Annette Copeland says she graduated from the school of hard knocks because she couldn’t learn any of life’s lessons the easy way but that was because her mental/emotional toolbox had broken tools in it. After a challenging childhood, Annette got pregnant at 16 – on purpose – and married her boyfriend as a way of exerting some control over her life. She left the abusive marriage at 18 and spent the next 20 years trying to prove that she wasn’t a teen-pregnancy statistic. She worked hard to make it look like she had it all together, while judging anyone around her for things she thought indicated they didn’t have their lives together. Finding the right tools and learning how to use them changed everything about how she shows up in the world.
Annette Copeland, ND is the author of “Dragonfly Into The Light.” After her own journey of recovery from self-neglect and toxic patterns, Annette felt compelled to raise awareness about trauma and emotional abuse. She combines awareness and solutions while encouraging individuals to break repetitive cycles and generational patterns. She believes it’s essential to recognize behaviors that cause repetitive patterns in order to practice emotional self-regulation. Annette encourages everyone to look into their own experience in a way that will allow them to recognize and release behaviors that evolved from past experiences to create a life of peace and fulfillment.
Turning 40 and Breaking Generational Curses
Annette Copeland’s childhood was bumpy. Though her parents divorced when she was young, her dad was around off and on because her mom would allow him back when her one-person income wouldn’t support the family. As a child, her father had been diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease and told he wouldn’t live past 18 so he lived his life like he was on fire and without regard for consequences. That didn’t leave much room for emotional intelligence or care for how his lifestyle and behavior affected the other people in his life. Her mother didn’t have the emotional skills to communicate her needs, either, which resulted in a home environment that was emotionally unstable and communicationally fraught.
As a teenager, Annette didn’t know how to manage her own emotions or communicate effectively which left her feeling like she had to compensate. That resulted in her becoming an overachiever and an overpleaser. She didn’t understand what love felt like.
To assert some control over her life, Annette got pregnant at 16 – on purpose – and married her 20-year-old boyfriend. It turns out she jumped out of the frying pan and into the fire. The abuse she suffered at the hands of her husband was not what made her leave. It was when he started turning that abuse on their two-year-old that she found the courage to leave at 18.
She lived the next 20 years of her life trying to prove that she wasn’t a teen-pregnancy statistic and that she was the straight A student who deserved all the things she never made it to because she chose to get pregnant. She worked hard to make it look like she had it all together, while at the same time judging anyone around her for things she saw or thought indicated they didn’t have their lives together. She found herself in a vicious cycle without the tools to break herself out of the cycle.
By the time she was 30, her health had declined. She went to the doctor and told him she thought she had rheumatoid arthritis because she Googled it and he said, “ok. Here are some pills.” She took those for five years, but they didn’t seem to help. She finally decided she didn’t want to do that anymore and her doctor said, “well I never thought you had rheumatoid arthritis anyway; I just didn’t know what else to do with you.”
From there, she pursued knowledge on natural remedies and how to eat healthier. And she ended up with a job in marketing for a chiropractic office, which furthered her exploration of natural therapies. Through a series of events, she learned that she never did have Rheumatoid Arthritis. Her issues were food sensitivities and Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis caused by the Epstien Barr virus.
Her experiences led her to become a naturopathic doctor at age 45 and the more work she does with people, the more she has realized that trauma and generational patterns can affect our health in a physical way.
Annette left her third marriage a few years ago and decided that she wanted to know why she kept reliving the same relationship over and over again with limited success. If she was really honest, her relationships looked a lot like her mom and dad’s. She knew she didn’t have the tools to fix herself, so she tried hypnotherapy, which helped a little. Then she discovered and explored the concept of emotional intelligence. Then she discovered boundaries.
She started working with a woman who, she says, “cracked me wide open,” and who made it okay for her to be exactly who she is, which she found difficult because she was so used to being what everybody wanted her to be and what she thought everybody wanted her to be.
Annette says that emotional and spiritual growth is a long-term commitment that you never get to the end of. There’s always room for growth and enlightenment. Sometimes you need a catalyst to get things started. And, she says, you almost always need a guide because you don’t know what you don’t know.
Today, Annette can experience a trigger and realize that it’s an opportunity for growth and to practice her healthier responses instead of falling back on old patterns. But anytime she shares one of these experiences with her coach, the coach will inevitably pull something out of it that Annette hadn’t thought of, which gives her another avenue to explore.
Annette says she had to learn things the hard way, but that’s because her toolbox had broken tools in it. Getting the right metaphorical tools and learning how to use them changed everything about how she showed up in the world. It has not only changed her own life, but also her daughter’s and how her daughter deals with her grandchildren. All those changes she decided to make have affected how she sees herself, which means they also affect how the world reflects back to her. And now that she’s found her way through all of it, she carries a torch to light the way for others.
The Forty Drinks Podcast is produced and presented by Savoir Faire Marketing/Communications
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Stephanie: Hi Annette. Welcome to the 40 Drinks Podcast.
Annette: Hi, how are you?
Stephanie: I am doing great. Thank you so much for being here with me today.
Annette: Thanks for having me. I'm excited.
Stephanie: I am so thrilled to have you on initially because I have a deep, deep love and respect for naturopathic doctors, which you are, so it's wonderful to have you here. I have some chronic health issues that Western medicine has not been able to manage very well, and so I've had to find myself on the alternative path. And so, it's NDs who have kept me upright and moving forward in the last five or six years.
Annette: Yes, I can totally relate to that.
Stephanie: Yeah. Yeah. Right, cuz you had a piece of that in your story, which we'll get to in a little bit. But why don't we start at the beginning, let's start with your childhood. Gimme some broad strokes of what it was like when you were a little kid at home.
Annette: Well, both of my parents worked when my dad was in the house. He wasn't in the house much, my parents got divorced when I was very young, but because it was really hard to raise three kids on a one person budget, my dad was in our life a lot because my mom would run out of money and be like, okay, I guess you can come back for a little while. And then fortunately, his mom, my grandmother, who I adored was very, very helpful. So we had her to help us through some of those tough times. But it was a struggle as a child. And my father, who was raised by, so his sister was 15 years older than him. They had a pre-war and a post-war baby. So his childhood was really odd for him. And he was diagnosed with Crohn's disease at the age of eight and told that he would never live to be 18 years old. So he lived life like he was on fire basically his whole life. He didn't care about the consequences of eating or drinking or any of the things. So he literally lived like he was gonna die tomorrow, which didn't leave a lot of room for emotional intelligence or even really caring how his lifestyle was affecting other people. And that was just the truth of the situation. He says all the time now, "If I had known I was gonna live this long," he's gonna be 74 this year,
Stephanie: Oh my God.
Annette: " I would've taken better care of myself."
Annette: And you know, the only reason he made it this long was because he got into natural medicine himself and started figuring out how to manage his health because it was quite a challenge. I mean, I don't know how many times I thought he was going to die. Like they would take us to the hospital to say goodbye to him, and then a couple days later he'd be out and we'd be like, oh, I, uh, okay. It was really traumatic and up and down. And unfortunately because he was in a lot of pain, emotionally and physically, he used alcohol to manage his life basically. So I grew up in a home that was really unstable as far as emotions and communication went. And unfortunately my mom didn't have the emotional skills to be able to communicate her needs. So she was the fawn response, shut down, fight or flight fawn response. And my dad was the alcoholic, I'm gonna do whatever I want kind of. And you look at it now and you can see that. But back then, neither one of them had any idea that they were doing anything to hurt anyone other than themselves.
Stephanie: And you said that when alcohol wasn't working, then there was a lot of screaming and yelling in the house as well.
Annette: Screaming, yelling, spanking, whatever. Yeah. You know?
Stephanie: And so that set you up on a path that by the time you were a teenager, why don't you tell me a little bit about that.
Annette: Yeah, so when I was about the age of 40, I found out that I had adrenal fatigue when I was a teenager
Stephanie: Oh god.
Annette: From all the cortisol, and that's something I did not know. But I started out, you know, with my tank half full basically as a teenager. And then not knowing how to manage my own emotions or even how to have a conversation about how I felt, left me feeling like I had to compensate in every relationship I was in. Of course, I had to overplease, overachieve, always be the one to say I'm sorry first and all of the things. So I didn't really understand what love felt like. I know that I was loved by my parents, but it wasn't something we communicated well. So I grew up thinking that love was different. It was people wanting to pay attention to you, people wanting to spend time with you, people wanting to buy you things, instead of people just wanting to spend time with you and be around and and love you, which is, which my parents did a lot of, but it was all of the trauma that came with those other behaviors that left me kind of in an emotional lurch, searching for something to fill the void that I had, not knowing where I was going. I was going down a bad road and nobody knew how to stop me. I was like a train on the wrong track and I was just headed outta town,
Annette: which I did. I got pregnant at 16 on purpose and I jumped on that train and I headed outta town.
Stephanie: Really? You got pregnant on purpose?
Stephanie: Wow. Do you recall why you chose that?
Annette: My mother had gotten remarried when I was 13, and he's also passed now, too, but when he first joined our family, he didn't have any children of his own. So he came in and was like, okay, I have three kids, now what? So then he was trying to be the dad that we never had, and I didn't really want one. So we butted heads a lot. And I was used to running the household because I was oldest child, my mom worked. I was raising my brother and sister. In my mind, I was an adult and I didn't want somebody telling me how to live my life. So by the time I was almost 16, we had already come to like a impasse, like we could not coexist in the same house because we had just gotten to the point to where neither one of us was willing to bend. My boyfriend at the time, unfortunately, was like, well, if you get pregnant, they'll have to let us get married. And I was like, that sounds like a great idea. Let's do that. I already know how to raise babies. So I got pregnant on purpose. I told my mom I was pregnant on my 16th birthday.
Stephanie: Wow. How old was your boyfriend? Was he the same age as you?
Annette: Was He was twenty. So there was a little bit of a, yeah, there was a gap there.
Stephanie: He was already outta school
Stephanie: Yep. Oh God. So you got married?
Annette: Yeah. At 16.
Stephanie: Wow. Were you able to finish high school?
Annette: I went to school until I was probably about six months pregnant. I couldn't fit in the desk anymore, and I was a straight A, honor roll, heading to college student until all this happened. And it took this vivacious, innocent 16 year old and turned her into somebody else. Somebody no one recognized. And there was a lot of chaos because of my pregnancy in the family. Like some people thought I should get an abortion. Some people thought I should put the baby up for adoption. And I was like, I got pregnant on purpose. Those things are not happening. This is my baby. This wasn't an accident. And they were all like, what do you mean it wasn't an accident? I want out.
and, so I jumped out of the frying pan right into the fire
Annette: and into a relationship that was not good. It was really not good. It was way worse than the situation I was already in. So it only took me about two and a half years to realize I had to get out of that relationship as well. And honestly, the abuse that I suffered in that relationship wasn't what made me leave. It was when he started turning that abuse on our two-year-old, that's what made me leave.
Stephanie: Yeah. Holy cow. I'm just looking at my notes here cuz there were, you had said some things in our email communication that I want to jump in on. So your husband at the time started aiming his own version of trauma and abuse at your daughter. Was that when you started thinking about generational patterns? And in our notes you called them curses?
Annette: Yeah, you know, honestly I had no idea where all of that came from. I was so deep into all of that, I call pathology, because of my medical history, I was so deep in my own pathology that I couldn't even see it. So when somebody did something to me that was their fault cuz they were a bad person. And when I did something back to them in retaliation, that was also their fault because they were a bad person. So I had no idea that the behavior patterns that I was living out and perpetuating over and over and over again through my adult life were generational, curses, trauma patterns, however you wanna call it. And it wasn't until I started writing my book that I actually came around to that understanding and was like, oh, I get it.
Stephanie: I just love the tone of voice for that because the tone of voice is the understanding, dawning, the acceptance, and the looking back at the same time, that's like, oh, no.
Annette: Yeah. The cool thing about generational patterns though is, and I love this about it, when you finally get to the wall and you realize that you're living a cycle that's been perpetuated through your family for generations, alcohol abuse, physical abuse, mental abuse. When you realize that those things have been happening in your family and you stand up and be like, okay, I'm gonna educate myself and I'm gonna stop this, it not only affects yourself and the generations younger than you, it actually goes back and affects the generations before you, if they're still alive. And I don't think people realize that.
Stephanie: How so? I'm curious.
Annette: Well, this isn't my quote, but I like to say a rising tide raises all ships, right? So whenever you change, when you adjust your sails, when you think about things differently, the people around you can't help but see things differently at the same time. They don't even maybe realize they're doing it. But I've seen this over and over and over again with people. When you decide that you want to become emotionally intelligent, when you wanna raise your own awareness and it changes you going through that process, the people around you can't help but change with you. It's a quantum entanglement is really the only way to explain it.
Annette: It happens at the cellular level. Like people are changing without even knowing they're changing.
Stephanie: I love that terminology. Let's go back to your story and keep following the path. You left the relationship at 18 and then what was 18 to 40? What did that look like for you? I know you were raising your daughter, but what, what else was in your life at that time?
Annette: Well, I was an overachiever because of my family history and being an overachiever and proving myself to everyone because I got pregnant at 16 and was told at the hospital when I had my daughter that statistically speaking, people who have a child before the age of 18 typically will have another one before they turn 18. And I remember telling the nurse at the hospital, I'm not a statistic. This wasn't an accident. I know what I'm doing. I had no idea what I was doing, but I thought I did. I mean, you're never smarter than you were when you were 16, right?
Stephanie: That's true.
Annette: So I lived the next 20 years of my life trying to prove that I wasn't a statistic, trying to prove that I wasn't that girl from the wrong side of the tracks, that I was that straight A student who deserved all of the things that I was headed for that I never made it to because I changed my direction all of a sudden at one moment. And that's really not a fun place to live cuz I was burning my candle at both ends. I was working really, really hard at looking like I had it all together. And honestly, I was judging myself and everyone around me for the things that I saw in them that they didn't have together, which also was a mirror of what I didn't have together. So there was a lot of judging and a lot of pain and suffering and ruminating thoughts and just a lot of that round and round and round circling the drains, so to speak, because I had all of these habits and broken tools in my toolbox that they weren't getting me out of the cycle that I was in. I was kind of stuck in this perpetual cycle without the knowledge or the tools to know that I could do something different at all. I just thought that's how life was.
Stephanie: So I'm curious as an overachiever, cuz I'm a recovering one as well. Did you have your stuff together? Were you a fully functional adult, you know, with jobs and homes and kids? I mean, if you're not looking at it from the overachiever point of view, were you a f functioning adult?
Annette: Yeah, I was.
Stephanie: I figured so.
Annette: Had a house, had a car, had a kid. Yeah. All the things. Yeah. But I was also the person who would get off work on Friday evening and be like, man, I need a drink. This has been the week and I need a drink. And that was never the right answer. It's never the right answer.
Stephanie: Right. So you said by your late thirties your health had taken a hit. What did that look like?
Annette: So when I was 30, I got diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis because I went to the doctor and said, "Something's wrong with me. I have all of these symptoms. I Googled it and I think I have rheumatoid arthritis." And he was like, "Okay, here's some pills." So I got treated for five years for rheumatoid arthritis, taking drugs that are extremely monitored and carefully, like I had to get eye checks all the time because I was taking hydroxychloroquine, which is quinine basically, which can damage your ability to see colors in your eyes. I had to get liver tests all the time. For five years I took all these pills and nothing really helped except for steroids. And I was finally like, "You know what? I don't wanna do this anymore. Like, I don't think this is helping." And my doctor said to me, "Well, I've never really thought you had rheumatoid arthritis anyway. I just didn't know what else to do with you."
people who are listening to this cannot see my face. And Annette can, so she can see me reacting to all this because I too, have been let down by the Western medical world and I wanna keep myself moderated here, but I want to get like wildly angry about this. Um, oh, that sucks.
Annette: Yeah, it wasn't good. And I don't know if those drugs damaged me in any way. I don't really know if so, they would never have admitted it. Probably.
Stephanie: Of course, not.
Annette: Yeah. So they told me I had to wean myself off of those drugs, and when I still didn't feel better, they were like, "Well, here's some antidepressants. Take these." AndI refused. I was like, "No, I'm not doing that. Something else is wrong. It's not that I'm depressed, something inside of me isn't functioning properly." And that's kind of when I started doing research on natural methods and how to eat healthier, but I mean, back then so I was like 35, and the only thing I knew to do was follow mainstream media. So I was eating a lot of yogurt and granola bars, which didn't help my situation, cause you know, the yogurt was full of sugar.
Stephanie: Right. The granola bars are essentially candy bars.
Annette: Right, it's just a yuppie candy bar.
Annette: Yeah. So, you know that that's kind of the shift that started me down the road that I'm on now. Although that didn't come full circle until I ended up at a job where they did natural medicine, and that's when things started really getting interesting.
Stephanie: What kind of job did you take?
Annette: Well, I took a job as a marketing person for a chiropractic office.
Annette: And I had no idea what that was gonna be like, but it wasn't really a marketing job. They were looking for someone who could do marketing and that's how they found me, which was great. But it ended up being the best decision I had ever made in my entire life as far as careers because I learned so much and I met some of the most amazing people. And I'm still involved with all of those people and still friends with all of them, and will be, I'm sure, for the rest of my life. So it was one of the best things that ever happened to me. And through a series of events, we figured out that it wasn't ever rheumatoid arthritis. It was food sensitivities, like a gluten and wheat intolerance, almost all grains actually, and Hashimoto thyroiditis, which was caused by Epstein Barr.
Stephanie: Okay. I am at least 50% pirate, so I have a mouth that I have to keep an eye on because I try to keep these conversations pretty PG. I'm resisting all of the words that want to come outta my mouth right now, and you can see me like thrashing about on the other side of the video here. So first of all, my last episode was with a gal who she and I share in common a chiropractor friend, well an angel, really. And I've seen a chiropractor since I was 15 years old, and for most of my adult life, I basically use them as my primary care physician. It's like, "Oh, I'm feeling this, let me go see Robin" or see someone at the office. And she was the first one who set me down with with food testing, with nutritional testing andfound some of my issues with food. And years later, also was diagnosed with Hashimotos. And, I had been diagnosed with Epstein Barr back in the early nineties, back when a medical doctor literally said to me in an appointment one day, "That's what they tell you when they don't know what to tell you." It was so early in that the medical doctors would just roll their eyes at me when I said something about Epstein Barr. So it was, you know, 20 years before, it wasn't until I started seeing naturopaths in my early forties that I started telling the story again about Epstein Barr. So all of this I can just relate to, so, oh my God, so closely,it's actually kind of blowing my mind. and I can see all of the wonderful people who work at my chiropractor's office who have cycled through there over the years. And I'm sure the first thing that happened was, oh, well, you know, why don't you could just come over and get adjusted? It's the entry drug. It's just a quick adjustment and then next thing you know, they're you know, introducing you to other concepts. Yeah, I can see the whole thing, Annette.
Stephanie: I lived it.
Annette: Thank God for those people.
Stephanie: Yeah. Yeah. It's so frustrating. I have a great friend who's a doctor. I have a nephew who's studying to become a doctor, and obviously they play an exceptional role in the world, but there's a lot of people who have vague complaints that live inside our body or things that live inside our body that come across as vague complaints where we know something's not right. Something's just not right, and I need you to take me seriously, and you get the, "How about an antidepressant?" Or "You're getting old," or "It's all in your head." Oh, the western medical community is not uh, excellent for that kind of problem and finding a good treatment for it.
Annette: Yeah. Well, unfortunately, the pharmaceutical industry has a lot of control over what they're exposed to and how they treat things and all of that. It's a whole conspiracy theory gone wrong.
Annette: I digress. We won't go down that rabbit hole, but there's so many things that a medical doctor can do and unfortunately, a lot of the things that really are a problem for people really do exist, but they've been told through their education that it doesn't even happen. Like, if you go to a medical doctor and say, "I think I have adrenal fatigue," they're gonna go, "That doesn't exist. It's not a thing," but it is. It really is.
Stephanie: Yeah. So obviously, following some natural medicine methodologies you were able to regain your health.
Annette: Yeah. After destroying it even a little bit more. Yeah.
Annette: Yeah. By the time I hit 45, I had been burning my candle at both ends for so long. And even with the natural medicine and the supplements and things that I was taking, we hadn't gotten to the root cause of my health issues yet. Like I was doing a gluten-free diet and I was doing the things. And it wasn't until I really had a health crisis, like I was falling asleep, standing up. I was so exhausted. And it just took one word from someone at a seminar one day that said, "Have you ever checked your thyroid?" And I was like, "That's one of the things we haven't checked." And he was like, "You probably should." So that was what we did next, and that's how we found that I had Hashimoto's, my antibodies were like 1800 and they should be like four.
Stephanie: Oh wow.
Annette: So, that's been a journey, honestly. And I go through phases where like sometimes I gain weight that I just can't seem to get off. And then sometimes I lose a whole bunch of weight and everybody's like, "What are you doing?" I'm, "I don't know."
Annette: But that's the nature of Hashimotos. Sometimes your thyroid is working good, sometimes it's working bad. You just don't really know. But along with that, there's a lot of other symptoms that are related to everything else. There's only so many symptoms a person can have, and getting to the root cause of an illness can be challenging because you're tired. Okay. That goes with just about every illness on the planet. You have joint pain. Oh, okay. Well that goes with about 75% of all the illnesses on the planet. So it's really a maze trying to figure out what's wrong with someone. But in all honesty, root cause is not that complicated. If you think about how many things can possibly go wrong with a human, root cause is fairly simple. It's nutrition, it's clean water, it's sleep, it's exercise like basics. And then if none of that stuff is working, where's the break in the chain?
Stephanie: So interesting. AndI could follow that path for days and days, so let's not go that direction. The reason that earlier I said obviously this helped you because you said when you were 45, you became a naturopathic doctor yourself.
Annette: I did, yeah, and people are still shocked. They're like, "You became a doctor after the age of 40?" I sure did. And then I have to tell them I'm a naturopathic doctor, and they always go, "Oh," because you know, apparently that's way different.
Annette: But, it's a different type of schooling. And one thing that I have that most people don't is the doctor that I went to work for when I was 40, taught functional medicine to doctors all over the United States. So I've spent, I think I added it up one time, over 250,000 hours sitting in classrooms learning about functional medicine because it was my job to be there in that room and answer questions and help facilitate things and take care of any kind of problems. So not only did I learn a lot from my own self, but there's so much stuff in my brain that I don't even know is in there. Somebody will ask me a question about like vitamin D or some virus, and I'll be like, "Oh, I know about that. Hold on a second," because it's all in there. It's just there's so much.
Stephanie: Can you do me a favor and define functional medicine.
Annette: Functional medicine is, in my opinion, the desire to get to the root cause, to help the whole person, not just treat symptoms. So I'm a root cause holistic type of person, and up until the last probably five years, I wasn't as interested in the emotional side of that. But the more work I do with people, the more I realize trauma and generational patterns, things like that, affect your health in a physical way. And medical doctors are starting to actually say that out loud now, so mainstream is picking up on that. And they are learning that a lot of the chronic health problems that people have, like chronic fatigue syndrome, which is a whole soap box of mine, is not even a disease. It's chronic fatigue, but it's caused by the root cause is a lot of times autoimmune issues caused by long-term trauma that's never been resolved.
Stephanie: Mm-hmm. Yeah. Someone recently pointed me to the book When the Body Says No, which is apparently about just what you're talking about, the connection between trauma and illness, and she had said the same thing that a lot of doctors were actually making these connections. So this is an emerging area of science and medicine. She said, and I'm gonna try to remember this, something like, much of what we think of as hereditary illnesses are actually hereditary patterns of dealing with emotions that are passed down through generations. It's a little bit mind blowing. So that one's on my bedside table, waiting right behind a novelI hope I'll finish this weekend. I'm really looking forward to digging into that one. Interesting, interesting stuff. Cutting edge, for sure, but I think in 20 or 30 years it'll be sort of like v8 obvious, it'll just be the norm.
Annette: Yeah. Yeah. Bruce Lipton wrote a book called The Body Keeps the Score, I believe, which is very similar to that. And then he talks about cellular and DNA in that same regard. But his book's a few years older, so this one may have some more newer stuff in it. So that sounds really cool. Very cool.
Stephanie: I've heard the name of that one. I wonder if that one's in my to be read pile as well.
Stephanie: Let's circle back. You got your ND in your mid forties. You said your life really started to shift when you had your first granddaughter at 40.
Oh my gosh. That was the most amazing thing. My daughter was 23 at the time and she was living in South Dakota doing amazing. She had worked for AmeriCorps, she was in Kansas, when that tornado ripped out the whole town. I think it was Greensburg years ago. She was one of the people that was there in the recovery effort. So she did a lot of that stuff. She was in Brownsville, Texas to clean up after Hurricane Katie I can't remember the name of it, but it took out like the whole like football stadium and all that down there. So she was doing stuff like that and then she ended up in South Dakota and ended up getting pregnant and called me and I was living in Albuquerque at the time, which by the way is a whole experience. And we decided to move back to Missouri where our family was because we decided that babies needed family. So that's how we got back here and that's how I ended up working at this job because I had been self-employed. I was a real estate agent and I had my own promotional products company, so I was self-employed. When we came back to Missouri, it was when gas prices were $5 a gallon. And I was like, um, I'm gonna have to find a job, like a real job. I can't be self-employed in this. It was crazy. Real estate was non-existent. Interest rates were high. So that's how I ended up working with the chiropractor that I started working with at the age of 40, and that's how my life completely changed.
Stephanie: One of the things you said to me was, I thought I was so healed back then,
Annette: Oh, yeah.
Stephanie: but it's, it's a, it's a continuum, isn't it?
Annette: Right. Well, you don't know until you don't know. Right.
Stephanie: Yeah. You said also that the last three years you've seen some pretty big shifts in transformations.
Annette: Yeah, so about three years ago, I left my third marriage and I was single for like 20 years before that. But I decided that I wanted to be married, and I found this awesome guy and I got married to him. And then between the two of us, we each had our own behaviors. That ended up, it had to end eventually. So when I left him, through the trauma and the heartbreak and all the disappointments, I decided that I wasn't gonna just sit down and be a victim anymore. I wanted to know why I kept reliving the same relationship over and over and over again. And in all honesty, if I put a mirror up to it, it would look a lot like my mom and dad's relationship. And I was like, okay, obviously I can't fix this by myself because I don't know how. And I did some research and I found somebody that did hypnotherapy and I was like, okay, this has to be the answer. It's gonna get to the root of all my problems because obviously I don't know what they are.
So I did that and it was very helpful and that helped me kind of get out of the slump that I was in, opened some doors and some ideas for me to start thinking. Then I was on a new healing path and emotional intelligence was something I had never heard of or thought of and all of a sudden I was in this world where I was like being more aware and trying to understand my feelings and trying to communicate my feelings was hard because I was deep in victim mode and I wanted somebody else to fix what was wrong because I didn't see that there was anything going on in here that needed to be fixed. So after going through all of that, I was much better, but I still knew that I wasn't getting where I wanted to get. I needed deeper. I ran across someone on Facebook and she was talking about boundaries. And I was like, oh, I need some of those. Boundaries, that sounds great. How do I get some of those?
Stephanie: Can you order those at the store? Could Amazon deliver them this weekend?
Annette: Right? Like saying no was so foreign to me. I was like, I need those skills, I need to know how to do that. So I found all of her videos on YouTube and Instagram and Facebook, and finally tracked her down and sent her a message and said, "What does it look like to work with you?" And she messaged me back and was like, "Hi, who are you?" She didn't know who I was, but long story short, we've been working together for like, I don't know, 18 months now maybe. And it's been an amazing journey and she just kind of cracked me wide open and made it okay for me to be exactly who I am. Which was hard because I was so used to being what everybody wanted me to be and what I thought everybody wanted me to be, that it was really hard to just be me and then unapologetically be me was even harder because I spent all my time going, well, you know, if I say this or do that, then what's gonna happen? And she would literally say, "So what if that happens?" And the last 18 months has been completely eyeopening and soul bearing, not soul crushing, soul bearing, but it's, it's been an amazing experience once I've figured out how to get there.
Stephanie: Yeah. Well, like I was talking with April in the last episode, it's not a linear path, and these things don't necessarily happen on the timetable we want them to happen on. They take time.
Stephanie: You said you started opening up to things like The Secret,when you were around 40 and your granddaughter showed up and here you are 13 years later and you're still peeling back layers of the onion and learning new things.
Annette: Yeah. And I hope I never stop. I always tell people when you think you've gotten there, you missed the point because emotional growth and spiritual growth is a long-term commitment that you never get to the end of. There's always room for growth and there's always room for more enlightenment. Sometimes you need a catalyst to start the process, but you almost always need some sort of a guide because you don't know what you don't know. Anytime I get to the point where I feel like, woo, that was easy. I got it. Guess what? Something happens and I'm like, oh, challenge accepted.
Stephanie: I don't got it.
Annette: Right? Challenge accepted. Something new. Yeah. And I've just learned that when something triggers me, it's another opportunity for growth. Instead of going back into my old patterns that I learned from all of my ancestors, which was, if you can't hit it or yell at it, then you just get drunk and hope it goes away, I don't use those patterns anymore. So now it's like, okay, I see there's a trigger. Something's causing me to feel a certain way. What is it, how do I process it, and all of those things. And most of the time I can do it on my own at this point. But the most amazing benefit of having my friend Gina as a coach, I call her my friend, she's my coach, she's my friend is, even though I think I've got it and I'm like molding it and playing with it, and I'm like feeling my way through it, she every single time will say something I hadn't thought of yet. And then I'll be like, "Oh, that's a good one. Ooh, okay. I need to think about that. I gotta go," and she is like, "Okay, okay. I'll talk to you later."
Annette: But I don't wanna process things with someone anymore. I wanna process them myself. And I didn't have that ability up until the last, probably two years, because when, anytime something would happen that I considered bad, I wanted to call my best friend and complain about it. I wanted her to jump on my bandwagon and complain with me. And then I wanted to feel sorry for myself and wallow in it and think about it over and over and over again, which we all know doesn't fix anything. But that's the cycle that you get in, and it's the only cycle you know, so you, you have a tendency to go back to where you're comfortable instead of facing this new thing because it's uncomfortable. So it's easier, and this sounds completely silly, but it's easier to be miserable and feel like a victim and blame everybody but the mailman on your problem when really you just need to tweak the way you're looking at it a little bit and things are way different. But it's so hard to to step out on that faith that things are gonna be different, that you can change your path, and that's what makes it so special.
Stephanie: And one of the things I think happens early on in the process is awareness. Even if you're still in your normal patterns of being miserable and calling the girlfriend and blaming everybody else, and it's everybody else's fault, as soon as you can realize and be aware that Oh yeah, I'm doing it. And then the next time you find one of those situations, if you can be aware of this is a trigger, this is a situation that usually sets me off, it's a, way to practice other ways of approaching that situation because even if you're on this path, it doesn't mean that the next way you deal with it is gonna be the successful way. Right. You're probably gonna have to practice a few different ways to deal with some of these situations. But the awareness is really, to me, one of the early indicators that you are on a path of change.
Annette: Yeah. And that's where a lot of us lack is the awareness to even realize that the cycle that we're in doesn't have to keep perpetuating. It can change. A lot of people that are stuck in those cycles have no idea that they're even in a cycle. They just think that's the way life is. I didn't know, I didn't have a clue until I decided I'm not doing this again, something has to change. What needs to change inside of me in order for that to happen?
Stephanie: Two things just popped into my head, let's see if I can remember them both. I remember in my twenties and my thirties you'd break up with someone and you're in that heartbreak wallow moment, hearing girlfriends say "Oh, I'm sorry, I'm still miserable. I'm sorry I keep talking about him." Obviously everybody needs time to sort of wallow and heal. But I remember, I don't know where I picked it up or made it up, but I would say to them are you sick of yourself yet? And it was kind of like, it's not until you're sick of yourself that you're ready to come out of it. And I always used to use that in that particular situation, but it actually applies here as well. When you start feeling like something's not right or your life doesn't quite fit, or you're not happy, but you don't know what it is. As soon as you'resick of yourself or your situation, you're ready to at least take a step.
Annette: Yeah. Well, and that's kind of where I was. I was I guess 50, and I was the most miserable I had ever been in my entire life. And I have a long list of bucket items checked off. I was the lead singer of a band. I've ridden in hot air balloons. I've scuba dived. I've traveled all over the place. My bucket list is pretty good. And here I was married and that's one of the things that was on my bucket list. I wanna be married. Well, here I was, I had everything I had ever wanted and I was miserable. But it was because of those toxic patterns. And honestly, even with the knowledge that I have now, the two of us, I don't think we could get back together and be happy together because I see the relationship now for what it was, it was a catalyst for change. It was my one more opportunity to see that something needed to be different and take that on myself and change it. And I've been given plenty of opportunities to do that. This is just the first time that I realized, hey, something's not right. I need to make a change. And I mean, yeah, I could blame a lot of people for things that have happened, you know? But that doesn't get you where you need to be. And it's not like I blame myself, either. It's not about blame
Stephanie: No, you can't. That's not productive. Yeah. I always like to say that the universe will keep sending you the same lesson over and over again until you're ready to face it. And it sounds like you felt some of that.
Annette: Yep. I say that too. Yep. Same relationship, different face
Stephanie: Yep. Yep.
Annette: or for some people, same job, different company.
Whatever it is that you keep reliving is because there's a lesson you haven't gotten quite yet.
Stephanie: Yep. I'm just looking back at my notes from our conversation. You said when you show up differently, the rest of the world looks different. You can not only choose how you want to see it, but how it looks back at you. That's such an interesting point of view.
Annette: Yeah, I forgot I said that. That's kind of cool.
Stephanie: I thought so too. That's why I underlined it.
Annette: I like that. That Annette Copeland, she's pretty cool.
Stephanie: She's got some really interesting insights.
Annette: She does. I wonder where those came from. So my profile used to say, graduated from the school of hard knocks because I always used to say that I couldn't learn anything the easy way. I had to learn everything the hard way. And it was because my toolbox had broken tools in it. So getting the right tools and learning to utilize those tools has changed everything about how I show up in the world. And it's not only changed myself and the way I feel on a daily basis, but it's also changed my daughter and the way she deals with my grandchildren. It's changed my daughter's marriage. It's changed my mother. It's changed my relationship with my father. Everything in my life looks different now because I decided to make those changes and I couldn't even sit down and make a list of what those things were because it's a soul level change. I see myself differently, therefore, the world around me reflects back at me differently.
Annette: It's like when you look at those mirrors at the fun park, the ones where some of them make you look tall and skinny or short and wonky or whatever. If you're looking at your life through one of those mirrors, of course everything around you was gonna look weird too. So it's more about adjusting yourself and getting yourself at a good emotional set point. So my emotional set point two years ago was in the basement. I had to dig a hole to get to where I was emotionally because I was so broken. And I don't know why I had to be completely broken, shattered all the way to the basement, and then dig a hole. But that's where I had to get before I was willing to make the changes. That's where I had to be. I hope not everybody has to do that, but unfortunately I had to do that. I had to go below rock bottom in order to climb out. And it's that process, learning how to gradually raise my emotional set point a little bit at a time, knowing that occasionally I might be on floor one today, but tomorrow I might be in the basement again. But guess what? I don't have to dig a hole. So next week I might be on floor two. And I might spend a little bit of time on floor three, but then yeah, I might end up back on floor one, but I'm not opening that basement door anymore, and I'm definitely not digging a hole.
So little by little I kind of climbed the ladder of emotional set points, and now my emotional set point is so high, even if I get tragic news, bad news, something that would normally make me crawl in bed and cover up with blankets and stay there for three days, within a matter of minutes, I'm like, "Oh, okay. So that just happened. I feel scared, or I feel a little angry right now," or "I feel devastated because somebody did something that is unfathomable." But in a few minutes, I can pull myself out of that and be like, "Okay, in this moment I am safe. And I don't have to go to the basement anymore." I can't promise that I won't, at some point, be there again. For a moment. For a moment. But I am not staying there.
Stephanie: Yeah, what You're talking about sounds a lot like emotional resilience.
Annette: Yes. Yeah. I've never called it that, but that's a great word.
Stephanie: Well, it's just what you described as, you know, I live on floor two and then some days I'm on floor one, and some days I'm on floor three, and then I know if I end up in the basement, I know the path out of the basement and maybe I'll be on floor one for a couple days and then back to floor two. I mean, It just sounds like you know how to manage your life in a way that you're the tiger and not the tail. You're not being wagged by life.
Annette: Yeah. And you know, I'm not interested in going back down and staying in that dark place. One of the things I say is come out of there carrying a torch so other people can follow you. That's basically the story of my life. I've experienced it. If I can save you from experiencing it, please follow me.
Annette: Please follow me. I don't want you to suffer the way I did.
Stephanie: And it's interesting, I talked about this with April as well, before your journey started, whether it was in your twenties or your thirties, life is so terrestrial, life is so physical. It's so here on the planet. And a lot of the stuff you're talking about is kind of otherworldly, it's out there, it's different. How did you go from walking on the planet to sort of floating in air? I can't think of a better way to describe it today, unfortunately. I'm usually pretty good at that. Do you get what I'm saying?
Annette: The quantum plane, maybe?.
Stephanie: Yeah, right. You did use the quantum word earlier. Yeah. So much of this is, quantum, it's woo woo, it's spiritual. It's out there, it's metaphysical, and that can be scary for a lot of people. That can be something that people just turn a cold shoulder to or turn up their nose at, cuz it's weird. So how do you make the transition?
Annette: Oh man, I wish I had one word for that, I don't. I personally have known for many, many years that I was keeping myself dampened down. I've known that for a long time. As a matter of fact, I told somebody that when I was 38, I was like, "There's something inside of me that needs to come out, but I don't know what it is and I'm afraid of it." And he was like, " Why are you afraid of it?" And I was like, "It's too, It's too big." And at the time, the only way I could explain it was I felt like my heart was being squeezed. Like the Grinch, my heart was too small and I was afraid to let it grow.
Maybe that came from my childhood, maybe I was told to sit down and shut up one too many times or whatever, I don't know. I actually told somebody this on a podcast a couple weeks ago that I kind of feel like the Grinch because I was this little heart that was tiny and restricted and constricted, and I was afraid to crack that open and let it come out. And through this process I found, and here's the rub: I found how big, how powerful, how immense this whole thing is when I was in that dark place and I could feel the misery that I felt on such a high level. It was all encompassing, everything I had literally, crushed. Like I was in a dark, dark place, but I now have the exact opposite of that. So it's like at the end of the movie, the Grinch, when they show his heart growing like, what is it, four sizes or something? That's what it feels like to me. I went from that dark hole to now I'm cracked wide open and I'm fully capable of receiving love and praise and appreciation and abundance. Whereas before it didn't even sound good to me. Like somebody would be like, I love you. I'd be like, no you don't and you don't want to. Cause there's something wrong with me.
Stephanie: Right. Yeah.
Annette: So, that's my best explanation for that is as much pain as you can possibly feel, that can turn 180 degrees around and you can feel completely different if you just get the tools and go through the process and it's 120% worth it on the other side.
Stephanie: Yeah. You've talked a lot about tools. Can you give me any examples of tools? If someone's listening to this and they're going, "All right lady, whatever, a hammer and nails and a wrench..." What kind of tools are you talking about that will help someone come out of
and and expand their whole being?
Annette: Tools, skills, things like that. Honestly, awareness is a really good tool. That's like the very first tool you need is the ability to see that maybe what you're going through isn't all there is. Maybe there's something else out there. And then tools like learning how to calm yourself when you're in a anxiety or panic state, those are great tools to have in your toolbox. And learning how to create boundaries and hold them. Learning how to just talk to yourself in a positive manner. There are so many things, and some of the tools that I give people are physical activities that they can do. Other things are more just like awareness. Like, okay, I'm feeling sad right now. Is it okay to be sad? Yeah. Is it okay to crawl in bed and stay there for a week because you're sad? Probably not. So what can you do to encourage yourself to let go of that pain and do something that makes you happy? I'm telling you what, right now, if you find somebody who's truly sad and you ask them to do something that makes them happy, they will say no. They would rather throw up than do the thing that makes them happy, because that misery that they're in is so comfortable to them that feeling anything else is revolting to them. So it's the tools like teaching people how to be able to take a situation like that and be like, okay, so where's my happy place? Can I get to my happy place from where I am right now? And maybe you can't get all the way to where your happy place is, but can you think about it? Can you take a step towards it? Can you take two steps towards it? Those are the kind of tools that I'm talking about.
Stephanie: Yeah, that'sa really fantastic explanation of the tools. They all come from inside, too. You've got them all. You just need to learn how to use them,
Stephanie: how to grow them.
Annette: One of the reasons I wrote my book the way I did was to kind of weave that in there so that not only do you have the awareness, but you also have some tools that you can put with those awarenesses to make them work.
Stephanie: Tell me a little bit about your book because you did approach it from a different way than most people do. I wanna hear you describe it.
Annette: I totally did, and people tell me that all the time. So I wrote a fiction book that is a self-help book. When I decided to do that, it was a little bit on the scary side because I was looking at books that other people had published, and I'm like, I don't see any books like this anywhere, so I'm gonna be a pioneer here and do something different. But I had this amazing story that I wanted to write about this woman who had been in a traumatic relationship and she had no idea how she got there or what happened to her or whatever. So I wanted to take that unknowing, that innocence, that put her in that victim mentality of where she was coming from and then I wanted to give the reader an opportunity to see her shift from a victim to a survivor, to somebody who's thriving, to somebody who has tools in their toolbox that they can use.
Writing another self-help book like Seven Ways to Stop This, just didn't suit me. And I thought, but you know what? If I can write a really entertaining story that people will relate to and enjoy reading, but I can also teach them something at the same time, then that's what I wanted to do. So that's how I did it, and that's how I came up with the fictional self-help book. Making the character's fiction, first of all, takes the blame off of anybody that could possibly think that I might be pointing a finger at them, cuz I'm absolutely not doing that. But it also gave me the flexibility to modify those characters into being so relatable to other people that they could actually see themselves in her. her name is Shari. They can see themselves in Shari and maybe they can see someone else they know in one of the other character roles like Leo, who's the hero of the story. So that was what I was doing and I think it worked out pretty good.
Stephanie: I love it. It's called Dragonfly Into the Light and where can we find it?
Annette: It is on Amazon and Barnes and Noble has it now. Yay.
Stephanie: Congratulations. That's so wonderful. I wasn't able to get it before we chatted, so I'm looking forward to getting it and reading it because it sounds like a really interesting approach to this material.
Annette: Yeah, it's a short read. There's a really good brief summary of it on Amazon, so if somebody wants to go there and just read a little bit of it before they buy it, they can do that. And it's free on Kindle Unlimited, if somebody does Kindle Unlimited.
Stephanie: I'm somebody who loves an actual physical book. I spend so much time in front of screens at work and in my life. So, when I'm reading, I wanna be analog. I'm gonna buy the printed version and I'll let you know when I'm done and what I thought of it. Annette, I wanna thank you so much for being with me today. I just have enjoyed our conversation so much, and I love the way you explain things, and I really think it's relatable and I hope there's some folks out there who are listening picked up a couple of things that might help them dig themselves out of that hole down in the basement.
Annette: Yeah, I sure hope so. That's my passion in life. Like I said, if I can keep someone from suffering longer than they need to, that's what it's all about. Raising that awareness, getting people in the right mindset so that they can start on that healing journey and just understand that it's not anybody's fault, it's just part of being a human. And we all have to go through our own journey step by step. And you can't compare yours to anyone else's.
Stephanie: Nope. It's one size fits each.
Annette: Right. For sure.
Stephanie: Well, thank you, Annette.
Annette: Thank you. This was so much fun.