What Is Possible When Women Heal
Natasha Bray shares her story of healing and the five first steps you could take to heal and rapidly unlock your ‘Ultimate Uplevel’
I grew up in one of the roughest council estates in Bridgend. I’ve always been different, both at home and at school. All I ever wanted to do was belong and feel included – I just longed to fit in. I didn’t have a happy childhood, experiencing chronic trauma and abuse. I was also severely bullied through school for being overweight, and this all led to food and exercise addition in my teens and early twenties.
I didn’t have many friends. Most of my class, even my friends, were quite nasty towards me. I was bullied all through school, from the ages of 11 to 16. I remember girls ganging up on me and kicking me in the toilets. My teenage years and early 20s were filled with a number of addictions. First it was food, then exercise addiction trying to lose weight – causing me numerous health issues which saw me drop from a size 16 to a size six. I was going to the gym for five hours at a time. I was working out whenever I could and was weighing myself about 10 times a day. My periods disappeared, my hair fell out, I had heart palpitations and I was using laxatives. Then, it was work addiction. What I know now is all of these seemingly ‘socially acceptable’ addictions were a way of numbing past trauma I didn’t yet have the skills to cope with.
I also struggled with relationships as a result of my past wounds. At 21, I was still desperate to find love and I found myself in a toxic relationship and the victim of abuse, and then suffered a violent assault. I had bruises all over my body, burst blood vessels in my eyes and pressure bruising around them. That was a wake-up call to choose a different path and value myself more.
I changed my course at Glamorgan University [now the University of South Wales] to Psychology and ended up being the best-performing student in the course, winning two awards. This massively changed my life. I graduated and worked in homeless services with people with mental health issues and drug addiction and did further studies while working and then a master’s in Social Work. I also started working with victims of domestic abuse. Helping other people helped me come to terms with what I had been through – but focusing on other people’s issues again stopped me really working on my own.
Eventually, I fell pregnant with a miracle baby – a beautiful son who is almost 5 now. Unfortunately, I went on to have a very traumatic birth which retriggered my childhood trauma. My normal coping mechanism of excessive exercise had been taken away due to the physical recovery needed from the birth. I was faced with having to deal with my past, instead of numbing it
When my son was 10 months old I was signed off my social work job with stress and post-natal depression, and by then had become a single parent. I had a health business on the side at the time, which was doing okay but was not really successful enough to rely on for an income. However, it was one of those moments when I realised I couldn’t work full time, run a business, be a mother and get healthy again for my son. Something had to give. I decided to hand in my notice to build up my own business. At the time I had no consistent or regular income – I call it my ‘now or never’ moment.
I began to train in different therapies to help my clients. As part of that training, I received the therapies myself. That’s when the real healing began. I worked on the abuse and how unsafe it had left me feeling. I worked on healing my heart so I could have better relationships with everyone around me. I noticed that the more I healed myself, the more my business grew. I was also a calmer and more patient mother and met a wonderful man who I began a loving and healthy relationship with.
I developed my own approach to healing based on my own journey of healing from the multiple traumas I had been through. As I upleveled emotionally and spiritually, financially things exploded. Now, less than four years later I am a cash millionaire and have a seven-figure business. I am still with that same partner and we have another son on the way very soon. I get to spend my working days helping women all over the world to heal from what is holding them back. I even train other therapists in my methods too. I have found my true purpose.
If I can help just one other woman by sharing my story, that makes it all worth it. It has also contributed to my own healing.
I’m a living, breathing testimony that to anyone feeling overshadowed by their past, you are not simply the sum total of your experience. Whatever you have been through, healing is possible and you can rewrite your story and leave a new legacy for your children and your future generations, just as I have.
I focused on my own deep inner transformational journey, healing from my abusive childhood and really working on healing my heart and what I call the Success Saboteurs (the safety mechanisms we develop in childhood to keep us safe that hold us back as an adult) on the deep level. Over the last several years I’ve spent thousands of pounds and hundreds of hours in therapy overcoming and healing from my own past. It is my very personal experience of healing that has enabled me to design my own healing methods which are now being shared across the world. Together with my formal education in social work, behaviour change and psychology, I’ve been deep diving into hypnotherapy, inner child healing and spiritual techniques and it’s a total privilege to have spent the last 15 years working with people to work through their past and take hold of a brighter future.
I wanted to make this accessible as far as I could and the seed of an idea was born for When Women Heal. This book is a testimony to 16 inspiring leaders from across the globe who agreed to share their own real and raw journeys through trauma and healing. It’s a rollercoaster of emotions and no stone is left unturned as these women recount childhood abuse, domestic violence, early widowhood and near-death experiences. Some relate more to the things we do not realise are trauma, such as never feeling loved unconditionally, or never feeling seen and understood by their family.
Each woman’s story is very different, but there are so many parts of their journey that we can all relate to. The fact is, we all have things to heal from, whether we believe we have been through ‘trauma’ or not. We all have emotional wounds that haven’t had the metaphorical stitches they need to fully heal. Learning ways to move on from these is truly life changing.
These incredible women leave us with a strong message of hope, inspiration and optimism as they share their stories of great success after adversity and I hope this will show others what is possible because when women heal, we change the world.
People often ask me about my journey and how they can possibly start to untangle their own heartache…
The first step is to be honest with yourself; acknowledge where you are and how you came to be here and accept the need for help. There is no shame in your history, no issue is too big to unravel and move on from. I believe that no matter what you’ve experienced, (and we’re all dealing with something,) everything in your life has been preparing you for where you are now. Asking for help is a sign of strength.
Find a safe space
Find a safe space to open up and share your story. There is freedom in the act of sharing. Being able to speak freely about the pain and the hurt or the anger and confusion, or the loss and disappointment is paramount to healing and moving forward, otherwise your past is like a ball and chain, holding you back from your full potential. But you can break free of all that! A really simple place to start, especially if your experiences feel raw and overwhelming, is to journal them. There’s a very honest space in the pages of a blank book and if that’s the only place your story is ever heard, there’s nothing wrong in that. Simply filling in a journal can be so liberating.
Surround yourself with people you trust
This journey is painful and sometimes difficult to walk alone. You need comfort, reassurance and compassion. You need people who will champion your efforts and celebrate your successes. Even if you find that companionship online, a trusted therapist or in the pages of our book When Women Heal of shared experiences, please don’t walk it alone.
Don’t underestimate the small steps
Every journey is a combination of small steps. Don’t expect too much of yourself too soon. You can include helpful techniques such as; mediation, visualisation, positive manifestation, and holistic exercise like; yoga, pilates, tai-chi… You are an incredible individual, and you cannot separate your body, mind and spirit out from one another. When you create small positive changes in one area of your life, it will automatically impact everything else.
It’s not selfish to choose yourself. A common theme in the biggest catalyst moments in my journey and in the women in the book, was the moments we chose ourselves. We can spend a long time waiting for others to finally choose us. Whether that is the parent who didn’t protect us or wasn’t there for us. Or the partner that wouldn’t commit or never put our needs first. Or maybe it is the friend who always takes but never gives. Whoever or whenever it is or was, part of us is still waiting for them to someday see the light, change and choose us.
We cannot change others. We can only change ourselves. We get to choose, and we get to choose ourselves. If this resonates with you, release you both by letting go of the expectation for them to choose you. You do not need them to – you can choose yourself now. Sometimes choosing you is finally walking away from that relationship. Sometimes it is in the tiny actions where we put ourselves first and stop trying so hard to get them to choose us and direct that energy to making ourselves happy instead. It is safe to put yourself first now. If you choose you today, what would that look like?
The one thing I can guarantee is that this journey is worth it. You are who you are for a purpose. You have lived your life this far in all its glory and challenge for a reason. Don’t stop now. The road to healing is a significant one and it’s not just about you, but about all the people your life was designed to impact for good. When you heal yourself, you heal the world.