Teri Wellbrock is the host of The Healing Place Podcast and writes a monthly Hope for Healing Newsletter. Her life purpose is to make a positive difference in the lives of others and shine a light of hope into dark spaces.
Where did you grow up and what was your childhood like? Did you have any particular experiences/stories that shaped your adult life?
I’m writing a book about it all! The first 22 years of my life were filled with horrific trauma. I score a 10/10 on the ACEs Assessment. My list includes:
Trauma history/high ACE score:
- Age 4 – attempted drowning by alcoholic parent
- Age 5 – sexually molested by 16-year-old neighbor
- Age 9 – sexually molested by 19-year-old neighbor
- Age 10 – repeatedly molested by choir director
- Age 10 – emotionally abused by nun assigned as school counselor
- First 10 years of life – physically abused by father as his mental health deteriorated and mother’s alcohol and drug abuse increased, along with father’s loss of income and struggles with poverty
- Age 14 – sexually accosted by religious education director in rectory where I worked in the evenings helping the priests
- Age 16 – lost virginity to date rape
- Age 16 – gang attack and sexual assault
- Age 17 – sexually accosted by police officer in charge of gang attack investigation
- Age 21 – gun held to my head and co-worker stabbed 3 times with a hunting knife during bank robbery
- Age 22 – 3 months later, same assailants would return to main office, where I had just moved, only this time the assailant would pull the trigger and murder my co-worker; my 19-year-old sister had just gone on break and the girl who was murdered had taken my sister’s place on the teller line; I had run from the bank and was hiding in the row houses behind the bank plaza when I came face-to-face with a second armed assailant who pointed his Luger at me but thankfully the gun misfired and I had to run from him back TOWARD gunfire (I did not wait around to know his semi-automatic was misfiring)
My soul work (writing, speaking, podcasting, volunteering with our therapy dog) all centers around my journey from trauma to triumph. I made it from the darkness into the light and now work to guide others along their own healing journeys. My goal is to shine a light of hope into the world.
What is something you wish you would’ve realized earlier in your life?
Oh, how I wish little Teri could have known she was strong and worthy. It wasn’t until I reached my late forties when I found my way onto the healing path that I recognized both my strength and worthiness. I also wish I had known that it truly is possible to live a life filled with peace and happiness even while still traveling the healing journey. We do not have to be “fixed” or “cured” to live joyously. That’s the beauty of the journey.
What are bad recommendations you hear in your profession or area of expertise?
I try not to judge another’s perspectives. I may not agree with their philosophies or views, however, they are coming at it from a different background than mine. This is part of what I learned from the book mentioned above by Wayne Dyer. Everyone is entitled to their own recommendations and if I happen to disagree, I can merely move on. If someone tries to convey that trauma recovery is not possible, I share my insights and wisdom on such topics as brain plasticity, the healing benefits of mindfulness practice and meditation, energy work, and so much more.
Tell me about one of the darker periods you’ve experienced in life. How you came out of it and what you learned from it?
That would be my entire childhood and the resulting soul work I am now living in order to guide others! You can listen to my recent interviews on healing summits or read my blog, newsletter, and articles to learn about my journey from trauma to triumph. From the book page on my website (my teaching memoir is still in the manuscript stage):
A little girl, armed with dimples and compassionate nature, silently maneuvered her way through the wicked shadows toward a beckoning light. She moved with her head bowed in fear, hands clasped in prayer above her head, begging God to make the pain stop, and with God’s light shining down upon her, a unicorn shadow was cast on the plaster wall beyond her. Legend has it the unicorn bestowed miracles, magic, and wisdom. The unicorn, therefore, represents opening oneself to infinite possibilities.
Unicorn Shadows is the story of my journey through trauma. By age 22 I had survived an attempted drowning by an alcoholic parent; physical abuse at the hands of a parent; sexual molestations by various predators; date rape; gang attack; attempted rape by a police officer; bank robbery in which a gun was held to my head and my co-worker was stabbed 3 times with a hunting knife; and a second bank robbery in which my co-worker was shot and murdered and I found myself face-to-face with an armed gunman. Those are merely the highlights.
It is a story of faith, of finding peace amidst the chaos, of believing in the miracle of hope. The unicorn shadow represents the pain of the prayer while simultaneously portraying the hope of the miracle within.
Although I now find myself in a beautiful place of healing, living a vibrant life, able to fill others with happiness and hope, I still score a 10 out of 10 on the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) scale. The ACEs assessment was developed by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Kaiser Permanente to assess the “risk of experiencing poor physical and mental health, and negative social consequences later in life.” (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: CDC-Kaiser ACE Study).
According to the experts, I should have been doomed to a life of struggle. Yet, here I am . . . the happiest person I know. Yes, I have a history of severe panic attacks, depression, anxiety, suicidal ideation, and a C-PTSD (complex post-traumatic stress disorder) diagnosis. However, I am at peace. I live a life of joy and tranquility. I have zero medical conditions and take no prescription medications. I utilize self-care strategies while successfully navigating my healing journey.
My mission is to help others do the same.
What is one thing that you do that you feel has been the biggest contributor to your success so far?
The biggest contributing factor to my success is approaching challenges with a #nevergiveup mentality. I have been battling mycotoxin poisoning from mold exposure and have been ill for months. However, I refuse to allow this hurdle to stop me. I will come out on the other side of this even stronger than before. My younger sister once told me that I am the most determined person she’s ever known. I take that as a huge compliment. Positivity and persistence have helped me be triumphant!
What is your morning routine?
I do not set an alarm. I allow my body to dictate what it needs. I have learned to honor my individual needs. My eyes usually flutter open somewhere between 7:00 and 7:30 AM. I raise the shade and smile at the world presented to me. Fortunately, we live on a beautiful island in South Carolina, so the sky is usually blue and smiling back at me with sunshine. I then gift myself a hearty organic whole foods breakfast to nourish my body while I send up prayers of gratitude for my blessings. My beautiful mother (who is celebrating over 2 years sober at age 86!) has a saying that I love, “The optimist wakes up and says, ‘Good morning, God!’ while the pessimist wakes up and says, ‘Good God. Morning.’” I feel blessed to have created a life where I can honor my needs.
What habit or behavior that you have pursued for a few years has most improved your life?
Mindfulness practice. It has been life-altering. I have not had a severe panic attack since living mindfully aware has become habitual. As I shared in the blog post linked here:
Mindfulness as defined by me: reminding myself to re-direct any old habitual scary thought patterns back to this moment, right here, right now, and all the joyous beauty to be found in it by use of my senses. I open myself up to all things smile-inducing in this moment in time.
So, how do you stop anticipatory anxiety? Practice mindfulness. As often as possible. Soon you will be living mindfully aware. And anticipatory anxiety may try to sneak in a word or two, but you can mindfully remind it to sit down and shut up. You have a beautiful life to enjoy without its input.
What are your strategies for being productive and using your time most efficiently?
I am a list-maker. It helps me feel organized, but more so, it gives me a sense of accomplishment every time I mark off (or gleefully scratch out) a to-do item. I also add items such as journal, write a book chapter, mindfulness hike, edit a podcast, etc. to my daily calendar. Then I start my workday looking at the suggestions on my calendar and create my goal list for the day. If, however, life throws me a pleasant surprise such as my teenage daughter asking me to join her for a photography stroll, I will forego the to-do list for a joyous opportunity at living life.
What book(s) have influenced your life the most? Why?
When I give my presentations to trauma-recovery audiences, I include a list of 10 books that have had a powerful impact on my own trauma-recovery journey. I even made a YouTube video about the top 5 books. If I had to pick one book, however, that is NOT on these lists, it would be Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life by Dr. Wayne Dyer. This book shifted my outlook on approaching other people and gifting myself a moment to pause as I considered where each individual is along their own healing journey. We are all traveling our own unique paths. I now live my life trying my very best to honor each person wherever they are in the moment along their healing journey.
I even wrote a blog piece about the impact of this book in a book review series I had conducted.
Do you have any quotes you live by or think of often?
My hashtags in nearly all of my social media posts include #hopeforhealing and/or #nevergiveup. Those are my life mottos. I am a huge proponent of hope and resilience. My monthly newsletter is named the Hope for Healing Newsletter and my online courses can be found in my Hope for Healing Academy. I also find hearts every day and they are my constant reminder that love is all around us. I remind friends, family, and my audience of that philosophy often. Love is the most powerful tool in the universe for healing and living a joyous and tranquil life. My dad even sent me a message after he had passed that was my reminder to Stop Thinking, Just Love.