064 Being a Better Healer, Interview with Susanne Grant
As a survivor of childhood abuse, Susanne left her home, knowing if she stayed, she would die, and if she left, she might have a chance to live. She talks about her realization you can’t make sense out of nonsense. There is nothing that could justify her experiences. This difficult time led her to become a better healer, and allows her to bring closer to others who have experienced trauma.
Read the full interview Transcript
Gillian: Alright dreamers, it's time to get curious. We are going to hear the story of Susanne Grant, an amazing woman who is sharing her journey with us today.
When Susanne was pregnant, her past experiences of child abuse put her on a different road of care from her team of midwives. Thanks to hypnobirthing course she did, and learning how to work with her own medical team, she had her own positive birth experience in May 2014. This birth gave her a new mission in life, and she is now working with women all around the world to help them to heal their birth trauma experiences.
Alright Susanne, i've given us a very brief overview of what you do professionally, and why you do it, but if you can take 1 or 2 minutes, and maybe fill in some of the gaps. Give us a bit more detail, at least as much as you can in 2 minutes time.
Susanne: I'll do my best. First of all, thank you for the introduction, as you already said, my name is Susanne, I'm Dutch and I'm now living in Scotland, where I teach women all around the world to help them prepare for positive birth experience, and I help them heal birth trauma. The reason why I specialize in birth trauma and PTSD is because I was diagnosed with PTSD myself at the age of 17. Gladly I can say at this point in time I've fully recovered and I managed to get past that. But I see a lot of women around me who are not able to let go and they can't find a way that works for them. I decided to train, and specialized in this field, so to say. I work with women all around the world ever since. So that's a very short summary of what I do.
Gillian: Awesome, very cool. Susanne, can you tell us why you think self love is important?
Susanne: Oh, do you have an hour? I notice it more and more also in my own journey, in order for me, especially my family life, to be... I want to say a better me, for lack of a better word. But in order to be the best version I can be of myself I need to put myself first, and there's no shame in... self care isn't selfish. That's why I think this should be, especially, in my course with the PTSD, it's been a long journey to figure out what works for me. What healing do I need, what do I need to do in order to recover?
If I wouldn't have put myself first, it's gonna have an affect on our little girl, of course also in my relationship with my husband. If that makes sense.
Gillian: Yes it does, it does make sense. Susanne, at this point in our discussion I do want to talk about a low point in your life. A time in your journey that there was an obstacle, or a dark night of the soul... can you open up and tell us about what was happening, and how were you feeling?
Susanne: If you want to see the darkest of the dark of my soul, I think that the most difficult time I've been through was when I was 17. It was actually when I left my parents home in order to, effectively survive the situation I was in back then. I was also in my final year of high school, so I was in the middle of final exams. It was either stay and die, or maybe go away, maybe pass my exams, maybe survive. That was pretty dark.
Luckily I had a lot of friends and teachers and support system. I've always been open of how I felt, I think people always appreciate that about me. You just get what you see. I'm straight forward, this is how I'm feeling. Don't need to do anything with it, but this is how I'm experiencing it right now. You can help me or not, if not I'll just help myself. That was a really dark time. Luckily after I left, I did get medical care and support, and started seeing a psychologist, and all those things combined to start the beginning of my healing journey.
Gillian: For a lot of people that would be... I know you say you had to make the decision to stay and die, or leave and maybe survive. For a lot of people that change is so hard. Even though you know that making the change is going to be better, it's still so hard because it's unknown. What did you do to give yourself the strength to face the unknown?
Susanne: That's a good a question. It was 13 years ago, so I need a moment to think back to what I did. For me it was mainly building the support system and making sure that I involve people in what my options were. I could get the help in order to go through that phase. Because like you say, it's not an easy decision, you need to choose between 2 very bad options, so how are you supposed what's the right one, you don't. For me personally, I had this burning desire somewhere in my soul, I wasn't meant to be gone, I wasn't meant to give up, and there was something big for me waiting to happen. In order to get there, I needed to go. If I didn't do it, now we are a decade later now... it's mostly women I work with, would not have the help they get from me.
Gillian: That is so true, right? It's part of the self love, when we don't practice self love, we're not giving what we can to others, and so your practice of choosing self love at that time, and choosing the best decision for you was actually an act of generosity to everyone in your life.
At that time, not that you can look back at that time in your life, what was your biggest lesson that you learned then that's still influencing you today?
Susanne: I'm thinking right now... I think for me the biggest one was "it's ok not to be touched if you don't want to be touched". As you know, in the introduction you just gave, I think people already had a guess of what was going on in my situation at home. For me, just to say "no this is not ok, it's my body, I get to decide who touches it, what's done with it. If you don't accept it, you can go". I think that having that boundary, being ok to be me... me as my physical body, my soul, my spirit, whatever you want to call it. It's ok to have my own personal boundaries and say "no, this belongs to me". I get to decide what I do with it, and I get to decide how I live my life. There is no one who can change anything about that.
Gillian: I think that's an important thing to bring up, because a lot of times when we think of boundaries it's like a mental boundary, or an emotional boundary, or something that's more intangible, but it's important to remember that our body... we can set boundaries with that as well.
Susanne: yes, absolutely. You don't need to just accept everyone taking your energy away, sticking your lights out so to say. You don't need to be involved with those people.
Gillian: For anyone, male, female, old or young, who is perhaps going through a hard with enforcing this physical boundary, this boundary... because it's hard right? It takes a lot of strength to do it... could you give them any words of encouragement to help them find that strength within themselves?
Susanne: From my perspective, that doesn't mean it works for everyone, for me it's starting to practice "no". Even if it's just to yourself. Start holding yourself to a higher standard. If you don't want something negative done to you, you shouldn't do it to yourself. That would be the first step, and when you know you can trust yourself, you know you can do the next step. In other situations, with other people, calmly say "no" this is not ok. I'm walking away from this situation now.
I think that calmness can bring a massive change to the situation because you don't need to go in fighting and swinging in order to get your point across. Most of the time.
Gillian: Most of the time, yes, that's true... sometimes? Maybe.
Susanne: sometimes it's a good strategy, but most of the time, if you have that inner peace, that calmness, you achieve a lot more.
Gillian: Susanne, let's transition now into another time in your life, perhaps it's related to this time, or perhaps it's not... a time in your life when you had clarity about what steps you needed to take to move your future in the direction you wanted. Can you talk to us about a time of clarity, or realization in your life?
Susanne: I think it was prior to that situation when I left.. it's why I decided to start taking those steps. I'd had a very bad day, and I felt suicidal. I wanted to end it all. I remember running to the street thinking the first car was going to hit me, I'm done, I'm happy, and that's it. Done. It was the busiest road in that neighborhood, and there wasn't a car for the next 15 minutes.
Gillian: oh wow, that was a sign right there.
Susanne: Ding, ding, ding, That was the moment I realized, no, this is not the way to go. It's not my time. I've got a gift to give, and at some point I will figure out what it is. Now I need to start taking care of myself, and continue, and that's how I ended up deciding to get the school involved, and my friends and parents of friends, etc. To take those necessary steps to get myself into safety, get myself seen by a doctor, and get medical care I needed, etc. It's a bit prior to your question of what happened to set it all in motion.
Gillian: If you don't mind, because I am very mindful that this is an extreme situation, but if you feel able, can you talk us through that 15 minutes of arriving to the street, waiting for a car to hit you, and then at the end of the 15 minutes realizing that you had a gift to give. Can you recall some of the thoughts, and how they changed so dramatically?
Susanne: Well, my depression was always about feeling empty, as in there was no feeling, no thought, no nothing. At the end of those 15 minutes, I felt I was suddenly light from the inside. There was still the darkness, and the oppression, and everything floating about, but I finally found that spark. I think the best way to describe it is I finally felt my soul. The brief spark that came through all the darkness, that was the best description to realize that feeling of "no, enough is enough".
Gillian: Was it surprising to you to find that within yourself?
Susanne: Well, at this point definitely not. I can't say I'd label it back them as "oh I'm so surprised", I didn't think about it that way.
Gillian: Could you think of how it felt to you? I'm just so... this is such a beautiful process to have, even though it happened in such a dark time... but for you to go from ready to leave this planet, to realizing that you have something to give... to me that is so absolutely fascinating. And incredible and beautiful, and there's not enough adjectives to describe how cool it is.
Susanne: I'm glad there were no cars to be honest. Life got a lot better after that.
Gillian: Now that you think back to that time in your life, what do you was happening? With hindsight, what do you think was going on? Why did this situation play out the way it did?
Susanne: In regards to all the work I'm doing, it gives me great understanding of how the darkness lives in us all. In regards to the birth trauma work I do, I did a session last night with someone and I can completely understand how they feel. It makes my work so much easier, that I can talk to a woman and say "I hear you, just tell me your story, tell me how it was" because I didn't have anyone who understood.
I still have friends who say, we're happy that you're feeling better, but I could never understand why you just can't get over it. And I meant that in the best possible way, but there's a lot of people you have around you who don't understand why something happened to you, and as they say it, just can't get over it. Going through all those phases, and illnesses that came with it, being off balance, and being drained of energy, and all those different aspects- everything I went through is so valuable for me now for the healing work that I do. I think being able to do the work I do, because I went through it, it makes me a better healer.
Gillian: Yes, you know where people are coming from, you can connect with them on a level that someone without your experiences never could.
Susanne: I find it always so difficult when you were taking to the psychologist and you had that brain to brain conversation. You can't make sense out of nonsense. I can't make sense of what happened at home, there's no excuse to make it right in way, shape, or form. There's no point, for me at least, going over and over it with a psychologist and talk about what happened, and how do you want to do... I know already. It doesn't make sense. Just talking about it. It's so important to get closure on those type of things.
Gillian. And that what you do now with other women.
Susanne: Absolutely, absolutely. Like I said, I really think it makes me a better healer. I think the trauma I went through, it wasn't for nothing. It's such a gift that I can give to other women.
Gillian: Alright Susanne, it's time for our Daily Insights.What the one thing holding you back from accepting self love?
Susanne: Being told that I wasn't worth it. That belief that was still so deeply invested in me. I really had to work through that in order to be able to start giving to myself. I just wasn't worth it, so why would you take care of yourself.
Gillian: Who is one person who changed your life for the better?
Susanne: The first one would be my best friend who I met... he was in a high school, that period, but he wasn't in the same high school as I was. The story he told me about his grandparents and how they fought during the war, it put me on a whole path. I actually also did a master in holocaust and genocide when I was still living in Amsterdam. I specialized through my university training, as well as in psychology behavior, of people in difficult situations such as war. That kind of situation. That moment that we sat there and he told me what happened to his grandparents in the second world war, that changed my life.
Gillian: what is the best advice you've ever received?
Susanne: It's ok to be you. That sounds very short, but I think a lot of people try to pretend who they think they should be, or are told to be, or everything else in between. But it's ok just to be who you want to be. Because you're perfect just the way you are.
Gillian: Can you share with us a self care habit that you practice regularly?
Susanne: I love dancing. For me it's self care because I need to move enough. Otherwise my joints start aching. I love dancing with my little girl, she's about 2 1/2 next month. We always, as she would say "shake your boo" to the music. Every time she hears music from the radio to the tv she goes, "shake your boo, shake your boo". It's something I really need, the fire in your soul and the movement and to get enthusiastic about life again.
Gillian: And I feel like dancing is such a good way to get in touch with your body, and perhaps.... and "shake your booty" yeah..
Do you have a favorite quote?
Susanne: I do, I'm trying to recall if I'm saying it right... it's the quote, "whether something is right or wrong often depends on the person who's done it". So that means to me, you can do things the way you can, but it also depends on who's watching you and if they've perceived if you've done it right. So someone who claims to have authority does exactly the same people tend to go, "oh what a great idea", but if you do it they go "nyeh". What you achieve also depends on your audience, whether they like it or not. For me this quote is really helpful... you can't please everyone.
Gillian: Can you share a resource or an app with us to help with our own self care practice?
Susanne: I love the website from BelindaDavidson.com. She has a couple of guided meditations on there on how to clean your aura and your energy and such. For me it has been really helpful, just listening to that on a daily basis, or a couple of times a week just to make sure. You can imagine with all the trauma work I do, and I resonate with the ladies I work with that much... you don't want to hold onto things that don't belong to you. For me it's important to stay grounded, to clear my energy. Take good care of myself so I'm sure that the energy I'm feeling, the body I'm in, the soul that I am, that it actually just belongs to me and I'm not carrying around everyone else's weight from their shoulders.
Gillian: What book are you reading right now?
Susanne: I'm not sure if I can say it on your podcast. I'm reading "Get Rich, Lucky Bitch", from Denise Duffield-Thomas. I've been following her for quite a while and I finally got to where I'm ordering her book last week. It's really interesting to see what she says about the money mindset and how to work through your money blocks, so to say.
Gillian: Susanne, I have one last question for you today. What is the one thing that you are most passionate about?
Susanne: I think it's pretty clear, it's the healing of women. Women, their energy, mother earth as a whole, really giving, helping ladies give back their power and find that light back inside so they can be who they are meant to be.
What was the number one thing that was holding you back from accepting self love?
Being told that I wasn't worth it. That belief that was still so deeply invested in me. I really had to work through that in order to be able to start giving to myself. I just wasn't worth it, so why would you take care of yourself.
Who is one person who has changed your life for the better?
My best friend, who I met in high school. The story he told me about his grandparents and how they fought during the war, it put me on a whole path.
What is the best advice you have ever received?
It’s okay to be you.
What is a self care habit that you practice regularly?
I love dancing with my little girl.
Do you have a favorite quote?
Whether something is right or wrong often depends on the person who has done it.
Can you share with us a resource or an app that we can use to help our own self care practice grow?
There are guided meditations at BelindaDavidson.com about cleaning your aura and your energy that are important to me in my work.
What book are you reading right now?
What is the one thing that you are most passionate about?
The healing of women, and mother earth as a whole. Helping ladies get back their power.
About This Guest:
When Susanne was pregnant, her past experiences of child abuse put her on a different road of care from her team of midwives. Thanks to the hypnobirthing course she did and learning how to work with her own medical team she had her own positive birth experience in May 2014. This birth gave her a new mission in life and she is now working with women all around the world to help them to heal their (birth) trauma experiences.