I talk to the wonderful and very inspiring

Bonny Sonnenburg

Transitional Life Coach, Certified Mindset Coach, Trauma Survivor

 

Read below about her FREE 5 week workshop

and join Bonny in her Facebook Group Aligned Action Strategies for Trauma Survivors

So, tell us, Bonny, what is it you do?

I help trauma survivors, choose serenity, without feeling depressed and defeated using action to align strategies.

So, I give them the strategies that they can use to leave the anger behind and begin again, almost using the whole ‘manifesting the life that they want to live‘, so getting clarity on getting their goals. Taking aligned action, a positive mindset and things like that.

Originally my niche was narcissistic abuse survivors, but as I’ve done more research and more reaching out, especially into divorce groups and other vulnerable Facebook groups they’ve gone through trauma in a different way, so I’ve opened my niche up to trauma survivors because trauma comes in a lot of different forms, not just narcissistic abuse, but they still need those results that I’m offering to them.

In a roundabout way that’s what my programme does, it teaches about boundaries which are very important for any trauma survivor to put into place.

So, true, what got you into this?

I started about a year ago, I was married to a narcissist. We were together for 33 years married for 25, so, I have walked in the shoes of people who have gone through that type of trauma.

Can you tell us a bit more about this, if that’s okay?

Yes, absolutely, telling my story helps others.

So, I met my ex-husband when I was 15, and he was 16. And at the time, of course, you’re 15 and 16, so you don’t really realise that something’s off.

Looking back, there were many clues, a lot of memories, and a lot of information that looking in the rear-view mirror helps you find, especially that I was constantly asking him, are you mad at me.

So now as an adult 30 years later I see that.

There was love bombing and withholding love… So, the narcissistic abuse for me, started when I was 15, but I couldn’t see it, and it was very subtle, it’s not like it was blatant and people could see it.

So, we dated the entire time we were in high school, and by that time I was trauma bonded to him, so I didn’t want to go away to college, I didn’t want to go anywhere without him. I only wanted to be with him 24/7.

Trauma bonds play such an important role in our recovery.

Can you tell us more about what a trauma bond is?

Yes, trauma bonds takes away the guilt and the wonder of why do I still love him? Why do I still care about him? Why am I still thinking about him?

I didn’t want to go away to college, so, for the first two years I stayed home and then I did go to college, but I was one of those commuter students, my parents did try to have me stay in the dorm, but I actually thought the world had collapsed around to me, I was very sad and it just didn’t work for me, at the time we didn’t know any better, we just thought I was homesick and I liked living at home.

But the truth was, I was already in the cycle. And so, being without him made me feel incomplete and made me feel like I can’t make a decision, or move, or do anything without him next to me.

So, for people who are just hearing this for the first time. I know what that feels like. It’s scary. It’s scary when you lose, who you are as a person, and you don’t know who to turn to, except your abuser.

I got married at 22. I was pretty much trained in his behaviour. Nothing I did was ever good enough for him. Nothing. I cooked was good enough; I couldn’t balance the chequebook, if I woke him up in the morning, just to give him a kiss goodbye before I went to work, it annoyed him, so I started seeing more tendencies, but I was 22, so I didn’t really know what narcissism was or that it even existed.

As the years went the abuse got worse.

I was the one working, he was the one staying home we had no children at that time, I had gotten my degree, I was a teacher I was commuting to work every day, making the money that we had to live on, because he didn’t work but giving it all to him. I was allowed $100 from my own pay-check. I had to write down every time I spent money and what it was on.

So, now you have the trauma bond, you have the discarding, you have the love bombing, you have the control. You have the name-calling …

Gosh, it sounds awful, but when you’re in that, it’s hard to see the outside world, right?

Yes, I loved him with my entire being. I literally would have laid down and died for that man.

I know that those of you who read this and have been through it, know exactly how it feels. If your narcissist is your boss or your parent, you’re going to have strong feelings for that person, it’s just going to show up in a different way.

So, I kept trying to think that if I was a better wife. I did everything I could to try to get him to love me, never realising that he didn’t even know what love was.

Four years into our marriage, we had our daughter Stephanie who is now 27. When Stephanie was born, he began to become more sexually abusive, and he, of course, was already financially abusive, because I couldn’t have any money, and I had to literally call him from the mall, if I wanted to buy something, I couldn’t just pick it up and purchase it.

But what happens is we become disassociated, it’s almost like a feeling that you’re not in your body any longer, as your life is unfolding in front of you, it’s like watching a TV show. That’s how it was for me. And that was my escape.

He was good to our daughter until our son Matthew was born five years later. And that day … the day Matthew was born … and I will remember this for the rest of my life, was the day he could not love Stephanie any longer.

There’s only room in there for one person, his son took that place, and his daughter was immediately kicked out of that spot. So, she suffered his verbal and emotional abuse, there was no physical abuse, but my daughter grew up as an abuse victim, and she’s gone through a lot of therapy, and she’s an amazing.

She’s an amazing person and she’s a happy person and she has come into her own.

And people ask, why don’t you leave?

They say things like … I’d never put up with that.

You put up with it, because you’re scared, because you want to keep your family together, because you don’t want anybody to know, because you don’t want to hurt anyone, because you’re afraid that he’s going to get custody, and you’re not going to be able to protect your children, there’s a million reasons why we stay.

So, I do get a little upset when people say why didn’t she just leave. You have no idea what we’ve been through. So, anyone feeling that way, I totally understand and get it.

When people say that it almost angers me, because until you walked in our shoes, don’t ask that question.

I totally understand that … it’s as if this ‘your normal’ … like being ‘brainwashed’ almost …

Yes, I was asked that question so many times, why don’t you just leave? I didn’t just leave because I thought he would get custody, and who was going to be there to protect my children because I wasn’t there. That’s why, that’s my main reason for not leaving.

So, anyway, the abuse got worse, the physical abuse had started too.

But I dissociated …

I know, any mom’s reading this, you have to listen, I disassociated, I understand. The sexual abuse came to a point where my only escape was to take myself out of my body while it was happening, because there was no escape.

As time went on, and Matthew, my son, was preteens, around 9 years old, he started to become verbally abusive to Matthew because Matthew finally had a voice.

Stephanie turned to me and said,

‘Mommy, it’s okay, and still hurts. It’s okay that he does it to me. But now he’s doing it to Matthew.’

So, by the time she was 14 she thought it was okay for somebody to treat her like that. And disrespect her in that manner.

Gosh, that must have been so hard  …

Yes, absolutely. But … that’s what perpetuates the cycle. My daughter saw me, allowing this to happen. And so, she allowed it to happen. And I allowed it to happen for another four years.

The verbal and emotional abuse against my children.

The physical, the verbal, emotional, the financial, the sexual abuse against myself.

Yes, I felt like a bad mom.

I was stuck between a rock and a hard place, you know, if I leave, who’s going to protect them …

So, what do you do in that position? That’s something that you have to contemplate and answer on your own …

What, an awful situation, being trapped and feeling like there is no way out …

 

But you finally did … you left when Stephanie was 18 years old …

 

Yes, it’s amazing the catalyst that can turn your life around.

 

But if you’re reading this, head over to my Facebook group, Aligned Action Strategies for Trauma Survivors, where there’s a video about my story, how I left and how I got to the happy place that I’m in now.

 

I watched that, totally can see how you got trapped into that situation, if anyone is reading this, definitely head over there … so that’s your passion now, helping others who have been through trauma?

 

Yes, but I don’t spend a lot of time, I call it the ‘ugly’, I don’t spend a lot of time examining the ugly, but we have to look at it and see how it affects other areas of our lives because sometimes people who have been through traumatic experiences have tunnel vision, and they’re not realising that the trauma is affecting their work, their friendships, their family, and so I try to tie that all together for them. Within a few sessions, and then start on the recovery, because that’s the important part.

 

How long have you been doing this?

 

I’ve been in the coaching realm for about a year. I am trained as a kindergarten teacher, enjoying that, okay, I’ve been doing that for 30 years. My master’s degree is in psychology, plus I’m a certified mindset, transitional coach and trauma advocate.

 

How long is your program? Tell us about it …

 

It’s a 12-week programme but I’m currently offering free five-week seminar, starting on the 26th August and it will be every Wednesday.

 

It’s really for people to just get a taste of going from that anger to that acceptance.

 

Just once a week for about half an hour to get an idea of what my programme would entail for them and what we would be getting into, and to see if it’s something that they would be interested in.

 

I have had clients where I talked more about their trauma and how to process it, but the more I work with my clients, I’ve come to understand that processing the trauma isn’t the most important part.

 

The most important part is moving forward. So, my programme reflects that end result. So, these five weeks, I’m going to be talking what trauma is, as some people don’t fully understand. You know, even divorce is trauma.

 

So, the first two weeks, we’ll be discussing what trauma really is and the effect it has on the world around you, and also talk about boundaries, and how important they are to put into place.

 

From there I will go into having a goal, which would be the acceptance, and how to get clarity on their goal, and how to take aligned action to get to their goal because we talk about manifesting certain things and people think, okay, if I just think about it, then it’s going to happen. And that’s not really the way it works. And it took me a long time to realise that if I don’t take aligned action. It’s not going to work.

 

Having that magnetic attraction to positivity, is important, and possible … so I will give them strategies for when they’re feeling negative and how to change it around, because you can literally change your brain … the way the nerves and the pathways work, if you practice, the method. So, that will be definitely part of what I’ll be covering in the five weeks.

 

 

And how have your clients found your 12-week program?

 

I’ve had some great feedback, one of my clients actually did the programme twice, because she really enjoyed it. I’ve worked with all my clients on a one-to- one, but I do understand, this is a hard thing to handle. My most successful client is the lady that did go through it twice.

 

She started out literally with no self-care at all taking a shower at three in the morning, not doing her hair, not putting any make-up on, to now eating properly, going out, even taking herself out to dinner, has gone on a few dates, applied for and got a better position at work.

 

Wow, that’s so awesome!

 

It’s amazing because it just shows how my program works this stuff, and I love knowing that I’m giving that to somebody else. I know I can help people, even those that have their objections and their limiting beliefs, I help them to work through them.

 

So, what’s the name of your five-week workshop?

 

Choosing acceptance, over anger.

 

Ooohh, I love that … is there anything else you’d like to tell us about your program, anything you’d like to add in general …

 

Another thing is that I’ve learned with narcissistic abuse victims, being one of them, is that when you do leave, you literally have nothing, like I left with my kids and my dog, and that’s it.

 

But now I’m living a good life, I have a fantastic husband, so I know my strategies would help anyone immensely who is a trauma survivor.

 

I just want to say to those who feel my program can help them … I can see that you are having some trouble with yourself worth, your self-esteem, the ability to trust others, putting a boundary in place, and really caring about who you are as a person.

 

So, during the 12 weeks that we meet together. You have a one-on-one with me once a week, you have a group call once a week, and you have a lecture, once a week, along with affirmations and meditation if you choose to join, and all the strategies will lift you up to the place where you need to be which is self-acceptance.

 

If you’re unsure, please come and join the five week workshop

 

Come and join Bonny in her Facebook Group Aligned