Using Early Experiences as a Catalyst for Healing

Meghan Bass-Petti
5 min readFeb 12, 2020
Child’s Eye image courtesy of

When I was a teenager, a friend was physically abused by her father after he had been drinking. Maybe because he was a respected member of our small farming community, everyone turned a blind eye. Maybe no one wanted to get involved in a domestic dispute. Maybe whatever the reason, it was the wrong thing to ignore.

Other friends were abused by their boyfriends, and again nothing was done and little if nothing was said to let them know that not only was this not normal relationship behavior, it was criminal.

A seed was planted in my mind back then that no one should be made to feel as if they are unworthy of love or as if they don’t matter. As I began to study psychology, sociology, social work, and later yoga, exploring why we humans do what we do, these early memories were like deposits in a vault.

Tucked away and stored until they were able to be accessed from a distance, the critical thinking part of my brain trying to reconcile how one person can so completely annihilate another person’s sense of self. Particularly when that person is a child.

Years later, when I was working with children in foster care, this wonderment about human nature hit me like a freight train. I would read case histories that detailed abhorrent physical, emotional, and sexual abuse and neglect in all forms. But reading narratives on paper is vastly different than attempting to build a trusting relationship with these children in real life.

Not surprisingly, some children were withdrawn and unable to trust. Some were wound so tightly that they were like a firecracker just waiting for a match to explode. The abuse or neglect they had suffered played out in other ways as well. Lying, stealing, promiscuous behavior, tantrums, self-harm…all coping mechanisms for a bodily system that is completely dysregulated and unable to cope with feelings too big for such small people.

However, there was something else there too. Sometimes it was buried so deeply beneath the hurt that it was nearly impossible to spot if you didn’t take the time to look. But now casting my mind back 20+ years, they all had it. All of us do.

In some people who haven’t veiled themselves for self-protection, particularly children, there is an inner…

Meghan Bass-Petti

Wellness life coach, LMSW, yoga teacher, writer, nature lover, and mom. She believes there is beauty and inspiration to be found everywhere.