The Connection Between Loneliness and Trauma | 9.17.2021
In this episode, Kristen talks to Dr. Sylvia Kalicinski about better understanding the impacts of loneliness, childhood trauma, and healing.
Dr. Sylvia Kalicinski
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Kristen Boice 0:00
Welcome to the close the chapter podcast. I am Kristen Boice, a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with a private practice pathways to healing counseling. Through conversations, education, strategies and shared stories, we will be closing the chapter on all the thoughts, feelings, people and circumstances that don't serve you anymore. And open the door to possibilities and the real you. You won't want to miss an episode, so be sure to subscribe
Welcome to this week's close the chapter podcast. Thank you so much for taking the time to tune into the show. I know you have a lot of options when it comes to podcasts. And just your time. So thank you for tuning in. Whether you're on a walk, you're getting ready in the morning, you're working out you're doing things around the house, whatever that looks like for you. Maybe you're driving in you're tuning in thank you for spreading the message on personal growth and healing. If you want to keep up with the latest free information and the latest episodes, be sure to jump on to the email list at Kristen K R I S T and D Boice. B IC e.com. forward slash free resources you also get a free healing guide. So you'll want to jump on to that for sure. And then subscribe rate and review the podcast. It's what helps keep it growing and helping other people. So thank you so much. I am excited to talk about today's guest and the topic because it's pervasive right now. It's a topic that isn't talked about a lot. It's really a epidemic right now, in terms of everybody feels this at some point in time and some level, it just depends on where you are on the journey and what's going on in your life and the circumstances. We're going to be talking about loneliness, and the connection to unprocessed grief and loss and trauma and how to work through feeling lonely. So I want to introduce you to my guests Dr. Sylvia Kay. She is a PhD level therapist and coach whose education encompasses a broad approach to better understanding the impacts of loneliness, childhood trauma and healing. She is also a family Marriage and Family Therapist, which I love. And she has worked with all kinds of clients from celebrities to your next door neighbor, men, women teens who feel anxious, lonely and stuck. And she wants her podcast which is the Dr. Sylvia case show to showcase human stories about connection growth and true change. And I enjoyed the conversation because she was so authentic and her story and shared from very, a very vulnerable place which I think you're going to really relate to, and shared some really helpful ways to come back to center, ground calm yourself in the midst of loneliness and anxiety. She has different ways that she uses in her daily life that help her recenter. So without further ado, here is my conversation with the wonderful Dr. Sylvia Kay. Welcome to this week's close the chapter podcast. I have been looking forward to this guest coming on. For months, we have developed this kind of soul connection. And I am so grateful for her in the work she's doing in this world. I want to introduce you and it's an honor and a privilege to have her on the podcast, Dr. Sylvia, Kay. I want to say Dr. Sylvia Kay, because that's all your branding. Yeah. And I am just so excited to have this conversation around loneliness and what really lies underneath which is trauma, grief and loss.
Dr. Sylvia Kalicinski 4:11
Absolutely. Well it is such an honor Kristin to have to have right now to speak with you. Because I've been listening to your podcast for a while now and you're actually a very big part of my morning walks and BEACH WALKS I get so much out of listening to your podcast when I'm next to the water and I share a lot of your information with my clients so it really is an honor to be here to share our work and to dive deeper into topics that a lot of people don't want to talk about. So I'm happy that we are talking about it.
Kristen Boice 4:44
Me too. And every time I see your Instagram stories in your at my you live in Miami Beach, I might I they did come down there and just visit Yes. Okay. I love your scenery and you do a lot of Meditation and kind of centering. And I think that is so powerful even in this conversation we're going to have today. So if he has any trigger points, coming back to the breath, feeling your feet on the floor, going for a walk while you're listening to the podcast, can be really helpful to come back to center and regulate. Absolutely. So I would love to have you share a little bit about your story. And what led you down the path to do loneliness and trauma work?
Dr. Sylvia Kalicinski 5:30
Absolutely, gosh, I have a pretty intense story. So I definitely want to remind people have the possibility of getting triggered, especially if you, yourself have a history of abandonment, unhealed childhood trauma. And any kind of family dynamics related to alcoholism, because I've experienced all three in my family system, and my experience. But, you know, I think the way that I actually got into really focusing on loneliness is a little bit unconventional. And it's through the book writing proposal group that we were both a part of with Michelle Fred's. And originally, I wanted to write a book called, Hey, ugly, which is the acronym really for you got to love yourself. And it's how self talk affects us. And that's when I was really spending the majority of my time at the hospital, teaching my clients, how to understand self talk, how, you know, to become more aware of the way you talk to yourself, but also the impact that it has on your emotions, your behaviors, your relationships, your brain health, etc. And I think the title was too triggering for another person that was in the group. And I got some feedback about the title. And then I said, Okay, well, if there was another book that I could write right now, what would the topic beyond, and it was like, came to me right away loneliness. I was like, Excuse me, like shit. Like, that's a big, that's a big part of my own personal story. I don't know if I want to write a book about loneliness. And then I thought, oh, it's gonna be so sad to write a book about loneliness. And then I said, No, but it's not going to be about loneliness. On Armenia, it's going to be about loneliness, but it's also going to be about connection, and healing and understanding trauma. And so honestly, writing the book proposal about loneliness has opened up so many portals for me to better understand my own trauma, my unhealed childhood trauma, it's helped me better understand the power of connection of telling our stories, it's helped open my eyes to the loneliness that I often experienced by carrying so much shame related to my trauma. And so I've just, I'm still on that journey of discovering so much about myself, the phenomenon of loneliness. And the irony is, the more I talk about it, the less lonely I feel. The more I talk about it with others, people are admitting man, I actually been feeling lonely. And the more they actually have the courage to talk about it, they feel less lonely. So it's been a wild journey, and I've really been enjoying the process.
Kristen Boice 8:11
Wow, I didn't realize you had a different book. And through the book writing process, you're like, Okay, I'm going to shift gears into really honing in on loneliness, which tapped in to your inner child in your childhood. Was there a pervasive feeling of loneliness as a child for you?
Dr. Sylvia Kalicinski 8:33
Yes, but I didn't know it was that I didn't know it had a name. I, I always felt this kind of like, like I was the weirdo like, there was something wrong, not wrong. There's, I always felt kind of off or strange or different. And I didn't know what it was, I always kind of felt like on the outside anyways, of the social groups. But looking back, I realized there were great periods for me big chunks or periods of my life, that that do mimic symptoms of loneliness. And, you know, in a way, I was telling one person when I was talking about my book that I was born into trauma and and I and I feel like I was born into loneliness, because both my parents, they immigrated from Poland, in the 70s. And it's one of those kind of classic immigrant stories where they only had like $200 in their pockets. They came with my six shirt. My brother was six years old. They didn't know anybody. When they landed in New York, they were supposed to be basically received by an organization that would help them seek political asylum and the person that was supposed to greet them wasn't there. So they literally arrived with nobody to greet them all alone, and they had to figure it out. And my dad and mom at the time, I think we're only 27 years old, with a six year old son. No, he wasn't six. He was younger. He was four at the time. He was six where I was born. So their kind of immigrant experience, I think laid the foundation. You know, if you believe in epigenetics almost kind of that early wiring for the, the lonely experience, especially, you know, as immigrants. And then when my mom died at, when I was three years old, she died of a brain aneurysm. You know, my dad was, you know, catapulted into survival mode, he wasn't really able to grieve or process a loss because he had to survive. And then there's a loneliness within that, that you can't grieve the loss of Your Beloved. And then you're in the US with two kids, you're 33 years old, you have a three year old, and a nine year old, and you have to figure it out, no family support. So that's a whole sense of loneliness, exactly. And then it just like these themes and stories, and I look back, and I'm like, they all filter through the lens of loneliness, which we didn't have a name for which that's the biggest problem. I think with loneliness today, most people don't even realize that what they're experiencing is loneliness. They feel off, they feel strange, they feel sad, they feel depressed, they feel that there's other names for that. But it's almost still like taboo how I'm not going to use that word lonely, like as if it's a character flaw. But it's probably one of the most universal human experiences, whether you're surrounded by 100 family members, or you're an immigrant family, and you have no family here, and you are here on your own, like, like, loneliness doesn't discriminate. And it doesn't necessarily mean that you're all alone, physically. I've, as a therapist, have met tons of people who are married in relationship, have children have checked all the boxes, and still experience profound loneliness. I've met some of the most successful people in their careers, financially wealthy, successful, everything's going great. And still experience the sense of loneliness. I mean, we have the quote, whites gets lonely at the top. So you know, I think that it's something that is helpful to start talking more about so that we're not as afraid to, quote unquote, admit it. And I think the more we talk about it, the more that we understand this really is a universal human experience.
Kristen Boice 12:10
Yes. And I think you saying it does, we can be with other people. And it can magnify the loneliness, we can be with friends and feel really lonely. Yes. And at the beginning, you said me talking about loneliness is actually what's helping you feel less lonely? Yes, sir. Yes, right. I'm actually talking about it. And now that's helping with the loneliness. Yes. And you can see the generational transmission on top of right, this whole pervasiveness of loneliness. And I think what the pandemic, I'm seeing it and I don't know, if your clients if you're seeing it at a, at such an exponential level right now?
Dr. Sylvia Kalicinski 12:50
Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. And I think still, one of the barriers to treatment is that people don't yet realize that it's loneliness, or have a name for it. They feel it, but they're not quite sure what that is. So I think many people who have experienced loneliness, especially since the pandemic, might still be avoiding seeking treatment, or to talk about it, because they're like, Is that is that loneliness? You know, or, or sometimes I think when you're in the midst of trauma, you still don't have even the language to articulate what's going on. And I think we're not really going to see the serious effects of the pandemic until really maybe the end of 2020 to 23. I think we're just going to start to see the serious effects, as 2022 rolls in, and 2023 and 2024. Because most people are still in the midst of the crisis. And when you're in the midst of it, you're still in survival mode, and it's hard to articulate, you know what's happening and give language to it. Like to answer your first question, you know, another major contributing component to me wanting to focus on loneliness and write about it is my experience of very painful loneliness. In high school. I lived alone, my junior and senior of high school. This was 1996 in 1997. And even just thinking about it, I'm like, Oh, the only word I can think of to best describe it is excruciating, excruciating, Lee painful, because our brains are not wired to be isolated. You know, we know as therapists that isolation is the biggest risk factor for mental health. But for teens and our Z generation, it makes sense that y z generation today is the loneliest demographic because they have been affected the most by social isolation, isolation during that pandemic. So I remember as a teenager, so my father is living in Kazakhstan for business. I told you earlier, my mother passed when I was three. I've had a very wide range of different storms that came in and out but by that time I made it to my junior year, I was living alone. And I remember just that. I mean, I had friends, and my very close childhood friends. But coming back to my apartment every day after high school and having no one to greet me, eating dinner was basically cereal out of a box or boiling rice and opening a can of black beans and mixing that together. So it's like eating alone, do your homework alone, having to wake up alone. Like, that is an experience that so many people experienced today. When you come home, no one to talk to about your day, no one to ask you how you are no one to eat with like, so what I experienced at an early age in high school is not really that special, because a lot of people that probably listening to this might be feeling that right now. So you know, at that time, though, I didn't have the words because I was in the crisis. I'm like, Okay, I just need to survive, get through high school, graduate and find my way to college. And back then we didn't have FaceTime. Was it Skype all these other ways of seeing face so I my dad would call me to check in on me like, but he's in freakin Kazakhstan. Like, if anything really happens, what like, how are you really going to help me like, your 24 hour flight away? So I just remember that fear. Also, there's a fear that comes when you're isolated. There's an anxiety that gets developed. So again, I think it's hard to name loneliness when you're experiencing the other symptoms of it. So which comes first is anxiety comes first and then loneliness? Or is it loneliness? And then we develop the symptoms of anxiety? Or is it really trauma? Because what I was experiencing then was trauma. Another sense of abandonment that I'd experienced because I really wanted to go to Kazakhstan. I begged my dad, please take me to Kazakhstan. And he said, No. He said, No. That was a tough pill to swallow. Yes. Because it's like your parent is alive. But you feel the sense of abandonment. And like my mother died. Okay, that made sense. She's not physically there. But my dad is still alive and saying no.
Kristen Boice 17:20
In the pain and the hurt.
Dr. Sylvia Kalicinski 17:23
Oh, yeah, my even just talking about it right now. My body becomes almost like, I feel like concrete is being poured into my body. I get really, like, I can feel that feeling of like, immobility,
Kristen Boice 17:37
like that is the freeze response, getting active in your nervous system like fight flight, freeze or fun, you can feel that freeze. That's a really powerful way to put it like semen in your body. Yeah, and freeze response.
Dr. Sylvia Kalicinski 17:53
Yeah. And I think a lot of people have felt that during the pandemic, like that freeze response to COVID, the freeze response to isolation of freeze response to quarantine nine. You know, it's definitely something real and and I think it's really important to, again, start bringing a name to these experiences, this is trauma. This is loneliness. This is isolation. This is fear. Because I think when you don't have a language to describe it, you become almost enmeshed with it. And you identify with it. And that's where I think shame kicks, exactly.
Kristen Boice 18:28
It's gonna say the shame takes over. And then we're really in that paralyzed space. What I was, like, as you're sharing your story, which is going to help so many people who are listening right now, to feel less alone, see how this works? Yes, the power in it. And what I noticed is like, how do you think we tease out some components here? We have grief and loss? Yes. Hyden. With loneliness, we have neglect. Yes. And I don't mean but right. Your dad was good. And there's neglect? Yes. Correct.
Dr. Sylvia Kalicinski 19:07
Mm hmm. You've helped give it given. Sorry, you have helped me put a name to also that experiences emotional childhood neglect, and a lot of people are so scared to use that word because you don't want to offend your parents. You don't want to blame them and I in no way wanting, I am not blaming my father. However, if I don't name it, it continues to perpetuate that frozen state and invalidation of my own experience. He did the best he could. It was a choice that he made that he thought was the best for me and the family as a provider, etc. But just to have the courage to name it gives me a sense of validation that I've needed for a really long time. So your other interview with effects of emotional childhood neglect Doctor lab? Yes. really gave me so much insight and understanding. Oh,
Kristen Boice 19:59
I love that, that that was powerful to you to kind of name it, that it, you're really, that naming piece helps to start moving down the path of healing. I think when you can start going, Okay, let me Oh, I feel this in my body. I feel like they're cement pouring into my body. Okay, what is what is that? Oh, that's bringing up that freeze response. Oh, that's bringing up that emotional neglect and that pain and that hurt. And then you get to grieve it. So it's like, Where does the grief and the loss that you didn't get to process as a junior and senior? Huh? When does that come into play? Like processing? What you didn't get to process because you had to? You had to take care of yourself? Oh, yeah. Cool. You had to get an education you had you had to do that.
Dr. Sylvia Kalicinski 20:51
Yes, yes. I remember. I think you know, before I answer that question, just identify like, how did I cope with it? It was very much I just stayed in a freeze response. Just don't feel. You're like, just get done, what needs to get done. And I remember in college, like it was so scary to date, because I had never had a boyfriend in high school. I mean, I had some I mean, I moved probably at least six times during high school before I lived alone, I was being bounced around with family friends. And I was living with my brother, who was only 20 and then live with the stepmom and then they kicked me. I mean, there's just I won't get into the details of it. But, you know, I just finally learned okay, you know what, like, just shut the emotions off. Get as busy as you can. So I was in theater, I was in cross country, I was trying to get straight A's like that's where that high achiever kicked in. As long as I stay busy, I don't have to feel anything. And as long as I'm busy, guess what? I don't have to feel alone. I don't have to feel lonely because I have to study for the one act play, or I have to study for the LSAT. I have to do this or that. And then on top of that I was working. I remember Outback Steakhouse, I was a hostess. So I conditioned myself to stay as busy as I could to not feel so I wouldn't have to grieve. Yeah,
Kristen Boice 22:11
you wouldn't have to feel that pain. Hurt.
Dr. Sylvia Kalicinski 22:14
And, and or abandon it. And I remember in college so overwhelmed, like what dating? Like, how the heck am I going to allow someone end because it's just going to be another person that's gonna leave me. And I remember there was this guy that I will never forget. He was from Peru. And he's like, You're like an iceberg. You're just like, just like, you're kind of cold. Like you just don't let anyone in. And I remember thinking like, I don't know, is that a compliment? Or is that an insult? Oh, no. And but it I remember that that was kind of like that moment where, okay, so yet there's some work that needs to be done. And here's the irony I went to, I was like, Okay, I'm going to try this College Campus Student Counseling Center, let me start to work on this stuff that is probably right underneath this iceberg that really needs to be addressed. And I remember when I told the student counselor, God bless her heart because she was young. When I told her everything that had happened in terms of my trauma and my abandonment, you know, Mother loss griefs, all alcoholism in the family, etc. She's like, you know what, I think it's best that you probably find another therapist that could work with you because you only get three sessions here at the Student Counseling Center. I was like, I you abandoning me like, my trigger. Yeah. So that's what I was like, forget it. I'm really not. That's it. I opened myself. I'm gonna close myself up again. And then I didn't do any healing wherever doing
Kristen Boice 23:41
that again. No, no, to buy too much. Yeah.
Dr. Sylvia Kalicinski 23:45
So fast forward. finally graduated from University of Texas at Austin, I got my bachelor's in science in radio, television film, I always wanted to be a documentary filmmaker, because I was fascinated by people's stories. So i That's why I love doing podcasts. I feel like it's the closest thing you know, to being a documentary filmmaker. And I, I was working as associate producer, actually infeed. I'd lived in Miami, and then I was working in Phoenix, creating just educational videos. And one of the people that I was interviewing was a news anchor, a prominent news anchor, and he was sharing his trauma story of how you know, his abandonment with his father. And the book was called, I think the digital son, written by John Dupree. And I was so touched by his story, but I also there's that stuff that started to percolate. like, Hmm, maybe I should start working on my mother loss and my trauma and all of that. And so I actually did get back into therapy. And that's how I kind of started my path was like, Okay, I know it's here. And I always wanted to be a mom. I always had this dream like, Okay, I want to be a wife. I want to be a mom. I want to have a family. But I know I won't be able to do any of that until I start the healing. Because if I don't I'll end up probably regurgitating and repeating all these patterns that I saw and that I'm still afraid of. So I've been basically like in and out of therapy since I was 23. And right now, I just got back into therapy with an incredible therapist and Jupiter, doctor and, and she does ifs internal family systems. I just had a session today at 11. It's one of my favorite models of therapy, because I'm still in the process of healing. And understanding how those different events in my life, especially the traumatizing ones, have affected a lot of my parts, and they still show up today. And I'm still learning how to communicate with those parts, validate those parts, understand them, so that I'm not still in that kind of truck trauma response, fight, flight, fawn, or freeze, because the freeze response is real, it still gets triggered in my relationship with my husband, sometimes with friends, sometimes even with strangers. If I get triggered in a certain way at the grocery store, I'm like, Ooh, there's that semen feeling getting poured in my stomach. It's either that or I have this really strong, sometimes a fight response where, like, I get the fire in my belly. And I'm like, no filter, and the word just comes down and like whoops. So I you know, that's that's a long winded way to to answer that, you know, this whole process has been an ongoing, evolving process. And what I thought was healing back back in my 20s is, was just like the beginning of it. But, you know, I think another tool that really helped me was the Grief Recovery Institute was also understanding the timeline, and writing down each loss that I had experienced, because I think when you deal with trauma at all gets so bundled and jumbled up, that you almost invalidate the impact that it's had on your own psyche. And when you actually create a timeline, and you realize how much loss you've actually been through. First of all, it can be very sad sometimes and emotionally overwhelming. But again, that's the part of the validation process. Let's name it, let's honor it. Let's acknowledge it. Because most of us try to avoid it. We have 101, avoidant behaviors that we use to avoid the feelings. But, yeah, that was a lot.
Kristen Boice 27:31
I love it. Because I think the work that you're doing it's a lot of reprocessing what you didn't get to process. Yes, in real time. So yes, go back. We look at loneliness. We go, Okay, I explore. What didn't you get to process you lost your mom, you are? Okay. We didn't really get to process that because survival mode dad was like, okay, then he was cultivating these other relationships in there. Now, you said several step mom's you didn't get a process each of those. And the, associated with each of those. Yeah, there's like, and there's this pervasive loneliness already, even before you were born that came into it? Absolutely. So that grief timeline, loneliness timeline, I think is a really powerful way to start acknowledging it and naming it. And like you said, it can be overwhelming at times. Yes. How do you when you're kind of going back and tending to those parts that didn't get to process the sadness, the anger, the grief, the disgust, the fear? How do you nurture yourself through that? Because that's one of the hardest things people like, I don't really want to go back because I'm going to get stuck, or it's too overwhelming. So how do you get through that work? In real time now for yourself?
Dr. Sylvia Kalicinski 28:54
In real time now. I think there's no way to get through it, or there hasn't really been a way to get through it. For me personally, without going through the mess. I usually go through something messy. I usually, you know, you know, either do something I am not too proud of say something I'm embarrassed about, you know, or I, you know, I'm unconscious of my reaction, then I realize like, oh, that must have been something that's still stored. So kind of got to go through the mess first. And then taking that word that you've used in your podcast, radical accountability, radical ownership, okay, there's still a part of me that's getting triggered. And I use curiosity. Let me get curious about it. Because I think, you know, I've spent so many years in my early adulthood, beating myself up shaming myself hating myself. I mean, hey, ugly, the original manuscript was really kind of a book that I needed in my early 20s Because I would be so mean to myself. Oh, like, I didn't even realize how much I hated myself until one of my therapist was like, okay, You really don't like yourself. I'm like, Well, I guess I don't. But really what that was was the internalization of shame. It wasn't that I didn't, it wasn't that I really truly hated myself, it was that I hadn't, I got confused, I had internalized all these bad things that had happened as if I was a bad person. And so I think going through the relationships that I chose, because I was looking for someone to either a rescue me, right, or take care of me, or somehow, like, tell me that I really wasn't a bad person. I think going through those relationships and, and feeling, you know, some of the tough things that I felt helped me like, Okay, I experienced the mess. And then I said, Okay, wait a minute, this doesn't feel good, let's, let's really, like, take ownership. And so I think one of the things that's helped me most recently is really using the internal family system model and getting in touch with the exiles, you know, the exiles or those younger parts of ourselves, the wounded parts that are still in a way how I conceptualize it, that we're stuck in time. And I think having the willingness and the courage to get more curious about these parts, using everything that I've learned with, like meditation, and breath work, to get more curious in my imagination, and, you know, call these parts get closer to them, okay, like today in my session, acknowledging there's still that three year old that was unattended. My mother was experiencing severe symptoms from her brain aneurism, hallucinations, migraines, terrible, terrible migraines, she was experiencing symptoms of depression, anxiety, my grandmother was taking care of her. My father was working, I was three, my my brother was was eight, or nine, and we're playing in the alleyway by ourselves. You know, I was a tomboy, I was kind of dirty and scruffy. And, and but there was that feeling that I felt the fear we were unattended. When there was certain vulnerability, there was a certain feeling of like, who's going to take care of us, and my brother, I hope he hears this
podcast because it was like in that session today, with my therapist, I realized, like how much she was shielding me from that fear, and that trauma that we were going through as two kids. And I remember as a kid, like, I felt protected, but I also felt his fear and we were both kind of like in that survival mode. And just allowing myself to feel that sadness today and feel that pain and, and like, get curious about that part and be open to her. I was like, Oh, this is something that I haven't really had the courage to do before this is that part of me that still needs to be seen and heard and then what I thought would be scary actually turned into something really beautiful through this therapy session, you know, the with ifs, it can get a little meditative and I so to come up with like, esoteric. So my therapist is guiding me through this scenario, okay, so So what would that part want you to know? What would that part like to tell you? And we're dialoguing? I won't get too personal. But what that part really wanted to know was also like, Is mommy going to be okay? And instead of not telling her, which was what every other adult was doing, I was being like, kept in the dark, like, no one was telling me what was going on. And even after my mom died, I don't think anyone really sat me down and told me what happened. In this meditative state in therapy. I'm like, Mommy's going to go to heaven. She's not going to stay here much longer. She some mommy stay here for a shorter amount of time, and some mommy stay longer. But she's going to be your guardian angel. And you're going to be okay. And guess what, Mommy's gonna feel much better, much better than she does now. And the little girl in this meditative therapy session was like, this why self was like, thank you. Now I know now, like she almost felt relieved and more cared for was like, Thank you for telling me. Because she was she felt so scared. No one was telling her what was going on. And it was in that moment, like, I could call her back and take her with me. Like, you know, the therapist, like, Okay, is there anything else? She wants to know? Is there anything that she ready to come with you? And I was like, Yes. Like, she like jumped in my arms and like, I could take her back into my heart today as an adult. And I realize, you know, in most of my relationships, there is this part of me that's very frozen as a little girl, even in my motherhood. Now, I, you know, my joke, my husband joke sometimes, like, gosh, I feel like I'm living with the teenager because, you know, there's still that stuck part as a teenager, but there's still that little girl that stuck, like, who's going to take care of me and so, with this therapy session today, I'm like, calling her back hugging her. And she gave me a gift like this little watch said, Okay, it's time for you to grow up now you you can be the adult you don't have to stay stuck to. So it can just become what you think might be this scary, overwhelming process that you're crying and grieving and you're sad and this and that. Yes, that's a part of it. But then there's this other part when you do the work that it's like, freeing, and you have this new narrative and or reframe, and I walked away from that session today. I'm like, first, I felt a little bit like tired, but I felt almost like re energized. Like, wow, now I understand this other part of me that's been frozen for 40 years. Yes. I'm 42. So I mean, I guess Yeah, yeah.
Kristen Boice 35:44
And you're taking care of her now? yourself. You're the highest self, the adult self, this yourself can go, I got you, sweetie. Yeah, you don't have to be alone, because I take care of you.
Dr. Sylvia Kalicinski 35:56
Absolutely. And I think going back to trauma work, I think when you don't seek therapy, when you're when you're scared to do the work, when you've internalized the shame when you got confused. And you think that the things that happen to you or because of you, you can be stuck in a perpetual state of loneliness for so long, which is also you know, internalized shame. So, you know, if anyone's listening to this, and they feel that sense of loneliness, and you know, intuitively that you still have some unhealed childhood trauma. Let me tell you from the other side, it's the best investment you can ever make. I have a PhD in family therapy, and I'm still needing to unpack things. And, and, you know, I think, the more I agree with, and the more I do it, I think I'm able to really show up more fully in my life. And I'm excited to see, you know, now from this therapy session, what What can I offer now to my husband and my son that I wasn't able to offer before? Because I was still stuck?
Kristen Boice 36:57
Yes, except this is so power, I am feel honored to have this conversation with you. I am. I wish people could see this energy going back and forth, like this connection of emotion because your authenticity, your vulnerability, and you leaning into this conversation is helping me and everybody that's listening. Truly, I mean, so thank you for sharing that. And I wish we could talk longer because I was like, Well, this is so good. What are the top three? Would you say most helpful, most impactful coping strategies, if you will, or ways to face loneliness? and work through it? What would you say are your top three takeaways?
Dr. Sylvia Kalicinski 37:41
Number one, name it? Name it? And what does that look like? Or what does that sound like? This is loneliness. externalize your identity from it, you are not loneliness, right? You can feel lonely, you experienced lonely, but it's not your identity. It's not going to be your final destination. It does not define you as a person, your character name it, this is loneliness. Second, Bree, breeze through it. Because often we experience a stress response to loneliness. Our brains are not designed to be isolated. So we hold our breath. And we enter that cognitive distortion that we think we're going to be lonely for the rest of our lives. And it's not true, it feels like it, what you feel is true. But the thought the narrative is most likely not not true. It's a cognitive distortion. So if you can also breathe through it, you're letting your body know, okay, I am here I am right? I am alive. I might feel alone, I might feel lonely. This is loneliness. But I'm going to breathe through this. And then number three grounding techniques. There are so many wonderful grounding techniques that you can participate in. For me, it's nature walking, outside feet on the ground. I mean, you have your tennis, tennis shoes, or some people like to have their bare feet in the grass, but movement and walking, getting outside breathing and fresh air. Maybe it's sitting and getting into some kind of easy meditation, acknowledging your breath, so that you again are telling your brain through the breath, work and movement, that you're here now. Because again, when I think we attach to the state of loneliness, we internalize it or we have our own trauma responses coming up. The brain gets, I think, or your body gets flooded with cortisol, the stress hormones, and what you imagine or perceive that's going to happen your body doesn't know the difference. So grounding, grounded grounding to create the brain hack and the body hack that says, Okay, I'm safe. I'm here now. So, those would be my top three.
Kristen Boice 39:58
Those are Excellent, excellent. Because even in the walking, we're doing bilateral movement, which is right, left, right left, which is very romantic. Yes, very soothing to the nervous system. That's why I really encourage people start small if that, so it feels manageable five years.
Dr. Sylvia Kalicinski 40:17
And my little add on, I think what's so important, though, is also having micro interactions. So you might be listening and say, Well, I don't have any friends or I don't know anybody, I feel alone, and I have no family support. But if you put on your tennis shoes, you walk outside just for five minutes, and see another human being walking across the street. When your brain sees another human, the brain knows, okay, I'm okay. Because we are wired to be connected. And even just a micro social interaction, like if you go to buy a cup of coffee, Hello, good morning, having that iContact of you know, a verbal exchange, thank you can create just a tiny little movement in your limbic system that says, Okay, we're okay. So definitely micro social interactions are imperative to best to better manage loneliness.
Kristen Boice 41:07
Yeah, I like that reminder, just even if you go to the grocery, right? I know people are buying groceries online, whatever that looks like for you, wherever you can have that micro moment of connection for someone and really see them. Take a moment, take a deep breath and really look at them. Everybody's got a story. Absolutely. That we all know nothing about. We think they have this perfect life on Instagram, Facebook, whatever social media. And we think, well, they're they've got it all together, and I don't they don't they have this perfect life. And I don't and when we go down that path, it creates more loneliness, shame, and disconnection. So that little micro moment of noticing somebody, what a gift if we all did that? I think absolutely. I think it could change so many things. What has been my final question, what has been the most impactful book that you have read? I know this is it. So take your time, we'll do the pause.
Dr. Sylvia Kalicinski 42:13
I think it's excuse my language unfuck. yourself. by Gary John Bishop. It's all about the power of self talk and taking that kind of radical ownership of the narrative. You tell yourself about the experiencing that you're having, and what he's basically telling us in his book, embrace certainty, embrace, excuse me, uncertainty, we are all addicted to certainty. We want to know, we want to know that's one of my strongest parts in terms of the managers and protectors. I want to know. If I don't know, I'm going to figure it out.
Kristen Boice 42:45
I gotta try it make sense? Just a lot of trauma response.
Dr. Sylvia Kalicinski 42:49
Absolutely. And so I think his book, and also the other book, love yourself, like your life depends on it. I don't, I forgot the name of the author. But those two books have been so helpful for me to take accountability for creating the action steps to experience self love. Also developing and nurturing the observational self to observe how I'm talking to myself, but also the story I tell myself.
Kristen Boice 43:22
That's the shame, right? Mm hmm. That shame story dirt, it takes us down the path. Mm hmm. Absolutely. So were thank you for this amazing conversation.
Dr. Sylvia Kalicinski 43:34
Oh, thank you went by so fast. I wish I could keep talking,
Kristen Boice 43:37
oh, we need to have a part two at some point. Because there's so much to this, I think this is so deep.
Dr. Sylvia Kalicinski 43:43
I would also love to talk about the experience of loneliness felt in your own family. Because I think that's another experience of loneliness. When you feel misunderstood by your own family. It can feel so lonely to be misunderstood by your family and feel like that there's no one else out there that really gets you or that the people that you thought, who are supposed to be your biggest advocates, you know, when they don't, quote unquote, get you that experience of loneliness and ways to better manage that. I would love to talk. Yes, let's
Kristen Boice 44:13
do that. As family therapists, we see this. We see this play out and what impact this has on I'm loving it right now. Yeah, right. And I was I wanted to circle back to your dad, but we'll get that from you too. We'll talk about that in part two. Yes. And where can people find you if they really resonated with your story? Oh, they know more about you?
Dr. Sylvia Kalicinski 44:36
Yes, they can find me on Instagram at Dr. Silvia K, that's Dr. Sylvi, A, and the letter K. You can also pop onto my podcast on Apple podcasts or Spotify, the Dr. Sylvia K show, and you can check out my website as well. www.dr Silvia k.com
Kristen Boice 44:59
Thank you so much and telefonisch began.
Dr. Sylvia Kalicinski 45:02
Yes, until then. Yeah, thank you.
Kristen Boice 45:05
Thank you so much for listening to the close the chapter podcast. My hope is that you took home some actionable steps, along with motivation, inspiration and hope for making sustainable change in your life. If you enjoyed this episode, click the subscribe button, too. Be sure to get the updated episodes every week, and share with a friend or family member. For more information about how to get connected visit Kristen k r i s t e n, d Boice Bo ice.com. Thanks and have a great day.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai
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