Transcending Fear to Heal Abuse in the Motherline with Terri Kozlowski
Soul coach Terri Kozlowski shares how to transcend fear, move beyond the egoic mind, and heal our motherlines.
I want to give a thorough trigger warning for this episode. Terri shares from her personal experience of sexual abuse and maternal abandonment as part of her story. She also shares of significant birth trauma that influenced her mothering and how she overcame the fear she carried from those experiences to heal her motherline. Media is an input I certainly try to be intentional about, so please skip this episode if your gut or anything else tells you this episode may not serve you at this time.
Our conversation covers:
- Her mothering journey through grandmothering
- How her mothering experiences started in childhood
- Her experiences of sexual abuse as a child and how that affected her mothering
- Birth trauma, and how expert advice served as a secondary adversity for her birthing experience
- How she approached healing her maternal line with nature and ancestral connection
- Tips for developing an eco-consciousness rather than an ego-consciousness
Terri Kozlowski is a proud Native American warrior: Athabascan; Tlinglet Tribe – Raven Clan. Rediscovering her true path in life, one of joy and love, she learned to transcend the fear that the egoic mind keeps bringing to the forefront of our lives. Terri is now a successful soul and life coach whose mission is to inspire others to master their fear. She is the author of Raven Transcending Fear: a memoir about overcoming sexual abuse, abandonment, and discover your authentic self. And she’s offering a free downloadable excerpt from this book for listeners at the link in the show notes.
Visit Terri’s website
Website for Terri’s book Raven Transcending Fear
Check out Terri’s podcast: Soul Solutions
Find her on social media:
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Book a free call with Allie for mothering support
Drafted by AI. Please excuse typos.
Terri Kozlowski, Allison Davis
Allison Davis 00:00
Welcome back to rewild mothering. This week I’m talking with Terry Kozlowski. She’s at the Athabaskan pulling it tribe Raven clan, rediscovering her true path in life one of joy and love, she learned to transcend the fear that the egoic mind keeps bringing to the forefront of our lives. Tara is now a successful soul and life coach whose mission is to inspire others to master their fear too. She’s the author of Raven transcending fear, a memoir about overcoming sexual abuse, abandonment, and discovering her authentic self. She’s offering a free downloadable excerpt from this book for listeners at the link in the show notes. I want to give a thorough trigger warning for this episode, Terry shares from her personal experience which includes sexual abuse, maternal abandonment, and this all influenced her mothering and how she overcame the fear that she carried from those experiences to heal her mother line. I know I try to be very intentional about the media that I take in. So please skip this episode if your gut or anything else tells you that this doesn’t serve you today. I know this is a very powerful episode. And so if you do tune in, I’d love to hear your thoughts over on Instagram at rewild mothering.
Allison Davis 01:25
The future relies on the wellness of mothers. Welcome to rewild mothering, a podcast about holistic maternal wellness for Earth honoring mothers to help us grow into the wild guides we envision for ourselves, our families, and our planet. Each week, we alchemize science and the sacred weaving together modern research, ancient wisdom and mind body spirit practices that will help us channel the transformative power of mature essence, the developmental period of motherhood. I’m your host, Dr. Allie Davis, a maternal mental health ecotherapist, and a mother walking this path with you. Thank you for being here. Let’s reclaim mothering, as a wild initiation with Mother Nature as our guide.
Allison Davis 02:31
Terry, thank you for being here with us to share your story and our bit of your story because you share much more about it in your book Raven, transcending fear. So how about we start just with a little bit about your background and yourself. And if you want to throw in anything about your mothering journey and who you’re becoming as a mother, grandmother, that would be wonderful. I am what I call a soul coach, because I am working with people so that they can become their authentic selves. And the only way to do that is to do the soul work that each of us is here on the planet to do. We each have our own journey, we each have our own paths to take. My goal is to help people find their right path so that they become their authentic selves. The mothering journey I took his briefly talked about in actually the Raven, transcending fear is really about my mother’s story, and not being able to mother me, and the trauma that it caused. And then my recovery to a place where I can be the mother, not only for myself that I didn’t have, but then for my own children. So what kind of mother work are you doing right now? Right now it’s really about learning to let go. Because as a mother of a 29 year old and then a grandmother of let’s see, I have one that’s over 20 I have one that’s belay, 1412, and then nine. So learning to lengow is one of the things that I think that I’m trying to do now from a mothering perspective, because holding on not only to the children that they were, but also holding on to the idea that they are still children, versus the fact that some of them are adults, and they are now other ones are growing up that the need of my constant attention is not necessary for them to flourish. We have to learn to let go and letting go is really hard for mothers. Yeah. Oh man. It’s like a surrender to cycle. And just I don’t think it’s ever going to be any easier no matter how skilled you become at working with that. So you you write from and you speak from a First Nations perspective, can you share a little bit about your familiar perspective that you bring to your work and your coaching the Raven, transcending fear star
Terri Kozlowski 05:00
With the idea that the raven comes to us, in the Native American standpoint, as the bringer of the sun, the bringer of light. But in a lot of Norse mythology and other Greek mythology, the raven is a sign of death. And part of the reason is when somebody died, the raven showed up, as to help the spirit move to the next round. So yes, the raven is there when you die. But part of that is so that you can travel to the next level of existence. And through that, understanding the Native American aspect of working through cycles, understanding that everything has a season, everything has a time, everything has a place is understanding that we are all one with the earth. We’re all one with Mother Nature. And as long as we maintain that oneness, everything about our lives is meant to flow easily. There’s not to be a struggle. And that we when we come out of that cycle, and we try to control any of that’s cyclical formation, it causes a struggle, which means it causes anks, which means we end up feeling as if something is wrong.
Allison Davis 06:17
Yeah, so one of the things rewild mothering kind of focuses on is that the recovery of the indigenous mind. And we have so much control and domination in our modern motherhood stories. And I know that kind of creates those levels of additional suffering. Control is an illusion is one that mothers are very invested in. So I was want to see if you might talk a little bit about your early mature essence or your transition into motherhood, because I know that that was something that was very difficult, and then also inspired all this work that you did, between now and then.
Terri Kozlowski 06:57
So I was born into a family that had very different values. And what I mean by that is my mother is Native American. She was born eight miles inside the Arctic Circle in a little town called fort Yukon, Alaska, where there was sustenance living when she was born. They had no running water, no electricity, she was given up for adoption at the age of 16. And all of her identity of being Native American was stripped away. And she moved in what to what she called the white man’s world. She was raised in a Christian environment, which meant all of her beliefs, native beliefs were stripped away, she wasn’t allowed to believe them anymore. And she had to now believe in the Christian God, which was so different than what she had grown up with. So part of that stripping away of her identity caused such anks in her that she became an alcoholic. And when she my dad got together, and he came from a very traditional American family, and he was on his way to Vietnam, when they met, they married. And when he came back, my sister and I were born 11 months apart to the day. So I’m the oldest. And we were pretty much raised as twins for the first 10 years of our life. And because of that, there was a great codependency that I had in taking care of my alcoholic mother, and then also taking care of my sister. So when mommy couldn’t take care of us because she was passed out on the couch, or she threw up, or she had an epileptic seizure, because she was mixing her alcohol with Pina barbital. Terry started taking over as being the mother. And through this, I learned that there was many, many things that I couldn’t control. And my mother was one of them. I started cleaning up after her, and I would make sure that she didn’t get in trouble with Daddy, because that’s part of the codependent behavior. So my parents divorced when I was eight years old. And I did not see my mother between the ages of eight and the ages of 11 except one time, she was moving. And she stopped through Pennsylvania where we live to visit one overnight. So that’s a long time to not have a relationship of any kind with your mother. She would call on occasion but not very often. When I was 11. She invited my sister and I to come out to New Mexico to stay for the summer. My dad disagreed with it at first, but then allowed it and we went to visit she had told me she was in a and that sent pictures of where she was living and my dad agreed. We went there and for the first two weeks, it was lovely. It’s some of the best memories I have of my mother occurred in those first two weeks. Then she started drinking and then all that codependent behavior kicked back in and I was taking care of her
Terri Kozlowski 10:00
I was taking care of my sister. And then one evening, she allowed three men to rape me so that she could have drugs. And then she disappeared for three days, my sister was drugged, somebody drugged her. So she would sleep. And she slept for three days. When she woke up, my mother wasn’t there. And I didn’t know where my mother was, we didn’t have a phone to call anybody. And I was trying to decide what to do for my sister, my sister didn’t want to get my mother in trouble. And I, of course, didn’t want to get my mother in trouble by calling my dad. So she finally comes home. And she ends up putting our suitcases out on the front stoop, and tells us it’s time to go home. And she locks the door and doesn’t let us in. And we’re literally abandoned on the streets of Albuquerque, New Mexico, 3000 miles away from Pennsylvania from home. So needless to say, we were a little traumatized. We didn’t go to the police because we don’t want to get my mom in trouble. And I called my dad and we were on a plane the next day, back home. When I get off the plane, I tell my dad, I need therapy. I’m 11. This is in the early 80s. I shouldn’t know what therapy is. But something within me knew that this was bigger than me. I needed help in some way. I was in therapy for five years, and really didn’t have a lot of healing through that. Because again, this is in the early 80s. Prior to when there was a lot of good care for sexually abused children. It wasn’t something that was really talked about. So I get through all that. And at the age of 18, I started taking the pill because I had fibroid tumors, and the pill shrunk them, and I had no issues. I get married. And at the age of 21, I have a baby. I was on the pill when I got pregnant. So this was something that isn’t supposed to happen. And I had been faithful on my pill because it was I was taking it for specific reason. And I realized while I’m pregnant that I’m codependent and I have to deal with things. So what I do is I get codependent no more one of the most famous books about codependency. And I’m trying to work through this behavior because I don’t want to pass this on to my son. Now, most mothers when I was giving birth, back in the early 90s, read Dr. Spock’s book, he talks about at length the bonding period after a child is born. And I did not have that my son was over six hours old when I first held him. And that connection that he talks about in the book and that I listened to other mothers talk about when they see their child for the first time didn’t happen with me. So then I started to believe that I didn’t have this connection that I was supposed to have as a mother with my child. And this plagued me for almost two decades. So at the age of 18, my son is getting ready to leave. And I’m talking to him about I’m being trying to see if this anx that I’ve had for 18 years about me not bonding with my son, if it affected him. We’re having this conversation that I write about in the book, Raven, transcending fear, and he ends up telling me that he never ever felt disconnected from me. If anything, he thought I loved him too much. And that was just such a blessing for me to hear that all this anks that I had created inside of me from the stories from Dr. Spock that I created in my own mind, and suffered for 18 years never actually occurred for him.
Allison Davis 14:03
Hi, it’s Allie, I wanted to pause the episode for a moment to tell you about my free mother mind meditation route into who you are and who you’re becoming by reconnecting with your own true nature, downloaded at rewild mothering.com. Slash mother mind. That’s it for now, let’s get back to our conversation.
Allison Davis 14:30
Can you talk a little bit more we have all these shoulds like I can’t remember who it is. But they say we’re we’re shitting all over ourselves but especially with mothering and motherhood. There’s all these things that exactly because our mother lines are broken. We don’t have those stories and that wisdom and law are passed to us that we’re looking to other people’s forms of mothering to understand what should happen. So maybe could you tell me a little bit more about how that conversation with your son shifted? Maybe how you approach life or mothering or anything in general,
Terri Kozlowski 15:04
The one thing It showed me was, I should absolutely not have taken advice from a man, how that bonding period occurs with the baby. Number one, okay. So despite all the really good things Dr. Spock had to say, he doesn’t really understand that bond that a mother and child is supposed to have. And although I would say that I absolutely have a great love for my son, I don’t know actually what that bond is supposed to be. I have something. But it’s how I would describe it is not how Dr. Spock described it. So part of being able to not should, is realizing that I as an individual i is my authentic self, is I’m supposed to be the perfect mother for the child that I bore, because otherwise I would not have had this child. So whatever I was supposed to be for him, if I just trust that me being authentically me, is going to be the best for that child, then that’s going to be the case. Because I’m looking inward, I’m looking within my soul, I’m looking back upon the wisdom of my elders that have come through my soul, to be able to tell me how to raise this child properly. So all the shoulds that we use in any part of our life, are things that the ego uses to keep us from actually growing and expanding our souls, the shoulds, the kids, the wolves, are all things that the ego uses to keep us small.
Allison Davis 16:43
Yeah. And what a guide, I talk a lot about children as our guides in this kind of approach to mothering and, and that conversation with him as a young man, and just thinking about all the healing that must have brought throughout, throughout the whole lineage, you know, the ripple effects? How did you reconnect with your intuition, like your own wildernesses within you, in order to live your life differently through that process?
Terri Kozlowski 17:11
For me, I had always had a connection with nature, as a small child, I would roam out and play in the water and play in the woods. After the trauma, I ended up back in the woods. And that is where I could get back to myself. So for me, nature is very much a part of how we’re supposed to heal. Because when we get quiet, and only when we get quiet, and we go inward, are we empowered to see and to hear the whispers of our heart to hear the whispers of our soul that guides us. And it’s those the wise words that speak through our hearts and our souls, that we can move towards growth and expansion of our authentic selves. But we have to get quiet. And for me, nature is the place that I can get quiet. And most people if you ask them to take a walk in the woods, or to go sit in a stream, most people will find that they become very peaceful and very quiet. And they will have revelations because that is in that quiet space is where all the answers come.
Allison Davis 18:23
Yeah, so I spend a lot of time in therapy through my life becoming a therapist myself. And there’s nothing like the aha moments that I get, you know, when I am in a natural environment.
Terri Kozlowski 18:36
Absolutely. I think that’s one of the things people get confused about, if they’re not used to doing that, right. We spend 90% of our lives indoors, we don’t know how to listen, or talk, you know, we have very narrow ideas of talking. So how do you suggest people start repairing our disconnection from our true nature’s, from our true ecosystems from our allies in the natural world. reconnecting with nature is something that is not difficult to do. There’s a whole lot of different approaches to it. But for me, just sitting out on my deck, either early in the morning, related in the evening, and just listening to the sounds of the creatures that are around us, because they’re singing beautiful songs, and at the same time, they’re speaking wonders to us. And even if you’re only spending five or 10 minutes a day, that alone will ground you to the place where you can reconnect and understand the authenticity of just being because the reality is when you look at something as simple as the crow that is making all kinds of noise behind me today. He is doing what he’s supposed to do. He’s warning his fellow crows that there’s something that they need to pay attention to and on
Terri Kozlowski 19:59
Understanding that all of nature includes us, we are a part of nature, we’re part of the ecosystem. And our balance are in balance to it is a vital way for us to make sure that we are reconnecting with Mother Earth in a way that is not only good for her but beneficial for us.
Allison Davis 20:21
Yeah. Do you relate to ancestral healing at all? I know that in sharing your story of your mothering journey and your identity as a mother, even as mothering your mother, when you’re a child, we are thinking about the intense trauma, the spiritual abuse that she went through being ripped from her family, and placed in this context where they devalued you know, her soul, her spirit, her body, how did you reclaim that, repair that and help other people do that today, too.
Terri Kozlowski 20:56
When I was 16, I knew I was never going to have a daughter, I knew that I was the last person in my line that was going to be sexually abused. My mother was sexually abused. Her mother was sexually abused. And it just goes back for generations, I believe we have documented, which isn’t surprising. But at the same time, it has to end. So for me, part of my growth and understanding was that it was ending with me, and that I had to make sure that I work through my ones and my suffering, and heal, so that I wouldn’t pass anything on from a ancestral way to my son. Interestingly enough, he had a daughter. And when you look at my granddaughter, and look at pictures of me when I was her age, and look at pictures of my mother, when she was little, we look almost identical. And my granddaughter will say that they’re actually pictures of her, not of me or my mother. So there’s a great, long standing bond in the generational ancestry, if we just look for it, and when we know that it’s there. And we know that there was trauma, being able to work through not only our own trauma, but to accept what is accept what the past was, and then say, it stops with me. And moving forward, it’s going to be different.
Terri Kozlowski 22:34
And being able to change our perception is part of becoming aware, and awareness is the hardest step. And for most people becoming aware that there is an ancestral trauma, or that there’s ancestral healing that needs to be done is the hardest part of the process. Once you are aware, then moving through each step is not as difficult as a, as most people think it is. Because the awareness brings forth other answers. It brings forth understanding, compassion, empathy, not only for ourselves, but for the ancestors, as well as other people that currently are on the planet with us that are going through similar events. When we look at each other with the eyes of love. When we look at each other, through our human compassion, we end up healing not only ourselves, but everybody around us.
Terri Kozlowski 23:31
How are you sharing with your granddaughter, you know, the material embodiment of her mother line, the full richness of her ancestry today? Well, for one thing, we have lots of Native American books, she knows from the beginning that she’s Native American, on part of her family heritage, and her other grandmother is Hungarian. So she’s been she’s been to Hungary, and she understands that line as well. So she’s getting both paternal and maternal grandmother’s very much involved in making sure that she has a full understanding of the positive aspects of both of the histories, because they’re always positive ways to look at things, not just the negative. And we society tends to look at the negative to society tends to decide that because I had a traumatic childhood experience that I need to suffer the rest of my life because I had a traumatic experience. We need to worry about me being triggered instead of working at ways to becoming healed. Wow. I just always try to emphasize that with ancestral healing and with post traumatic stress, you get post traumatic resilience, you get ancestral guidance and wisdom and like you’re saying answers and I think that is one of the resistances to doing the work of healing by
Allison Davis 25:00
What would you say to someone who is coming from a place of privilege and just wants to do land connection without thinking about the embodiment of our nature, as beings that have evolved from other beings, right?
Terri Kozlowski 25:14
I think I see a lot of that, when it comes down to is understanding that we’re all connected. And that only the ego, only the egoic mind thinks that we’re separate from one another. Only our ego thinks that I am not connected to my mother, I’m not connected to my granddaughter, I’m not connected to you. The ego sees that, but our souls don’t. And the saddest thing about the egos being able to see so clearly all the differences is that that’s all it sees. Human beings are 99.9% genetically alike. That point 1% differences are the external features that we see. And that’s what the ego focuses on, instead of focusing on all the similarities, all the things we have in common, the fact that we all want the same thing we all want to love, and be loved. We want to be accepted, just as we are. And if we all look at each other with a loving and compassionate eyes, and say, I am here on this planet, to love everybody I meet, and to provide them with the understanding that they are fully accepted as they are, I’m fully listening to what they’re saying. I don’t have to agree with what they’re saying. But I hear them. And I will accept what they say, as a truth for themselves, versus trying to look at ways to separate and ways to label. Yeah, we’re becoming masters of separation through specialization, right? So stepping back and seeing the way that everything is interconnected. And we can see that really clearly when we study nature can help us shift how we interact with one another man labels, nature doesn’t label nature just is. And nature just keeps moving forward. It’s not worried about the future. It, it does what it needs to do for today. It doesn’t look into the past at all. It stays in the present moment. And that’s one of the things that humanity has to learn to do. And individuals need to learn to do so that they are present and aware. And through that presence. Everything is okay in this moment. Everything is peaceful. Everything is joyful. Because both of those things peace and joy arise out of us from our soul. They’re not an external thing. They’re an internal thing. And when you are focused on external, which is what the ego does, then everything becomes harder to get until you realize it. It’s all from within.
Allison Davis 27:53
Thank you for listening. The rewild mothering podcast brings together a community of Earth honoring mothers to tell the stories that mend and tend the web of mothering support. I’d love to hear your reactions to today’s episode. Let’s connect on Instagram at rewild mothering and be sure to subscribe where you listen to get next week’s episode as soon as it’s live. Until next time, may we remember our place as a part of the natural world. May we reclaim mothering as a revolutionary act? And may we rewild the ways of caring for our human family and our living planet.