Urban Report

Messed Up and Don't Know It

Three Angels Broadcasting Network

Program transcript

Participants: Yvonne Lewis (Host), Dr. Ira Lake


Series Code: UBR

Program Code: UBR000168A

00:01 Are you messed up and you don't even know it?
00:04 Well stay tuned to meet a man whose life was messed up
00:07 and now he helps others to find their way.
00:10 My name is Yvonne Lewis
00:12 and you're watching Urban Report.
00:38 Hello and welcome to Urban Report.
00:40 My guest today is Dr. Ira Lake,
00:42 one of the Nation's leaders in Traumatic Childhood Recovery
00:46 and a victim himself of childhood trauma.
00:48 He's an Author, Counselor and a Seventh-day Adventist Minister.
00:52 Welcome to Urban Report Dr. Lake.
00:55 Thank you so much.
00:56 It's so good to have you, may I call you Dr. Ira?
00:58 You can call me Ira.
00:59 That's all right... I can call you Dr. Ira and that way
01:03 I'm acknowledging your title and it's not as formal, right,
01:07 so, you have written a book and let's hold the book up
01:14 and we'll put it up there on the screen too.
01:17 "Messed Up and Don't Even Know it:
01:20 The Journey from Childhood Trauma to Healing. "
01:23 What led you to write this book?
01:26 Well, as a Counselor,
01:30 I had been running into a lot of people,
01:32 couples, individuals, who,
01:34 when we got down to helping them,
01:37 we could trace it back to their childhood,
01:41 and the things they experienced and I realized that, I, myself,
01:47 was a victim of childhood trauma,
01:49 and I wanted to help people
01:51 understand that they are not alone
01:53 that the help could be given,
01:56 and that they could overcome it and find healing.
01:59 That is such an important factor
02:02 to know that you're not alone,
02:04 if you're going through something
02:06 and there's someone else that can help you through
02:10 give you the tools that you need to come through it,
02:13 let's find out a little bit about your childhood
02:16 what kind of traumatic episode
02:19 did you have to deal with growing up?
02:22 Well, first, I was raised in a Christian home,
02:26 Seventh-day Adventist Christian home,
02:30 it was quite common for me to be awakened
02:33 in the middle of the night with arguments between my parents
02:37 or seeing violent acts perpetrated by my parents
02:43 on each other and then, as I got older,
02:46 after my mother and father divorced,
02:50 my mother, basically, tortured me,
02:54 she took out her frustration, her abuse,
02:58 her childhood stuff... it came out on me.
03:02 So, she literally tortured you?
03:05 That's the word I'm using.
03:07 What would she do?
03:09 Well, if she thought I was not telling the truth,
03:12 she would take a hot knife
03:14 or put a butter knife on the stove and heat it
03:16 and then she would put it on my tongue.
03:19 She'd pick up anything within reach
03:21 and she would hit me with it or slam me against a wall
03:26 or make me undress
03:28 and I would be paraded throughout the house, naked,
03:31 in front of my siblings, or whoever was in the house,
03:35 stitches in my head,
03:38 I was so ashamed as a boy growing up
03:40 and as a young man, when I played sports,
03:43 I didn't even want to go to the locker room
03:45 to change because of all the scars on my arms and back
03:49 and legs and... I called it torture.
03:53 And where was your dad,
03:55 where was your father in all of this,
03:57 after they divorced,
03:58 did you still have a relationship with him?
03:59 Actually, my father got custody of us,
04:03 that was unheard of in the '60s, unheard of...
04:06 he got custody and then we saw my mother on the weekends.
04:10 He knew about the torture?
04:12 You know, I like to think he knew
04:18 but he never said anything,
04:19 I mean, how can you go to school with scars
04:21 or with bruises and not notice, so, yeah, I thought he knew
04:28 and I was mad at him for a while
04:29 because he never stood up and protected me
04:32 and I learned from an early age
04:35 and most childhood trauma victims learn, early on,
04:38 that there is no help
04:40 you're going to be by yourself.
04:42 You're going to be isolated, and that's a misconception
04:47 because there is help,
04:48 all I had to do was talk to somebody... a teacher...
04:51 I was presenting a program recently,
04:55 and my first grade teacher came to me and she said to me,
04:59 as well as... with another lady who was there,
05:02 she said, "We knew what was going on in your home,"
05:04 they were church members in the church,
05:07 "but we just didn't know what to do"
05:11 and this happens quite frequently
05:15 and it happens more and more
05:17 and we are just now starting to talk about it
05:20 in the church.
05:22 So, there were people who knew
05:25 that you were being abused
05:27 but there was nothing done to protect you
05:30 and I guess... because they went to church with your mom,
05:36 to have been a part of removing you from that home,
05:40 maybe they didn't want to deal with that,
05:43 I don't know, I mean, but that sounds like...
05:45 you must have felt so vulnerable and just unprotected.
05:51 Who do you trust? Who do you tell?
05:55 And if you did tell,
05:57 would they do something about it?
05:59 When people...
06:01 we don't really talk about it
06:03 because we don't really want to be associated with
06:06 this kind of behavior in our churches.
06:08 We talk so much about the spiritual and
06:11 we try to put on these fronts that we are great,
06:13 but we can be beasts... so cruel.
06:19 And this is part of the whole... this is a sin problem
06:23 versus a denominational issue,
06:27 this is a sin... because it transcends
06:29 denominations, you know,
06:31 we know it's in every denomination, unfortunately,
06:33 because it's a sin problem and a mental health issue,
06:36 so, here you were, as a child,
06:41 coming up in that environment, your parents divorced
06:44 and you go with your dad,
06:46 what was life like with your dad?
06:48 Babysitter to babysitter, my dad was a full-time teacher
06:54 in Chicago Public School System
06:56 and then at night he worked
06:58 full time at the main post office in Chicago,
07:00 so he worked 16 hours a day
07:03 44 plus years on each of the jobs,
07:07 he wasn't around, he had to provide for us.
07:11 My dad was a great guy, I love him,
07:14 I modeled myself after him, he was my role model,
07:18 but he abandoned me, he never stood up
07:20 but I know he was trying to provide... but...
07:24 So, essentially, you lost your mom,
07:30 because your parents divorced
07:33 and she had been physically abusive to you
07:37 and you also didn't have your dad there,
07:40 how many siblings did you have?
07:43 I have five siblings, two older, two younger,
07:47 I'm right in the middle.
07:48 Okay, and were they caring for you,
07:51 did you have any support,
07:53 were they also abused by your mom?
07:55 They were also being abused as well.
07:57 Nobody... my younger sister...
08:00 she would... as we would come home
08:03 there would be this... feeling in your stomach
08:07 like something was going to happen,
08:08 butterflies, upset stomach,
08:10 as soon as we would get into the house,
08:12 she would just break out and start crying,
08:14 just uncontrollable fits of crying
08:16 because we were all scared,
08:18 we didn't know who was going to show up...
08:21 in the form of my mother,
08:22 because she could be so funny and gregarious...
08:26 gregarious and then... she could be a monster.
08:29 And you didn't know who was going to open that door.
08:32 You open the door and you walk in
08:34 and you go, "Okay, which way do we have today?"
08:38 Wow! it's so appalling that so many of our children
08:43 many more than we care to acknowledge,
08:46 so many are going through something like that,
08:49 where there is abuse in the home,
08:51 and what do you do?
08:53 And we're going to come to that in a bit,
08:55 what do you do if you see that there is abuse in the home?
09:00 Because you and your siblings were just so vulnerable
09:04 and there was nobody there,
09:06 and your dad was working, he was trying to provide,
09:08 but he was working so you had no one...
09:11 no adult really to plug into for emotional nurturing
09:18 so, how did that affect your relationships later on in life?
09:23 Well, I can talk about it now, after the fact,
09:26 but I didn't know it then,
09:28 I am, by nature, a very distrustful person.
09:32 I am wary of people and yet when you see me
09:37 and interact with me, I'm outgoing, I like to laugh,
09:40 but I'm naturally wary of people
09:43 because I don't know if you're going to hurt me.
09:46 So I grew up through life with my guard up...
09:49 emotionally walled off,
09:52 didn't want you to get in too close
09:55 because if you did, you had the potential to hurt me
09:58 so I just do like everybody else,
10:02 I try to suppress what I was feeling,
10:05 and I kept myself busy,
10:07 so busy... so that I didn't have time to think about it,
10:11 and I didn't want to be alone
10:13 because the silence would just get at me,
10:16 so I stayed busy, and that's how I survived
10:19 my teenage years until I went off to college
10:23 and when I went to Oakwood College at 17,
10:26 that was liberation, oh my goodness!
10:30 I could eat what I wanted, I could go where I wanted,
10:33 and I was like... this was heaven.
10:35 Laughing...
10:38 Yeah, for sure, for sure,
10:40 how did your upbringing
10:42 impact your relationship with your peers,
10:46 were you... were you outgoing as a teenager
10:50 or did you become more outgoing later?
10:54 Well, I was outgoing as a teenager,
10:57 people liked to be around me,
11:00 I'm always laughing and having fun
11:02 but they never knew what was going on inside
11:04 and that's the way I kept it
11:05 and so people were attracted to me
11:08 in high school, I played a lot of sports,
11:11 Captains of a lot of the teams,
11:13 I had my own choir in high school,
11:15 and we would travel all over to the various churches
11:18 and people thought that I was this ideal guy
11:21 and say, "I want to be like Ira"
11:23 they didn't know that I was like...
11:24 "Man! this is hell, I can't wait to get older,
11:27 I'm getting out of here,
11:28 because nobody is going to protect me,
11:31 I got to protect myself"
11:32 and when I went to college, I went home one time after that
11:37 and that was only for a couple of days
11:39 I never came home again.
11:41 My! my! that must have been so lonely.
11:46 Oh it was, but guess what? I could protect myself.
11:51 Yes, yes, yes, so... is that what... in retrospect,
11:56 is that, you think,
11:58 what led you to become this helper of other people
12:04 who have gone through similar...
12:06 similar circumstances in life?
12:08 Do you think that that's what led you to want to do it
12:12 or were you feeling just kind of...
12:17 this concern and empathy for people,
12:21 what do you think led you into the work that you're doing
12:24 and let's talk about the work that you do.
12:26 Well, I believe, from a clinical point of view
12:28 that children learn empathy
12:30 and concern from others in their childhoods,
12:32 now whether I learned it there or then... I don't know...
12:36 all I know is that I've had this desire all of my life
12:40 to want to help people,
12:42 my first choice in life was not to be a Pastor,
12:45 it was to be a Social Worker and that's all I talked about
12:49 high school... "Are we going to help people?"
12:51 And it wasn't for a particular thing
12:53 but I just wanted to help people
12:55 just to be in a position to kind of provide
12:57 resources and things for them
13:00 but as I got to my Junior year in high school,
13:04 I felt God calling me to ministry,
13:06 so I didn't put the Social Worker on the back burner,
13:10 I went to Oakwood and did a double major in both,
13:14 my father said,
13:15 "Hey listen, you may not get called to ministry
13:18 so you got to have a back-up plan"
13:20 Laughter...
13:22 But actually when I left Oakwood,
13:24 I didn't get a call to Ministry right away,
13:26 I was a Social Worker in Arizona for about four years
13:30 before God opened up the door for me
13:33 to go into full-time pastoral ministry.
13:35 So, you have that dual concentration
13:38 of Theology and Psychology which is tremendous
13:44 because you can help give Spiritual tools
13:46 and you can help with the psychological things too,
13:51 so that is really... what a blessing!
13:53 What a blessing! So in your...
13:56 you got married after college,
13:59 how did your past affect your marriage?
14:03 It was rough and tough for me to let her in
14:08 because, first of all, my in-laws... my ex-in-laws
14:13 they didn't like me, they didn't trust me,
14:16 and so, right away, my guard was up,
14:18 and I remember being married and my wife would go out...
14:24 my then-wife would go out to be with her family
14:27 and I had to stay by... or stay by myself,
14:30 I was not allowed to socialize and be around them
14:33 so, I went through most of my then-marriage with my guard up
14:39 because I knew her family didn't like me,
14:42 it was just a matter of time,
14:44 they were always whispering in her ear,
14:46 and it could have been my perception
14:49 that they were always tearing me down,
14:52 so, I just... either absorbed myself in my work
14:57 and I did not allow her to get close to me.
15:01 Hmmm... the inability to really attach...
15:06 that just kind of generalized
15:09 into all of your close relationships?
15:12 You just never got too close,
15:14 you never let anybody get too close?
15:16 All of them... Hmmm... hmmm...
15:17 And I didn't learn this until I sat on a Counselor's chair
15:20 for about seven years
15:22 and I realized that I had inadvertently been sabotaging
15:25 every relationship I've been in.
15:27 As soon as they got close to me,
15:29 I'd make up some reason why we shouldn't be together
15:32 or why I shouldn't be your friend.
15:34 And that's what trauma does to you
15:37 it distorts your perception of people, of events, of things,
15:43 you think that people are...
15:44 every person could be a potential threat to you
15:47 every glance, every look, every misconception
15:51 that you take... out of a word...
15:53 you take it and go... man! they tried to hurt me...
15:55 and so you go through life scared to open up,
15:58 scared to talk, scared to get close to somebody,
16:01 because they are potential threats to you.
16:05 Hmmm... hmmm... and it's understandable
16:08 that that would be the reaction,
16:10 it's kind of a normal coping strategy
16:14 because when you open up, you get hurt,
16:17 so it's a defense mechanism
16:19 that you want to just keep people at bay
16:21 because you could really hurt me.
16:23 Yes, yes...
16:24 And so you learned this
16:25 when you went into counseling yourself.
16:28 Let's talk a bit about trauma and how it manifests...
16:33 I just wrote an article recently for the 3ABN World Magazine
16:40 about PTSD,
16:42 and how it's affecting our inner-city children
16:46 more than we realize,
16:47 we think of soldiers and veterans with PTSD
16:51 but it sounds to me like... what you had
16:55 was a mild... or... I don't know... you tell me...
16:59 form of that because the inability to trust,
17:03 the fear, you know, flashbacks, things that happen
17:07 these are so common in the inner city.
17:11 Thirty percent... it's speculated that 30 percent
17:14 of inner-city adolescents have either mild to severe PTSD
17:19 and nobody is treating it,
17:21 that's one of the reasons I wanted to have you on
17:24 to talk about trauma and its effects on children
17:28 and adults... later in their relationships.
17:33 So, with you, when you began to treat people
17:39 that had had similar traumas,
17:42 did a bell... kind of ring in your head,
17:44 like, "Wait a minute, this is...
17:46 you're reacting this way in this situation
17:49 and I kind of did that too,"
17:50 did you react that way, how did you react?
17:53 I'm so glad you said that, you know,
17:56 I'm sitting there,
17:57 I'm working with a client or a couple
18:00 and they were telling me things
18:02 and it would sound so much like what I had experienced
18:05 and yet, I never took it for myself
18:08 I was great at helping other people,
18:11 but when it came to myself, please...
18:14 I'm okay...
18:17 Hmmm... hmm... hmm... hmm... so you weren't seeing it.
18:19 No, it wasn't until... toward the end,
18:24 when I'm working with a couple,
18:27 both of them had been through some very abusive relationships
18:32 in the past, they're sitting there
18:34 and the guy is actually telling my story,
18:36 and I said to myself,
18:40 "Oh my God! man! I'm messed up"
18:42 that's what I said to myself,
18:43 I'm trying to help them but I'm saying,
18:46 "Man, you're crazy,"
18:48 and I said, "Man, I've got to get some help
18:50 because Man! I'm not sleeping,
18:53 I'm stressed eating,
18:54 I'm not letting anybody get close to me
18:57 I'm unhappy, I'm perpetually unhappy,
18:59 and that's not who I am,"
19:01 and I met a wonderful lady, 67-years-old, White lady,
19:07 she broke me down in about four sessions,
19:11 and she said to me, I'm fast forwarding it
19:15 at the end... after about seven years,
19:18 she said, "You're ready, you're ready,"
19:21 and sitting there, I said,
19:24 "Now I know what God wants me to do"
19:26 He called me to Ministry but it isn't necessarily...
19:30 it didn't... first of all, necessarily mean
19:32 it had to be paid ministry,
19:33 so I'm in ministry when I was a Social Worker,
19:35 then I got into pastoral ministry
19:38 and most of my ministry then was...
19:40 I was working with couples and clients
19:42 I realized that God had given me a gift of discernment
19:46 and wisdom that I could use in the Counseling
19:49 and I was doing more counseling than I was doing preaching.
19:52 And a friend of mine said, "Man, you're gifted in this area
19:55 you should expand it and work on it"
19:58 and I went back to school
19:59 and I began it, and I saw something
20:01 and I'm going to go back to your point,
20:03 when we talk about trauma,
20:04 we have to also talk about community violence,
20:09 that's a part of the trauma. Dr. Yvonne: Absolutely.
20:11 Our inner-cities... the drugs, the violence,
20:14 the gangs, the shooting, we see it,
20:17 we become insensitive to it but it affects us
20:21 and I make a statement,
20:23 I believe that unresolved trauma...
20:26 childhood trauma... can come back
20:28 and it will plague every facet of your life,
20:31 professionally, your relationships,
20:34 if you don't deal with it,
20:36 it will just keep showing up again and again,
20:39 so you asked me, You said,
20:41 "Well, how can you tell if a person has been traumatized?"
20:45 They like to isolate,
20:48 they have problems keeping relationships,
20:52 they are irritable, moody, most of them are depressed,
20:58 their productivity, even on their jobs,
21:02 it's bad to poor,
21:04 they're always getting in trouble,
21:05 those are tell-tale signs,
21:07 and I might be going through all of them...
21:09 but just enough to let you know,
21:10 "Hey look, this is something... something is going on here,
21:13 it's wrong and this person needs help.
21:16 That's great information
21:19 because people need to be able to identify
21:23 the symptoms and perhaps see if they have that...
21:28 if they've been traumatized and just didn't even realize it,
21:32 messed up and they don't even know it, right...
21:35 so, what are some of the tools? Like... if there were any...
21:41 besides, of course, going to a Counselor and
21:44 getting help and I think that's important but
21:46 what are some things that you can do, just with yourself
21:51 to kind of help you through... help you to cope with that?
21:55 Some of the things that a person can do
21:59 would be journaling, Hmmm...
22:02 it allows you... it relaxes the body...
22:05 and allows some of the emotional...
22:07 negative emotions to come out and you can put it on paper
22:11 but it also helps you to see that
22:13 maybe the situation is not so bad,
22:15 most of us are visual learners,
22:17 if we could see it on paper, we'll go,
22:20 "Wow! okay it's bad but it's not as bad as I'm thinking"
22:23 aerobic exercise is another way
22:25 to just allow the body to relax,
22:28 it gets out a lot of that pent-up negative emotion,
22:31 a lot of water...
22:33 Hmmm... what is the role of water?
22:36 That's a really good point.
22:38 It flushes the system, it really...
22:40 it cleans out a lot of that...
22:42 I know it sounds funny
22:44 but it really cleans out a lot of the negativity.
22:46 Okay...
22:47 It just flushes it out the body, you sweat it out,
22:49 Ah ha... ah ha...
22:51 so... water... Yes...
22:53 Water and exercise
22:56 because of the endorphins that are generated,
22:59 the body's own "pleasure chemicals" so to speak
23:02 so that's really important and journaling...
23:05 Yes.
23:07 Would you say that
23:10 if a person has been through trauma,
23:14 they perceive life differently?
23:16 How... how does that happen?
23:18 Again, when you are traumatized, it throws off your perception,
23:25 you see life like this...
23:28 everything is distorted,
23:31 so every glance could hold potential for harm
23:35 something you say to me, as innocent as it is,
23:39 I can take it the wrong way because of that distortion
23:42 and I see that as a threat or I am so super sensitive
23:45 you can't tell me things,
23:47 you can't even give me constructive criticism
23:50 because, I'm so sensitive
23:52 that I am going to take it like you're attacking me.
23:54 So, a person can grow up
23:57 and... through life
23:59 and see life through that distorted lens
24:02 and that's not really reality,
24:04 and one of my jobs as a therapist is
24:07 to help them to straighten up the distortion and see it as...
24:11 "No, it's not as bad as you think... it's really...
24:14 you can handle this, you can get through this. "
24:17 Yes... yes...
24:18 We do it by helping them tell their story,
24:21 it's painful but they tell their narrative
24:24 in such a way, in a supportive,
24:26 nurturing environment,
24:28 and each step along the way of the story
24:31 I show them things,
24:32 "Hey look, okay, look, look at this... see... "
24:35 You go, "Wow, it wasn't as bad as I thought!"
24:38 Or... "It was bad, but here's how I can...
24:41 here's what you can do to make it better. "
24:43 Wow! so would you say that
24:48 people that come...
24:52 well... let me go back, there is a misconception
24:56 in the Black Community really... about Counseling...
24:59 tell us your experience with that.
25:03 You are so spot-on, you know,
25:08 historically speaking,
25:09 African Americans have had a number done on them
25:13 in the Medical field, and that includes everything
25:17 so, somebody has told us that going to get help
25:22 be it at a Medical Doctor or even a Therapist or Counselor
25:25 you shouldn't do it
25:27 because they're going to brainwash you
25:28 and so people grow up though life
25:31 in our culture... and they don't want to go to Counseling,
25:35 they don't want to go to a Therapist,
25:37 they don't even want to see a doctor
25:38 until it's almost too late
25:40 and let's blow that out of the water,
25:44 I know God can do a miracle,
25:47 he can just straight out heal you
25:49 but He also gives other people gifts
25:52 and talents and He can use them to bring your healing.
25:55 Absolutely.
25:56 I found my healing in a Counseling Chair.
26:00 Yes, because the Lord worked through that situation
26:04 to heal you.
26:05 Dr. Ira: Yes.
26:07 Briefly, give us an example of someone that came to you
26:11 with an issue and... it's got to be really brief
26:15 and what happened? In one minute.
26:18 I'm actually working with a soldier
26:20 who just came back from Afghanistan,
26:22 he has been experiencing violent episodes,
26:27 night sweats, loss of appetite
26:29 and in two sessions we have just relaxed him
26:33 and taught him how to relax himself,
26:35 his wife was so impressed
26:37 she came to the last counseling session
26:40 and said, "Can you help me too?"
26:43 He's a "work... " he's... ongoing work
26:46 but breakthroughs could happen immediately.
26:49 Yes, that's tremendous and how do you integrate
26:53 the spiritual with the psychological?
26:55 First of all, when they come to me,
26:58 I tell them, "I'm an ordained, trained Pastor
27:01 and I'm also a graduate clinically trained therapist,
27:06 I will use Biblical terms, at times,
27:09 but I'm not here to convert you,
27:11 I'm here to help you and I might pray with you
27:14 but I want you to know
27:15 that I have your best interest at heart
27:18 and if you allow me to work with you,
27:21 I'll make sure that you'll be okay. "
27:23 Wow! that's tremendous,
27:26 I thank you so much for being with us,
27:28 you have been such a blessing
27:30 you've given some great information
27:33 and some great tools that I know
27:35 that you can use by the grace of God.
27:37 There are many among us
27:39 who feel disconnected and detached,
27:42 if you're feeling that way get help,
27:44 contact Dr. Lake or another
27:46 qualified mental health professional
27:48 to give you the tools that you need to move forward.
27:51 Remember, God works through supernatural means
27:55 as well as through His servants to heal and restore.
27:57 Well, we've reached the end of another Program,
28:00 I can't believe our time is up.
28:02 Join us next time because you know what?
28:04 It just wouldn't be the same without you.
28:06 Website for Dr. Ira Lake: imtasik. org


Revised 2016-03-01