Episode 64 This is Gonna Get Ugly

When you see a potter fashioning clay on the wheel, it’s not a pretty sight.

It’s a wet, splashy mess and that’s on top of the varying degrees of pressure needed to shape it into the potter’s vision.

And that’s before it gets fired in the kiln! 

The result is a ceramic masterpiece that’s as beautiful as it is durable. But the process is ugly.

What do you do when healing from childhood trauma looks like that piece of clay on the wheel? Lean in and let’s talk about it.

The Motherhood Unmasked podcast with Vanessa A. Harris Episode 64 This is Gonna Get Ugly

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Healing the Girl in You


Real talk about how your relationship with your father impacts how you show up as a woman and in your relationships—including your relationship with God.

Identity, security, confidence—it’s all covered here, highlighted by Vanessa’s own story and those of other courageous women who experienced childhood trauma and overcame.

Ready to get real and start to heal?


October is National Book Month and I’m sure you encourage your children to read because it’s the most economical and effective way to invest in their growth. 

And while the same goes for you and I, reading is often the last thing on my mind because there’s so many other things to do. 

When did reading become a luxury we can’t afford? 

Well, in honor of this month, I encourage to invest in your development by putting together a small reading list.

And I recommend my book, DADDY’s Girl Forever, because it addresses the big impact your little girl experiences have on the woman and mother you are today. 

Women, like me, who struggled with insecurity and either tried to compensate with perfectionism or got stuck in overwhelm, found the truths in DADDY’s Girl Forever liberating. 

And because you may not like reading or getting a moment to sit and read is the real luxury, I’m happy to say you can listen to my book on Audible

Whatever book format you prefer, you can find out how to get your copy at vinelifefaith.com/books. That’s vinelifefaith.com/books. Now, let’s get into today’s episode!


From a child, I had always planned on being a pediatrician. That was the only thing I considered, and I was excited about pursuing that path. 

But while in medical school, I flirted with the idea of becoming a surgeon–even a pediatric surgeon.

Talk about hands on medicine! 

During my surgery rotation, I loved the meticulous hand wash pre-surgery and getting gowned by the nurse before getting my gloved hands in there and to retract, maybe cut, and do a little cauterizing, before suturing. 

The immediate impact and faster results of surgery are more intoxicating than prescribing medicine you hope the patient takes and then waiting for results. 

You still have a recovery process after surgery, but the dramatic impact is so fulfilling.

You can probably imagine why I didn’t pursue that as you listen to me on this podcast and are aware of my prioritization of my family. 

My anticipation of a family was the reason why I didn’t go into surgery because the hours are horrible. 

The work, although rewarding, is grueling, and I knew that I wouldn’t be able to be present for my family the way I would like to, and be a surgeon.

So, I decided to stick with pediatrics


But when I think about some of the surgeries that are common, especially the ones I’ve seen in pediatrics. I think about broken bones.

Typically, when you have a broken bone in, let’s say your leg, you just slap a cast on it. You wait several weeks and then the cast gets cut off with the saw and you’re good to go.

And it’s a cool thing, right, because you can get different color casts and people come by to sign your cast. Sure, you’re hobbling a little more than usual, but you’re able to get around. 

The inconvenience is there, but it’s relatively minor. And of all the medical experiences possible, casts are low on the gore factor.

Everything is covered. There’s no blood. There’s no drama.


But then there’s some fractures that are complicated and a cast does not provide the support or the pressure needed to set that bone. 

So you need surgery to insert plates and rods.

Then you come out and your leg has metal rings around it with rods going through the ring piercing through your leg and on to the bone!

You see the dried blood in the tissues around each of those rods. You’re not walking around. You have to elevate your leg and stay in bed for a significant portion of time. 

So, it’s not cute like a cast. 

It’s quite ugly. You’re healing. You’re going to heal. Depending on the quality of your surgeon, it’s going to be a beautiful set. 

You’ll be strong, active and life will go on.

But to get there,  you have to go through this ugly period where you’re looking at your leg with this contraption that makes you feel like a droid!

And then you have the inconvenience of every time you go through a metal detector from now on if you have to explain you have a plate in your leg. 

So, you’re healing and you will be healed, but you still have something left behind that reminds you of what you went through.

And so, you’re going to be healed, but the process is going to be ugly.


And if you’re a mom who experienced childhood trauma, your broken bone is more like that complicated one.

Your fracture might need the equivalent of rods and plates and limited movement with associated blood and gore. 

And there’s nothing wrong with that. The point is the healing. But I want to prepare you as you think about and as we talk about the importance of healing while still living, and the role therapy plays in that. 

You should expect for things to get ugly before they get better.

There might need to be some incisions into deep areas to insert things that we’re not there before but need to be there now. 

To supply support, reinforcement of things that you didn’t get when you were a child. 

You need some rods in place or strategies for current triggers of old issues while you’re healing. 

The rods won’t stay. Eventually the rods will come out and you will be healed, but you will have experiences that remind you. 

They’re that metal plate. They remind you of what you’ve been through, but it doesn’t hurt. You’ll remember. You’ll remember how it hurt then, but it doesn’t hurt right now. 

That day will come. It’s the time in between. And we get so impatient with healing.


But you know what’s amazing? What kind of pain people will endure. There are some broken bones that require surgery but aren’t sticking out the leg. 

So, you can look at the leg and not see signs of anything particularly dramatic.

And the person with the fracture describes the pain, but it doesn’t sound excruciating–and they’ve been going to work or playing their sport. 

So, you don’t think this might be a complicated fracture.

It’s not until you start probing–asking questions and examining–that you figure out the extent of the damage. And you realize what’s required to fix it. 

And it requires digging deeper to uncover hidden things. All of that is painful. Shifting some things and resetting other things. All of that is painful, but it’s also ugly.


Because you knew you had issues, but, you know, you were coping with them. You found work arounds that made it so that nobody really knew the extent of what was going on. 

But once you decide, you deserve better.

You deserve to be healed and whole, and happy. When you commit to that, you’re also committing to a period of ugly. 

And if I don’t tell you that, you’ll want to quit because you’ll start seeing all kinds of stuff.

You think you’re going to therapy about one thing, then you figure out there’s all kinds of other stuff that needs to be addressed. 

And the magnitude of it all, the memories of it all, gets very overwhelming. And the way you respond to it can be unnerving. 

You can become unpleasant, disoriented, depressed or distraught. You may sense the ugliness about you. People around you may sense the ugliness about you.


But if you don’t learn how to give yourself grace and to remember that you’re moving at the pace of grace, you’ll be so overwhelmed by the gore involved in your healing that it may tempt you to say it’s not worth it. 

You liked it better when you were broken.

You knew how to cope with your brokenness. This “in between” where you’re not yet healed and you’re ugly. That’s a lot! 


And that is where transparency comes in. Because your therapist expects the ugly to come out and for you to have no patience for it because it’s unsettling for you. 

You know, the whole reason that we keep the childhood trauma to ourselves is because it’s ugly. 

What happened was ugly and we don’t want to address it. We don’t want to look at it. We don’t want to deal with it.

And then to start dealing with it only to find the process makes us ugly! Then you’re just like, “What’s the point?” 

The point is getting to the other side. 


The point is when the rods come out and the ring comes off and the holes heal up with menial scarring and now you’re able to walk and dance and run. That’s that’s the point.

And that must be your focus. 

There’s a scripture I love in Hebrews 12 talking about throwing off the weight and the sin that so easily trips you up so you can run your race with endurance. 

Because if you’re not looking at what’s slowing you down or tangling up your feet, you can fix your eyes on Jesus–the author and finisher of your faith. 

Well, in therapy, you have to acknowledge the ugly, but then there’s a point you can’t just keep staring at how gory your process is. 

You have to look away from what you’re seeing that is tripping you up and look to the truth and the finish line where truth is taking you.

Because remember, you’re running your own race.

You’re running your race at your own pace and you have to keep your eye on the finish line to encourage you to endure to the wholeness ahead. 


So, you acknowledge the gore that surfaces in your session and in your homework between sessions.

But you do it with the knowledge that you won’t always be there. 

You will not be this ugly the whole time. You will not have these rods feeling like the monster, Frankenstein, forever. 

You will come to a point where you’re whole and free. You’re mobile again. And you can move with an enthusiasm and exuberance that you did not have when you were broken. 

That’s what you focus on. That’s what you look towards. 

So, lay aside the weight of your recovery and the unattractiveness of it. The things it brings up in you that you don’t like and the ways you behave.

Lay it aside because they trip you up. 

Fix your eyes on the finish. 

If you’re a believer, fix your eyes on Jesus. Bounce your eyes from all the horror and look to Him for reassurance of the reward He secured for you. And that this too, this too shall pass.

I hope this encourages but more than that strengthens you on your journey.

It is something that I remind myself often because the more things you tackle in therapy, the more ugly moments you experience. 

So, you need to keep reminding yourself this ugliness is to be expected, and it’s only temporary. Keep moving forward. Keep pursuing healing because better is ahead. 

Don’t shrink back and believe the lie that you can’t or that maybe you’re just supposed to suffer through and make the best of it. 

No, you’re meant to be healed and whole and happy in this life. 

But it’s a journey and you have to keep moving.

Thank you for joining me. I’m super proud of you. I’m super proud of myself too. 

You can find the homework for this episode at motherhoodunmasked.com/episode64

And until next time, please remember, when it comes to you being the mother of your children, you’re courageous. 

You’re a warrior battling through wounds and the ugliness of it. And you’re an example to your children of how to persevere. So don’t ever doubt it. 

You are the woman for the job. Take care. 

NOTE: The views and opinions expressed in this podcast should not be taken as medical advice. The content here is for informational purposes only, and because each person is so unique, please consult your health care professional for any medical questions.

This Episode’s Homework

Need Help to Heal?

Therapeutic Tools

If you’re working through any kind of loss, the journal, My Journey Through Grief and Loss, helps you acknowledge the significance of your loss while honoring the memories you’ll always cherish.

And if you meet with a counselor or a coach, you need a journal to keep track of session breakthroughs and aha moments in between sessions. A copy of My Reflections Journal for guided post-session review would be perfect for you.

Let’s Stay Connected

Do you know why I call you Mama BARE? Because you’re unmasked and unapologetic in admitting motherhood is tough, and you appreciate conversation that honors that.

So, connect with me for more support, empowering the best version of you as a mom.

For encouraging bi-monthly emails and exclusive access to practical resources that help YOU shine, tap “COUNT ME IN.”

The Motherhood Unmasked Journal

A Journal Worth Your Story

160 pages waiting for you to fill it with the struggles and the wins on your motherhood journey!

And she’s pretty coming and going! Available on Amazon.

Got A Minute to Pray?

Got A Minute to Pray? Prayer channel on YouTube featuring prayers about a minute long written and read by Vanessa A. Harris.

New “PrayerTube” channel on YouTube

Features prayers about a minute long written and read by Vanessa. Start your week off right, with a prayer on Monday mornings. Because prayer changes things and you have a minute to spare.

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