Notes and Mentions
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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, NoNeedToExplainPodcast.com.
Serena: I’m going to start today’s episode by saying that life is messy. What do you think Tina? Would you agree with that?
Tina: Life is definitely messy on my end. For anyone who’s ever visited our website, you might have seen that one of our intentions is to walk beside all of you out there and help you hold some of the hard stuff as we find our way through the messy and very imperfect world we live in.
Serena: Mmhm. Yeah. And one of the things I love about doing this podcast is that we get to connect with other humans all over the world who are finding their way as well.
Tina: So today we are excited to introduce a guest who describes himself as flawed, struggling, and learning as he goes. Luke Renner is a son, a brother, a husband, and a father to six incredible humans. Polite golf clap on that. Wow, that’s a lot of people. He is also a filmmaker, writer, mental health enthusiast and a fellow podcaster.
Serena: So Tina and I recently had the opportunity to view Luke’s film, What Lies Inside; Healing in the Face of Trauma and we are thrilled to have him here with us today to talk about it. So Luke, welcome to the podcast!
Luke: Thank you both for having me! Thank you so much.
Tina: So welcome and we are gonna jump right in. So we, from viewing the film, know a little bit about your story but why don’t you tell our listeners…tell us a little bit of your story.
Luke: Well I am from the midwest in the United States. I’m a Hoosier which means I am born and raised in Indiana. That’s all I know that it means. I’m not sure what else it means. Not much for basketball myself. I tried growing up but it just wasn’t for me. But yeah. I’m from the midwest. My parents were and still are quite frankly, in Chrisitian ministry so I was raised in the church and just kind of grew up among the cornfields in Central Indiana and I fell in love, from a pretty early age, with movies really, and story. And my father being a pastor, he was in many, many ways a storyteller. I didn’t grow up to be a pastor but I did, do, oftentimes think I turned out a lot like my dad because we both do love to use story as a vehicle through which to sort of help people problem solve, if you will. And so, yeah. I kind of grew up in that. I still live in the Midwest. I moved out of the Midwest for a little while, moved out of the country for a short while.
And you know, I’ve been working for 25 years or so in film and television, mostly television. And just have been trying to make a living. When I learned in college that you can actually get paid to do things that I was happily doing for free, you know, all this video making and stuff. That’s when I knew that I had kind of found what it was I wanted to do for work. That’s kind of what brought me into that world and what leaves me here still to this day. Try as I might, I can’t find another industry that fits me well. And so I still try to figure out how to make a living and use story in meaningful ways up till now.
Tina: Well we would say you’re in the right field after viewing your film.
Luke: OK, thank you.
Serena: Yeah, so I’m gonna bring us to your movie here. The start of it shows you and your family in Haiti and it’s just before the 2010 earthquake that was incredibly devastating to both Haiti and the Dominican Republic. What was it that had brought you and your family to Haiti?
Luke: Well so that’s a direct connection to what I said about my parents being in Christian Ministry. So growing up in the church, one of the things that we would do often through our church is what we would call short-term missionary trips. And those are usually a couple of weeks give or take a few days where you would go to another country and you were there for Evangelical purposes, typically. You were maybe volunteering at an orphanage or helping out with a feeding program or something and trying to get people to join your spiritual cause or whatever the case may be. So I went when I was 14, on my very first trip out of the United States and that happened to be to the island nation of Haiti. And of course as a 14 year old I was very different from the person that I am today but that was the moment where the idea of Haiti was first introduced into my brain and it was… Haiti’s a very captivating place in a lot of ways and especially if you’re coming from a country like the United States which is the way that it is and you’re going to Haiti which is the way that it is and they’re very different. And so it can have a profound impact and it certainly had that on me at 14. So it got my hooks in me then.
Over the years I went back and forth to Haiti. I also was traveling to a lot of other places by the time I got into television and film work. Even my work was having me travel so in a lot of ways I’ve been very fortunate to see so many different parts of the world in a relatively short life. If I pass away any time soon, I told my wife and kids I’ve had my fair run of it. I’ve seen my fair share of things.
But anyway, by 2009 when we moved to Haiti, we were moving there for reasons that were very different from why I had started. We weren’t going to do anything related to religion. We weren’t interested so much in trying to find a feeding program or an orphanage or any of those kinds of ideas. I really wanted to start a film school in Haiti because I was so hooked on this thing about using story to do good things in the world and I had had a pretty good run of it professionally up till that point. And so I thought, why not bring these two things together? And so we moved there with this big idea of starting a technology school which was kind of broad language to say a film school. I didn’t want to paint myself into the corner of it could only be a film school. So we did that when we moved there June second, I believe, of 2009. Of course, not having any idea what was around the corner the following January.
Tina: I can only imagine and again, we’ve seen your film so let’s shift the conversation a little bit to the trauma topic because that’s what happened and there’s a lot of moving parts there. Serena and I talk a lot about trauma and the importance of families understanding their own trauma. In my past life, I helped families as well as school personnel kind of understand the complexities of personal stories and in doing so, I am an audio-visual learner and I often looked for words and stories and videos that depicted actual humans telling their story. And I couldn’t find very many, let me just say that, if any. It seems so important to hear those reflections from actual humans who have experienced what we would call ACES (Adverse Childhood Experiences) or other traumas for that matter. Your film, What Lies Inside, does this in a way that is not only beautifully reflective but also just rarely seen. And believe me, I really have searched and searched. And your film was exactly what I was looking for. When you were preparing for your film, did you kind of do that? Like, who else talks about this and…tell us a little bit about that process.
Luke: I wish I could tell you that when I set out to make the film that I had a real clear head and that my thinking was all, like, pointed in the exact right direction and I knew what I was doing. Unfortunately, the moment I decided to say, I’m gonna make a film…remember, I’m already in this industry so this was an easy thing for me to say. I own a production company at this point. We have a lot of our own equipment. There wouldn’t be necessarily as big of a hill to climb. One thing you’ll learn if you meet a lot of people in the television or film industry of field is that probably, I don’t know, there’s no science in what I’m about to say.
Tina: That’s OK. We’re not sciency.
Luke: But there seems to be. OK. There seems to be a lot of people in my field who…they want to make a movie some day or they want to make some kind of a project. Like they’re working in the field because it’s fun, it’s engaging, nothing’s ever the same. We’ve all gotten to that point where we’re doing it because it’s paying the bills and at some point you may have to give up any dreams you have of doing something for yourself. But there’s quite a few you’ll bump into out there who are in this field who if you really, you know, get them sat down and you were sharing a drink or a meal or something, you might find out that, oh, they just really want to direct or really want to write or something like that. So, you know, I wasn’t all that different. I had a production company. I had started that with a creative partner and friend of mine, David Nidert. And we, we both had this dream that one day of making a movie or something which is kind of specific and vague at the same time. We didn’t start the company until 2012. So to give a little bit of context to the timing here, I came back from Haiti in 2011 and when I came back I had PTSD that I was denying that I had. I had a problem. It was significant. Everybody around me knew it. My parents knew it. When we moved back from Haiti, we moved back into the same general area where my folks are and Adrian, my wife’s folks are here too. And everybody looking at me knew I had a problem including Adrian. Even my kids. But I was still very much in that early phase where, this is pretty common, if you’re struggling with trauma in some way, shape, or form it’s not at all uncommon to hear that person say, I don’t have the problem, it’s all of you. It’s everyone out there, not here.
I knew I had been through some things and of course the film covers a lot of that so I don’t have to go into that here. I knew I had been through some significant things but I had never really heard about trauma. I didn’t really know what that was. I had heard about it in the sense of war. You know, PTSD was a thing that you got if you went off to war. Or some other really, sort of, acute moment of traumatic experience. Maybe you got car jacked or something like that. That can cause trauma. And I knew about trauma in that sense. I had no real sense that trauma could get its filthy fingers on me, so to speak. I was fine. I was fine. By around the end of 2013, really through my own suffering and coming to a breaking point, I was able to finally say, well maybe I’m not fine. And that was a big deal for me to say, OK, maybe you’re right. And then I really started to settle into that. I read some stuff that my dad had gotten me which I had shelved initially and it sat there for a year or more. I finally started to look at some of the resources people had given me, people who loved me. And that just began to kind of crack, to crack the shell a little bit and let some light in.
I went from feeling…I remember checking out Peter Levine’s book, In An Unspoken Voice. And that was the first book that I really cracked open and took a look at and in the first, just, handful of pages of that work, I went from feeling (and this is of course all happening inside of me, like no one else can see this), but I went from feeling, truthfully when I said to everybody I don’t have a problem, you do, what I really felt was, I’m beyond fixing. I knew I had a problem but I’ve had problems before and problems can be fixed. I don’t know what you call a thing that feels unfixable but I didn’t call it a problem. It seemed like, you know, I was done. I was out of rope. There was nothing left for me.
So when I sort of owned having a problem, what did that was reading Peter’s book and feeling a sense of hope because here he is talking about antelope, I think or gazelle, some sort of deer and yet I was feeling…I went from feeling off the map completely unaccounted for. I’m beyond help. To…I went from feeling that sort of hopelessness to, in like I say, just a handful of pages, feeling not only seen and not only back on the grid but maybe like dead center. Like Peter Levine was reading my mail, so to speak. And it was that sense of hope, that spark of hope, that got me excited to work on my junk. I didn’t know what that meant and I was like, you know, OK, maybe there is something going on here because Levine makes a great point of being very clear that being traumatized is a biological response. It’s not a character flaw. It’s not something you’re doing wrong. You’re not screwing up at being perfect because nobody’s perfect. You’re having a biological reaction to threat, essentially threat of death as far as your, you know, your body and your mind are concerned.
And so when I realized that I wasn’t untouchable and I wasn’t hopeless, I got excited about making the film. And because I was already in this industry, I was quick to say, I’ll make a movie about it, right? Because I thought that I was this character who wanted to help people in the world and so I can’t just help myself. I’ve gotta help other people or it doesn’t matter. So I decided to make this film way before I knew what I was signing up for and that’s kind of how it got started. And then, you know, during the process I changed a lot, right? Because… So I told my supporters it’s gonna take a year. You know, we did a Kickstarter campaign and in the campaign, that was in 2014, I said, you know, more or less there will be a film in 2015. Well, six years later, we were finally able to land the plane, so to speak. And a lot of that time, most of that time, was the actual work of healing and I didn’t do that with a camera. I didn’t do that with an audience. I did that privately, of course with the support of people who love me. But so I found that those two things, this idea about I’m going to heal and I’m going to make a film…when I said those two things together in the beginning, I had the sense that they were gonna track with one another. There were gonna move at the same speed, they could happen easily together. Come to find out that healing just takes the time that it takes. Filmmaking is on a very different timeline in some cases. So that happened.
And then, you know, even in the process of making the film….you’ll find out in the film, I talk about it kind of explicitly, I don’t want to give it away here necessarily, but why did a guy like me even move to Haiti? And is it possible that moving to a country to help other people could actually be coming from a bad place inside of you even though it looks really good on the outside? There are a lot of people doing big heroic, important others-focused things and it seems like, well how could that be bad? And I am probably a great example of how seemingly good looking behaviors in the world can be coming from unhealed trauma and wounds that need to be dealt with. So I went through a big, you know, a lot of different changes while making it. It started out, I said yes, so to speak. I said I want to do this because that was back at a time when I had a really hard time knowing how to love myself. I had a big problem with self-rejection which is common for childhood trauma. And…but I didn’t know I had childhood trauma. So that’s all, you know, wrapped up in some of the telling of the film and I don’t know how far to go in this conversation but I went through a phase when I was working on the film too where I started to get these doctors who were saying yes to giving interviews. Some big names. And then the pressure. I started to feel the pressure of, like, these are people with reputations and careers and PhDs and they’re doctors and I’m a nobody, so to speak. I was scared. I didn’t want to mishandle their name. I didn’t want to mishandle their reputation or the information. So there was a period when I was working on the film when I would say I was making it for the doctors, like almost as if they were my professor and this was a term paper I was handing in and I had to get a good grade. There was one moment later in the process of making the film. It was just a sort of ordinary moment in a way.
We were on vacation, my family and I. And we were driving because it’s a big family and we can’t afford to fly. So we were driving back to Indiana from Florida and we were gonna stop in Savannah for the night. And we were just outside of Savannah, not too far south on the interstate and as I was driving we came up on an accident that had just happened. Again, on the interstate. And the cars were pulled over, not to the right on the shoulder but in the center median, shoulder. So, it was kind of precarious. There’s cars flying all around and I just sort of, again, in sort of my way. I just…I didn’t really think a lot I just kind of pulled over right away and got out and tried to help. And long story really, really, really short, there were some kids there. There had been a crash. There was somebody trapped in a vehicle. There was some scary stuff going on. The kids were not trapped. The kids were out of their car and while some folks were helping the adults, I decided to go sit and talk with the kids and just kind of be there for them. And tell them things like, you know, just ask them, how are you doing? What do you feel? Are you scared? What was it like? Like trying to get them to tell that story partially to help them understand that they’re not still stuck in that story. That they’re out of it now. And telling them things like, you know, pretty soon the ambulances are gonna come and that’s gonna be loud and that might be scary. Just kind of trying to prepare them for what was coming. And at one point, the youngest child who I believe was 5 who wasn’t making eye contact and wasn’t interested in me at all, at one point near the end… I sat criss-cross-applesauce on the asphalt. I was below all of them, just trying to be very calm. And when we were kind of wrapping it up the ambulance was about there, you could hear it approaching, the five-year-old just sort of lurched forward and just gave me this big bear hug. And… Sorry. I’m gonna cry a little bit. And so the hug happened and then I ended up walking him over to the ambulance where I got him up in the ambulance and one of them dropped a pair of glasses and I stepped up and grabbed the glasses to hand him and that was when the EMT was like, who are you and why are you here? Get out of here! And so I left. I got back in the car and safely made my way back into the flow of traffic and I noticed on my sweatshirt where the little boy had hugged me, a little spot of blood. He had had, I guess, a bloody nose or something and it stained my shirt. You know, the shirt was done for now. And I remember looking at that and crying.
And I heard this voice in my head say, Luke, what just happened there? You didn’t hesitate. You didn’t stop and say, well what if they think I’m stupid for wanting to help them? Or what if I help them the wrong way? Or what if other people driving by think I’m showboating? Like all these things that had been locking me up in the film and even this devotion now to, I want to make it good for the doctors, you know, so that they’re proud of it. Or so that at least they’re not ashamed of it. They’re not regretting having said yes. All of that, that kind of bubble got popped in this moment where I had to remind myself that helping looks like helping. It looks like, you know, there’s such a thing as doing no harm and I was very careful about all that but at the end of it all, I had to just go, you know what? Yeah there is fear. There is fear. But you’re doing this to help other people like you. You’re not a doctor. You’re not an EMT. You’re a trauma survivor. So you’re gonna stay in your lane. You’re gonna be a trauma survivor talking about trauma. You were fortunate to have these doctors join you and to say yes to that and they’re in there. You let them do them. You do you. And that was kind of the moment in the film, making of the film, that was probably a couple years before it was finally landed. But that was finally when I was able to turn what I consider to be the healthy corner and regain my perspective that, you know, who the audience really is for this project and who I really am in this project. And so that’s just a peak at some of the shifts over the six years of working on something like that.
Tina: That’s a lot.
Tina: No. No, no, no. Never, never.
Luke: I didn’t know how to segue from those.
Tina: Seriously just processing so much stuff. Yeah and knowing you want to do good. Serena are you thinking of a question from that?
Serena: Well, so, I just want to reflect on, you know, the idea that when we understand trauma in a bigger way. You know you talked about feeling less alone and having hope. And we see that all the time, right? When we share that information with people. And this is why I think your film is so important for people to hear that, to understand. It removes guilt and shame around, as you said, you didn’t choose this, right?
Luke: Right, right.
Serena: It happened. And I think it’s important to…that you’re speaking as voice of lived experience, which of course we love because that’s what we do.
Luke: Sure. Yeah.
Serena: And I think it’s important to talk about these important doctors that you have in your film. Could you just mention some of the people you interviewed so that people understand that while it’s the lived experience that is in your voice, it’s also these people who have been doing this work for years and years.
Luke: Yeah. Yeah, so the first person I reached out to was Peter Levine, actually because of his book. It made such an impact on me that I thought, hey, I’m gonna make a film. He was literally the very first doctor that I could imagine. Like, oh. Because it was his words, right, that broke through. So Peter Levine’s in there. Bessel van der Kolk, Dan Seigal. I met a wonderful, new to me doctor, Dr. Kerry Ann Williams. She’s remarkable. She’s in the film. And even through to Vincent Feliti who is the co-principal investigator for the ACEs study that you’ve discussed and covered a lot was so kind to be in there. Maggie Kline. Just quite a few professional voices who I felt, you know…I definitely wanted to make a film and tell a story that had that non-professional thread running through it, right? But it felt right to have some of that professional framework in there. To have some of those voices in there. Not because I think those people are the people who fix us, right? But those are folks who, I mean, if you imagine anyone who spends all of their time and energy focusing on a single task, like your favorite sports star or, you know, artist or whatever, I mean we have those kinds of disciplined people in every field. So these doctors and their voices represent folks who just live, eat and breathe, understanding what trauma is and how it works and all of that. So it felt really right to have them in there. But I also wanted to make sure we had voices of other folks like myself.
There are really probably three different categories of people who are in the film and this is loose. This is…I’m being a little clumsy here. One category would be like the doctors, the professionals. Another category would be people who are very much still on their journey. Which is to say, maybe have either not started healing or have but have a long way to go. And then the third group would be people who have been healing for awhile, maybe still have a little ways to go but they’re got a lot to offer as well. I think of those people in a way as almost a bridge between the personal and the professional. I probably fall into that third group a little bit which is kind of my voice in the story, is a little bit of a guide. In the beginning I thought, you know, I will heal and film that. And so the thought was the film will look like me going to therapy and doing things like that. None of that, as you know, is in the film. So what ended up happening was instead of doing this very sterile, boring, you know, then I did this and after that I did this, I just really decided to take the approach with making the film that I did when it came to my healing which was to embrace curiosity and embrace the squirrel. You know that thing in you that goes, “squirrel”, and you want to look and go…
Tina: We might know about that.
Luke: OK. I wanted to embrace the squirrel. So the film takes on a very, almost like a magazine style. It moves around through different talking points and ideas in somewhat of a non-linear, non-sequitur sort of a way. And yet I stitched that together with looks into my own journey. I’m kind of probably the through line but it’s not, just as you know, it’s not like the Luke Renner Movie.
Luke: And that’s why even in the posters, we did a lot to get my face out of there because even though I’m sort of your guide, I’m the person who said, hey, I’m gonna make a film and then I made a film. It’s really not about me. I’m in there but, as you, again, I keep saying as you know because you’ve seen it. It’s designed in a way that, I hope, allows the viewer to participate and bring themselves into what’s happening
Tina: Yeah, for sure. And I would say, again, it was…it’s beautifully weaved together in a way that is not boring at all. It was, in fact, I sat riveted there for two hours?
Luke: Yeah. It’s a couple hours long.
Tina: A little over two hours. Yeah. I want to reflect on a couple of things. One is the kind of emphasis on the fact that this is a process. I connected with your witnessing the car crash story because our listeners know I was in a car crash this summer and truly healing from that, Serena has watched me go through it and it is a process and quite honestly it’s a process that we can’t always do alone, right?
Tina: We really have to lean on others whether it’s the people we love or professionals or some combination of that. Medication even if that’s what you need at the time. So it is a process and I would say especially when we are people who, as you called it, other focused, it is hard for us, right? It is hard for us to reach out and ask for what we need and sometimes we don’t even know what we need.
Tina: But reaching out and asking for what we need. So we intentionally put our, you know, taking good care of yourself while you’re taking care of your people at the end of every one of our podcasts because we know that’s important for us over these ten years of doing this work. Really more than 20 years with our people, right Serena? So we know you can’t really make a film like this without taking good care of your own mental health. And I’m curious, you know you’ve talked a little bit about what you’ve done but maybe not specifically enough for people. I’m curious if you’ll share with us how you did take good care of yourself specifically as this movie unfolded.
Luke: Yeah, so one thing that is really interesting about our culture and this may extend to humanity as a whole but I am going to be careful and not swing that hard at this ball but we’ve become very good at being afraid of being called hypocrites. A lot of us are terrified of being found out to be frauds where we are preaching one thing and living a different thing. The reality I have come to find is that most people dip in and out of hypocrisy pretty regularly because that’s what it looks like when you are figuring things out and finding your way. And it is hard for us, especially if we’re parents I think, to hold two ideas of ourselves at the same time which may be in direct conflict. So one idea is that I am a parent and I am raising little people to become big people and I am supposed to know what I am doing. And the other idea at the same time is I feel like a lost little child and I have no idea what I am supposed to do. So that is me. I live right there in that dichotomy of having a job that I am supposed to be doing, which I myself don’t feel qualified for or capable of in many cases. I would say in the beginning there was not a lot of wellness. I launched into the project. I started to see a therapist so that was there. My wife was incredibly supportive mostly because she was tired. She was just really weary from the not healed version of me, the not well version of me. So she was game for trying a lot and was a huge support. Really it comes down to people for me. I mean there were a lot of books, there were a lot of practices. I do my own version of meditation. I say that because I am not sure that it aligns with all that you see on all of the apps and so forth. I had to develop a healthy sense of curiosity about myself which meant asking, “Well why do you do that? Why do you do that?”. And then when I could come up with an answer I would say, “It’s because of this!” and just like a little kid asking a parent. Then I would say, “Then why do you do that?” It is probably because I am this way. “Then why are you that way?” Well, I just am. No. Nobody just am. Why are you just that way? So developing a healthy sense of curiosity. Having at least somebody in your life who is supportive and who will sort of join you in that curiosity. Not an answers person. One of the things, and you just said it really beautifully, this idea of when we heal we really need to do it with other people. You can heal by yourself. You can also not but one of the big secrets in getting well mentally is you actually, the human body does heal itself even if you break your arm, without the help of a doctor to properly set the bone. It is still going to try and heal. It is going to try and fuse together in one way or another. The beauty of having help is, back to the doctor and the bone, it is getting things to set in a way that is going to serve you down the road that’s helpful, that won’t rebreak, that can be load bearing. So definitely possible to do it by yourself. I don’t ever want to tell people like if you can’t find a therapist you are screwed. If you can’t find the books you are out of luck. That is not true. But having the community is really the game changer because, more than anything, it can give you an outside perspective to the chaos that is going on inside of your head. And so that for me was the number one critical factor in…while I was making the film I had an incredibly supportive, creative partnership with the people I was working with on the film. I had an incredibly supportive home and I know that not everybody can say that.
So I say that to be very clear that I had that and that was super helpful. At the same time, I think one of the hardest lessons I have had to learn when healing from trauma at a later stage in life, I am 46, and I started this journey roughly 6-7 years ago now. And it is really, really difficult to both acknowledge that you have a problem, I say both. There are more than two things here. It is difficult to acknowledge that you have a problem but you have to be able to do that. It is difficult to try and become better in the presence of the people who have seen you at your worst. Because they may not be able to forgive you. They may not be able to stop remembering. Remember that in your traumatization, you are very possibly traumatizing others. So one of my trauma expressions it would come out in rage and anger and yelling and loudness. I have thrown a table before like scary stuff that you can’t just tell your kids, hey look, we are cool now. Like I am getting better now so don’t worry about all that. No that is now their trauma. They are scared of me. I giggle, not because it is funny but because that is the sticky mess of healing at any point from trauma because in addition to getting your own, you know, junk sorted out you may have damage control to do. You may have relationship work that you have to do. Those may be some of the same people who are going to support you while you heal and it is just weird and complicated. It can be really difficult. A therapist is helpful because they weren’t wounded by you and they can offer you that objective perspective. If you can’t afford a therapist, just a good friend who won’t BS you can do that also. Somebody who you give permission to be honest with you and to speak critically of you occasionally. When needed.
Luke: You will get a sense of who those people are as you go. Those were big. I read a lot. It is sad but true that over the course of my life I have forgotten how to have a lot of fun. I developed a utilitarian view of myself that I don’t have value unless I am creating value which is, I know not true. But that actually positioned me to where I didn’t have a lot of distractions when I was working on the film. I mean I wasn’t like distracted by video games or going golfing. I really was just there for it. I was there to read and learn and listen. YouTube is an incredible resource because it is full of some really good stuff that is free. Podcasts are the same way. So there is really a lot of good stuff out there that doesn’t cost. But a therapist I found, of all of the different elements, was probably the one person who was able to sort of take me further faster. And usually when I think of getting somewhere fast, that usually raises a red flag for me because I start to worry about quality. If we are rushing, I don’t want to miss things. And that is a good thing about a well paired therapist. And sometimes you have to search around for the right fit.
Luke: But when you find the right fit, yes you go faster but it is still quality. And that is a key. It’s not carelessly fast. I think that those were some of the bigger elements and then honestly, I had to forgive myself. I had to forgive myself for sucking as a human in so many different ways for so long. Some of those were the result of me being victimized. 100% I can wrap my head around it. That is fine. But the damage I did still has my fingerprints still on it. The person or the people who wounded me, their fingerprints aren’t on the hurts that I caused. Mine are. It is tough when you can’t love yourself as a starting point. Like when you hate yourself to begin with it is really hard to want to heal. And then when you say, OK, I will go heal and then you start healing and then you start facing all of the legitimate reasons why you might hate yourself. All of the crap that you have caused. All of the problems that you’ve created. All of the missed opportunities, all of the let downs. All of that. You already don’t like yourself, now you have to look at these things and own them and talk about, like there are so many places where I think people are going to want to jump off of that train. I think the thing I would say is, to recognize that wherever you are, that if childhood trauma had something to do where you are at, you are going to have to cut yourself an awful lot of slack and have an awful lot of grace and maybe even learn to forgive yourself before you are quite ready, before you even know what that is going to require what that means and you have to get curious about yourself. Stop being super super serious about everything being like “Oh this is where everyone is going to throw me out of the city and bar me into exile and understand that if you can be curious and say why and find your way through the questions with the support of people, you can get there but it is not easy.
Tina: Ohhhh. Yeah. I am hearing you and I like that you have done the hard work. Continue to do the hard work and are encouraging others to do that too. Because there are people who that is harder for, for sure. So I literally cannot say enough about your film. It is awesome and we encourage anyone out there listening to go find it and watch it. It’s SO important film on a topic that affects literally almost all of us. I am curious if you can share and we will put this on our website and on our podcast page, where can people find your film?
Luke: So the film is pretty widely available especially in the digital realm. You can find it on Amazon or iTunes or a lot of those places. Probably the easiest way to track to it so you don’t have to write it down a thousand different links. My website has links to the film website, which incidentally is WhatLiesInsideFilm.com. My website is lukerenner.com. And that also has links out to my Twitter and Instagram and those sorts of things. I am trying to continue being outside and beyond the film where I sort of continue to push that conversation forward which is why, thank you for having me. I was super excited to be invited to be a part of this because I do want to continue doing that because I don’t necessarily feel the pressure to self assign myself some noble task of being the mental health guy but I do definitely…I want to have my hand in on that moment like what Peter Levine was able to give to me, that hope spark. I want to be as much of a part of that as I can. Lukerenner.com is probably a good started and that is to see the film. I am also looking for opportunities and ways to create dialogue around the film. Whether that is through speaking engagements or seminars or different things like that. So I don’t currently have those things lined up but I think some of that is coming down the road so you could probably keep abreast of some of those things on the website as well.
Serena: So before we bring our episode to a close, is there anything we haven’t asked you today that you want to put out there to the world?
Luke: Oh man. Probably that it’s worth it. You are worth it. You are worth working on. Also, I don’t know that this is for everyone but it is something running around in my head for myself. You don’t always have to be working on yourself every second of every day. There is a little bit of a paradox in saying, “I love and accept myself.” And saying, “I want to heal myself and be well.” Well at some point, if you love and accept yourself, then being quirky and full of flaws is OK also. So finding the right balance between working on your junk and just being OK with having some junk still. You get to decide. One of the things that Dr. Kerry Ann Williams says in the film that it’s highly personalized what does healing mean for you. What does recovery mean for you? There is not some magical bar out there that some stranger has set that you have to hit. If you can feel encouraged that the point of working on these things is to just improve your quality of life a little, and that a little can go a long way, then I think that that is probably a healthy and realistic carrot to hang in front of people. Not OK, what we are asking you to do here is dig as far back into and as deep down into your junk as you can and fix everything that has ever been wrong with the world. Healing and wellness is more about a repositioning not a reorienting. Rather than saying I am just going to sit here and feel the pain, healing and wellness is saying, I can both work through some of these things and make some improvements but I don’t have to get rid of the pain. You are not making anything go away. You are not canceling out your trauma. You are not saying it wasn’t a big deal or it wasn’t important. This is about addition. Healing and wellness is not about subtraction. I am not asking you to take away things that are wrong. We are asking you to supplement the wrong things with the things that will make you and those around you happier and healthier. That is the other thing. One of the key things to look for I would say for people if you are saying like are you really all that bad. Are my problems worth dealing with? First of all, if they are a big deal to you, they are a big deal. You are the sole person who gets to decide whether you want to feel this way anymore. Having said that, if your problems have begun to leak outside of you and are affecting the people around you, then in an objective sense I would say, it is probably time to take action and get some things in control. It is one thing for our pain and our suffering to be bouncing around inside of us like a bullet ricocheting in a cave harming us. That is one thing. When it starts to come out of us and harm other people, no one deserves to be harmed by any of us and so we have to at least do well enough so that we are not spreading our trauma and making it multiply. But beyond that, you deserve even better than that. You don’t have to feel like that bullet is bouncing around inside of you just tearing you to shreds.
Serena: Yeah. Thank you. That is great advice. Great….
Tina: Great perspective for sure.
Luke: And I also love what you all are doing in the sense that you don’t put yourselves out there as being … you are not the doctors. You are not the ones writing all of the books and neither am I. And I think more and more, the more I look around, the more I see that more and more people are waking up to and accepting the idea that we could all be doing a little better with our mental health so that is happening. But at the same time we are all running into the challenge that the field, the medical field is maybe not ready to meet the demand. We are waking up maybe faster than there are enough people to meet the demand. That can feel really hard. Depending on where you live, I am in the midwest and I don’t know about the rest of the country, it can be impossible to find a good person to help you. Whether you want to get help or be one of the helpers, don’t limit yourself to just the pro level. Right? Like go after it yourself. The pros are writing books. You can access the books at the library if you can’t afford to buy them. There is tons of great free information coming from the pro level but I find that the healing that really happens, that is possible doesn’t require all people to have a pro in their pocket. You can do it with good community and just a healthy sense of curiosity and a willingness to forgive yourself and go for it.
Tina: We love that and we talk all the time about building your toolbox. And a lot of those tools don’t have to do with seeking outside professionals to assist you. I have personally found that helpful and it is not the only tool in my box. Right?
Serena: Yeah. So Luke, thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us today and share your wisdom that you have earned through experience. We really appreciate all that you are doing personally and professionally to normalize the conversation around trauma and mental health.
Luke: Thank you and thank you for doing that ask well. Again, this is how it happens. It happens by ordinary folks (sorry!) I am dragging you in with me, ordinary folks doing the extraordinary work of caring.
Tina: That is OK. We like being ordinary. So podcast friends, we are, as always, grateful for all of you listening and supporting us. You can help us out by visiting Apple podcasts, leaving us a review, subscribe and please share with others. You will find lots more content on our website NoNeedtoExplainPodcast.com. And shout out to Serena how great she is on all of the socials, right?!
Serena: And this is your gentle reminder to take good care of yourself while you are also taking care of your people.
Tina: Thanks again for listening!