53 minutes | Mar 29, 2021

Shannon Whaley: Wild Woman Rising after a Childhood Full of Abuse and Trauma

If you like what you hear today, visit my Fertile Ground Communications page on Patreon and find out how you can support my work. Shannon Whaley overcame sexual abuse and assault, a toxic childhood, and drug and alcohol abuse.Shannon had a troubled childhood full of sexual abuse and trauma. She doesn’t remember how old she was when it all started. It was just life.She had no safe person to tell what was going on, feeling unseen and unheard. Even though she began getting in trouble at a very young age, no one seemed to recognize the symptoms of abuse. When she was around 10, she started to realize something wasn’t right. The friends she asked about it were also being abused by family members, so they told Shannon it was just the way things were. Shannon has gone through many years of EMDR and talk therapy to cope with the trauma.I feel so sad for little Shannon, just imagining what life must have been like for her. Because she lacked trusted adults in her life, she set out on a path of hyper-independence. Leaving for college at 17, Shannon never returned home. Shannon began smoking when she was 12, and that escalated into alcohol, marijuana, LSD, mushrooms, meth, and cocaine. By the time she was 33, she realized she needed to get her act together. She decided to shake up her life and move to the Cayman Islands. Unfortunately she brought her drinking problem along with her.Six months after moving to the Cayman Islands, she became a blackout drinker, even though she was trying to stop. After a few scares when she passed out in public, she finally realized she wasn’t having fun any more. Fortunately she had moved in with a friend who was sober. With his help and her own white-knuckled commitment, Shannon was able to find recovery by not going out much in public and avoiding the party life of the island. She dove into fitness, including yoga, to distract herself.I’m amazed by Shannon’s strength and fortitude to find recovery on her own. In 2017 she felt done with island life and decided to pursue her dream to move to Italy. She got a visa to study Italian, and she declared she’d either find her husband or figure something out by the end of the year. Within ten weeks, she had met her husband, Stefano, on the beach.She enjoys the chill vibe of Italy, especially because they live in a beach town. She does find the language to be challenging, as well as the Italian tendency to push and shove, but COVID has brought its own blessings, such as six-foot bubbles and previously unheard-of Italian queues.I found it surprising Shannon describes herself as a hermit because she lives her life out loud on social media with her confidence, purple hair, and tattoos. Shannon’s business, Wild Woman Coaching, helps women share their stories to heal themselves and heal others. She’s committed to give 10 percent of her income to organizations that focus on the liberation of Black and brown people. I marveled at Shannon’s wonderful spirit of independence and courage to take to the road after what she endured as a child.I find Shannon’s story to be incredibly inspirational. She’s one more example of how difficult experiences just make you stronger and more resilient. View photos and more details in this blog post.Next week I have something completely different. Did you know penguins can teach us about resilience? I interviewed my former English professor, Chuck Bergman, an award-winning writer and photographer, and his wife Susan Mann, a resilience expert. Chuck and Susan took on a quest to see each of the world's 18 species of penguins in the wild. Chuck documented their adventures
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