Episode 4 – Coaching Amelia Part 2


Trigger Warning: Sexual abuse and sexual assault

In her previous episode, Amelia mentioned some abuse and trauma that had happened in her earlier years, and she wanted to work with me on how to move through the trauma when she gets triggered, but with further exploration, she explained that what triggers her the most now is thinking about her husband sharing his sexuality with others before they were together. 

Now whether you have trauma in your past or not, you may feel a little triggered or even upset with your spouse for their sexual past. So if you are feeling triggered, this episode is really going to help you.

If you would like to listen to Amelia’s first coaching session, go to Episode 0.


Amanda: Welcome to the podcast. For episode four where I am following up with Amelia. I want to give a little bit of a trigger warning that this episode includes talk of sexual abuse and sexual assault. So if that is a trigger for you, then you may want to skip this episode. 

In her previous episode, Amelia mentioned some abuse and trauma that had happened in her earlier years, and she wanted to work with me on how to move through the trauma when she gets triggered, but with further exploration, she explained that what triggers her the most now is thinking about her husband sharing his sexuality with others before they were together. 

Now whether you have trauma in your past or not, you may feel a little triggered or even upset with your spouse for their sexual past. So if you are feeling triggered, this episode is really going to help you.

If you are feeling upset or jealous, or any other emotion because of your partner’s past, I encourage you to come into my coaching membership to discuss it and get coaching on it. 

So let’s listen in on another conversation with Amelia.

Welcome back to the podcast, Amelia. 

Amelia: Thank you. Appreciate it. It’s good to be back.

Amanda: Okay. What do you want coaching on today for this follow up call? 

Amelia: Well, I have been going over podcasts as well as the information through the workbook and everything, and I do have stuff I want to talk about, but I guess to start out, I guess I’d like to know how do I know when I am in a good place, like mentally and emotionally?

And I feel like when I’m going through this stuff, there’s this fear in me that I am going to be triggered somehow and it is going to put me back in a place where I’m not feeling as confident and good about things. And so I guess I’d like to talk about my past a little bit. So that I can get into where I’m at now.

Amanda: Okay. 

Amelia: Does that make sense? 

Amanda: Yeah. And I think, I mean, the answer to the question is, I can’t tell you when you’re in a good place mentally and emotionally, but I think the thing to know is, if and when you do get triggered, how to deal with that in a healthy way.

Amelia: Okay. So, and I’m learning that. 

Amanda: Yes, yes. So tell me a little bit about the past and what you want to bring up. 

Amelia: Um, briefly, before I was married, the things that I talked about when we last got together was, you know, I had some trauma growing up. I think a lot of that trauma is completely subconscious. I can’t remember who or where, and I had the opportunity once to find out and said I didn’t want to know because I was too scared to find out who it was. 

I mean, there was a time in high school that I was dating a guy that I had this major crush on and went to his house once and he took me into his room and even though I said no over and over again, he continued to stick his hands up inside of me and I just, it was awful. 

And so I finally said no and of course left, but I always held onto so much guilt because as an early 16 year old girl, I knew better than to go into this boy’s room, but when I was invited into his house, yeah, he’s down in his room so I went down there and I held onto that for so, so long, and I think at this point I can certainly recognize that, oh my goodness, you were 16. What would I say to one of my own young women now, you know? 

Amanda: Right. 

Amelia: It’s okay. You got out of there, you said ‘no’, you did the things you should have… 

Amanda: Let me just stop you there, just for people who are listening. Even if you didn’t say ‘no’, like you didn’t say ‘yes’. 

There’s going to be people out there who freeze and don’t say no. And if you are not verbally consenting, yes, yes, this is what I want, it’s still an assault, it’s still not consensual, so I’m so glad that you were able to say no, but I don’t want anybody else thinking that they need to feel guilty if they weren’t able to say no.

Because if you didn’t say, yep, this is really, really what I want, then it’s still non-consensual. 

Amelia: Okay. Anyway, I’ve held onto that for many years. And then when I met my husband and I, you’ve got to know, I was one of those girls that I did not make mistakes. I did all the things that I was supposed to do.

And as an adult, I wish I wouldn’t have is the truth, I wish I would’ve made some mistakes because I feel like things would be different for me now. 

So when I was dating my husband, we actually got engaged fairly quickly, and then we were sitting on a couch once at his apartment and I asked him a question of, I can’t even remember what the question was now, but it was something about past transgressions, being stupid and thinking that he was just like me.

And so his answer really shocked me when I found out that he was a virgin, but he had done plenty of other things that were sexual. Like a virgin in theory only, you know, if you’re not going to call oral sex virginity or whatever.

And unfortunately, I, of course had to know everything because I had to know what I was getting into and because I was stupid and because I didn’t really have the understanding that I have now of the atonement of Jesus Christ.

So I went to my parents at that point for better or worse. And at that point my mom and dad were like, look, we’re going to be straight up with you. There’s things in your own family’s history that you don’t know about, and they hope that telling me what it was, which was that my dad had been introduced to pornography at like 11 years old by his cousins, and it had been a major problem for him through their entire marriage.

So anyway, I just, at the time felt like these men that were everything in my life, you know, but I was like, what the hell? More or less, you know, going on, what is this? And, I really felt betrayed by men in general. I struggled with the priesthood. I struggled with at that point in time, women not having the priesthood.

I have a different understanding of that now as well. But it was a long, hard road for me. I did go to some serious counseling and therapy. And my husband, who was just a boyfriend at the time, before we got engaged again, he drove me an hour to these appointments every single week so that he could sit out in the waiting room while I was in there being coached or counseled.

And anyway, he proved to me over and over and over again that he was the person that I imagined I wanted to marry someday, and he has never given me any reason to look back. 

So I can keep going because there’s plenty more, but we can start there if that’s enough as well. 

Amanda: Well, so given all of that and other things that we haven’t talked about, what do you want to focus on today?

Amelia: How to completely get over it, I guess. Like when I find myself being triggered or in a place of trauma, I feel like I did at the first. I’m almost to my 20 year anniversary right now and I think the first 18 years were absolutely brutal in the bedroom. Like I was in a fetal position being touched, like doing my best to cover parts of me, you know, that I was so uncomfortable with and there were times that I said no and there were times that the guilty part of me was like, I should say yes, I’m his wife. 

And he was so good. Every time that I was like, I don’t want to, yes, he got frustrated going, what is wrong with me? What is wrong with this? And, and it’s become a, I have issues and I need to fix my issues, and I have since learned there’s plenty of issues on the other side as well for sure. But for me, that’s where I’m at.

Amanda: What do you find that triggers you?

Amelia: It could be a simple memory passing through my brain. It could be a name that I’ve seen, because I know the names of the people, there were a couple, that he has been with. And honestly, seeing the names used to put me in a breakdown, which is so silly to me, but it was real. 

Amanda: Does that still happen? 

Amelia: When I hear the names, I think of it, but it doesn’t have the same effect on me that it used to. It’s more of a sadness than a trigger. 

Amanda: Okay. So what is it that really still triggers you?

Amelia: It’s probably the thoughts? I’ve seen it in my head so many times, which is a place I shouldn’t have allowed myself to go, but him being with these other people.

Amanda: So it’s really about him, like your husband being with other people, that’s what’s most triggering for you.

Amelia: Yeah, I’ve hated it. 

Amanda: Okay. 

Amelia: Like logically I can walk myself through it and…

Amanda: It’s not just logic, it’s different. It’s not just logic. There’s so much that happens in the body and so we can’t think our way out of some of these things and that’s okay.

I don’t want to trigger you in this because that’s not the purpose, okay?

Amelia: Okay. 

Amanda: But I want to walk you through some processes that you can do when you get triggered.

So again, if at any point you start to feel triggered, I want you to let me know because we need to stop at that point, okay? 

Amelia: Okay. 

Amanda: So our brain is always offering us different thoughts and things will just kind of come out of nowhere, right?

I mean, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve talked to people, and maybe this is you too, where you’re driving down the road and your brain is like, I can just drive off the road right now. 

Like our brain does the craziest things and so it’ll bring up things at very strange times sometimes. And so what I want to practice with you is just when this happens, what to do.

Amelia:  I like that. Okay. 

Amanda: Okay, so I don’t want you to go there because I don’t want to trigger you, but let’s just imagine that you’ve had one of these things going through your brain, okay? It just comes out of nowhere. And you know, sometimes we’re not in places where we really can stop, but if possible, I want you in those moments to put your hand over your heart.

So if you can do that now. 

Close your eyes and I want you to just take a couple of deep breaths in through the nose and out through the mouth.

And I want you to go into your body and understand where it is in your body that you’re feeling this. 

Where do you often most feel it? 

Amelia: Well, remember our last session, I said it was in my head all the way, but right now it is in my heart and on my skin. 

Amanda: Okay. And what does it feel like? Describe it to me.

Amelia: Um, irrational fear, like this tingling. I’m scared to be touched. I’m scared to open up. I’m picturing myself being back in a fetal position.

Amanda: Okay, so you’re into this full fear, right? And it’s totally normal. And one of the things that we do, especially when we’re triggered, is we try to tell ourselves how irrational it is and that we need to stop feeling it. 

And that actually just makes it worse. Okay? 

And the best way to deal with this is to actually let yourself feel it as scary as it is.

And so I just want you to keep breathing and just let yourself feel it, and I’m going to remind you that you’re safe, that nothing is actually happening right now.

Amelia: It just makes me shake. 

Amanda: It’s okay. Just let yourself shake.

But breathe, keep breathing.

Don’t resist it.

Amelia: Uh, do you want me to see my eyes closed? 

I’ll just keep my eyes closed.

Amanda: You can, you can do whatever you need to right now.

Amelia: How long do I need to feel it?

Amanda: As long as it’s there.

Don’t resist it. 

Amelia: I feel like the deep breathing does help it calm down. 

Amanda: It does because you’re not resisting and you’re creating space for it to be there. So if you can imagine yourself kind of in a bubble, and as you breathe, you’re blowing up that bubble bigger and bigger and bigger to let that fear dissipate. As the bubble gets bigger.

If it feels good, you can tap on some of your pressure points, on your heart. 

You can shake, you can move.

You could make sounds, whatever you need to do, whatever feels best for you and your body right now.

Try giving yourself a little hug, rubbing your arms up and down.

Amelia: I’m doing okay.

Amanda: Tell me how you’re feeling. 

Amelia: Um. I think fear’s all the answer I can give.

Amanda: It’s okay. Do you still feel the fears and the tingling? 

Amelia: No, I’ve calmed down. 

Amanda: Okay.

Amelia: I imagine I could bring it back up pretty easily, but I am right now calming down.

Amanda: We don’t want to necessarily bring it back up, but when it’s there, we want to allow it and breathe through it and comfort yourself through it so that it doesn’t keep re-triggering.

And just really be gentle with yourself through it, but don’t resist it because when we resist it, it just gets worse. 

You probably heard the saying, what we resist persists. 

Amelia: I haven’t actually.

Amanda: I think it was Carl Young, but I’m not positive. But it is a very real thing that when we resist something, it’s going to stick around even longer.

And so if we can move through it and be gentle with ourselves as we move through it, instead of resisting it, thinking we shouldn’t be feeling it, it’s actually going to go away a lot sooner. 

So studies show that, when we are thinking these things and remembering these things, that it dumps all of these chemicals and neurotransmitters and hormones into our body. That’s what creates the reaction that we have. And the feelings that we have, the sensations that we have in our body, and if we just allow them to be there, they will usually dissipate in about 90 seconds.

But most of the time we don’t. We resist it and tell ourselves, I shouldn’t be thinking this. I should feel differently, and I just want to get out of it and get through it, you know? 

And so when we resist it like that, it persists and it lasts longer, and it gets bigger and bigger and bigger instead of dissipating.

And so the more we can just allow it to be within us, the quicker it’ll actually go. 

Amelia: I’m a firm believer in letting myself feel all the feels so it doesn’t get stuck somewhere in me. 

Amanda: Yeah, so when that triggering happens, that’s a really good thing. 

Have you ever done EMDR therapy?

Amelia: No, I haven’t. I should. 

Amanda: You really should because it can really help with those big triggers.

EMDR therapy is not one of those that you have to do forever. It’s usually within a couple of sessions. Even a few sessions it can resolve is something 

Amelia: Is it something that helps even if you aren’t consciously aware of it?

Amanda: Yes. 

Amelia: Okay. 

Amanda: Yes, so EMDR is proven to be one of the best methods for trauma and overcoming trauma and those triggers. So if you are noticing that you get triggered by things, EMDR therapy is a really good way to help work through that so that you don’t really get triggered by it anymore. 

Like I can help you calm yourself down if you’re being triggered, right?

But to actually get rid of the trigger, EMDR therapy is great. 

Amelia: What is the real definition of trigger. I use the word trigger, but I want to know is my definition of trigger, am I identifying that correctly? 

Amanda: Well, I don’t know that there is a standard definition or what it looks like in this context. But I would say, if you are having an extreme emotional response that…it actually makes sense to have that kind of emotional response when you’ve experienced a trauma, which you have, but because it’s not actually happening in the moment, it’s recreating that. So it’s how you experience that in the moment. So I’d say that what’s happening emotionally is not proportional to what’s happening around you.

And that’s okay. That’s how our body deals with things sometimes, and it’s just really, really important to be very, very gentle with yourself through that process and to love yourself and be really compassionate with yourself through that process.

And the more you take care of yourself, I would guess the less likely it would trigger you so greatly. 

Amelia: Yeah. The illogical response to something that isn’t happening right now doesn’t make sense. It makes me think, yeah, I’ve triggered plenty.

Amanda: Well, and I wouldn’t say that’s it’s illogical. I would just say it’s not proportional.

Amelia: Okay. 

Amanda: Because in some ways it is very logical. Because you have this trauma stored in your body and it is reacting to that rather than it reacting to what’s actually happening. So it’s very logical because we have those things stored in our body. 

Amelia: So that just means that I am not giving myself grace. I’m calling things that are real stupid and shaming myself over it? 

Amanda: Yeah, probably. 

Amelia: I can see that. Yeah, I can see that. 

Amanda: But I really want you to just be gentle with yourself and realize that like, of course these things are happening and EMDR therapy is going to, if you’ll do that, it will help with those things.

But in the meantime, just be really gentle with yourself because this is what’s happening in your body. And the more you are gentle and compassionate and accepting of that, the easier you’re going to move through it. Okay? 

So when you tell yourself it’s illogical and it shouldn’t be happening, and shaming yourself for it.

What do you think that actually does to what’s happening in your body? 

Amelia: Makes it worse. I believe it. 

Amanda: Yeah. And you’ve probably experienced it.

Amelia: Over and over again. Thanks for asking. 

Amanda: But, and I noticed when I was watching you, that you would start to calm and then your face would get really tight again, and then you would break down again, which is okay.

And so I want you to just, when in those moments, I want you to pay attention to what’s going on in your mind, because if you’re continually thinking of the things that are triggering you over and over, it’s going to just keep dumping all of those chemicals. And so no matter how much you breathe, it’s not going to happen.

But in those moments, if you can just be really kind and compassionate with yourself, and focus on being really kind and compassionate and loving towards yourself. And focus on breathing, tapping, you know, rubbing your arms, shaking, vibrating, whatever you need to do, that’s going to help you calm down a lot faster and move through it.

Amelia: I believe it. I appreciate the tapping and I always forget about it. I need to be better at remembering that.

Amanda: I’m not an expert in tapping, but I know that it really works for some people. So if it, like some people it doesn’t work for and some people it does. So if it works for you, then employ different things that work for you.

So within the membership there’s a class called the Transformational Cycle. That with that class, there is a PDF with lots of different things that you can do to resource yourself when you are being triggered. And in those moments where emotions run really, really high, what we call like being in a trauma response, and so I would go see that class and look over that list and see what things appeal to you and in those moments, draw on those things. 

So tapping is definitely one of them, right? Shaking, rubbing your arms, breathing. But there’s also things like, um, you know, going for a walk and which you might not be able to do at the moment, but as you’re working to calm down, it’s a really great way.

Getting rhythmic movement is really good. It helps bring the prefrontal cortex back online. It kind of goes offline when we go into those trauma responses and we go more into the limbic system, which is more the survival part of our brain. And so it brings the prefrontal cortex where we actually can start to think logically again, and not just emotionally or instinctually.

Doing some of these exercises helps bring that back online so that you can actually start to think logically again and work through the problem rather than just do it. 

Now, if you notice certain thoughts trigger you. Once you’ve worked through the emotional part of it, then you can work on changing the thoughts.

A lot of people want to jump to changing their thoughts and like to just try to swap out thoughts so they don’t have to feel. And that’s not what we want to do. We want to work through the emotions first and then work on changing the thought processes. 

Amelia: No, I can see that. Just hearing the word oral sex used to be a trigger for me, and I think I’ve worked through a lot of that cause it’s just normal to me now.

Amanda: Good. 

Amelia: That’s pretty great. Good. 

Amanda: How are you feeling? 

Amelia: Uh, calmer for sure. Um, I feel like I’m two different people when it comes to sex period, because I have this side of me that I feel like I’m, I have been working through and I’m continuing to work through. And the other side of me, since I started listening to your podcasts, I don’t know, a year, maybe a year and a half ago, I feel like I’ve become such a different person in the bedroom and more confident in what I’m willing to try and in things that I’ve just changed my mind about completely. That has been wonderful for me and for my spouse, you know, our relationship, period.

Amanda: Well, and that’s what we’re working to do, is to integrate our sexuality into our normal life.

And it’s really normal that you’re feeling these things because you have trauma. So the more that we work to resolve the trauma, the more you’re going to be able to integrate. 

Amelia: I hope so. 

Amanda: Yeah, it’ll just take more. 

Amelia: That’s great. I got time to kill. 

Amanda: We got time to kill, right? 

Amelia: Well, I say that, but then again, I’m kind of getting older and my kids are growing up and I’m like, oh, I honestly, I wish that I had the understanding that I do now and could go back to when I was newly married with all the happy hormones and I feel kind of ripped off.

Amanda: Yeah, but really most people find that sex gets better with age. I did a podcast on this a little while ago, like our sexual prime and we think we missed our sexual prime because we were so busy being triggered all the time and hiding sex and stuff. And that was maybe our genital prime. But our sexual prime, sex just gets better with age because we lose so many of the inhibitions. We are creating deeper meaning in our relationships, and that’s when sex gets really, really good. So you didn’t miss out on anything. 

Amelia: Okay, good. 

Amanda: It’s only going to get better from here, Amelia.

Amelia: Oh, that’s awesome. Well, good. I’ve got a lot to look forward to then. 

Amanda: Yes, you do. 

Okay, let’s just take a minute to just reintegrate things. We’ll take a couple deep breaths again.

Amelia: I can’t do it through my nose because it’s too stuffed, but I’ll take it through my mouth.

Amanda: Through your mouth is good.

Okay. So if you can reflect back, what were some key points for you today? What are you going to walk away with? 

Amelia: Uh, I think I’m going to come back to this and re-go through, allowing myself to feel it for longer because I think that that would be beneficial for me for more healing to move past the feeling so that I can move to the thought and then changing the thought.

Um, but I think I’m going to need more time allowing myself to feel before it goes away. 

Amanda: Yeah. Really good skills to learn. 

Amelia: Thanks for teaching me. 

Amanda: You’re welcome. Thanks for being here. Amelia.

Okay. So I hope that episode was really helpful for you. If you are experiencing a lot of triggers when it comes to sexuality or anything else in your life, now that we’re four episodes in, you’ve probably realized that a lot of our coaching, we talk about breathing.

Breathing to center ourself, breathing to calm down and work through emotions that we’re feeling. 

And the breath is a really important process with this because, while it is autonomic, it can also be controlled. And when we breathe in, it increases our sympathetic nervous system, and when we breathe out, it increases our parasympathetic nervous system.

So we focus on the outgoing breath, and breathing is a really, really important process for all of this, and it’s something that I think that we can all do, and we often forget to do as a way to help regulate ourselves and regulate our emotions. 

So if you are feeling triggered or upset, or really struggling with feeling what you’re feeling, make sure you breathe.

Thank you again for joining me today, and we will see you next week with a new episode. Bye-bye.

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