Women in the Arena

Unleashing the Liberating Power of Forgiveness: Natalie Baird King's Story

November 15, 2023 Audra Agen Season 6 Episode 6
Women in the Arena
Unleashing the Liberating Power of Forgiveness: Natalie Baird King's Story
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Can you imagine forging an iron will and becoming an advocate after going through child abuse and domestic violence? Our guest today, Natalie Baird King, an accomplished family law attorney and survivor, has done just that. Drawing on the strength she found in her trauma, Natalie now helps others navigate through their own experiences and thrive beyond them. In a compelling conversation, she recounts her personal journey of survival, her transformation into a relentless advocate, and how she harnessed her past to fuel her passion for family law.

Venturing into the heart of domestic violence, Natalie sheds light on the intricacies that often entangle victims with their abusers. We delve into the financial and emotional ties that bind, the power dynamics at play, and the vital role of self-respect in breaking free from this cycle of abuse. Natalie reveals her personal voyage of forgiveness that began with a devastating incident involving her father, setting the stage for an enlightening discussion.

The power of healing and forgiveness takes center stage as we navigate through our conversation. Natalie lays out a path to healing, offering advice on overcoming guilt and shame that often ensnare survivors of trauma. She also shares her views on varied techniques - from therapy and yoga to breath work and meditation - that can aid in the healing process. Listen in as we journey through trauma's strength, the healing process, and the liberating power of forgiveness, all through the lens of Natalie Baird King's inspiring journey. Be sure to catch a glimpse of her upcoming book, "Forgiving Unforgivable", that promises a deep dive into overcoming trauma and embracing one's purpose.


https://nataliebairdmediations.com/

https://www.forgivingunforgivable.com/order58717548

Go check out all of our episodes on our website: https://womeninthearena.net/


If you are ready to tell your story or want to refer someone, please email me at audra@womeninthearena.net

***Last thing- I'd love to interview the following women:

  • Joan Jett
  • Dolly Parton
  • Viola Davis
  • Ina Garten

Maybe you can help me get there****


Thank you all for supporting this show and all of the Women in the Arena!!

Audra :

Welcome in everyone and thank you so much for joining me again this week. My guest is Natalie Bard King, and she is a survivor. She is a survivor of child abuse and also domestic violence. She has channeled that ability to survive into an entire career. She is now a family law attorney and she helps others not only survive their trauma, but thrive from it. She's also an author of an upcoming book Calling Forgiving Unforgivable the four essential secrets to overcome trauma. Stand empowered and step into your purpose. It is both my pleasure and my honor to introduce to you Natalie Bard King. Natalie, thank you so much for being here and welcome to the show. Thank you, adrienne.

Natalie :

It's such a pleasure for me and such a privilege as well.

Audra :

I am really excited for you to be here. You and I immediately hit it off. We have a lot of similar backgrounds, we have a lot of similar experiences and we used our previous trauma to trigger something better for ourselves. So I want to give you the opportunity for you to tell everybody who you are and what you do.

Natalie :

I'm a board certified family law attorney. I've been doing this for about 21 years. My main area of practice now is mediation practice, where I help folks avoid going to court, going to trial, and help them come up with options to resolve their case or not spending a ton of money in the court system and with attorneys and the delays the court system always does follow when you have to go through that system in order to get your divorce. My legal career was not my first career. I was a dental hygienist for about 12 years before I became an attorney and what set me to going into law was because I had survived a really horrific time in my life where I had sustained a broken arm by somebody I was dating and this monster stalked me for about a year and I was finally able to get away Despite the domestic violence injunctions. I didn't keep them away, despite the court system and the police officers and all the police reports, but I finally did survive that. I had to move away from the Tampa Bay area to do that and when I got away, I woke up one day and I had a dream the night before that I was in a courtroom helping a woman get a domestic violence injunction inside of a courthouse. So that day I went down to the local university, which was Nova South Eastern University down in South Florida, and I applied to get into school. And that's when my legal career, or my ambitions for legal career, actually started. And then, after I finished my four year degree down there, I was able to get into law school right after.

Audra :

So you took that experience of survivorship, basically, and you used it to leverage helping other women in your same position. That's incredibly powerful because, as a survivor, you could allow it to hinder you, you could allow it to be a disability, but you used it as your power and your strength.

Natalie :

I did, and I think one of the hardest things is when you have gone through and at that point I was 27 years old and I'll tell all your listeners I'm 54 today, but up until 27 years of age I didn't understand the impact of the childhood trauma and abuse of my father. And then that created a cycle of every relationship that I was in after that that had some type of domestic violence impact. The relationship where that man had broke my arm that was the worst. It was kind of like it was the straw that broke the camel's back, that I didn't want to live like this anymore. And I had lived many years as what I consider myself a victim, where I felt like I had a sticker or a tattoo across my forehead it said hey, if you want to abuse me, come date me. And I had lived in that zone for such a long time up until that point. And I woke up that day and I said I have to make the change. I have to basically create something new. My identity is not hey, she's an abused child. My identity was not hey, she's a victim of domestic violence. I had to wake up one day and say, no, I'm not those things. I don't want to live in that type of mindset anymore. So that changed for me and it catapulted me into a career that I never would take to where I'm at today. I never had dreamt that I would be where I am today. That's where it all started. Is it really was a mindset for me to change my perspective for my present and future? At that moment in time it was the best decision I ever made, of course, and it wasn't easy. It was very hard, and when I say hard, it wasn't just the educational piece of it and it wasn't just a persistence and the financial piece of it because law school is not cheap but it was the emotional and psychological aspects that I really had to work through to get to the place about today.

Audra :

I can understand that and I can relate to that, because you grew up in an environment where the abnormal was normal for you, so that was your normal level of expectation. You had to have an awareness to understand that what you grew up with is not what you should expect, that you needed to understand that you were worth more and so that, therefore, you should expect more and you should demand better treatment of yourself from others, partners and otherwise you deserved better. And that's what I think is so remarkable is that you had this moment of clarity and you forged a new path, and now you've taken that and dedicated your time, your energy, your resources for others to be able to follow that. So tell me a little bit about your practice and what you do, as far as your passion is concerned, to help others not only recover from trauma but thrive from it.

Natalie :

I will tell you that when I first got out of law school, I knew I was going to be helping victims of domestic violence become survivors, because I had been there. It's like I had been in the court system. I knew what the picture looked like. I was divorced, so I kind of knew some small snippets of what the court system was about, as it related to being in a situation where you were a victim of domestic violence. And I want to let your list of two is you go through life and your journey to life and then one day you wake up and you're like, oh, my dad beating my mom with a belt like was not normal, or my dad being is so bad to where we have bruises all over our bodies, was not normal. It's like one day you wake up and you're like, wait, oh, that wasn't normal, because that was normal to me and my siblings, or four of us. And then you gain like you talked about that awareness and then that that's basically what I call the opening of Pandora's box, because then there's so much discovery that has to happen after that. Right, what is discovery involved? It's involving how do you live without abuse in your life? What is a normal, or what is a not abusive household look like, what is a non abusive relationship? What is a non abusive and respectful marriage looks like. So that discovery was a very important part of my growth process over, you know, the last 30 years, which is you know that again also is not been easy because you think you know and then you end up getting to a relationship where there's no physical abuse but maybe there's financial abuse, or there's no physical abuse but there's an emotional abuse, psychological abuse, betrayal, you know. So you know there's. There was a lot of growth and and what I consider pains, growing pains that I had to go through in order to kind of discover myself. When I first started practicing, I knew I worked at the state attorney's office and I worked in the domestic violence division where the state actually prosecuted abusers for for hurting their victim, and it was not gender specific, just so you all know, in Florida we don't have gender specific laws as it relates to abuse, and I know that's the cross to the United States because I've been a lot of lectures on it. So, whether it's the same sex marriage, whether it's a heterosexual marriage, or whether it's a man being abused in a woman or a woman abusing a man. It goes across all different dynamics of any type of relationship and genders and diversity. So I did that for a good year and a half and I became extremely disenchanted, and the reason for that is because our court system is not really set up to resolve anything. Most of the cases that I had is it was women that were the victims, and that's because there's one on a four women that are in a have been a victim of domestic violence and there's one out of seven men. So you know the stats tell us that there's going to be more women than men. That being said, it was most of the victims that they'd come to me. They wanted to go back to their abuser and the average time that that happens is actually seven times and that's not changed since I was in that situation. But what was hard is because here I was trying to prosecute this person for beating. You know their victim and the victims like no, no, no, there was a big misunderstanding. Meanwhile. You know she has half her face like black and blue, walking in the court, broken bones. Whatever I'm like, you want to go back to that. I hear you are trying to help so they become a survivor and they don't want my help. I did not want my help at all.

Audra :

I want to just stop there for a moment, just because I want to understand why that is. Why, statistically, it is that the victim will go back to their abuser. Is it because they don't know anything different? They haven't changed their mindset? What? What is the? What is the case? Or is it multi layered? It may very well be multi layers.

Natalie :

I think it's multi layered. There are many main reasons. I should say that I think that people do go back to those relations, relationships. I think one is financial. You know, I've had so many cases where they've got two to four kids. They're not working because they were isolated and in their relationship they were able to work because that's one of the main things that an abuser does is isolate their victim so that they are not dependent upon anybody but the abuser. And especially in the financial aspects of a relationship, if you have no money, where are you going? And you're not going to leave your kids behind. So that's one main reason. I think the other reason is is because a lot of times the abusers come back and we call it the power and control wheel. If you've ever seen it in domestic violence Situation is that they come back and they've apologized, they're going to get help, they're starting counseling now they're very remorseful, they promise change and a lot of times when that, when they're in the court system, they're going to promise that change and hold on to that change so long as the the case is right before the court. So until the victim maybe we cancer statement his or her same same it rather so I think in that aspect is that the hope for change. Quite frankly, you know, nobody wants to get divorced from a spouse, especially if they care a lot about that person. It's not something on somebody's very like oh I can't wait to get divorced. You know, choose anyone to sing is like oh god, I really have to face some music here. I think they're like you talked about many multi layers but I will tell you, in the situation I had, I Felt like I was brainwashed many a times because he would talk about you're gonna wear that, you're not gonna wear that out, or why did you cut your hair like that, or why did you color your hair like that? It was constantly like questioning or degrading Comments that you started. You know your own self-worth and the self-love you have for yourself is being ripped away. You didn't have it before the relationship, but it's being ripped away within the relationship Because you never had it. You're leaning on somebody else to make you feel self-worth and self-care. So I think there's a multitude of reasons people go back. I will tell you, in my practice I've never judged that because, even though it's disenchanted on trying to help victims get out of the relationship, you know, you realize when you're in that situation, there are many reasons why you feel like you have to go back, and a lot of times too, there's threats made, threats of death made. If you don't come back, I'm gonna kill the kids, I'm gonna kill you, I'm gonna kill your family. You know that happens quite more frequently than you would think, and you know people go back out of fear.

Audra :

It's what's a cycle? It's a School of. It's a cycle of abuse, forgiveness, I'll be better, and then it starts all over again, or, in a lot of cases, that's all they know Because they came from these environments that were abusive in some way, shape form or another, so they don't recognize it as Unusual or not normal. It's normal for them Because that's the environment that they grew up in, and so there's. I know that there is a period of, as you've discussed, you have to reprogram yourself, you have to change your perspective, you have to have the audacity to expect and reach for more. Then Then anything then you have ever experienced before in your life. You had nothing to refer to it as you have no baseline. But now you're saying I have just an inkling of Self-worth and investment in myself that I'm gonna reach for just a little bit more than what I know, and that's exactly what you've done with your practice. That's right.

Natalie :

It starts with like we talked about discovery, but it really ends with self-love, because people we as humans, people that love themselves and they respect themselves don't allow other people to disrespect themselves. You know they don't disrespect themselves and they don't disrespect the person that they're with. So when you learn that you have self-respect for yourself, you decide that you're gonna have boundaries, you know so. After that relationship I had a really tough time trusting any man, because the very first man that ever hurt me was my father, and then I was married and that person hurt me and then this was, you know, the straw that broke the camel's back. But dating anybody, I had this like huge wall around my heart, right, like nobody was getting in, right so, and I wasn't gonna be vulnerable in any way and and these were, of course, the discoveries we talk about but it took a long time for me to Understand what self-respect really means. I remember dating somebody in law school, believe it or not, toward the end, and I said you know, I only have two requirements you can't cheat on me and you can't hit me, can't physically abuse me. And you would think those would be great boundaries and like you're like that's not much to ask for when you think about it, but in my mind it was like a lot to ask for, right. That was like a lot to ask from somebody and and and that's where my self-respect start to grow is creating boundaries that were safe for me and Create a boundaries of things and I was not willing to tolerate in any type of relationship, whether it be a friendship or a romantic relationship, a partnership or anything like that is that why, as you started to do some self-discovery and gain more self-confidence and Love for yourself, is that why the system started to Enchant you and you recognize that the system is failing?

Audra :

Is that where you're like I gotta do something different because this isn't working?

Natalie :

Yeah, I would absolutely say that. And you know the reason why. I went to law schools to help people get out of those situations and I wasn't able or I felt I wasn't able to make an Impact or I wasn't able to actually convince them like, don't go back to that, right. But when I take a step back and I look at that you know, 21, almost 22 years ago I'm like they just weren't ready. They weren't ready, they were not ready, just like I wasn't ready to step outside of an abusive relationship For some quite some long time. But they just weren't ready. And that's when my, my I end up Shifting my practice to private practice and I went to family law practice. Instead of doing, you know, the state attorney's office where you're prosecuting for the state of crime, I went into the civil aspect, which was more around Paternity cases, child custody, divorce that's what family law really. That's the area practice I ended up leaning towards. So that's where I started my practice, about almost two years after working at state attorney's office.

Audra :

So what do you do different in your practice? That helps, first of all, identify victims and then, second of all, help them to acknowledge their own self-worth, so then they can grow and move beyond that.

Natalie :

The job of an attorney is a lot of times a counselor. So it's funny that you talk about this because we're called counselors at law. But sometimes I feel like it's a little bit beyond that and I was sought out because I was very publicly open. I did a lot of keynote speaking. I did a lot of educational seminars within our community, the judiciary, the legal community, even the media. If there was any type of domestic violence case that came, they would come to me and I talked a little bit about it. I was very transparent, open, publicly, about being a survivor and the the legality is actually surrounding domestic violence. The hardest part was, as most of the people in my family law practice, they were done, they were getting out and what they wanted was quite the opposite of the victims that I had tried to work for at the state attorney's office. They wanted the other person to basically be shot and thrown up against the wall in a firing squad and they wanted them to get no time with their kids. They wanted all the money and they wanted to make sure they basically brought it in hell, you know. So that was the that they burst difference between the one area practice and the other where they had finally said I'm done, which was so rewarding. But the expectations was really really, really, really hard to teach, especially at the beginning, because our court system doesn't have that as well. It does not have. You know, you don't get any time with your kids even though you abuse your wife, or or you know you getting you don't get any times if you abuse your husband. That's not the way our system works. Our system is is we have a privacy, right to be parents. You get time with your kids and it may be supervised until you get some help, but you're gonna get your kids and our specific circuit, we are a 50-50 circuit where they're about to probably pass a law that says in Florida that you get 50% time. Each parent gets it. It's presumed you get 50% time with your kids. I will tell you that. You know the rewarding part was helping these people get their divorce, get away from their abuser, move on with their life without Abuse in their life, and part of that I guess you could say Representation and teachings was get help for yourself, because you know I don't have the expertise as a mental health professional or psychiatrists or psychologists to be able to tell them how to do that, but it was such a big part of Me representing somebody that came to me in those type of cases and I'd say about 85% of my litigation cases when I say litigation they want to file for divorce and they want to go to the court system to be done 85% of those cases when I did litigation were domestic violence related cases. I could not represent the person that was was the abuser. It was very hard for me to do that, just based upon my experience. So I didn't attract those cases, obviously because I was publicly there for the victim and did a lot of speed engagements for the victim. So most respondents are most most alleged abusers thing come to me. But you know that was a big piece of their growth and me helping them get out of the situation is realizing that there has to be some an internal work that you have to come to in order to actually put this chapter behind you and not repeat it part of your expertise that you speak about and that you are known for is this forgiveness expert, and I know that people here won't.

Audra :

They didn't deserve, they don't deserve forgiveness. They've done this, that and the other thing. But what you have said is key is that they start to learn self-respect and self-love for themselves. So tell me a little bit about this expertise you have in forgiveness and why you say it is key to freedom.

Natalie :

My forgiveness journey started about 11 years ago and I was getting ready to take stage. I was given a speech and was a keynote speaker to a local domestic valence shelter that did a fundraiser. I had prepared my speech four times but learned not for this speech. And About three weeks before the speech, my mom shows up on my doorstep and my dad had taken all her clothes and put them on the front yard and was basically had a matchy setting them on fire and he was out of his mind, and so she came over to my home and I was there with my husband at the time and that had just happened. So I was still living watching the domestic violence happen based upon my my childhood trauma, and I was gonna expose my dad. I was done. It's tired of it. My mom was at my doorstep usually once a month. It was getting worse and worse and I was done. I was going to expose him at this keynote, speak to 600 people at this fundraiser for our local domestic violence shelter. And there was. I was getting ready to walk over and my mom calls my husband at the time His name was Cory and said listen, I need you to check on Richard. Richard was my dad. My mom had gone up to North Carolina Because of the incident and she needed to get away from my dad and she went to my sisters to visit my nieces and my sister. So she called Cory and it's like I need you to check on him. My dad developed a major drinking party. He didn't drink at all growing up, but he developed a major alcohol drinking issue, probably the last and a three years prior to that, maybe four even, and it just was gradually getting worse. His health was getting worse as well. I told my husband time Cory. I said he's on the back porch. He's drunk like he is every day at this time of day. He's always drunk by noon. We know that's what it is and I don't want you to miss my speech. This is a big thing for me. This is the largest platform. This is the largest speak Speaking keynote that I've ever done. This is important to me. The media is gonna be there. I don't want to do this by myself. I want your support there and he's. He says I understand, and so he went back to his office, because our office was very close to the venue, and he came back in my office five minutes later. It's like I have to go. I have to go. So I'm very upset at this point that he's gonna have to miss this, this big, big point in my life. So he leaves. I have to walk over to the venue, which is a convention center. It's a five minute walk. I'm walking over and I am just getting more mad, I'm getting angrier and I basically just said to myself could he just die already, just die so tired of the abuse. Like isn't enough enough. You know, I just thought that I get to the convention center there is, you know, the hobnite happens before the event and saying hello to a lot of my peers, judges, you know a lot of my colleagues, other practitioners, family law practitioners, a lot of people in the community that are renowned. You know, tampa police Chief was there and you know just all that. So I'm get ready to take the stage. You're putting the mic on on my lapel and my suit, and my friend comes over. His name is Jason. It's like hey, nat Cory's calling, he needs to talk to it, it's an emergency, and I just knew at that time, oh, oh, something's wrong. I answered the phone, I said hey, hey, cory, what's up? And he's like Matt, your dad's gone and I'm like what do you mean gone? He's like he's, he's dead, he's gone. And I fell to the floor and Was never able to take that stage on that keynote speak that day. And that was a day in which my journey of forgiveness started, and I will tell you that there was two reasons why I Really had to figure out what was going on in my life. Even though I had done all I had all these accolades and I had One of these awards and I had done a lot of media and I was doing a lot of speaking engagements and educating a lot of people there was this part of me that was still resentful and angry of all the abuse that had happened. It was still happening and it was like in my face, you know, with my parents and my mom staying, and you know it's like all this trauma was constantly bubbling up. And so I knew there were two things I had to do. One was I had to forgive my dad, and the second and I didn't know how I was gonna do that because he's gone now and the second thing was is I had to forgive myself, because I'm like, oh my god, I had all this shaming guilt. My dad heard me say that on my walk over to the convention center. I'm never gonna be, I'm forget myself. I Like what if I caused his death? Like I know that sounds kind of ridiculous, but at that point I'm like what if I'm the person that caused him the die? Because I thought that that day was the first day of the beginning of my forgiveness journey.

Audra :

Thank you to today's sponsor Beyond ERP podcast, hosted by Gina Otroski and Louis Balla. This is a podcast about change, evolution and transformation. I was recently introduced to them and I got the opportunity to listen to several of their episodes. The one that I found especially interesting is their interview with Sarah Altman. She started out as a French horn player but then later became an IT manager with this little hardware store that loves the color orange. I was inspired by her story of finding opportunity in the most unlikely places In that episode, their show, beyond ERP, and more right here where you listen to our podcast. Now back to the show. How hard was that? I'm hearing this and there's a lot of things that are similar for me or are triggering for me, because I understand these feelings of caring, resentment, when you think that you've moved beyond the abuse. You think you've moved beyond the experience and you may have removed yourself physically, but you are still emotionally living in it, which means you are still being held hostage in that mindset, in that environment. You're never growing beyond it. You're still that same emotionally, emotionally, you're still that same age of a child that you could have that first memory and you can't get past it. It literally, is a cage. How did you have the wherewithal to understand that you had the key to release yourself from that and that the key was starting forgiveness, which staying it out loud sounds like it's super easy to do. It is not. It is very, very difficult and it is a three steps forward, two steps back kind of thing, and it is a active choice that you have to make every single day until it doesn't become difficult to make that choice. How's your journey?

Natalie :

in that the reason why I set out to write this book is exactly related to the question that you just asked, because for me is, I went searching everywhere and I didn't know what was wrong with me. I didn't realize it was forgiveness at the point in time, but I knew I had this guilt and shame I was carrying around and I had all these pinned up. Like you talk about emotions, the discovery, through that journey as well, has not been easy, because it's really hard to face yourself as this very angry, bitter, resentful person when you're presenting to everybody else in the world a different way. Everybody thought I was just this wonderful, nice, very successful attorney and then behind closed doors I'm yelling, screaming, calling everybody names miserable, unhappy, talking to my daughter, very derogatory, critical, all these emotions I will tell you. Through that journey what I have absolutely figured out is that when these things happen to us, this trauma happens to us, there is an emotion that's triggered in our bodies. It's kind of like fight or flight, right. So I'll give you an example. When my dad one of the first memories I have from my dad beating my mom is, he shoved her in a bedroom, he took his belt off and he started beating her, and their bedroom was right beside my sister and I's bedroom, and so my sister and I were running to our closet and we would close the door and just pray. We're crying, scared to death. Please don't let him come beat us. Please don't let him hurt our mom. We hear it's happening. She's screaming, please don't let him kill her. And then there was emotions of anger after he did it. So there were all these emotions tied to this trauma, and what I learned is that those emotions kept me in the past, and how they kept me in the past is when my dad and mom had an episode, a trigger happened, and then all those emotions flooded up, and then they were just released on anybody and everybody around me. So it's as if the trauma and the emotions that link to the trauma handcuffed me to the past, and when all these triggers came up, it was unleashed. And then what happened was is I felt guilt and I felt shame for yelling at my daughter. There was a time where I even lost it and I took a spoon out of a drawer and I started hitting her and my husband had to get and hold my arm so I would stop, and I became my dad when she was like three years old, and then I fell to the floor and I'm like, oh my God. So then there was the shame and guilt that went along with the release of these negative emotions that were tied to that past trauma. And then, to make matters worse than depression set in, and so the guilt and shame was overcoming, like I couldn't forgive myself for what I had become my father by hitting my daughter with a spoon, out of control, crazy person, angry, that depression would go, and then, you know, I didn't know how to come out of it, although I was walking and doing my job. Every day, those emotions are just constantly being unleashed and the sadness that I lived in, with unhappiness with who I was, Was it like you were emotionally still that little girl hiding in the closet? Absolutely, because each time when I would see something or trigger something that I had a memory of the past as it related to the abuse, I became that little girl again, you know, or I became even the 26 year old running away from the guy that broke my arm. There are occurrences and events that would bring up a memory and then all the emotion, flooded with that trauma, would just come. It was almost as if I remember seeing a vision of myself and I had all these chains and these links around my wrist and my whole arm and it would be chained to my past. One of the main reasons I basically wrote this book is to kind of share, like how did I stop living in the past with those connected emotions and how did I decide to release those and live a very fulfilled, happy life without those emotions controlling my life anymore? I'll tell your audience it was not easy to actually figure it out as well. You know, it's not something like you just wake up one day and like, oh, white phone, it was a. That's why I say it was 11 years ago. It's been 11 years of a journey and I'd say about three years ago is when I truly found it.

Audra :

It seems you've started this journey and it's a long process and it is a continual process. It's not like you get to a point and you're like, okay, I'm cured, it's all good, I can go on with life. Now it's because it's something that you live with your entire life, as long as you're breathing. It's a part of the fabric of your life. There's nothing that you can do about it. You just have to make a decision for it to not to control you anymore. I'm speaking this way because I understand it on a very intimate level, which is why you and I get along so well. What I'd like for the audience to know from your perspective what's the first step? I mean, all of this is overwhelming and you feel like you're being buried under emotion and then you finally make this decision I can't live like this anymore. What do you do first?

Natalie :

I believe the first step for me and, by the way, there are four steps the first step for me is I had to actually see myself in that abused state and I had to see it as an observer. I did not relive the abuse, but I had to see it for what it was. I had to see it as abuse. I had to admit that it was abuse and I had to see that trauma. For me it was several events. It may only be one event for you, but for me it was several events and I had to see it from afar as an observer and I had to see the abusive situation happening or have happened. That's the first thing I had to come and face that. I will tell you. That's probably the hardest step and it was not easy for me. I actually gained help. I will share with your audience that I actually came to understand that step through ayahuasca. I know that is something that's probably very controversial in today's world, but that's something that actually taught me how to see that from afar. There are many methods and I'm not telling your audience that ayahuasca is best for everybody, but there are therapy I've even heard yoga, breath work. There are psychedelics like ayahuasca, there is meditation and I can tell you that that's been a huge part of my healing as well. There are many methods that if you can't sit and you can't face those things, there are methods to help you actually get back to that place to understand. I'm the observer. This is what happened to me. Yes, this trauma happened, it happened, this event happened. The second step is right near that and it's very short. Once you recognize the event happening, you have to feel what you felt. When I think about I talk about the closet with my sister, what I felt was fear, uncertainty. You know, am I gonna die? And I also felt anger. And after it happened, I hated my father, resentment, bitterness. You know those events were hooked to that one event. And again, I had many, but just that one event. I had to feel those emotions and I had to ask myself when do I have those emotions in my life? And I had to get real, because it was daily. I had anger. Every day I had resentment, bitterness, I had fear. My life was all decisions was based on fear. Every decision was based on fear. I had to realize I was walking in life and everything that I did or did not do, decisions I did or did not make was based on fear, and I had to recognize that those emotions lived in my life every day and I had to feel what those feel felt like in that closet. And then the third I had to do one of the most amazing parts of forgiveness, which is to recognize that the forgiveness was never for my father. Forgiveness is never for the person that perpetrated the wrongdoing on you. It's for you. The only person that needed forgiveness was me, and what I mean by that is this I had a therapist. When I was writing my book, I did a lot of interviews with therapists that deal with their clients or patients that are dealing with a difficult time for giving someone. And how he described it was he's like you have this trauma or this wrongdoing that happens in your life. For me, I'll give an example of me. So my dad beat my mom and he beat us. What happened was he took all of this pain and suffering and he basically put these rocks in a backpack and then he decided to put that backpack on me. That's the result of the abuse. So throughout my life, I have this backpack of rocks that I've been carrying around my whole life, and I'll tell you, a backpack of rocks is heavy. It starts wearing on your body, your organs, your bones. Physical manifestations are happening, mentally, psychologically, you're dying because you can't carry it around anymore, because it's just so heavy. And the only person gonna take the backpack off is me because my dad would come to me. He's like I'm really sorry, but I had a really childhood and I don't want you to live in this pain. And so I'm like I'm not taking that backpack off and you're not touching my backpack. You're not touching my rocks, you're not touching my backpack. And you know why? Because when I needed a rock to throw out my dad, I wanted an easy reach. I wanted to reach back for those rocks and I wanted to be able to throw it at him and have him feel the pain and suffering that I felt my whole life. There's no way I'm taking that backpack off, until one day I realized I'm like why am I carrying around these rocks? It's killing me. I can easily take this backpack off. I don't need the rocks, I don't need to cause pain and suffering. I just need to forgive so that I can take the backpack off and live this happy life because I don't need the rocks anymore. I don't need them. Once you realize that, forgiveness becomes a pretty easy aspect after that because once you realize the forgiveness was for you and it was only for you and your heart and your soul to forgive, when you take it off, it's like the fourth step happens automatically. It's like you're able to release those emotions. I'm no longer tied to the past. I can think about every single traumatic time that happened to me in the past between me and my father and every man that's ever abused me. And there is no pain, there's gratefulness. There's gratefulness that those things happen to me, because I wouldn't be sitting with you today and talking with your audience today If those things didn't happen to me. I couldn't make a difference like I am today without those things happening. So that's why I'm so grateful I get to accept freedom in my life. Release and freedom is the last step. I'm allowed to release those emotions. I'm no longer tied to the past. No longer I am not an abused. I am not the part of an abused child I am. My identity now is about love and gratefulness. That's how I would describe myself. I'm able to release that and maybe accept the freedom, because the freedom comes when you're able to release, that You're able to live happy. I had a cat pass away. It was the sweetest cat I had. It was four months ago. In my old life. If I had any death or something pretty traumatic like that happened, it just sent me into a whole world when I'm like I don't know why I'm happy, I do some so unhappy and that would be a result of something happening occurring in my life and although that was very sad about my cat dying, it didn't send me into that place like it always did was the place of depression, like I'm never gonna be happy, and mainly it's because that I released emotions that dealt with trauma really did. And I think if you can wrap your brain around understanding those four steps and you're willing to explore those four steps, I think anyone can get there. And I know I talk about forgiving the unforgivable, because I don't think there's any act that is unforgivable. I really don't, and especially given my traumatic past and the past has been a lot of bad stuff. But I think when it comes to forgiveness, I think it's not about looking necessarily at. It's definitely not looking about not doing it for the wrongdoer, it's definitely doing for yourself. There's one more thing I have to say in regards to the four steps, and this is some research I did. There was a Holocaust survivor and his name was Weinhoffer and he's passed on, but he wrote about his story when he survived the concentration camp. He was hired by the US government to go out and find as many as the officers of Hitler that could be found so they could be tried at Nuremberg. There was one officer that he found and he's went to Nuremberg trials, found guilty, and the man was basically getting ready to be executed. The officer was Weinhoffer, was at every single one of the executions that he had found and so Weinhoffer, sitting there, they're getting ready to start the execution. The officer turned to Weinhoffer, knowing that he was the one that found him and had set it all up. He had said I hope and pray that you can forgive me and I'm so sorry. And Weinhoffer talks about how it could have been very easily never to forgive this officer that caused these heinous, horrible deaths of an entire sect of people. He basically writes about like he chose to forgive that officer that day, not for the officer for himself, and he made such an impact through his forgiveness and that officer was the one that kind of brought up the light for him that he realized that the power he was able to take away.

Audra :

take back his own power by simply giving forgiveness to the other person, because that's what it is. It's that balance of power, shifting it back to yourself, away from the person or situation that tipped it away from you in the first place.

Natalie :

Exactly, there are lots of. You know, when I did a lot of research on forgiveness and, by the way, I read everything, every blog, everything I could find when I basically kind of started discovering that I think I need to forgive my dad and I need to forgive myself, like I kind of like sort of realized and I think maybe this is the key. But I read everything and there's so much out there, but there's nobody that says like, how do you do this, how do you make this happen? You want it, but how do you bring yourself to it? You know, there there were just stories after stories that I would read. You know, even famous people like Oprah she talks about her mom and Nelson Mandela, how he was in prison for 26 years but then he ended up becoming one of the biggest proponents for peace and South Africa. It was, it was just, you know, a beautiful story. But I don't think there's a specific time that anybody should have to forgive this. That's number one, because it's taken me. You know, I mean three years ago is when I found it, so that was eight years, and I think timing is when you're ready, when you're ready to take the backpack off, when you're exhausted. We're tired living with the same emotions that are controlling you day after day after day, and then that's within. The right time is going to be about. And you know, like I said, for me to go back to those traumatic places I did I always talk about. There are lots of methods and the method for me was I decided to do ayahuasca and my friend Suggested it. She has. She had healed her trauma through doing it. She had healed depression through doing ayahuasca and the same thing had happened to me. But my eye was truly open and my, I believe you know there were things I had forgot about in regards to a lot of the trauma as well, and I think, by seeing that as an observer, that was why I was able to heal, and that first step was vital. Vital, it's not. I always tell people like forgiveness is not easy, it's work. Nobody wants to forget, nobody wants to remember. You know the pains from the past. I mean what's to go back and say, oh god, I remember that time in the closet. You know nobody wants to do that. It's hard, very hard. Nobody wants to remember the emotion tight to it Even more. You got to think about, you got to bring that forward and say, wow, you know, a lot of people say your past frames you. I tend to agree to one extent, but it doesn't have to identify you. So it may frame my journey of the abuse from my past, may frame me in regards to how I live my purpose today, but it certainly is not my identity. You know it's it's. You know, hey, nally's and Somebody became a survivor of abuse and and you know that's, that's part of my journey. It certainly is not how I would actually identify myself.

Audra :

This is how you change the world. I'm hoping to do that. I'm hoping the world, one person at a time, by simply being a guide To help them through their own, through their own journey, whatever it looks like and whether it be a situation or a person, you are their guide through this journey and Wait for for a lot of us that have to go on this journey. You've spent your entire life running away from it. That's why you feel so bad in the beginning or in the first place is because you have spent your entire life running trying to forget and Then you're like, well, you're gonna need to stop running and you need to turn around. The face of great in the face, terrifying, extremely brave and it. And if you can give guidance, then we all need a little help through that journey and this is your purpose. You had to go through this so you can be everybody's guide, everybody who needs it to be their guide. I can't, I can't believe. We're almost out of time. We are literally close to time and you, you have such a fascinating story, but I want to make sure that I'm giving the audience access to you, if this is resonating with them at all, if they Need more information, even want some of your guidance, your help. Where can they connect with you to learn more about you and your work and your purpose?

Natalie :

Sure so I have a website is forgiving and for but give a bowl co, co. That's basically my main landing page. It talks about my book. Um, you can also find me on Natalie Baird mediation. That's pretty much my website, what I do on a daily basis outside of the book, so I can. You can actually reach me on email at N Bk that's in as a Natalie B as in Baird K as in King at forgiving unforgivable co. If you go to my website on forgiving forgiving unforgivable co, I do have a free checklist that you can look at to see if, basically, forgiveness is something that you need in your life and based upon that Checklist you know I just have you take that and I caught a free giveaway so you can actually start maybe, possibly your forgiveness journey In regards to whether you need it or not in your life.

Audra :

Well, I want to thank you for being here. I want to thank you for being so vulnerable and transparent, because what we're talking about today isn't easy. Yeah, and you have. Like I said in the beginning, you took your Experiences and you transformed it into your greatest gift and your greatest power, and it wasn't easy to get to and it's certainly not easy to talk about. So I thank you for being willing to share that with everybody, for maybe they can find their power too.

Natalie :

Thank you so much, adra. It's such a pleasure to be here with you and your audience today, and I'm hoping that this resonated. The message is resigning with at least some of your listeners, and hopefully they can find forgiveness in their life.

Audra :

That is my hope too, because I'm trying to change the world to one person at a time, and this is how we do it. So thank you once again for being here, and I want to thank all of you for being here, and we'll see you again next time.

Surviving and Thriving
Cycle of Abuse and Struggle for Self-Worth
A Journey of Forgiveness
Healing From Past Trauma and Emotions
Four Steps to Healing and Forgiveness
The Power and Process of Forgiveness