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Heather Schulien (she/her)

Heather joined Momma on December 26, 2022 live on Twitch to talk about Emotional Struggles in Adult Survivors of Childhood Abuse

About Heather

Heather Schulien is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with over two decades of experience providing mental health care to adults, children, and veterans in Chicago, IL. She earned a Master of Science (MS) Degree in Child Development from Erikson Institute and a Master of Social Work (MSW) concurrently. In addition to running her therapy private practice, she serves on the DEI committee of the National Association of Social Workers-Illinois Chapter. Her specialties include adult survivors of childhood trauma, adoption, anxiety, academic planning, career planning, child development, and depression. 

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References / Things Mentioned During the Stream

Episode Summary

In this deeply insightful podcast episode, I am joined by Heather Schulien as she sheds light on the emotional struggles faced by adult survivors of childhood abuse. The conversation delves into the unique challenges folks encounter and offers practical tools and strategies for healing and self-empowerment.

We begin by acknowledging the emotional toll that childhood abuse can have on survivors and emphasizes the importance of seeking professional help. Recognizing that therapy may not always be accessible to everyone, Heather points out alternative resources, such as educational videos and books by experts.

A significant topic we explore in this discussion is the impact of childhood abuse on self-worth and self-perception. Adult survivors often grapple with feelings of inadequacy and negative self-image, which can hinder their emotional growth and interpersonal relationships. Heather shares an empowering exercise called "Roses and Thorns," a family exercise that fosters open communication and emotional intelligence among family members, helping survivors regain their self-worth and build healthier relationships.

Our conversation shifts to the vital role of self-compassion and self-care in the healing process. Heather emphasizes prioritizing well-being and seeking support from others. We encourage survivors to jot down their worries and tasks before bedtime to prevent intrusive thoughts, fostering a more restful sleep. Mindfulness practices, such as deep breathing exercises and guided meditation, are also something that can combat anxiety and promote emotional well-being.

This episode touches on the pervasive misconception that individuals should handle their emotional struggles alone. We challenge this belief and urge survivors to seek help, whether through therapy, support groups, or trusted friends and family. Understanding that it is okay to ask for assistance is essential for healing and growth.

We wrap up our conversation together by exploring the concept of perfectionism, which often plagues survivors of childhood abuse. Heather emphasizes that striving for perfection is unrealistic and unattainable, leading to further emotional distress. Instead, embracing imperfections and acknowledging one's accomplishments can help survivors build resilience and cultivate a more positive self-image.

Throughout the episode, Heather compassionately addresses the unique challenges faced by adult survivors of childhood abuse. She offers practical tools and techniques to help survivors navigate their emotional struggles and embark on a journey of healing and self-empowerment. This conversation serves as an empowering reminder that seeking support and practicing self-compassion are essential steps towards reclaiming emotional well-being and finding inner strength.

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

You may write me down in history

With your bitter, twisted lies,

You may trod me in the very dirt

But still, like dust, I'll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you? Why are you beset with gloom? ʼCause I walk like I've got oil wells Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,

With the certainty of tides, Just like hopes springing high,

Still I'll rise.

Did you want to see me broken? Bowed head and lowered eyes? Shoulders falling down like teardrops, Weakened by my soulful cries?

Does my haughtiness offend you? Don't you take it awful hard ʼCause I laugh like I've got gold mines Digginʼ in my own backyard.

You may shoot me with your words,

You may cut me with your eyes, You may kill me with your hatefulness,

But still, like air, Iʼll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?

Does it come as a surprise That I dance like I've got diamonds At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of historyʼs shame

I rise

Up from a past thatʼs rooted in pain

I rise

I'm a black ocean, leaping and wide, Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.

Leaving behind nights of terror and fear

I rise

Into a daybreak thatʼs wondrously clear

I rise

Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave, I am the dream and the hope of the slave.

I rise

I rise I rise.