#SameHere Influencers

Profile: Stephanie Michele

Consumer Retention Specialist, Behavioral Analyst, Relational Nutritionist, Shared Experience Facilitator, Host of Relatable with Stephanie Michele on YouTube
Instagram: @relatewithsteph
YouTube: Relatable with Stephanie Michele

What past life experiences, physical traumas or genetics do you believe have had an effect on your mental health?
I grew up in the Midwest. Both my parents grew up in large farm families. My siblings & I were raised to value hard work & traditional pursuits of marriage, home ownership & ‘paying your dues’ by pursuing long term employment w a company that would ‘recognize & reward you for your service & loyalty.’ I’m a hard worker but I don’t relate to the rest of those values in an ordinary way.

My parents met in an agriculture youth program called 4-H. My mom got pregnant in HS w my sister. At that time the only ‘right thing’ to do according to their parents was to get married, so they did. I was born three years after & three years after that, my brother came into the world. My parent’s marriage was not a good one. I don’t have any happy memories of my parents together. I mostly just remember being fearful & being told to be quiet. There was anger, outrage, abuse & accusations. One of those accusations was the rumor (spread in whispered tones by aunts & uncles) that my dad was not my dad. My last memory of our family together was a dinner I refer to as ‘the last supper.’ I believe that dinner created a lot of core trauma for my sister & I. Her story is not mine to tell but I can say that what I witnessed that night made me vow to be ‘easy to love’ which created some dedicated work to undo after understanding in my 20’s I was an enabler in my intimate relationships.

My parents divorced when I was 10. It was complicated & painful for all members of my family & remained that way for years. My dad moved to Texas after the divorce was final. It felt like abandonment to my siblings & me. It took me years to admit that pain was much deeper for me. My dad to this day still brings up ‘the rumor’ that he is my not my dad. He has no idea of the great loss & cost his lack of acceptance has created in my life. He takes no active role in my life.  To say that I got ‘triggered’ a lot in intimate relationships w men is an understatement. I told myself for years that I must be harder to love, so I worked harder to develop my heart. The funny & beautiful thing about that now is my heart is the crown jewel of my existence. It is fully open & accessible, yet I’m careful & protective w whom I share it.

As I watched my parents fight & argue, I thought, ‘there has to be a better way than this.’ From about age 10 & on I became really fascinated by communication & relational studies. I read anything I could get my hands on.  In my 20’s, Harville Hendrix book, ‘How to Get the Love You Want,’ changed my life. I sought out therapy w a heavy lean towards alternative healing opportunities. I also put a high value on creating relationship w people that would accept & treat me as a family member that they were grateful to love.

How did the effects on your mental health appear in terms of symptoms?

There is a lot of addiction challenges in both sides of my family & in my immediate family. Seeing these struggles & my feelings of hopelessness have contributed to me seeking & trying anything I am exposed to in terms of therapy.  W/ so much healing & learning, I also learned how to develop my empathic skills to create healthy workforce culture programs & facilitate events where attendees are given the opportunity to feel their connection to one another in an uplifted & energizing way.

What methods helped you individually get/feel better?

The things that’ve worked for me are the things that I advocate for, today. I’m a big believer in group therapy & developing & maintaining a core group of people that you can safely grow & learn w/. I also believe that in the same way we dedicate time to work out at the gym, a dedicated time for weekly conversation helps us grow. One of the greatest joys of my life is the YouTube show I’ve been doing for three years now called ‘Relatable w Stephanie Michele.’ It is my dedicated hour each week to sit down w someone, hear their story & let them know how their story inspires me.I also believe in spiritual literacy, meditation, holographic repatterning, plant medicines, acupuncture & music, dance, art, color & light therapies.

Why did you decide to go public with your story? Who were/are you hoping to help and how?
I believe our world is suffering from a lack of connection & love. We spend an unhealthy amount of time doing what I call ‘fast-food relating’ on devices rather than investing the time & effort required to create healthy relationships offline. When we practice safe ways to be vulnerable w each, we grow together. I believe there are forces in our government & big business that benefit from keeping us unwell & divided & the only way to fight that is to have a developed practice of awareness around how to increase love, grow healthy communities & improve relating skills. We can’t solve global issues until we see & accept each other as fellow brothers & sisters of humanity.

How did people react when you went public with your story?

It is so much easier for me to write out my heavy thoughts & feelings than to communicate my #SameHere story directly to someone. I have a hard time letting people see me in pain, when the urge to share something painful or profound comes up, I have a tendency to talk myself out of sharing to the point I might avoid the person I want to talk to altogether…I am working on that. In most cases, I use humor to hide my pain or discomfort or I’ll be overly sensitive to someone else’s needs & ignore my own…still working on that too.  Learning to accept & love the wholeness of my ‘work in progress’ growth is what has brought the most healing into my life & one of things I that I advocate for the most. Our culture rewards & judges each other in augmented, one-dimensional snapshots. We think we know each other through the memes we post & the ‘look at my great life’ filtered photos we share via social media. This stuff is fragmenting us.  These shards of reality are preventing us from seeing & experiencing the kind of wholehearted love that keeps us healthy & moving forward in joy, hope & gratefulness.

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