Patreon Subscriptions Available Now! Head to the Patreon Page for more information.
Feb. 7, 2023

A Bus Ride to Finding Hope: Overcoming Childhood Trauma to Start Anew | Pamela Topjian

Content warning: This episode discusses depression, suicide ideation, and abuse. Please take care while listening.

Pamela Topjian shares her inspirational story of overcoming childhood neglect and trauma to live a life she loves.

Content warning: This episode discusses depression, suicide ideation, and abuse. Please take care while listening.

Pamela Topjian shares her inspirational story of overcoming childhood neglect and trauma to live a life she loves.

“I left this husband that was an alcoholic, drug abuser who abused me. I left him, I went down a path of deep depression, high anxiety, get on this bus sort of last-ditch effort.”

Pamela faced depression and suicidal thoughts but took a friend’s suggestion to start a new life by moving to California. Despite not knowing how to go about it, she researched, and two weeks later, she was on the bus. In this episode, Pamela shares her story of how childhood trauma affected her marriages and how she eventually advocated for herself to find joy in her life, including a respectful and loving marriage, writing, painting, and speaking about her life story.


In this episode, we discuss how:

1. Pamela’s childhood trauma affected her marriages.

2. She considered suicide but was encouraged by a friend to leave town and start fresh somewhere else.

3. Pamela advocated for herself and eventually found joy in her life, including a respectful and loving marriage, writing, painting, and speaking about her life story.


Listen to this episode to hear about Pamela’s incredible transformation journey and how talking with someone else can help unlock things in us that we didn’t know before and bring comfort. Pamela Topjian is an inspirational figure, having overcome a childhood marred by neglect and abuse, two toxic marriages, and a battle with PTSD, anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts. After a cross-country trip alone, she experienced a breakthrough and has since dedicated her life to helping others. She is a board-certified hypnotherapist and author and has moved to Northern California with her third husband. Through her moving memoir, Topjian seeks to provide solace and encouragement to those in similar situations, proving that it is possible to make it through the darkest of times and live a life of fulfillment.

Connect with Pamela -



Please subscribe to "The Life Shift" wherever you listen to podcasts. If you enjoyed this episode, please take a moment to rate the show 5 stars and leave a review! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️


Get access to ad-free episodes released two days early and bonus episodes with past guests through Patreon.


Other episodes you'll enjoy:

From Surviving to Thriving: Overcoming Trauma & Finding Purpose | Sarah Blankenship


Connect with me:






Hosted on Acast. See for more information.



I'm Matt Gilhooly and this is the life shift. Candid conversations about the pivotal moments that change lives forever. Hello, my friends welcome to the life shift podcast. I am here with a new connection Pamela. Hi Pamela. Hello, great to be here. Thank you. Thank you for joining me. 

We you are my first twitter guest. Yeah. How fun. You just never know. Do you just never know. 

I had, I had a guess where I was talking to about kind of the things in podcasting that we want to do and and try out and she was like you should try twitter, I'm trying to get more in there and I was like twitter, I don't know, so I have been in there and just kind of playing around and talking to people. I've really curated my list to a smaller, mostly podcasters are mostly people interested in podcasting to keep it kind of nice and tight for me. Exactly. And so we connected because I was just curious if you know with with my podcast being the life shift podcast, I was curious if other people have ever sat down and thought about the one moment that changed everything in their life. That one thing that shifted everything and I guess it made you think because you responded Yeah, yeah. I have so many things that happened in my life that were life shifts for me but I answered to you and said the very first thing that came to mind was a time that I got on a bus on a three day ride across the country with a one way ticket. Um Just moving as a last ditch effort, I was in a bad mental state and I was suicidal and it was just kind of like okay I'm gonna do this and I was just numb and I just sold everything or got rid of everything, got on a bus, moved across the country and of course how can that not be life shifting? Right? Yeah, well since you left, let the cat out of the bag early, which is good. 

I mean I think people are gonna be like curious of how you got to this point, so why don't we or why don't you paint kind of a picture of what your life was like as far back as you want to go. That brings us to this moment in which you needed to get that one way ticket and get rid and like burn everything to get to where you needed to go. Yeah, so um I have lived through a life of trauma from childhood and onto adulthood, just one thing after the other and um I would have just divorced my second husband um who was abusive in every way and the first husband was also abusive but just sort of verbally and emotionally and I like to say that I kind of you know, jumped out of the frying pan and into the fire, you know from the first marriage to the second marriage I finally left that second marriage um and I thought, oh, this is, this is gonna be good now, you know, now everything will be great. Yeah. Um, now I can live my life, I'm independent, I'm free. 

I got away from him and, and I didn't realize that the whole childhood leading up to that point was going to crash down on me. I didn't realize that it was all connected at that moment. I didn't realize, but then I started having nightmares. I started having, you know, like night terrors and just being really fear, fearful and depressed and I couldn't get out of that. 

I didn't understand where that was coming from. I thought everything's going to be great now, you know? And um, so it was a year I was living on my own mentally, just going down down, down mentally. And um, so then there was a friend who was talking about moving to California and said maybe that's what you want to do and, you know, just start over and I was like, hmm, I don't know, I can't imagine that I'd be able to do that, you know? And so I started looking into it. And two weeks later, two weeks later, I was on the bus, I mean, I was at a point of I was thinking of ways for suicide. 

I was, I didn't think that, you know, I was gonna get better. I saw myself sinking deeper and deeper and I thought, why not? You know? And um, was there something? 

Well, okay, so let's let's back up a little bit. I don't wanna, I don't wanna have you expose anything you don't want to. But I think, you know, have a lot of, a lot of people have experienced childhood trauma in a variety of ways. And I think that many people are not given tools as we grow up and especially like your generation, my generation, I don't know what generation you're in, but I'm assuming that we're in similar ones, but I feel like we weren't given the tools to address these or our tools were, here is the broom, here is the rug, sweep them under and tomorrow might be better and we kind of just try to carry on with that backpack of burden. Do you think that your first marriage was a product of finding something that that was connected to your childhood trauma like without intentionally doing it? Absolutely. I think that I was really looking for that family unit. 

I had never had that growing up and um speaking of having tools, being taught tools, I didn't have, I was neglected, I didn't have my parents around. Um I was very alone a lot of the time we moved a lot, we lived in poverty. So I had no parental guidance, I had um no kind of parental um interaction or you know, wasn't taught very much about anything. And uh so my first, so I ended up as a teen mother and from there, my son was getting about, I don't know if he was between three and five years old and I started thinking about, you know, I was already working in day care and doing pretty well on my own with him as a single teen mother and uh, I was looking, thinking I wanted to have another baby, have a sibling for him and sort of grow up a little bit more, you know, I was ready for adulthood and I wanted to have that family unit. So I started looking for somebody that was like, I wouldn't date um, somebody that wasn't like husband material, you know, and yeah, so, um, so that's what happened and I think that when you are in a state of um, when you don't have self confidence, when you don't know yourself, I think that you attract people that are more controlling just because they're able to and you know, just some sort of the law of attraction kind of brings those people into your life because you admit that kind of vibration or energy um that you can be sort of controlled or that you don't have the self confidence to stand up for yourself and that, so definitely to get back to your question, definitely my childhood lead up to that first marriage. Yeah. And even, you know, even in that story of, you know, your child is a certain age and now you want to create a family for your child because probably because you didn't have that and you wanted to give your child everything that you didn't have. 

Probably in spite of the fact that you didn't know how right. And I didn't even realize that I didn't know how like at that time I did not realize that the whole childhood, you know, you were existing, you were you were trying to do the things and I think a lot of that, I think a lot of people can relate to kind of just going through life filling gaps that we didn't know we had, you know, just buy a product of the steps that we're taking that we think are forward. You know, and maybe they were maybe finding your first husband was the step that you needed to get to this version of you, right? It wasn't a healthy one, but maybe it was healthy in the long run. Yeah. I totally believe that, you know that everything we do in life, you know, everything that has brought me to where I am right now, you know, couldn't have happened without everything that I've been through. And I know that that's kind of common and a lot of people say that, but it's so true. 

You know, just a few years back. You know, probably 56 years back. I would have had so many regrets. 

There's so many things I would have said that I wish this didn't happen. I wish this didn't happen. But now I'm at a place that I can say, well I had to go through that to get to where I'm at now. And so I don't regret any of it. I don't wish any of it didn't happen. 

So yeah, it's hard and I think a lot I was talking to someone earlier today about trauma and about how in that moment, first of all, you just don't think that you'll ever get out of this particular trauma and you can't imagine that anyone else is facing what you're facing and you feel very alone. So I'm imagining a lot of those moments in your childhood kind of, you know, you put them aside when you had had a child and you were trying to take care of this child, then you were trying to find protection I guess maybe in a marriage or something that that kept you feeling, you know, less traumatized. But then you found that space that was also traumatizing and then try to get out of that one into the fire, right? 

Um yeah, I don't think that you realize at the time that you're trying to create something from the trauma, you know, something that you were missing. You don't realize that at the time and you don't have the tools to know what a good relationship is, you know, to know how to, you know, right, right to play your part. You know, I don't want to sit here and you know, I'm bad talk my ex husband's but you know, it's I played a role in those relationships too and you know, you have to learn to, you know, you learn as you go and learning to stand up for yourself and what you will and won't accept and um just learning how to collaborate sort of or or you know, just to have a relationship and to raise Children together and stuff, you just, there's so much that goes into your childhood and like you said modeling, whether it is, you know, um I I know your story of losing your mother and you know, even if it's grandparents or other people, aunts and uncles or or step parents if you have that, you know, to look to as what the relationship is supposed to be in a good marriage, then that's you know, then that's just as good as having your a good family unit when you're young with your biological mother and father. Oh, for sure. Yeah, it was interesting. 

I think to your point of finding or the trauma piece and like seeking out things but not understanding. I think an example for me is very much, you know, when my mom died, I sought Any female figure to be that mother figure whether that was my 3rd grade teacher that I was in touch with for many, many years after or my grandmother took over the role or my friends, mothers, I got really close to them. And it wasn't until maybe recently where I realized, wow, I was really seeking the thing that I felt was missing in my life. And so I guess in my case that was a good thing for me, you know, I didn't I didn't it didn't create more trauma, I guess is another way of saying that. So, you know, when you left your second husband, you said that you were in just such a state, like a depressive state, a suicidal ideation, Did you have those feelings prior to that, or was that like, something new when you were on your own? 

Yeah, that was new. That was new for me because my mother. Um so I lost a sibling when I was a young teen. And so my mother had already been through losing a child and I never thought of, you know, I never had suicidal thoughts before that time, but at that time, one of the things that helped me was I didn't want to put my mother through that again, and it wasn't um a lot of people say it's my Children that have kept me here because I wanted to be around for them, but I was feeling like they'd be better off without me, you know? 

Um But yeah, that was the first time because I felt so out of control, I could feel myself, you know sinking deeper and deeper and not having the tools or not having people that I knew that I could reach out to um I had tried to find counseling just on my own, you know, counseling or therapy and I just wasn't able to get to that point, it was like everything that I could, you know, everything I can do just to get out of bed and get myself to drive to these places and um you know and ask for help. I even went to the emergency room and you would think that they would have, you know, I don't think I said I was suicidal, I think I was just saying I'm so anxious and I don't I just need help. I can't really take care of myself so much. I knew I wasn't I knew I wasn't safe alone, not just because I was suicidal, but I like, you know, I just was forgetting to eat and wasn't able to work and um just really, really down. 

So um so yeah, I just felt myself getting deeper and deeper not having this a way out of it. So that's where I started thinking of suicide and and started thinking seriously, you know trying to make a plan, how am I going to do this? You know what's the best way to do this? 

It's I mean I'm sorry that you went through those periods of your life and I know you said that you know it brought you to where you are now, but in that moment it's so hard and you know what struck me and it's so interesting that you actually went to the emergency room and asked for help and what's interesting to me is I wonder if not enough people ask for help so they weren't sure what to do, you know in a sense that like they had they had sent me to the we in that town, they had a mental health center, they sent me there and when I went there I had to fill out I had to wait for a long time, which was really hard and um I had to fill out a bunch of paperwork and that was really hard and someone came over because I had been sitting there for hours, you know waiting and then had the paper, someone came over to help me with the paperwork and then when I left then they sent me on my way that they'll get back to me after the paperwork and everything. And I went back to my car and you know it's hard to drive even, I mean every little thing you do is so hard and after that was a trauma traumatic experience just in itself. I had went to the emergency room, then I went to this mental health center, I was in there for hours, went back to my car and just was crying and sobbing and just waiting until I can bring myself together enough to drive home safely, You know what year, what year was this? So this is Um 2014 or 15? I was hoping you were going to say like in the 19 80s or 90's. 

I know it sounds like it right. It makes me it makes me so sad and you know, I talked to so many people, you've been listening to some of these episodes and so much of our conversation is about mental health and taking care of ourselves and to hear that society and the structures that were given, make it really hard to take care of ourselves because you know what mental health, you can say that word and sure we can say, oh I'll have a spa day, that's not what it's about. We might need real help. 

There's something that we can't do and if we're strong enough, like you're so strong to go to seek help. Like that's really hard when you're in such despair and to not get it, it Just blows my mind that that that the structure is so hard. I mean, and I was hoping you were gonna say the 90s or something so recent, that being said, I hope Even in the last, I want to say the last like five years or 10 years, you know, I feel like we're getting better. I think people are talking about it more. I think it's more it's less taboo if you will, but just hearing that story and knowing it was only like eight years ago. Yeah. What do you think? You know, I don't want to get really dark here but what kept you from you know creating that plan and and moving forward in that dark dark space? 

Well, I still was concerned for my mother, you know, I still didn't still was you know, aware enough that I didn't want to um you know upset her that much more. Um I also, you know, just I was looking for help, I couldn't get it and it was that's when it got really serious, the you know the feeling of just wanting to end it and I was I think I was still in that space when this friend said to me, you know, maybe you just need to get out of here and go somewhere far away and start fresh somewhere because I was still in the town where um I had divorced my abusive husband and part of the fear I thought part of the fear because I was so fearful and I thought that a lot of that was worried about him, him finding me, you know um I don't think, you know if I staying there, so leaving and going somewhere far away where he didn't know where I was might be helpful, but I don't think that that was really the fear but that's what I was thinking. It was yeah, it was what was it about like your friend just saying that off the cuff that like maybe planted a seed in your head, was there something special about that moment? Hmm that that's a real life shift, isn't it? When they said, when they said that, I think it was just a last ditch effort away to, to avoid, you know, um suicide, It was just another, I feel like if it was a different time, if it was a week or two before that and that friend said something, do you think, do you think there was something about that moment that was like, oh, like you had this glimmer of hope of some sort? 

Yeah, I was just gonna say, I think it was at a point that I felt hopeless, I was at the very last, you know, I was hopeless. It was at the very last bit of effort to try to save myself and I was at a loss, I felt hopeless and so there it was, well maybe I could, I, at first I thought it was ridiculous at first, I thought, yeah, right, you know, like I'm really just going to be able to pick up and go somewhere I've never been, I don't know, you know? And so then I started started looking into it, which is surprising to even me that I even just started looking into it. 

So I was in a lease, I was renting a little house and I said to my landlord, which I was already late on my rent. Um so I said to my landlord, I may be moving before the lease is up, um just to give you a heads up, you know, I'm I wanted to be, I was in constant contact with them and they were really great, they knew my situation. Um so I just was really communicating with them and I said I may be leaving the state and just wanted you to know, I'll let you know if I'm going to or how this works out, I just wanted to tell you, and um so then they said, well we were thinking of selling the house anyway, can you be out in two weeks? I think that was the thing that made me, and then I said, I'll try, I mean, I know we started this saying that your shift was jumping on that bus, but it sounds like the shift might have come a little bit sooner, you know, and because I know having gone through depression and I, fortunately for myself, have not been as far down the road as you were, but I know how I don't want to say the word I felt, I feel like it's easier to stay in that space, right in that mental space for me, it was much easier to stay than it was to work my way out of wherever I was at that particular moment, but to hear your story and to know that someone, like through, like, like a little, like, like a diamond in like in the mess, kind of, wait a second, there's there's a light coming from somewhere somewhere, right? And then you're like, oh wait okay, so that is a possibility now I'm gonna do a little bit of work and now I'm gonna actually tell someone else that I might be leaving because maybe your brain was like, well maybe they'll tell me that I can't and I have to stay right, like a little bit of that, there's a comfort, right? But now you've got like your your can you be out in two weeks? Did that light the fire? Did you kind of weirdly get excited about that? I was scared when they said that, I thought, oh my gosh, I I felt like I had been punched in the stomach, you know, I thought, you know, how can you move in two weeks, you know, with just two week notice, I mean, you know, how can you just go from? 

I have a lease that has a few months left to out in two weeks, I mean as a child, we were evicted a couple of times and I and I know I wasn't being evicted, but I think that sort of triggered a little bit of that kind of a thing. And so my first thought was, you know, figuring out how I'm going to get to California where I'm gonna actually get off the bus and go to the moment there and then what about my stuff, you know, I had already lost a lot of my stuff in the divorce. Um but I still had accumulated, like I bought furniture was all used in everything, but I filled up this house, you know, I bought furniture, I had clothes of course, and you know, so, you know, I had, I had stuff, we all have stuff, so so I had to figure out um I had to figure out how to get rid of that and what I needed to bring with me and how I was going to get there. And so it gave me a task to occupy my mind and to do something productive and it felt good doing that and it felt like I had saved myself, you know, or that saved me and Yeah, yeah, well it gave me hope. It gave me some hope. 

Like you said, looking around for that light, like, oh, there's a light somewhere. It gave me a little hope when I was at the very, you know, there was no hope whatsoever at that point, the last you were in the last rung of that ladder holding on someone was like, let me lift you up a little bit, even though it was scary, you know, the fact that it gave you like a task it gave you something to, because there's something to be said when, when you're only alone with your thoughts, everything is a lot darker if you have nothing to do, did it help you stop feeling as? Yeah, Yeah, absolutely. Because I had something to do and I felt very, um, you know, before that time I wasn't sure of myself as far as am I, you know, am I okay? 

I knew I wasn't okay, but living alone, you feel like, I don't know that I'm really not worse off than I feel like I am. You know, if if that makes sense, you don't trust your own, you know, how how mentally ill am I? You know, am I should I be living alone? You know? Um I really thought that I'd be going into the hospital or something. 

Um I knew that I wasn't well, but I really worried about myself, my my grandmother had schizophrenia and um just I was just so concerned with totally losing myself. Um if I wasn't, you know, going to um you know, going to go through with suicide, I was worried about my mental state. So that gave me something to do and to realize that I could do something I could help myself. You know? Like I'm looking up for jobs in California, I'm looking up for, you know, a place to stay. 

I'm looking up at the bus schedules. It's like, oh, I'm able to do something, you know, something worthwhile for myself even. And it was really gave me a lot of hope? Yeah. Were growing up, did you feel a sense of independence? Like were you always independent or were you more like seeking someone else needed to help you in some capacity? 

I was I grew up I would say pretty numb. I was not independent. I was alone a lot. 

We were hungry a lot. Um I hid a lot which sounds very strange to say but I hid um I hid out in my closet. I hit up physically hid yeah I hid away in the in a tree looking, I didn't go to school and I hid in the tree and I'd watched the schoolyard from the tree and um just just wanted to disappear I guess. And it's yeah well not not blend in as much as well, blend in with the surroundings but not people. Yeah. Yeah and so we were in a rented house and people were coming through to like an open house and I wasn't in school I was supposed to be in school And we knew these people were coming and talking about blending in with your surroundings and this is gonna sound very strange but I was only nine or 10 years old and I hid in the laundry and I tried to like I laid in the laundry very still while they were walking through and I put clothes like on me so I would look like part of the clothes. 

So talking about blending in. Lucky t I never thought of that. That's so that's exactly, Oh my gosh, Yeah, I mean, I think that, I think it I I mean sure it's not something that everyone would say, but I think it probably explains a lot of your trauma response as a kid, that doesn't have the tools to do anything. So I don't necessarily think it's strange and and part of the question relates to wondering if you were like if this new moment of kind of, planning out what could be was your first taste of really feeling independent and determining your path and feeling like I have control. Yeah. Because throughout my whole childhood, no control, nothing, nothing, everything. 

Yeah, I just had to had to stay alive basically. My first marriage I was, you know, talked down to I was you know, control, there was gaslighting, you know, emotional abuse, verbal abuse, all of that second marriage even worse, you know, physical abuse, everything. Um he was alcoholic and a drug addict and I didn't know that when I first married him. 

Um but so getting out of that, so that that's my whole life. I had I felt like I had no control over my life and I couldn't be me, I couldn't live my own life. I didn't even know me like, just the past few years, I've come to really start to know myself and, you know, starting all these new things in my life and it's just been so amazing. Um you know, I'm in the In the, you know, mid-50s and here I am finding myself and you know, getting my my own life back and um so, so yeah, so that was the first time that I felt a little bit in control of my own path ahead of me. Yeah. You don't have to answer this, but in those other relationships, was that as bad as it was? Was that a comfortable space for you? 

Like, did that feel, I'm trying to think about, you know, like, to my comment before about depression and how it kind of feels comfortable even though, you know, it's not a safe space to be like, it feels like that warm blanket. Like, did you feel like that was your space and you were supposed to be there? And then all of a sudden you were in this space where, where you weren't controlled anymore? 

I think that I felt it wasn't comfortable. It was just, I didn't know how to take control of my own life. I didn't know what it felt like to know myself and know what I even wanted. But did you have the drive to make you think that in those moments? 

Like, did you feel like, oh, I shouldn't be doing this, I need to take a new control over it. Um You mean for when I was getting on the bus and making them when you're when you're in those relationships and you said you didn't really know yourself, did you? Did you know that you should know? I know, I know, I didn't know how to be me. I didn't know that other people really? Yeah. This this like your friend, was it a normal conversation that you regularly had with your friend that they brought it up or was it just like some kind of spur of the moment? 

Well California know that. So he had another friend because he was in the same kind of situation I was and this was like one of the friends that was somebody that we would help each other through our anxiety and our depression and um there was lots of phone calls more so, but sometimes we go for walks and stuff like that. So somebody suggested that to him. So he had a friend in California now, he never came to California. So, but he had a friend in California that said, hey, why don't you come stay with me and you can start fresh, you know? And so that's somebody I didn't know. So then he said to me, hey, I might be moving out of state, that might be a good option for you to start over and and start fresh, you know? So yeah, we hadn't talked about what to do about it, you know, we both felt hopeless. Yeah, it kind of was just like this easily dismissed idea that a lot of people will be like, yeah, what I have all this stuff here. So so you were, you know, you had that conversation and then your landlord was like, hey, can you get out in two weeks? And I'm assuming you made it happen. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. So I ended up, you know, like I said, I looked on the internet for ways to. 

So California is different. I've lived in a lot of different places, a lot of different states and this is the only place I know of that. You can like have live in jobs where cause rent and mortgage and everything is so expensive that there's a lot of homeless here. So there's these live in jobs now. 

I was a licensed nurse for 14 years and I I'm not, I'm former nurse, I'm not a nurse anymore. But that's the only thing that sort of kept me in my marriage is sort of kept me um, you know, being able to function, you know something to, something to do and look forward to and have a purpose. But anyway, yeah, so you could do live in caretaker type jobs where you're like, you know, helping to care for elderly or special needs people and or pet sitting. Um even, you know people that would have two homes or other places that they were going for long term and um, they would want you to do there. Um stay in their home and do home sitting and pet sitting, um, you know, take care of their home and their surroundings and they're in the pets and then also for the elderly. 

So I did I did do that. I found a couple different you know places that I could go a couple um sort of interviews to set up and I was able to do that and I able was able to get off the bus and and start a job and I actually went through a few of them because the first one was a scam kind of a thing and I um and so after that and I thought at that time you know how could this be happening to me you know like how could I get into this terrible situation and you know where I was scared for my life you know even and then you know so I just got out of there real quick you know? Yeah so I just you had practice a little bit before. Yeah. Yeah so so that's yeah so I was able to then I ended up nursing again here because that was the only way I could make a good living and and really do some sort of real work where I could get out on my own and that but yeah what was it like when you sat your butt down in that seat on the bus like and you had left everything. 

I have a good story about that, I don't know if you know the story so it's a three day ride. Excuse me. So it's a three day ride. 

So I leave, I left this husband that was an alcoholic, drug abuser abused me, I left him, I went down a path of deep depression, high anxiety, get on this bus sort of last ditch effort. The person that sits next to me has a water bottle and it's not filled with water, they look sort of disheveled and homeless, which, you know, I didn't think anything of that. They sit next to me and I could smell the alcohol and they're talking and talking and talking. 

I'm just trying, not even trying to be polite. I'm just like, I'm not saying anything, I'm so numb on that bus ride, that whole ride, I was really just numb. Um People say that you're you know, you were brave or whatever, I was like, no, I just didn't care, I didn't care what happened to me. 

But um so then this person spills their drink on my seat, it's like vodka or something, some clear alcohol and it stunk really badly. I stand up right away and they start trying to rub my bottom to get the alcohol to get because it was wet and this is the first day of a three day ride. And when we got, when we got on the bus, we were told, you know, whatever suitcases you put underneath, don't expect to get that when we stop the bus driver at the stops is not gonna go underneath and get everybody's you're allowed to bring a carry on? Well, I just, I had these jeans on? 

I had like, levi jeans on, you know, I thought I'm gonna wear these for the three days, you know, I think I had one shirt, another t shirt or something changed in my purse or my carry on or whatever. So I had to tell the bus driver at the next stop what happened? And that to me, that was another sort of a big shift. Like, I actually, this person wasn't allowed to get back on the bus, You're not allowed to bring alcohol on the bus and they did get me my suitcase so I could change my clothes and I just threw those jeans away. I was like, I'm not just going to roll these up and put them in my suitcase for three days under a bus with soaked in alcohol. Yeah. You advocated for yourself. That was you were you were doing that, you know, it's so interesting that you unveiled that you were a nurse for so long and your responsibility as a nurses to care for others and you were so deep in your space that you weren't able to care for yourself. 

So I feel like it's so common, you have so much ability to do all these other things, but we can't do for ourselves until until that moment. And so at what point in your journey? Did you feel like, like a human again? Did you? Or or for the first time? Really? Right when did you start like feeling like this version of you? 

Probably just a couple of years ago, you know when I when I gave up nursing and I started hypnotherapy and I actually started painting and still continued with pet sitting. Um So really like the pandemic actually is kind of like a really was brought into the space of you know I needed to get out of nursing for the longest time. And that was kind of the thing that helped me do it and I was taking classes for hypnotherapy and I was able to take clients all over. Um you know virtually all over. 

So it didn't really stop that. And um then as soon as the pandemic was, well not over because it's still not really over. Um But You know after 2020 it's like 2021 I started doing a lot of pet sitting helping because I was making my own schedule with hypnotherapy and I just loved I've always loved pets and pet sitting and have helped pets in different ways throughout my life. And so that's really taken off and like I said painting, having my own space to do my own thing, I'm I'm married again and I had went through therapy E. M. D. R. Therapy and so it just really the last 23 years I really you know come into I wrote my memoir and published it and so all these things you know and I'm taking classes now still. 

Um so I'm really just like growing and learning about myself and expressing myself and it's just it's really amazing to me and that's why I decided to publish my memoirs because it's really amazing to me how I didn't realize so much, I didn't realize so much of my childhood in my life before had kept me from who I am today or even knowing this person, you know and I know that people get stuck and it's so easy to get stuck. Like you said sometimes it can be the comfort that I know you know, so um you know I just really it's only been the last couple few years or so that that have come to know me and who I am and yeah and what part of your journey were you ready to unpack that early trauma and and therapy? I know you said you sought out therapy before and that was probably a lot of it was out of desperation and not necessarily unpacking and clearing house in a way, was there anything that triggered you like that you were like I'm ready to face this? 

Yeah I was still having a lot of nightmares and I was reliving the last because there was one last sort of physical attack that made me leave my second ex husband, I had to call the police to get out safely. And that was the last thing that I kept reliving in nightmares. And so when I went for therapy I actually went to my doctor um in California, I didn't have a doctor, I went to a doctor and I said you know I need something for this anxiety and this I was thinking to get medicine, you know is what I went for and so right right, well I had tried before, you know in another place and I so I kind of I guess I forgot that you know, I might be able to get therapy. 

So they they then you know um you know referred me to to therapy and when I was in therapy I said I thought well I don't know what I'm gonna say when I get there. I thought what am I? You know like I you know was physically abused and now I can't sleep now what? You know, I had no idea that like the whole childhood, it was just so amazing to me and I think people need to know that you know Children, we say Children are resilient but I think it comes up eventually or it comes out eventually, you know um even something just a divorce alone, you know, I think it's important to make sure that the kids are okay, you know? Yeah, I think it's I think even just normalizing therapy normalizing because I think I think I've had personal conversations with people that I'm like, you know, they're they're talking about therapy, but they're like, I don't know what I would say. 

It's like, well neither do they. You just go in and you they're trained. You know, they're they're they have a license to do this, right? And so that's not exactly you go and you share and they're like, well what? And then I think a lot of people get like, well I don't want them to know all of it. 

You know, like I want to make it sound nice or package it nicely and it's like, well then you're not ready for therapy, but you Know, like we said earlier, I think we're getting to a space in which therapy is a little bit more normalized and and people are seeking it. I mean for me it was interesting because it took me, I mean you listened to my episode but it took me 20 something years to what I would say unlock that final door of grief with my mom or losing my mom. And what got me was something that seemingly sounded so simple when my fifth therapist told me because it takes a little bit to find the right one, right. You feel comfortable with and you have to do that work. 

But she said to me, she said, you realize that every decision that you've made since since that day you've made as the eight year old version of you out of fear that someone's going to leave you out of fear that something's gonna go wrong, out of fear that you're gonna be orphaned, you know whatever that may be. And I was like You know like I'm 30 something now, why? Like at that point it's like why didn't I realize any of this and to your point and you know it takes enough confidence and courage in yourself to be vulnerable in that sense. But then what you get from it is so worth it, right? Yeah. Whole new life. Yeah. You are reintroduced to yourself. Yeah she that therapist that I went to at that time is the one who who said the actual words childhood neglect and I thought no, you know I wasn't neglected, you know? 

But but I was it was just not not an intentional sort. We think of childhood neglect as parents that are you know, either alcoholics or they're just they leave their kids alone to go gambling or to the bars or just you know or whatever it is. I didn't have that. 

My my father was a deadbeat dad before that was even a term. My mother was trying to take care of three girls. She was working all the time. She thought my older sisters were taking care of me. 

It was it was childhood neglect because I was alone and I didn't have basic needs but that was the first time I realized and then she brought up C. P. T. S. D. You know just um continued trauma throughout your life and so all these things was new to me. So yeah I didn't have to know anything more than than my life you know and what's interesting too about you know childhood And neglecting that and I have to I had two older sisters, one was killed in a car accident when she was 18 just before my 14th birthday. But my other sister asked me when I was writing my book. So a few years ago asked me weren't you? And these are her words farmed out weren't you? Farmed out for a while? Like she didn't remember me being around at all I guess I had pretty good but but she didn't remember that I was even around so my sisters didn't take care of me, they were supposed to stay with me probably I don't know I'm assuming and yeah it's amazing what someone else can unlock in us and then how all these dots can start to connect and you're just like everything makes sense now you know like you're really and it's it's comforting right? Because then you're not you're not like why or what or you know wondering these things so I'm glad yeah I'm glad that you've you've gone through this journey, you can tell in the way that you tell your before story and the way you talk about your current life and your facial express you know like you just seem sit like you're sitting in joy with with what's happened, what's your favorite part of of your new life? Like what what brings you the most joy right now? 

Uh being able to show others that it's possible to get out of that place, you know, between hypnotherapy and you know, doing some podcasts with people, you know, as guests and you know, in my book, you know, just so many different ways days that I'm able to help others to get out of where I was, you know, that is just just amazing to me, I love love, love hearing people's stories and I hope to, you know, help them to you know to um to be able to tell their story and to know they're not alone and to know it's possible to you know, come out of that even when you, even later in life, you know, it's possible. But one thing I don't stop living right Right, right, Yeah, and I just love that I'm so I'm still amazed, I'm so hopeful, like every year since like 2020, I'm like Oh it's been such a great year, I can't wait till the next year and then the next year is so much better and then the next year is so much better, it's just like so amazing to me. I I am in a place in my life that I would have never, never thought I would be never in a million years thought I'd be um even feeling the way I do, let alone, you know, writing, you know, becoming a published author and painting painting things that people want to actually buy and and speaking to people about my whole life story, you know, I just never thought I'd be here or in a, in a truly respectful loving relationship, you know, marriage again, um you know, and even in California, you know, who knew, who knew I'd be here. It's palpable the joy and and how you feel about this and and to your earlier point, you know, you probably had, I hate to say it, but had to experience those, those really low moments to realize how good things are even when you have a bad day now, I bet you're still grateful for certain parts of those moments, you know, of that day. Absolutely, absolutely. Yeah, Well, I I appreciate you sharing your story. 

I like to kind of wrap up these calls with a question and I'm wondering if you could go back to Pamela when your friend suggested California that first time, Is there anything that you this version of you could share with her that would like that fire quicker. Um anything that would light that fire quicker after my friend said that to me, I would say, just go, I mean, don't even think about it, you know, and I think I would say as far as like advice for her is, you know, look deeper into your opportunities when you get there. Um you know, I might tell her that there's gonna be a few more steps, but you're going to be in a place that you cannot even fathom right now, you know? So there's more than hope on the other side of this, there's you know, there's more, much more than just hope on the other side. Yeah. And I bet that you wish you could go back to the nine year old fighting in that laundry and just give her a big old hug. Yeah, yeah. I've done some inner child work and um meditations with for inner child and it surprised me. That's the thing. That's the thing I just she just needed a big hug and to know she wasn't alone. Yeah. You know, I think that it serves the purpose and kind of the reason that I have the life shift is for so long. 

I felt like I was the only one that had ever lost a mother and I knew logically that I wasn't, but when you're in these moments you feel like no one else can possibly be in this spot. And so I I appreciate that you just came on and shared this really deep, dark part of your life and how you were able to find the light a little bit at a time and now you're just living in it. Yeah, yeah, thank you so much. Yeah, thank you for giving me this opportunity. The podcast is amazing. 

I love love, love hearing these people's stories. I just can't get enough of it. Yeah, it's great. People are amazing. Yeah. And you know what, I think it's interesting too because, you know, people may hear your story and although they didn't experience the same exact moments, something that you say, we'll stick with them, right, and that will make them think about something in a different way. 

Or perhaps they know someone that was like you write and they tell them they should go to California, you know, maybe not that exactly, but you know, we never know how our story is going to affect other people and even if they're not in a similar position as us, you know, so I appreciate you taking this time and being a part of the life shift podcast, it just fills my cup every day every time I have these conversations. So thank you, we will share the links to your book and and some of your contact information in the show notes. So if anyone listening wants to connect with you, they can do that. And for those of you listening, if you're enjoying the life shift podcast, please take a moment to rate and review. I would be so grateful. I don't know if it does anything but make my day a little bit better. So thank you for being a part of this and we will see you next week on the live shift podcast. I'm Matt Gilhooly, and this is the life shift, candid conversations about the pivotal moments that changed lives forever.