Can you heal from abuse? What do I do after leaving my narcissist? What does a healthy relationship look like? These concerns cross the minds of over 20 people every minute, over 28,800 people every day. And the sad fact is, we still don't talk about it enough. Healing from emotional abuse isn't a band aid situation, but it doesn't have to take years either. The lives of millions of other survivors around the world have been impacted by their narcissist. Yours doesn't have to. To show you how to live a free, confident and peaceful life, your host and founder of the healing from emotional abuse philosophy, Marissa F Cohen.
MARISSA: Overcoming narcissism and healing from emotional abuse are so important to your mental health and to living a life of freedom, confidence and peace. Today, we're talking to our special guest Lorraine Patterson about self love and healing after abuse. But before we start, I want to brainstorm ways that I can help ease your healing. Imagine you're standing on a cliff. And on the other side of a deep, deep canyon is the life that you dream of. A partner who connects with you, supports you and empowers you, a partner that makes you laugh and smile, a life filled with freedom and confidence and peace. I've been where you are now, standing on the edge, dreaming of that life. And I've built the bridge between where you are now and that dream that seems so far away. Let me walk you across that bridge and literally hand you the life of your dreams. It's possible! I've walked this path with thousands of survivors who live a free, confident and peaceful life. Let's walk this path together. Don't waste any more time feeling lonely, worthless or exhausted. Schedule a call with me today at scheduleacallwithmarissa.com.
Okay, welcome back to Healing from Emotional Abuse. My name is Marissa F. Cohen and I am joined today with Lorraine Patterson. Lorraine is an incredible survivor who's here today to share her story with us about surviving, her book - Freeing your Heart for Love, and a little bit of insight about how she healed and overcame her abuse. So Lorraine, welcome! Today I'm so happy to have you here. Thank you.
LORRAINE: Yes, thank you Marissa for having me and allowing me to share my story.
MARISSA: Of course. So introduce yourself, tell us a little bit about yourself.
LORRAINE: Yes, so my name is Lorraine, and I am a mother of four boys. Three bonus children and three grandkids, so I'm a grandma. I have a very blessed life. I am married to the love of my life, but it hasn't always been a blessed life. As Marissa explained in my bio, I was at a really young age, I don't remember a lot because I went through a lot of abuse as a child. And so both my parents were both physically and mentally abusive. And so I grew up in that environment of not learning how to love or not even really knowing what love is. And so at the age of 16, I had my first suicidal thoughts. And I didn't know where all of that was coming from. I just knew that I was really sad and that I didn't want to be alive anymore. So I didn't know what to do with those feelings. But what I ended up doing was running away.
So I ran away with a boyfriend of mine who ended up being my husband, he was my first husband. And I married him at the age of 17. My mom's husband at the time convinced him to marry me when I came back home. And so I ended up marrying him and leaving that chaotic household, thinking that I was going to go into my happily ever after. But what I ended up doing was just going into nine more years of mental and physical abuse. So I married him at the age of 17. I was with him for nine years. And he was, let's say mentally abusive, meaning he would always put me down. We had two beautiful boys. But he was cheating on me all the time. He was an alcoholic. He was arrested for dealing drugs, so he went to prison for three years. So I was left to take care of two small children on my own while running a family business. So that was really hard. I was so young, I was still trying to figure out my life. I was in my 20s, so I was trying to figure out my career. I somehow managed all of that while he was in prison. But it also gave me the strength to finally leave him. So when he went to prison, I felt like I was released from prison because I could never leave him. He had this control over me. And because I married him at such a young age I didn't really have the strength to speak up for anything in that marriage at all.
And so I finally got away, we divorced but then I still was attracting controlling men. Controlling, unavailable men. I was putting myself in situations that were unloving and disrespectful to myself, my body, my soul, because I didn't know what love was. I was seeking for love outside of myself. And so I was most looking for it in men. So my whole story that I write about in my book is just about going through all of these bad relationships because I met and married a second guy, which wasn't a bad guy.
But because I was so broken inside, I didn't realize how to be in that relationship. And he also still had that control over me, because my dad was a controlling man. And I didn't realize that until later on that I was attracting how I felt inside, I was attracting those people in my life. And so I married him for about six years, we had two boys. And so I did have two beautiful boys out of that marriage. But that marriage didn't last. And when I divorced him is when I was in my 30s. And that's when I almost took my life. So that suicidal depression never went away from the age of 16, to my 30s. And so I almost took my life, but then I stopped myself, I heard something that night, and I write about it in my book about the experience, because when you're in that dark place of you don't want to be here anymore you just feel different things, you hear different things. And I heard something that night, and I ended up not taking my life and the next day, I got therapy.
And the therapist told me if you take your life, you will break your children. And I didn't want to repeat that cycle of having broken children because I was a broken child. So I just kind of started working towards removing that feeling of being so depressed that my life wasn't worthy enough. And I discovered spirituality, I started practicing positive affirmations. And I started working on myself, but I still wasn't there with the love part. So it still took me probably another gosh, until I turned 42 is when I really woke up.
And that was in my third marriage, which is what I call my rock bottom relationship. Because that marriage actually broke me, that broke my soul. He had this illicit fantasy where he wanted me to make love in front of him with other men. And I didn't know he had this fantasy until after we married. And so I thought this was going to be a one time thing. But he wanted it all the time, it became this regular thing. And I felt like I needed to stay and do this for him. Because if I didn't do this for him, he would leave me and I would have three failed marriages. So essentially that thought in my head essentially broke me and after six months of being married to him, I couldn't do it anymore. And I woke up one day, well it was the last time we had this encounter. And I just remember looking at myself in the mirror, and it was just a hollow person. I was seeing myself going back to that depressive state that I was in that I said I was never going to go back to. And I started slipping back to that dark place. So finally I just woke up and said, I don't want to do this anymore. I don't want this for my life. I deserve a man who loves and respects me. And I just divorced him and I started working on myself. And it still took me a couple more years to learn that lesson that I needed to learn in life, to love myself and discover self love.
And so that's when I transformed my life, was at the age of 45. And I met my husband who I'm married to now very happily married since 2019. But I couldn't have gotten to where I'm at today if I didn't discover that self love for myself. My heart basically had to break wide open to allow the love that I deserved in. And so I realized that, but it took me 29 years to get to that point in my life.
MARISSA: Thank you for sharing your story. And you brought up so many fascinating points. I just want to talk about all of them. So first and foremost, I don't think people realize, unless you experience it how much your childhood and the relationships that you grow up around, influence and impact the way that you perceive love. So, like you had said, you grew up feeling like emotional and mental abuse were normal. And so that shaped a lot of your relationships. Can you expand on that just a little?
LORRAINE: Yeah. So my parents, I don't remember them hugging me. I don't remember sitting on their lap, when kids are playing I don't remember going to the park. I don't remember a lot of the loving things that my parents used to do with me as a child. And that's all I knew. I thought chaotic life and abuse was normal, because that's what I grew up in. So when I was getting involved with these unavailable men, I kept telling myself, well, this is my life. This is who I am. And that was like my thoughts all the time. So each and every time I would meet somebody it would basically just be for sex. I ended up being just somebody that was like a sexual object. And until I realized my self worth and my value, I didn't get out of that cycle. It was one after the other, after the other, after the other. And every guy, I would just cry because I'm like, why is this happening to me, but it was what I was attracting because of how I felt about myself. I hated myself, I hated my body. I said negative things to myself all the time; that I was a horrible mother, I'm a loser, I'm an idiot. All of those thoughts were in my head. Now I don't say those at all. It's always I am loved, I am enough, I am worthy. And it's all these I can do it. It's more positive statements, instead of those negative statements that we tend to put in our head that really, really messes you up. I mean, it doesn't do you any good for your life at all?
MARISSA: Absolutely, I find that we tend to, just as survivors, we tend to mirror and repeat the negative things that people say to us. And then we do the most damage. Other people can say horrible things to us, and we can kind of let it bounce off. We can build that resilience, but when we're the ones saying it to ourselves, we're really deeply hurting ourselves. I mean, even down to our biology, we're really messing up our brains. So would you mind and I don't know if you're comfortable with this, would you mind sharing some positive affirmations that you use to help build yourself up? Was there anything specific?
LORRAINE: Yeah, so I follow Hay House. Louise Hay, that was the first person that I found with positive affirmations. And she's with Hay House, she discovered Hay House, she passed away. But I still get her calendar, which is sitting on my counter every day, it's just a calendar you can tear off. So a lot of her stuff is self love affirmations. And so I started practicing self love affirmations where I put it in my bathroom mirror so that when I go brush my teeth, I'm reading it every single day or I get like deck of cards through Gabby Bernstein who I adore. And I love Hay House. I say that Hay House saved my life, because discovering Hay House turned my life around for the good. And so you know, there's different things I read. I read unconditional love for myself type affirmations, the universe, I trust in the universe and the process. And so a lot of my affirmations are, the universe has my back, I trust the universe, I trust the process. And it's just a lot of adding I am in front of statements for me. And I look it up on Pinterest. Pinterest is a huge resource that I love looking at positive affirmations and it's all over my house. Live, love, laugh is something that I repeat constantly. I even have it tattooed on my arm.
MARISSA: Oh I love that.
LORRAINE: I grew up in an abusive home. And so I am the kind of person that needs to remind myself, even today, I'm going to be 49 this year, 16 years old is when I was depressed. But even today, I still have to remind myself that I am worthy. And it's just something that I think is never going to go away. It's just something that I have to work on every single day of my life. Because I can be that person that goes back to that sad place, I just choose not to.
MARISSA: Good. And I'm glad that you keep making that choice but like you said, it's work every single day. And I also have experienced abuse. And I am also constantly reminding myself. Something that I tell people all the time is to make a list of three things that you love about yourself. Even if you can't think of anything, ask somebody that you respect and love, three things about you that they love, put it on your mirror and repeat them to yourself three times a day every day. And I still do that, I've been doing that I don't even know, probably for 11 years, and it has never let me down. But what it does do is it allows me to catch my negative thoughts and say, nope, that's wrong. I'm not going to say that again. It makes you more self aware I think.
LORRAINE: Yeah, my first husband, he did a lot of damage to me. And he used to tell me that my nose was big. So for the longest time, I hated looking at myself in the mirror because I'm like, God is my nose big? I would say that to myself. And now I'm just like, I'm beautiful with my big nose, or without a big nose. I don't care.
MARISSA: Absolutely. And it's not funny, but it's funny that you say that, because I'm of Jewish heritage and we have that stereotype of having really big noses. And so growing up I also had a really big nose and that was like a bullying point for people. So I had this very similar issue. And what I did was I went in knowing that my nose was a part of my heritage and it was part of my family. And so now I can look at myself in the mirror and love myself in photos. And I'm glad that you also found a way to be able to love yourself and not that you don't deserve it. But sometimes words really stick.
LORRAINE: Oh yeah, it stuck with me for a really long time. I mean, all the way through. That was in my 20s when I was with him, but all the way through the 30s. But now I'm totally confident and comfortable in my own skin.
MARISSA: Good because you're beautiful. So tell us about your book Freeing your Heart for Love.
LORRAINE: Yes, my book. So I had talked about writing this book for over a decade with my friends. My friends would always share my story, like what I just shared a part of it with you, and they would always tell me, oh my gosh, you should write a book about your life. Consistently! Or like people would live through my life, because somehow it was so exciting. But they didn't know how sad I was. So I talked about it, I joked about it. And then in April of last year, I joined a virtual writing workshop with this healthcare company that I was working for. And it was just for fun, literally, like just to do writing prompts. But when I started doing the writing prompts, I started crying, because I was writing a lot about my past. And I don't know where this emotion was coming from. And something just told me, I think it's time to write your book. I just started typing in April of last year. And then I just dove into learning how to write a book. So I knew that I wanted to write a book, I knew my passion for writing, it was to inspire others and to help other people who are going through similar struggles. I wanted to share my experiences that way in a book. That's all I knew. And so I dove into like a 7-day writing challenge, I dove into a writer's community, I joined a book program, I got a book coach. And I just started investing my life into this book. And so I finished the manuscript in December of last year, I'm now done with everything completely, and I'm ready to print and I'm releasing in April of this year.
MARISSA: Congratulations! That's an amazing story and an amazing journey.
LORRAINE: Thank you and this is a huge accomplishment for me, because I never read books. I'm not a book reader. So to write a book was like, Oh my God, I wrote a book! I even cried tears of joy, because I can't believe I wrote a book. But it's already reaching so many people. I've been on a lot of podcasts, people are reaching out to me on Instagram that don't know me from all over the world - Iceland, New York, everywhere, London, and they're telling me how much I'm inspiring them. So I know that this book is going to take off because I was ashamed. I was like, I don't know if I want to put this out, this is like my most vulnerable experiences, especially about my third marriage. Nobody knew about this fetish that my husband had, I wasn't going to share it with anyone. But I feel like if there's a woman out there, or even a man, I think it happens to men, that if you don't want this for your life, you don't have to stay. There's a man out there or a woman that loves you unconditionally. You don't need to do this to your body to be loved.
MARISSA: That's an amazing revelation. And I think that it really impacts way more people than we know of, because like you, they're embarrassed to talk about it or felt uncomfortable talking about it. But this kind of thing, and these fetishes, and these preferences that people have that are closeted, can make you feel really bad about yourself, or make you feel uncomfortable or uneasy, and then you're trapped. So I'm really glad that you were able to open up about it and maybe not feel comfortable with it having happened, but feel comfortable sharing that part of your story and your life. And I think that's what makes you so relatable, and so easy to talk to, because you're just so open and confident and willing to share. So thank you so much.
LORRAINE: Just to add on to that is that if people are in that type of relationship, and they're okay with it, then that's okay. But I feel like I wasn't okay with it but I stayed because I was so scared that this guy was going to leave me. And I thought he was the end all, this was it. I wasn't going to have anybody else. I had four kids, I'd been through two marriages, nobody's going to want me. But I got all that out of my head. And I said, you know what, I deserve to be loved completely and respected and valued, because he didn't value me. He didn't respect our marriage. And that's not okay, if that's not what you want for your life.
MARISSA: Absolutely. I was not trying to kink shame. But there's definitely a societal standard, that you get married and that's it. Even now, it's still oh, you got divorced, ooh. But getting divorced twice, there's such a stigma with that. There's nothing wrong with that. We are human and we grow and we change, and so getting divorced and remarried and dating around like, none of that is a problem. We just need to change the way that we perceive it and we need to change the way that society responds to it.
LORRAINE: Yeah, because I mean, I was ashamed to tell people I was married three times. It's like, whoa!. Now you're married four times. I'm like, but I don't care because my husband truly is the man that I'm supposed to be with. I truly truly know that now.
MARISSA: You mind if I ask how you know that? Like what is it about your relationship that makes you know that he's right?
LORRAINE: There's so much so. So a psychic told me I was going to meet him, it's all in my book. She told me, I was going to meet them by the end of 2017, or the beginning of 2018, or I was never going to meet him. And I didn't know how I was going to meet him. But I met him in October of 2017. And he is exactly the person that she said he was going to be. She said, he was going to love you unconditionally. He's going to love your kids like they're his own. I've been with many guys, even past marriages that I was in and nobody loved my kids as much as he does. And so that I knew was the number one reason because the reason why a lot of these relationships didn't work in the past is because they didn't love my children. And if you don't love my children, then you don't love me. My children come with me. I'm not going to give up my kids. And there were thoughts in the back of my head sometimes, which is crazy to even think that that I'm going to choose a guy over my kids, that's not going to work. So that was the number one reason. Number two is that he just takes care of me. I had a surgery that happened before we got married and he stayed by my side the whole time, there hasn't been any man in my life that has supported me that much, or cared for me that much. As well as my book. There's things in my book that he didn't know. And so I had to be open and honest with him and tell him, listen, there's things in my book, I need your support before I start writing this book, otherwise, the book is not going to come out. And he said, no, I support you 100%. And he didn't judge me with these past experiences. And he accepts me for who I am. And so that's how I truly know that he is the man that I'm supposed to be with. Because there hasn't been any other man in my life that has treated me the way he treats me.
MARISSA: That's incredible. Take notes guys.
LORRAINE: True love does exist. I keep saying that.
MARISSA: It does. It really does. And don't lower your standards, right? Aim for exactly what you want, because anything less isn't worth it.
LORRAINE: Yeah. And it doesn't matter how old you are. I met him at 45. And there's a lot of women out there, you hear it, you see it on the internet, even on TV. Oh, my clock's ticking. I'm 30, am I going to be single for the rest of my life? Those are all the wrong thoughts. And that's the thoughts I had, until I said at the age of 45. I'm like, you know what, if I don't meet anybody, I'm perfectly fine with that. And that's when my husband came into my life. But it's like, you can't force the outcome. You can dream about your dream man but the universe will bring you what you manifest. You can't force it, like say, Oh, I want that guy. And that guy is going to come to me. It's just doesn't work that way.
MARISSA: No, I agree. I love that. Thank you. So where can we pre-order your book? Because it comes out in just a month. That's so exciting.
LORRAINE: Yeah, I know.
MARISSA: You're to be over the moon.
LORRAINE: I'm so like crying tears of joy. Because it's like, I saw the book cover, the back of it, I just finished the back of it and I'm like, Oh my God, I'm an author. But yeah, it's on pre-order now at freeingyourheartforlove.com, there are bonuses if you preorder it. Entered to win a Kindle, my author Q&A and my first chapter for free, and then the book comes out end of April. So yeah, you can go to my website, freeingyourheartforlove.com, and all my social media handles are on there too.
MARISSA: Awesome. Thank you so much. If you could give survivors one piece of advice, what would it be?
LORRAINE: You know, I would say forgiveness. I didn't realize how much I didn't forgive myself for things that I've done in the past until I wrote this book last year. So I would say forgive yourself, and forgive those that have hurt you in the past. Because it really is freeing to have that feeling of not holding on to that hurt anymore. So that would be the one thing that I learned about myself at the age of 49. I keep saying my age because it's crazy to think how long it took me. And that was the reason why I wrote this book, it's because I want somebody who's younger to not have to wait until their 40s to figure it out. Like you can read my experiences and know that you don't have to go through that.
MARISSA: That's a beautiful message. Thank you so much for all the work you're doing for survivors of abuse and assault and thank you so much for sharing your story with us and with the world. I think that you're going to make a huge impact. So thank you very, very much.
LORRAINE: Thank you so much.
If you enjoyed this podcast you have to check out www.marissafayecohen.com/private-coaching. That's www.marissafayecohen.com/private-coaching. Marissa would love to develop a made for you healing plant to heal from emotional abuse. She does all the work and you just show up. Stop feeling stuck, alone and hurt and live a free, confident and peaceful life. Don't forget to subscribe to the Healing from Emotional Abuse Podcast and follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/marissafcohen and Instagram at Marissa.Faye.Cohen. We'd love to see you there.