We’re making Time to be Kind with Dr. Betsy Guerra again only this time, I'm a guest on her podcast! I'm sharing a clip of that interview where I share my experience with the loss of my first pregnancy in efforts to bring awareness to Pregnancy & Infant Loss Remembrance Day on Oct 15th.
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Hey PARKer, I’m Marly Q. and this is Episode #29 with Dr. Betsy Guerra - again! YES! Only this time I’m the one being interviewed:)
If you joined me last week for episode #28, I want to thank you for making Time to be Kind to listen to Dr. Betsy’s story of how she transformed her pain into joy and how she teaches others how to go from “Hurt 2 Hope”.
Dr. Betsy asked me to share my story on her podcast, and I felt compelled to share a piece of that interview with you today to bring awareness to Pregnancy & Infant Loss Remembrance Day, which is tomorrow, Oct 15.
This episode starts mid-sentence with a confession of how I used to relate to pain and sadness and how everything changed when I experienced the loss of my first pregnancy in 2017. Let’s dive right into my story of how kindness heals loss.
Marly Q: Honestly, I have lived my entire life, I will authentically and vulnerably share, in complete avoidance of pain and sadness. I am a very joyful person, I have always tried to be very positive, and that's not to say that I haven't experienced difficulties in my life, I just really have always approached sadness and pain as a "negative emotion" and something that I just need to get over as fast as possible so that I can get back to happy. And I don't think I'm alone in that feeling, I'm not sure if I was raised that way, you know, you have to be tough and like, you know, "pa lante", or like, "just move forward" and don't even stay in that place of sadness and loss and suffering for a long time.
And it really wasn't, only until fairly recently in, I guess, to share the story in 2016, was my second year wedding anniversary, and my husband and I were having this beautiful dinner at the top of, you know, a restaurant downtown, beautiful, area 31, beautiful scenery, you know, on the rooftop with a glass of champagne, and we're celebrating and made toast, what I believed was going to be a toast to our marriage. He says, "Hey, babe. So, you know, I really want to start a family so, you know, all of your philanthropy and all of your events that you do for charity, and all these things that I know that you love, and that I love about you, but that just take up a lot of time, I don't want to do that anymore. I want us to focus on starting a family.". And in that moment, I had a choice, thankfully, I had been practicing yoga, I'm a yoga teacher, and I know that there's a space between response and reaction. But I realized that I had two choices. First, I could listen to the voice, you know, on one side that's really angry, really angry at him right now for like, "What? You're telling me to, like, stop working on my dreams and my goals and my passion in life because you want you know, kids, and you want me to just be like a stay at home mom and pop out children? Like, that's what you want?". So, I could like, throw my champagne at him and be like, "Ugh!", angry; that's one side, she was there, she was very present. And on the other side, I could breathe, and experience the present moment, smile, and feel thankful to have a partner or a spouse that loves me and sees me enough to acknowledge that my charity work, my philanthropic heart, my events that I plan, what I fill my time with up until that point is very important to me, and we're celebrating our anniversary, and he wants to start a family and we want to have kids. And I could just be thankful for that in that moment. So, thankfully, I chose the latter because I've done a lot of work on my own self awareness and emotional intelligence, but I wanted to be honest, and say, the angry one was there. And in that moment was very important because I made a decision, I'm like, "You know what? This is-- I want a family too.", I had just, had always prioritize my work and you know, when you're passionate about what you do, I was just blindly following that path.
So, in 2017, very, you know, at the start of 2017, we, you know, intentionally started to try and have a family and have a baby and I was so happy. The day that I was boarding you know, a Royal Caribbean cruise ship to go on a seven-day cruise in the Caribbean, I feel weird. I'm like, "Let me take a home pregnancy test to make sure that I mean, everything okay. Because if I'm pregnant, I don't want to spend seven days drinking, you know, Margaritas or whatever, I want to make sure that I know.". So, sure enough, I went, I did the test, I did two of them, I'm pregnant. Yay! I am so happy about it and nervous and all the feelings that you feel.
Betsy: Stopped drinking margaritas.
Marly Q: Absolutely not. I didn't even do a jet skis, I didn't do anything. And my husband was really happy, we celebrated it. I mean, we enjoyed this vacation to the max because now we were celebrating not just going on a summer vacation, but we were pregnant, we're starting a family; we did it. So, I waited till we came back, and I was actually about 12 weeks pregnant before I went to the doctor for the first time. We go to the doctor and my family, I'm Cuban, I had my whole Cuban family in the lobby, waiting for you know, the party, the fiesta, outside. My husband and I go in, the doctor, you know comes and does the sonogram and I'm laying back, I don't really see the screen or anything, but I don't hear him say anything and he just, you know, finishes, asks me to sit up and says, "Your uterus is empty. There's nothing there, you're not pregnant, you must have had a missed abortion.". And he got his clipboard and he left the room, and the two nurses that were there left the room and that was it. And my husband's there, and I didn't even have the courage to lift my eyes up to look at him. I didn't think about how I felt, even though I had a huge knot in my throat similar to the one that I have right now, by the way, and all I thought about was my family outside, "Oh, my God. Everybody's so happy about this pregnancy, and I'm not pregnant. How did I miss an abortion? What do you mean?”, I have never even heard that phrase; I think it's a horrible, horrible phrase and there was zero kindness, zero kindness, not that he was unkind, he was just kind of very cold and professional and matter of fact about what he was seeing. And in that moment, I felt an immense amount of hurt and pain, but it was mostly directed at, "I don't want to disappoint others, I don't want to disappoint my family, I don't want to disappoint my husband.", I didn't even look at him. I said, "I'm sorry, I can't go outside, I need you to tell the family, I'm going to like escape through the back and just get in the car and I want to go home, I don't want to see anybody.".
And that was, I guess, the beginning, interestingly enough because it was only a couple years ago, the beginning of me, for the first time in my life actually allowing myself the kindness, allowing myself the time to be kind to me and how I was feeling and be sad, sit with the hurt, sit with the pain, sit with the loss. I'm an event planner, also for the last 20 years so, immediately, when I peed on the stick, so to speak, I was already planning a baby shower, I was planning, "Oh, if it's a girl, this. Oh, if it's a boy, that. Oh.", you know, planning, planning, planning, already in the future. So, for me, that was really the first time I ever experienced, I ever allowed myself to experience loss and hurt and pain. At first, it was directed at just disappointing other people and not wanting to disappoint them but I've done enough work where I just allowed myself the time and the space to be sad and my husband, thankfully, I have a partner who is immensely kind and compassionate and sat there with me in the sadness. And those comments, which I'm sure we'll, you know, people listening may resonate with, you know, from family, mostly family actually because I didn't even tell any friends that I was going through this, in their effort to try and get me out of sadness would say things like, "Well, at least you know that you can get pregnant. At least you weren't further along in the pregnancy, because that would have been worse. At least--", you know, it just trying to say things that in their mind was helpful or like, "Hey, you know, I went through this and I don't even remember it anymore, it doesn't matter like, time will erase that from your memory.". And those things, even though they were trying to be helpful in kind of that moment, were actually very hurtful, because in that moment, I was experiencing sadness and pain and it's almost like they didn't allow me the time and the space to just be sad for a moment, but my husband did. We came back home and I'm like, "I just don't want to talk to anybody. I don't want to see anybody. I just need a little time to be kind to myself and feel this.", and it didn't take very long. I was sad for maybe a couple days but my husband and I made just a decision to have that be the spark of us, really, we celebrated the fact that, hey we really want-- we solidified the decision that we want to start a family and that because there's this loss on our first try, it doesn't mean that there's you know, we're destined for like loss. I actually had a family member tell me, "Oh my God, I had a dream that you weren't ever going to have kids again, that you weren't ever going to have kids.". Oh, goodness, wow, what a hurtful thing to say, she didn't mean it that way, I forgive her.
But I mean, this was my experience and why I really worked to just kind of shelter myself from what anybody else had to say to me, and really just tapped into my own self love and kindness and compassion and empathy for what I was feeling and able to turn that, by feeling it and not distracting or dismissing or denying it, allow that pain to be a little bridge, holding my husband's hand together and saying, "Let's try again.". And within just a few months, that happened in June of 2017, by October of 2017 I was pregnant again. I just celebrated my son's second birthday and I'm eight months pregnant with my second child, and the amount of just, joy that has come from honestly, not just their births and their life but I think really from, again, allowing myself the time, the space and the kindness to just feel sad. Because it just solidified the fact that I really wanted to start a family and to try again and try again.
Betsy: How beautiful. What a beautiful way of viewing your loss. You know, Marly, you've mentioned a couple of things that made me reflect on what I teach about overcoming that pain of loss. And the first one is that I believe in a super tool like, I think this is like an amazing, amazing clinical tool in helping us heal, and it's reframing. And reframing means that we change the perspective with which we're looking at something into one that's more positive, to help us view it in a different light. So, we change the lens, so that we view it in a different light in order to feel differently about it. Because when we speak to our subconscious through our thoughts or our words, we're telling it what to feel, right? Like, the subconscious mind believes whatever you tell it, it doesn't question it, and the subconscious mind also is in charge of creating the emotions associated with those thoughts. So, when we reframe, we tell the subconscious mind that what seemed to be a tragedy really is a blessing, so that the subconscious mind can then create emotions aligned with that new perspective, right? So, it is a powerful tool in helping us heal but I have had clients that are the kings and queens of reframing and they learned from early on, to change the perspective of something so that they can avoid and escape pain. And it was so interesting that recently, I had a client that was going through a lot of grief, he had broken up with his girlfriend, and he was in a lot of pain and we realized that what was preventing him from moving forward was that he was such a good reframer, which is a gift.
So, reframing is usually a gift if you use it at the right time but if you're using reframing to escape the pain, or to not sit with it, then it may be dangerous. And what happens is that, many times our family members and our loved ones don't want to see us suffer, they cannot stand the thought or the view of seeing us in pain. So, they want to immediately reframe for us, change the perspective so that we can feel better. And many times it's because they mean well for the most part, it's because they mean well, other times, it's because they don't know what to do with pain and it's too uncomfortable, not to see you in pain, but to not-- to feel like there's nothing they can do or they don't know how to act in front of that pain of yours. So, many times, people wanting to make you feel better or wanting to make it more-- wanting to remove that pain from you, they reframe in an untimely manner, and that's why so many people that experience loss, hear all sorts of things, right? Like, "Oh, you lost a child, oh, but you'll have other ones", or, "You lost a child but you know, at least you lose her at 18 and you would have had more time with her.". And then for me, it's like, "But right, but then I didn't get all those memories and experiences with her.". And the truth is that, at the end of the-- or, I've heard people say like, "Oh, but it was a miscarriage, like no big deal. You know, like you didn't even know, you're fine. You didn't even meet the kid so.", but that's alive and it was you-- you procreated that with God, and it was the beginning of your family and it was a dream. So, people don't realize that it's not just losing a life, it's losing your life as you knew it, and it's losing your dreams, and your procreation, and so many things, right? Like, grief can be so complex. So, I loved how you shared how the people were reframing for you and it wasn't until you were ready to reframe, after feeling that pain, that then it became a healthy tool for you to use.
Marly Q: Yeah, absolutely, that's a great way to reflect and to put it. That's wonderful, that's exactly what it was.
Betsy: And then the other thing that you said that caught my attention is, you kept on mentioning your husband and I really admire your relationship, I'm a big fan of healthy, beautiful relationships and I have devoted much of my career to helping people accomplish that. So, I really treasure and appreciate that in other people so, congrats for building that with your husband. But another thing that came to mind is something that I wholeheartedly believe is important in our process of overcoming grief and that is that, you, we all need a team, you know, man is not an island and we were created for a community and to live and experience in community. And during the process of loss, the people that you surround yourself with, you know, are important in helping you heal or go backwards. And I feel it's so beautiful that you chose a person that was willing to sit in pain with you and be uncomfortable about the fact that he couldn't take that away from you. Because obviously when you love someone, you really want to take the pain away but he loves you so much that he was willing to put himself in that uncomfortable situation and position to hold space for you and to allow you to feel and I feel it's because of that, that it didn't last months, it didn't last longer, right? Because you had a companion that allowed you to feel and then, was ready for you, when you were ready to recommit to trying again and making a difference.
Marly Q: We never lost the hope and the faith that you know, we're going to have a family so, let's just feel through this. We ended up being happy that we tried and that we were successful on the first try, if you will, even if it didn't come to complete fruition, right? So, we were able to completely reframe it but exactly like you said, was only after we allowed that little bit of time to just feel the sadness and the pain and the loss and kind of tune or turn off, you know, the volume and the noise from everybody else, whether it was well intended, I don't think anybody was, you know, intentionally trying to hurt me more. But I'm telling you, every other comment really did-- was doing the opposite of what I actually needed in that moment of pain and loss, which is just some kindness and empathy which is feeling with people, not trying to problem solve or, you know, deflect or reframe in an unproductive way at that moment.
Betsy: And piggybacking on this example, one of the ways in which people who are experiencing grief, one of the ways in which they show their hurt is through anxiety, right? Like, they have so much built up that they become anxious and scared and nervous, and they have panic attacks and sometimes it seems like it came from nowhere, but really, it's because they have so much accumulated.
And I know Marly, that through the work that you've done, by being a yoga teacher and spreading kindness and even coming from a home where you learned to be anxious, right? Like, to be stressed out all the time, can you share a little bit about what you have created to help people stress less and have a practice that allows them to connect spiritually and be at peace?
Marly Q: Yeah, absolutely. Thank you so much, because I think that it really has been a journey and it continues to be a journey. I think it's a lifelong journey of self-love and kindness and the more that we can be there for ourselves, like you beautifully shared in the example, the more we strengthen our muscle and our capacity to be there truly, authentically for others. So, there's this contradiction that I was absolutely raised with, the most beautiful, giving, generous and selfless mother of all time, who modeled how to be there for everybody else but yourself. So, as my greatest role model, I modeled that and I was really good at it, I'm talking about girl, I got like over 12 scholarships for all of my community service work and Hall of Fame for 5000 something hours of service projects and all these like you know, outward praise for being there for other people, really good at that muscle, really weak, the muscle of expressing any kind of kindness towards myself. And I really feel like I'm the first one in my family to kind of break that generational pattern of not expressing kindness towards self. I was also raised in a Catholic home, I was totally raised to believe service above self, and I believe these things, I'm an incredibly generous person and everything I do is about service to others. And now, there's so much more power and "success" in the work that I'm doing, because I've learned how to direct some of that kindness towards myself first, without sacrificing any of my other responsibilities, without dismissing my family, or my kids or anything. If anything, I'm even more present and more available for them, because I've been able to fill my cup.
So, with this whole pandemic, and everything that's been going on, as an event planner, my events business, as a speaker, teacher, an event creator, for the last 20 years, has been based on creating live events for others, and that business crumbled within the span of a week. And I had the opportunity, if we're talking about loss and pain, I mean, that's not of a life, but that's my business, my livelihood. I allowed myself the kindness to kind of freak out a little bit and be like, "What is happening here?", like, every single event for the rest of the year canceled, and I have a baby on the way and I allowed myself the kindness to, "What are we going to do here? We have a decision to make.", allow myself the kindness to not flood my body with cortisol and stress hormones and you know, and affect my baby and I would be like "Hang on, this is-- I can't-- this is outside of my control, why stress myself out to a point like I used to, over things that I just simply cannot control? I need to experience them, I need to allow myself the opportunity to experience what's happening, not make it better than it is, not make it worse than it is, just see it as it is, and then make a decision from that point.". That was the birth of my podcast Time to be Kind with Marly Q, which I was so grateful that you were on as one of my guests, that was the birth of me starting to think of, "Okay, great, how can I still speak and teach my message about kindness, and create kind of a virtual event experience, where I'm teaching some of the things that I've learned?". So, I created my very first online course called The BEST Way to Stress Less, and I am a lover of acronyms, I am an acronomist, someone called me in a acronomist one time, and I'm like, "What?", I have never identified with a title more than acronomist, lover of acronyms.
So, BEST is an acronym for my four step method for how to allow yourself to practice self care and putting yourself first even, if you think that you're too busy, and you have no extra time, money or energy to put into dedicating time for yourself. So, I created a course that's basically for beginners and seasoned, you know, professionals alike. And by what I mean by professionals is people that have been practicing self care or into yoga or workout or have some kind of self care practice, this course can still teach you a very simple and effective way to actually practice for things that you can do individually or at the same time, that's the beautiful thing about it, is that you can practice it absolutely anytime, anywhere, and still be infusing in your system, love and kindness and self care and putting yourself first, even if we're living in a time where you can't go to the gym, and you can't go you know and interact with other people the way that you used to, how can you still fill your cup?
Betsy: And I have to tell you that that's what I loved the most about your course, I devoured Marly Q's course, because I really didn't consume it, I devoured it, I was so hooked, you have such beautiful energy and you exude this love and kindness, and I couldn't have enough of you. So, and what I love the most about your course, is how simple it is, because I think one of the problems that prevents people from consuming these kinds of personal development tools, or even spiritual tools, because I think what you teach has a lot to do with being present, with being still, with finding your inner wisdom, with connecting with your peace, right? Instead of like, always be reacting to life and be stressed out and be anxious, I feel that the tools that you gave us are so simple that anybody can practice them. But simple means, in this case, powerful, because they're doable, because they're simple, but they're powerful. And I find, I am an acronym lover too and I absolutely loved and was amazed by your brilliancy in creating these acronyms, I have to say. And there are times that I'm like, just yesterday, I had a unimportant webinar, and I was like, a little stressed and overwhelmed like, "BEST, B-E-S-T.", I'm not going to tell them so that it's a surprise, but I went over them and I practiced it and in five minutes, like I am into the practice of silent prayer, which is a Christian meditation or, and for years, I wanted to start practicing that, but I'm like, "Ugh, I don't have 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes in the afternoon, and I don't have the time.", and what's beautiful about your practice and what you share and teach is that, there's no excuse, because it takes five minutes, and you can do them, you can do those exercises while you're driving, in the shower. Whereas you can't meditate while you're driving, you could crash, what you teach us is simple, powerful, and so doable. So, thank you for that because you reminded me when I listened to that, and I've recommended your program to many of my clients, when I consumed it, it reminded me that the answers many times are not in the complex things, right? Like, are not like, "Oh, my gosh, to be able to overcome loss I have to go through all these stages and I have to process this way, and I have to do this and that and I have to feel the pain, and it's unbearable. And I can't feel the pain because I'm not capable and I'm not strong enough, and she's stronger than me.". And we have all these ideas as to how we need to do something to overcome the adversity that we're in, including anxiety, and we don't realize that the answer many times lies in the simple gestures and acts.
Marly Q: It's in the simple things, the simple things that you do for others, but also in the simple things that you do for yourself. And I'm big self help and personal development person as well, I could love courses, but the truth is, a very small amount of people that actually purchase a self development or self help course actually complete it. I was on a mission to create a course that I can guarantee you will finish, and hopefully with my help throughout the four weeks of coaching with you and practicing it with you, will stay with you. Because we're never going to eliminate stress, we're never going to eliminate pain and loss from life, it is part of the human experience. What we need to do is learn a simple way and an effective way and a way that actually you know connects, which I think through acronyms makes it easy for you to remember, "I just need to do my best.". And even in the phrase, the best way to stress less is to always do your best, just do your best and allow yourself the kindness to be like, "Even if I didn't make it to the gym today. Even if I didn't eat super healthy today. Even if I didn't get my eight hours of sleep today. Even if my kids were rambunctious today and I had to scream at them because I lost my patience and I was so stressed out. Even if my clients at work are driving me crazy. Even if there's a pandemic and even if my business crumble then, etc, etc.", even if you're experiencing an immense amount of stress, pain, loss, if you can just remember to do your best and allow yourself the kindness to go through these four very simple steps, I promise you, you will be giving yourself so much love and kindness, so much of a gift that will not just let you stress less but really just fill you up with kindness, which is what I truly believe is a superpower of a gift that you can give yourself. And then you can start again the next day and just do your best, and do your best and that's really all that we can ever ask of ourselves and of others, if you can just believe that everyone is just trying to do their best to get through a very challenging world and no one's life is easy, just remember to do your best, and believe that others, you know, have the capacity to do their best. Everybody's not always doing their best, but they have the capacity to do their best, I think is definitely a way to just live a life with less stress. And this is coming from someone, friends, I'm not saying this from any kind of high horse or like, oh, super, you know, enlightened being, no. This is coming from someone who has experienced an immense amount of stress, worry and anxiety in her life, because that's how I was raised, what was modeled for me and what I believed was almost virtuous, right? If I don't worry and stress about everything, and everyone, then it means I don't care, right? This is what I believed, and I learned from that place. So, I have experienced a lot of pain and suffering and loss of self living from that place. And my transformation, I'm just so grateful because it really just started with some awareness, just started with some awareness of how unkind I was being, and how truly, I don't deserve that, right? You don't deserve that either.
Betsy: Absolutely not, you deserve to be kind to yourself.
Marly Q: Yeah. Everybody deserves to be kind to themselves. If you want kindness from other people, if you want kindness from the world, if you want kindness from your partner, you want kindness from your parents or from your kids, that means it's probably a mirror or a reflection that you are not practicing kindness towards yourself. It has to start with you, it absolutely has to and I believe that I was given a gift of this best way to stress less through, call it divine inspiration, if you will. I have received that as a gift, I've practiced it in my life, I practice it every day and now, I was given the gift, through my business crumbling, through loss, let's circle this back to the point of this conversation, through loss of life as I knew it, was given the gift to create something new, and to be of service to other people in the process. So, I'm incredibly proud of myself for first, creating the course, something that I never thought I would do, because I am not a virtual, you know, person I've become one all of a sudden, but really to be able to put my heart and my mission of spreading kindness into a course that can reach a much greater number of people that I can reach on a one to one or on a per event basis. So, I'm just very grateful for the opportunity to have shared it with you, to share it with your audience and to share it with the greatest number of people that I can.
Betsy: That's beautiful, thank you for that heart, that generous heart and that kind of heart you have and that you share with us, you really, really, really inspire me to practice that kindness and especially with myself, because I am really good about always coming from a place of service to others and I forget sometimes to do so with myself and then I can't give my best during those times, it's not my 100% that I know, right? It's a different percentage, because I'm depleted. So, being kind to yourself is definitely--
Marly Q: And you can be kind to you and to others better, actually better, you can be way better at being kinder to others when you're kinder to yourself first. It's amazing, it boggles the mind sometimes like, "Oh, but if I'm kind to myself then I can't, you know, have to put everything else first.", try it, try doing your best.
Betsy: From a place of like, a finite place like, the mind wants to make everything that's infinite, finite, and love, kindness, all of those virtues are infinite. So, absolutely, that doesn't mean that if you're being kind to yourself, you're taking away from other people, it's quite the opposite, it just doesn't make sense in our very squared mindset and finite way of thinking. Because it is an amazing and beautiful experience like, to go through your course and it's so doable really like in a 10 minute drive, you consume that week's content and then you get to practice it daily and it just takes five minutes and you could do it, you could multitask. I don't recommend that you multitask but even just the four steps, you can put them together, right? Like, what I love about that is that it's not four steps that you have to do one first and the other one, you brilliantly combine all four steps into one so that people can kind of connect with it and can practice it at the same time and it literally is just five minutes and you can do that in the shower, you can definitely do that in the shower.
Marly Q: I love doing my BEST in the shower.
Betsy: You have time, like no excuse, you could do that in bed while laying in bed, when you wake up, when you go to sleep. I love that you mentioned about those two times, because my experience with my clients has been that those are the two times that they feel the most anxious so, no excuses. Best way to stress less is by going to her course and learning what she teaches, those four steps that are going to allow you to free yourself from anxiety and having these recurring thoughts that are not serving you and that are not kind to yourself. So, thank you, thank you, thank you Marly for sharing your wisdom, thank you for sharing your story and for being with us and for teaching us to be kinder to ourselves.
Marly Q: Yes! Thank YOU for making time to be kind. If you want the link to listen to the full interview with Dr. Betsy, learn more about her Hurt 2 Hope program and/or get on the wait list for my next BEST Way to Stress Less course, just visit this episode’s show notes and transcription page at marlyQ.com/29
And in case you missed last week’s episode, Dr. Betsy is offering a special discount code and a free scholarship for her Hurt to Hope program for someone from our Kind Qrew who decides to PARK & share a review referencing Ep 28 or 29. You can find the details & direct links at MarlyQ.com/29