Stories of Healing

From Complex PTSD to Sharing Stories of Healing: Vincent's Journey to Heal Debilitating Trauma

October 17, 2023 Vincent E. Paul Season 1 Episode 3
Stories of Healing
From Complex PTSD to Sharing Stories of Healing: Vincent's Journey to Heal Debilitating Trauma
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Vincent, the host of this podcast, shares details of his tragic childhood, the consequences on his mental health, and his ability to enjoy life. 

He received numerous diagnostics, including Complex PTSD, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder.

He shares his view on what it means to heal that departs from typical understanding and how he found that the seedlings of his greatest joy have been in his greatest pain.

He is interviewed by his dear friend Rosslyn Chay (https://rosslynchay.me/).

Vincent mentions:
IFS: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internal_Family_Systems_Model
Complex PTSD: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Complex_post-traumatic_stress_disorder
Generalized Anxiety Disorder: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Generalized_anxiety_disorder
Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Obsessive%E2%80%93compulsive_personality_disorder 

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Vincent:

I grew up into, an emotionally abusive physically abusive sexually abusive environment. When I reflect back on the years of therapy and how the trauma and the abuse affected me, it's just a distorted sense of self, a distorted sense of reality, a distorted sense of others, a distorted sense of life, a distorted sense of everything. It's just obscene. I wanted my inner felt sense of life, of myself, of others, to be not what it had been for so long. The ultimate act of humility is being able to see the world through somebody else's eyes, as a form of shared consciousness. When I attune to presence and myself, life gets richer and more interesting, more mysterious. I want to keep seeing more of humanity, its beauty and its pain. I wouldn't want it any other way, now. A shout-out to friend of the show, Fadwa Baraba, who donated to support the podcast. To make a donation, visit storiesofhealingpodcast.org or look at the show notes in your podcasting app. This episode contains mentions of neglect, emotional abuse, physical abuse, and sexual abuse, including rape. Your discretion is advised. Welcome to Stories of Healing, a podcast where we explore what it is to be human, to suffer and to heal. My name is Vincent Paul and I'm your host. Welcome on Stories of Healing, Rosslyn. It's a pleasure to have you and you're not a guest today. Actually, you're going to be the one interviewing me for an episode of Stories of Healing. I've been thinking I need to do that episode as a form of respect for my guest and for my listeners. So they also know where I'm coming from with this podcast. And today is a special day for me for two reasons. one of them I'm getting interviewed and it's also six months short of a day that I started my pilgrimage around the world. and six months ago, um, I was interviewing Jeff, who is the guest on the episode number two of stories of healing. I mentioned my pilgrimage around the world and it's a non religious one where I am, I want to discover more of, more of humanity, its beauty and its pain. and in that process, understand what it means to be human and, um, better who I am. And today I'm in Tbilisi, Georgia. I decided to have you to interview me because, foremost, I trust you and, you've getting to know me in a very particular way because, um, you've led weekly, uh, group, where we practice inquiries. So I have two questions for you. would you introduce yourself and what is the inquiry practice?

Rosslyn:

Thank you, vincent. And first of all, I'm really grateful to be here, to interview you, to get to know you in this, in a new way in a sense. So I'm Ros I'm a coach, and a writer, a poet, many things and of course an inquirer. So I first got to know you through the weekly inquiry circles where a group of us gather to practice presence, practice listening, receiving one another from a place of presence and also really digging deep into ourselves, diving into what we call our inner landscapes to really get to know the parts of us that we might not have known, like exploring the mystery of us. Vincent, I've got to learn about you like bits and pieces through our weekly practice, and this opportunity feels like getting to know you, in a very new way, and, I wouldn't say a complete picture since that might not really be possible, but a fuller way, yeah, of the puzzle coming alive.

Vincent:

Mm

Rosslyn:

So I will stop here for now. And just see what's coming up for you?

Vincent:

Well, you mentioned the inner landscape and, the word I have used to describe relatively recently, maybe in the last year and a half, two years, when people ask me why have I done so much therapy? And I finally kind of understood, that I wanted my inner felt sense of life, of myself, of others, to be not what it had been for so long.

Rosslyn:

I've been reflecting since we got together in the weekly circles and how I've come to know you. The initial impression is really how I'm struck by your sensitivity and your curiosity that you have, that you've always brought to the circles, but also like seeing you on this pilgrimage and everything, you have this fervor and commitment to this journey or process of healing for yourself. And, and it really struck me how courageous, that kind of courage to be vulnerable, to keep opening your heart to humanity, to want to know it's depth. It's really stunning. So tell me more about what has even gotten you to start this whole healing journey?

Vincent:

I mean, it kind of formally started when I was 18 years old. Um, I started to see a psychologist, when I was a student in one of those French engineering school. And at the time, it was an outlet for me to have someone listen to me in a way that I'd never really felt listened to. And then I started to slowly peel the layer of my childhood starting to remember more and more aspect of it. And then I got really deeply depressed, in third year of engineering school. So much so, actually, I didn't, I didn't manage to complete my year. I had to redo the entire year. That's the way it is in the French system. Um, I was really clinically depressed for a good two years, I would say, and I eventually came out of it. That therapist really helped me feel heard for the first time, uncover what had happened to me in my childhood. And then I graduated and off I got a job in the oil and gas industry and, uh, and left my country relatively, a year or so after graduating. Yeah.

Rosslyn:

So you mentioned being in clinical depression you had to stay back in school for a year and that started all this whole healing journey. And would you be keen to share more about what is this phase of clinical depression? What was it like for you?

Vincent:

Oh, wow. It was like, Uh, it was having no motivation for anything, uh, wanting to stay in bed all day, missing classes. Um, just also at the time, I didn't have enough money to eat as a, as a student. Um, my father had disappeared from my life, my mother wasn't helping me financially, very very difficult days.

Rosslyn:

I'm curious, how is it for you now from this place? How are you relating to that episode?

Vincent:

It was very dark time of my early adulthood. It's also when I started to realize how profoundly dysfunctional my family was.

Rosslyn:

And, what are you feeling now as you relate back to, and how old were you then as college student?

Vincent:

I was between 18 and 24.

Rosslyn:

You know, Vincent, I hear 24 and I was wondering how do you feel towards this part of you? Because for a 24 year old, that's like, peak of youth where what I perceive when I think of a 24 year old, it's out there enjoying life. It's like enjoying the fountain, energy and exploring the possibilities of what person could be, and for you, it's like opposite.

Vincent:

Definitively, I wasn't enjoying life at the time. I was anxious, uh, most of the time. This therapist helped me come out of depression, and we never really worked on my anxieties, my chronic anxieties.

Rosslyn:

And you also mentioned that your father left and your mom didn't quite... Connect with you. You share more about what was growing up like for you.

Vincent:

Yeah, my father disappeared, uh, mostly during this period. He eventually reappeared, which was a shock for me. But to answer your question, what was growing up? So I grew up in Paris. My father, um, left Czechoslovakia at a time before the Bolshevik invasion of 1968. Become kind of a refugee in France,(breath) met my mother in Egypt, but I grew up in, um, my mother apartment, in Paris, in a one bedroom apartment. Um, my father was living in a different so called "arrondissement" of Paris, maybe a 40 minutes, car ride from one apartment to the other. My parents never lived together. My, my father would come visit, twice a week or something like this, unless he was traveling. And my family, I mean, (breath) yeah, it was highly dysfunctional in, in all possible ways. And, and, and if I'm going to jump to the crux of it, I, I grew up into, um, an emotionally abusive environment, physically abusive environment, sexually abusive environment, neglectful environment as well. My parent didn't really raise children like I see other parents raise children. How I would, would raise my own children. They didn't really care about me as a child in the sense of: do I want to go play outside? Do I want to go to the park? They just did what they did, and they were often telling me, children just follow. That's what children do. They are just following what the adults do.

Rosslyn:

Hmm. And you mentioned various types of abuse.

Vincent:

Um, Um.

Rosslyn:

How would you say now, the impact of those abuse on you?

Vincent:

I mean, obscene. I mean, there is no other word to describe it. It's just obscene. I think, um, when I reflect back on the years of therapy and how the trauma and the abuse affected me, it's just a distorted sense of self, a distorted sense of reality, a distorted sense of others, a distorted sense of life, a distorted sense of everything. Yeah. For most of my life, it was hard to have a sense of presence, a sense of connection with my body, an appreciation of life. It was hard to enjoy life. It was hard to want to play. It was hard to want to work. I mean, everything was just difficult. Yeah. Yeah.

Rosslyn:

Could you say a bit more? When you said like distorted sense of self and others, in what way?

Vincent:

First of all, I was for most of my adult life and actually probably for most of my childhood, I was anxious. There were time in my life where I would wake up in the morning, anxious, be anxious all day, go to bed anxious, wake up in the middle of the night anxious. I only knew anxiety. I was diagnosed with, um, generalized anxiety dis- disorder, among other things that I'll be happy to talk about as well. But, (breath) one of them was generalized an- anxiety disorder. There was nothing that I could do that would alleviate in some ways my anxiety, yeah. if I had to empty the dishwasher, it would be anxiety triggering. And if I would procrastinate emptying the dishwasher, it would be anxiety triggering. If I worked, it was anxiety triggering. If I wanted to play or do something fun. It would be anxiety triggering. If I stayed in the house, it would be anxiety triggering. If I left the house, it would be anxiety triggering. They were no safe heaven for me, yeah.

Rosslyn:

Even as you say that, I'm really feeling, just the extent of it. It's beyond what I can imagine. And you said the words no safe haven. Yeah, and yet here you are today. How amazing! Yeah Yeah. And, you know, one, one of your followers or friends, Vincent, was curious about what part of your healing journey has been the most difficult for you?

Vincent:

The most difficult ooff, maybe eight or nine years ago, I went back to Paris, uh, on my own. I don't remember exactly the circumstances, but I decided to walk for the first time as an adult, um, the streets of my childhood where this one bedroom apartment that I mentioned was, I decided to enter the garden of that building complex. I decided to go back in front of my childhood middle school and primary school. And... Somehow it was kind of okay when I was there, but then I came back to Colorado where I was living at the time, and I just, six months of my life, I was non functioning. I would wake up at 10 AM, be exhausted. Um, go back to bed at 11, sleep until 12. Eat, take a nap the afternoon, go back to bed at 9 PM that evening. I would have very heavy dissociative episodes where I would get lost in my own apartment. I could not differentiate a window from a door. I didn't know where the bathroom was. Um, I would just, be lost. I did not comprehend the world in front of me, even sometimes I would drive back home and, I just didn't know which, direction to turn on the street to go back , to my apartment I had li- lived for several years already. Um, I was pretty much non functioning when a client of mine would call me, I would take several deep breath and be Vincent, Vincent, wake up, wake up, just do it. And I would just talk to my client as if everything is normal. And I, I think I was managing to fake it. And then like three minutes call, five minutes call, I would hang up and then I would just be wiped out for the next two hours. Yeah. Just totally wiped out.

Rosslyn:

And you said you had to fake it. How, how did you even cope with all of this history?

Vincent:

I don't think I did cope. I mean, I was, I was, um, I didn't cope. Hahaha. Yeah. Simply put, I wasn't coping. Yeah. So I mentioned I was diagnosed with General Anxiety Disorder. I was also diagnosed with Complex PTSD, um, which is, my understanding of complex PTSD because I'm not a clinical psychologist. It's when someone is, repeatedly traumatized, by childhood caregivers or otherwise repeatedly traumatized. It's not a one time event. And I was diagnosed also with a much more stigmatized, I would say, personality disorder. I was diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder, which is different from what's generally known of people that wash their hand five times or like check the door seven times. It's a form of personality disorder where Things were really black and white for me. In social circ- si- situation, it was really diff- difficult for me to be flexible. I could get angry very easily. Um, I mean, there is a, list of personality traits, that are associated with it. Yeah.

Rosslyn:

Yeah, and you mentioned you could get angry easily. Like, did you have a sense what was it about?

Vincent:

I was just really, really triggered in some circumstances. One of the trait of, Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder is wanting to have control ove- over their environment and others as a way to have a false sense of, maintaining a sense of safety for me, and perhaps, you know, not getting, so many anxiety. Unfortunately, it doesn't really work, quite the opposite, but my anger would rise in circumstances where, things didn't go the way I wanted them to go. Yeah.

Rosslyn:

Um, I see.

Vincent:

Yeah. yeah

Rosslyn:

How was it for you, Vincent, to be diagnosed with, so many things, complex-PTSD,

Vincent:

Um.

Rosslyn:

Obsessive Personality Disorder, that's a lot you've name.

Vincent:

Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder. Yeah. Actually, it was kind of liberating for me, in many ways. My understanding is most people don't really want to hear how their therapist may diagnose them. But for me, it was like, Oh, okay. something's not going well for me. Hahaha And at the time I even joke with my therapist, I would print, business card, I would say Vincent Paul, like master of science, uh, complex PTSD, Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder, the, the acronyms of all those things. Just to joke about what I'm suffering from. Yeah.

Rosslyn:

Liberating as in, you got an answer to questions, or in what way was it liberating?

Vincent:

In the sense of that, oh yeah. There is a reason I do therapy is because something isn't right with the experience I have of myself.

Rosslyn:

I see.

Vincent:

Yeah.

Rosslyn:

And Vincent, I know that you did about, was it 10 or 12 years of therapy?

Vincent:

I think it's more like 13 or 14.(laugh) but (laugh) yeah.

Rosslyn:

And I'm wondering, it's like, you probably know, not even probably, like, you've uncovered many different parts of you, and is there a particular event that you feel called to share about to give us more insight.

Vincent:

I mean, there are many events I could share. Yeah. Let me just start with physical abuse. my, my mother would like regularly slap me. They were like many events where I was seated at the kitchen table, and I was sitting against the wall and she would threaten me to slap me on my face. And she said, I'm going to slap you so hard, the, the wall is going to give you the, the slap on the other side, and she would actually slap me on my cheek and, and my head would bump against the wall on the other side as a form of, making things equal for both sides of me of parity or something. I had a teacher in last year of primary school who also was physically abusive. She would slap students or pull their hair. Um, the form of sexual abuse was, I mean, they are so many, I could spend the next 30 minutes, but in this one bedroom apartment, my parents would regularly have sex in the living room, while I was in the bedroom and there is no other way to go to the bathroom to go through the living room. So I was exposed to my parents sexuality. My mother was very, very loud. Um, sometimes I, I found used condoms on the living room. There was the, the smell of it was just very intense. Um, and it would happen afternoon, it would happen at night and I, I would wake up because of what was taking place in the living room. I remember very physically, like, feeling like my body would be crushed, my spine would be crushed on itself, totally frozen, crushed by, the experience of hearing my parent having sex in the living room. And, and, uh, I think my mother was, was in, in some way, an exhibitionist. And so she kind of enjoyed and took pleasure of knowing that I would hear what she was doing with my father in the living room. It wasn't just what I would call like healthy making love between two consenting adults. There was a degree of perversion in the act because it was so exposed to, to me. yeah. And, um, and if I go into even more traumatic things. There was an event where, um, basically my mother raped me in, uh, when I was between, uh, I, I can't really remember the age exactly, but between six and nine years old, I would say it took place, in my father's house in Normandy, this area of France. It happened in the middle of the night. And, what I do remember from the event, uh, was mostly the physical pleasure, the physical sexual pleasure that I experienced for the first time, um, uh, in my life, at such a young age and how my mother looked at me the next day, um, when we were having breakfast. Yeah, that's kind of what comes up when I think about broad stroke of, of the form of sexual abuse, I endured, yeah. And emotional abuses and neglect, um, in some ways the children exists, but they have to follow whatever the parents are doing. I didn't have the right to have my own desire or express my own needs. Um. I mostly didn't have any toys as a child, although my parents were both making money. It was just more of their own issue around those things. And neglect, it's not having enough, breakfast. I remember in, in middle school, often I didn't eat enough for breakfast so that I would be going to school in the morning, and by 11 I would be starving. So I couldn't really study and pay attention to the class. When we came back from my father country house in Normandy, we didn't take showers, so, uh, I would go to class with like my, my nails black, smelling bad, being dirty, not really being asked to brush my teeth. Sometimes I went to school with not enough clothes because my mother was afraid I was going to damage the clothes. Things of the nature. Yeah. Yeah.

Rosslyn:

Wow, Vincent, thank you so much for sharing. And like sitting here as I listen, I'm already feeling like within me, pain and rage just boiling. I'll be honest, in my head, it's like, no, no child should go through that at all. Yeah, how is it for you now to confront, each of those events? it's so, so much there.

Vincent:

Hmm. I feel a little bit of, um, I don't feel any anxiety I mean, on a scale to 10, it's maybe point 5. It's more like, I don't want to say excitement as if it's fun, but there is just a tiny little bit of anxiety. Uh, I definitely can feel my heart beating a litt-, a little stronger than, uh, I would otherwise if I was just having a conversation about something else with you.(breath) I feel, um, there's a little bit of sadness in my eyes for sure. And there's also a sense of relief to, to share, to share. Yeah. Yeah.

Rosslyn:

Do you have any idea what that little sense of anxiety is about?

Vincent:

Hmm. I mean, I realize it's freaking bold in some ways to share.

Rosslyn:

Right, It is indeed bold. And Vincent, you are modeling the way as a host of this podcast now.

Vincent:

Thank you. Yeah.

Rosslyn:

And your friends, Anthony and Nikolay was also curious, why did you start this podcast?

Vincent:

I started this podcast because I realize how much stigma there is still, around what it means to be human, to suffer and to heal. Even in the West where going to therapy, saying, I need help is a little more prevalent, little more okay to do. Still, there is quite some stigma. As I'm traveling the world when I was in the Balkans and the Middle East, it's way more stigmatized. And so, having those stories, sharing them for me, it's, a form of statement about the reality of the human experience, the consequence of trauma, the consequence of addiction, uh, on humans, and also giving hope to the listener, uh, giving examples of people that have done deep healing, and were able to come out of those things, um, open the discussion on those topics. And that has been, uh, the feedback I've received from, many listeners. And also it's, for me, the ground for making a political statement that I don't think society are built to, um, sustain the kind of healing, that I, or, some future guests need to do to become functioning contributing happy member of, of society. Um, mental health is not covered very well. For the last, 11, 12 years of my life, I've pretty much consecrate my life first to healing myself. And this is not accessible to everyone. I stopped working on a nine to five job. I became independent. I was making money, as a consulting engineer in the oil and gas industry. Not everybody has the capacity to do what I did. Not everybody has a master's degree in engineering and has the skill that I have. And so society are not built, in my opinion, to sustain the kind of healing that a lot of people, need to do, given the amount of trauma that exists in the world, being the effect of war and, other things that are happening and have been happening in our societies.

Rosslyn:

And, you know, we've talked a lot about healing, so what is healing to you?

Vincent:

First healing was very simply put, I don't want to feel the way I'm feeling anymore, which is anxiety, most of the time. I'm tired of being in non functional relationship, with whoever, I was with. Also, what healing has been for me is like noticing all the way I may get triggered in certain circumstances and really like one by one, going in and digging into what is the cause behind that? How can it be healed through various therapeutic modalities so that I can just be in a more peaceful state most of the time. Yeah. I can just experience joy because I'm not experiencing anger or I'm not exp-, experiencing, anxiety. I have at least the possibility to joy because I'm not overwhelmed by something else. Yeah. And recently, it was maybe in February last year. I remember, um, entering in my therapist office in Denver, Amy, who is one of the best, if not the best therapist I've ever had. Um, and she said, well, what do you want to work on today, Vincent? And I was like, well, I want to work on the part of me, that are preventing me from feeling love for everyone around me. And, it's been almost a year and a half and I'm still working on that. Um, and so what has come up from this year and a half of session, uh, has been a lot of transgenerational trauma, overwhelmingly coming from, uh, from my mother's side and a little bit, on my father's side. Because of all the therapy I've done, all the trauma, I'm like really familiar with the feeling of trauma, in my body, in my heart. But then when I was working on those parts of me, I had the same feeling, but also I had a deep sense that this has nothing to do with me. It has nothing to do with me in my lifetime. It is not even before I was born, it just has nothing to do with me. And the vision that were associated with it, were of my mother, of my grandfather. Um, and it's also, no other explanation that it must be transgenerational trauma. And also the recognition that, personality is in some way, something to heal from, and looking at all aspect of who I knew to be. and let me define personality, uh, in my own words. I would say it's, all the way I have naturally occurring thought, feeling or behavior, or even sensations in my body. And looking at all those naturally occurring thought, feeling and behavior and see which one have been the most prevalent in my life and recognizing that they have served a purpose for a long time to somewhat help me survive, but they may not be needed anymore. And freedom would be gained or has been gained in my experience from looking at those, all those naturally occurring thought, feeling and behavior and, seeing what's behind that is, is there anything to heal?

Rosslyn:

Right. And Vincent, maybe this is more for listeners who are new to the concept of healing. So, how would you describe when you said you work? What's that like for you?

Vincent:

Yeah, I have done many types of therapeutic mo-, modality and the last one that I've been doing is one called Internal Family System, which was developed by an American psychologist, Richard Schwartz. It basically look at someone's personality as, a group of sub personality or family of sub personality or parts. The two words are kind of interchangeable. For example, I had a part of me that used to like to do provocative jokes. And so look at this part of me and see, what's behind it? What is it trying to protect? Is it, is it trying to protect anything? Kind of having inner dialogue with this part of me as if, as if it's possible, as if it was a member of a family, but it's an inner member. It's a part of me. And often what, I've noticed is that there is a trauma part under it. And so attending to this other part of me healing that part of me so that the provocating jok- joking part of me can kind of relax because he doesn't need to protect something anymore. And then seeing that this aspect of my personality that tended to do provocative joke kind of disappears. It just doesn't show up anymore. I just don't very rarely do provocative jokes. Or if I do, I'm capable of making them as a choice rather than out of personality, out of automatic response in some way. Yeah.

Rosslyn:

Now you're making me curious, so what was beneath or behind that part?

Vincent:

I think it was a form of, protection or defense mechanism in some way, because if I provoke, I don't really have to share vulnerably, um, because now people are, um, a little, flustered by me. And so I've in some ways put some barriers to, to me having to be vulnerable or, or keeping people at a certain distance in some ways. Yeah.

Rosslyn:

And yet now you are sharing vulnerably.

Vincent:

Yeah, yeah.

Rosslyn:

How, how would you describe the distance between you and the people you've met on this pilgrimage.

Vincent:

I don't know if there is a distance anymore in the sense that, when I interview people. I, I practice meditation almost every day. It's sometimes difficult, being on the road like I've been, but I, I meditate before I interview people, I meditate with most of my guests, some people are just so reluctant. It's not possible. But then I, I attune to my guests, so much, I, kind of sometimes, not always, but I try my best. I, I enter, I don't have any other way to describe it. I often enter a form of like alternate state of consciousness where I see the world through my guest's eye. And from their world, everything they say make perfect sense, everything they say is intelligent. All they are, and all they say is just whole in some way. It's a cohesive being that I see in front of me. And then I have a part of my consciousness, which is still Vincent, which is still me. And from there, I can be curious about certain things. I can be interested or I can reflect back what I hear, and let the discussion unfold totally open to whatever my, my guest is sharing.

Rosslyn:

Sounds like really just openness.

Vincent:

Mm hmm. I think for me it's the ultimate act of humility is being able to see the world through somebody else's eyes, as a form of shared consciousness.

Rosslyn:

Yeah. And how has love been for you in this place of like no distance and openness?

Vincent:

Um, how has been love for me? I mean, I think that form of listening is definitely an act of love, although not in the traditional sense.

Rosslyn:

And how about how are you receiving love now?

Vincent:

How am I receiving love? Um, good questions. Um, I am single, so I am definitely open, for love. You know, when I meet people that are caring, I, I welcome it. Yeah, for sure. And I've met quite a few on this journey.

Rosslyn:

And, Vincent, even as you share this, I feel this softness and gentleness in your voice.

Vincent:

Hmm. Thank you. Yeah, I, yeah, it actually helped me connect back to that place in my heart.

Rosslyn:

Tell me more what, when you said connect back, what did you connect to?

Vincent:

I mean the feeling of love. Yeah. Which, which I felt the most deeply. Um, last year I went back to my childhood country house, uh, for the first time, pretty much since I was 18 year old or something like this, for a month, mostly by myself. Every day, I would wake up at like 5 AM in the morning. I would do loving kindness meditation for 45 minutes in front of the fire. And then my practice was, to be as loving as I could with myself and everyone I meet. And it really changed my experience of life. It really changed my experience of others. It really changed my experience of self. When you brought the topic of love, I retouch that experience that I had last year. Yeah.

Rosslyn:

And you keep talking about like meditation as your practice. I'm also curious what, what other practice are you engaged in or would you even share with people who might not have chance with therapy? What can they do to support themselves in the healing journey?

Vincent:

I don't think I could have done it without therapy. It's the unfortunate reality it touch on a question, uh, of my friend, Adriana. There is a form of economic injustice, with the cost of therapy and access to therapy for sure. Because not everybody can afford to do therapy, financially or time wise or the consequences of therapy, it's not an easy journey for sure. And this being said, meditation has been incredibly helpful. I don't think I could have done it just with meditation, even if I had locked myself in a Buddhist temple in Nepal for 10 years or 15 years, I don't think I could have done it. Yoga has been very helpful, especially when I practice it from a place of: let me be in touch with the sensation in my body and keep coming back to it because I really had to fight certain part of me would get back to my head or, look at my environment rather than like being present with my body. Journaling almost every day as certain part of my life has been helpful. Being in nature has been helpful. And it's my deep sense, even if I had combined all of those things without therapy, I wouldn't be, I wouldn't be where I was today.

Rosslyn:

Which brings me to another question inspired by your friend, Matthias. Do you think there is an end to the healing journey?

Vincent:

I mean, it depends how, how one define healing journey. If I take what I think is a mainstream clinical psychologist approach of when a person is heal, it's technically someone who doesn't meet any criteria in the, the DSM, the Diagnostics Statistical Manual published by the American Psychiatric Association. However, not meeting any mental health issue listed in that very thick book, I wouldn't consider that being healed if I just take very basic example, the book has many diagnostic and someone has to have, let's say five, criteria out of 10 to be diagnosed under a certain mental health issue. But if this person, display four out of five, they would not be technically diagnosable. It doesn't mean their life is great. They're short of one personally trait that would make them diagnosticable. So, I think the notion of healing among modern clinical psychologists is too narrow from that perspective. And also is, too narrow from the perspective that personality is also something to heal from. And most psychologists I've talked to are kind of surprised by that idea.

Rosslyn:

Coming from this angle, personality is something to heal from. And you said that, you know, you shared that you've worked a lot with different parts of you through Internal Family Systems. Um Um So, how, how would you describe your experience of yourself now, being able to have met and , had inner dialogues with so many parts of you.

Vincent:

Before I answer your question, I want to say like, when I heal those part of me, what comes out through the inner dialogue, with those part eventually is that those part get transformed into a role that resemble what they used to be. But I would say much more agreeable to self, to myself and others. So that provocative part of me now is transformed into a misdevious playful part of me that I can choose to express when the circumstance is right. And remind me what was your question?

Rosslyn:

No problem. I was curious, after you, you know, you healed from personality, what is it like now for you? What's your experience of yourself right now?

Vincent:

So I don't think I have fully healed from personality. It might be like a lifetime journey. And what I can say is that I love myself. Something I couldn't have said before. It's kind of started last year. One thing. Two, I didn't really have a definition of happiness before, and now my definition of happiness is the knowing that I have the capacity to handle whatever life, is, going to bring at me. The knowing that I can live six months on the road and many, many days. I don't know where I'm going to sleep at night and I'll just figure it out. Um, I don't know where I'll be next week. I don't know whose friend I'm going to make or strange things are going to happen. What stress I'm going to be enduring. And the knowing that I'll be all right. I'll be all right. I can experience joy. I can experience fear. I can experience sorrow. I can experience anxiety. I can experience all of these things know that it's all temporary. And no matter what I will find my way back to center or back to peace. Yeah. So that's my definition of happiness. And then it's a certain sense of trust also in myself and trust in my future and my abilities.

Rosslyn:

That's breathtaking.

Vincent:

Thanks. Yeah

Rosslyn:

And how would you say, you know, being this, Vincent has impacted your way of relating with people.

Vincent:

I almost never take things personally anymore. Because I have been able to see how much of my naturally occurring thought, feeling and behavior were mostly a reflection of my unhealed trauma. Then when people act in a way that I think are out of proportion, given the circumstances or given my understanding, or, or my own perception of reality, I recognize that it's mostly a reflection of their own unhealed stuff. I still do get affected by others in certain circumstances. And my ability to come back to center is, or a sense of peace is just super fast. And if it's not super fast, it means there is a part of me that needs to heal. And next time I have a call with my therapist, I just work on it. That's just simple in some way.(laugh) Yeah.

Rosslyn:

Right. Yeah. So you, came from a place of needing control, a lot of anxiety to now just trusting whatever comes.

Vincent:

Um, um.

Rosslyn:

And And you mentioned earlier, you know, you talk about dissociation. So how is that different from this returning to center?

Vincent:

I mean, it's kind of like I don't want to say the opposite, but you know, the, the yin of the yang or something like this. Dissociation is a, state where the sense of self and the sense of reality is just lost, and being in center is where my sense of self is the most attuned. I'm most attuned to my body, its sensation. I'm most attuned to my feelings in my heart and my thoughts and the environment in front of me and what is happening, the feelings of others, their states, their emotional states, the way they express themselves, their... everything that makes life rich.

Rosslyn:

And how is it for you to reflect on the life that you had from this place you are right now?

Vincent:

Yeah.

Rosslyn:

Oh, what's that sigh?

Vincent:

Yeah it's a bittersweet question.

Rosslyn:

Oh, in what way?

Vincent:

Yeah, it's a bittersweet question because for a long time, I was really angry about the life, I had, very, very rageful. And then I realized I can't change my life. I can't change my past. it was years of therapy to accept that I couldn't change my past. It's it's not an easy process, and it does make me who I am now, in beautiful ways. so, um, it's bittersweet. It's the realization that some of my greatest pain have been also the birth of my greatest capacity, or, or, just simply, possibly, my greatest joy in some ways, yeah, paradoxically in some ways. And I realize, it could feel triggering to someone to hear that, uh, it could feel so unfair or so inappropriate to say, but I have come to realize that in some way, the seedlings of my greatest joys have been in my greatest pain.

Rosslyn:

Like, You've been writing poetry since your pilgrimage.

Vincent:

Mm hmm.

Rosslyn:

Like, even with this podcast, you talk about beauty and pain. So just tell me more.

Vincent:

Hmm. About a year ago, I kind of understood in my own way, the yin and yang symbol, I was working on this transgenerational trauma part of me, that came to me in very vivid images as basically the devil. I feel quite vulnerable sharing that, but that's the freaking truth. And I've been working with this part for quite a while. And then healing this part, it transform into an angel and I am not religious in any ways, but I grew up in a Catholic context in Paris. I, you know, I went to Catholic classes. I went to a Catholic primary school, mostly. I was mostly bored, in Catholic classes, whatever they were called. Anyway, but I remember of Catholic classes that the devil was an angel. It was the most beautiful angel. He was the fallen angel that was, um, so, so proud, that he could be almost better or better than God. And that's why he became the falling angel and, and the devil. And so, in healing this part of me, like an angel ca- came out of it. W- with, what angels are known for, you know, a capacity to love and be humble and accepting and caring for others. So coming back to your question when this part of me showed up for the first time, about a year ago, it was very scary. I cried the most I've ever cried in therapy. And eventually something beautiful came out of it.

Rosslyn:

The transformation from devil to angel alone. It's really, beautiful the way you describe it.

Vincent:

And so coming back to the yin and the yang, the yin and yang has white and black, you know, shape. And then inside the white, there is a black spot. And inside of the black, there is a white spot, but it's, it's contained inside of the circle. And, so, those two things have to coexist in balance with each other's. It's my belief that one cannot grow the light without really looking at the shadow. It's just not possible. Those two things cannot be dissociated, unfortunately. Yeah, the paradox of it.

Rosslyn:

Um, Just taking a moment to take all of that in. And thank you, Vincent, for sharing what's so close and dear and vulnerable to you. Hm, And I'm wondering,

Vincent:

Yeah.

Rosslyn:

What would the Vincent now say to the one who had anxiety even with the dishwasher?

Vincent:

(breath) (sigh) What would I say? It's again, so freaking paradoxal. Um, in some ways, in some ways, yeah, I want to, I want to really soften that, um, and I don't know how to soften that. But, in some ways, those were good days, because that's when I became who I am today. And so those days of agony, I wouldn't want to live through them again, if I have the choice not to, of course, but those are the ones that led me to who I am today. And so I kind of look at them with affection now and with compassion, and a certain form of gratefulness.

Rosslyn:

My, my heart is touched. I'm, I'm feeling the love even from across the screen. Let's take the question from Guy Wagner.

Vincent:

Yeah.

Rosslyn:

So, Vincent, what do you think you've done wrong on your journey so far or anything that you would like to change?

Vincent:

Yeah.(breath) I hesitate to answer the question phrase this way because for me, there can be a quality of judgment of saying that I have done something wrong. However, It doesn't mean I don't have any regrets. I definitely wish certain things had happened differently or I had behaved differently, for sure. Um, and regrets for me are in some ways the best teacher, for who I want to be. Although if I could magically change something, of course I would, but it's not possible. So it's, in some way, a pointless exercise.

Rosslyn:

Is there one that's coming up now that you would like to share, one regret and , what has that taught you?

Vincent:

Um, Oh, yeah, that's, that's, uh, let me think about this for a second. For a long time, my biggest regret in life was not having started therapy earlier. And I started when I was 18. So, um, Laurice, she asked if I have any tip, on healing: the earlier one start, the better (laughter), that's my tip. Do not procrastinate.(laughter) This answer all, all of my regrets because I would probably would have behaved in certain circumstance di- differently, if I had started to heal earlier in life.

Rosslyn:

And If we were to revisit 18 year old Vincent, what was the tipping point for you that I have to seek therapy?

Vincent:

I don't think the tipping point happened when I was 18. I think I kind of had, and I don't know how to explain that. It's part of the mystery I haven't explained. I always, to the best of my recollection, always thought there is something profoundly wrong in my family and I didn't have words for it. But I had a sense of it.

Rosslyn:

That, felt sense of something is really wrong, really saved your life in that sense.

Vincent:

Yeah. Exactly. It did.

Rosslyn:

What just happened when you said it did?.

Vincent:

I don't know what makes someone choose to heal in a, um, a deep way or like a, in a significant way, like, thr-, through, through therapy. I have many dear friends, that, um, um, in my opinion, would benefit from doing the work of healing and don't, and would have the financial capacity to do it. I have this inner wonder, what makes some individual go the path of healing and why some don't. It's a mystery to me.

Rosslyn:

You've mentioned the word mystery a couple of times.

Vincent:

Mm hmm.

Rosslyn:

What is mystery to you?

Vincent:

The thing I can't explain.(laughter) (breath) Yeah. The thing that are beyond my capacity to understand.

Rosslyn:

And Vincent, one, one other question is coming up. Earlier on you talked about as a child, as a teenager, at 24, 25, the world was not a safe haven. What's the world to you now?

Vincent:

Oh, it's pure magic. Yeah. If I attune to it, if I choose to attune to it, it's pure magic. Yeah.

Rosslyn:

And you specifically said, if you choose to attune to it, so what's the choice here that you're, making?

Vincent:

I can get stuck in my head or I can just take my entire experience of life, get out of my own way, get out of my own head, get out of my own personality and just experience. And when I do deeply experience, the world becomes magical. Yeah.

Rosslyn:

Hmm. sounds like beauty there, through the pain?

Vincent:

Yeah. Yeah, absolutely.

Rosslyn:

Oh, this has been extremely wonderful. It's magical time with you, Vincent.

( Vincent:

Sigh) thank you, Rosslyn.

Rosslyn:

(laugh) yeah. How, how has it been being, on this podcast as the one being interviewed?

Vincent:

Um, how has it been? in my practice of presence, I wish I had let myself be even more present to the experience because there is definitely a certain degree of, still hesitation, there was a certain degree of restraint in me. Maybe another part of me, I have to heal. For sure, another part of me, I have to heal. Hm. So my experience has been good. And I also notice I could have surrender more into presence and, and with you too, to appreciate the experience even more. Yeah.

Rosslyn:

And yet you were present to that even.

Vincent:

I was present to that.

Rosslyn:

Um.

Vincent:

Yeah, for sure. I just had the capacity to recognize that. Yeah.

Rosslyn:

And I'm curious if you're open to this question, what was in the way?

Vincent:

Yeah, I think it's the same part I've been working on for the last year and a half. yeah, this transgenerational trauma part of me that is, that is stubborn, let's put it this way, stubborn to heal.

Rosslyn:

And I wonder if you'd like to take a moment with it. We could both be with that part together, and it's okay. It showed up too.

Vincent:

Mm hmm. It did. Yeah, it's still present.

Rosslyn:

Yeah. And I feel your humility in this, as well. You're practicing, all is welcome, even for yourself, welcoming and naming this part of you.

Vincent:

Exactly. Yeah.

Rosslyn:

That's so beautiful. And thank you, for that part being here. And what if we interviewed that part?

Vincent:

(laughter) That'd transform into a therapy session, and I am pretty sure how it would go!(laughter)

( Rosslyn:

laughter) okay.

Vincent:

I'm quite familiar with this part fortunately or unfortunately, yeah, it's a pretty violent part.

Rosslyn:

I see.

Vincent:

Yeah.

Rosslyn:

What has it been like working with inner violence?

Vincent:

Oh, it been like working with inner violence? Actually, it has been the most humbling practice I've ever had to do in my life. It taught me humility in the way I've defined, earlier, and, in the way of owning, coming back to my regrets, owning all of my regrets. Yeah.

Rosslyn:

That's powerful. That's not an easy quest at all that you're on.

Vincent:

No...

Rosslyn:

What is this driving force in you, that's propelling you towards, this pilgrimage, this healing journey, to want to meet all of you?

Vincent:

Hmm. They are two thoughts that coming to my head, but I think there are more than two answers. Um, one is that I don't want to, if I have the chance of having children, I want to stop the trauma from being transmitted to my children. I want to raise them in a in a loving environment, as healthy as one can be. And two, there is a certain desire of seeking a dimension of truth outside of mathematical truth or logic truth, a certain truth of, what really it means to be human, what really it means to be me. Um, what is it I cannot not do for the rest of my life, given who I am? What's going to happen as I keep healing all those parts of me, all these transgenerational parts of me? What, what are the discoveries that may be on the other side of this? What mystery may I encounter or, um, what new understanding of life may I have? Yeah.

Rosslyn:

And as a closing to this, Vincent, what is the truth of you right now?

Vincent:

What is the truth of me right now? Oh, Rosslyn, uh, (sigh) what is the truth of me? The truth is I'm 44 years old and I realize time is counted. Um, one truth is that... When I attune to presence and myself, life gets richer and more interesting, more mysterious. The truth is, I want to keep doing what I'm doing. Yeah. I want to keep this pilgrimage. I want to keep seeing more of humanity, its beauty and its pain. I want to keep interviewing people. I want to keep meeting people. Yeah.

Rosslyn:

I feel the pouring forth of your heart.

Vincent:

Hm, Hmm.

Rosslyn:

You're such a gift to this world, Vincent.

Vincent:

Oh, (laughter) May be gonna have to edit this one out.(laughter) Thank you, Rosslyn.

Rosslyn:

I, I, I mean it, so. I'd like you to hear it.

Vincent:

No, I yeah.

Rosslyn:

Really, you are.

Vincent:

(sigh)

Rosslyn:

Thank you, Vincent.

Vincent:

Now, I have tears. Yeah.

Rosslyn:

Yeah.

Vincent:

Thank you, Rosslyn.

Rosslyn:

Thank you. Because this is what you are giving Yourself. Yeah.

Vincent:

yeah, I wouldn't want it any other way, now.

Rosslyn:

Yeah. This is the beauty of you, Vincent.

Vincent:

Thank you, Rosslyn.

Rosslyn:

Thank you.

Vincent:

If you want to be a guest on this podcast, reach out on my Instagram page, Vincent.E.Paul. Please make a donation to support this podcast, visit storiesofhealingpodcast.org or look at the show notes in your podcasting app. Thank you for listening to Stories of Healing, hosted and produced by me, Vincent Paul. Special thanks to the actual host of today's episode, Rosslyn Chay. Music by Matt Styslinger, sound engineering and editing by Vincent Paul. Transcription and content review by Fadwa Baraba. Special thanks to friend of the podcast who provided feedback on the episode, Fadwa Baraba, Aleksandra Gavrilović, Matei Mancas. Thanks to many friends of the show who sent questions. We look forward to your company on our next episode.

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