#306 – How To Heal From A Toxic Family With Susan Gold

Thomas Green with ethical marketing service here, on the episode today we have Susan Gold. Susan, welcome. Glad to be here. Thanks for having me. I am very glad to have you would you like to take a moment and tell the audience a bit about yourself and what you do? Sure. So I’m an author and transformational list. I help people transform traumatic circumstances into experiences for soul evolution or at least a pivot in their outlook and expectation as they walk through them. And I didn’t expect to find myself in this circumstance. Thomas. I was a television producer um for my career, I match celebrities with brands. Um But it’s interesting the way the universe works. Very interesting and thank you for the introduction.

Uh I would imagine it’s like quite worthwhile work, what you’re doing. Um How, how do you help people? Is it um your sort of coaching or you’re an author or what’s the, um what’s the deal there? Gosh, that word coaching has be, become so prolific, right? Everyone’s a coach, certainly since all those world class lockdowns. Um But it’s a plus in that we’re coming together. I hope as a global collective and learning, we’re all one and we all have ways to, to help. I have been told I’m an inspirational storyteller and have this angelic energy about me. People just feel good um talking with me and I think that’s one of my strongest skill sets. That’s certainly the role I played in my household growing up. I came from a very chaotic and traumatic background. My father is a genius astrophysicist, but he loved to uncork the whiskey bottle at 7:30 a.m. And GG and my mother self soothed with food.

And back then, um diet pills were prescribed for that issue. And I realized in my twenties she had been on straight speed and also um I believe was struggling with her mental health. Her personality would shift. She could be so incredibly loving. Um And then next moment she’d be beating me almost to the point of me losing consciousness and I wouldn’t know why. Um And I dreamed of getting out of that, that home, but I used to wish myself up onto the stars and ask the angels why, why am I here in this circumstance? Help? Um But I bought, brought a lot of peace together between my parents. Um And I think that was one of my roles. And now I find myself doing similar work here as an adult and even throughout, you know, my, my career, matching celebrities to brands, I did a deal with Andy Warhol. It was one of my initial deals in my career.

I had been sexually harassed in the workplace, confronted my boss and he promptly fired me and I couldn’t being an assistant anymore. It was too painful and I launched my own talent brokerage firm and Donnie Deutsch who’s a well known entrepreneur here. He’s a bit of a, an icon. He was running his dad’s ad agency at the time and he said I really want Andy Warhol to endorse my Pontiac client do you think you can get him? I said, I’ll try and, uh, when nobody picked up at the factory, I took the train down there and Andy’s business manager, Fred answered the door and I explained why I was there. He said come back tomorrow and I’ll let you talk to Andy. And I did go back and I was ushered into his studio. It was pitch black with a spotlight coming down on this platinum hair going 17 different directions. And there was the great modern art master scribbling away and he had three pugs, you know, those dogs with the smushed up faces.

Yeah, they were running around the studio and he could care less. Thomas while I was there. It was all about his dogs and paying attention to those love pups of his. But one of the skills I had developed to keep safe in my home was empathic ability. I could read the temperature, the texture, the emotion, even the thoughts of those I was in the room with. And I could feel his desire to connect but inability to do it. And a, a strong need for recognition even though he was a great modern art master by then, I mean, his paintings were exorbitantly expensive and I could feel his inherent loneliness. And finally, after all my jabbering, he looked up at me and made eye contact for the first time. And he said now, really, why should I do this commercial? And I paused and I said, because your pugs can be in a shot with you.

And he said, yes, Thomas and that experience launched my career and a notoriety for being able to match celebrities with brands and move forward into producing for, for television and for film. But ultimately, that was just the external ride, right? I had clean up from my upbringing, I too had to get clean from addiction, alcohol and abuse of food and suffer 10 years with clinical depression until I learned how to get off the elevator before I crashed through the basement floor. And then I think the perfect storm and the heavenly experience was escaping from a narcissistic marriage. Well, thank you for that. There’s an awful lot to ask you about. Um And it sounds like you in some instances been through quite a tough time.

Um But thank you for sharing it. Anyway. Um The first thing that occurred to me was, um you said that you had a skill sort of um in your household of sort of making making peace with people or, you know, people like to talk to you. And I wondered whether or not um that’s something that you feel is inherently within you or it’s um something that you cultivated as a result of being in that um uh childhood environment. Well, Thomas, maybe it’s me living in Southern California over my expiration date, but I feel like I came in with that gift. You know, I had that gift and I could never understand why people could be so brutal with one another. You know, I could never understand wars. I was terrified. My older brother would be somehow summoned into some awful war and I would plot in my head how he could escape to another country.

Um So I do feel like I’ve been blessed with this ability, this, this knowingness and this heart and this empathic way. And I think it’s, it attracts a certain energy. I think my mission has been to learn how to work with it in a healthy way, you know, creating healthy boundaries, um feeling deserving and worthy of those boundaries. And um and then helping people from that place to realize that we really are one, we really are a global community. And that could be why I categorize my ex-husband as one of my greatest gurus, one of my greatest teachers because he helped shine that light on the inside of my heart from the out because I was living outside in most of my, my lifetime here during this earthly walk.

Uh Can I ask how? So I thought I had met my match? I thought this was my prince charming. I was very successful in New York. I was invited to L A for a career move and I thought, yeah, that’s a great career move to make. So I left New York and on to LA, I went and yes, that turned out to be a great career move. But it was really to meet the man who would become my ex-husband. It was everything coming together. Everything I had learned, surviving my upbringing, recovering from addiction, learning to work with clinical depression. Uh being an entrepreneur using the focus of endurance athletics. I was a marathoner and triathlete um and then master swimmer and I go on long term meditation retreats holding no contact. And what I woke up to Thomas was a marriage where in which I felt drained.

But I always felt like if I point a finger out three would come back towards me. And if I would voice concerns, it would ricochet back in a negative way. And I wanted so much to keep my family together even though I knew my marriage was past due. So ultimately, I asked my husband um to create an agreement to bring some fiscal integrity to the relationship because I was exhausted. I was taking on night jobs to pay the property taxes and, you know, just exhausted being a working mother being, feeling like a single mother in a relationship to two Children, not our one child and to his credit, he came along. We got to the last point of contention and I thought our marriage was gonna be saved and our family would be intact.

And that’s when he folded his arms across his chest and his eyes went in those cold dark slits and he said I’m hiring an attorney and I’m filing for divorce. And that intuitive voice came over my right shoulder and right through my heart and said, this is the universe doing for you, what you cannot do for yourself. Because even though I was successful on the outside inside, I was exceptionally codependent on male attention since second grade. And Billy Fritz, I didn’t feel whole and I was terrified and my friends didn’t understand it even though I was pulling most of the weight in these relationships. And I credit him because his actions helped me untangle that addiction seeing the world askew in that way.

After that session, we went back and he took up residence in the master bedroom and I by choice, took a mattress, dragged it across the floor into a partial conversion in our garage. And that was the set up for the calendar year. It took until we came to an agreement and I could write him his six figure check and he could move on to his next source of supply. And I say he was my greatest teacher because it was in holding silence, no verbal contact, no eye contact in that circumstance and going deep within and exploring the pockets of trauma, still hiding in my own body and shifting on a cellular level through somatic modalities that I was able to finally perceive my genuine strength and the beauty that’s inside my heart, that inner child that has slung her way all the way through this really tough walk on this planet and he catapulted me.

He was the impetus for me to experience true and authentic freedom. And I feel that sometimes a difficult human lesson to receive and to understand. And, um, I, when I, um, read through your profile and everything, um, I, I wasn’t 100% sure whether it was, uh, intentional on his part or not, But is that like uh an in interpretation from you in the sense that um he wasn’t trying to help? But um as a result of what happened, uh you, you kind of helped yourself is that, is that a fair assessment? I think that’s very clear and very fair. And it’s been a huge paradigm shift for me to really understand at the core of my being that these challenges, these personalities that have come my way have been huge opportunities to evolve my consciousness, my being my understanding, it’s not a reason for me to stay in what is seemingly a lopsided arrangement at best not to play victim but to step up to it and walk through it from a place of love.

And um you mentioned something which was uh upsetting to hear and I’m sorry that you had to go through it, but it was about how your mum um treated you essentially. And then you mentioned later on that you um you felt a little bit like a single mum. Um, the question is around how that, uh how you were treated as a child. Um, how that made you think when you were a mu yourself and what conclusions you made from that? Any thoughts there? I was very terrified to become a mother. I would look at dogs on the street. Certainly not babies and carriages. I didn’t feel I would be a fit mother. I was terrified. I would voice the same type of abuse that I experienced on any child of my own. So it wasn’t something that I felt strongly pulled too. Although as I got up in the age range, I thought, ok, perhaps I’m gonna miss something. And my, my husband would have had five Children if he could have.

But my mother came from a household of perfectionism and physical abuse, emotional abuse, mental abuse. Her father had been beaten almost to the point of death by his stepmother. And he forbid my mother’s mother to show any affection towards her Children. He thought he was doing them a favor and he would have episodes outbursts and voice the same type of behavior on my mother beating her and she was expected to remain silent and keep up a a face. So that’s what she came into the marriage to my father with. And my father was raised by a father who was a Peter Pan. He didn’t want to be a father, he wanted to be doted on as the child. But my father’s mother said this is what you do.

You get married and you have Children and she tried to compensate because my father’s father would never, never praise his son. His son was never good enough. So my grandmother, my father’s mother would compensate. And so he came into the marriage with this sort of entitled background. It was hurt and abused Children, raising hurt and abused Children. And it goes way back in the lineage when I really explore it. So maly and so yes, a lot was in my, in the fabric of my DNA. And I think that I was carrying a heavy weighted bag that really was not my own to carry. And I had to learn how to take out the garbage from the bag one piece at a time and eventually drop that bag.

And how did you do that? Huh? Through, through lots of touch and go through through many, many experiences. I mean, I think it, the searching was always there, you know, even as a child, I was searching and um my quest really probably started in earnest when I became sober and I started to explore. And I remember Marianne Williamson who’s a great thought leader. Um She was teaching on the upper West side of Manhattan, this very small church. Um and she told us about coming in from the airport that day and her cab driver was abominable and she saw it as a cry for love. And when she got out of the cab, she tipped him double and wished him a really good day. And it was a profound awakening for me to see that other people who may not be behaving the way that I wish they would were screaming out for help.

And I think that that was key to start to unravel some of this hatred and anger and abuse that I was experiencing as a human being. So you would you say you started to view your parents more as, as victims rather than um oppressors for lack of a bit of time? Oh, absolutely. I mean, I had to do a lot of work around it. I took a three year hiatus from communication with my mother because I would come back suicidal from visits. And my father and I naturally fell out of, you know, communication. We weren’t the kind of family that called to check in on each other weekly or monthly. We were all pretty independent of each other. But that was necessary for me to do the unraveling the inner work that I needed. And yes, to take a different view uh of their circumstances. And ultimately, it’s profound love that I have for each of them.

You know, people don’t understand it. Uh If they read my book, it’s called Toxic Family Transforming Childhood Trauma into adult freedom, not my title, my publishers, but they’re genius. Um It’s, it’s really hard for people to understand how can you still have a relationship and I do with, with all of my family. Um And I really appreciate the roles that they played how they’ve performed masterfully for me to move forward in this lifetime and burn through some old outdated patriarchal programming that I see coming up. I think it’s great that you’re turning something that is, I think most people view as quite negative into something which I, I think is positive, which is putting something out into the world that you’ve created so well done there. The question I have around um how you might be able to help other people who are maybe going through the same thing as you like.

Lots of people have. It seems to me anyway, negative experiences with their, with their parents and they, they hang on to that in their everyday life. So um if you were able to speak to someone who’s really struggling with it, what would you tell them? I do speak with many struggling very a variety of ways and I would tell them that they are entitled to their feelings, their experiences and their trauma and they are safe to find the proper tools to walk through it in whatever way that is not necessarily with the professional. Some people can’t, don’t have the means for that, but there’s never been more help, more free tools out there, more videos on youtube. Um So there is help and they are not alone in their pain. And there is a way through that they have worth and they have value and they have purpose.

The most beautiful thing is helping another to, to a profound insight that they then move through and then they become awakened and aware and can help the next person. That’s what I find exquisitely beautiful with the opportunities we have before us now with, with all of the technology and the connection around the globe that we do, have you mentioned something initially about your, your dad who was um uh opening up bottles at 7:30 a.m. that sort of thing. Um And the, the question I have is around um your perspective on being exposed to kind of like the, the second second hand effects of being someone who’s impacted by someone else doing it and then picking it up yourself. Um And what your thoughts are around both those, those two perspectives. Well, I did, um I did develop traits of a child raised by an alcoholic and I had to work through that as a young adult.

I, the first therapist I went to which I, I’m just so grateful that I went because in that day you didn’t go to somebody and pay them to tell them your issues, everything was fine and perfect and you kept it all buckled up, but I was coming out of the seams and my goals and my values and my focus was dropping. So I knew I needed some kind of help. And he immediately started talking and I, I said, my life is out of control and completely unmanageable odd words to come out of my mouth firsthand in the office. And he immediately started talking about was there alcohol and alcoholism in my family and my history. And I said, oh, of course. Yeah, it’s, you know, a natural. And he said, well, you may wanna go to these meetings and learn about the effects of being raised by an alcoholic as an adult child. And I learned about my isolation. I’ll never forget the first time I went to those gatherings, I, the people were sitting around the table and saying the exact things and expressing the same emotion that I had felt growing up.

But, you know, you didn’t speak that out loud. So there was a recognition and a camaraderie that I had never experienced. So that was important for me um in that scenario and I had seen my father welcome alcohol. And so it just, it seemed natural and normal and, and I hated myself by the end, I didn’t want to be around another person unless I knew there was a drink somewhere nearby. And it didn’t matter if it was the first or the, or the 10th. I, and I didn’t know which one it would be. I, I needed to get out of my being because it was so painful and uncomfortable to be me, I didn’t have any idea of who me was, but whoever it was was not worthy and did not have enough value to contribute as a human being. And that’s a tough learning to, to dissect and move through.

And uh do you have any um additional advice for someone who might be struggling in that position right now? Yes, I do. Hold on because you have not yet experienced the miracle. There were many times I just had to keep repeating that lesson and there is help at every level. And if you feel drawn to the conversation you’re listening to. Now, I welcome you to get in touch with me for just a 1 to 1 chat, a conversation. I would love to hear your story because oftentimes for me listening to other stories and revealing my own story was the first step to an authentic connection. I wanna sort of say well done to you for um firstly, everything you’ve achieved. But again, um you know, for producing something great and um you, you’ve sort of done it in spite of your, I don’t know if those are the right words, but in spite of your upbringing because if you, if you were to say to someone, um you know, someone has as a young child, someone has a, an alcoholic father and um a, a mum who’s abusing drugs maybe.

And then also, you know, put some physical abuse in there. What are they, what’s likely to happen to them. They’re not likely to have a bright future, but I kind of feel like you, you have done that. Um So I just wanted to say well done to you. Really? Oh Miss, that’s so gracious of you. And I feel very fortunate to be in the spot where I am and we can all be there as you know, I mean, you weren’t drawn to doing this podcast because you don’t have your own experiences yourself. And I really applaud you for producing the conversations that you are and offering this kind of authentic help and love and support to your listeners. Well, thank you for that. I like those, those words. Um, in terms of the, the book, uh, was it quite, was it difficult to, to write it or was it quite therapeutic for you? I got told in 2007 by an Irish singer, I had a book to write and it was gonna help a lot of people.

And I promptly shoved that under the closest carpet. I was like, you know, I don’t want to go through that pain for, for apr tool. And then, um, in 2020 back to back two intuitive told me I had a book to write and the third one said you have three books to write. So I thought, ok, before this turns into some fluffing library of books, I guess I better start. And, you know, I had done so much work and I felt like, do I really wanna go back and open those compartments? And what kind of story do I wanna tell? And I’m authentic, I’m definitely honest and I knew that I was going to share what is probably a taboo topic um and conversation. But I really felt like I had walked through so much and I owed it to my inner being to leave that legacy of story behind And perhaps I could help just someone by this truth.

So I started like a bulldog producer because that’s what I’ve been. And I made myself sit at my computer for 15 minutes a day, whether I had something to say or not. And in nine months, I had my first pass of the manuscript, but I didn’t feel connected to it, felt like, OK, check book exercise complete. And then a wise mentor said, you know, go back, take another pass from little Susie’s point of view, that little one that walked through all of this. And it wasn’t Thomas so much that the black and white of the words in the manuscript that changed. But it was the way that I felt about that individual. And the galley came back for the final reading and I think it was the chapter 12, which is about the divorce. And I, I closed the book after that chapter and I thought, oh my gosh, that woman is strong.

And then I realized, uh hello, that’s you. So I’m, I’m really grateful to have produced um this book I’m told there’s two more so we’ll see what happens with that. Um Right now I’m just posting some um videos to youtube to try to help in that way before I dive into whatever’s coming next. And the writing wasn’t as difficult as the publisher calling two weeks before the publishing date to say we’re gonna change the title because my title is Magical Illumination. That’s what I felt. It had been a Magical Illumination but Toxic Family is really what the bo book is about and the fallout thereof. And um I was terrified, my, my family all knew that I was writing a book and I thought if anybody asked me what it’s about, you know, I’ll tell them honestly, no one did. And then right before the book was published, um I called my older sister and said I published this book and this is what it’s about.

It was like dead Silence on the other end of the line. And then she said we all have our own experiences growing up in that family. I mean, she feels she had a really lovely childhood. She almost feels guilty that it was so idyllic. Um My oldest brother is almost completely amnesiac, uh almost completely blacked out. So we do all have our experiences and my oldest brother did read the book and he called me after he read it, I didn’t even recognize the small little boy’s voice on the other end of the phone. And he said, I’m sorry, I wasn’t a better brother to you. I don’t have much recall. I’m so proud of you and what you have accomplished and what you’ve written and what you’ve moved through. I am so so proud of you. So I think it’s having impact and I’ve been told many other stories of the opening conversation and wrestling up some positive memories and difficult memories of trauma and giving people profound insights that are helping to connect a couple of pieces of their puzzles.

That’s uh that’s lovely to hear. So, thank you for sharing it um in relation to the uh the experience that maybe your, your sister had and, and you had. I, I actually, I’ve heard it before and a couple of occasions I think is that how some siblings get um get a terrible time of it and some don’t have any, any problems at all. So it’s just really weird how that works from a, I don’t know. And my guess is it’s some sort of psychology going on. I don’t know. But um yeah, it’s not the first time I’ve heard it. And um I, I wanted to ask also about the uh are you, is there any particular chapter or section that you’re particularly proud of? Honestly, I’m proud of a lot of it. There’s a prelude, there’s an audio prelude that I created if people are interested just, you know, go to the site and you can get an audio clip of it. I’ve suffered with suicidal audiation since I was six years old.

And I told the story of that first experience vividly. And I feel proud that I let that out of the bag that I was very specific because it could help someone else easily and has, and I’m proud that I, that I revealed the dynamic in my family home. I could have gone to the other side, keeping that secret, you know, withholding um the truth and it’s hard to do again. It’s a very taboo topic and, and I have great love for my family. So I’m proud of that and I’m proud that I could share the experience of my divorce so authentically and openly. And I’m proud of the way that I chose not to become a victim and a martyr of that, but to see the beauty of it and recognize it as I’ve walked through. So, yeah, I, I would say that and then there are helpful tools in the appendix.

I wrote, I wrote um a tool that goes on with each of the corresponding chapters and their tools that I actually discovered and used and still use. And I thought it was a throwaway. But my publishers, like these are profound, they’re great, they’re really gonna help people and they actually are. So I guess I’m proud of that too, Thomas, that’s a lot of pride for one podcast episode. I’m glad to hear it. It sounds like you’re proud of your life. So, um, and that’s a, that’s a good place to be. Right. It’s a heavenly place to be. I feel like I am embodying heaven on earth with the way that I choose to perceive even where the universe has, you know, sort of reassigned me. I lived in New York City and L A for many decades and find myself in very rural Montana. And um there’s no accident, I find the, the conversation very uh inspirational today. So I really appreciate your time. Is there anything that I should have asked you about?

But that’s always a great question. But there’s something I’d like to ask you about. Is it ok? If I yeah, turn the tables, I can’t promise the answer will be good. But I’m perfectly fine with you asking, what is it that keeps you motivated to continue to have these conversations and do everything behind the scenes that I know that goes on the research and spending the time and using the technology to upload and then getting word out on the podcast. It’s a lot of work and, and people may not understand and certainly probably some guests that have come on don’t understand. You know, it’s not about me, it’s about you and your listeners and getting that message out. So what keeps you coming back so gracefully, each episode, I think maybe um it’s a combination of things. Uh The first one being, um there’s a good way to connect with people.

Um And I, I would say based on the evidence, I would say I’m not typically great at that um in my everyday life. So it’s a nice way to connect with people. There is a um a self development element to it, meaning um that, you know, I can ask questions that I don’t necessarily have the answers to myself. And then I get to speak to clever people who will also, you know, share that with me. Um And then I would say the last part is I do feel a, some form of obligation to the people who have already been uh guests before. So, um I, I did take a little break at one stage where um I did a few months of not uploading and I did feel a small amount of guilt about the fact that, you know, all these people have given me their time previously and now I’m not uploading anymore. Um And so I do feel obligated to keep going based on the number of people I’ve already spoken to.

So I don’t know whether it’s right, but that’s just, that’s just how I feel. I think it’s beautiful and it’s brave and especially, you know, putting yourself in what could be an uncomfortable position and then seeing the benefit and the, the privilege and the pleasure of that. It’s really beautiful. Thank you. Thank you. You’ve been a great guest um for people who want to get in touch or buy the book. Where do they go? They go to Susan gold.us and the books at Amazon and all the original places. But I really encourage you that if you feel at all connected and wish to share with me, just come schedule a chat. It’s all on the website. I’d love to speak with you. No strings attached. Thank you, Susan. Thank you, Thomas.