FROM THE AUTHOR

“A memoir that reads like a novel, SANITY LOST & FOUND uses the story of my life as the backdrop to better our understanding of how childhood experiences impact us; how we become shame-based; what can happen when we do; the power of resiliency, compassion, and forgiveness; and what it takes to heal from the vicissitudes we all face in life.

Horrifying but ultimately inspirational as I searched for my spiritual self, my readers will see something of themselves in my descent into and climb out of the abyss as I move from a childhood fraught with distant parents and unexpected sexual abuse to adulthood in a cult and, finally, into the redemption that comes when we begin to accept, forgive and appreciate ourselves.”

— Tarra Judson Stariell, LMFT

To read more about Tarra Judson Stariell, please visit www.TheCenterForSelfDiscovery.com

FROM THE AUTHOR

“A memoir that reads like a novel, SANITY LOST & FOUND uses the story of my life as the backdrop to better our understanding of how childhood experiences impact us; how we become shame-based; what can happen when we do; the power of resiliency, compassion, and forgiveness; and what it takes to heal from the vicissitudes we all face in life.

Horrifying but ultimately inspirational as I searched for my spiritual self, my readers will see something of themselves in my descent into and climb out of the abyss as I move from a childhood fraught with distant parents and unexpected sexual abuse to adulthood in a cult and, finally, into the redemption that comes when we begin to accept, forgive and appreciate ourselves.”

— Tarra Judson Stariell, LMFT

To read more about Tarra Judson Stariell, please visit www.TheCenterForSelfDiscovery.com

FROM THE AUTHOR

“A memoir that reads like a novel, SANITY LOST & FOUND uses the story of my life as the backdrop to better our understanding of how childhood experiences impact us; how we become shame-based; what can happen when we do; the power of resiliency, compassion, and forgiveness; and what it takes to heal from the vicissitudes we all face in life.

Horrifying but ultimately inspirational as I searched for my spiritual self, my readers will see something of themselves in my descent into and climb out of the abyss as I move from a childhood fraught with distant parents and unexpected sexual abuse to adulthood in a cult and, finally, into the redemption that comes when we begin to accept, forgive and appreciate ourselves.”

— Tarra Judson Stariell, LMFT

To read more about Tarra Judson Stariell, please visit www.TheCenterForSelfDiscovery.com

ABOUT THE BOOK

Shame & Developmental Trauma

Emotionally Distant Parents

Drugs, Sex, and the Turmoil of the 70’s

Inexplicable Paranormal Phenomenon

“…Tarra Judson Stariell lays bare her soul in Sanity Lost & Found…. Readers will be both simultaneously horrified and deeply inspired as she weaves her story through the hands of a gifted writer and the heart of a compassionate trauma therapist. I stand proud to be counted amongst her peers.”  Kim Flowers, LCSW

“… gripping with mystery and horrifying in reality… We highly recommend this book, particularly for anyone who has experienced or is working with trauma, addiction, or dissociative disorders.” Robert Hilton, Ph.D., and Virginia Wink Hilton, Ph.D.

“…an extraordinary story told with remarkable clarity… a meaningful and honest illustration of the process of recovery toward wholeness that can support mental health professionals and the survivors that they serve.”  – Gretchen Mallios, LCSW, RYT. 

“…compelling from start to finish! …gut-wrenching and seems unbelievable….It gives hope and reassurance to the reader that healing, and life, are indeed your birth right… and attainable.”  Karen B. White, LMFT

 How do we become victims of our own irrationality?

What makes us vulnerable to the predators among us?

Why would an otherwise sensitive, intelligent woman allow herself to return again and again to her abuser?

How do we stop the erosion of our self-worth?

For anyone who has ever allowed themselves to be victimized, has ever doubted their value, or wants to protect their children from suffering, SANITY LOST AND FOUND is a compelling, informative, and inspirational read that weaves together the how and why for such vulnerabilities and the components necessary for recovery and transformation.

"He did not need to chain or lock us in the room; our fear kept us in bondage, more securely immobilized than any physical restraints could have ever done.…What chains are greater than those imposed by the beliefs in our minds?"
Tarra Judson Stariell, LMFT
Author

REVIEWS

"In hopes of helping those similarly suffering, Tarra Judson Stariell lays bare her soul in Sanity Lost & Found. Ms. Stariell’s commitment to those tyrannized by violence is made all the more impressive given that she herself has bravely undertaken the painstaking journey toward freedom and healing. Readers will be both simultaneously horrified and deeply inspired as Ms. Stariell weaves her story through the hands of a gifted writer and the heart of a compassionate trauma therapist. I stand proud to be counted amongst her peers."
Kim Flowers, LCSW, Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Therapist
"When we each began reading Sanity: Lost and Found, we could not put it down. It was both gripping with mystery and horrifying in reality. No other books we have read about this subject of the search for self-affirmation have been so personally written. It is also unique in leading to a conclusion of how psychotherapy can help, step by painful step, toward a resolution of the core journey in life. We highly recommend this book, particularly for anyone who has experienced or is working with trauma, addiction, or dissociative disorders."
Robert Hilton, Ph.D., Co-founder of the Southern California Institute for Bioenergetic Analysis, Trainer Emeritus of the International Institute for Bioenergetic Analysis (IIBA) and Author, Relational Somatic Psychotherapy, Collected Essays.

Virginia Wink Hilton, Ph.D., Past President, IIBA, Trainer Emeritus, IIBA and Coauthor, Therapists at Risk: Perils of the Intimacy of the Therapeutic Relationship (Hedges, Hilton, Hilton, & Caudill).
"Sanity: Lost and Found, is an extraordinary story told with remarkable clarity, by author and psychotherapist Tarra Judson Stariell. In spite of the fact that Ms. Stariell’s memoir describes numerous moments of profound suffering and hurt, she does so in such a way that the reader is safely pulled along until they arrive at an ending in which she regains her identity, self-love, and discovers her ability to contribute to others’ healing as a result of her own journey. It is a memoir about surviving psychological abuse, substance abuse, childhood sexual abuse, depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress. It is also a memoir about the enduring and powerful role of relationships in the search for meaning and identity. Sanity: Lost and Found is a meaningful and honest illustration of the process of recovery toward wholeness that can support mental health professionals and the survivors that they serve."
Gretchen Mallios, LCSW, RYT. Psychotherapist & Certified EMDR Therapist
"Tarra’s book was compelling from start to finish! It is horrifying to read that an intelligent, educated, personable woman from a middle-class family could be BRAINWASHED and give up more than a decade of her life! It is also gut- wrenching and seems unbelievable. Thankfully, her account of the road back to herself and recovery is equally as compelling and spectacular. Fortuitously, she found a form of therapy that could heal all aspects of herself--her feelings, beliefs, trauma and lost relationships. Bioenergetics, in the hands of her talented and caring therapist, brought her to a self she had never known; back to her body and life itself. Over many months and years with much support from therapist and groups, she pealed-off layers to uncover the true feelings lost to her from her lack of support as a child and her years as a victim. This culminated in the awesome knowing that she could LOVE HERSELF, trust and believe in and express herself. Tarra’s account of her healing steps continually challenged me to check within myself to see if I had fully claimed and healed myself; my “little girl within”. It gives hope and reassurance to the reader that healing, and life, are indeed your birth right... and attainable."
Karen B. White, LMFT

AUTHOR'S QUESTIONS & ANSWERS

Tarra Judson Stariell, LMFT

No One Wants to Suffer, But at Times We All Do.  In What Ways Can We Benefit from Difficulties in Life?

Adversity offers an opportunity to choose acceptance and forgiveness rather than react emotionally and repeat the victim/victimized cycle that we unconsciously create for ourselves when we react with negative thoughts and feelings about past or present events in our life.

In that process, our resilience or awareness of our “true self” is strengthened because the situation stretches us beyond our belief system of fears and limitations.

Endlessly searching for the “why” of something only leads to focusing more attention on our distress.  Quantum theorists have proven that our attention to something generates an impact, whether positive or negative.

In the acceptance of “what is” we can discover there is no “sense” to our suffering, but we have choices about what we do about it.  Accepting the pain or emotions brings relief.  Interpersonal neurologists have discovered that if we observe a negative hurt or feeling we are in a position to master and thus not be affected by it.“ “Name it, tame it” says Dan Siegel, MD a clinical professor of psychiatry at the UCLA School of Medicine.

When we observe a feeling from our right minds, we can release it and no longer be controlled by the offensive experience. “Feel it, release it.”

Of course, we can choose to ignore or deny the difficulty or lesson, but it usually returns to us in a more aggressive form, eventually demanding our attention.  “The squeaky wheel gets the oil” or drops off until it gets our attention.

Negativity presents yet another opportunity-that of needing to reach out for support.  This usually leads us to our “true self” rather than using the event to reinforce our guilt and false perceptions we have acquired about who and what we are.

When negative experiences are viewed as opportunities to grow our mindfulness or “right-minded” way of being non-judgmental, they can become conduits to experiencing more peace of mind in general.

Tarra Judson Stariell
Tarra Judson Stariell, LMFT

No One Wants to Suffer, But at Times We All Do.  In What Ways Can We Benefit from Difficulties in Life?

Adversity offers an opportunity to choose acceptance and forgiveness rather than react emotionally and repeat the victim/victimized cycle that we unconsciously create for ourselves when we react with negative thoughts and feelings about past or present events in our life.

In that process, our resilience or awareness of our “true self” is strengthened because the situation stretches us beyond our belief system of fears and limitations.

Endlessly searching for the “why” of something only leads to focusing more attention on our distress.  Quantum theorists have proven that our attention to something generates an impact, whether positive or negative.

In the acceptance of “what is” we can discover there is no “sense” to our suffering, but we have choices about what we do about it.  Accepting the pain or emotions brings relief.  Interpersonal neurologists have discovered that if we observe a negative hurt or feeling we are in a position to master and thus not be affected by it.“ “Name it, tame it” says Dan Siegel, MD a clinical professor of psychiatry at the UCLA School of Medicine.

When we observe a feeling from our right minds, we can release it and no longer be controlled by the offensive experience. “Feel it, release it.”

Of course, we can choose to ignore or deny the difficulty or lesson, but it usually returns to us in a more aggressive form, eventually demanding our attention.  “The squeaky wheel gets the oil” or drops off until it gets our attention.

Negativity presents yet another opportunity-that of needing to reach out for support.  This usually leads us to our “true self” rather than using the event to reinforce our guilt and false perceptions we have acquired about who and what we are.

When negative experiences are viewed as opportunities to grow our mindfulness or “right-minded” way of being non-judgmental, they can become conduits to experiencing more peace of mind in general.

In What Ways Do Negative Emotions Drive Us? 

Fear is an automatic, neurological reaction to a perceived or real threat.  “Flight” or fear is our first reaction and then “Fight,” the mobilization energy often expressed as anger, follows if we are not able to get away from the threat. They are both designed to help us survive a life-threatening situation. 

However, too often people ignore their emotional reactions and thus stuff these energies within the neuromuscular structures of the body.  Instead of observing and letting go of these energies, they tuck inside their bodies, these negative emotions of fear and anger (flight/fight).  This lack of mindful awareness causes these stress energies-primitive defenses-to be stored within the neuromusclature systems of the body or its opposite, the unconscious acting-out of these energies in ways irrational and unwarranted to the situation at hand. 

That happens when the storage capacity of that individual reaches its peak with another stimulating event and we then see irrational behaviors surface—driven by unconscious emotional energies that are released when the stress becomes too great or reaches its “overflow point.”The unconscious stuffing of our emotions can also cause a psychic numbing to the amount of stress within that individual.  This psychic numbing creates a mindless state or disconnection from the present moment. 

These individuals are then at risk of operating on “auto pilot” and being out-of-control of their emotions or exhibiting “emotional dysregulation.”

How Does Fear Control Us?

Fear is especially inhibiting when the person allows a past event to infiltrate their present reality and generate their reactions accordingly.  Those suffering from Posttraumatic Stress Disorder commonly experience this re-living of a previous fearful event in the form of a “flash back.” When someone can maintain a grounded connection to the present moment and observe the emotionally laden experience, they are then able to release it instead of forcing it back into the unconscious material within their minds.  This can also be explained as using the “observing self” to maintain mindful awareness of the experience to neutralize it.

Chronic fear will cause a person’s nervous system to shut down and disconnect in varying degrees from their body and the present moment.  The dissociation from the overwhelming stimulation of the fear is again a defense mechanism.  However, this mindless state can overtime contribute to what is called “learned helplessness” or “trauma bonds” and is what happens to victims of repetitive trauma and abuse.  This is when people become susceptible to brainwashing, self-destructive and mob behaviors.

Safe, supportive relationships facilitate the healing of such states, helping the individual return to a mindful, or conscious awareness of the brain’s automatic reactions and emotions.  Mindfulness brings us a peaceful state of being and facilitates managing stressful situations without reacting with anger, fear or needing to numb out or suppress the emotions inside the body by using substances or self-destructive behaviors.

How Does Trauma Manifest?  Is There a Difference Between the Psychological Impact of Physical and Emotional Trauma? 

Trauma whether physical or emotional can cause psychological or emotional suffering. Both physical and emotional trauma are felt in our physiology.  The brain and the body are connected and what happens to one, occurs energetically in the other.  If a person does not process the trauma, whether physical or emotional, those unexpressed feelings get stored in the body and brain in the form of energy. 

The impact of that energetic experience, when not moved through the body/brain through some form of mindful awareness or acknowledgment, stays in residence in the brain/body and contributes to emotional suffering, such as Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) anxiety, depression and/or addictions. 

People can be traumatized by listening to someone else’s trauma—that’s called vicarious traumatization.  As in when people watched the coverage of 9/11, or current war events, and so on. 

Physical suffering is often a result from unexpressed emotions that have metastasized in the body’s organs.  The energy of experiences is processed by our brain’s nervous system which runs all throughout our body, thus every part of our body has capacity for sensation and memory—be it positive or negative.

What Is Your Primary Reason For Writing SANITY: Lost & Found?

First of all, it was not easy to write but I began it for my own healing as suggested to me by my therapist.  Writing is an incredibly valuable tool for expressing one’s self.  It can facilitate getting something off your chest like feelings and emotions.  Additionally, writing is a form of learning or developing a contemplative practice.  The best poetry, art and  literature have been informed from the mindful experiencing of our life events and then expressing that from a place of awareness. 

I initially decided to enter into the field of psychology to understand my obsessions, how it was that I got so taken over and why I allowed myself to be so battered and abused. 

Although therapists typically do not reveal much about themselves for the process of therapy, I have hoped that my experiences could somehow inform people about the subtle processes that we are experiencing today, seducing us further into our own trances of false beliefs and behaviors that are far distant from the natural expressions of our true selves. 

What do I mean by that?  We live in the illusion that our thoughts and actions are not somehow impacting each other or the planet.  That illusion is part of the trance some of humanity collectively subscribes to.  The original message I received seemed to be a warning about the fact that humans are not taking responsibility for our actions and the potential for harm they have when we do not consider that we all are connected and have a shared interest in each other.  Not judging, attacking, marginalizing or separating ourselves out as better or more entitled than others to their rights is truly what I believe we need to learn as human beings. Furthermore, I believe that forgiveness is our way through all of this.  I hope that my book conveys that message through my discovery of how what I had tried, did not work.

What Do You Hope Readers Take From Your Book?

An awakened awareness about themselves, their own thinking and behaviors as well as more compassion for their own mistakes and failures in good judgment. 

I would feel very grateful if the exposing of my experiences helps someone understand their own suffering and perhaps offer them a doorway into transforming that conflict into feeling more love and forgiveness for self and other; helping them lead a more loving and fulfilled life.

You Left Your Abuser Several Times, But Always Went Back. What Finally Enabled You To Cut The Cord Completely?

It took several people giving me the same message that being subservient and abused by him was not what a God of love would require of me.  Instead, that I could in essence “fulfill my mission and serve God” without being in that situation and continuing to do so was really incredibly self-destructive. 

Being disconnected or dissociated from myself and isolated from people and anyone I knew, allowed him to create a new set of values predicating the interpretation of my self-worth.  As reality seeped through the dissociative armoring that had shielded me from recognizing how wrong the situation was, what an imposter he was, how misconstrued my thinking had become about my own self-worth, I needed a miracle message as a sign that I was indeed free and would not have to return to him again.

Truly, until I believed all that for myself, I was held in an emotional/mental bondage that I could not escape until my perceptions were clear and not clouded by the brainwashing, the effects of all the abuse and my own mental instability or insanity.

As A Therapist, Why Do You Counsel Forgiveness?

When negative events happen to us, in particular when they come through the form of another or others, we have a tendency to look for someone to blame or shame with the resulting anger or fear that automatically happens unless we can maintain a more mindful approach to the situation. This is a form of projection that occurs when we lose connection with our emotions and feelings. 

We attribute how we are reacting as being caused by that person (group, country, race, et cetera) or event.  When catastrophes happen, people often blame God, as if God had made the choice to target them specifically with that negativity. 

Being angry, afraid or disconnected with what we are feeling, only perpetuates that feeling or emotion and does not help us “work it through” or what therapists like to call “process it.”  Like hamsters on the wheel, recycling emotions gets us nowhere no matter how fast we run on that wheel, or no matter how intensely we feel that emotion until we notice or check in with ourselves (being mindful) and ask ourselves exactly what we are feeling and where that feeling resides in our awareness. 

Belief systems do not have a truthful awareness within our bodies and are usually found in our ego mind, where belief systems and non-truths live.  The ego mind is a repository of grudges, fears, hatreds, prejudices and all sorts of irrational notions and acting from these false beliefs does not occur without a price.  There is a saying that hating someone is like eating poison and expecting it to kill the person you hate.  The reality is that hatred or any negative emotion for that matter is poison and will eventually kill that person, just like the ingesting of arsenic over time will cause the demise of that person-much sooner than they would have died naturally.

Forgiveness is always resting in waiting with the choice to release the negative emotions we are harboring inside our ego mind.  The neutralization of negative emotions, thoughts and feelings is what forgiveness is—the acceptance that what is or what was, is just exactly that. 

We often try and distort that reality by assuming it was not fair, we did not deserve it, and so on, or we can take responsibility for our feelings and get into the present moment and find value in that precious awareness.  That is the peace of mind that forgiveness offers us, and of course it is a choice-like everything.

As An Individual Who Survived Abuse What Has Forgiveness Brought To Your Life?

The most amazing peace of mind and ability to be in my life.  I spent many years hating myself, having internalized the early developmental rejection and criticism I had experienced as who I was.  I did not like my parents and blamed them for my troubles as well as the antagonist in my book whom I hated the most. The experiences with him added to the unconscious decisions I made that it all reflected my worthlessness. 

Forgiveness for myself has allowed me to accept and love myself and recognize that I was mis-lead by my own false perceptions and was actually only doing the best that I could at the time.  To quote Maya Angelou, “when we know better, we do better.” 

Forgiveness has also allowed me to love and accept my parents and of course others whom I perceived had wrongly treated me in my life. That is quite a burden of negativity that I do not have to carry around anymore.

I have truly enjoyed the benefits of seeing my family and others through more benevolent eyes and it helps me in accepting the present world situation. This is not to say that I am some saint who only sees love and light for everything.  Although it has become my practice, I recognize that I am totally human and can have a raging ego like everyone else.  However, I know, that I benefit every time I consciously practice mindful awareness of my emotions and look for a way to accept and forgive.

MEDIA

Now a licensed marriage and family therapist (LMFT) former cult member and abuse victim Tarra Judson Stariell is a fascinating and informative guest who can speak to why we become emotionally and psychologically vulnerable in our relationships, in the workplace, and in life in general – and what it takes not just to survive and recover but to also develop the sense of self to maximize our emotional, intellectual, spiritual, and physical potential.

CONTACT

Tarra loves connecting with book clubs via phone, SKYPE and, when possible, personal visits. To inquire about a visit with Tarra, please fill in the form below.

BLOG

Check out some of the latest blog posts from Tarra Judson Stariell, LMFT. Tarra covers important topics such as anxiety, anger and procrastination. 

Latest Posts

AVAILABLE AT: