“You can’t forgive someone else unless you forgive yourself for your choices.” –Brenda Adelman
Mistakes are a part of life. But some mistakes are just too big and serious for humans to take on that even forgiveness seems so undeserved and impossible. Ironically, though, there is no way to break free from pain and anger other than forgiveness. Sadly, this path is so hard that not everybody is willing to walk on it. This episode will motivate you to carry on your journey and ward off the fears that stops you from living a peaceful and happy life. Be free; the choice is yours.
Listen to the podcast here:
00:51 A Story of Endurance and Healing
08:09 Detaching From Anger and Hatred
16:36 The “Unexpected”
20:42 Getting Naked on Stage
26:48 The Impeding Power of Fear
30:34 Fight Your Way Through
39:54 The Path to Forgiveness
46:32 Two Levels of Healing
Share your story with the world and be naked about how you feel. It’s your first step to recovery. Join @myexpectation and @brendaadelman in a touching conversation about forgiveness and healing. #forgive #hatred #anger #spiritualpsychology… Click To Tweet
“If you want to love someone, you can only love them to the level that you love yourself.” –Brenda Adelman
“You can’t forgive someone else unless you forgive yourself for your choices.” –Brenda Adelman
“So many people are debilitated of the unknown, like trying something new.” –Brenda Adelman
“Even though we have a lot of bloodline commonality… spiritually, we are all very close, when we dig down deep inside and let ourselves come out.” –Art Costello
“Fear stops people so much.”-Art Costello
“When you play small, you really, really inhibit what’s really meant to be.” -Art Costello
“Your greatest fear can either be your greatest proponent, or your greatest detriment.” -Art Costello
“It is true that on the other side of that fear, the other side of that story, is peace, is the ability to love; is the ability to create.” –Brenda Adelman
Art Costello: Welcome to the Shower Epiphanies Podcast. Today, I am honored to have Brenda Adelman on. She has got one really fantastic of strain, stamina, enduring, and just living her life,it’s incredible. I’m not gonna give a big intro here folks. I want Brenda to tell her story. Welcome to the show, Brenda.
Brenda Adelman: Thank you so much for having me. Would you like me to jump right into the story?
Art Costello: You can start right now if you want.
Brenda Adelman: Okay, so I grew up in Brooklyn with a Jewish, one of the Italian father who taught me how to drive a Cadillac at six, and how to shoot a gun at 10. A Bohemian artist mom who took me traveling with her all over the world, and read Shakespeare to me from the time I was three years old as a bedtime story. Big characters, big laughs, big love. And then, and this is true as it all is, in 1995, my father who I adored, shot and killed my mother who was my best friend, and then within a year moved in with and then married my aunt, my mother’s sister. So my life since that point has been about unraveling all of that, and what I found the key to healing was telling my story, and also forgiving my father.
Art Costello: I know that you’re an actress, and I know that you created a one-woman show. Was that part of your healing process?
Brenda Adelman: Oh my God, incredibly healing. I had no idea that I was going to ever even share my story in public because the first few years I was so steeped in pain, and shame, and like, I was damaged because of what happened with my parents, and I would cry. I couldn’t talk about anything, but I went back into acting. I was an actress before, and there was an exercise in class that was called a personal storytelling exercise, and there was just something inside me that knew that I had to stop hiding and I had to share my story, my real self on stage. And during my sleepless nights leading up to that, I started writing poetry that was really dark, and really sexual, and really rage filled. And I myself was living life so small, and hiding, and squashing all my emotions just to kind of get through. And so I would read the poems the next day, and I’d be like, who wrote this? And actually my one-woman show, the very beginning of it in that storytelling scene in class was one of my poems, which was called, I don’t remember, it was my father, me, and my brother. And my brother and I confronted my father about what happened, and my father kept saying, I don’t remember why I turned that poem into a scene with characters and dialogue because I did know how to write that. And I put it up on stage, it was a hundred person class, top class in LA. I was so scared of judgment, and instead I got a 10 minute standing ovation. People came up to me to share things they had been ashamed of in their lives, and a director wanted to work with me, the producer wanted to work with me, so it kind of had a snowball effect, and I didn’t know I was writing to heal. That’s why I teach this now to people because it was a long journey of getting my show up on stage, and kind of exorcising my emotions and my demons on stage. There’s a lot of humor in it because God, if you don’t have humor, I don’t know how to get through anything. But then I would do the show, people would laugh, and people would cry, and I would go home miserable. So I took time off and went back, got a master’s degree in spiritual psychology so I could shift out of why did this happen into, okay, now that this happened, how do I thrive? Then I rewrote the show, and yes, the show has been so cathartic playing. My father, my, you know, enemy so called, first of all, he’s my biggest teacher. But as an actress, to be a good actor, you can’t play a character as a villain. And so I got to dive into my father’s character beyond the murder. And it was extremely, extremely healing, it has been. I’m still performing the show. It’s, you know, I can still learn things about my family.
Art Costello: I have a question. How old were you when your, the murder of your mom?
Brenda Adelman: 30.
Art Costello: 30.
Brenda Adelman: You know what? I had moved from New York to California. I was engaged, but I was so like in a codependent, triangulated relationship with my parents, kind of trying to be everything to them, that they weren’t to each other, that it was, as if, I just well I did lose my whole family in that one night. So even though it was older, it was just so enmeshed that relationship, yeah.
Art Costello: I know you said that he ended up marrying your aunt.
Brenda Adelman: Yeah.
Art Costello: How much longer after your mom?
Brenda Adelman: He actually moved in with her within a month, yeah. Just to add insult to injury kids, I didn’t have enough time to deal with it. He moved him within a month, and he was not in prison yet. It took cash to someone prison, a year later, he had a lawyer in place that wouldn’t answer any questions, you know, and he kept him out for a year. And during the time he moved in with my aunt, and at first, cause I was so torn, I loved my father so much. Like my psyche could not deal with losing both of my parents in one night, that I chose to believe his lies, like he said: “There was a fight, and an argument, and somehow the gun was out, and someone pulled the trigger.” You know, like, instead of, well, it was a point blank range in the head shot, kind of execution style, and there were eight hours before the police were called, her body was cleaned up, he had a lawyer in place, you know. I chose not to believe any of that, cause I just, you know, like I said, I couldn’t bear losing him. And I went into denial, so that’s why my three step forgiveness process, moving out of denial into acceptance of what it is actually the first step. And they didn’t come out to say they were a couple for quite a while, and he actually said: “They weren’t a couple.” But they got married a couple of years later.
Art Costello: I just can’t imagine the strength that it took you to do the work to unveil all of your emotions and all of your feelings that were inside of you. I mean, I think about it, and I think about anger, and hatred, and loving of somebody that you love, and have loved, it’s just incredible work that you’ve done, and tell us your process.
Brenda Adelman: Yeah, yes, I teach this because I feel like I lost a good six years to severe depression. And so, I looked at my process, like, I was doing my one-woman show already, and then I was at a church in Sedona, a unity church, and the minister knew me, and he said: “You know, you should do a workshop on forgiveness cause people go to your show, they laugh, they cry, but their heart is really open. But then they don’t know what to do.” So I said: “Okay.” And I looked at my process, and I realized that getting in touch with that rage, and that anger was really important. And I don’t know about men, but most women are taught not to, you know, go to that anger. And so, I had this dialogue in my head that was like, I hate my father for doing this and taking my mother away from me and abandoning me. And then I had this other side that was like, well, there’s no point in going there. You have to forgive, like, you can’t get your mother back. So while I had that in my head, it’s so necessary to get that out of your head and start writing. So the process is, I started writing my feelings, and then I would read it, and all of a sudden, I’m like, oh, my God, I can’t believe I went through that. And I had so much compassion for that part of me, like while it’s in your head, you can’t really can’t get out of yourself. So the first part of it was writing it down, witnessing it. Then the next part of my process was, I worked on that anger. Even my two year master’s program in spiritual psychology, I worked it, I worked it, I worked it, and I still didn’t get in touch with it until I did a primal scream workshop, group workshop, like two years later, and only in seeing other people scream bloody murder could I get my real anger out. And it was so cathartic. So I went from masters degree for two years in spiritual psychology to work my process, and I was committed to doing anything and everything I could to heal. And then from me writing my story into a scene was really healing. I actually think, you know, there’s drama therapy, but also writing a one-person show on your life story is incredibly healing. Whether or not you’re going to perform it in public, but there’s another level of healing that happens with that, because you’re jumping into all the characters of your life, and you’re embodying them. And you know when I play my father, I get to play his rage, runs of might not have rage like that, but he does. So this is maybe a little secret, I didn’t even realize it. You know, when I started acting in my 20’s in New York, I remember that all of a sudden I got on stage and I’m like, I can have emotions? It’s okay to be angry? Like it was the secret that actors have. It’s like you can actually release your emotions in a really healthy way, you know, onstage, in character. So then I did the show, and I’ve had healings one after another, after another over the years. So I would say the process was though moving out of denial into acceptance of what is, oh, and the other thing was most people wouldn’t realize this, I had to forgive myself. Because I had to look at, I was so angry at myself for ever trusting my father not being able to catch it. I think most people don’t realize this, but you have to look at where you blame yourself. A lot of people are like this in relationships. They’re in there like a horrible, you know–
Art Costello: Don’t you think that you have to forgive yourself first?“You can't forgive someone else unless you forgive yourself for your choices.” –Brenda Adelman Click To Tweet
Brenda Adelman: Yes, I didn’t know that. You know? Most people would be like, huh, what? Your father killed your mother. You have to forgive yourself. I kind of think of it like this. If you want to love someone, you can only love them to the level that you love yourself. It’s the same thing with forgiveness. You can’t forgive someone else unless you forgive yourself for your choices. And I feel like this is a key piece that most people don’t get. They don’t take responsibility. So for example, since I’m a coach too, you know, there’s so many people who are, you know, getting divorced, or divorced, and they’re so angry at their ex cause they feel like their ex did this to them, and that to them, and they took their money, and they never look at the fact that they got married to that person. They chose that person, they may have been in denial of things. I feel like, it’s because people beat themselves up instead of, I call it, that’s a call to love yourself more. Forgive yourself more for the choices you made that you know, if you knew that, you would have done that.“If you want to love someone, you can only love them to the level that you love yourself.” –Brenda Adelman Click To Tweet
Art Costello: You know, I work with expectations. That’s really what my research is in. And I wrote a book called Expectations Therapy and all that, and I’ve developed a program, and I think writing is an incredible tool for healing.
Brenda Adelman: Yeah. Is it journaling?
Art Costello: Well in my course, and my online course, there’s actually a place for people to journal online and that’s what I want them to do. But we do a lot of bet inner work with writing and bringing out stuff that’s really, really very deep.
Brenda Adelman: That’s so great.
Art Costello: Yeah.
Brenda Adelman: I think it’s so important, and I think you probably tell your clients this too, you know what I learned in the master’s program was to do something about free farm ride in which there’s journaling that you could read over, but with free form writing you don’t read it over because otherwise you’re, you know, anchoring back in that negativity, instead you’re lighting it on fire, shredding it. That was really key for me to get all my anger out of my head, and my body, and heart, and like just write pages, and pages, and pages, and pages of stuff, and then light on fire, get it out of the house. Did that for a long time.
Art Costello: When I came home from Vietnam, I was a marine in Vietnam.
Brenda Adelman: Oh Wow.
Art Costello: And when I was in Vietnam, and before I wrote a lot of poetry, I would just write it in the old composition, my composition books that were used in–
Brenda Adelman: Yeah.
Art Costello: –back in the day. But when I went to college, I took a course, It was a Women and Literature, you know, my major was psychology, but I loved literature, and I really wanted to learn a lot about Carson McCullers, and just a lot of the female writers in the late 60’s and 70’s. And one day I got up the nerve to get all of my writing, and I love this English professor that I had, and I took them all to him and I said: “Would you read this poetry, and tell me what you think?”
Brenda Adelman: Oh, wonderful.
Art Costello: He came back about, I came to quiets a couple of weeks later and he said: “I have read every bit of your stuff.” He said: “You need to publish this.”
Brenda Adelman: Yeah.
Art Costello: And I said: “Really?” He said: “Yeah.” And he handed me a stack of black and white composition books that I had. I went home that night, and I put it in a trash can, and I burned every bit of it.
Brenda Adelman: Why?
Art Costello: Wouldn’t want to share it. Didn’t want to share it with anybody. It was my way of healing.
Brenda Adelman: Wow.
Art Costello: And years later I realized, okay, everybody always asks me, why did you do that? And I didn’t really have an answer. And then I realized that it was my way, it was my way of healing. And once somebody told me that it was good.
Brenda Adelman: Yeah, that’s what you need.
Art Costello: But you know, that’s a story of my life. I do things and once I master it, I move on to something else and try to master it. And that’s why I’ve done so many things in my life. I have no fear of trying anything.
Brenda Adelman: That’s so great. Cause no many people are debilitated, you know, of the unknown, like trying something new.“So many people are debilitated of the unknown, like trying something new.” –Brenda Adelman Click To Tweet
Art Costello: I write a lot about how to expect the unexpected, and if there’s anything about your story, it’s that. How did you accept the unexpected? Because when your dad shot your mom, you could not have seen that coming.
Brenda Adelman: Well, no, this is the thing, I could have seen it coming, this is the whole thing. My first step is moving out of denial and acceptance of what it is, and millions of people are living in denial, you know, they’re like, wow, that person cheated on me. Well, you should have, you know, there are almost always signs, not always. My father, you know, in the bigger story, he put a gun to my mother’s head, like, 15 years earlier, but I was a teenager and my mother got a restraining order, and when she took him back, like, they separated, I just thought she must be crazy because why would she take someone back who put a gun to her head, right? That’s denial.
Art Costello: That would be my first thought to, why would somebody take somebody back?
Brenda Adelman: Right. But only after she died did I do research on domestic violence, and research on, she was in a no win situation because she was threatened that she took him back, or threatened if she didn’t. You know, why do people take the abusers back? Because their self esteem is so low that they’re not thinking like you were icing. They’re thinking from a place of, I need the other person, this person’s going to hurt me. I want to, you know, this is the known versus the unknown, right.
Art Costello: Did your dad show any narcissism?
Brenda Adelman: Oh, my God, yes. I didn’t even know what narcissism was until after she died, and I started studying psychology, and I was like, oh, well seeing what I learned because I was daddy’s little girl, and what I learned about narcissism, because I didn’t know that. But anyone who knows narcissist and actually studies this will know, you can seem like the center of the person’s world. But then when, well this is extreme, but when this happens, of course he just abandoned me too, which I didn’t understand because I’m daddy’s little girl. But of course with narcissists, they think of you how you look at them. So if he’s my hero, then I’m the ultimate for him. All of a sudden I need to know what happened to mom, and I’m nothing to him, you know?
Art Costello: Yeah, boy, my head just spins when I, you know, when I hear your story. One of the things that I wanted to know about that you mentioned, and I’ve been around psychology for a long time, and I haven’t heard of spiritual psychology.
Brenda Adelman: Oh, it was a life changing program basically, you know, it was this study of psychology, but a soul centered perspective on it, basically we all have the tools to heal ourselves. So we studied different modalities, and teachers, and things like that, mainly like a call Rogers, right?
Art Costello: Ehm.
Brenda Adelman: And some others, but it was more soul centered in that, you know, the approach was even I chose my parents, like, I chose them for the bigger lessons. And what were those lessons? Kind of like that. The program was around for about 30 years, and the presidents and vice presidents, oh, what’s the book called? They have two books at a Hay House book out about spiritual psychology too.
Art Costello: Hmm. Where was that centered?
Brenda Adelman: It was at the University of Santa Monica.
Art Costello: Oh, okay, yeah.
Brenda Adelman: Yeah, life changing. My life changed completely after taking that program.
Art Costello: It’s funny because being in southern California, you know, cause I was in San Diego.
Brenda Adelman: Oh, yeah, oh, yeah.
Art Costello: In Orange County for awhile.
Brenda Adelman: And I found that school through someone who is in my acting class. She was in it, and then she dropped out. But it was like perfect because I had always been interested in psychology. And then when I remember going to it like an open night where they, you know, invited people to see about it and I was like, oh my God, this is what I need to do. Because we were healing ourselves as we were learning the tools of psychology.
Art Costello: You want to tell me about getting naked on stage (laughs)?
Brenda Adelman: It’s time (laughs). Getting naked on stage means a couple of things to me. Literally, in my full version of my one-woman show, I do have the scene because it’s actually freaking funny. Usually naked on stage for me means, emotionally naked.
Art Costello: I figured that (laughs).
Brenda Adelman: It’s the first time I did my show. Like you know, how you didn’t want people to share your poems like this was for you. I really put my story out there before I did any of this inner work, and I just felt so vulnerable, but I knew that I had to be on stage and do this since that’s, you know, I was an actress already. But then, okay, first of all and go back. My mother, is such a good question, people don’t usually ask this. My mother had a master’s degree in fine art photography, and she photographed a lot of nudes, and she tried to get me nude so many times, but you know, it was the mother daughter thing. She was so cool, and exotic, and open that I was like, no (laughs).
Art Costello: (laughs).
Brenda Adelman: And so, I was more self conscious and stuff. And then my brother at the time, after college after my college, he was living in Vienna, Austria doing a play, and it was actually a quite serious subject about the CIA’s intervention in Nicaragua, and there was a naked dead body scene. So to make a long story short, I tried to stay out of that scene because you know, all these Europeans were in there to Vienna. They’re all like, so like, okay, comfortable with their body. And I’m like all self-conscious American overweight girl. And someone dropped out like the day before opening night. So I had to go, oh, what am I going to say to everyone else? Like all the people who weren’t in the show, like in a scene, where like in the scene of negative dead bodies. So I put my tee shirt around my neck to pick off of some false sense of security. And it just so happened that, when we went on tour, our lighting designer was an alcoholic, we didn’t know that. So let’s just say lights came up on us while we were naked when it wasn’t supposed to be like that and such. So anyway, I have a very funny scene in my one-woman show about that, but for the most part, naked on stages, being naked with your story to help other people.
Art Costello: That’s what I figured. But I commend your bravery, I couldn’t do it (laughs).
Brenda Adelman: (laughs) I’m brave on stage, that’s for sure.
Art Costello: Even being the child of the 60’s, 70’s.
Brenda Adelman: Oh yeah.
Art Costello: I mean, going to concerts, everybody getting naked, not me, it’s just–
Brenda Adelman: Oh yeah. Well what happened with this scene in particular is that, we were doing our show, we left Vienna, we were touring throughout the countryside, and we get to a place that we’re running really late doing the light and sound cues. I was also the assistant stage manager, so I had to leave. So I got told where to go, and I was naked after the scenes to like leave the stage, and I leave the stage that way, and nobody else comes, and then I can’t hear anything and I’m like, oh my God. And I’m like behind a door waiting for everything to close so that I don’t have to go on stage completely, it was crazy.
Art Costello: It’s funny. Okay, I’m going to ask the question, and I’m going to tell the audience there’s a painting behind you. It’s really a beautiful painting and I’m going to describe it. It’s a woman with long blonde hair, shoulder length, and they’re blue, and I’m color blind, so forgive me if I don’t get all the colors right, but it’s blue, and I see yellow flowers, and I see a, I don’t know what the mask is called.
Brenda Adelman: No, there’s a, there’s like a pillow.
Art Costello: Oh, is that what that is? Anyway, it’s a beautiful painting. The woman has very strong features, very strong features. Can you tell us about that painting?
Brenda Adelman: Yes, so it is usually the set I have in my videos. I have had people say, what is that other woman doing on your set? It’s a painting that one of my mother’s really close friends who was an artist painted of her, the 1970’s, I have a scene in my show about it. I actually opened my one-woman show dressed as that, I mean, with the wig, and the shirt on, everything. And then I have her come to life. But it was a time during which she was having a lot of problems with my dad and everything like that. And so I feel like the painting really captured her in thought, talking about what was going on, maybe wondering why she was making the choices she made in her life. So that’s what that is.
Art Costello: Wow. It’s a beautiful painting. I mean–
Brenda Adelman: And I saved it when I went back to New York, you know, they were already throwing so much stuff out of the house and I brought it back with me to California.
Art Costello: I love art. So I mean, for me it’s very, very stimulating to my–
Brenda Adelman: Yeah. He was a wonderful artist too. He really captured her.
Art Costello: Yup. I can see the familial having her behind you, and I can see it. So yeah, I wish the audience could–
Brenda Adelman: As I get older, I look more like her, not like my dad, I look more like her.
Art Costello: I’m going to share a little bit about my family because my dad grew up in Brooklyn.
Brenda Adelman: Oh really?
Art Costello: Yeah. He lived up in Flatbush Avenue 1–
Brenda Adelman: I was on Flatbush and Avenue U.
Art Costello: Avenue U, so you were not that far apart. But a lot of years goes by, and was back there in the 20’s, he was born in 16, so anyway, and my mother was Catholic, a girl from New Jersey, but her mother was Jewish, Gertrude Stein.
Brenda Adelman: Oh, gosh, wow. We’ve got a lot in common.
Art Costello: Yeah. And that’s sort of we’re going to talk about is, you know, is we do have a lot in common in a lot of different ways, but I find that quite often in life, you know, even though we have a lot of bloodline, commonality, and that kind of thing spiritually, we’re all very, very close when we dig down deep inside and let ourselves come out, fear stops people so much. How much did fear play in holding you back as a youngster?“Even though we have a lot of bloodline commonality… spiritually, we are all very close, when we dig down deep inside and let ourselves come out.” –Art Costello Click To Tweet
Brenda Adelman: Oh my God. As a youngster, I think I was very bold when I was young up until like 5th, 6th grade. This happens with a lot of girls, and then they kind of lose their power. But I was so afraid, like I had such low self-esteem that I wanted to act when I was in high school and I didn’t, instead I was in stage crew, and I was in band, but I really wanted to act and I didn’t do it because I was so afraid of rejection.“Fear stops people so much.”-Art Costello Click To Tweet
Art Costello: You know my granddaughter just gotten into acting and she’s in the 7th grade this year, and last year she was in on the stage crew and they didn’t let her act, this year I think she’s going to get to do some acting. So like–
Brenda Adelman: Good. But I mean, it’s great. They’re great skills to have, but you just don’t want to do the second thing. You will do the first thing that you want to do (laughs).
Art Costello: Yeah. But you know, the commonality that we have as people, I have found that women tend to be more fearful than men.
Brenda Adelman: Yeah.
Art Costello: But then, I started working with a lot of different men and women, and I found out that the difference isn’t that men are less fearful, it’s that they don’t show it and they cover it.
Brenda Adelman: Right.
Art Costello: Women actually, you see it, their emotions come out and you see it more. How has that played into your coaching, and you know, all this stuff that you’ve gone through has got to make you an incredible coach and person to work with.
Brenda Adelman: Oh yeah. Cause I see it, and feel it. I’m very intuitive, and I know all the fears, like everything I teach, everything I coach, I’ve been through it all. I was, you know, didn’t want to tell my story, I was so scared, I took time off, didn’t know why, I can just see what’s underneath it. A lot also has to do with the spiritual psychology that I have, and studying that, and holding from a really loving place. I have a group right now who are all putting their one person shows together. It’s the second time I’m leading it, and pretty much all of them. I asked for some testimonials and they’re like, she is a straight shooter. She tells it as it is, but in a really loving way. I feel like I’m the mix of my mother and father, you know, my father is straight shoot or Brooklyn, and my mother, you know, kind of woo-woo spiritual, all one. So, I kind of don’t, I mean I’m very compassionate but I don’t let people live smaller than who they are, if they’re my clients. I ask them to be bigger, I asked them to step forward because I know how much it hurt me to play small for so long.
Art Costello: I think that that’s something that is really important because when you play small, you really, really inhibit what’s really meant to be, and I find that that has a lot to do with how you learn to expect, you know, how your expectations were. See, because we see our expectations through only two lenses, either faith or fear. Faith isn’t always about a religious sense. Faith is in yourself, which is a strong faith, or faith in a coach, or her parents. It comes in many forms.“When you play small, you really, really inhibit what's really meant to be.” -Art Costello Click To Tweet
Brenda Adelman: Yeah.
Art Costello: And fear comes in as many forms as faith does. You know, it can either be your greatest fear, can either be your greatest proponent, or your greatest detriment, and thing about that. Because if you take and have the expectation that you’re going to overcome your fear, then you’ll overcome it.“Your greatest fear can either be your greatest proponent, or your greatest detriment.” -Art Costello Click To Tweet
Brenda Adelman: Right.
Art Costello: But if you let it deter you and consistently deter you, you take a spiral downwards and it really just, it’ll eat you up.
Brenda Adelman: Yeah. And most people are living in such fear. I mean, I feel like, especially with my one-woman show, like what I love about that is I’m on stage pretty fearless, I mean it’s a long time to get to where I am, and I feel like, my show, a lot of people have seen my show, but also people know my story and it’s like they almost can touch into like, okay I can get through this. I’m not going to let this fear stop me because look what Brenda went through. Like, if I have, one more person say: “Oh, well you went through so bad.” But you know, it’s like good cause they can realize it’s not like they can get through what they went through. So it’s like, okay, just use me. I mean, that’s where I feel like I am, like, use me, use whatever I say, whatever I’ve done, whatever I’ve gone through, and be inspired by it because I also had to fight my way through fear, fight my way through judgment, fight my way through criticism, fight my way through my own criticism.
Art Costello: But you did it.
Brenda Adelman: But I did it, but it’s a process, you know, it’s like anything else. I still learn about myself today, I’m fiercely committed to being on the, you know, an awakening journey. And this is the thing, I am learning so much about myself. I had a huge breakthrough around my father this past year. The year before that, I had a huge breakthrough through my, around my aunt, you know, 20 years ago, and I teach this stuff, and I still wasn’t in a forgiving place with some things. So that’s the other thing when I have, well, when I have potential clients that say: “Yeah, no, I’ve done the forgiveness work, I’ve done this.” I’m like: “Whatever.” You’re not being honest with yourself, but you know, if you’re not my client I’m not going to prod and push a little bit. I’m just going to be like, okay cause everybody’s going to, you know, the ego fiercely protects us from the unknown where I absolutely believe, barring people who have PTSD cause they need to absolute work with a therapist with that. I absolutely know, it is true that on the other side of that fear, the other side of that story is peace, is the ability to love, is the ability to create, right?“It is true that on the other side of that fear, the other side of that story, is peace, is the ability to love; is the ability to create.” –Brenda Adelman Click To Tweet
Art Costello: Ehm, absolutely.
Brenda Adelman: So my job is to help, specifically with storytelling and forgiveness, to help people go to those places.
Art Costello: Yeah. Let’s talk about storytelling. Do you teach on storytelling?
Brenda Adelman: Yes, I do. So, I have been performing my show, it seems like since the beginning of time (laughs), on and off for many years, over a decade.
Art Costello: Well let me interrupt you a second. I was born before the beginning of time (laughs).
Brenda Adelman: You know, over the years people would take me out on coffee days, to dinner, like just drill me. Like, how’d you put your show together? How’d you do it? When I started coaching I was focusing on forgiveness, and then I started offering like one off sessions on how to create your one person show. And then a couple of years ago, I was like, I kept getting the same questions all the time from people. I put together an online program in 2015, which was my process. Performing for over 12,000 people for communities, you know, domestic violence shelters, child advocacy centers, high school students, youth at risk, women prisoners, theaters. Like, I put my process together in an online program so that I’ve been teaching, I probably had like 35 people that have gone through that, and then this past year or two, I’ve been teaching in person classes that also ends with the showcase here in San Diego, very successfully. And then I just decided these last two versions of something called, the eight week create your show experience (The 8 Week Experience). It’s also for entrepreneurs who want to do TED-style talks. I said: “I have so much success on person specifically with having a showcase at the end because people are terrified.” It’s like, one thing to write your story, it’s another to actually put it on stage, and I direct them, and I was like, I wonder if I could do that in an online program. Not just teach them how to tell their story and kind of coach their acting, but like, actually do a showcase for an invited audience because I know that’s where the next level of really, the next level of healing happens, the next level of presentation happens, and so I did it really successfully. So now we’re doing a second version of that. And then I have two storytelling classes coming up in October, and I’m a guest on a panel in October for the LA Women’s Theatre Festival, where been the best of fests there and stuff like that. I feel like, I can reach only so many people with my story of forgiveness and my message, but then all my clients that we’re carving out with their messages, and then they’re going on stage, and they’re healing and helping so many people in addition to keep, my story telling is always about healing yourself too.
Art Costello: Yeah, storyteller. I mean, everybody always tells me I’m a good storyteller, but my story is what it is. And I just–
Brenda Adelman: Well, you know, you can have a good story, but you’re not necessarily a good storyteller, so that’s great.
Art Costello: Yeah. You know, I guess maybe it’s just my natural ability (laughs).
Brenda Adelman: Yeah.
Art Costello: I mean, because I haven’t ever been taught anything, you know.
Brenda Adelman: It be from reading, It could be from watching plays.
Art Costello: Yeah. And I mean, yeah, maybe. I don’t know. But, I enjoy telling my story because I wanted to help other people, you know? So yeah, that’s good. I’m really interested in some of the places where you’ve done your, I know you said high school and all those places. Is there any place that was your favorite place to tell your story, or do your show?
Brenda Adelman: I tell you what, yes, there are two places that come to mind. One was a women’s prison in LA. I did 15 minutes of my show, and then I did about a half an hour workshop on self-forgiveness. While I was doing the show, like two of the women ran out of the room into their cells crying. There was such a shift in the workshop on forgiveness where, you know, some of the women just couldn’t get why they were responsible for being in prison. Cause a lot of times women are in prison because a man has introduced them to drugs, or this and that, and the breakthroughs they had around finally taking responsibility, and then realizing they didn’t have to beat themselves up like it was the key to them being free, that was extraordinary for me. And then the other place was, it’s hard because there they’re a lot of really great places. But this was a place called, I think it was communities in schools in Hawaii. And, I went and spent like four hours with these kids that were from 8 to 15, and they were all like lower income use at risk. They showed them a little documentary. And then after lunch we got together, and I taught them about forgiveness, and then I did scenes. But I started with scenes from my show because my show, you know, I talk about once kill myself, I act out things, I act out Shakespeare, it is like raw. And so, being like that with the kids, they opened up and they were like, holy wow, you know. And so, at the end of the workshop I remember saying that, you know: “What did everyone learn?” And this is eight year old was like: “Well, I learned that it’s not my fault that my dad left us, and that I can forgive myself.” I’m like: “You know, my life can be over now, that’s amazing.” So I really love working with youth at risk specifically, and the prisoners were amazing. But you know, I love being able to make a difference in people’s lives.
Art Costello: Yeah, I had something else that went through my head while we were talking and it’s completely back to what we were previously talking about–
Brenda Adelman: When I can, I do a workshop too. Sometimes I just do the show, sometimes they just do workshops, but I like to, if I’m doing a workshop, I love to do the show beforehand because it opens people’s hearts up, and then the people who come to the show, they’re already out of victim mentality. So it’s like the fast healing and forgiveness.
Art Costello: I can understand that. I mean, I think that just the natural sequence of–
Brenda Adelman: And then I just weave in the forgiveness with my storytelling. They don’t know they’re gonna get it unless they know me, they know they’re going to get it (laughs).
Art Costello: Speaking about forgiveness, have you forgiven your dad? And let me ask this question. Is Your Dad still alive?
Brenda Adelman: No, he died in 2004.
Art Costello: And your aunt, is she?
Brenda Adelman: She died about two years ago. That’s when I had the huge breakthrough around her. Like, I had just had two huge breakthroughs around both of them. If you’d like to hear?
Art Costello: I would.
Brenda Adelman: Okay, so, oh my God. So, I forgave my dad completely, I forgave him. You probably don’t know this, I took him to court for wrongful death also after he got out of prison. He only went to prison for two and a half years out of a, you know, one and a half to five year sentence on involuntary manslaughter because the gun was never found, it was cleanup. But then when you got out of prison, I took them to court with my brother, I have a half brother. We took them to court for wrongful death. We want a $2 million judgment. And he skipped town with my aunt. They went to Florida where they could, you know, keep their money in case I didn’t have enough to forgive. I forgave my father, and I forgave him before I took him to court so that, I took him to court for radical self love and self honor versus I’m punishing him, I had to do it for myself. With my aunt, see my father I love so much, and I did it selfishly because I didn’t want my day to be wrecked. When I was thinking about my father, I wanted to remember some good times, and some loving, and you know, the sole connection. With my aunt, you know, it was like, Eh, I don’t care about her anyway. You know, and she’s the exact opposite of what I teach people, I tell them, if you don’t deal with stuff, it’s going to come back and bite you in your ass. So what happened with my aunt two years ago is that, there was such a division in the family with her kids and me, and her kids supporting them getting married, and just not answering any questions, and everything like that. And I was really mad at my cousin Wayne, and as spirit would have it, my cousin’s son moved like 10 minutes away from my other aunt, the one who didn’t are my father, and they became friendly. So I would go visit, and I’d visit. My cousin’s son were there for thanksgiving, and my uncle gets on the phone with his son, and I’m like, oh, I speak to him, I want to speak, because I didn’t even know what happened. I hadn’t spoken to him since I saw him in court 20 years before, I get on the phone and instead of me saying: “How could you have–” instead, what came out was a memory from when I was like 19 during thanksgiving when my mother and I had gotten into a car accident on the way back from having thanksgiving with him, and his mother and my aunt that married my father, and how what hero he was because he came and picked us up from the hospital. I was just like, it created such a healing, and in a way I forgive my cousin. And literally like, a couple of days later, my aunt who already had Alzheimer’s, but she died. She got sick and died, and on an energetic level, I know we all make stories up. It felt like I forgave her favorite son, and then she was released. But when I find out, because it’s layered, I find out that she died. My other aunt calls me, I’m in LA already, driving back from LA to San Diego. And my aunt calls me and says: “You know, Jeanette died.” And I went, and whatever, forgiveness coach, okay (laughs).
Art Costello: (laughs).
Brenda Adelman: –the wounded healer. And then I get off the phone, and I’m driving, and my mother’s spirit comes me, and I was super close to my mother, and I see her welcoming her sister to the other side with open arms, just welcoming her. It’s like my mother was no longer angry at her. My mother’s spirit just loves her sister and was welcoming her to the other side. And I realized, oh, my God, I’ve still had my heart completely closed and been in judgment for 20 years, and I teach this like, this hurts you. And then with my father, oh my God, also, it was probably right after that, I had a lot of stuck energy. Like a year and a half ago, there was so much stuck energy, and father’s day was coming up, and a friend of mine, with target shooting, and I hadn’t shot a gun since my mother died, and I used to go target shooting with my dad all the time, and my mom. And so, I asked my friend would he take me to target shooting on Father’s day, that I knew I had to heal something. And so we go, and there’s, you know, there’s the bullseye, but then there’s also like a big Alpha male kind of cartoon character that issued at two, which reminds me of my dad, and I shot, and you know, I took the target sheet home. I was like, huh, maybe I’ll use it and my show, whatever. I put it in the corner of one of my rooms, and everything was like kind of stuck, it was just all kinds of stuff. So talk about burning things. So a few months later, I’m like, you know what, I think I have to burn that target sheet, and I have to just let the energy go. And I put it in the fireplace, and there was a huge fire, I let it go, and something felt like it released. And then I go on stage the next month in San Miguel de Allende, I’m on tour, and I’ve done the show so much, and I do try to keep it fresh every time, but I pretty much do things the same way. So at the moment where I find out that my mother is gone, and that my father did it, I’m usually angry, and I say my lines a certain way, and this time instead of anger, I broke down sobbing. But like really, and if I wasn’t a skilled actress, hadn’t done all this work, I would have sat there on the stage and just sobs because I went back to the moment of finding out, and the anger had dissolved when I put that target sheet on fire. And all this sadness, and love was behind it, it was probably the best performance in my life because I did the rest of the show with fighting through, just wanting to give up, and wanting to, and loving him so much. And then I had to, as a skilled actress, I had to then, kind of, look at how I could bring it back around because I have a forgiveness exercise later in the show, and it was profound, but I was on tour with them with a couple of other women, and there’s some comedy that comes after, and nobody was, there was no comedy, there was profound release. And so, I looked in the script and I’m like, I know the answer is probably in the script, and I found a part in the script that I talk about where I really found my faith in God. I had a direct experience with God, right after my mom died, I realized I’d been talking about it instead of acting it and showing it. And so I was like, huh, that’s why me, and we’re always on a process of learning. So when people are like, oh, I got it, I’m like, all right. So I acted it, I revealed myself on stage of that moment when I was so desperate and down, and I felt that one is with God and it was who is it. And I had a lot of shows like that, and since then the shows were like that. So those were huge, and not even realizing, you know, I had done so much work, and I forgave my father, and yet there was all this extra love that was still not even available to me until luckily I was doing the show so I could have two levels appealing.
Art Costello: Well, it brings me to the point of, we talked about having to forgive yourself. You also have to love yourself.
Brenda Adelman: Oh yeah.
Art Costello: And that’s a big part of it. Well, we just spent one quick hour here, and I wanted to give you time to tell the audience where they can get ahold of you, how they can get ahold of you, give us all the pertinent facts, and where are you going to be and all that.
Brenda Adelman: All the pertinent facts. Right now, I don’t have a show schedules, although the next one is going to be in San Diego. I just don’t have the dates scheduled for that, and I have my storytelling workshops that I’m doing. The easiest way to reach me, because I don’t my links in front of me, on Facebook, Brenda Adelman, I also have a group called The Naked Storyteller, emotionally naked of course. And I have my book, My Father Killed My Mother and Married My Aunt: Forgiving the Unforgivable, which is part memoir, and it is my three step proven forgiveness process with all these tools and techniques. And for your listeners, they can have a PDF version of it for free, and I’ll give you the link for that.
Art Costello: And that’ll be in the show notes, so everybody can see that.
Brenda Adelman: Yes. I also have a storytelling opt-in called Tell Your Story. Heal Your Life. Create More Wealth, which talks about the different ways that I’ve also been able to monetize telling my story while healing and impacting others. So I can give you that link as well.
Art Costello: Well we’ll put everything in the show notes. Brenda, it has been an honor having you on, and I just feel like I’m part of you.
Brenda Adelman: Thank you so much having me, Art.
Art Costello: Oh, no, it’s my pleasure. And we’ll have to carry this on because I have a list of stuff that I could ask, and we really had an hour, so, but we’ll, we’ll do it again and we’ll have fun.
Brenda Adelman: Alright. Thank you so much.
Art Costello: You’re welcome. And with that being said, folks, it’s another episode, and it’s a great one, and you’re gonna be able to see all the show notes and get all the pertinent information on Brenda, and I’m going to encourage you to follow her, and get after her material because it can heal you and change your life. And that’s what we’re all about.
About Brenda Adelman
Emanating from a grievous, tragic past, Brenda Adelman had every reason to be unforgiving and dwell in anger and hatred. Her father murdered her mother and married her aunt. This scenario is hard to imagine, even for a movie. But, Brenda has gone through it all and was able to master forgiveness by fighting her way through. The amount of tears and agony turned into peace, love and satisfaction as she chose to live her life being free. As she shared her story, she was finally able to step into her journey to healing. And this is how she helps others too to get through traumatic events in their lives. As a storyteller, coach, speaker, trainer and mentor, it is her aim to liberate others by learning how to “forgive the unforgivable.”
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