Toxic Relationships with Heidi Brocke

When you think about your health and wellbeing, how much do your personal relationships matter? The truth is, they’re either feeding you or draining you. And toxicity can show up in ALL relationships – not just romantic ones. In this episode you’ll learn to watch for symptoms and learn why perfectionists are more likely to encounter these situations.

Related links:

  • How toxic relationships can change a person’s self-worth and sense of power over time
  • What a toxic relationship looks like (hint: it’s not always just in romantic relationships)
  • How toxic relationships can impact your health
  • The signs of a toxic person: how they use control to make themselves feel better 
  • Why high-achieving people fall victim to toxic relationships

If you enjoyed the audio version, be sure to subscribe to the She’s Got Power podcast on Apple or wherever you get your podcasts. Love what you hear? Please share with your friends and leave a review on iTunes so more women can finally overcome the health issues associated with chronic stress and burnout.

Michelle:
It's time to stop being the victim of your over-scheduled life and become the most powerful version of yourself. Welcome to, she's got power. I just spoke with a client this morning who, even though she's completely estranged from her mother, it's a very toxic relationship. She's been getting these daily text messages all of a sudden. And then a friend of mine had her very emotionally abusive ex ask if he could move in and live with her. I mean, what all sorts of weird relationship stuff can be brought to the surface during times of crisis, such as coronavirus crisis. So I think that this episode, while always relevant, maybe even more so right now, perhaps more so than we meant when we recorded it several months ago. Listen, our power can so quickly be sucked dry by toxic people and draining relationships. So if you've been feeling exhausted, anxious, nervous on edge, worn out, I'm not just talking right now. If you're listening while we're still all under quarantine, but I mean in general, I highly encourage you to evaluate the relationships in your life.

Michelle:
So let me tell you about our guest today and then we'll get into the interview and so excited about this one. Dr Heidi Brock has turned her past into her passion as she provides hope, healing and freedom to those who've lives have been affected by toxic relationships, emotional abuse and narcissistic behaviors. She's served in healthcare for over 22 years as a primary care physician, acupuncturist and a nutritionist and she now uses her life experience and her education to be the person she needed when she herself was trapped in the darkness of an unhealthy toxic relationship. She's been featured in both Forbes and tie magazines for the dedication given to her clients and her work in the toxic relationship area and dr Heidi is also the host of the podcast. It's not normal

Michelle:
toxic. Here we go. Hey, dr Heidi, thank you so much for joining us today.

Michelle:
Thank you for letting me join you today. This is a very important conversation. As soon as I came across you, I think it was on Instagram that I came across your work. I was like, I must talk to this woman. Right?

Dr. Heidi:
I feel like a lot of people say that.

Michelle:
Is Instagram, like your main thing is that, is that your platform of choice?

Dr. Heidi:
But actually people would laugh at me if they knew my technology skills. I'm actually a chiropractor by trade and so I am really fat fingering through all the social media. But yes I do. I have a couple of Instagram accounts and I run a couple Facebook accounts, but not to the extent they should be run. So I'm growing and expanding and I will eventually have somebody doing that for me. So I get grammar corrections even from my admin and even from followers will correct my grammar on Instagram.

Michelle:
That's hilarious to hear that everybody, it makes any mistakes. You should let her know immediately. She enjoys that but, but today we are here to talk about the connection between relationships in our lives and hour feeling of of power or powerless, powerlessness. And this is something that's very personal to me. And when I came across your work, I was just like, okay, we need to have this conversation because being powerful in our lives, yes, it's about eating the foods that fuel us well. Yes, it's about moving our body and being strong and our physical self. Yes. It's about, you know, all the other topics that we commonly cover on the show, but because you specialize in toxic relationships, I want to first ask you, how do you see, and I know from your own personal story and the women you work with, how do you see relationships changing a woman's sense of herself and eliminating her power over time? Like how does that manifest for the different women that you work with?

Dr. Heidi:
Well, I think how I would start that is you hear and we read, I shouldn't say we read, we read names all day long in today's society, but you hear things like when you're with the right person, they bring out the best in you. Or you know, when you met your soul mate because you're the best version of you. Okay. Being in a toxic relationship is exactly the opposite. And the reason that is, is this is this is a huge chunk to start with. So I'll try to keep it simplified, but toxic people in general, and I want to clarify, I use the word toxic people or toxic relationship kind of as a blanket phrase because it covers all diagnosis and all types of toxic relationships. Because the point I kind of teach from is I don't really, it sounds terrible. I don't care if they have a diagnosis.

Dr. Heidi:
I don't care if you know, if they claim something's wrong with him at the bottom line is, are they healthy for you in the state that your relationship is in? Because what we tend to do is we tend to feel sorry for them then if they have a diagnosis, which then kind of success in farther. So you'll hear me say toxic relationship and toxic people and toxic persons quite a bit. And I just, I just use that to cover all of [inaudible] all of the bases. Yeah. That being said, toxic people need for things, uh, control, power, attention and admiration. So when you're in a toxic situation and you're in there for a lengthy amount of time, you will not notice it because it's gradual. But I, toxic person will slowly take control of your life, your decisions, your identity, the way you think, your values.

Dr. Heidi:
And because it's such a slow process, we don't realize it until all of a sudden one day a light goes on and we're like, wow, I don't, I don't recognize who I am. I don't remember who I am. I want to be back to the person that I was before. And it's kind of like if you walk into a room that stinks, if you stay in that room, the smell goes away and then you don't, you don't realize how bad the smell is until you go back out into fresh air. And because toxic people desire control, they really like to take, um, the little things in your life that you should be controlling. Uh, you know what you wear, what color your hair is, what color nail Polish you were. You know, what, what size you are. They like to control even down to the stuff that should be solely in your control, but because we like to please who we're with, we tend to jump on the treadmill of approval very quickly and because they also have the aspect of needing attention all the time. When you're on the treadmill of approval type, trying to be good enough and trying to be better and trying to meet approval for them, your focus is on them and not you, and pretty soon you realize that you are actually gone.

Michelle:
Does that makes sense? Yeah, and I have so many questions just from that one bit that you just gave us there. Oh, let me start with, you mentioned the word toxicity kind of encompasses perhaps many different diagnoses, many different types of people fall under that umbrella term. Could you throw out a handful of different diagnoses that would definitely fall underneath

Dr. Heidi:
toxic? I want to word this correctly. I want to make sure you all know everybody's toxic. So we all have the capability of having toxic traits. So I don't want to finger point and say, Oh, they're toxic and they're not. Because I knew by the time I left, I had it. Toxic traits are contagious. If you're around it long enough, you have to fight fire with fire and you adopt toxic traits. So I'm not, I don't ever tell any of my clients. Um, yes, I think he's toxic. I think you should leave. I present, I educate them on the character traits so they can make the decision because ultimately it's their life and it's their decision. Right. So the, the thing with toxic relationships right now is it's, it's becoming very, very recognized. So things like a narcissistic behavior and narcissistic personality disorder, bipolar could be considered that some people that are on the spectrum could be considered somewhat toxic for people. Selfish. You know, anybody who's even selfish because it could, a toxic person [inaudible] is very self centered. They move through life worrying only about their needs and what they can get others to feed them with no consequence for how they hurt other people and the consequences for other people.

Michelle:
Interesting. Okay. And that's so interesting that we can all take on those characteristics from time to time, especially if we've been around it.

Dr. Heidi:
Yeah. And I, you know, an example of that is I was never a yeller. I have always been loud. I've always talked a hundred miles an hour, but I was never a yeller. And by the time I left, um, a toxic relationship that I had been involved in for a long time, all I did was yell at my kids. And I remember thinking, what are you doing? Like you're out of your head. And then when I started understanding what it was that I was in, and as I started healing and recovering from it, it, it, you know, everything makes total sense now. But the other thing I think I want to mention before we get too far into it, [inaudible] you know, we beat ourselves up for, for falling into relationships that aren't healthy for us and we beat ourselves up for falling into friendships that aren't healthy for us or staying in a work situation that's not healthy for us.

Dr. Heidi:
But what I want you to realize is toxic people are not going to pick people like them because of their control and power need. They're going to pick good kind, caring, loving, empathetic people. So chances are if you've been in one or if you've been in repetitive, you're good kind, caring, and loving. So you're a target, which means you need to understand how to recognize them because it's not probably the last one you're going to meet. So I always like to give people the, you know, we, we'd like to say I just picked the wrong person or my picker's broken, or you know, that's not, that's not necessarily the case. You're just a good person and toxic people will take advantage of good people.

Michelle:
Can you expand a little bit on this idea of like what is a toxic relationship and isn't it necessarily a romantic relationship?

Dr. Heidi:
Okay. So I've been in healthcare for 23 years. I'm just going to give you a little background. And I have had multiple toxic relationships. One was longstanding and very, very extreme in emotional abuse and narcissistic behavior. And I started doing this. I really was just planning on helping women because that's where my experience was. And five years later, I have toxic relationships. Do not discriminate. They are in every gender. They're in every culture. They're in every social class, they're in every income level. Um, any type of relationship. So now, like when I have my conferences and I have my workshops and stuff like that, I have every type of relationship in there. They can be intimate, which is, you know, spouse or boyfriend, girlfriend or intimate partner. I work with people in toxic friends and social circles. I work with people who have been raised in toxic families.

Dr. Heidi:
You've been raised in a toxic family. You don't know any different. So chances are you're going to move into something toxic because it seems normal. I've worked with people who have, uh, toxic, uh, parents. I have worked with parents who have toxic children. And so, you know, it kind of encompasses a lot. I was actually just featured in Forbes magazine up probably about a month ago on toxicity in the workplace and how to, you know, rise to your potential in the workplace when you've got toxic people around you and you're a good person and toxic people affect you. So yes, they're in every relationship. Uh, no matter what type of relationship a toxic toxicity can sneak in.

Michelle:
And I think that's just really important to know. Cause usually when I hear the term or when we're talking about a narcissist or whatever, it is more of a romantic or intimate relationship. Yes, it's definitely is passed down through families and all any, any relationship in your life. So for everybody listening, um, I just want you to consider how all of the relationships in your life are either feeding you or draining you because often I will have a client come to me who has a myriad of health symptoms that just kind of can't get resolved. And they've tried a lot of things and there's been supplements and there's been testing and there's been this and there's been that. And when you really get into a woman's story, I find more often than not, it's a job. It's a relationship. It's some aspect of her life that I'll use. The word toxic is toxic and causing these symptoms. And if you can change that, Oh look, we feel so much better now.

Dr. Heidi:
Yeah, you're exactly right. Which is going to open a whole nother bucket of worms. So I'll mention it and if you want to go into that category, we totally can. Yeah. I also do a ton of adrenal fatigue treatment because your adrenal gland is the Glen that helps you adapt to stress. So when you are in chronic, longstanding toxic situations, your adrenal gland is going to start coming into play with a lot of health issues. And somebody who's in an say, an emotional abusive or a physical abusive or narcissistically abusive relationship is going to be on guard and their stress level is going to be up. And when the stress level is up, the adrenal glands kick in and eventually over years they'll wear out. And so some of the things you might be seeing are totally tied to the adrenal gland, which is the stress adaption mechanism for the human body.

Michelle:
We talk a lot about the stress response system and the HPA axis on this show. So this is very, very relevant. Um, yeah. So let's talk a little about like the symptoms that somebody might be experiencing that yes, could be that you're low in iron or that your thyroid is flagging but also could be a direct result of being under chronic stress because you're dealing with someone who is controlling you and demanding your attention and, and, and causing all kinds of Oh Judah to use my grandmother's Italian phrase, uh, Judah in your life. So I know for myself, I experienced extreme fatigue that I thought, okay, you know, I need vitamin D and I need iron and I, or I need this and, or I need that. Or I just, I'm a person who needs 10 hours of sleep. And after removing myself from the situation, guess what? I have all the energy in the world and I function just great even on six hours of sleep. So is that a common symptom that you're seeing as well?

Dr. Heidi:
So then number one, cause of the number one complaint of the adrenal fatigue that I treat is fatigue. Okay. The problem with adrenal fatigue is there's not a supplement. I mean, there's supporting supplements that are definitely good to support the adrenals. There's not a supplement, there's not any type of, you know, medical care that treats it because adrenal fatigue is caused by lifestyle. So the only way to reverse adrenal dysfunction is to change your lifestyle. So it makes sense that as soon as you got out then, Oh, I'm starting to feel a lot better because you changed your lifestyle, which reduce the amount of stressors on your body. And you know, when we think of stress, we think of big things like a divorce or a, you know, a new job or a move or a baby or a marriage or something like that. That's what triggers when we think about stress, but our body depicts stresses.

Dr. Heidi:
Anything that that asks for an adaption. So, you know, I don't know if you experienced this in your relationships, but Oh, now we're happy. Oh yeah. But now they're sad. So now we're sad and you're on this. They dictate the mood everywhere you go. So your body's always going, Oh, okay, okay, now we're not sleeping. Okay, now we're fighting. Now we're, you know, and your body's always on guard. So then we get tired and we start eating it. Caffeine, caffeine makes our body adapt also. So caffeine is a stressor for our, you know, and then we start feeling low energy. So, okay, we're going to work out now and our body's going, okay, we're doing all of this and now you're going to make me work out. So even the little things, you know, we see stress as big things, but the body's going, Oh my goodness, I don't, I'm not sure how I'm going to get to the day.

Dr. Heidi:
So as soon as you take some of those stressors and adaption mechanisms off, the body's like, Oh, okay. You know, and it longstanding, you know, by the time I, I was removed from the one situation that was awful for me. Um, I was in stage three and I, I mean the symptoms that I had were, were crazy. You know, my hair was falling out. I couldn't drive at night because my body pretty much quit. My pupillary reflex at that point to construct my eyes isn't really that important when we're talking about life. So, you know, you'll notice your photo sensitive, your digestive system usually messes up because when you're in a toxic situation and you eat and some conflict comes up, your body goes, okay, well I can't digest and, and deal with this toxic person right now. So I'm going to stop the digestion so I can deal with this toxic person.

Dr. Heidi:
And then it starts and a digestive system stopping and starting is, is not healthy. So digestive system, you know, digestion shows up, immune system stuff shows up. The three-day cold that you used to have is now a three week cold. Yes. Stuff like, yeah. And I think too, the reason that [inaudible] HPA access seems to spread out into all the body systems is because the body's picking and choosing what's important. Then I got to sit in this this way so I don't have time to do this. And so you know, it affects a lot of systems that, that when we look at, we're like, well those systems aren't even tied together. But if you think about the survival mode, the body goes in to keep you safe. That's why all the systems get incorporated into it. Yes. I learned that. I like talking about this idea of survival mode and also [inaudible]. Uh, so the amygdala in the brain, right? This is our surveillance system. Is everything okay? It's almost like having a bunch of cameras around your house that are just survey surveying and saying, is everything okay? Is everything okay? And my experience in a toxic relationship was constant feeling of things are not okay. Yup. That's one of the character traits, a constant feeling of tension when that person is. Yes.

Michelle:
And that is exhausting. That is just exhausting. So then that leads to, like you said, habits like coffee or whatever you're doing to kind of compensate for that. And it's been so interesting for me through the years working in women's health that like, you know, we focus so much on our weight and our calories and should we be vegan or should we do Quito or whatever the heck we're doing. But like that's, that's kinda like all up here at the surface and when you kind of drive down, uh, you know, to what's really going on, like I said, nine times out of 10 it is, it is a deeper issue that's manifesting as these, as these health symptoms. And, and many of my listeners know, my website, I have a quiz that has a list of all different symptoms that fall out of chronic stress. And like you said, they are wildly, there's, while they're across the board, like things you would just never think about and everyone says, I had no idea all of this was related to.

Dr. Heidi:
Right. And I think, you know, that's, that's a good thing too because you get, you have physical symptoms of the effects of chronic stress. You know the ones we were just talking about, the reflexes and the digestive system and that kind of thing. But we also have non physical symptoms. You know, just you can't handle stress like you used to. Everyday tasks seem overwhelming. You know, the, the four loads of laundry that used to be done before noon on Saturday, now you'd rather dump in the dumpster because you just cannot imagine having to do that. People that used to never bother you starting to get on your nerves. You know, the stuff that you used to like to do now you'd rather hold the couch down. You know, those are some of the things that then start coming into play aside or next to the physical symptoms that you kind of have to watch for. And you know what, the people that are closest to you are the ones that are gonna notice that. Cause you don't want to go out and you don't want to talk on the phone and your house is, you know, so other people might notice that before you even really realize that you're letting things slip.

Michelle:
That's so true. I remember my mother saying to me like, what's happened to you? Like why, why are you saying these things? Right? It's, this doesn't sound like you cause I would be more, you know, I'm a pretty confident woman. I've, I've accomplished a lot in my life. I pretty much can take on any challenge. But suddenly I was saying things to her like, I can't do this or I have to do this because then it's going to cause this problem or just second guessing everything. And it sounds like these are all just more symptoms of being involved in a toxic relationship.

Dr. Heidi:
Well, and that is another thing that I, you know, I have a couple of quizzes on my website too, and one of them says, uh, you know, check all of the ways that you feel when you're with this person. You know, and there's, there's happy and sad and trapped and there's all different ones. And then is check all the things you feel when you're not with this person and what, what you'll tend to realize and you're just because of what you just said, you're gonna understand this. You are a different person when they are not around. Yes. Because your body body knows when it's safe and, and when it's not safe and you're free, that's another thing. Your friends and your mom are going to be the first people to go. Well, you know, you're so relaxed when they're not around then the phone rings and your wound is tied as you know, screw.

Dr. Heidi:
Yeah. And, and you know, that's always frustrating too. I found, you know, as a professional woman like yourself, you go to work and you can do great and you're confident in and every, you know, you don't have to reach for approval and you know what you're doing and you know, you're an expert in what you're doing and you go home. Or in my case I go home and it was opposite. You know, I looked at the ground, I didn't say anything. I was nervous all the time, you know, putting fires out. Just yes, just complete. Not even a little bit of light. It was like 180 degrees, you know, and then presented. You just want to go to work because that work, you feel very confident at home, you know, and maybe not so much more opposite. You know, if it's a spot where you're working with the toxic boss or you're working with toxic coworkers, you can't wait to get home where you can be yourself.

Dr. Heidi:
So that would be one thing. If you are in a situation where you don't feel like you are yourself, maybe start doing some research on stuff like that, right? Because this has far reaching impact on your health and on your ability to do anything in life, right? It's not just like, Oh well when I'm in this one, I'm at work. Right? Oh, it's work. It's supposed to be hard. Whatever. It's hard for me to be there. It's not because your body starts to react and have symptoms and those symptoms are just going to compound until you know you have lost the energy, you've lost the drive, you've lost the will to do other things in your life. It's not just about dealing with it. I think this is just fundamental to good health and to, and so being a force in this world, you can't be, if somebody, I always felt like somebody was um, drilling, I was in a boat and there were just holes getting drilled in the bottom of the boat and I'm just trying to bail out the boat with like a cut and you had to bail out the quote and plug the holes because the toxic person is not going to do anything and you know, it's going to be your fault when the boat sinks and he drowns.

Dr. Heidi:
That's right.

Dr. Heidi:
Right. And that's kind of what I wanted to go into a little bit too, because we're talking about right now we're talking about the, the after effects of being in a, in a chronic stressful situation. But I think you know, when, when a lot of people that come to me or just like me and probably just like you and you were in it, you didn't realize you were in it, you didn't know what it was. You didn't know it had a name. You didn't know that. It wasn't just you being a bad partner or you being a bad friend, you're just like, well I, you know, this is just me. Well, I've never been a wife before. How, how do I know? Maybe it is me, you know? And so then you try harder and you work harder and you, you know, you change everything you can just so that you can please them.

Dr. Heidi:
And at the end of the day, it's, it's a control thing. You aren't, they're always going to move the goalpost. You are never gonna, you're never going to please them no matter what you do. And so, you know, with the adrenal fatigue, we're kind of talking on, on the inspector and what people would realize their situation. But the place where I come from and, and because, you know, I've been in healthcare for a long time, so I, I've walked people through a lot of things, what I do different than or, and what I believe different than say, counselors or therapists. And God loved them because I worked very closely with them. I found that as soon as I understood the situation for what it was, that's where I got my power. So when I decided to do the coaching and write my program, aye educate, I would almost call myself more of an educator than a coach because I teach the character traits of the toxic person, which you probably know him cause you've seen him cause you've been in situations that weren't the best for you.

Dr. Heidi:
But the more importantly why they do it, because the minute you understand why they do it, you take their power away. So it's, you know, education, understanding, empowerment and ultimately freedom is kind of, it's kind of the pathway that I take people through. And you know, I have people all the time say, I've been going to counseling for 10 years and I just spent an hour with you on the phone. And I get it. And, and it's just, I think sometimes we know we're in something, we don't know what it is. We go into place, you know, we talk to people about it, but we can never put our finger on it. And it's, it's really shocking to people when I just start telling them their their life and I don't even know him. They're like, what? How do you know that? Well, I've toxic people pretty much use the same playbook. You know, they're all about the same thing, so they're going to use the same tactics. And that's the point that I go from educate yourself on the character traits and why they do it, because that's where you're going to start going, Oh, I get it. You know, creditors understand the mechanism behind it.

Dr. Heidi:
Were you in a situation where a lot of criticisms, yes. Criticisms and comparisons and some people are with big name callers, you know, they'd be little. Anything you do, you're not good at that. You're never gonna, you know, why are you doing that? That doesn't make enough money. You know, you should wear your hair like this, that kind of thing. Were you jewelry? You did it, you experience stuff like that? Yes. Okay. Toxic people feel better when other people are struggling. So they put you through this arrangement of criticisms and comparisons because toxic people in general, for whatever reason, have some type of insecurity. And for them to feel secure, they need to control the people in the situations around them. So if you're with a criticizer or you're with somebody who compares you or you always feel like you're not good enough, it's because they're feeling insecure for whatever reason, and they need to feel better.

Dr. Heidi:
So by squishing other people, it makes them feel more powerful. And so, you know, when I explain it like that, people are like, Oh, so I'm not actually all the names that he calls me. Oh, you're probably none of them. In fact, you probably made them all up just to make you feel like you should double think that. And then your attention again is on him or the toxic person wondering why they think that. Well really they don't think it. They just make it up so that your attention, you know, your subconscious goes straight to that. I want to share an experience that I had recently. It was, it was, it was such a stark contrast. So I was, I'm kayaking and this was very triggering for me because I could feel those criticisms and the word the being made fun of, I could feel it coming and it was with a totally different group of people.

Dr. Heidi:
But inside my head I could hear those same words essentially around like I'm not paddling correctly. I'm not good at this, I'm getting too much water in the kayak. I'm not moving the Chi, I'm not strong enough like whatever. And I was really like fearful that like, um, this is what everybody thinks of me. Cause this was, this had been my experience around kayaking and as you know, kind of moved through the Bay on the kayak. I realized nobody was saying any of those things and this, this was not feedback I was actually receiving in the moment. It was just replaying in my mind like a trauma and it doesn't sound that serious, it's just kayaking. But I was like, Oh my God. Like, maybe actually I'm, I'm okay at kayaking and that seems like an absurd thing for 40 year old woman to have to like come to and like talk herself down out of the tree.

Dr. Heidi:
That's actually, I say that all the time. If I could take one thing away from my clients, it would be the triggers. Yeah. And so, you know, I kind of teach people how to deal with that. So you said nobody was saying anything except one person you were. Yes. You know, you were saying it because you had heard it so many times, you know, and, and that's part, that's part of it too. Now I'm not certain how long length of your toxic relationships were, but the longer you hear it, they, the more you lose your self worth. And you would think that they strategically do this. Like it is so methodical how they go through and you know, steal your confidence, steal your esteem, steal your worth. It's so cyclical. Yeah. You don't even realize that you've given up your whole self and everything about your image and you've basically taken everything about you and given it to them. And let and let them make the description, you know, and then you're kayaking years later and you're still letting them make the description.

Dr. Heidi:
Yep. And so, so you know how, what I would teach in that. It's okay. So even though you're out from underneath the actual physical relationship, who still controlling you, he's still controlling your thoughts, who's still making you feel that way? Yeah. That can really live on, I mean, talk about disempowerment. My goodness. You remove yourself from the situation and this still can be disempowering you for years. Yes. It's funny because my kids and my husband, I am remarried by the way, um, that my kids and my husband will go, what's the matter? I'll say nothing. Yeah. Something's a matter. You're talking to yourself. I talk to myself all the time because I have found that [inaudible] let me guess. When you were on the kayak and you thought people were thinking you were awful and you kind of had a pit in your stomach, didn't you?

Michelle:
Oh, of course. Yeah.

Dr. Heidi:
Yeah. So the minute I feel that because when you were in a toxic relationship, you got so used to living with that pit in your stomach that it was normal to live with a pit in your stomach. Now that you've been out, you're only going to get a pit in your stomach when something's wrong, because that's your intuition. That's your body's mechanism telling you something's wrong. But when you're in an unhealthy relationship, you ignore it. Right? So I've learned to deal with my triggers is as soon as I feel that in my stomach or I start feeling that in my body, I immediately make myself stop [inaudible] figure out what's causing it. Because as soon as I figure out, Oh, that's just, and you know, your body's just trained to react how it used to react when it was in an unsafe place. So as soon as you stop and go, okay, why am I feeling like this? Was this a big deal? Is it something that I should be concerned about? And normally as soon as you can figure out what, what the trigger is, it will go away. But it's, I mean it's, I've been out for 12 years and I still, I have stuff like that.

Michelle:
Yeah. So there's elements of like trauma and it's like a PTSD moment, right? These are kind of like throw back, like, Oh my God, I'm in it again. Except, no, I'm not. I'm safe, I'm safe, I'm safe, I'm safe.

Dr. Heidi:
Yup. And I think too, what, what people don't realize is [inaudible] and you might, you might identify with this, they train you to react the way they need you to react so that they get what they want. You know? So when you've removed yourself, it's basically a deprogramming from what you were trained. Yes. You know, and your body's just been trained to be pretty sure that you're never gonna make it and you're not good enough to do this and you're never going to have friends and nobody's ever going to love you. That's how you come out of those. So it's a, it's a retraining and I mean, I'm sure you don't, you don't feel like you're never going to make it now or people don't like you now, you know, cause you're like, no, I'm killing it.

Michelle:
But there's a limit right and left. But it is so strange how you can fall back into that pit in your stomach feeling.

Dr. Heidi:
Yes. And I did note, you might recognize this too. I was surprised to realize how many up triggers come from smells like a cologne or uh, you know, a restaurant smell or a hotel smell from the past. So the triggers are always caused by senses because that's, you know, that's how your body perceives things. And so there was probably something, you know, something on that. And of course we're, we're immediately programmed to worry about what other people think. And that's probably what you were doing on the kayak.

Michelle:
Yes, exactly. Just kind of like reliving that and worried that it really was true and Oh my God, something is wrong with me because something's always wrong. And that is a really an unlearning or like a reprogramming, like you said, that needs to happen for us to reclaim, reclaim our power. Right? You just people who are okay in this life. Like I can walk through life now and am okay most days. There's no pit in my stomach at all. It is the most freeing, wonderful feeling ever. I can't believe how many years went by with that pit in my stomach. So [inaudible]

Dr. Heidi:
nobody gets used to it.

Michelle:
Oh yeah. How wonderful. And I'm curious, so I'm going to ask you this question and I want you to, you know, maybe you'll think about it a little bit while we kind of give everybody links where they can find you and everything. But, um,

Dr. Heidi:
I'm curious on

Michelle:
if you feel there's a connection between women who are more

Dr. Heidi:
perfectionist,

Michelle:
people pleasers, uh, maybe type a in the women who really like to get it right, high achieving women

Dr. Heidi:
and

Michelle:
somehow falling into these toxic relationships. So let's just put a pin in that for a second. And then for all my listeners and you guys know that you are the perfectionist and type is and people pleasers that I'm just talking about, hold tight. We're going to answer that question in just a minute. But in the meantime, please, uh, where can everybody go to find more about you and your work? I know you have a podcast, you have this, uh, toxicity analysis on your website. Everybody needs this information. So lay it on us. Where should we go?

Dr. Heidi:
Okay, so coaching with dr heidi.com is the website and there's a couple of different quizzes on there. There's one called the toxicity profile analysis and that is a great test. It's lengthy. I apologize. There's a reason for that. That's a great test. If you're wondering, you know, um, if you've always wondered if something was wrong or felt like something was wrong, it kind of gives you an indication if you've been mild, moderately, or severely affected by the toxic traits of others. The trick with that [inaudible] I get different results and the results that I get when you take the test, I can see kind of a window into the toxic person and I immediately know what type of toxic personality you're dealing with and that helps you if you would ever decide to work with me or do a consultation because you won't have to tell your whole story.

Dr. Heidi:
So that's coaching with dr heidi.com and um, I, that podcast that I have is on most of the major platforms. I was just accepted on to iHeartRadio. So you can Google it there. It's called, it's not normal. It's toxic. I'm on Apple, I'm on Google, but I record on anchor. So it's anchor dot F M backslash dr Heidi. It's another one but, but it's not normal. It's toxic. You can probably Google it. You can also get to the link through the website and I have Instagram and Facebook that are both coaching with dr Heidi. I do have an online private support group on Facebook, on strength within, and it, it's just hit 700 I keep it very positive. It's an immediate support group for people who do not have a support system that are in toxic relationships, learning about toxic relationships and trying to remove themselves from toxic relationships.

Dr. Heidi:
So it's called strength within. And that has been an incredible tool because many of us are isolated from our family and and support group when we're in a toxic relationship. So it's been great to go people, they can jump in there, they can explain their situation and everybody in the group understands. And you know, when you tried to explain your situation to have people who were never, who never experienced it, they were like, Oh really? You know, if it's so bad, why don't you leave? So it's, that's the strength within group is you don't because you don't have to explain yourself. Everybody gets it. And there's a lot of response in there. It's very positive.

Michelle:
Oh, that sounds so useful. And I mean I was very, I've been very lucky because my mother has gone through similar situations. She's been such a great support. And when I saw the name, the title of your podcast, it's not normal. It's toxic. It's sounded like something that like she would say to me just kind of like, not like actually grabbing my shoulders but like kind of her kind of wanting to grab my shoulders through the phone and say that like it's not normal. And it just kinda finally sunk in one day. And when I, and I saw that that was your podcast, I'm like, Oh my God. Okay, this woman totally gets it and this has been such a great conversation. Um, so I just wanted to,

Dr. Heidi:
can I say one more thing? Um, the third annual, it's not normal. It's toxic conferences coming up and that's going to be in st Louis. That information is on the website also, but that is basically the whole education part of my program covered in two days. And I know, you know, some people have to learn in secret if credit card statements are watched and if phone bills are watched. I'm sorry. I tried to get my information in as many different ways to people as I can and sometimes a two day shopping trip to st Louis works really well, you know? Um, and so that the conference information is on the one side as well.

Michelle:
Thank you for sharing that. So let's end with that question that I posed earlier for all of our perfectionists out there and high achieving women and we are just killing it at work and making great strides and all the things that we're doing when we're outside of a toxic relationship. Why, Oh, why do we fall prey to them in the first place?

Dr. Heidi:
Because they're going to pick personalities that want to please people and they're going to pick personalities that want to work really, really hard. Yes. And you know, this addresses another thing, and I don't want to take up too much time in this, but usually, and I bet you'll agree at the beginning of the relationship, they loved everything about it. They love the fact that you are independent and that you had your own career and that you weren't going to have to worry about, you know, relying on them for finances and they're just so proud to be next to such a successful person. You know? And then when you move from the admiration position into the control position, then they start nitpicking everything that they said they liked about you in the beginning. You know, you spend too much time at your job and there's too many men that work at your job.

Dr. Heidi:
And why don't you quit your job and you know, they know that you want to achieve and you want to be the best. And so they will nitpick on you at home so that you continually feel you're not perfect enough. And so then everything including, you know, the dust on the floor, it needs to be perfect at home and they will make sure, you know, some of the things my clients tell me that they're nitpicked about is just to bring out the perfectionist. Because what it does is it puts a perfectionist attention on them all the time because, Oh, that's not good enough. Oh, I tried really hard, but didn't quite make it. You know that sleeping with the enemy movie. You know how he always checks the bath towels?

Michelle:
[inaudible]

Dr. Heidi:
so they're straight. And I mean, if you remember that movie, I mean I could barely watch it because it came out at a really bad time in my life. I could watch it now. But the little things, I mean that house was spotless, right? And he was nitpicking on the fact that the towels were crooked and all that did was, you know, got her attention on him. And I know if, if there's listeners, they know what I'm talking about when, Oh, they're coming home, they're going to be home in 10 minutes. Okay, let's see. Did I get everything on the list? Is the garage door shut? Is the garbage can come in from the road? Did no does. Is the laundry done? Did the ties get Gretzky? Did you know you have this list in your head because you know when they hit the door they're going to start looking for something to make sure that, you know you didn't quite do good enough because then tomorrow you're going to have to try harder, which again takes all your attention off of yourself and onto them.

Michelle:
Yeah, sure. So there's this like cycle cause a perfectionist wants to get it right, wants to get it right. So if it's not right, I'm going to try. I'm going to try. I'm going to try. I'm going to try until I have just lost my entire being in the process.

Dr. Heidi:
Yeah, and that's, that's part of you. That's part of you being a target for them. They, they will pick somebody who they know will bend over backwards.

Michelle:
So interesting. Dr Heidi, thank you so much for being here today and talking about toxic relationships and taking back our power. I hope

Michelle:
this has been useful. I know it will be useful for many of our listeners. Thanks so much. Yes, thank you.

Speaker 4:
[inaudible]

Michelle:
thanks for tuning in. This felt like such an [inaudible].

Michelle:
We're in conversation for us, perfectionist for those of us who have maybe fallen prey to an unhealthy relationship, eyes open. Okay. Eyes wide open and this is exactly why in my coaching practice, it's not just about food or exercise, your health, your power, it's about your whole story and how you're being fed on every level. Please. I'm asking you, please share this episode with the women in your life who need to hear it, and please leave a rating and review on iTunes and anything you hear on the show has helped you be less of a victim and more powerful in your own life.

Speaker 4:
[inaudible].