Victims of abuse tend to keep their dark past to themselves out of fear and shame. Courage would not even suffice to describe the kind of bravery they show when they finally decide to go out of the shadows and into a life of healing. A living proof of hope and a fully productive life even after trauma is Nancy Legere. Having been abused as a little girl and kept it to herself for decades, Nancy decided to go through therapy, self-reflection, and healing. In this inspiring episode, Nancy shares with us her journey of overcoming not only childhood sexual abuse but PTSD and addiction as well. She lets us in on the courageous path she took to develop a healthy lifestyle and find lasting love that helped her triumph over the stigma she felt for many years. Follow along in this great story of perseverance, love, strength, and courage that shows us that there is hope in life beyond the shadows.
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Finding Hope In Life Beyond The Shadows With Nancy Legere
A Journey Overcoming PTSD, Addiction, And Childhood Sexual Abuse
If you’re interested in finding out more information about me, you can go to JenniferWhitacre.com. If you’d like to subscribe to the show, go to JenniferWhitacre.com/podcast. There you will find my episodes in different formats. You can go to my YouTube channel for videos and subscribe. I hope you subscribe to the show. I’d like to take a moment to welcome our guest. In this episode, we have Nancy Legere. She was abused as a little girl and she kept her secret to herself for decades out of fear and shame. Thankfully, after many years of therapy, self-reflection and healing, she developed a healthy lifestyle and found lasting love which helped her triumph over the stigma she had felt for many years. She now shares her story of perseverance, love, strength and courage and proves that there are hope and fully productive life even after a childhood trauma. Nancy, welcome to the show. It’s an honor to have you with us.
Thank you, Jennifer. I appreciate the fact that you’re giving me a voice.
I appreciate your vulnerability and sharing your story. Nancy has written a book called Life in the Shadows and I just finished reading her book. It’s a scary experience that you lived through as a child. Traumatically scary experience. Would you like to tell a little bit about where we’re starting with your childhood trauma? Nancy was sexually molested. Would you like to talk a little bit about that and start the show? We start with the worst part of it and it gets better.
I was raped at the age of seven. For me, that would change my perception of life and my new normal forever. It became apparent to me within a matter from the time I went to bed that evening until I woke up the next morning, that I had done something wrong. Immediately, I took on the responsibility of what had happened the night before. I was raped by a neighbor. He was babysitting us for the evening because we normally got his sisters, but I had a sister in the hospital and my parents needed somebody to watch us for a few hours. His father volunteered him. Usually, we would never have a male babysitter. It changed my perception of everything that would happen to me after that moment moving on. Life became different. It’s a little bit hard to explain. The next morning, I was dressed, I was made ready and I went off to school not understanding the impact of everything that had happened. I stayed in shock probably for a long time. I wouldn’t be surprised, even if I said years because I went into a frozen state. I’m not sure how to explain it.
You’re doing a great job of explaining it and anybody who’s lived through a childhood trauma, whether it’s molestation or physical abuse or even those moments sometimes where we’re humiliated and teased and shamed in front of a group of people. What you’re saying, “My life changed,” and you woke up the next morning feeling different. You even talk about that in the book, how overnight everything changed. That’s the imprint of trauma on the nervous system. It is hard to put into words because that imprint of trauma is nonverbal. When we try to put words to it, words fail. That’s exactly what trauma does. It changes things instantly. It limits or constricts our future responses to similar situations. In your case, similar situations could be being in the presence of a male. You’re doing a great job of explaining it even though it’s hard to put words to it. It’s hard to put words sometimes to what we experience inside of ourselves when there is a childhood trauma. You said that you didn’t talk to anybody and you didn’t tell anybody about it. Do you happen to remember, in childhood what your thought processes were as to why? Did he say something? Did he threaten you?
He did threaten me. If I was to say anything, he would go after my younger sister. For some reason, I was always a protector, to begin with. I never quite understood why, but I always was. My younger sister had a soft spot for me in my heart. I always went out of my way to protect her. I would have done anything to protect her. If he said, “If you tell anyone, I will go after your younger sister.” I would have never told anybody ever. For some reason as a child, I always thought that it was stamped on my forehead or something. That it was obvious and I went out of my way to hide it. I spent most of my younger years as well as my teenage years doing that. I was going out of my way to make sure that nobody would even have an inkling that anything happened. I kept everybody at a distance. Nobody ever got close to me. I had friends but no close friends, nobody knew what was going on in my world ever.
Those are natural coping mechanisms. You described it beautifully, that experience of being withdrawn. That self-isolation that children will do once they’ve lived through a trauma. That’s a pattern that we hear with children who have lived through horrendous events like this in childhood. That’s a pattern for them to isolate. I’d like to point this out, our readers, if you start to see red flags in children in your life, if you start to see them self-isolating or you start to see red flags in their behavior, start to ask questions. You never know what could have happened or what was said to them. It’s heartbreaking because there are a lot of children that suffer in silence because they feel like they have nobody to turn to.
I come from a generation where 45, 50 years ago, that was never talked about ever. It was not in the news. Nobody ever talked about it. It was taboo. People were afraid of that. It grew. There’s no reason why people can’t talk about it. The information is there and everybody should be aware by now because it’s in the mainstream. My story is by no means unique at all.
That is unfortunate. You’re right, your story is not unique and that it is heartbreakingly unfortunate that it’s not a unique story.
You grew up thinking you are and that you’re the only one. The only thing that ever kept me going was that I was able to put away the emotional part of my brain. I was able to shut that off and operate with the logical side of my brain, but it became important to me to appear smart. I excelled a lot in school. Even in grade two, my teachers wanted to bump me up to grade three because I was getting bored in grade two. I already knew all of the material. I excelled in that area until it didn’t become important to me anymore. I had a hard time finding a sense of safety.
I do want to point out to the readers that children who push themselves to get good grades and to be the high achiever in the classroom, not always but it can be, it can be symptomatic of childhood trauma. That was also one of my coping mechanisms, it was to get good grades. My dad even went through a period where he paid me for good grades. Not only was it a coping mechanism, but it was also a coping mechanism that was reinforced with cash. I get $20 bills for A’s if I brought them home and back then, a $20 bill was a lot of money.
I always seek or look for safety and it’s not because my home was dangerous or there was fighting or there was none of that. Inside, I could never seem to feel safe. I do remember that there are specific people in my life that offered me that. Even if it was a small amount of time or a small period. One of them was my grade four teachers and I’m sure she was like that with all of the students. She had this way of making you feel like you were important, you mattered and you stuck out in the group. I remember that one year stuck out in my mind and it still does. For that one year, I felt safe. I felt okay. I felt like I mattered. For some reason, I took that with me and it helped me through quite a few years to give me that hope.
I know that you and I chatted a little bit before we started recording, we’ve both done coursework with Dr. Gabor Maté. He talks about having that person in childhood, that safe person, that resource. Sometimes it’s all we need to get us through. That one person that helps us feel safe and helps us feel good, we can hang on to that and that can be a lifeline for us.
For me, it was for that one year and then, unfortunately, I found alcohol that kept me alive until I got through the rest of my schooling years. Being a teenager was probably one of the hardest and most difficult years of my life. I didn’t feel like I was anybody else.
You talked quite a bit in the book about your challenges with alcohol in high school or in your teenage years. Could you talk a little bit more about alcohol as a coping mechanism?
I first discovered alcohol when I was twelve years old. I come from a generation where house parties were a big thing. I’m from a French Acadian family. They’re big families. There are always big gatherings. Alcohol was always available. Although it was never presented to us, but I knew it was there. I knew that people were different when they drank. I tried it and immediately, I noticed a difference. I didn’t become an alcoholic overnight and I didn’t drink every day, but by the time I was fourteen years old, I was definitely in trouble. By this time, alcohol was much a part of my life. By the time I was fifteen, I needed it every day. I also found ways to supply my alcohol. I was working 44 hours a week by the time I was fifteen and going to school as well at the same time. I always had people that were available to get alcohol for me, no questions asked.
That’s a different generation too. For somebody fourteen to be working 44 hours a week, you don’t see that anymore with kids.
They’re 20 and they don’t want to work.
I’m curious, I know the alcohol was part of your coping mechanisms. The working 44 hours a week, was that also part of your coping mechanism? Not to focus on the discomfort that you still experienced inside yourself as a result of what happened to you, the assault when you were younger?
Probably because it kept me busy. It would keep my mind busy. I have to be in school all day and then I would work until 9:00 at night. For sure, that would have been a coping mechanism as well. I needed to be self-sufficient. I had this feeling or this yearning. I wanted to be self-sufficient even as young as 14 and 15. That’s come with me throughout my entire life. I’m still like that.
That can be a result of developmental trauma, that fear of relying on anybody else. That gets into every pore it seems like. I have that too. I’m talking through recognition of that type of trauma because I have that too, that fear. It’s a paralyzing fear of depending on somebody else too much. At least that’s how it shows up for me. It almost paralyzed me because I’ve had times in my life where I don’t want to get too close to somebody for fear that they’re going to leave me.
For me, to depend on anybody would mean that I would have to let them know who I was and I hated who I was. I assumed that everybody would if they knew who I was. There was no way that I would ever let anybody in that close.
That’s a fantastic awareness. Thank you for pointing that out because of a lot of us who have lived through traumatic events in our lives, we do come to have this hatred for ourselves. It’s like, “Why me? What’s wrong with me that this happened to me?” If the person who attacked me saw it, then other people must see it too. Therefore, I’ve got to go out of my way to hide this from the rest of the world. It’s this crazy loop of thinking that we get in our heads that overtakes us.
I remember as young as eleven years old, I used to be a French Catholic, but I no longer practice any manmade religion. Being raised that way didn’t help either because it’s a religion that’s much geared towards making you feel guilty about everything and making you feel ashamed of everything. Even by the time I was eleven, the church had already shown us how to pray. I’m pretty sure I even had to go to confession at that time. I can’t remember for sure if that’s around the same age or not. I remember at eleven, I used to pray for God to come and get me. For me, it was too difficult to cope. I don’t think I ever realized what that meant. I don’t think that I specifically sat there and thought of suicide. I knew that I didn’t want to be there anymore. They tell you in the Catholic religion that your prayers will be answered. When they weren’t, then I automatically made up my mind that I wasn’t even good enough for God to come and get me. Nobody would ever come and save me. That stayed with me for many years. I battled with thoughts of suicide until I was well into my mid-40s.
That is whenever it comes to complex, post-traumatic stress, which the complex stress is the day in and day out types of stress that we live under in childhood. Was your sexual assault a onetime event or was that something that happened repeatedly to you?
With that abuser, it was a onetime event, but then there was a subsequent abuse after that.There's also the point too that you can outgrow your therapists, in what they're able to offer you. Click To Tweet
I thought I remembered in your book that you talked about ongoing abuse that lasted for three years. That day-in and day-out or not knowing what to expect because a one-off event imprints trauma and it tends to imprint the trauma a little bit differently than the repetition of the cycle. The repetition of the cycle is going to throw you deeper into shame and hypervigilance. Some of the things that you’ve described already with your coping behaviors. Concluding that, “I don’t love myself, therefore nobody else will love me. God won’t answer my prayers.” These are manifestations of complex trauma. Through your late teen years and into your early adulthood, how did you survive that? That’s overwhelming for a teenager to carry on her shoulders.
Alcohol is the only way that I survived my teenage years. I had no other coping mechanisms. That’s all I had was alcohol. I drank as often as I could. Towards the end of my high school years, I remember little about them because I was under the influence every day. I also remember telling people and it was almost like a joke. I used to say to people, “I don’t care anymore whether I graduate or not, what difference is it going to make? I won’t make it past nineteen anyways.” For some reason, I had set that. Number nineteen is not my goal, but to me, that would be the end. I would make it to nineteen, then I would kill myself and that would be the end of it. I don’t know why I didn’t pick another year or any other day, but I used to say, “I won’t make it to nineteen.”
Obviously, you did. One other thing I’d like to point out to the readers is you turned to alcohol. It was the coping mechanism that you chose and it sounds like it helped you survived. People turn to drugs, turn to alcohol, turn to substances or whatever that addictive thing is or that addictive behavior is. People turn to this thing that they get addicted to initially as an attempt to solve a problem. You described it beautifully in the book, how alcohol was an attempt to solve a problem in your life, and then you recognize that it was getting out of control. You live past nineteen. How did you get past age nineteen?
I graduated at eighteen. The company that I was working for at the time, it was a retail store. The assistant manager’s wife befriended me. She and her husband were going to get transferred to another province. I had been the topic of discussion because they concluded that if they didn’t take me away from where I was living, I would die. They offered to take me with them. Not that I could figure out why they would ever want me to go with them, but they offered to take me with them. I did. I took them up on that offer. The reason I took them up on that offer was that they were going to a province where I could legally drink at eighteen. Unlike the province I was in, which was nineteen but I would be free to drink as much as I wanted. I followed them and things got worse for me. The alcohol got out of control. I experienced severe blackouts. I would go missing for 3, 4 days but yet I knew nobody else there. To this day, I don’t know where I was or who I was with. The ball had been rolling.
To make a long story short, she got in contact with people that had been to Alcoholics Anonymous. She got one person to come and talk to me. Even though I certainly wasn’t willing to listen or anywhere near ready to go to the treatment, they kept coming. Eventually, they took me to an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. They tried to get me into treatment and that didn’t work well. I eventually got sober. These people took me in. It didn’t matter. I had strangers that would take me in and offer me room and board to try to help me. I still to this day can’t see what they saw at the time because I was broken. To me, there was nothing good about me. There was nothing savable or salvageable about me, but yet these people kept coming into my life. They would help me make it long enough until I would run into somebody else that would take me for the second part of that journey or the third part of the journey. That’s how it became. It started that way.
That’s how I believe angels show up in our lives. They see us whole and complete and for who we are, even in those moments when we can’t see that in ourselves.
I’ve had many Earth angels and that was one of the reasons why I also wanted to write the book because I wanted to honor these people. A lot of them when they will read my book or have read my book, will recognize themselves in the book because I don’t mention anybody by name. There are many people there that without even one of them, I wouldn’t have made it.
Your story is quite amazing. You got sober when you were nineteen and you’ve been sober since. Is that correct?
Yes, it’s a little over 35 years.
Giving up alcohol and getting sober still wasn’t the end of your story with trauma?
No, of course not because alcohol was covering up the symptoms.
What happened? What did you go through and what did you experience in adulthood as a result of what happened to you all these years ago in childhood?
Once I got sober, a lot of the symptoms of the PTSD started coming back and I had no clue what they were. I couldn’t understand it. The flashbacks and the nightmares and the hypervigilance and having to take three showers a day, all of these just came back. I kept myself super busy. I was working 40 hours a week. I was taking courses through correspondence. I was also going to AA and I got super involved in AA. I got my life into a pattern where I would only have maybe 5 or 6 hours available to sleep. Even in those 5 or 6 hours, I wouldn’t bother even going to bed. I would sit in a chair and I would sleep in fifteen-minute increments just so that I wouldn’t have to deal with nightmares and flashbacks.
Eventually, the universe said that it was too much for me. I injured my back, which meant I could do absolutely nothing. Even sitting was a problem. Here I was at 22 years old, 2.5 years sober and my life was out of control. My brain was out of control and I wasn’t equipped to deal with it. Right away, suicide is the first thing that came to my mind. I was hospitalized for two weeks in a psychiatric unit for being a danger to myself. I was not diagnosed with PTSD because of course, I’d never told anybody anything about my life. After trying to talk to me for 30 minutes, a psychiatrist decided that I had Borderline Personality Disorder. There was nothing that they could do for me.
I remember reading that in the book and that became a popular diagnosis to throw around back in the ’90s and to some degree, all mental health diagnoses or some manifestation or another of complex post-traumatic stress. When you break down the symptoms and what they are, it’s some manifestation of it or another. I find it interesting that after such a short session with the psychiatrist because you said it was less than an hour. It became a fashionable term for them to toss around back in the ’90s and not taking a step back because that’s supposed to be a more severe diagnosis supposedly. It’s crazy that a psychiatrist would think that they could diagnose you in less than an hour.
I was 22 years old. I was depressed. I had a back injury and I wanted to die. I didn’t want to talk to anybody.
That makes sense for any 22-year-old who’s stuck in bed and can’t move and can’t even sit up.
I was angry at the world but it didn’t mean that I had a Personality Disorder. Back then, PTSD, nobody ever talked about it. It wasn’t even on anybody’s radar. I don’t think they even knew to call that back then for even vets.
In many ways, we’re still trying to figure out what PTSD is. With some of the research that’s going on, they’re still trying to break it down and figure it out.
The mind is such a complex thing.
The complex form of post-traumatic stress versus a shock trauma, which is a major event, like a natural disaster or a car wreck or a one-time event that changes your whole life versus the little by little, the signs and symptoms of each are a little bit different. Getting stuck in the system that doesn’t understand is traumatizing in and of itself.
Eventually, I got everything straightened out with my back and I decided that maybe I needed a little bit of help and I went looking for a therapist. The first two that I found, there was no connection there. I didn’t feel safe even in their office. I didn’t feel safe or comfortable with their approach, so I didn’t stay. I was fortunate enough that part of my personality is that I keep going and going.
If it’s okay if I point this out to the readers, I love your innate wisdom right here because you noticed that you didn’t feel safe with that therapist. A lot of people out there will go to the therapist that’s approved by insurance and doesn’t even take a second thought about whether they feel safe with the therapist or not. If you don’t feel safe with your therapist, you’re not going to get better with your therapist. You have to have that connection where you feel safe, you feel attuned, otherwise, you’re throwing your money away. Kudos to you for having that level of awareness, even though you might not know exactly how huge that is. That’s huge. I believe a lot of people get stuck in the process of healing or stuck in recovery because of that lack of safety with their therapists. It sends them to that plateau. Thank you for letting me interrupt and point that out because I’m serious. It’s a great awareness. I’m hoping that somewhere out there, our readers are going to be like, “I might need to find somebody else.”
There’s also the point too that you can outgrow your therapists or what they’re able to offer you. That I found out later in years as well. These are all options that are certainly available. It’s your recovery. The first therapist that I met, she was referred to me through a friend of mine. I went to see her every 2nd Saturday for four years. The first two years, I never said a word. She gently waited for me until I was ready. She knew. She could see the trauma. For me, it was overwhelming that I couldn’t put words to it. It didn’t matter how much I tried. Eventually, she moved away from where I lived and it would be a 2.5-hour drive to get there and it’s 2.5-hour drive to come back.
On the 2.5-hour drive there, I would go through the entire session thinking, “I’m going to say this.” I would get there and I would sit there and as soon as I would try to access that part of my brain, there would be nothing. The way that I can describe it and I can almost hear it when I say it, was that whenever we’d come too close to the trauma, it was almost like I could hear the cement walls go bang. It would get boxed in and I would have no access to it. Even after the first 2 years, it’s only in 2018 that I voiced for the first time what happened to me that night when I was seven years old. That’s how overwhelming it’s been for my brain to even access that area.
It sounds like your freeze response was getting triggered. You mentioned that you went into this type of freeze response and you didn’t quite understand it. Fight, flight or freeze, those are normal physiological responses whenever we’re under attack. With the freeze response, as a young child at 7 or 8, somewhere inside and this is an autonomic process, it’s part of your subconscious. This is not the same thing as your conscious mind deciding consciously that somewhere subconsciously your brain accessed that, “Fighting isn’t going to do me any good because this guy’s bigger than me. He’s older than me. Fleeing probably isn’t going to do any good. I’m not going to be able to outrun him.” We go into the freeze response, which is a physiological response in the body that’s similar to an opossum playing dead. There is an analgesic component to it.
Because it has an analgesic component, it makes it less painful and makes us able to survive what’s happening to the body in the moment of the trauma. It is almost this dissociating and popping out and not being able to access the memory because somewhere, you detached from what was happening. It sounds like any time that you tried to talk about it sent you right back into that, which again is a natural response in the body. It’s good for you for being patient with yourself. How many people in two years would give up on themselves and say, “I’m not going back, I don’t talk anyway?”
Every time she would talk, but she would still give me coping mechanisms to help with the stress and with the everyday living. She would give me exercises to do stuff and a lot of them I wouldn’t do. I have a hard time with that as well. Often, the therapist will give you homework to do and I would look at it and I’d say, “This is stupid. I don’t understand this.” If there’s one thing that I know about myself is that I will never do something that will make me feel stupid, purposely do it. If you’re asking me a question about emotion and right away, I’m feeling unease or embarrassed or uncomfortable with it, I won’t say anything simply because I will not make myself feel stupid or look stupid ever. I can’t get past that, but I’m perfectly okay with that. A lot of the therapies, not that they didn’t work for me, they took a little bit longer. I was fortunate enough to find therapists that would adapt to my difficulties. A lot of the therapists will have a cookie-cutter way of doing things and if you don’t fall into that, then they don’t know how to help you.
I’ve had a psychologist and she used EMDR. I had gone to see her once. At the second appointment, she wanted me to jump right away into the trauma and do this EMDR. I couldn’t even access that part of my brain. I was unwilling to do what she wanted me to do. Basically, after that second session, she said, “I’m sorry, but I can’t help you. You’re going to have to find somebody else. It’s no use coming back.” It didn’t hurt my feelings, but she did me a favor. At the same time, it was like, “You’re a therapist. You’re supposed to be able to help me.”If you're struggling to get through today, keep going because tomorrow is another day. Click To Tweet
I’ve heard it described that EMDR can be intense. That might be wise that you didn’t work with her. I can’t say for sure, because you never worked with her with EMDR. We’ll never know for sure, but EMDR can be a jackhammer at addressing the trauma.
There are different kinds of EMDR. I’ve worked with it with this latest therapist and it’s a much softer way of doing it and it’s worked for me.
It can take people sometimes, I’m not saying across the board, but sometimes depending on what type of trauma you’ve lived through. EMDR can take people too far, too fast into it. There are other types of therapies out there that are a little slower. They pendulate. They help you touch on the edge of it and then they bring you back out. The next time you touch on the edge, you can go a little further because the edge goes further into it. You’ve had a lot of self-awareness through your whole story. At least I noticed that in your book. You’ve maintained a lot of self-awareness and what works for you and in standing up for yourself and advocating for yourself. That’s fantastic because a lot of times we lose that ability as a result of our trauma. We don’t stand up for ourselves. It’s good for you for not losing that.
Tell us a little bit about some of the treatments and therapies that helped you the most.
After I worked with the first psychologist for four years, I went through a long stretch afterwards for probably about fifteen years without requiring any therapy. I was able to find a place, where I was comfortable and could function within my little world. I met somebody and of course that opened a lot of issues that I had never thought I would ever address. To me, I had decided that I would be alone for my entire life. I couldn’t see myself making a connection with anybody. I couldn’t see myself being open enough to have anybody in my life. Of course, I had severe intimacy issues. I met somebody and some of the PTSD came roaring back with the flashbacks and some of the nightmares.
I had to consult with that same therapist again and she made me be okay but there was always something missing. I always felt something was missing. For years, I kept saying, “I don’t feel whole. I feel like there’s something dead.” Yet, my life was good. I had a great partner. We had a home. I had a good job. By all outward appearances, we had a perfect life, but I wasn’t part of that life. I couldn’t seem to be in the moment, in the present because that required me to allow emotions. I still wasn’t able to do that. When I turned 50, I realized that my partner and I had been together for almost twenty years and she’s quite a bit older than I am. There are seventeen years in the difference. All of a sudden, I realized that, “I love this person.” She’s allowed me, supported me, believed in me and made me whole again.” It made me into a person. I wanted to be able to experience every single moment with her. I wanted to be present because I knew we were running out of time.
We probably didn’t have another twenty years ahead of us. That became important to me and I decided that it was time for me to finally deal with the trauma once and for all. I did that by deciding I was going to file a civil lawsuit against the guy that raped me when I was seven. That would force me to deal with it and to put a voice to it. To do that, I had to build around me a circle of professional women. I chose all women that I would share bits and pieces of my story with that would be able to help me every step of the way. I included everybody. There was a massage therapist. There’s an acupuncturist and she does a healing touch. There’s a social worker that specializes in trauma. There was a family therapist at the time that helped me a lot. My family physician was involved. There were many different holistic practitioners, whether it was Reiki. I can’t think of them all but I included everybody.
Some of them I’ve had to walk away from and replaced them with others. All of them became almost like a big family for me, a big support system for me to be able to get through this. That’s basically how I got to this point. Out of this, the book was born because that was the only way I could voice my trauma. That’s why I started writing. Eventually, everything came together. I had no intentions of ever writing a book or ever publishing a book but there it is. I wanted to talk about the fact that you can become whole. Will trauma always be a part of my life? More than likely. Will I always have to deal with it? Probably there are triggers all the time, but I’m learning to deal with them. Now, I know I’m not afraid to reach out to anybody at all. I’ll try anything, whether it’s consulting with mediums, shamans or anything. I’m open to about anything.
One thing that I’ve said on the show before and I want to reiterate right now is when we’re injured and when we’re traumatized and we get these wounds to our nonverbal parts. The wound to our emotional self or our spiritual self or the psychological aspect of ourselves because this does, it creates this whole distorted mindset with childhood and developmental traumas especially what you lived through. We are injured in a relationship. It comes from another person. Therefore, to heal and come through it, we heal in relationships. Even putting together this team of women that you chose to help you get through it, you created your little team and it was within that relationship of the team that you created that you were able to get through it.
I want to point that out to our readers that we have to surrender into the trust at some point to heal and move forward again. What you lived through makes it super hard to trust people. At the same time, you were able to trust people. Pointing that out because that trust is where healing starts to happen and you had to feel safe and some connection and attunement with these women, otherwise you never would have chosen them. These are all important factors in the healing process. Pointing out to the readers that there’s help out there, there’s hope out there. I hope you were listening to Nancy say that it wasn’t one type of treatment that she used. She mentioned several when she couldn’t even remember some of them. That’s all of her experiences. It’s like, “I can’t remember what all I’ve done.” At some point, we do outgrow certain therapies and certain modalities. It’s not just one thing that helps us, it’s several. I love your story and thank you for sharing it with us.
Thank you. There’s one thing that I’d like to share. It was one of those moments where I felt stupid, but I allowed it in therapy over several sessions. The therapist would get me to hold a rock in my hand and whatever negative energy was going on, she would tell me to try to transfer it to this rock. I could never understand the concept. It didn’t make sense to me, but I played along with it. After every session, we would put this rock in a container. After several sessions, she poured Epsom salts and alcohol in it and set it on fire. It was a symbolic gesture of releasing all these negative things. We had also learned at the time that I was going to have a contract in Yellowknife, which I love Northern Canada. It’s a peaceful place for me. I love it. I was going there. My friends laughed, the ones that know me because in the book I also wrote like, “Here I am going with this little sack of rocks and Yellowknife.”
One friend could see, she laughed out loud because she said, “I can see you like little red riding hood with your little bag of rocks on your way to Yellowknife.” It was such an amazing journey for me, even though I didn’t understand it. Once I got there, I met up with a friend of mine whose daughter was short of seven years old. It was looking in the mirror at this little girl. I had told her that I was supposed to go and throw these rocks away while I was there. Without even making any plans, she said, “We’ll go with you. We’ll go up to Pilots Monument.” All of a sudden, I asked her mother, “Would you mind if I ask your daughter to help me throw away these rocks?” She ended up throwing them all away because I stood back and watched this seven-year-old throw away all of these bad energies.
It was symbolic and I left there feeling overwhelmed. It didn’t stay with me because for some reason, that’s the injured part of my brain that I couldn’t stay in the moment, but I can recall it at times and it’s still vivid in my mind. I can see her standing there throwing these rocks and jumping all over the place and being alive. If you were to ask me what a seven-year-old looks like, I would not have been able to tell you or even describe it. There’s that picture. The funny part was me heading to Yellowknife with this little bag of rocks. There have been some amazing parts in my journey, even in the worst of time. It’s been an amazing journey. I wouldn’t change any of it. I wouldn’t want to redo any of it.
That’s a sure sign of healing right there when you hear a person say, “Despite everything I’ve been through and as hard as it was, I wouldn’t change any of it.” We get to a point in our healing that as hard as the traumas were and as challenging as it was to live through whatever we lived through, we see that it made us who we are. It taught us the lessons that we’ve learned in life and it’s made us wiser as a result. I’ve had the same experience where I look back over my life and even the parts that at one point, I was bitter about, I’m like, “I’m not bitter about him anymore. I wouldn’t change it because I wouldn’t be where I am if I don’t know who I would be.” I’m comfortable with who I am. Comfortable with my story, as crappy as it has been at parts, I’m comfortable with it.
I never looked at it as being crappy because to me that was my normal. That’s why when people read my book often, I don’t understand their perception of what my life was like. For me, it was my life. It was my daily things that I did. I can’t see it from their perspective. I don’t understand it.
That’s understandable because they’ve had different life experiences than you. They probably have a hard time seeing your perspective as well. Even after reading your book like, “I never would have been able to do that.” The truth is we don’t know what we’re able to do until we’re pushed to our limit. Your story shows that. Your story is a great example of being pushed to your limit and what you aren’t able to do and able to survive. Nancy, if any of our readers wanted to get in touch with you or reach out to you, what’s your preferred way for somebody to reach out to you?
I have a Facebook page for my book called Life in the Shadows. I can easily be reading through there either through the message, the inbox system and I’m pretty sure my email address is there as well. If not, it’s NancyLegere@Gmail.com. It’s pretty easy to remember. My book is available on Amazon and every major eBook retailers have the book as well.
It’s called Life in the Shadows. I read it a couple of hours, 2, 2.5 hours.
There are only 113 pages.
It’s written in layman’s terms, which I like because it’s accessible to anybody. I read a lot of nonfiction. It’s nice not to have the technical jargon to have a story that flows that’s easily understood. Thank you for that.
Thank you very much.
Nancy, do you have any final tips or bits of wisdom to leave with our readers?
Never give up. Tomorrow is another day and if you’re struggling to get through now, keep going. There’s one thing that I always like to say too, is that at least once a day, if you can, if you come up to somebody, look at them in the eyes and say hi. You never know how much that can impact somebody’s life. That has saved my life more than once. You’re letting somebody know that they matter, that you see them and that they’re there. That’s important. That’s the one thing that we no longer do now because of our iPhones and our cell phones and everybody goes to the coffee shops, nobody looks up, nobody talks to anybody. Say hello to somebody, no matter who it is and look at them right in the eyes. You’ll feel good about it and so will they. You might save a life.
Nancy, thank you so much for that. I also want to point out the little beam of light that’s been pointing straight down into your crown chakra the whole time too. Thank you, Nancy. You can find me at JenniferWhitacre.com. You can find the Yes, And Podcast at JenniferWhitacre.com/Podcast. Please subscribe, read and share. These conversations are meant to help bring awareness about the lifelong effects of developmental and intergenerational traumas and what can be done about it. We don’t have to live with this. There is healing, there is help and there is hope. Please read, share, subscribe and reach out if you need help. I’m here and this is what I do for a living is help people through these issues. Thank you very much. I’ll see you all on the next episode.
- Nancy Legere
- Life in the Shadows
- Life in the Shadows – Facebook Page
- YouTube channel – Jennifer Whitacre
About Nancy Legere
Abused as a little girl, Nancy Legere kept her “secret” to herself for decades out of fear and shame. After many years of therapy, self-reflection, and healing, Nancy developed a healthy lifestyle and found lasting love which helped her triumph over the stigma she’d felt for so many years.
Now, Nancy shares her journey overcoming PTSD, addiction, and childhood sexual abuse. It’s a story of perseverance, love, strength, and courage. Nancy is living proof that there is hope for a full and productive life after trauma and PTSD.