speaking, I knew this was going to change my life. So many things you and Debbie discussed in the podcast resonated with me. I vividly remembered you said that as soon as you found out about your sexual trauma, everything made sense. I too have suffered through various sexual trauma growing up and I’ve always felt the need to keep it in a locked box, like you.. Despite my introspective nature, I’ve never quite put a hand on some of the behaviours and mental thought patterns I seem to enact,

    I’ve attempted to seek out psychotherapists prior but always ended making excuses. Immediately after the episode, I blocked an hour out of my day and booked myself an appointment. I am ready to heal.

    So thank you, truly, for sharing your story. Thank you for encouraging me to look at something I’ve felt obligated to keep in the dark.

  58. Tim,

    Thank you for your courage and bravery in telling your story. You are truly an inspiration, especially to me. I was around your age when I was sexually abused by an older boy as well. It is more common for sexual abuse to happen that way than by an adult. So many men feel confusion, shame, and terror in discussing their sexual abuse and the feelings surrounding it. Thank you for sharing. For helping others not feel alone. For helping me not feel alone. I am ever grateful for your story.

    Be well.

  59. To say that this is a gift is an definitive understatement, it’s extraordinary game changing act, that will not just save lives, but allow those of us, all of us living, and living through trauma( and that is so many of us) to begin to find joy in living.

    I cannot begin to express my gratitude Tim.

    But it might be worth noting my way through it, I could not listen to the audio, I felt nauseous, it was too close to the bone for me, and saw I printed and read the transcript, I was able to take breaks, explore the modalities Tim and Debbie( both the best kind of heroes) have taken to healing.

    I was able to feel it and chart my way forward, but at my own pace.

    Hope that helps someone, this podcast will help everyone that engages in it.

  60. Listening to this podcast. I can only say that this is very beautiful, brave and amazing episode. Thank you for sharing your experience and providing useful resources.

    It made me think a lot about the traumas and how people avoid to deal with it.

    I wish you to recover from this episode soon and be the same vital and passionate Tim we know you.

  61. This episode helped give me the vocabulary to break through a few things in my own therapy session. So if this incredibly difficult episode did nothing else, you helped a Dad in the Midwest be a little better for his kid.

  62. Hi Tim, I´ve been following for many years now and really enjoy bits & pieces of your content but this is huge! Thanks a lot for sharing this. It is such an important topic and people need to know that there is a way out.
    Some time ago I watched your interview on youtube with Gabor Maté. There was this part in the interview where he asked you questions and the way you answered triggered me. – I could see that you had been traumatized, deeply.
    12 years ago I started asking questions why I felt so different, why I could not cope with stress and sometimes I did not feel my body ….
    – It took me nearly 10 years learning about attachment theory, paradox communication, trauma bonding and codependency and suddenly I found answers.
    The resources and books you name are quite valuable and hopefully will help a lot of people reading and listening to this.

    If I may, I would like to add two resources, which helped me tremendously to understand the concept of trauma, emotional disregulation, dissociation and “emotional flashbacks”.

    1. The book written by Pete Walker “Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving: A GUIDE AND MAP FOR RECOVERING FROM CHILDHOOD TRAUMA”

    2. A free resource I would like to suggest is a concept developed by Richard Grannon “The Fortress Of Mental Health Protection System”. It is available on youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC1M89FFkO4BhSrFIrm7EH5w

    Take care,

    stay healthy & safe!

  63. I’ve been taught that if you can share it, you can bear it. I’m so sorry to learn of this chapter in your life. Please know that the courage you have mustered and shared with your tribe will without a doubt, allow others to do the same and move towards a healthier and happier time in their lives.

  64. Extraordinarily brave — thank you for sharing. Have seen first hand people and families go off track because of the burden of carrying this kind of trauma around and keeping everything a secret. Welcome to the rest of your life!

  65. Thanks everyone, I can relate to you. Knowing that you are overcoming very difficult childhoods….. let’s just say that light exists

  66. Thank you Tim for your courage and honesty. Truly a moving and very difficult conversation that I know will change so many lives for the better.

  67. Thank you for your vulnerability and bravery! Through your vulnerability you will impact many who share similar stories, including myself. I have listened to you from the beginning, and fell in love with your ability to bring out the best of what people have to share including yourself. Through a very shitty experience, you are creating a better world. Your influence on furthering the science of psychedelics and mental health will propel us all to a better place, I believe it is the most ground breaking efforts in the last decade. Thank you for all your efforts to keep us sane, well educated and connected. With Love and Gratitude, Kristi.

  68. Thank you for sharing. Sharing the vulnerable parts of you is hard and I applaud your strength. I’ve been through trauma more related to religion and have been on a healing journey for over 5 years now. And I’m a healer myself. The cycle of healing yourself helps others heal and helping others heal helps you heal is the reciprocal effect of healing. I am a massage therapist and I also do Myofascial release treatment sessions and intake my clients through their trauma starting with their physical restrictions. I’ve found that my journey of healing has been monumentally affected by this work, helping my clients and helping myself by getting treated also. I tend towards holistic therapies and have found that Myofascial release, massage, chiropractics, reiki, crystal healing, acupuncture, essential oils, herbal medicine, meditation, mindfulness, journaling, yin yoga, chakra healing, energy work, healthy eating and long deep conversations with trusted friends have all been different pieces of my freedom and there is more freedom to be had. I’m thankful for your story and your suggestions for additional resources is amazing! Thank you! And here’s to continuing on the journey!

  69. Thank you so much for everything you have done Tim! I have follow you since 2010 and you have help me a lot in so many different ways. This episode is so powerful and strong. I share your pain and I’ll like to show you my gratitude for opening up like this!!

  70. So brave, so moving. Thank you both for sharing your stories. This has resonated with me, and I think it will also resonate with so many of your followers. Your courage and how you found a way to move through the pain will shine a light for many.
    My thoughts are with you after sharing this podcast, if there is pain, I’m sending compassion.

  71. Tim, I had to listen in bits, because this is a hard topic for me. Very cool, and very brave of you firstly to have this conversation and secondly to post it. I dislike all the vocabulary to describe someone on the receiving end of child sex abuse, so I think of myself (and the many, many others I have learned about over time) as perseverering. The perp, my dad, who when I was a kid ramped up from kissing me inappropriately to full on intercourse by age ten, gave me a lifetime of challenges (damages) that I didn’t believe until much later in my life (I am 65 as I write) that others were facing. Your “island of flaws” is so apt. For my father, I don’t have a preferred descriptor other than what’s in the popular and scientific literature. But for me, I believe I persevere so that’s how I think of myself. I am sharing because maybe this way of looking at it, perseverer, rather than “victim” or “survivor,” might be helpful to another.

    Much Love, LR

  72. This was very shocking to hear, but also very touching and inspiring. Your courage makes me appreciate you even more than before, and you were already my favorite author, a great source of inspiration and massive influence in my life, ever since the 4HWW. This made me yet again remember that a person’s true value is not given by their money or notoriety, but rather by how many people’s lives they’ve touched and improved along their journey. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for existing. The world would have been a much poorer place without you.

  73. Tim, and Debbie… thank you for episode 464. There is so much empowerment in that recording. Tim, you are a huge inspiration to me as a single father. You have inspired me to up my game, to never stop learning, to ask better questions, to accept that life is suffering. But to also realise that our mindset is adjustable, that life is full of beauty, and that good or bad, our experiences are almost always worth sharing with others.

  74. Tim and Debby, I was touched and entranced by this episode of your podcast… I am grateful for your openness and honesty in sharing these painful aspects of your lives. I must confess, however, to feeling as if a scab has been ripped off of a wound for which I have no idea how it got there.

    I have dealt with depression for at least the last 50 years, since the time I hooked a garden hose up to the tailpipe of the family sedan at age 14. I turned 18 in 1974 undergoing ECT, after months of “abuse” by well-meaning psychiatrists who put me on tricyclic antidepressants and antipsychotics (elavil, melaril, haldol, thorazine, etc.).

    I eventually sought my own “cure” by joining the army (back in pre-internet days when I could hide my medical history). The physical exercise and lack of choices to make worked wonders at improving my self-confidence and mood, until I felt “boxed in” and went AWOL. I wound up trying to suffocate myself in the bushes behind a convenience store where I had spent my last 5 dollars on a box of trash bags. I just wanted the suffering of being me to end, but as I struggled to die I had the epiphany that if I had to struggle, regardless, that I may as well struggle to live. I crawled out of the bushes and stumbled into the night without a clue what would come next. I sat down at an all-night diner and used my last dollar to buy a cup of coffee. A young man came in and sat down next to me and introduced himself, telling me that he was on leave from the army because he was looking for his buddy who was AWOL.

    That was the first time that I felt that the universe had my back. I went on to make sergeant, earn an Army Commendation Medal, return to college and earn a B.S. in geology, complete a 30 year career as a mine geologist, fall in love, marry, and raise 3 daughters (and become a father figure for 6 other young women who entered my family as foreign exchange students and 2nd time orphans, and foster dad to an 8 yr. old boy who had been sexually abused).

    I worked hard to put my past as a bullied kid who believed that there was something wrong with him and who was ashamed that he was a mental patient… so I was proud of my “accomplishments” both in having a life and in “overcoming” depression. But I knew that I hadn’t really “overcome” anything, in fact, I felt that I had somehow compromised with life and hid my “real” self from society. I had found ways to manage depression, but not to address the underlying sense of inadequacy, that I didn’t really fit in society.

    At age 61, after overcoming a health crisis (bilateral frozen shoulder syndrome that led to inactivity, obesity, and type 2 diabetes) that had robbed me of my main means of keeping depression at bay (distance running), I ran my first ultramarathon by running 100 miles in the snow pulling a sled with 30 pounds of survival gear. I felt that I had achieved “impossible” and that I wanted to take on the old wounds and compromises that I had made in life. I quit my job because I wanted to address my fears and insecurities about earning a living without compromise of principles and desires.

    The past two years of struggling to create a new life as an entrepreneur have forced me to face aspects of my personality and identity that I didn’t realize had been so wounded (or at least to face the fact that my solutions and strategies for negotiating life had been band-aids). I had an experience with Ayahuasca in Peru (2 days and nights of delirium after 3 nights of ingestion) that allowed me to overcome any fear of death, but left me sinking into depression over complete confusion over how to live life. But it was the first period of depression in my life where I didn’t feel desperate, I felt that I was undergoing depression to learn something about myself.

    I have since come to terms with depression as a natural reaction to stress and I have let go of most stigma or judgement attached to it. I now view depression and despair as simply measures of my capacity to feel joy and fulfillment.

    I know I just spewed one hell of a ramble… and no doubt I come across at the crazy person I have spent my life trying to hide from the world… but I don’t mind any more… I am coming to love and accept myself as I am and I’m actually enjoying taking on and getting past my fear of appearing crazy (or any other euphemism for misfit). I’m enjoying life and I am enjoying engaging with other people in fulfilling ways that I never thought possible. I am talking openly about my past… hence this long ramble.

    But the fact remains that, though I know my journey to get to where I am today, I don’t know the why of my struggle. I have no recollection of trauma in my life before the grade school bullying began. As I look back, we kids were all in a shark tank trying to survive, so I hold no grudges… I just know that I was picked on because of some perceived weakness… but where did that come from? I developed asthma at age 3 and that was around the same time as my mother came down with type 1 diabetes.

    Still, my parents were unconditionally loving and supportive. My father was a bit emotionally distant… the first time I ever saw him cry was when he found me in the car gassing myself. Two years ago I received an emailed suicide note from my father, and I found myself negotiating with staff of a psychiatric ward to have him released after he didn’t go through with it (he did discharge his firearm though). Life can be very strange! Or to quote Jerry Garcia “what a long strange trip it’s been”.

    My mother has passed on, and my father is notably psychologically fragile as his health declines. I don’t see any avenues to pursue my early history externally, and ayahuasca, 4-aco-DMT, and 1p-LSD experiences haven’t brought up any internal trauma (even though I was intentionally digging deep to find something during my ayahuasca experience).

    So I’m left wondering “what was my trauma”? In the end, I suppose I can live with some mystery there… and I can manage any fear that should come up over the notion that I could be blindsided some day with an unexpected return to my early childhood experiences. I just know that I have carried my struggle on and that I have come to appreciate and love the struggle. I loved hearing your stories of struggle, and the part of me that knows the pain of isolation and despair is in total awe of your struggle to keep going and to heal yourselves through compassion for yourselves and for others who have suffered. With love and gratitude, Bob.

    1. Just want you to know that someone read your ramble and find it useful.(* Is there a way to simply “like”a comment here and not having to type ..)

  75. Hi Tim, hi everyone,

    I only listened to part of the episode so far. As it brings up quite some emotion for me too.

    I just want to say, your podcast has probably given me more than psychedelics have given you.

    You’ve saved me so many times. Every time I felt stuck in life, your podcast seems to give the answers. The motivation.

    And just knowing that you can be broken, and still recover to the extent you have recovered… have a life, independence, strength to create all of this. Knowing that there’s other people broken out there. That we’re all fighting that battle, and that maybe we don’t need to do that all alone.

    Last week, I was dumped by who I thought was the love of my life, I’m trying to save my failing business, and have so many other things going wrong at the same time, but once again, you’ve saved me, by showing me I need to address the underlying feeling of unworthiness. Self loathing.
    That’s the real issue. Everything else is superficial distraction.

    I can’t even talk to my therapist about this. You’re just sharing it with the world. You’re amazing.

    Thank you

  76. Thank you for the deep courage to talk…This happened to me too, and many others I know, and I too had dissociative experiences which were extremely confusing. I am 70 years old and when I was 47 I started writing poetry and finally began writing about it…I would sob deeply as I wrote. I finally asked my mother to listen to the poetry and she appeared unaffected, but it was the first time I’d told her…after having asked for her help when I was a little child..she ignored me. I’ve also done some journeys and it has helped tremendously. Again..Thank You!

  77. Thank you Tim. I am someone who was also sexually traumatized as a child. Your story has reignited my desire to heal. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

  78. Judith Lewis Herman is a pioneer in the study of trauma. She was the first to propose the condition of Complex Post Traumatic Stress. Her work and book, “Trauma and Recovery” has been profound in my healing from relational/developmental trauma.

  79. I’ve been the biggest fangirl of yours since forever. This is exactly why. Your bravery and quest to explore every part of yourself is inspiring. Thank you. You’ve paved the way for so many of us to explore more.

  80. Tim and Debbie, my deepest thanks for your bravery and for such an extensive list of resources. I did not experience the same time of childhood trauma, but rather the death of a parent at a very young age, and a series of neglectful and verbally abusive caregivers after.
    I would like to add two more resources to your list, as I’ve found them particularly insightful regarding the impact that trauma can have on us physically.
    The first is the work by Donna Jackson Nakazawa. The concept of ACE scores and their use in medicine is really quite interesting. Her work is fascinating.

    https://developingchild.harvard.edu/media-coverage/take-the-ace-quiz-and-learn-what-it-does-and-doesnt-mean/

    The second is DNRS and the work of Annie Hopper. Like Ms. Nakazawa above, her work is centered around trauma (emotional or physical), and how it can rewire our nervous system, and cause a myriad of physical symptoms. Worth checking out. It sounds a little strange, but has really worked wonders for many people in alleviating some of the physical symptoms that can result from trauma.

    https://retrainingthebrain.com

    Best wishes to you on your healing journey. Thank you for your openness and compassion.

  81. Dear Tim,

    Please note that repression is a controversial topic in memory research. Your guest describes it as an automated self-defense tactic, but scholars still struggle to find evidence for this phenomenon. Many victims of trauma have quite the opposite experience: they find themselves persistently assailed by unpleasant memories that they would rather forget.

    Scholars argue that this has an evolutionary function. We remember, over and over, even against our will, because these memories remind us to avoid danger.

    Please let me say softly that your story does raise a question mark. Psychedelic substances can indeed cause people to vividly re-live memories. However, these substances can also cause people to vividly experience things that deviate (severely) from objective reality.

    I do not intend to deny the authenticity of your recollections. Perhaps you have compelling evidence or an unassailable line of reasoning, but these broader issues should be considered.

    Your guest mentions The Courage to Heal, a book by Bass and Davis, and notes that the book has been found problematic. Indeed, it has been subjected to fierce criticism. In short, the danger is that vulnerable individuals, people who are indeed suffering, will (wrongly) convince themselves, or be convinced by unscrupulous therapists, that their problems are rooted in “repressed” memories.

    Such people can do tremendous harm to themselves and others.

    For more on the topic of memory and repression, see Douwe Draaisma’s book Forgetting: Myths, Perils, and Compensations. See also the work of Harvard scholar Daniel Schacter. Another relevant and well-researched book is Memory Warp by Mark Pendergrast.

    I apologize if I missed any important details from the podcast. Your story is certainly disturbing and frightening, and your bravery is incredible.

    I wish you the best on the path of healing.

    1. Thank you for this insight about the drugs effect (Re Could creating memories that deviates from reality). It is useful for people who are not familiar with such substance , like me.

    2. During my first ayauscha ceremony I had memories ’emerge’. In that state, it’s hard to see anything clearly. For the past 3 years I’ve been unsure if they are true or not – but they certainly were strong and felt.

  82. I am so sad about what happened to you, so moved by your courage to share your story and so grateful for finally starting to have a more complete understanding of trauma in myself and my family. I can’t thank you enough. I hope that sharing your story, helping so many by doing so, and not keeping it a secret anymore helps your own healing. Much love and gratitude.