Unpacking Our Past: A Key to Wellness

This week Tina and Serena are joined by Melissa Crook, host of the F.E.E.L.S, podcast joins us to talk about her journey and how she helps others find wellness through feeling all of the feels.

Notes and Mentions

Visit Melissa Crook's website: https://www.embracinglayers.com/ on Instagram @embracinglayers

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Serena: Hey everyone, I'm Serena,

Tina: And I'm Tina, and we are the Mental Health Mamas.


Serena: Welcome to No need to Explain. We are so glad you're here.

Tina: First, as always, a quick disclaimer.

Serena: We come to you not as mental health professionals or experts in the field,

but rather as parents with lived experience who are on a mission

to normalize the conversation around mental health.

Tina: If you or someone you love is experiencing a mental health crisis, please seek professional support. You'll find a variety of resources in our show notes and on our website, no need to explain podcast.com.

Tina: Today's guest is a bit of a kindred spirit. She is all about the feels, which

if you're a regular listener, you will know the name, right? Melissa Crook has a podcast of the same name, the Feels Podcast, and introduces her guests in a very particular way. So I am not going to approach that. Let's just start there. First, welcome to our podcast and introduce yourself like you would ask others to do on your podcast.

Melissa: Ooh, I like that. Okay, make me think. I am passionate, stubborn, outgoing, gregarious, insightful, curious, and hopeful.

Serena: Hmm. Okay. Now I'm curious. So let's jump in and have you tell us a bit of your story.

Melissa: Okay. So I landed in this space for the very things we're going to be talking about today. I was not taking care of my mental and emotional health in the way that I needed to be. I was physically active. I would, I had a daily physical work at regime. I was dabbling here and there and some journaling and writing, but not really looking more for answers rather than getting to the core of, I wasn't asking the right questions because I wasn't sitting long enough with the things that I needed to be sitting with to know what questions to ask. If that makes sense. Anything, anytime anything got too uncomfortable, I was like, oh, that's uncomfortable. And I moved out of it, decided I didn't have time for it,

and I explained it away. I mean, many different things for years. I was kind of your, I say typical woman in that I was kind of doing all the things. I was taking care of the people and managing the schedules and running all the car pools

and managing the house and doing the charity work and job and all the things.

But I, I wasn't, I even a couple of years before this particular incident that led me down this road happened. I was like, why do I have this foreboding joy? Why, I should feel more settled and content that I do. All the evidence is there if you look at my life on the surface. So why don't I have this? And I was watching my daughters go through their own journey and they were asking me that too. They're like, mom, we're, we're asking ourselves those questions and kind of challenging you to ask yourself too because you've got some things going on that we see your, you know, your anxiousness, your defensiveness and they didn't say that in so many

words, but that was the messaging. So I started, so I was involved. I did a lot of writing. I was involved with a, a memoir writing nonprofit when we lived in New York. And that kind of opened the door, the crack, to telling my story and, and telling people things I'd never told them before. And going all the way back to my upbringing, but I didn't go that far back. I was going back like teenage years and up and kind of unpacking that, which was a place to start, but we moved a couple of years later. And I had just was just about to turn 50. And what was our first move

without kids so I'm like, oh, this will be great. We'll go over the country. My, my husband's job has, has taken us on that journey. And we knew that going in. And I've always had work that was either easily transferable or now I can just do it for anywhere. So I had adapted to that through the years. And we got to this new space. And I was in a hotel room, our hotel room, we just gotten there for two weeks. We just closed on our house, but we were waiting for our furniture to arrive. And I finished my workout. I got back, got out of the shower. And all of a sudden,

I was lightheaded. My heart was racing. I could feel my blood pressure had to be like skyrocketing just from the feeling I was having in my chest and almost this like, it was just like nothing I never felt before. I get myself down to the front desk. And I'm like, I think I'm having a heart attack. I feel like I was just like and the poor young person, this is a college town. They're like, I don't know what to do. And we have, you have to sign this form saying we tried to help you and all this. And I'm like, oh, you're God. And the time, and the time it's going to take me to go through this process to get somebody here to help me, my husband's five minutes away, he can be here and drive me. And that's what happened. He came and got me, got me to the local ER, which we barely knew where it was because we just gone there 10 days ago. And this happened twice in a 10 day period. And the second time included like just whole, I'll just say it, my bladder just released like just dumped everywhere. And as I was moving things around, we were in the house by then. And I was like, what in the heck is going on with me? And after a myriad of tests and visit to a cardiologist monitoring my heart for a month, going to a doctor, getting the blood

pressure medication, all these things that came down to a menopause was definitely playing a part of it with my hormones. But it was a series of just unprocessed emotions and mental health, anxiousness, anxiety attacks. And my husband said to me, she's like, he's like, this anxiety thing isn't new for you. I'm just done it. Put it out there. And we're 26 years into this marriage. And this isn't new. And you've called it a lot of other things. And, but let's just call a spade a spade. And I think it's time for you to invest in yourself and get to the bottom of this. You

deserve to live better than this.

Tina: I am going to interrupt you for a minute and say, so we often talk about health being health, physical and emotional health being so closely tied that it's really hard to think of them as separate entities. And Serena, I've both experienced that. Well, I've experienced it personally. I can't speak for Serena, but certainly true.

Serena: Yes, I have to for sure.

Tina: Yeah, yeah. So, you know, I think of The Body Keeps the Score. I think of lots of things, right? And I too am a 50 something. And I, I'm also going to call it the fact that you moved, right? Moving. So stressful. Having our children leave our home, especially if we are caretakers in any kind of intense way, like I, like I was, that is a huge transition. And I think we as mom spend so much time taking care of everybody else's stuff, that it's really hard for us when push comes to shove

to focus on that. And good for you for your husband giving you kind of permission, right, to do that and saying it out loud, because I think sometimes we need to sadly be told that this is what needs to get done, right? So, you've, you know, you've alluded to some childhood kind of trauma and you don't have to talk about that. But that clearly was unprocessed for you, right?

Melissa: Yes. And a huge part of it and went back so much deeper than I realized. I mean, we were, we, I got into work with a very good therapist. And I think I was also in a space where I finally felt safe and my nervous system felt safe. And I think that's a, our brain and our nervous systems will not allow us to move through things. If we are not an environment that that, that those parts of our makeup sensor shape, it just, it just won't happen. So I dabbled in therapy in past years a couple of times

and made some progress, but just my, you know, I just didn't feel like it was time. I was also willing to acknowledge and sit with some things that I was unwilling to acknowledge before. I, if you told me I was anxious in the past, I'd be like, I'm not anxious. I'm just got to see on top of things. I've got to be hypervigilant, got to make sure nothing gets me. It's a scary world, you know, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. You know, and this goes back, go in that went straight back to my childhood and started when I was like, it really transitioned to me for me between the ages of four and six, where I went from being that really fun loving no cares in the world kid to a very, they called me shy, but I would just say kind of intimidated or timid based on experiences. I was a, we lost my cousin drowned when I was in kindergarten,

into my kindergarten year. He was two years old. He was very close to us. It was very terrifying. And my brother and he were like best friends and my brother was about a year and a half older than him. They were with us all the time. And it was a very messy situation. And the adults were so devastated. There was no room for us to have grief. We were there to make the adults feel better. No one asked us how we felt. No one asked us. And so as we went down the road and we were terrified

to go swimming to swim lessons. And we all of a sudden, my brother and I started having bed wedding issues. Nobody asked us, oh, gosh, I wonder if that's related to the trauma. Those were the conversations you were having in the late 70s and early 80s wasn?t happening in families.

Tina: And so it, you know, just what that's totally true. And I think we all experience that who are you know, of a certain age. And thankfully, thankfully, we are much more open. We, I can't say, we in an all-encompassing way, but we are much more open about mental health. In my family and talk about things in a way that my family never talked about them growing up. It just wasn't, it wasn't a thing we did.

Melissa: Yeah. Yeah. I think that's very normal. And you know, and when it comes down to us, both my parents came from different, but their own traumatic situations that they had no tools to deal with. And so that just carried over into how

they were as adults, how they were as partners to each other, which was an emotional disaster. And it still is. And as parents. And so it became, there was, as I got older, there was more and more asked of me. I was the oldest daughter. I was a girl in a very patriarchal setting with younger brothers. And, you know, I was, I, my parents started kind of emotionally dependent on me starting like second grade. I was also raised in a very conservative religion that I left in my early 20s that had a lot of narratives going on around it about performance. So it was very like, it was a very performance, performance and good behavior. And being a helper,

we're all rewarded and affirmed. And that's how you received love back by showing up in those ways. So there was no room. I mean, if I started to cry or any of us in my family started to cry, dry it up. No one wanted to see us cry. It, you know, about anything. And by the time I was 10 and due to some family situations that had happened with my injury, my dad had a work, my mom going back to work. I mean, I was taking care of my brothers, getting them up for bed, for school in the morning, feeding them breakfast, doing their laundry, all those things by the time I was 10 years old. And, and my childhood was essentially over by the time my mom kind of came out of that scenario because it was only okay for her to work for a certain amount of time because of this religion we were in. And, but the time, you know, that might, you know, ended when I was in sixth grade, then I became someone she emotionally depended on. I really was by all, you know, ways of speaking the go to person for everybody to go to for support. She treated me more like the friend she wanted than a daughter. She wanted to be part of all my social situations. She drove

the car to all of our events. And, and then when in high school, when I started like really creating my own relationships and didn't want her to do those things anymore. And, and kind of started sensing that what was happening in my home wasn't right. She got very jealous, very upset. My dad was very verbally and emotionally abusive. And they would complain to me about each other. And so all of these things set the table. And I got into a very abusive relationship. My senior

year of high school that lasted for three and a half years. It was very emotionally sexually mentally abusive. Then I was able to pull myself out of because even through all of that, I knew somewhere deep inside me from the time I was a little kid that there was something better out there for me. That I wanted something different.

Serena: And yeah, so I'm going to, I'm going to jump in here. Because I want to move us forward to and that?s to say that you have had all this sort of unprocessed childhood trauma. And it sounds like very layered, right? So one thing.

Melissa: Yes.

Serena: Now you were taking on a whole lot when you were very young. And then it sounds like you'd continue to do that as an adult to taking on a lot of different things and not necessarily, you know, getting your own cup filled. And then so then we, there's a move. And suddenly you're having all these health problems. So how did you get yourself? I'm imagining you are well today. How did you get to here?

Melissa: Well, I first had to own it. And, you know, and I wanted to say I was very lucky for all that I've been through. I have a very incredible partner who I met

in later in college and as much emotional baggage as I came in. And he's got his own

trauma too from his childhood. But we found each other and he was, we were unapologetically for each other from day one. And it was messy and how we got there and how we went through some things through our marriage because we were coming from some not some broken spaces in our experiences. But he was always the first one for me. And so he would say to me over the years, he's like,

you, you realize I'm not asking this of you. I don't expect this of you. And so it was never a narrative I heard from him, but it wasn't a narrative I could shake myself, that I'm only as valuable as the next great thing I'm doing. How much I'm producing? I couldn't sit well. I didn't rest well. So all that, you know, when he got to this point, you know, when we I was just turning 50, he's like, please, finally take the time to dig into this. So I found a therapist. And I really thought I was going to go to therapy be there for six months and be well. And I had the to do list. I had a plan. That's how it was going to go. Well, that is just not how that works. And especially when you start opening yourself up, you feel safe with someone

and you start unpacking things. And that's what happened. And for me, mine has been very EMDR focused along with the talk therapy. And then and just talking through, you know, behavioral things can be powerful. Journaling is very helpful to me. I sit down each day. And I tried to do it in the morning. Sometimes that happens in the evening, middle of the day. But I name all my emotions each day because I had to learn to let them all exist. I had to learn that they can all exist

at one time. And that doesn't make me any less grateful or appreciative if I allow myself to feel them and move through them. And I had to not feel guilty about being angry. I had to quit using comparative like, Oh, my situation could have been worse. Or my situation wasn't as bad as so and so's. And just call it what it was and acknowledge the effects that had on it and not feel guilty about it or bad about it. Because I grew up with a lot of narratives. And I call it, we call it, I've kind of coined it in our podcast, the weaponized gratitude.

Tina: Yeah, tell us a little about that.

Melissa: Well, it's basically what I come to is whenever you have an issue or something you want to talk about. You see something happening in your, in your scenario, your family. For me, it was I, I saw these scenarios happening. And so I went to a, an adult, a friend of our family is a confidant. He was also our athletic director and assistant principal at our high school. And I confided in him my freshman year about what was happening in my home. And I thought he was a friend of my dad's, maybe he could help. So he very well intentionally went and talked to my family and brought to him. And I got grounded. I was in so much

trouble for talking outside of my family. And I, I just heard this repeated narrative, you are so lucky. You are so much. We do all this for you. We, and we, and it was all about the material things they were providing and all about the opportunities they were paying for. And all about how fortunate I was to have a roof over my head. And there was no room to talk about my emotions or what I was feeling or the things that weren't going well. There was no acknowledgement or allowance for

that. It was always that. And so consequently, I heard I was selfish a lot. And that was a narrative I heard all the time anytime I wanted to talk to any, about anything that made them uncomfortable made them feel defensive. I was selfish. And so I had to get rid of that narrative that I was selfish for wanting to impact these things that I was selfish for wanting to take care of myself that, you know, that it was selfish of me to, to set aside time where it didn't accomplish anything other than helping me rest. And so my, my therapist through a lot of work helped me impact that. And I started peeling back the layers. But naming my emotions was a huge part of

this journey, because it allowed me, I had to go back and process all of these things,

all of this anger, all of this sadness, all of this frustration, one by one, pull it back,

get to the root of it, name it, and move through it. And some of them, it took a lot of time. And it was very emotionally draining. But also when I would get through it and process a move through something, the lightness of my, of what I was carrying when it was relieved, when it was moved through when it was healed and acknowledged was shocking. And I didn't even know it was available to me. And I didn't know how much I was carrying until I started releasing it. And so

through this journey, I realized I'm not, I know whether women across, I've lived all over the country. That move to Lubbock it was our 11th move. And so I was well versed in moving and for better, better, for worse. I have told my husband, we just did our 12th move. I'm like, I'm running out of juice, babe. Got it. Got to be winding down here. But I came up with a few practices and it's naming my emotions. And then that would have formed what I needed that day, what I need today. Okay. So I'm feeling, I'm really excited, but I'm also really sad. I'm a little bit anxious. Well, maybe I need to like breathe through some things, journal and try to write down where these things are coming from, what they're rooted in. If they're rooted in truth, or if they're just false narratives that I heard that I need to unpack. And what basically do I need to do? Do I need a really good cardio to kind of work

out some of this angst? Or do I need something to calm me, you know, some yoga, some breathing, a walk in nature? And that helps me to kind of start and deciding what it is I needed to tend to each day for all the parts of me. You know, spiritually, I started unpacking my faith journey and the anxiety that the path I had been on for years was bringing me. And I had to really reexamine what I thought

about that. And I walked away from some faith spaces. I had walked away from one faith space in my early 20s and went into a different more kind of traditional American Christian faith space, walked out of that faith space five years ago. It just wasn't four years ago. It just wasn't it just wasn't meeting me where I was anymore. And I'd had a lot of questions over the years. And my relationship and my feelings about God aren't any different than they've been personally,

but I have a lot of different feelings about the way God is taught to people in especially our Western culture. And so that's something that I had to really unpack and release because I was feeling guilty about I was feeling like, oh my gosh, you know, it says in the Bible that if I give this over to God and I'm faithful enough, he will heal this and I'm not healed. So I just must be not doing it, right? I'm just not faithful enough. And I really beat myself up for that for years. Yeah. So it involves a lot of unpacking and releasing the fear and trusting my inner knowing. I had been brought in an environment that trusting myself that I was untrustworthy,

that we were inherently bad, that we were born inherently bad. And we had to have all these rules

in place to make sure that we weren't so bad to make to help us behave better, be more honorable,

be acceptable to a lot of all these things. And I had to really unpack that, be like, no,

I don't believe that. I believe we're inherently good. And we can always be better and be learning and grow and evolve. thingsBut I need to listen to my body. I've just been screaming at me for years that these narratives, that these relationships were not a safe place for me and weren't healthy. And I didn't believe that because I was told not to. Yeah. So a lot of, a lot of that work and I am still working on it, but I'm so much better off and have so many more tools than I did

four years ago. And that's why I decided to start the podcast. I'm like, we got to talk about these

Tina: Yes. And so this is a podcast for women dedicated to finding empowerment, embracing layers and the journey toward living unapologetically. Your website is www.embracinglayers.com. You do have some great podcast episodes that I have listened to. People can follow you. Are you on social media?

Melissa: Yeah. Yeah. You go to our website. It'll show you up in the right hand corner. We're all over on Instagram. We're on Facebook. We're on LinkedIn. We're on TikTok. And it's just getting, if you just Google embracing layers or the field podcast and most of our stuff is ad embracing layers.

Tina: Great. And we'll got all in the notes. So people will have that information in case they want to connect with you, which I can imagine they might. So let's let's just ask you to briefly tell us, what are the top five ways that you take good care of yourself? Let's just do a little David Letterman top five.

Melissa: Yeah. For me, it's walking, getting outside. It is taking some times every day to write down my emotions, what I'm feeling, all the things. And then letting that inform what I do next. It might be yoga. It might be some breathing. You know, if I feel my body tensing up, I'll stop and and do a box breathing exercise. I love the mountains. And I love the ocean. And I finally, I'm living in a place where I've access to both. There are like kind of ones an hour and a half and one direction and ones two and a half hours in the other direction. Those really fill my spirit. The ocean is very healing for me always has been.

Tina: Agreed.

Melissa: And and it, but giving myself, you have to make it a priority. And you have to think enough of yourself to do that. And that's really where the embracing layers piece comes. Like you've got to get okay with all of those experiences that you've been through those decisions you've made. And I really think you got to,

we have to approach them from a more neutral stance rather than beating ourselves up. Not we all make mistakes. So, but learn from them and move forward, but we can't just sit there beating ourselves up continually. And be getting okay with that because we make ourselves a priority. And we make time for these things that nourishes when we see ourselves as valuable enough to do so. And we you make time for the things that you find important. And that has to be yourself

first and foremost because if you're not filling your cup regularly, you're not only, it's not fair to you. You're worth it and you're valuable, but you're no good to anybody else in your life either. I mean, it's just not. And it affects the kind of relationships you attract. So, relationships are very important. Time with my people. But the people I surround myself with, I'm very different about now. Select about they have to be people that are respectful of my journey, that are thankful. And that is, you know, these narratives that I have changed these healthy boundaries and ways I've changed and seen myself in the expectations I have for myself in my life have had some impacts on relationships with people that just didn't want to have experience me that way. They liked the way they were experiencing me before. So, my relate, I'm mindful of that relationships and enter into myself with healthy relationships. But it's really about taking the time and making yourself a priority and knowing that you're worth it and and seeing that connection, you know, that we have eight talking points in the podcast and one of them is your mental, physical, emotional health connection because it's it's vital in our your wellness and your environment and your well be.

Serena: Well, thank you, Melissa, some really, really solid advice and

suggestions. I really appreciate you taking the time to hang out with us today and share a little bit of your story.

Melissa: Absolutely. It's been great to be here. I'm so glad for what you doing. It's so


Tina: Thanks. And you as well, right back atcha. So, podcast friends, we are as always grateful for all of you listening and supporting us. You can help us out by visiting Apple Podcast. You can leave us a review while you're there. We have a lot of awesome reviews and we'd love some more. Subscribe and please share the podcast with others. You will find more content on our website. www.Noneedtoexplainpodcast.com. You will also find us on all the socials. We would love to hear from you.

Serena: And this is your gentle reminder to take good care of yourself while you're also taking care of your people.

Tina: Thanks so much for listening.

Serena: Bye.