Episode 6: Help for Relationship Anxiety, Embodiment of Emotion Through Dance and Movement Therapy, and Pole Dancing with Chelsea Horton

david dietz and lindsey lockett sitting on a wooden bench on a cloudy day. david is whispering in her ear and lindsey is laughing. Are you constantly worried about your romantic relationships? Do you find yourself wondering if you and your partner are “supposed” to be together, if you’re right for each other, if they’re cheating on your or going to leave you? This is relationship anxiety and OCD. And, there’s help! In this episode, I interview Chelsea Horton, a relationship anxiety specialist and body-mind integration expert. We talk about identifying relationship anxiety and the help and community that’s available if you’re experiencing relationship anxiety as a trauma response. We also discuss embodying emotions — giving emotions full reign to be felt, moved, and processed by the body. For example, if sadness had a dance, what would it be? Or, if fear had a movement, how would it look? Furthermore, Chelsea explains how pole dancing has been a tool in her trauma-healing toolbox because it’s allowed her to access her inner “bad girl” and embody all aspects of herself without shame. You’ll gain insight on how dance, movement, and embodiment can be a powerful tool for dealing with relationship anxiety and general trauma-healing.

Show Notes

In this episode, I interview Chelsea Horton, founder of HealingEmbodied.com. Chelsea Horton with her left arm holding her husband and her eyes closed Chelsea is a relationship anxiety specialist and body-mind integration expert with her masters in dance, movement therapy, and counseling. In our conversation, we…

  • define relationship anxiety in romantic relationships and some of its symptoms
  • discuss the connection between trauma and relationship anxiety
  • discuss how trauma survivors can perceive healthy, safe partnerships as unsafe because their nervous systems are so familiar with unhealthy, unsafe partnerships — so safety feels like a threat
  • talk about learning to make friends with anxiety instead of pushing it away
  • discuss embodying emotions to allow them to move through the body rather than getting stuck
  • share the biggest step in overcoming relationship anxiety and trapped emotions
  • distinguish between relationship anxiety in a healthy, supportive, safe partnership and an unhealthy partnership
  • speak candidly about Chelsea’s personal experience with pole dancing and how that has been tremendously healing for religious trauma and relationship with herself

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Transcript

[INTRO MUSIC] This is episode six. In this episode, I interviewed Chelsea Horton about relationship anxiety, movement and dance therapy, and embodiment of emotions and processing trauma, and relationship anxiety through movement. Chelsea is a relationship anxiety specialist and body-mind integration expert with her masters in dance, movement therapy and counseling. She experienced intense relationship anxiety in the first two years of her relationship with her now husband. Much of this anxiety stemmed from religious trauma and relational wounding in her upbringing, but through the power of dance and movement therapy, she was able to rewire the automatic fear patterns that were blocking her access to deep love and connection. She now brings others through that same journey of healing. I really think you’re going to enjoy this short interview that I have with Chelsea. We couldn’t believe that we were able to cover so much in just over 30 minutes. Both of us were in a flow state with this conversation. And it was really special. One more thing I want to add about this episode is an apology for the quality of my voice during the interview. I don’t know what happened. We were on zoom. Uh, Chelsea’s voice sounds amazing. And my voice sort of sounds like I’m talking into a pillow. You can understand what I’m saying. It’s just a little bit quieter and more muffled. And I do apologize for that. I’m brand new to podcasting and still figuring it out. So I hope that you’ll bear with the poorer sound quality of my voice and rest assured that everything Chelsea has to say is loud and clear. I know you’re going to really enjoy this topic about relationship anxiety and embodiment of emotions through dance and movement. So let’s do it. LINDSEY: Hey, Chelsea, welcome to the Holistic Trauma Healing Podcast. I’m super happy to have you on today. CHELSEA: Thanks so much. I’m really, really honored to be here today. LINDSEY: Sweet. Well, can you just share who you are and what you do related to embodiment and movement and relationship anxiety and all the things. CHELSEA: Yeah. So I have my masters in dance movement therapy and counseling. I’m a board certified dance and movement therapist, so I use that education and knowledge to help people get through relationship anxiety and OCD. LINDSEY: Wow. Can you define what relationship anxiety is for people who might not know? CHELSEA: Yeah. So relationship anxiety is when you have lots of anxious thoughts, intrusive thoughts, obsessive thoughts about if your partner is right, if you really love your partner, if your partner loves you, if it’s going to work out. So just lots of fears around the life of your relationship. It can target so many different aspects. It can target your partner. It can target the relationship itself. It can target you and how you really feel, or your own worthiness in the relationship. So it’s basically just experiencing lots of fear within the context of a relationship. LINDSEY: Okay. And do you primarily discover this fear or anxiety with people who are in romantic relationships or does it exist in other family relationships or friendships? CHELSEA: So I work with people who experience it in romantic relationships, but it can absolutely show up in friendships or work relationships and kind of be more of like a general social anxiety. But I specifically focus on romantic and intimate relationships. LINDSEY: Okay. So in your experience, people who experienced relationship anxiety, are they also people who have had a lot of trauma in their lives? CHELSEA: I mean, with 99% of the people I’ve worked with and myself included, there is trauma or relational pain or wounding. Some people get kind of confused or scared of the word trauma, because we have this perception or society that trauma is like the really, really big, intense stuff. But sometimes it’s just the combination of lots of little ruptures and attachment wounding, and it’s a bit more complex and nuanced. But there always tends to be roots in these earlier experiences in life or previous relational pain, like going through a divorce or a breakup that was just traumatic or witnessing their own parents’ divorce or separation or having lots of instability in the home. So yeah, definitely roots of trauma tend to manifest as relationship anxiety. LINDSEY: Yeah. I’m glad that you mentioned sort of the like, I guess “little” things that culminate over years. In my own experience, like there’s not one specific event that I go back to in my life and be like, that’s what it was more of. Like the event was my childhood in general. Yeah. I was the event and I mean, yeah, all the little things that happened, but it taught my nervous system this is how we respond to this because you are living in fear and instability. And my body was just trying to protect me. But unfortunately, that response hasn’t served me well as an adult, trying to function in a relationship. And, so I’m wondering if you can speak to just like, how do you help people identify that the relationship that they’re in can be safe and doesn’t have to react to it. CHELSEA: Yeah. A lot of it is that dialoguing with the fear and anxiety and understanding that it is a protective response that served you in some way and really getting to, okay, what’s underneath this anxiety? What’s underneath this fear? Really, why is it there? And again, it’s not one event, but what is it trying to protect you from. And really identifying some of the core wounds and the core beliefs that are driving it. So that you’re like, “Oh, me having this reaction to my relationship doesn’t mean that I’m in a bad relationship. This is just a protective response that my body has gone into. Thinking that it’s protecting me from perceived danger because I did experience some sort of pain or danger in the past in relationships. And I’ve just been stuck in this protective response and it has nothing to do with my loving, safe partnership.” LINDSEY: Gotcha. So, what are some symptoms of relationship anxiety? Having lots of intrusive and obsessive thoughts about your relationship. A lot of people describe it as like there’s just this movie in their mind playing out all these horrible worst case scenarios of them getting a divorce or them being cheated on. It also manifests as having lots of doubts. Like, is this the right person? How do I know? What if this isn’t the right person? And what if there’s someone better? So having lots of doubts, feeling a feeling like you’re having a really hard time being connected, like there’s this block to connection and the feelings of love, feeling like I just don’t feel anything toward my partner, I feel quite numb. And also it can manifest as nitpicking your partner. Like your brain is literally scanning for threats, all the time. And so if your fear brain sees something, quote, unquote, wrong with your partner, it’s going to kick into overdrive. And you might notice yourself like picking at your partner, like you’re doing this wrong. Why are you doing this? Why did you say it like this and kind of this vigilance around your partner’s behavior, facial expressions. So it manifests in, in many, many ways. LINDSEY: Yeah. Wow, as you’re going down this list, I’m honestly in my head, I’m like check. Like really, I am. I, I mean, David and I will celebrate our 18th anniversary in just a couple of weeks. And, you know, for me, the relationship anxiety that I’ve experienced has actually been a pretty new phenomenon. It’s kind of come about as a result of working on trauma and discovering who I am before the world told me who to be. Like, I never had those thoughts or those doubts until I started going down that path. And deconstructing religion had a lot to do with that as well. That was actually probably the Kickstarter of it all. But it’s, yeah, it’s a recent phenomenon. So for someone like me, who I had a traumatic childhood, I have religious trauma from childhood. I was raised by a narcissist. I had a disempowered codependent mother. There was a lot of instability, verbal abuse in our homes and physical abuse in our home. So for that being my childhood, I actually found myself in a partnership with someone who was the exact opposite of what I was raised with. So my partner has always been the safest, most stable person in my life. So I have no reason to not feel safe with him. I have no reason for my nervous system to go warning, warning, danger, alert, like shut down, question everything, have those cyclical thoughts. Like I have no reason for that. So if somebody is in a safe partnership and it doesn’t look anything like their last relationship or their childhood or anything, what causes that relationship anxeity start to surface? CHELSEA: Well, there’s a couple of things. First of all, just because your partner is safe and it’s very different from what you grew up with, doesn’t mean your body won’t perceive it as dangerous because the body believes that familiarity is predictable and predictable is safe. So if you have this wonderful, loving, and safe partner, your body’s like, “What the hell is this? Like, this is unfamiliar. This is scary. Like, I don’t trust this.” Almost like waiting for the other shoe to drop, being really suspicious of how wonderful this person is. Like, are they going to screw me over? So that’s one part it’s just not familiar. And the other part is sometimes just vulnerability in general, when you’re in a relationship. That requires vulnerability and the body has learned to equate vulnerability with pain. If I’m vulnerable, if I’m seen, if I’m close to someone I’m going to get hurt. So even though this person is safe, it still requires my vulnerability. And that’s really, really scary and feels really, really threatening to be vulnerable with anyone because I’m so wired for protection instead of connection. LINDSEY: So, how do you begin working with someone to heal relationship anxiety? Yeah. Yeah. So, like I mentioned before, just identifying sometimes there’s so much confusion and frustration with the anxiety and you just continue to resist it and try to push it away. And the first step is just really bringing it in close. And who are you? How can I better understand you? What is like the inner child underneath that’s driving this whole cycle? How can I actually get to know this part of me instead of shame it and push it away and feel frustrated? How can I make friends with it so that when it comes up, it doesn’t send me into this huge tailspin because when we have anxiety and then we put resistance on top of the anxiety, like, I think you talked about this yesterday on your Instagram. It just makes it worse. But if we can have that moment of anxiety and fear and go, “Oh, I know why you’re here. Wow, you’re really, really afraid of me taking this big step of commitment and being so vulnerable. Oh.” So that’s really step one. And then it’s also literally rewiring that fear response. So with a client in the moment when we’re in session together and we’re moving together and exploring together, their fear responses are going to come up. So it’s Oh, see is happening right here in this moment. You see, as we, as we are relating to one another, as our bodies are mirroring one another and relating to one another, that fear is there. The judgment is there. The inner critic is there. So let’s, let’s actually shift this in the moment. We’re also learning to be vulnerable and feel safe at the same time. So just reprogramming that, like vulnerability can be not just safe, but just so fulfilling to be able to be vulnerable with another human and feel seen and love. It’s really this reparative experience for the body mind. LINDSEY: Yeah. I love the way you described that. I’ve actually, that’s been a huge part of my own self work is just, I feel like awareness is 90% of the battle. At least for me, it has been anyway. It’s like, you know, redirecting the behavior or the thought or changing it in the moment seems to be pretty easy once I’m actually in a place of awareness. You know, have become the watcher instead of the reactor. Is that what you teach your clients too? CHELSEA: Yeah, definitely to kind of put this space between you and the thoughts, between you and the reaction because so many of my clients come to me and this was my experience too. You’re so fused with it. You believe that it is you, that’s how you really feel. That’s how things really are. That’s what reality really is. And so we’re kind of creating a little bit of space between you, like you become the watcher and the witness of the reaction between you and the reaction. And so then it’s like, “Oh, Oh, this thing is happening. This thing is here” instead of being like, ” Oh, this, this is me. This is how I really feel.” So being able to have a bit of that separation in that space, gives the opportunity to respond differently instead of that instant reaction. LINDSEY: So as I’m hearing you saying this, the thought that’s going through my head is what about, because traumatize people often find themselves repeating traumas and patterns of behavior. And so without even really meaning to, they end up in relationships that aren’t good for them, that aren’t healthy. Like for a person who’s not in a healthy relationship, how would they know the difference between my relationship is unhealthy and my intuition is telling me that this relationship isn’t good for me and relationship anxiety? CHELSEA: Yeah. It’s such a nuanced question. And this is like, the number one question that clients and people in the relationship anxiety community ask, “How do I know this is really just a bad relationship or if it’s just relationship anxiety, what’s, what’s my gut and what’s real?” And , I wish there was this clear answer. I mean, if there wasn’t clear answer, I wouldn’t have a job. Like it’s just so nuanced. Because when you’re seeing the world through the fear brain, it’s hard to see things clearly and that is because of something called faulty neuroception. This is based on The Polyvagal Theory with Stephen Porges, and traumatized individuals will either perceive dangerous things as safe or safe things as dangerous. And so you might have a traumatized individual getting into dangerous relationships and feeling like it’s fine. And then my clients are the ones who are in safe relationships and yet feel like it’s dangerous. So I think really having to do the inner work to to clear out the muddiness of like, what is me and what is fear? How can I begin to see the world more clearly instead of always seeing the present moment through the projection of my past? How can I see things for what it really is? How can I see, You know, what is really safe and what is unsafe. And typically with my clients, when they ask this, I’m like, is there verbal abuse? Do you feel constantly criticized? Did he ever, or she ever lay a hand on you? You know, are they constantly emotionally neglecting you? So like kind of just really clear red flags and my clients are like, no, they’re actually really wonderful and supportive. Yeah. Sometimes we fight. And in those moments, when you’re having an argument, the fear brain goes, see, they are dangerous. See maybe they are abusive. And so it’s, it’s so difficult when the brain is so wired for fear to truly see things clearly. And again, I wish there was a more like black and white answer I could give, like, this is how, you know, this is a good relationship. Because any relationship where there’s no abuse or neglect or active substance abuse or untreated personality disorders, you know, any relationship is worth giving a shot if there’s no abuse or things like that. The people who come to me typically aren’t in those situations, but there have been a few calls that I’ve done where one partner will be like, is this me? And then I’ll be like, well, tell me a little bit more about your partner. It’s like, well, one time I got in a really bad fight and he put his hand on me and I’m like, mm. And like, did I cause this, what did I do to cause this I’m like, Nope, there’s no situation at all where it is acceptable for someone to put their hand on you. There’s nothing that you did to call that upon yourself. Like that is abuse. So if I hear something like that, I will be like, no, honey, that’s not, you. That’s that’s an abusive partner and there’s nothing that we can do to make them stop. It’s not like we have to behave better or if we misbehave that we somehow deserve being called all sorts of names and, or having a hand laid on us. But again, the majority of the people I work with are not in those situations at all. And I. I got to make it very clear, even in my messaging of like, you’re, you’re in a loving relationship with a partner who cares about you so much but your mind is creating all of these reasons why something bad is going to happen. So that’s kind of my long windy answered. LINDSEY: Yeah, that makes sense. Thank you for clarifying. So you mentioned at the beginning that you are a dance and movement therapist. I get that right. Okay. So is it cool if we, I mean, maybe for you, it’s not a shift, like there are probably one in the same when you talk about the dance and movement and how that helps people not to just process through your relationship anxiety, but trauma in general? CHELSEA: Yeah. Well, I mean, all the latest trauma research in the past decade or so has pointed to is how trauma is stored in the body. And it’s these subconscious reactions in the body. You know, we can tell ourselves, “okay, next time that happens, I’m just going to do this”, and yet our body does something totally different. We’re like, what the heck? What, why, why did I do that? Why did I feel that way? So it’s happening on a subconscious level because it’s, it’s happening in the nervous system. It’s so important to involve the body and the subconscious responses, because it’s the body that’s going to reveal the patterns. It’s hard to kind of cognitively think about your patterns. And if you could just cognitively notice all of them, like you might not be in the problem that you’re in. It’s like this other force half, think our way out of it. Right. You really can’t. Because it’s stored in a different part of the brain different than our cognitive brain. And so the part of our brain that stores trauma and processes fear is our limbic system. And it’s the limbic system that’s always communicating to the nervous system without our conscious awareness. So in order to communicate to the limbic system, the trauma brain, the fear brain, the emotional brain, in order to truly communicate that part of the brain, you’ve got to access your nervous system, which runs through your body. And through using the body, we can actually shift our internal neural state and that when we can shift from a fear response in the body to feeling more safe, it sends a new signal back up to that part of the brain and it kind of disables that survival response. So. An example might be with a client. I’m like, okay, let’s, let’s tune into this fear. Where do you notice it in your body? What happens? What does it feel like? And we begin to actually just embody it. If this fear response had a dance or a movement, what would it look like? Sometimes they’re kind of thrashing their arms or sometimes they’re kind of curling up in a ball and shaking, right? Like we’re kind of amplifying what’s happening to really increase our awareness and just be really in tune. Okay. This is what my body does. I have them use imagery. What is the color you see? What does it look like? So just getting really aware of the response in the body and then we’ll work together. Okay. Now, how can we begin to start to make small shifts in this fear response? How can we maybe breathe a little bit more deeply? How can we shift to where you’re not feeling so tense and actually like creating this internal roadmap of the body of when I’m here in this state, how do I get out of it in my body? I can’t mantra on my way out of it. How can I use my body to literally shift this internal neural state? LINDSEY: Yeah. So I do that, with breathing, first of all. And then the second way that I do that, that I actually started a couple months ago is shaking. So I force myself to like vibrate and shake like all over my body. And I even have a song that I turn on while I do it. And so I’m kind of like shaking at the same time. And when I’m done, I mean really even if it’s only been three minutes when I’m done, my body just feels so tingling all over, and it really like brings clarity where before there was like muddiness and, you know, doubt or confusion or whatever. So, is that an example of moving energy? CHELSEA: Yeah. Yeah. Okay. Absolutely because like that fight or flight energy, especially that’s meant to physically fight or physically run. And when that energy, when it’s activated, when it’s not discharged, it stays in the body. And then your body sends a signal to your brain saying, think fear thoughts, think fear thoughts. And that’s why we get the confusion, the doubt, you know, the lack of clarity, like the racing thoughts. Cause our bodies now communicating to our brain. So if we can actually discharge and dispel that energy, that’s truly just meant to go somewhere for survival, once that energy can discharge, our body can begin to return to a homeostasis and then it sends a new signal to the brain saying, okay, okay. The threat is over. LINDSEY: So, so that’s interesting because, a lot of what I’ve been talking about with holistic trauma healing is how we get an emotion that we don’t want to feel feeling that we don’t want to feel. And so we try to talk ourselves out of it. We try to tell ourselves we shouldn’t feel this way. We try to distract ourselves, modify it, change it, convince ourselves we’re not feeling it, suppress it down, pretend like it’s not there, all of these things. And really it’s like, if we would just feel the feeling, we could get it over with that fast, instead of, you know, we’re fueling it by trying to avoid it or change it or distract ourselves from it. And so is an example of a way that somebody can do this on a practical level, like as soon as they start feeling something, if they’re in a place of awareness and not in their thinking brain, but in their higher self, like, can they just start dancing or moving, or like, how do you tell somebody that this might be a completely weird and unfamiliar concepts like that emotion just wants to move you, move it. How do you get somebody to start doing that? CHELSEA: Yeah. I mean, we teach our clients, you know, here at Healing Embodied like embody every emotion. Cause we’re so afraid of our emotions. So that’s why we repress them. We’re so afraid of feeling and we first teach our client’s emotion is just energy in motion in your body. It’s just energy. So, okay. Instead of avoiding the emotion, suppressing the emotion, how can we move the emotion? How can we flow and move with the energy of the emotion rather than judging the emotion or shaming ourselves for feeling the emotion? How can we move the emotion? So we teach our clients. Okay. You’re feeling, sadness right now. What would that look like if you were to embody it and we’ll have like clients just, we teach them to tune into their just authentic improvisational expression. There’s no right or wrong way to move this emotion. How would you move it? What would it look like in your body? If someone was like, okay, If sadness had a dance, what would that dance be? If anger had a dance, what would that dance be? Frustration had a dance? What would that dance be? So you create a playlist of songs. I don’t know. I’m just creating some examples. You create a playlist of songs. Okay. These are my sad songs. These are my happy songs. These are my angry songs. And maybe you just put on one of those songs when you’re feeling a really intense emotion and you let yourself move it. Maybe if you’re feeling frustration, you just put on your frustration song and you just like punch the air, you stomp your feet, take big, like hissing breaths, just like allowing yourself to be with the emotion. Instead of saying I can’t, or I shouldn’t feel this like, Ooh, how can I just let myself be fully human and embody everything that comes my way. And like you said, the emotion will process so much more quickly, if we just allow the energy to move through us, instead of being like, don’t feel this feeling, don’t feel this feeling. Don’t feel this feeling. LINDSEY: Yeah. If you’ve ever read Mickey Singer’s book, The Untethered Soul and in that book, he talks a lot about staying open and how we get into a feeling of anger or frustration or sadness or annoyance or whatever our tendency is to close to close off. So like we hold our breath or breathing becomes really shallow. Our muscles get really tense. We want to walk away. So the flight response is in effect and like you just get really closed off and he talks about. How, if you can catch yourself doing that and just stay open and keep the breath moving and keep the body moving. And don’t try to curl up in a ball and, because the closing off is what sends that emotion inward rather than allowing it to come out. CHELSEA: Yeah, so good. Yeah. And we, we teach our clients that body awareness because you have to be aware, Oh, here I am holding my breath. My shoulders are up to my years. Like I’m so tense. Okay. How can I, yeah. Yeah. How can I move this? LINDSEY: I stalked you on Instagram and, you’re pole dancing is absolutely beautiful and erotic and just, it’s just breathtaking to be honest. So I’m curious, you know, in our white, christian, patriarchal society I think a lot of people would view that as Oh, she’s just too sexual or, you know, what is she trying to do? Like turn on the whole world or this is pornographic, like whatever. Although I’ve never asked you this question, but I’m guessing for you it’s way less about sex than most people think. CHELSEA: Oh my God. It’s for me, it’s about, connecting to my inner power. Like embodying my shadow side, cause I was always taught to be the good girl. And when we’re always in good girl mode, like that’s just a recipe for anxiety. So it’s a way for me to embody my inner bad girl, my inner rule-breaker, my inner goddess and to integrate that side that was shamed for so long, because shame is often a big driver of anxiety and relationship anxiety, and, you know, like repress certain parts of us. So for me, it’s truly about freedom and integration and having ownership over my body and my expression as a feminine being. LINDSEY: Hmm. So, how did you get into dancing? CHELSEA: Well, it was quite happenstance. I moved to California and not long after I moved here, me and my husband were just driving I dunno, to a store nearby. And I saw this like dance studio, like right around the corner. I’m like is not a pole dance studio. It was like four minutes from our apartment. I was like, well, I’m going to have to try that. And then it was just history from there. LINDSEY: Nice. How long ago was that? CHELSEA: That was in 2017. So I’ve been here for three years? Yeah. LINDSEY: Okay. Wow. And do you only do it for yourself? CHELSEA: I do it for myself and I was supposed to be doing a pole dance therapy workshop, but then COVID happened. So I, want to integrate the dance therapy with pole because it’s just truly so therapeutic, so empowering. Like I said, it helps you to really integrate your shadow side, your bad girl, and just step more fully into every aspect of who you are instead of closing yourself off and shaming certain parts. So I eventually want to integrate the dance therapy piece into it, but it’s mostly for me. LINDSEY: Yeah. That sounds fun. I live too far out in the woods. I don’t know if there’s even a full dance studio within like three hours of me . CHELSEA: Yeah. I’m actually, we’re about to move to a mountain town and, so I won’t be near a pole studio, but I’m going to have a poll in my house. LINDSEY: Of course. I love it. I don’t know what your thoughts are, but like when I see someone like you doing that, and it’s not about being sexy, I mean, you’re sexy for yourself, but it’s not about like being sexy for anybody else. It’s really, you. How, that really is like, it gives the shame aspect of trauma, the middle finger. CHELSEA: Yeah. Oh, absolutely. Especially like religious trauma, which I experienced too, where it’s like, Don’t trust your body, don’t be connected to your body and don’t you dare be connected to your sensual sexual energy, like God forbid. And so it’s really, like you said, just, just like a big F-you to that trauma that says don’t be in your body. Don’t trust your body, basically teaching you to live in your head, which is the perfect recipe for anxiety, and OCD. And so it was just, it’s just like a, a reclaiming of my body and being in my body and the, the exact way I want to be in it. LINDSEY: Yeah. That’s so fantastic. You’re a bad ass. What kind of services do you offer people? CHELSEA: Yeah, so it’s all virtual. It was virtual before COVID, but you know, after COVID, it’s great that we have virtual services. So we do small group programs. We do individual services. I have an online, digital self study course, so we have lots of different options and our work is just, it’s so powerful. It’s so transformative, especially like, I really love the group work because you’re coming in and doing this work with other people who know exactly what you’re going through when usually when you’re explaining your anxiety, you’re often met with like, well, maybe you’re just in the wrong relationship and that’s what our clients like hate hearing. And so to be with other people who are like, yep. I’ve had that exact same anxious thought or yep. I do that exact same thing to my partner. It’s it’s like another level of healing. Not just collective experience. So yeah, I really love our group work. LINDSEY: So like if I was to come to you with relationship anxiety, would you work with me by myself or would you work with my partner? CHELSEA: We work with the partner coming to us. So we don’t work with couples. That’s down the road in it’s in my brain, but for now we’re just working with the partner who’s experiencing the anxiety. LINDSEY: Okay, cool. And so for someone who’s maybe listening to this and they’re just realizing, Oh my gosh, I have relationship anxiety and I didn’t even know it. Like that’s a thing. And they were to come to you. Where would you recommend of all the resources that you offer? Where would you recommend? They start. CHELSEA: So first of all, follow me on Instagram. What, what @healing.embodied, and I have something called a relationship anxiety self-reflection kit, and this lays out and maps out all of the really common manifestations of a relationship anxiety in your thoughts, in your cognition, in your body, and in your behavior. So that you can get a more clear picture of like, okay, what are the many ways that relationship anxiety can manifest and show up for me? And, and that tool alone has been incredibly powerful for people who, first of all, didn’t know that relationship anxiety was a thing. And also this tool is like, Oh, I’m doing this, this, this, this, and this because it’s relationship anxiety. So definitely start there. And then we also have a free Facebook community for those who want to overcome relationship anxiety, it’s called Moving Beyond Fear. So that has been a really powerful thing as well to be just connected with other people and to know that you’re not alone and that there’s other people going through this and overcoming it and just feeling the hope of that. LINDSEY: Yeah. Well, I guess my last question would be maybe this isn’t a brief answer and you can take all the time you need, but what did relationship anxiety look like for you? And at what point did you realize that’s what it is and here’s what I need to do about it. CHELSEA: Yeah. So for me, relationship anxiety started on just the first day of dating my now husband. It shows up at different points for different people in their relationship. But for me it was day one and it was constantly obsessing on like, if this was right, would God be disappointed in me because I had a lot of religious trauma. So there was a lot of emphasis on finding the one that God has for you. And, I was kind of coming out of all that and I was still identifying as Christian at the time. My husband identified as like agnostic. And so I, I felt this pull and this connection toward him and at the same time I had immense fear because I’m like, it’s so wrong to be with someone who is not a Christian and is God going to be mad at me? Am I just like walking towards, you know, doom? Even though I felt, he was like the safest, most emotionally available person I’d ever been with. I was just so confused. So lots of obsessive thinking about if this was right or wrong, right or wrong, like that was the constant loop. I even broke up with him twice in the first year of our relationship, because I thought like this anxiety must’ve been my gut or God telling me that what I was doing was wrong. And I thought that I had to listen to it because if it was the right relationship, I wouldn’t be having all these fears and feelings. And just through my dance therapy program for my schooling and training, we do a lot of experiential learning and you kind of like work on your own shit before you’re expected to work with others. And it was just so much of my own internal processing and being able to finally see and feel the difference between me and who I really am and what I really want and this anxiety and this fear and this indoctrination and this shame. And I was like, Oh, like the awareness started happening. And I was like, this is fear talking. This is trauma talking. This is indoctrination talking. What I really want is I want to be with him. I didn’t know it was called relationship anxiety at the time. This was like back in 2014. I don’t think it was nearly as widely talked about as it is now. So I didn’t have a name for it. I just knew what I was experiencing. And it was dance movement therapy that got me out of it. And it wasn’t until last year that I discovered that there was a name for this thing that I had been describing for years. I was like, there’s a fricking term for this. That’s amazing. And so it was just kind of plug and play once I learned, like what the term was, I’m like, well, I’ve already been doing this process to help with this thing, but now there’s a name for it and I can speak to it even more clearly. And it just, yeah, it was just all built on itself. LINDSEY: That’s so great. So awesome. What awareness can do, man? We were all just not living on autopilot all the time. CHELSEA: Oh, I know. I know. LINDSEY: Yeah. Well, thank you so much for having this awesome chat with me today. So people can find you on Instagram @healing.embodied, or on your website, healingembodied.com. CHELSEA: Yep.Yep. LINDSEY: Okay. And you’ve got online courses, one-on-one work, a Facebook group, group work, all the things? CHELSEA: The whole shebang. LINDSEY: Okay. Well, Chelsea, thank you so much for talking with me today and I cannot wait for people to find you and see what resources you have and make working on relationship anxiety, a part of their whole picture of healing trauma. EPILOGUE: Okay, hopefully you made it through the poorer sound quality of my voice and enjoyed that amazing interview with Chelsea Horton. You can find everything Chelsea and I talked about: all of the resources, the books, the mention of the Polyvagal Theory and everything else in the show notes of this episode. That’s at lindseylockett.com/podcast. And this is episode six. I will have links to Chelsea’s website, her instagram page, her free Facebook group Moving Beyond Fear, how to work with her one-on-one, how to work with her in a group, and her self study course. So it’s all gonna be there and as always you can find me on instagram @iamlindseylockett [OUTRO MUSIC]
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