047 - Chris Wilkins
Updated: Jul 13
“Turn your mess into a message.” Chris Wilkins joins us to talk about growing up as a tough guy, hiding abuse, checking out, and running away from the truth. He talks about connecting, getting honest and direct, and trying to help those without resources through programs like his Heal The Hurt. Enjoy.
The Illuminate Recovery Podcast is about Mental Health, Mental Illness, and Addiction Recovery. Shining light on ways to cope, manage, and inspire. Beyond the self care we discuss, you may need the help of a licensed professional. Curt Neider and Shelley Mangum are a part of Illuminate Billing Advocates (illuminatebilling.com). They are committed to helping better the industry and adding value to the lives of listeners by sharing tools, insights, and success stories of those who are working on their mental health.
Transcript (no grammar):
turn your mess into a message chris wilkins joins us to talk about growing up as a tough guy hiding abuse checking out and running away from the truth he talks about connecting getting honest and direct and trying to help those without resources through programs like his heal the hurt enjoy welcome to the illuminate recovery podcast we shed light on mental health issues mental illness and addiction recovery ways to cope manage and inspire beyond self-care we will discuss you may need the help of a licensed professional my name is kurt knighter i'm a husband father entrepreneur a handyman and a student of life i avoid conflict i deflect with humor and i'm fascinated by the human experience and i'm shelley mangum i am a clinical mental health counselor and my favorite role of all times is grandma i am a seeker of truth and i feel like life should be approached with tremendous curiosity i ask the dumb questions i fill in the gaps the illuminate recovery podcast is brought to you by illuminate billing advocates make billing and collections simple with leader in substance abuse and mental health billing services verification and analysis of benefits pre-authorizations utilization management accurate claim submission and management denial and appeal management and industry-leading reporting improve your practice's cash flow and your ability to help your clients with eliminate billing advocates today kurt and i are um excited to talk with chris wilkins chris is in lcsw he is also the founder at heal the hurt in provo utah um hildehurd is a non-profit providing scholarships to help people access treatment services that they can't afford but desperately need he is also the director at hubble creek behavioral health chris thanks so much for taking time out of your day to come and visit with us and share your experience absolutely thank you for having me these are these are connections that i love and value very much so thanks for taking time to to let me get to know you guys um so let's just start out letting our audience kind of get an idea of who you are where you come from and what your background is so if maybe you could just give us kind of a history there that'll give us a starting point yeah absolutely so i am originally from arizona i am oh i'm a sun devil uh i'm i'm in utah now and so so with nba playoffs going on uh people keep asking me if i'm gonna cheer jazz or sons um but uh love arizona love the desert um but came up to utah when i was 12 um family moved up here and so i've kind of been a back and forth transplant between here and in the phoenix valley when i was 11 and 13 experienced some abuse from a close friend a family friend who lived outside of the home but um that was pretty shocking that created a lot of distress for me i mean i'm the oldest child oldest of six in my family and grew up with i know a lot of people will say this but i grew up with the best parents the the greatest scenario that i possibly could have imagined um really blessed really really well taken care of two parents who who literally sacrificed everything for us for their children and something in me at 11 i think i think probably equal parts fear and embarrassment and worry about being perceived as weak convinced me to not say anything when when i was abused and in both of those scenarios it was the same person and in both of those scenarios um what would typically happen is i was i would wake up and something not okay was happening and i was paralyzed was frozen i didn't know what to do didn't know how to to make myself safe and um so yeah i buried that and at 14 when given the opportunity so let me back up for a second um the family the family friend had had uh you know this abuse first took place in arizona then we moved to utah and the family friend had come to visit and so 14 still new still in a a fairly new um at least it felt new new state new schools and those kinds of things i hadn't really found my group yet my friend group yet a buddy of mine at school who i thought was just really cool popular everybody liked him walking past him in the hallway he he kind of he kind of nudged me and said hold out your hand and and so i did and he dropped a couple of pills into my hand and said take these and it was under his breath i knew exactly the situation i didn't know what the pills were but i knew what was going on and i wanted his acceptance i wanted to be cool you know at 14 in junior high we are figuring ourselves out we often might feel lost we often might feel alone and we want to thin we want to be cool and so i took these pills went and sat in a u.s history class and that felt incredible that felt amazing not only emotionally and socially did i feel like i was winning but physically uh emotionally physiologically that that was a high that felt that was something different that felt really good and that began my love for being intoxicated that began my love for checking out for numbing myself and something that we talked about a lot in in the recovery world in therapy is is that every single action in this world is doing one of two things either seeking pleasure and or avoiding pain and so for me at 14 years old those pills did both i felt really good and no longer was i thinking about the abuse and also no longer was i thinking about fitting in no longer was i worrying about any other stressor that was in my life at age 14. so that was kind of a miracle in my to me in my mind this was this really cool thing i began a secretive kind of a kind of a hidden life um i i learned how to hide that very well whether it was pills marijuana alcohol i learned how to get really sneaky with it and get away with it part of that lifestyle included theft whether it was um uh from individuals who left their belongings behind somewhere maybe on the snowboard bus or the ski bus or it was in shop shopping centers stores or malls i became pretty savvy at that and actually got arrested when i was 16 um stealing something from a store and thought i was really clever thought that i was really smart and really sneaky and at 16 we we ruled the world right and my wording i was trying to hide something it wasn't given the full truth um and and something with my wording or the way i said something led the officer to to dig a little deeper and it was a rough time i had to go home and share with my parents what had happened and we had long talks and throughout my life i had many opportunities to to i'll just kind of throw up some air quotes and confess you know i had many opportunities to say this is what's going on this is why it's happening i'm not okay i need some help i can never do that for those same reasons that i mentioned before i never wanted to devastate my parents these were um this person was a family friend it would have devastated everybody it would have wrecked those relationships in my mind and so as a codependent martyr i i guess i decided to to just fall on that sword and and deal with it and keep everybody else from hurting and my technique my method for that was continuing to drink continuing to check out i discovered along the way i discovered girls i discovered deceit being deceptive adrenaline i very much enjoyed getting away with things and being really sneaky and so that led to a lot of chaos and contention and struggle and and pain that impacted i played some sports in high school that impacted my my effort there that impacted my performance there it impacted relationships with coaches and um i think in some ways i came off as having an attitude when in all reality there was a lot of other stuff under the surface that i that i hid so fast forward to um i don't know after a while changing changing my ways or not having a supplier or wanting to change wanting to commit to be bitter or whatever would have some periods of doing really well and not really acting out not struggling with the substance or behavior and ended up getting married i had a child and life was good and i found myself back in the thick of checking out and numbing out and that created a lot of tension jeopardized the marriage um ended up that she had some addiction issues too that resurfaced and so here we have this child um born to two addicts born to two people with struggle two people with trauma significant trauma and we ended up we ended up divorcing and co-parenting and so that became a that became a something something of a maybe opportunity to learn how to how to live outside of myself better being a father is the most important thing in my world in my life um and it's been and it's been ever since she was born and sometimes that comes at the expense of other important things in my life but i i i guess once you become a parent at least for me once i became a parent it was like the world changed um when that happened there was a desire to live differently more motivation to to be well to be healthy um a couple years prior to her being born um this this person had married before had said what happened something we were talking one night what had something happened to you and i said no nothing everything's good and she persisted um really really perceptive that way and she persisted and said no like you just like you tell me you can tell me what happened and so i proceeded to tell her what happened when i was 11 and 13 and she said this is the first is this the first time you've told another person first time i ever told anybody yeah yeah see i jump around i jumped around a bit um but uh yeah first time i told anybody and and she said um in fact we were in my parents driveway and she said we gotta go inside we gotta tell them i said no no we don't they don't need to know um i'm over it i've forgiven i've moved on it doesn't affect me anymore and she's like that's that's crap let's go and uh sure enough went in there and just kind of bore my soul can imagine that my parents were devastated and shocked and maybe because of because of my relationship with my parents today thinking back i can only imagine a sense of relief that they must have felt for understanding why why from from that early age was there this struggle why were all those things happening why was my personality the way that it was why did i choose the things that i did i can only imagine now that there was a little ounce of that relief because now they got it now they understood it didn't erase the past it didn't take away that pain but maybe being able to to know why or that there was a reason there was a cause maybe brought some relief um there was a there wasn't i'm gonna jump to the to the future for a second um on this timeline there was a moment uh later on in life where um i'd relapse i'd gone back into live in a way that wasn't i wasn't too proud of and got into some trouble and had to reconcile that and get some get some treatment of my own and everything and a couple years after that there was a celebration um things were good i'll say it that way kind of vaguely things were going really well and my mom my mom and dad got to attend a little ceremony for me and i remember my mother hugging me and whispering in my ear i'm so proud of you i wish that back then amidst all that struggle i could have seen forward to today and that's really powerful for me and for our family because in the midst of struggle i think we are paralyzed so often i think we get stuck in that sorrow i think so often we get stuck in in the pain rather than considering that maybe this is temporary maybe you know that phrase this too shall pass maybe maybe on some level this will all make sense someday and we'll be able to look back and have some understanding so anyway um yeah a couple of times in my life i'll go back a couple of times in my life i've i've done really well kind of get complacent kind of thinking oh everything's i got this everything's good i'm on fire an ego comes in or maybe not feeling like i need to continue doing my own work and sure enough that those demons creep back in those struggles they rear they rear their ugly heads and so that happened a couple of times in my life that has happened a couple of times in my life um and so in my practice now one of the things that's incredibly important has become a regular for my people is this this idea of do your dailies that it doesn't matter to me how much time somebody has sober i'm more concerned with where their heart is i'm more concerned with what their recovery looks like and a lot of times people will use recovery and sobriety synonymously and that it means the same thing and there are some people in the rooms or people who participate in whether it's alcoholics anonymous or any other anonymous or trauma recovery healing where the idea of sobriety more has to do with can you provide a clean urine sample do you have drugs in your system right now is your sobriety whereas recovery has more to do with the way we see ourselves the way we see others our humility our level of love and compassion and service to others so to me to me i really care about recovery and it does that doesn't justify if we continue to do the things that led us to destruction you know i can't do so much good and justify the bad that doesn't work that way um but for so long i personally banked my value on how literally how many days i went without a drink or how many days i went without a pill how many days i went without air duster how many days i went without the use of gambling or pornography or women or some shopping retail therapy became a real that became a real struggle especially as an adult that was a coping mechanism that i thought well it's not a drug it's not a chemical i'm not hurting anybody but i'd spend an entire paycheck on stuff i didn't need or clothing or baseball games um you know when my when my lifestyle was not such when my budget was not such that that was okay so the idea of of uh not living our values not living our priorities that um that's something that we focus a lot on as well what our individual values are and if we're in recovery that doesn't mean we're perfect doesn't mean we never mess up we never struggle but it means that that either once i recognize that there's a struggle or somebody else grabs me and says chris what are you doing this isn't you this isn't what you teach and there's a level of humility and acceptance i could go oh wow i didn't even see it i didn't even notice that happening like thanks so much for raising my awareness thanks thanks for saying something about it because i think as humans sometimes we see people backing up toward a cliff and they don't know it they don't see that it's there and we just kind of we don't want to hurt them and offend them we don't want them to get mad at us and so we just watch them do it we watch them teeter and eventually fall off that cliff and if they live if they survive it they might ask the question like why don't you say anything like why don't you help me what do you save me from myself you know there was this there was this treacherous thing in my path and you didn't do anything about it and so now as a human and as a therapist and in any other role that i play i'm like probably yelling louder than i need to okay there's a cliff over there like what are you doing um because i there was a long there was a long part of my life where i was the the bystander i would just look on as somebody would would fall into into that kind of a struggle um and i'd rather not i'd rather not risk that by inaction anymore you bring up i want to just jump in there is because i'm hearing this theme right as you talked about you're you know being abused and waking up in the middle of the night being abused and being frozen there's a lot of people that can't that can't put words to what happened you know i've talked to people who have said this happened to me this trauma happened to me and and it's like they're they can't make sense of it and when you give them the words like you just did of i was frozen i couldn't move i didn't know what to do with this that that it starts to make sense of oh i didn't they didn't give me a choice right because we so often the only thing we can control is us so if it's our fault if we made the problem and the error then we can do something about it and so we own it right just like you did you have to own it you have to carry this this uh this heavy load because if you don't it's going to mess up your family and it's going to mess up relationships and you know and i'm sure that at that young age you also had lots of thoughts about i'm messed up this must happen to me because i'm messed up and you know something's wrong with me and so i you know i don't want anybody to see that so i can't talk about it exactly especially in a in a culture that or a community that i was raised in that that um you know if we mess up there's there's badness to that and i think bernie brown talks about it the best in my opinion um the difference between guilt and shame guilt is good it tells us we have a conscience we're not sociopaths you know we recognize we messed up whereas the shame is we are messed up we are bad and that it's our existence and a lot of our work is around that recognizing that we make mistake we're human and and there is no shame in our humanness there is no shame in the mistake um but the invitation is with love and with compassion let's do something about it how can we halt the cycle how can we get out of this loop of destruction and that's something i've had to apply in my own life and and come up with kind of my protocol for what keeps me safe what keeps me healthy what keeps me moving in the right direction um and i try to give that or encourage my clients or my people to to do something similar not my style not my exact dailies but what is theirs what's realistic for them according to their schedule um their interests um their level of rebelliousness or resistance to things um because this it's hard work and it's uncomfortable but if there's a willingness then i i very much believe we can break so many bad habits we can overcome so many traumas and problems and distresses that people can truly be happy and feel joy so yeah i look at the analogy of um um like the princess and the pea maybe and we all have a tiny little pea that's down there and we can throw as many mattresses on top and i'm totally distorting the story um but we can throw as many mattresses between ourselves and the p but we're still gonna feel it it's still gonna be felt until we we rip off all of those those layers and get to it and figure out what it is and and deal with it properly you know well it's so powerful to normalize it freezing in that kind of a situation is a normal human response right it's a normal human response but we somehow think we're flawed because we didn't do anything or say anything but we don't realize we couldn't right you couldn't people can't in those situations sometimes they can't and recognizing that's a human experience allows them to maybe take a breath and go oh all this shame that i put on myself isn't real like i couldn't have i didn't have the power to do anything about that anyway so i love the way you talk about that because i think it is super freeing for people yeah i think it's i think it's important for us to recognize and not wallow in it let's not just like commiserate and be uh be weak in always being in pain but but there's a lot of gray area or a lot of middle ground between i'm perfect or i'm awful you know there's so much middle ground there and i think we i think we probably i don't know the the term for it but we just probably go back and forth on some level of some days wow i feel i feel really good i'm loving it you know life is great and you know i might stub my toe every now and again but but overall things are awesome and then there are probably moments where we're like why me like what did i do why do i feel like i could never catch a break and and we need to normalize that or or naturalize that i like to i like to humanize yes i love it you know so i kind of think of normal as reasonably healthy whereas natural or human it's like a typical thing hey this comes up this happens we don't want it to be we don't want to consider it normal and healthy and forever but let's acknowledge that this is a thing and then then i think we're better prepared to do something better prepared and equipped to do something about it so yeah i agree and one other comment that you made too um is that as a you know as a 12 year old and a 14 year old if you were to tell your parents who you fully acknowledge were amazing wonderful parents that were open you could have conversations with them had you told them there were some huge consequences that you didn't have the maturity to navigate that right that was just that was more than you could manage to think that this is going to ruin lives and you know maybe this person is going to go to jail or whatever it is you're holding on to that what would you tell somebody today from the perspective that you're at today that's in that situation the perspective today is that is i would and i say this you're not alone you're not bad you're not broken you're not weak these things unfortunately happen and i have a belief that that anybody who does those things has had something of that nature done to them we don't we don't create these ideas on our own we have to learn them somewhere and so even as a young person i i felt a sense of i kind of felt a sense of compassion um knowing this person a little bit like their circumstances and and having the idea that they must have been through worse than what they put me through and for a long time i i felt weak in that but not today i can i have acceptance and i understand that i i hesitate to say this for other people but this is part of my healing that happened for a purpose i needed i needed to understand i don't say this to others i don't i don't i don't tell them how to feel or how to reconcile their own pain their own suffering but for me this is part of my healing process because i work with a great number of individuals who have been abused physically psychologically sexually and i believe that i needed to have some experiences i wish i could have gotten that experience some other way i wish i didn't have to go through that but somebody a long time ago said the phrase turn your mess into a message and i i like the i also like the phrase turn your pain into a purpose or from your pain create purpose and i think i wouldn't have gotten it i think i wouldn't have had the compassion or the understanding or the ability to connect with somebody else had i not gone through those things i just wouldn't have noticed it and so by no means what i say like if i could do it all over again would i want to go through that again absolutely not no no but because i'm so passionate about the work that we do i have to attribute it to that to having been in a sense of hell a state of hell a state of powerlessness because so many of our people adults and kids are experiencing or have experienced those same things and so the the statements of you're not alone um there are others it's okay to tell it's okay it's okay to talk about it um this person or these people or these these things happening aren't okay and they need help and if we can get them the help then maybe they have a chance at stopping that and ending the cycle at not hurting anyone else if we don't do anything about it that cycle usually continues that cycle usually worsens unfortunately so if we have an opportunity to get somebody to help even though it's scary and it's humiliating devastating it wrecks families um we we need to shift our culture to be okay with with with those levels of devastation that might be more public um in in in our effort to getting away from the private devastation that festers and grows and snowballs because i think we we are allowing um this is this a maybe strong blanket statement but through through the taboo-ness of the topics of abuse and neglect and harm because we're not comfortable with those things we ostrich we go ostrich style we stick our head in the sand we pretend like it doesn't exist well all the while it's happening everywhere um the statistics are overwhelming they are devastating i have four kids it becomes completely it becomes completely different in my mind and in my heart when i go from thinking about myself dealing with pain being a victim being hurt and then when i start to think about if this were to happen to my child and i can't fathom that i can't stomach that and i won't and so we have to talk about it we have to address it i've worked a lot of my career in residential treatment and we we just call them treatment centers and there's a there's a treatment perspective there's kind of a treatment track or a modality of treating things after the after the fact and then there's this topic of prevention and so two or three days maybe a week into people's treatment i would say to them this isn't a treatment center for you anymore this is a prevention center we've got to figure out how to keep this from happening again so that you don't have to come back and that concept i think as a society if we can start to start to fathom that if we can start to look at it from that perspective let's go prevent rather than wait until it's bad enough that somebody needs help i mean imagine the lives that we will change imagine imagine the harmony that can exist in our families that can exist in our schools that can exist in i mean every every area of our of our society if we would prevent it and it's like you're talking about chris which is so incredible is that you know this these this abuse and these experiences thrive on someone being in silence right suffering in silence and what you're you know suggesting is that we can do this as a community and instead of looking at that person who who did that act that was hurtful you know whether it's a sexual abuse or any kind of abuse who did that act to see them as a human being like you've talked about and to see them with a problem they're not engaging in that behavior because they're a healthy human being they're engaging in that behavior because they have wounds too and they need help and if we can stop you know coming at it from a punitive point of view which our society has done for a long long time and and there's a lot of forces working you know working to improve that but there's a lot of work to be done in that area but if it can be we love you we care about you hey there's some things we can do that will help you and will help everyone else too then it doesn't become so shaming right and so hard it becomes you know there's going to be some consequences but that's going to be okay too right the consequences are going to be okay we're going to do it together so i love that approach and i love the way you're talking about that because it's exactly where we need to go one person at a time you know it feels painful going one person at a time yeah it does but you know i saw something the other day um it was two ladders side by side i think i saw it on instagram i reshared it um it was two ladders side by side and one of the ladders had like i don't know 20 rungs on the ladder and it had somebody going up it and the one on the right had like maybe four rungs and and the idea was that baby steps are more productive and um that one on the right the feeling i got was um kind of like addict mentality in a way that that we don't get we don't get that big of a whoa that's amazing from the baby step like i want it swift fast intense um more right and i started thinking about it in in terms of now as a business owner um as a as an employer um as a father of four not just one right like it's it's there's more to it and i have to remind myself that it's all about those baby steps those incremental where are we going where are we heading and that that's got to encompass every part of my life the recovery process might be my own behavioral health um if i'm there sitting in space with another human and connecting with them and creating or um sharing that space for them and their healing and trying to be a catalyst if i'm not on point with my own stuff how am i going to be a father how am i going to be a husband how am i going to be a beneficial therapist and you know i think i think if we could take off or if we could discard the expectation of being perfect i think a lot of change would happen i really do and that's a that's a whole other topic and conversation and and probably a rabbit hole but um i think we have a lot of us that are out there um putting on a facade when inside things aren't okay and we just don't feel that gabra monte dr gabriel mate said it um he probably didn't invent this quote but he says it the most eloquently and concisely for me and it resonates in my mind he says in one of his in his talks um only when a person only when a person senses some compassion will they allow themselves to see the truth we have a movement in our society the my truth movement and and i used to love it because it was so validating for everybody in their own perspectives and then it started to i felt like we started to miss the point um we started to treat everybody's perspective even just even disagreeing perspectives as truth and we wouldn't get into discussion or conversation or connection but this idea that if i don't feel compassion i won't allow myself to see reality that's so profound to me and i see that working in my own life and i see that working in my in my career in my work with my people that if i'm disconnected if i'm if i'm distracted we're not going very far and i owe it to my people to show that to be present to be compassionate um but again there's that puts a lot of pressure on us as individuals to take care of ourselves you know well it does and and what you just said is that we're human and we're imperfect and we're not always going to show up at our best and 100 percent because we can't and there's just days where you know something's overwhelming if if one of your kids and i can tell that you love them with every part of your body right every part of your soul you love those kids you're going to protect them with your life if you have to if something's going on with your kids it's really tough to show up and be a hundred percent present right for an example um and so you have to allow that you know that give and take of you know and acknowledge today i am not 100 right here because i got something i'm worried about or whatever it is and allow that imperfection right to talk about it and speak it out but that the goal is i'm going to take care of this thing so that it doesn't keep you know coming up and showing up in my space when i'm trying to do something else um but i love i love love love the the ideas and the um the change right and and the way you question things you're questioning like the truth movement what's my truth right and the thing i love more than anything is going after truth but truth comes from getting other everybody else's perspectives and having that discussion of what does that look like for you and and if it looks like that for you does it have to look like that for me you know and and talking about that and so you can meet in the middle that just because this is the way you feel doesn't mean it's the way i have to feel and so i love the way you question everything because i think it's important vital right it's vital i don't know that my parent when i was younger i don't know that my parents love that questioning and i joke um i'm i'm so pro agency i'm so pro you get to you get to make your own choices as long as you're not hurting somebody else like all the way from the trivial pepsi or coke to to the more intense things about our values and and human rights and things that way you know again provided we're not hurting somebody or we're not being unsafe i very much support like do your thing um and i joke that that i want people to question i want people to wonder i want them to ask the whys until i'm around my kids and they start to go yeah but why or no they start to resist or rebel and i go i want everyone else to have this agency but not you just because it makes it difficult as a parent right i think that maybe hits home for all of us with kids um but we can't our principles can't be part-time we've got to always practice the principles and and the truth is that we're not always going to be perfect with them but if we can if we can just use that terminology with it we're always practicing our principles right because there are those moments where i forget you know and i've got i think i have a pretty good memory i really do that's one reason today that i'm like i can't i can't get high i can't get drunk i can't i can't do any of these things because uh my cognition my memory my thought process like that's my that's my career and it's also my survival in so many ways um so so maybe now part of my sobriety is is fear um healthy fear we'll call it that but i think that's there's a lot of information a lot of information and that's another you know another rabbit hole another conversation but the idea of of we're all works in progress um our humanness is there and we need to accept it we need to acknowledge that it's there and and not um not mail it in like well sorry i'm a human sorry that i hurt you again today sorry that i messed up again today it's just who i am you have to accept it that's not what we're saying that doesn't work that's not a that's not a desire to change or improve it's you know i've been really trying hard and here here are the areas that i've improved and today i struggled or yesterday i messed up i fell off or or you know i'm so sorry and this is what i'm learning from it i think when we can take accountability but also acknowledge man we've got a real nice recipe for success in my opinion right well and you you talked about that idea i love this what you said was you know all of the good in the world you know going around and doing good good good and making a difference here and serving this person here and and you know showing up for your family does not justify the bad behaviors that you're engaging in right you can do all of that good and try and go well i do all this good so it must be okay it doesn't justify it it doesn't make that okay right and and that's a lack of integrity in your system and your system knows it right it's it's it's incongruent inside your body and so it creates this chaos inside and so it's not okay but i can't tell you how many people i've talked to and they're like you see that pattern right you see this the shadow over here that's just causing them all this grief and yet they do so much good right so much incredible things that they can do um so i want to ask you a question i think this is an imperative question um you talked about your kids and and i think so many people are worried about our kids because the the research says that you know one in three are going to be abused in one way or another and maybe sexually abused for women and men maybe it's a little less maybe it's not i don't know that's questionable but you know that's that's worrisome too to me as a mom and to you as you know to us as parents and how what is that conversation that you have with your kids that changes the dynamic that you experienced as a child that it's okay to talk about feeling unsafe um i think there was a generation where again just the taboo things those topics it was like well we just don't talk about it it doesn't happen it doesn't happen until this point you know sex doesn't happen until you're married um we don't hurt each other we don't punch each other um and it was just like an all or nothing just don't do it and um i think i think our generation now i think our society now is more open to talking about it i'd like to think that maybe i'm wrong i think there are more avenues to talking about it if we're willing i think there's a lot there are a lot of people who are in distress because they don't know how to talk about it with their kids um but some of the conversations that we have with our little ones are are let's let's use the issue of sexual abuse you know nobody's allowed to look at you there nobody's allowed to touch you there that doesn't work um even if it's mom or dad you go tell the other parent because some of these some of these stories that we hear these devastations that we hear it's it's a trusted loved one that does it and so it's so confusing that you know only only mom or dad can wash you or touch you there or something like that or the doctor you know in an exam but then it's confusing because there's there is healthy touch and then there's unhealthy touch and if i think about a child brain our ability to understand and really comprehend we've taught them all or nothing it's either no touch or or yes it's okay we need to look deeper than that we need to clarify and there's there are actually a few books that are really good i think that talk about this children's books um for the longest time i've wanted to start writing children's books that talk about some of these topics and how to talk about them in fact right behind me on my bookshelf there's a book called the elephant in the room and as an adult i'm i'm in my 30s that is an adult i still prefer picture books there's a lot of great content out there a lot of great stuff that i like to read i actually like audiobooks better because then i can then i can mow the lawn and listen or something like that [Music] my brain the way that it is structured or the way i've conditioned it or both i need the illustration i love analogies i love parables and for somebody to tell me a story while they're teaching me something because then i'll comprehend it i'll stay focused on it and i'll remember it so i've become that way as well in my work in my own teaching but to help our kids understand that their feelings matter that even if as an adult i might be like why are you crying what are you crying for what's wrong what you know this isn't what's that phrase this isn't something to cry about well that comes out of my mouth i don't like the term i don't like the phrase shame on me but if that comes out of my mouth shame on me why am i doing that i don't believe that it's just a figure of speech exactly you know and so if we can show up for our kids and help them truly feel safe in all areas they're more likely to tell us if and when something bad happens something unsafe happens um there's a natural exploration there's a natural uh curiosity around sexuality and i think it's important for us to teach our kids the difference between those things not that we endorse the curiosity and show and tell kinds of stuff but that we understand that there is a difference between those things there is a maliciousness to an adult or an older older child or older teenager or something like that um hurting someone who's younger grooming is something that we talk about um not the two youngest they're not ready to to comprehend that but the two oldest can comprehend that um being able to us as parents have a have a oh this might offend some people it's important for us to have a maturity level that we can have those comfort we can strike up and have those conversations with our kids or our grandkids our nieces and nephews the students you know i've got a sister who's a teacher and another sister who's studying to become a teacher and there are in my own observation there are some parents who believe who seem to believe let me say it that way who seem to believe that public the public school system is responsible for raising their children and that breaks my heart i can certainly understand the convenience of that but it breaks my heart for those kids it also breaks my heart for the parents because i do believe that somewhere down the road there will be some some regret um but i think we have a responsibility no matter what hat we wear to to support our children um these are the these are our future leaders i know the cliches the future leaders of our world our future presidents our future you know our future doctors and all those things but but i don't take that those roles and responsibilities lightly it's really important for us um for us to take time for our kids to matter for them to know that they matter and then if they're concerned about something if they wonder about something that it's okay to ask that we aren't going to get mad at them that if heaven forbid something bad happens in abuse bullying if something happens that it's not their fault that they don't need to protect us and our hearts that they don't need to hold that secret in um you mentioned a second ago shelley like our like our body feels it when it's when it's incongruent you know and that could be you're kind of referencing our our own actions in our own value system but even those secrets we're holding it in and it's a foreign object it's a toxin and so as we hold it in it's doing damage it's destroying the body it's destroying the soul it's causing a lot of harm and havoc and so we've got to learn how to safely and appropriately and and maybe even diplomatically like get those things out we are a lot of there are a lot of uh humans that i interact with i'm thinking of how to say this who like my like when i was 20 or 21 and she said to me what happened something happened what was it we probably all know people in our world who are just like i was holding it in pretending like everything was okay um one of my one of my hopes is or maybe maybe even a challenge is that we get to a point where we can be that person to someone else that says you can tell me i'm safe won't judge you i won't i won't reel back and be shocked but you're safe to tell me and you matter old or young you know no matter who these individuals are but that we can show up that way for somebody so yeah you come from a compassionate stance kind of in all of these circumstances right i mean i think like you're saying as a parent that's sometimes harder to do because it's stressful but it's it's one of the most obvious places you know with a child we should certainly be compassionate i think one of the things that's interesting to see as kind of emotional intelligence grows in the world that that's becoming more acceptable and more demanded as like an employer right if you have an employee who's not performing the metrics aren't there you really need to start with the hey what happened you know what's going on what's the what's the personal story or whatever um and it's powerful i think to go back you know even as as an individual who's abused that you were inclined to feel that way about your abuser right and you felt like it was a weakness but it's not a weakness like the power and the assumption for you as a child that your abuser had been abused right like that to me i think that's i think that's such a powerful thing to think that you know an 11 or 12 year old had thought um and obviously that's turned into other things you know the tell us about hill the hurt what's what's the background with hill to hurt and how does it work i i have worked in the prison system i've worked for county funded programs i've worked in the exclusive treatment centers where the the where people who are very well-off go um i've seen i've seen individuals with absolutely nothing and maybe less than nothing if that's possible um who needed help and i've seen individuals with millions and millions of dollars who needed help and being able to to do work in both of those kind of both of those extremes as far as socioeconomic status and privilege or poverty i've noticed some some differences a few differences but more than anything so many similarities there were so many times where somebody had no resources but needed help and was willing and in both these the main treatment centers that i spent the majority of my career working in um a lot of scholarships were offered or funds were available and something that was a prerequisite was to the to the potential client to the person who needed help was what's your story what's going on what can you do what are your resources and let us make up the difference so it wasn't a freebie it wasn't a free ride it wasn't a handout it was what are you willing to do what do you need what's the cost associated with this whether it was a financial or some other thing some other barrier and how can we how can we remove those barriers so often i i i'm a social worker um when i went to grad school i was trying to be a psychologist i wanted to get a phd in psychology and i applied for two years and didn't get into any of the schools and arizona state had accepted me to their msw program and i turned it down um i don't think i told them that well i turned it down i don't think i told them why and a year later there were some personal things that were going on and and uh a year later i called him up and after not getting in again to to the psychology programs i said could i you know you accepted me a year ago could i still come and they said yeah and uh that's why i became a social worker and and one of the reasons i didn't want to do that because i had this idea that they just handed out food stamps for some strange reason i don't know why that was my bias or my stigma um because if i if i were given the option to go back and be a psychologist i wouldn't do it i like i love the study of the brain but i couldn't do and if a psychologist ever listens to this they'll probably like comment like that's not what we do we don't do that all day but i couldn't do testing i don't like testing i love to converse i love to meet the person i love i'm way too social of a person to do to have like a lot a lot of clients that i only meet one or two times i need i like to i like to see people at the beginning and then see them when they when they fire me when they say i don't need to come here anymore um you know thanks for what you did and uh i got i'm gonna take it from here you know i love that that's a huge that's a huge warm feeling for me but so many times that bleeding heart some people call this codependency right and some people call it compassion but i would see where people needed help and they just didn't have the resources and nobody becomes a social worker or therapist to make millions and billions of dollars it's just not you don't choose this for the money and i have a brother and my dad are both in finance and accounting and and they work in money and so when i have those kinds of questions i i ask them what should i do they're the experts on that i might have made more in my career doing that but i don't think i'd be happy i want people to get the resources that they need and so we open this foundation it's a non-profit we're pursuing 501c3 status so that we so that we can have those kinds of benefits to it for our donors but um literally 100 of anything that comes through to heal the hurt non-profit goes to scholarships nobody's paid there are no salaried employees everybody's a volunteer when we don't have scholarship funds we just do it we just write it off we just we just tell the person like you know we're gonna give you the service and and um you know essentially it's kind of the honor system like do well with it don't take advantage of it um when we do have funds available right now we just started um a campaign there's a there's a person who's worked in the recovery field for quite some time who who's in recovery was in recovery and has lost it um is really struggling and is back in the throes of addiction and they they have incredibly limited resources and the resources that they do have are kind of um disqualifiers for for most treatment centers here um there are a lot of treatment centers and i might offend somebody too there's a lot of treatment centers out there i'm really picky i know what good treatment is there are there is there's a greater importance in my mind to figure out how to put somebody through the right treatment center for their personality for their story for their the emotions that they're dealing with than finding the cheapest one but we have a we have relationships with a few treatment centers here locally and some other other parts of the country that are willing to to do some scholarships as well and so it's kind of a mutual partnership where if we're able to raise the funds for this this particular person to get back into residential treatment um the treatment center is willing to to um reduce their their cost reduce the expense for them to go through so those are that's our mission um somebody that needs help but can't do it we want to do it we want to be able to provide for them somebody said to me a long time ago there's a difference between i need it but i can't get it and i need it but i won't and so we're very we have conversations about the circumstances we require our scholarship recipients to write out their story talk to us a little bit about their circumstances um why kind of like i guess it's an application process that we know those funds are going to go to a good candidate somebody that's serious about their recovery i was writing i was writing a little paragraph yesterday and i was thinking about i wish i wish our recipients could i wish we could share their stories because i am so privileged to be able to see that change and how how other people's charity benefits people who are struggling and suffering but because of hipaa laws and confidentiality it's like our hands are tied and so it's sometimes i feel badly saying uh you know give us this money because we wanna we wanna help people but then i can't show you the product i can't show you what we're doing with it it feels sometimes it feels icky actually um but i think i think individuals who've been there i think individuals who've seen somebody struggle and suffer and not be able to get the treatment um get it um but we want yeah heal the hurt the the the goal is to be something like not in grandeur but something like a red cross or um wounded warrior or something i probably shouldn't say names of other organizations but an organization that just has the ability to put to give people the treatment that they need and someday our vision is that that the clinical work will be in-house that heal the hurt will grow and be able to employ people to provide the treatment and it would be more of a situation of people coming into our program not just us sending people out and being kind of the the financial liaison i guess but that we'd be able to provide that work and that's something that we with hubble creek that we're growing we're creating and building and trying to be able to to provide a variety of services to a variety of populations but that's that's somewhere down the road to to be able to to do those services in-house and so so yeah essentially everything that that comes in every donation and we sell like we'll sell some t-shirts or we'll put you know some memorabilia we've done some giveaways um where i just just through our private practice um we did like a march madness tournament bracket challenge and so i just donated a hundred dollars and just asked people like if you'll if you'll buy in for one dollar you know the winner gets 100 100 of mine and so it doesn't come from our the donation fund it doesn't come from any of that stuff it's it's just something that we we want to generate some excitement for i also think like just talking about it makes us feel good it helps us to feel compassion for other people i don't know the la i really don't know the last time that i traveled a reasonable distance without seeing somebody on the side of the road asking for help in reasonable by reasonable distance i mean like 10 or more miles i have i'm really blessed to have a like a four mile commute between home and my office right now so anytime i'm traveling somewhere other than between work and home i'm seeing somebody struggling and i can't even imagine the number of people who struggle in silence so we want to reach out to those people so the other part is as i talk about this is is simultaneously do we ask people to consider us when they when they think about donating when they think about okay we've got x number of of you know things for charity x number of funds or whatever to consider us but also those who might listen to this are you struggling do you have a loved one who needs help please reach out to me um we're not we're not just taking and taking and taking we we do some of these conversations and have some of these chats because we want to raise awareness that there are resources available because so often that's one of those big barriers that just that just communicates in the mind like oh i can't even do it because i don't have insurance i can't do it because i've already asked my parents for money or i've always already asked my clergy or you know that's just an egregious amount of money just can't do it well let's let's figure it out let's get creative and and let me give an example um right now we're trying to raise ten thousand to put this person through a quality residential treatment and let's say we come up with two thousand maybe clergy can come up with two thousand maybe family could come up with another two thousand and before we know it we're really really close to that goal it doesn't have to be this lofty here's the amount and here's where we've got to get it part of a social worker's responsibility is bringing those resources together and getting really creative and part of my own healing has is has been learning how to give myself some of those highs in a natural way and i get one of those from seeing somebody go from that hellish sorrow and despair to having a new lease on life so to speak or being able to get creative when there's a when there's a little dilemma like we're x number of dollars short where is it going to come from rather than giving up and throwing our hands in the air saying let's talk about it let's figure this out what can we do um so yeah the mission the mission is just to to get people the care that they need whether they can afford it or not the quality care yeah chris i'm imagining i mean you've done just a great segue into it you know how does somebody give how do they connect with you how do they connect with heal the heart um talk about that for a second so that they know how to connect with you we have a really generic website right now it's health.org we on that there's a let me let me qualify this for a second i see a lot of without saying the names of these other these other things where you can go donate to a cause but they take 10 or they take 20 percent some of the organizations that maybe the donation the donation goes to fund their building or it goes to fund their overhead or their salaries of their ceos and um my cynicism is starting to come out here for a second i apologize um so we we opened a venmo and venmo doesn't charge anything for those donate doesn't skim anything off the top and so i felt really good about that that that somebody's donation went directly went completely entirely to this cause um on on our website now i think it gave us the opportunity to open uh to do a paypal as well so on our website you can find our venmo you can find our paypal we also invite people we do have some single parents we do have some individuals who get evicted from their their their home residents and then then they they find new housing and they need things like couches or maybe clothing especially winter coats and things like that we don't want to turn into desiree industries or savers or something like that but there are those moments where somebody says hey i've got this i was going to run it down to the to the thrift store to donate it you know do you have anybody that could use it and sometimes we say no and sometimes we go you know what that's actually just visited with somebody who needs exactly that let's figure this out um we [Music] we want to just connect people with the resources that they need but i've even said to people you know maybe you know if you've got a couple of bucks that's great if you don't but you know somebody who does could you share the message you know just spread spread the word at what we're trying to do in the future um we will be doing this more consistently covet kind of wrecked a lot of stuff for us didn't it oh my god yes but we've been we've been starting to plan some workshops some psycho-education type things some some groups on the topics of relationship issues and communication trauma support groups um teen and child themed things parent uh thought issues that fathers deal with issues that mothers deal with step parents or blended family dynamics and so we've got a we've got a curriculum that's in the rough draft form where we'll be providing these in the community and those a lot of those will be free but with a kind of an optional donation for somebody to come attend but these are some of those things where we feel like as a as clinicians or as as people who've maybe been there i feel a great responsibility to share that with the community again whether you can pay for it or not if you can and you can donate then that's great that's amazing but we want to we want to create a normalcy of of going and getting accessing those resources acknowledging like i need some help i need some support we're going to go to this group we're going to go learn hey kids you know you're on your you know here's a pizza for tonight um mom and i are going to learn how to be better parents for you and that kids are just going my parents aren't perfect like they're still learning talk about getting your mind blown that your parents like aren't know-it-alls right and i think just just setting that trend of we're still learning we're still figuring it out i've been doing this work for a long time and and some people i'm a supervisor and i'm an employer and i'm a director and those things i'm a patient too i'm still figuring it out learning um i don't think i don't think we understand what the word expert means i think we put that that term on a pedestal i think we just expect that it's perfect that it's all-knowing and it just isn't a real thing so um something else that we're trying to do are some retreats and some experiences where somebody may not be able to go to residential treatment maybe they don't need meet the criteria for residential treatment but they need something more than group therapy or individual therapy and so we're in the process of planning some retreats some getaways where just a couple of days um where again it's themed maybe a men's group and we get away and kind of talk about men's things we've got some individuals on our team that will be leading the female only segments and retreats and focusing on those things and one of the barriers that comes from that is well what do i do with my kids or i can't leave my family i can't leave my work is us figuring out how to make it reasonable for somebody to get away for two or three days to work on themselves to better themselves so they can then return to whatever those endeavors are and be more efficient and effective in those roles so to just go back yeah our website healthhurt.org um we're on instagram we're we're revamping our our facebook but i think our best bet is for people to to just jump on our website um again health.org so that's incredible incredible work that you're doing chris i just applaud that matter of fact i might have to connect with you and see how i can be a part of that because it sounds uh it sounds like the exact movement we're talking about there needs to be change so thanks so much for being willing to share that and share share what you're doing your vision of that where it's going and um and definitely there's a huge number of people that you are have been instrumental you and your team have been instrumental in helping and so kudos for that as well and um i hope you'd be willing to maybe jump on the show again sometime and you know we'll do an update and see where things are at in a in a bit absolutely i'd be honored that'd be great thank you guys so much thank you for thank you for inviting me on and spending time with me this is very beneficial for me as a as in all those roles that i that i play and all the hats that i wear like i was mentioning before so i appreciate your time yeah thanks for being here appreciate your big heart