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

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 700 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.

Leave a Reply to Sue Cancel reply

Comment Rules: Remember what Fonzie was like? Cool. That’s how we’re gonna be — cool. Critical is fine, but if you’re rude, we’ll delete your stuff. Please do not put your URL in the comment text and please use your PERSONAL name or initials and not your business name, as the latter comes off like spam. Have fun and thanks for adding to the conversation! (Thanks to Brian Oberkirch for the inspiration.)

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

  1. Hey, I happened to listen to this right after it came out. I’ve been a follower of your work for a decade now and it’s really influenced a lot of my life decisions. Just wanted to throw a supportive virtual hug out there to you. You’re not alone and you didn’t deserve that. Thanks so much for sharing your story so publicly. I really think it will help a lot of people.

  2. Tim, I know you won’t read this but I’ll write it anyway. A truly courageous and inspirational podcast. The extent to which my own journey parallels yours is eerie but that’s also because you’ve largely inspired mine. Your podcast with Gabor Mate was a game changer but it took the second listen a year ago for the process to begin and then came the books of Alice Miller, Mate, van der Kolk, Peter Levine…It’s incredible how quickly things can turn around, albeit with an element of ‘three steps forward, two steps back’.

    One way we differ is I never found a counsellor who could validate my feelings / experiences in the way Jack Kornfield (and Debbie) did yours. The chasm between the authors above and all the therapists I’ve encountered is tragic – they always set me back tremendously. Fortunately, it turns out you can read a few books by truly accomplished people and transform your experience of life beyond recognition. It’s a cruel paradox that you have to find yourself before you realise how lost you’ve been your entire life. But better late than never!

    Another way we differ is in having friends to talk to about subjects like this. What I wouldn’t give to have some genuine friends, male and female, to have authentic conversations with over subjects like this. And how to even find any in a world where everyone wears a mask? And I don’t mean the Covid ones : ).

    Thanks, Tim, for helping light the way as I found my way back to myself. And good luck to everyone seeking to do the same.

  3. Because Of this podcast I started to follow a few child sexual abuse charities and initiatives. I don’t have a personal experience but I am happy that this inspired me to help , in a concrete way .

  4. Wow. Thanks for having the courage to share that Tim, it’s straight from the heart and refreshing to hear you talk about such a personal subject with such feeling and understanding. To heal the complexities of such a trauma (which I also have) I discovered and have had massive success with a natural Meditation practice developed by a guy from Australia.
    My best tool by far was sitting on numerous (I’ve been on about 20 over the last 15 years ) long silent meditation retreats for 21 days where you get the chance to heal so deeply that nothing else I tried ( and there were many other things I tried before this) came close to the efficacy of this particular type of retreat. This was mainly due to the said guy’s approach. It’s like vipassana on steroids but at the same time gentle and relieving.
    The guy has also now just developed an app http://www.undoapp.com which is awesome but doesn’t come close to attending his retreat and getting the support from him directly. His website for the retreats is http://www.quietretreats.co
    I hope this helps you go further with your healing I really empathise with you, it’s a tough road to travel but at the same time the most rewarding and fulfilling thing one can do if they find the right support to move you through the trauma and heal it completely. When I found the tool that worked my never ending search to heal myself (aka “what is wrong with me?”)was satisfied and my search ended. This “what is wrong with me” search is in itself quite an aggressive unstoppable drive that is only satiated when you actually find the needed and correct help.
    Awesome job can’t wait for the follow up podcast.

  5. Listening to this episode was like stepping on a land mine. I’m gutted. Years of intensive therapy and I am only nominally better while simultaneously not having a single friend that has stood by me or is capable of anything other than awkward, canned dude support.

    I’m fucking 50 years old and all of this shit is torching what remains of my life. Exercise, meditation, EMDR, Neurofeedback etc help, but I can’t seem to get to a place where there is any traction and living something that resembles a life worth living.

    I’m glad you and your friend have each other and have managed to be successful enough to afford therapy and done it. I feel like I’ve gone balls out and most of what I have to show for it is deeply wounding social isolation, tens of thousands of dollars of debt and a trend line that is pitched fucking down. I’ll keep swimming but it feels a lot like that scene in Titanic with the ship far off in the distance, surrounded by the icy blackness of North Atlantic water and fridged night air with tiny ineffectual flares signaling to no one at all that the ship is going down.

    * As an aside please tell Jack Kornfield
    that his books and guided meditations have helped another blue collar man from yet another fucked up family from Boston quite a lot.

    Thanks Tim for being vulnerable to a wide audience because obviously they’re are more of us than most people think and men are not socialized to show weakness and are often punished severely when they do.

    Kevin

    1. Hey Kevin. Hope you see this mate. Just read your message after checking back in on this page. I’m replying to your post because I see a few of similarities in our experience – isolation / withdrawal / putting out distress signals to people around us but getting no response because people are generally hopeless at responding to trauma – including counsellors unfortunately…

      I also wanted to let you know there’s a way out of how you’re feeling. I’m only a few years younger than you. I felt like this my whole life and, exactly a year ago, I found my way out. Or found my way back to myself, as I describe it. I’ve never felt lonely or depressed since and I’m even looking forward to connecting with other people (when that’s possible again!). I actually feel like I’m exploding out of myself at the minute – like the big bang – from nothing to everything. I want to do everything, meet new people and make up for lost time. And if that was available to me, I’m pretty sure it’s available to you.

      Like you, I tried various things for years – yoga / meditation / breathing exercises / counselling / ayahuasca / exercise / different diets / feeding my brain with podcasts, ‘inspiring quotes’, etc. But nothing has a lasting effect if you don’t have any connection to yourself – you just feel stuck or like you’re butting against the inner walls of yourself.

      What happened to me happened almost unexpectedly. I re-listened to Tim’s podcast with Gabor Mate. Gabor mentioned the Alice Miller book ‘The Drama of the Gifted Child’ (read the 1995 revision!) so I read it. It had a profound impact on me, so I read her book The Body Never Lies – and that was incredible too. I actually read 10 of her books in a fortnight. I devoured them with the fervour of a child looking for treasure. And I found it. And the treasure was myself – my true self with the vitality we have as infants.

      Then I cried, properly, for the first time in my adult life. And something major happened in my head (chemically / physically – and I’ve never taken pills) that I can’t really put into words but how I’d like to have seen an fMRI scan! It felts like something fused back together and I experienced an endorphin/chemical high that lasted weeks. I thought there was something wrong with me. But there wasn’t, there was something very right. And my life has been on the up ever since. Covid has been disastrous for me financially. Previously, this would have put me through the floor for months or more. Now, that’s not even possible for me.

      What did it (or continues to do it) for me was reading books on the subject of trauma: Alice Miller, Gabor Mate, Bessel van der Kolk, Peter Levine, Laurence Heller, Stephen Porges… These are veritable experts on the tragically under-recognised subject of trauma. They give a vocabulary (both verbal and non-verbal) to your internal experience, help you to put yourself and your life back together and allow you to move from being stuck in the more primitive layers of our brain and nervous system to re-accessing our human social engagement system that makes us feel alive and seek connection. Knowledge is power and being empowered is the opposite of being traumatised. If you’re anything like me, nothing will level your sh*t up like reading these books, I promise.

      Your Titanic analogy is interesting to me. When the Titanic sank, 75% of female passengers were saved and only 20% of males. Why? ‘Women and children first’. The rule at the lifeboats and, unfortunately, throughout the whole fabric of society. In the UK today, males account for 97% of workplace deaths (and hence witness most death and horrific injuries), a similar or higher proportion of military deaths (and hence injuries / PTSD), 95% of the prison population, over 80% of the homeless, 75% of suicides and the biggest killer of males aged 16-45 is suicide. So, men are expected to accept most societal trauma in the workplace and theatre of war and the essence of trauma is loss of connection to yourself and other people, which includes asking for help. And because traumatised people ‘act in’ rather than acting out, and trauma is tragically under-recognised – they don’t get help.

      This means it’s time we started looking out for each other and that’s why I’m writing this for you and anyone else reading. I can’t throw you a life raft. I’m just shining a torch back from where I’ve got to so you can hopefully find (or read!) your own way out. A year ago, I wouldn’t have believed the sense of vitality and optimism I have now was available, but it is. You can’t fake it, and you’ll know when you’ve made it – trust me. I hope you read this and I sincerely hope you get there. Keep going mate.

      Best

      Richard

  6. Tim, Thank you with all of my heart. Thank you for your courage and for your insight into surviving childhood trauma and hardship at large. I’m a 31 year old attorney for a big tech company now, but I grew up very poor and survived severe physical and emotional trauma as a child and a as teen. I sadly have no relationship with my parents or family for this reason and yoga/mediation/constant learning have changed my life. You and I share incredibly similar life views in many ways, but this was the most impactful of your episodes for me. Hearing the vulnerability through the quivering of your voice and your honesty made me feel whole. It’s so difficult being fully transparent. You’ve given me so much strength, and I’m so proud of you. Just thank you. You have no idea how many lives you’ve touched or the impact you’ve provided. Please keep up being you.

  7. Hey Tim. Some very informed and reputable people seem to say that all this repressed memorys therapy it’s a scam and that may be done with bad faith.

    Rolf Degen @DegenRolf was tweeting about it and I remembered this episode.

    Here is some of it.
    Psychologists have debated the wisdom of recovering traumatic memories in therapy that were previously unknown to the client, with some concerns over accuracy and memory distortions. The current study surveyed a sample of 576 undergraduates in the south of the United States. Of 188 who reported attending therapy or counselling, 8% reported coming to remember memories of abuse, without any prior recollection of that abuse before therapy. Of those who reported recovered memories, 60% cut off contact with some of their family. Within those who received therapy, those who had a therapist discuss the possibility of repressed memory were 28.6 times more likely to report recovered memories, compared to those who received therapy without such discussion. These findings mirror a previous survey of US adults and suggest attempts to recover repressed memories in therapy may continue in the forthcoming generation of adults.

    https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0033294120971756

    It seemed to me something that you should be aware of.

  8. Thank you Time! This really helped me. I’ve also been practicing biofeedback and meditation successfully for a while using the HeartPeace app on my iPhone.

  9. I thank you both, Tim and Debbie, for talking about that part of us who have been traumatized, that we don’t want to visit. It is the equivalent of the dark basement or attic we have decided is not part of the house. Where is the line between vengeance and justice or not even justice but stopping someone who participated or even orchestrated an act of trauma and abused their power, and protecting others from people who have no moral compass. When do we act to help put a stop to people who can continue to perpetrate trauma and abuse?

  10. Thank you for this podcast segment.
    I have conflicts with the recommendation of conventional psych-meds. I believe they inhibit and mask the consciousness that needs to be free to allow all emotional energies to rise to the surface for healing.
    Thank you for the Groff explanation of suicide 106:00 to 109:30.
    My healing began through a combination of spontaneous events starting with EMDR therapy in 2014 which triggered a deep, long term opening into expanded consciousness (mystical experience). This began a journey over the next 6 years which led to the complete end of pharmaceutical anti-depressants, spontaneous restructuring of my psyche that included: sematic experiencing work, holotropic breathwork, ayahuasca experiences, psilocybin, and personal experiences that integrated in parallel with these methods. There is an autonomous movement that began during the healing process and carries me. It’s working in everyone. It’s the spiritual aspect of personal healing that excludes the ego. I’m still healing but the groundwork has been established. Thank you again for the podcast.

  11. Tim and Debbie, thanks so much for having the courage to heal and furthermore the courage to share the personal experience, strength and hope from your journies in such a sensitive yet stalwart fashion. I am supportive of both the paths traveled by you, and I believe for the early stages of work in discovery that leads to recovery, the experiential modes that change the physiology can kick start one out of the depths. I learned in the 1980’s from a jungian psychologist, also deeply steeped in 12 step work, named Dr Pat Allen of Newport Beach–“it is quicker to act your way in to a new way of thinking than it is to think your way in to a new way of acting.” I am especially grateful for your comprehensive resource library of links, and all the modalities you two mentioned. Tim asked us to add our effective resources. Here are mine–find a therapist who specializes in using EMDR (a rapid eye movement;) work with a functional medicine neurologist who treats people living with trauma by focusing on re-wiring the brain to change its functional responses, particularly working with the upper mid brain/reptilian brain where the fear and anxiety and hyper vigilance reside ( Dr. Titus Chiu works with patients online from anywhere and has a lot of videos on youtube;) praciticing DIY techniques you mentioned like meditation, breathingand adding to them EFT/Tapping (emotional freedom technique); and, when you are ready to consider giving yourself permission to move on by forgiving yourself and others, grab on to the Radical Forgiveness worksheets from Colin Tipping, author of books with radical forgiveness in the titles.) more on PSYCHEDELICS in a second post from me

  12. This is part two of a long comment from Peggy Shinn on psychedeilc medicine.

    Tim has in recent years’ podcasts mentioned his interest in supporting pharmacological use of psychedelics and reported here that he financially supports the research at John’s Hopkins and Imperial College. For those who may have interest in the history of the pioneer researcher who paved the way for these institutions and others to get government approval for their research, you might check out Dr. Rick Strassman of University of New Mexico, whose DMT research work there (based on grants and government permission) was done in the late 1980’s/90’s, I believe. This research work with live human volunteers is chronicled in Strassman’s book “DMT The Spirit Molecule,” and the Documentary of the same name on youtube, provided impetus to MAPS to push forward with the government for these current rounds of research by the institutions Tim named. I found a relatively recent interview with him on a podcast called Green Rush. Strassman reports on this new research and how he sees the future of phsychedelic medicine in this podcast.
    . http://greenrushpodcast.net/2019/12/05/dr-rick-strassman-clinical-associate-professor-of-psychiatry-at-the-university-of-new-mexico-school-of-medicine/

  13. My heart- (soul)felt thanks to you Tim. This podcast helped me be more courageous about my own similar experiences. I love your presence in the world, thank you.

  14. Tim~
    This podcast has opened something up inside of me. I am 60 year old and it has only been within the last two years that I have started the hard work on my own sexual abuse which happened when I was six. I have been feeling worse than ever over the last several months – like all of the therapy I have done over thirty years just has not been the answer. Your podcast – your voice – spoke to me today. I heard myself so many times. I want to look into many of the therapies and ideas you spoke about. I happen to be taking an on-line Power of Awareness class with Jack Kornfield and Tara Brach – your story about Jack being your immediate lifeline really struck me. Also you discussion of turning on the work so loud that nothing else has room – I have had and continue to have a successful career – but I know a big part of my success is the need to control something positive and to drown out the ugly stories about myself. So many times I felt my self thinking – you would get me. You would be the first.

  15. Tim,

    Thank you very much for sharing. As someone who I have I followed for a long time (beginning with 4 hour workweek years ago) and have a huge amount of respect for, I appreciated your vulnerability and saw a lot of myself in your story, particularly in how the trauma impacted you throughout your life.

    Using your resource guide, I went back and listed to the Jack Kornfield and Blake Mycoskie episodes, did The Hoffman Essentials Weekend, and read The Drama of the Gifted Child and The Body Keeps the Score. Through this I have been inspired to dive deeper into Holotropic Breathwork, which I had previously tried out but not given much weight to. This has allowed me to unearth my repressed childhood emotions, which has taken a huge weight off my shoulders. It’s still an ongoing process and I’m not sure if I’ll ever fully be “healed” or “cured”, but I have made significant progress after listening to your episode, much more than the previous 8 years when I had been doing talk therapy, so thank you!

    I appreciate your shift in focus over time from striving and achievement to wholeness, fulfillment and mental health issues. I used to push myself very hard and use achievement as a way to temporarily block out the pain, but I have learned there are better ways to cope, much of which I have learned through listening to your podcast.

    I hope to try psychedelics in the future as well – I just need to find somewhere safe who offers it!

    Shannon

  16. Tim, this is such an incredibly powerful episode, and as many have commented, courageous beyond words. I am sorry for your pain, but thank you for sharing so much of your experience with the world.

    I resonated strongly with some of the behaviors you experienced as a result of the trauma. I have been I have been trying to soothe my symptoms of Complex PTSD stemming from childhood and have been seeking more information on HRV training. I would love more insight about it. I know it’s a long shot that you see this, but that feels like the right path for me and I would be grateful for any direction.
    My best to you.

  17. Hey Tim,
    I thought about you the last few days. We have never met, but I felt like reaching out.

    I’m really touched about you sharing your story.
    Looking back, its clear to me now, that it was you who turned me on to my healing path.
    Through you I got an appetite for looking in, for meditation, for being kind to myself.
    I’m forever grateful for that. Thank you for being you 😊

    Reading your story, I felt like sharing the work of my teachers “Homa and Mukto”, that has made the difference for me.
    They have developed a soft, body based and experiential technique with a root in Tantra.
    It’s most deep, beautiful and impactful form of therapy that I have encountered in my life.
    And the two are just amazing teachers, therapists and human beings.

    Here’s a video that’s a great introduction to their work:

    My recommendation would be to start with their Training 1, which lasts 11 days.
    They offer it in all over the world.

    If you have any questions regarding this, feel free to get in touch.

    Be well &
    Happy new year 😊

    Ben

  18. Beautiful and life transforming podcast. Thank you both for your bravery and vulnerability in sharing your stories. And thank you for all the resources and recommendations. Wishing you both healing and love on this journey and sending love to everyone who suffers from any type of trauma/abuse. Peaceful blessings ~Ariel

  19. Tim, you are brave and I honor your strength. Very few men come forward to speak their truth on such an intense topic. I am grateful for you and the people who’ve shown me the way. Sexually abused at 8yrs old, I understand what is lost. I was shown a road to transform shame into strength. Even though it took me 40yrs to reconcile my pain, the growth path I chose changed my life profoundly. After listening to your conversation with Debbie, I realize I have some new tools to look into. A lifelong self-improvement junkie, I listen to your podcasts regularly, but I have a profound new respect for what you do. My next deep dive will be in Post Traumatic Growth, and like you, I’d like to bring healing to the multitudes of men who suffer in silence. Thank you Tim, God bless you.

  20. I am so sorry that happened to you. I hear you. I believe you. And thank you for telling your story. And thank you for such a beautiful conversation about such a difficult, anxiety-producing topic. I loved the quote about (can’t remember its author) how suicide is us wanting to kill the ego and the loop instead of the body. I had an ah-ha when I heard you say that that propelled me into a happy place. 🙂 (Even though I am not suicidal, it spoke to me.)

    One thing that stood out for me was how brave Debbie was to confront her abuser! Wow, I never confronted mine. I was never that brave. And now he has died – in August – from covid. I always fantasized that I would go to his funeral – and it being in the south, it would have been open casket – and spitting on his corpse. (giggle) 🙂 I, however, did not even bother to go.

    The closest I got was confronting my mother years ago, who then (according to her) confronted my father. Then she got back to me to tell me she didn’t believe me – instead she believed him when he lied to her about it.

    That is the heartbreaking part of this crap, IMO. The fact that so many are not believed. Like anyone would make that shit up – especially a child who knows nothing about anything of that sort. So sad. I began recovering memories when I was about 38 years old. Since that time, I have been on my healing journey, and I was heartened to hear Debbie say she was 58 years old (I just turned 59) and still on the journey.

    I too have struggled all my life with the concept of “forgiveness,” and your definition of the word/concept makes since to me. It works better for me too. I also like what Brene Brown had to say about forgiveness in one of her books (I forget which one, sorry!), about how her minister at church one Sunday said, “Something has to die for forgiveness to happen.” Since reading that, I have had one thing after another present itself to me that had to “die” for me to go further down my own road of forgiveness (like my belief that I was not worth anything, etc.).

    Some really great healing techniques that have worked wonders for me over the years: EMDR, parts work also (as a hypnotherapist, I use this on clients as well as use it on myself) – with my fave being BWRT. BWRT is like EMDR, only it is faster and IMO, better, at neutralizing trauma (of all kinds).

    I wish profound, lovely healing for you on all levels. Thank for being brave. Godspeed,
    Grace 🙂

    1. Hi Grace, Thank you so much for sharing your story. I am currently doing EMDR therapy and would love to know more about BWRT. Can you suggest where I can go to find out more info and what therapists do BWRT? Thank you! Peace ~Ariel

  21. I’m surprised Pete Walker’s books on Complex PTSD (C-PTSD) are not on your list. Read it and get him on your show.

  22. Tim,

    Thank you and Debbie for sharing your stories. They have helped me to cope with a very dark time in my own life and given me courage to initiate the recovery process. No one should have to go through what you did. I hope you find peace, healing, and happiness – you absolutely deserve it.

    BD

  23. Thank you Tim and Debbie for this wonderful podcast!! You have both touched my heart profoundly. It means a lot to me when people speak out publicly about their stories and experiences. It is so helpful! I’m hoping one day to be able to do the same with my ptsd. Thanks again

  24. I have recently come across “The Process Healing Method” by Garry Flint. When I saw what Garry was talking about, it made me think of this podcast and how you said you suddenly became aware of the memories of what happened to you when you were young. Garry has a theory that we are comprised of many different personality parts. There is the “main personality” part which is most of your experience in life, but in his theory there can also be “trauma parts” that are unknown to the “main personality.” These “trauma parts” according to his theory can often be forgotten or repressed. He has a method to try and heal those parts. When I heard your story about how you suddenly remembered those experiences during your retreat it made me think that you had inadvertently awoken the “trauma part.” Garry Flint has five videos which are only about 10 minutes apiece on YouTube that explain “The Process Healing Method.” He also has a book called “A Theory and Treatment of Your Personality” which I think covers “The Process Healing Method” as well.

    1. Yes, and just by reading Dr Flint’s books, I could feel the Process Healing Method instructions working with my subconscious to smooth out and heal the metaphorical ‘gopher holes’ in my personal field.
      He really stumbled on such an incredible method and yet so few people know about it!
      So much deep healing and reconnection is available, I’m so thankful to him.

  25. I found this Podcast by chance but I am sure it was no accident! Thank you for speaking your truth! I feel like I have been hit by a bus! I finally feel hope! I can relate to so much of the feelings, reactions and defense mechanisms that you have described. This impacted me so profoundly that I had to stop listening multiple times to put myself emotionally back together in order to continue. I’ve often wondered why life seems to be so much harder for me than others. All the daily regimens I do just to feel okay. Thanks for the enormous list of resources to help me find my way! It is so encouraging knowing that others have found themselves successfully on the other side! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

  26. Tim, hearing your story of abuse was sobering and something that will help all of those in the future who listen to your show’s episode on the topic. Your strength and courage in first, recording it, and then secondly, in publishing the episode simply heightens my great respect for you to another level. I noted how you described how difficult each of those steps was to take. This was so giving of you to all of us. Thank you.

  27. Please read CPTSD from Surviving to Thriving by Pete Walker…amazing book and super helpful. I am a licensed counselor…this book, along with Internal Family Systems, and EMDR can help heal from abuse histories faster, with less exposure.

  28. Thank you so much for this episode!! What an incredible resource list! For comment readers, if you have faced trauma, you are so strong! Keep the faith within that you are on the right track towards healing! I found this talk very enlightening. Magenta Pixie appears on The Inspire Health Podcast hosted by Dr. Jason Loken ND and Téa Shahbazi : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NqDypcZMHzk

    Highlights:
    • Understand the big picture of what 2020 and 2021 is all about.
    • Discover the best diet for ascension.
    • Learn how to address and work with trauma.
    • Uncover the history of Atlantis and Lemuria
    • Discover when plant medicines can be helpful for spiritual evolution and when they can actually be harmful.

  29. Taking a leap of faith here. Stomach is going bananas but here we go. This is the first time ever I am voicing a gap of nothingness that might have happened while I went on an exchange program at the age of 17. Quick background story: there was no alcohol, no party, no drugs, nothing that could have altered my actions or memory. I woke up, in my room, in the middle of the night half naked. A sudden panic went through me. My door was ajar and I immediately stood up, closed to door, turned on the lights and started looking for signs: ragged clothes, bruises, needle punctures. Nothing. It was autumn, in Austria, I was staying with a host family which made me extremely careful of wearing nun-type clothes, warm to the core, and always, ALWAYS lock my door at night. I tried desperately to remember my dreams. Maybe I took my clothes off? maybe I woke up in the middle of night and went to the bathroom? Maybe… ? After 20 years and I still have not been able to figure it out. Fast forward, I’ve spent the past 16 years living in China, struggling with intimate interactions, but again, I always blamed it on cultural differences, or looks, or this, or that. Recently I have realised that intimate interactions push the breaks in my psyche every single time not allowing myself to enjoy the closeness partners should feel. I just go numb and disassociate. It’s a survival response I assume. But to what? To something I can’t remember at all, something that might not have even happened. Now, here is my question. Is it worth the trauma of pushing the memory back into NOW? The only area in my life that I can clearly see affected by this gap is my sexual life. Am I missing on something? I wouldn’t know as I have never missed on it. You can’t miss on something you have never had. And this is exactly the root of my doubts. Will it be worth it? What if it messes up other parts of life? Mr. Ferriss had no choice as it came back to him in fractured glimpses at first. I know this is a long shot, but, Mr. Ferriss, if you had been given the option of exploring the possibility BRFORE your first memories came back, and not perusing the memory, what would you have done? ( the presumption is there is only doubt and suspicion of something happening, but nothing else)

    PS. I am new to all social media and platforms (curse or blessing) from all the years I lived in mainland China. If the format of my comment, it’s length or wording is not appropriate, please accept my apologies in advance.

    Regards,

    Lili

  30. Hi Tim the throat symbolises communication, hopefully now that you have shared your story you can begin to release the sadness, tears and the attachment to closing up which can cause you anxiety. Your voice is an instrument to help heal yourself and others.

  31. A friend in recovery sent me a link to this podcast and I am grateful to her and to you and Debbie for sharing it! My story is configured very differently from yours, of course, but I, too nearly committing suicide myself over my own childhood trauma, I feel that it is an terrific encouragement for me to go back into therapy to deal with, as you mentioned, adaptive techniques that have outlived their usefulness in my life. I can’t thank you enough.

  32. Thank you so much for this podcast. I cannot imagine how many people you and Debbie have helped through this conversation & the resources you have discussed. One additional pharmaceutical option I wanted to mention is gabapentin (Neurontin). It technically is used for nerve pain, such as for shingles, but it can also be used off label for anxiety.

    My psychiatrist may have saved my sanity by prescribing this. For me, it short circuits my physical reaction to anxiety. The feedback loop of brain to body is cut, so while in my head I recognize the anxiety, my body is quiet — no racing heart, increased respiration, nausea, muscles clenching, etc. Without that physical response, I have been so much more successful at calming my mind, that in the past was driving me toward suicide – I had a plan, the equipment I needed, and had written a note. The medication can be used on an as needed basis, which is great. And as I have autoimmune issues resulting in chronic pain (which is often seen in with people who have experienced childhood trauma), gabapentin gives me the added benefit of helping address my pain.

  33. “Sorrow prepares you for joy. It violently sweeps everything out of your house, so that new joy can find space to enter. It shakes the yellow leaves from the bough of your heart, so that fresh, green leaves can grow in their place. It pulls up the rotten roots, so that new roots hidden beneath have room to grow. Whatever sorrow shakes from your heart, far better things will take their place.”
    — Rumi

  34. Because of personal struggles that I have had trouble overcoming after many years of different type of therapies I am interested in trying psychedelic drug assisted therapy. My research brings up that it is illegal aside from ketamine and that there are only trials going on and in these trials I may get a placebo during my first round. I’m not interested in placebo’s but am interested in actually doing the therapy, but not with ketamine. When I listen to yours or Tim ferriss’s podcasts and your guests that you interview regarding this subject it seems that you have all done things such as psilocybin, dmt, MDMA and I am curious if it is illegal in the states how or where have you been able to do these? I’m hoping to find a safe legitimate place where I can be assisted with this.

  35. So powerful! I finally decided to deal with my childhood sexual trauma for the first time this year, at age 49. I thought it would make me feel better. Instead, it feels like I’ve been drug through hell for the last 10 months. I had no idea it would be so hard or bring so much instability to my life. I feel so frustrated that I can’t just move on.

    I came across your podcast today and it was exactly what I needed to hear. It made me feel like there is light at the end of this dark tunnel. I feel like I can actually take a breath. I just wanted to thank you for sharing your story. It connected with me at just the right time and in all the right ways. I’m in talk therapy now but don’t really feel like it helps. I’m going to start looking into some of the other resources you suggested for my toolbox. I am so sorry that this happened to you but I am so thankful that you could use it for good.

  36. I’m 42, and have been in therapy on-and-off for 20 years, weekly for the past 6+. I’ve been treated for depression and OCD. I have little-to-no memory before the age of about 14. Somehow it’s only within a pandemic, post-breakup, newly unemployed, that my brain decided to start piecing together fragments to realize that I was molested by a priest at around 7/8 years old, and that my parents know, and that it’s been hidden from me my entire life. So much of what you two discuss in this convo feels like you are talking about my life. A creative director by trade, there’s something additionally moving about hearing from Debbie, a voice I’ve known professionally for years, say she knows what I’m going through. And Tim, hearing someone who has experienced life as a male (I am non-binary, but experienced much of life as a boy) also feels shattering — in a good way. Thank you both for your openness. You are saving lives. xoK

  37. Loved this blog Tim, very helpful!
    An amazing post with great tips as always. Anyone will find your post useful. Keep up the good work.
    Traumatized emotions are the hardest to cure and heal. It takes time and effort for us to overcome the pain we have inside. Emotional traumas are the worst anyone can experience and can entirely change a person’s life. It can make or break us so it is important to seek professional help if we can’t take it on our own so that we are guided in making decisions. Check this out Healing Emotional Wounds and Traumas Hope this will help. Thank you.

  38. Strength. Thank you for bringing it out in the open to give everyone the opportunity to talk and think, and to know no one’s alone.

  39. Thank you for this incredibly powerful podcast. I also went through sexual abuse from age 4 – 10. Yet I don’t have any explicit memories…only information I’ve gained through years of research about what went on in my family while I was a child. One question I would very much like to know the answer to: if you were to do it over, and had the choice of NOT remembering versus remembering, would you go through the process you did to resurrect the memories?

    1. Lili (Jan 20, 2021 post) I have exactly the same question. I thought I always wanted to know so that I could “make sense of it” but hearing Tim’s experience with being retraumatized all over again makes me wonder. But what part of myself am I missing by not processing that…?

  40. Dear Tim,
    I am Brazilian and live in San Francisco Sometimes I feel like I’ve met you once, but that might be my imagination. This episode touched me in many ways, partially because I am mother of two beautiful children, partially because my teenager sexual experiences that involved drinking and party. Your show led me to search for therapy and get this resolved because I am tired of pretending that I don’t have any trauma related to that. Also, I can’t remember anything but a lot of the symptom you and Debbie mentioned are similar to what I have. So I am trying also alternative therapy like theta healing…. so thank thank you… your show woke me up…. I hope when I can resolved my issue, I can help others like you and Debbie did… and also help my kids to love themselves and their body and not let anyone abuse it ! I hope you this menssage reach you somehow.

  41. I listened to this podcast today after it was referenced on a podcast you did with Beene Brown and Dax Shepard. I’m so sorry; I’m just so sorry.
    I don’t know if this is possible, but is there a way to write you a letter?
    I’m in the middle of it. You sound like you know what that means, looks and feels like.
    It seems to be the most awful place. My brain protected me until 5 months ago. I also would have never thought this would come up and I would have promised on my life nothing like that ever happened to me.
    Until my subconscious could no longer be quieted.
    I don’t want a communication or any medical advice. I just didn’t know if maybe this was a possibility.
    Just to write you a letter.

  42. Dear Tim,

    after having listened to the whole conversation, please let me share how deeply sorry I am having realized what you went through. I am deeply grateful for everything the two of you have shared. And personally, also I have gotten very much out of your story. Thank you so much for having shared it all. What a truly wonderful person full of strength and love may experience, we do not know. Thank you! Very best from Europe, S.

  43. I did comment on twitter immediately after hearing this episode, Tim you brave brave man. I have to say its the most courageous thing to confront and process abuse, and to do so publicly was incredibly intense and emotional for all of us who have followed you over the last 10 years or so.
    Life is such a strange adventure, it is cruel and kind, beautiful and ugly, filled with sadness and joy. Yet we roll along trying to be oblivious to others as we journey through our days.
    Tim for the rest of your journey I wish you well, and as you inevitably become a Father I hope life is kind to you all. Always Greg x

  44. Tim, thank you for this episode. As person that’s a member of AA, I’ve met so many men/women that were abused as children. You’ve given me more tools to support them. I’ve thought giving them hug was enough & until they’d rear away from me.
    At some point these friends would share w me why – childhood abuse. When they’ve shared this w me I’ve often wished for tools to support them. Both you (& Debbie) gave me this as you shared your painful journeys through this trauma.
    So again, thank you (& Debbie) for the resources – and your COURAGE. Both of you have given me more tools for my love & support toolkit. Virtual hugs to you both.

  45. Hi Tim, I just listened to your podcast on childhood trauma. It felt like a nice companion that understood the complexity of trauma as I listened. I have childhood trauma and then had long term abuse in my previous marriage.

    What was alive for me today was what you said about anger. I have indulged myself in anger and let myself fully feel it and express it in safe ways toward my ex. It was ugly and I surprised myself with the depths of what I was truly capable of wanting to do and feeling. I worked through it for three years and then had a breakthrough of letting go of much of my hatred toward him (still crops up sometimes). I feel a lot more peace now. I just wanted to reflect back that working with anger is so important and scary… but healing. Much love to you and thank you for sharing.

  46. Hey Tim. A gazillion thank you’s for sharing this podcast. My questions for you:

    1. How was the “vulnerability hangover” after releasing the podcast? What was the journey like for you after releasing the podcast?

    2. Do you know if these new(ish) trauma therapies (e.g. IFS, SE) are experiencing a “Tim Ferriss Effect”? I know you’ve been a huge catalyst for psychedelics for mental health, but do you know – or is there any way for you to gauge – if there is an increase in demand for IFS or SE?

  47. Hi Tim,
    In listening to a recent Podcast by Bernée Brown, I heard the conversation with you and Dax Shepard, which brought me to here. I know that you remarked that you were not going to read the social media remarks surrounding your trauma, so I’m not sure if you or your team will even see this, but I thought i’d take a shot.
    Just a little back story to preface my question with.I listened to this whole episode and it brought me to tears because my son was sexually abused from we think from about 2-4 years of age as well by a step grandfather. He told me just before his fourth birthday in a way only a child can. He wanted his Grandpa to stop tickling him in specific areas. In that moment he never saw the man again, we immediately reported to CPS and an investigation was opened, but with out forensic evidence or a confession by this man, there was no recourse against him due to the age of my son at the time. We always believed him and found a wonderful therapist for him who worked with him in play therapy at first because we were advised a child that young has difficulty putting words to the trauma. He did a lot of work with her for three years and then on and off after that. He is now 10 and doing seemingly very well at this point.
    My point to this is I guess two fold. Number one, I wanted to find out if there is anything more to help him at this point. Also, are there any resources that you know of for parents to help him through this process in the future. I understand that you are not a therapist, but you are so knowledgeable on this subject and this podcast really spoke to me.
    Thank you so much for sharing your story and your bravery. I appreciate it more than you will ever know. Thank you so so much from the bottom of my heart.

    Warm regards an best wishes on your counties journey.
    Nicole

  48. Tim: Thank you so much for sharing your story. After years of insufficiently-helpful treatments to resolve severe trauma-related symptoms that haunt me daily, and the frustration of not being where I want to be in life because of these debilitating symptoms, I was able to locate a therapist who specializes in treating CPTSD using methods like IFS, EMDR, Psychomotor Therapy, and Neurofeedback. Your story also led me to the book “The Body Keeps the Score” by Bessel Van der Kolk, which was transformative for me. Ironically enough, I learned that the therapist I scheduled an appointment with (our first session is this week) is mentioned in Bessel’s book as a colleague of his. Have you ever thought about having Bessel as a podcast guest? I would love to hear that. Thank you again: your courage to share your story with the world has opened my eyes to the underlying cause of my struggles, and highly possible solutions which could be life-changing.