Ep.35 - Guarding The Family Secrets: Flying Monkeys & Lifelines | Tracy Stamper (Part 2) ― In the fourth episode of the 'cult'ure series, Candice is back with Part 2 of her conversation with Tracy Stamper. In a follow-up to last week, Tracy shares candidly about the devastation she felt in 2017 when she was fired from the high-demand 'cult'ure where she'd devoted sixteen years of her life. She was let go within hours of her father's passing, and the loss - of a parent, a job, an identity, and a community - resulted in feelings of grief and overwhelm. Tracy shares about the months-long struggle she experienced as she fought to reorient herself to the outside world without revealing the Org family secrets... that is until chronic physical pain prompted her to speak out via Facebook. Candice describes what it was like to witness the shitstorm that resulted [cue the flying monkeys!] and why it is she chose to reach out to Tracy in the midst of the social media frenzy. Tracy shares what it was like to receive the unexpected support, and the two discuss how it felt to compare notes after over a decade of silence. Toward the end of the episode, Candice gets personal, sharing why their reconnection was so damn timely and how it clued her into her own family-of-origin cult dynamic. The episode wraps with Tracy describing why, despite how things went down last time, she decided to push through her fear & share the full story of her experience on this podcast.

NOTE from the host: The stories that my guest and I share in this episode are true to the best of our recollection. Memory is subjective and how we remember the past may be different than how others recall those very same events. We share our opinions, experiences, and perceptions openly; however, they are not meant to be generalized, nor are they intended to malign any individual, group, or organization.

Ep.35 - Guarding The Family Secrets: Flying Monkeys & Lifelines | Tracy Stamper (Part 2)

Candice Schutter: 0:09
Welcome back to The Deeper Pulse and the 'cult'ure series where my guests and I are sharing personal stories to unravel what puts the cult in culture. Just a quick reminder that this three part conversation with my guest Tracy Stamper was recorded back in March of this year. Let's just say it has taken the two of us more than a minute to gear up for this rollout. So I'm pretty excited to be sharing part two with you. It's been a little more than a year since I began this whole podcasting thing. And it's always been a little bit of an edge for me, but even more so during this particular series rollout. And because I'm sharing about brave and vulnerable topics, it's a little bit of a roller coaster ride. When I'm in the planning or research phase, when I have my head bent over a computer in the doggedness of production, or particularly when I'm engaged in dialogue with a guest, every last bit of what I'm doing feels exactly right. I feel a sense of clarity. I feel confident, certain, committed to the task at hand, and exhilarated by transparency and the joy of the creative process. And then there are moments when seemingly out of nowhere, a wave of fear or self doubt will swoop in and knock me to my knees. And just like that I'm toast. I feel somewhat singed by visibility, tender and afraid. And I think to myself, what in the actual hell am I even doing? My mind begins railing against me, and I get all caught up in the what ifs and self sabotaging critiques and terror around my own blind spots. It doesn't happen often, but when I'm derailed like this, I find myself wondering if vulnerability is worth all the goddamn effort. And then just when I feel like I'm about to succumb to despair, someone reaches out to me; a friend, a loved one, a listener. They offer a word of support and encouragement or better yet, they reciprocate said vulnerability by being generous with their own story. And it's in these moments of deep connection that I remember why I'm doing this. And I'm reminded that the shit storm of self doubt, it will always come and it will always pass. More than anything I'm learning that the way that I feel, it's not a problem to be solved. Life's heavier moments, while they may be difficult, really they just remind me that I am human, and that my need to be superhuman. That is the bullshit story that I'm shedding here. For me the need to get it right, often gets in the way of getting it done. Not because I'm undisciplined, but because there is no such thing as getting it right. None of us have this shit figured out. We're just doing the best we can to make sense of the messes we find ourselves in. So here I am recording this intro, feeling my tenderness and uncertainty. Feeling a little like a live wire and well that's okay. I won't speak for Tracy. You're gonna hear an update from her in just two weeks time, but I'm sure she wouldn't mind me sharing that she's been riding the waves too. And we're staying in close contact because that's the cool and groovy thing about connection. If we're willing to be brave and vulnerable, we don't have to do life alone. And in fact, it is in our most tender moments that we grow closer. Maybe we'll never know how any of this works. Maybe we're not supposed to get it right. Maybe we're just meant to love each other, to create communities of inclusion, autonomy; safe spaces for shared vulnerability. Which moves us into part two of my conversation with Tracy. If you haven't yet listened to part one, I strongly recommend you start there. Better yet, begin with episode 32, Under The Influence, which contextualizes the stories we're sharing here, giving you a clearer sense of the culty cultural dynamics that these conversations are pointing us toward. And a quick side note, I wanna include a content warning. If you are currently or have recently been involved with the Org, or any other high demand culture, please approach this material with caution and an awareness that our stories might bring some things up, amplify confusion, or result in a bit of cognitive dissonance. Take good care of yourself and at the end of this episode, I will be including an opportunity to participate in a post-Org support group. More on that later. Once again, the stories that Tracy and I share in this episode are true to the best of our recollection. Please note that our memories might be different from how others recall those very same events. Our opinions and perceptions are not meant to be generalized, nor are they intended to malign any individual, group, or organization. Today, we pick up right where we left off. In part one, Tracy bravely shared what it was like training and working in the upper ranks of the Org. She shared how she often felt as though she were walking on eggshells, and she spoke openly about the emotional highs and lows she came to normalize. The episode wrapped just as Tracy was readying herself to share her story of separation. This is part two of my conversation with Tracy Stamper. One of the ways that you know you've experienced indoctrination is that the ground of self that you stand on is slowly being eroded. And it's being replaced by dogma or shared truth with the people around you. This is the ground we all stand on and it's the same. And there's a lot of lip service about honoring the uniqueness of each individual, and there's some truth to that. And there's no simple, easy choices anymore because everything is passing through two filters simultaneously that are often contradicting each other. Who I am and what I want, what I know to be true. And what I've been taught. And you're constantly attempting to reconcile these two things. The cognitive dissonance is excruciating at times. And I think that we're still both in that a little bit. And so thank you to all of you listening out there for being patient with us and all these random tangents, because this is what it's like making a simple choice to leave. It's this meandering maze of rights and lefts and finding yourself backed into a corner. So maybe you have some relationships or some experiences in your life that some of these little details that we're sharing, help you to connect to and see through a little different lens. That's my hope, at least. So I know for sure, even if that's not the case, that not one of these words is wasted because of what it's doing for Tracy and I, collectively and then individually. So yeah.
Tracy Stamper: 7:07
Candice Schutter: 7:08
So, let's tell folks about the moment that led really to this moment. Like the dominoes were lining up over time without us knowing it. And it was in 2018, I believe when our paths really intersected in a more significant way again. So you tell us, however, and whenever you're ready about you're leaving.
Tracy Stamper: 7:31
Okay. It was not of my own volition, I will say that from the very beginning. So to set the background, to revisit just a little bit about what we had chatted about is that I was kind of coasting along in this, um, very nebulous space of this is what is expected of you. We really mean it. And I'm seeing some of my colleagues who are not making their numbers either. And I am constantly communicating like, Hey, I can't travel because of my mama journey. So it's just this nebulous lack of clarity. Mixed messages about this is what is expected and what are we delivering? And we were all told that, I can't remember the language used, but that we would be revisiting whether or not we were in good standing. Now, I had no delusions that I was in good standing. I knew that I was good at my job. I was working within my capacity and I knew I wasn't meeting numbers. This was a given. And I knew that the organization would be revisiting those numbers. What I did not know, what I did not expect at all was to essentially be fired over email. And quite simply, it was just stunning to me, the way that I was communicated with after having invested so much of myself and my finances and my energy and my hours, and to receive this communication that was so incongruous with everything was very confusing.
Candice Schutter: 9:27
I'm imagining part of what's jarring about it, is that so much of the courtship process and the love bombing and the community connections and everything leading up to this moment, there's a real sense of being a part of a family.
Tracy Stamper: 9:42
Candice Schutter: 9:44
And so when one is treated in such a sort of cold, removed way it's particularly jarring because you're family. And do you break up with a family member on an email thread? That's maybe a email that you've sent out to a handful of other people. It feels very painful, I would imagine.
Tracy Stamper: 10:06
Very, very painful.
Candice Schutter: 10:07
You feel very chosen and special. And then suddenly you feel disposable. It's like a bad breakup.
Tracy Stamper: 10:15
Oh, it was, it was a bad breakup. And just to add a little intrigue and to turn up the heat just a little bit more, my father had gone into hospice, I think it was the day before I received this email. And I had taken a leave of absence from the organization. I had shared, this is what my family is going through. My father is actively dying. I need to step back for a little while. And the communications around that were beautiful and supportive and lovely, and I felt seen and held.
Candice Schutter: 10:54
So this context of what was going on in your family was known.
Tracy Stamper: 10:58
Yes. It was known. Yes, it was known.
Candice Schutter: 11:00
Tracy Stamper: 11:02
So to be in this space of being actively involved in watching my dad die, to get this email was just stunning, absolutely stunning. And 46 hours after I got that email, my dad died. And shortly thereafter I wrote an email to the founder, folks who worked at the epicenter, my colleagues, my trainer colleagues and I alluded to the letter and I just shared that I was shocked to have lost my job in this way. I mean, you can hear it in my voice.
Candice Schutter: 11:47
Yeah. Yeah.
Tracy Stamper: 11:49
The timing was just surreal and also a blessing. I'll get to that. I shared that I was hurt that I was stunned, that I was angry, that I was ashamed that I was embarrassed, that I was perplexed. And I was told to have a one-on-one conversation with the founder who had written the letter, which I did. And again, I'm tripping over, like I have held this all so closely, and I haven't told anyone.
Candice Schutter: 12:29
This is big, so take all the time you need. And breathe.
Tracy Stamper: 12:34
Oh yes.
Candice Schutter: 12:35
Don't forget to breathe.
Tracy Stamper: 12:38
Oh, there's a good reason that that's recommended. It's really good.
Candice Schutter: 12:41
It helps doesn't it?
Tracy Stamper: 12:43
It does. Fascinating. Again, I'm in this place of being scared to not guard the family secrets. After I shared that letter, I kept hearing from colleagues. Oh, just call. Just call Marissa. She'll make everything right. I got an email from Marissa to the whole faculty saying, just call me. And I picked up the phone in that moment and I called her. Being in that very vulnerable place of having just lost my father days prior to this phone call, I was crying. Marissa knew I was grieving, knew that I was in an extremely vulnerable place having just lost my job and my parent. And immediately, when I heard her voice, I knew I was in for a wild call. What was wild about the call was not so much what was said, but what was not said. And the tone. The tone was one that I had never heard before. It was sing songy. It set off a whole bunch of red flags in that moment. And right off the bat, I felt as though the call was gonna go down as gaslighting chapter 437, because immediately we had that very brief exchange about how, oh no, Tracy you're being offered a demotion with no mention that I had been terminated. So that's confusing. That was clearly not part of the original deal. According to the letter, I was being terminated in my role period. No, if ands or buts, I was terminated. It was an incredibly disorienting phone call. I was offered a demotion. And I could pay the Org if I wanted to continue teaching. When I heard that I was pretty certain that that was not going to happen. And at the end of the call, I was chastised for "creating drama". Basically like, oh, Tracy, you didn't need to create all this drama. And in the Org, that was just about the worst thing that you could do. Creating drama was looked at very unfavorably as the root of all ill. It was a buzzword for shaming people.
Candice Schutter: 15:30
One of the cardinal sins.
Tracy Stamper: 15:33
It may be the main one. One of two or three.
Candice Schutter: 15:37
Yeah, for sure.
Tracy Stamper: 15:39
And in this very tender time at this very tender moment, I was told that I was creating drama. I knew I wasn't. I didn't wanna create any trouble. I simply wanted to say, Hey, this really fucked me up. Um,
Candice Schutter: 15:55
Tracy Stamper: 15:57
For the first time ever being on the receiving end of those words at such a vulnerable ouchy place already. It drove home how cruel those words can be. When I am told that my grief process over losing a parent after years of a really traumatizing loss as he moved through dementia, to be told that my tears and my expression of truth could just be summed up as drama was is really invalidating and really insulting. Well, I was about to say it left me a puddle of tears, but keep in mind where I was here. My father had just passed within the prior week. I was crying before I made the phone call. So puddle of tears was already the water that I was swimming in. The way that I was treated in that moment could not have become anything other than a final straw for me.
Candice Schutter: 17:06
Fair enough. Yeah.
Tracy Stamper: 17:07
Candice Schutter: 17:08
Makes sense. There was no going back at that point.
Tracy Stamper: 17:10
There was no going back and part of me desperately wanted to go back. After going through the loss of a parent, I so badly wanted what was familiar.
Candice Schutter: 17:22
Tracy Stamper: 17:23
I wanted so badly to go teach a class. It's where sometimes I felt most myself. It's where my healing came from in large part. It's where my community was.
Candice Schutter: 17:37
Yeah. Which is big when you're going through something.
Tracy Stamper: 17:40
Big. It was my, you know, daily, the structure of my days.
Candice Schutter: 17:46
Tracy Stamper: 17:47
I so badly just wanted to slip back into that space and to be able to do what I loved and what I worked so hard and become really good at. I really wanted that. And I remember talking to a friend of mine who we shared a class, so we would kind of alternate and together the two of us would share this class. And she was asking me when I thought I would be able to return because I had stopped teaching about a month before my father passed, just knowing that that was coming. And I remember when she asked me that after I had that conversation that just rocked my world, and I said, you know, I can't do it. I can't be true to myself. And step back into that space. When I even think about doing that, every single cell in my body is slamming on the brakes. Whew. Well, if that's not a red flag. I don't know what it is.
Candice Schutter: 18:53
Tracy Stamper: 18:54
But that was such a tangible example. I just felt like my very cells were like, no, Tracy, you are not going to do that again.
Candice Schutter: 19:03
Tracy Stamper: 19:04
You're done.
Candice Schutter: 19:06
So you're grieving the loss of your father and you're grieving the loss of an identity and you're grieving the loss of a community and you're grieving the loss of the practice itself that was deeply nourishing and helpful for you. And all of that loss with the exception of your father is a function of the dynamics of the high demand atmosphere and the toll that it had taken. And the straw that finally broke the camel's back. And so, the puddle must've just gotten bigger that you were swimming in.
Tracy Stamper: 19:42
It was intense. And I was in this very confusing... you mentioned earlier about feeling backed into a corner and I didn't know what to do. I had been such a proponent and cheerleader for this modality, which I love. I haven't done it since that day. Not at all. I loved it. And all of a sudden from the outside looking in, I'm not practicing it anymore. I'm not teaching it anymore. I'm not training in it anymore. That's odd. Given what a proponent, what I cheerleader I really was. That's really odd, but what do I say?
Candice Schutter: 20:27
Yeah, I know that feeling. Yeah.
Tracy Stamper: 20:29
That fucked me up for many, many, many months.
Candice Schutter: 20:32
Yeah. It's really challenging. It's really challenging. Especially when, part of the framework that you've absorbed psychologically speaking is you're not a victim ever. No matter what. You're not a victim ever, no matter what. And so how do you speak about such a thing without, in some way, implying that you're a victim. And I think this sort of connects to part of why untangling oneself becomes so exhausting. There's a phrase that is physically out, but not mentally out.
Tracy Stamper: 21:13
Candice Schutter: 21:14
And I'm going to speak to this again. When we talk about, when I connected with you shortly after this, I want to speak to that a little bit more, but this sort of, again, mind fuck. I feel like the title of this episode should just be mindfuck.
Tracy Stamper: 21:29
Kind of fucking sums it up, doesn't it?
Candice Schutter: 21:32
Exactly. So, part of the mind fuck is... I mean, I see now in retrospect why this framework of there are no victims is so effective. And this happens all the time, y'all out there. It's happening in our government. It's happening everywhere. This is an ideology that is so dangerous. It's one thing to take back responsibility for ourselves. And it's so another thing to embody this idea that there are no victims because sure, if you want to talk about spiritual landscapes and maybe you believe in karma and everything works out in the end and the universe has your back and all that, fine. Like I can, I can grab onto those threads from time to time. And we live in a finite world where people hurt each other and intended or not, there are consequences. And we don't have to ride the drama cycle as it's called the whole victim, villain, rescuer thing in order to point at something and say, this is wrong.
Tracy Stamper: 22:35
Candice Schutter: 22:36
And it's not okay. And when you're steeped in this philosophy that everything happens for a reason and you're steeped in this philosophy of there are no victims. We're each responsible for how we feel. You cannot make me feel anything. True. Yet you can certainly influence whether or not I'm going to have that feeling. There's no question about that. This is so important. People can't make us feel things, and yet they can.
Tracy Stamper: 23:02
Candice Schutter: 23:03
Because trauma is real. Like it's experienced in the body. And when we experience a trauma in the body, the body responds naturally. There is nothing wrong with you. If somebody hits you in the gut and you say, ouch. And this is what we're talking about on a psychological level, when we try to spiritually bypass and transcends the realities of if a woman is grieving the loss of her father, that is not a time to kick her in the gut. I don't care what reasons you have for it. It's wrong. And are you a victim? You know what, yeah. And does that mean that you need to be steeped in the psychology of being a victim... and it's like, because we see people get stuck in victimhood, we think that there's something wrong with victimhood. And it's like, no, we just don't want to get stuck there. But we can still claim it and we don't need to, like, brand it on a t-shirt and wear it around, but we can simply say, this is wrong. And, so I just want to, I guess, validate the part of you that was struggling with, how do I share with my former students who are now former students suddenly, like, why are we former students of yours? I was there, too. I know the deep discomfort that you were feeling, because I felt it many years prior when I stopped teaching.
Tracy Stamper: 24:20
Candice Schutter: 24:22
And this sort of dance of, it's like you end up just having to avoid certain interactions and sort of dance around the issue a little bit and make excuses. And, and really what you're doing is you're not expressing in your integrity. You're not in integrity. You have to step out of integrity in order to make this work so that you can guard the family secrets. I mean, that's really at the heart of this.
Tracy Stamper: 24:47
That's it.
Candice Schutter: 24:48
We lose our integrity when we guard the family secrets. That's the cost, every time. And when we're in a codependent dynamic, we lose touch with our soul. Like those are the two things that are happening simultaneously. We've lost touch with our inner guidance... because it's all about him, her, they, and how they feel, or our sense of belonging in the group. And we've lost touch with our integrity because what's happening inside of us cannot be expressed on the outside because it's too dangerous.
Tracy Stamper: 25:16
It's too dangerous.
Candice Schutter: 25:28
So when we say dangerous, it might seem like, well, really dangerous? Like what do you mean by that? So let's talk about when you, tell us how you got to the point where you decided I can't keep this inside of me any longer.
Tracy Stamper: 25:41
Yes. And you will know the exact date because it was your birthday.
Candice Schutter: 25:45
It was, we looked back and saw that our Facebook messenger exchange was on my birthday in 2018. Yep. August 7th, 2018, to be specific everyone. In case you're marking your calendars. In case you want to congratulate Tracy every August 7th from here on out, send her cards and flowers. Now, you know, August 7th is the day to do it. Okay.
Tracy Stamper: 26:13
So it's interesting to me to think of that date because that date is eight months after I lost my job.
Candice Schutter: 26:22
Eight months.
Tracy Stamper: 26:24
Eight months. That is a long time.
Candice Schutter: 26:26
I was just thinking that. That's a long time to be suffering in silence.
Tracy Stamper: 26:30
It's a long time to kind of, like you said, just not be in integrity about my whereabouts. Why am I not? So, so it was this weird, like I kind of got the impression that students in my community were guessing that the reason I wasn't returning to teaching is because I was actively grieving my father. I was actively grieving my father, and I wanted to teach. I just, I couldn't. Um, So it was eight months. My family was headed to just a weekend or three-day getaway in Chicago. I had been experiencing some really significant pain in joints. My ankles I would get up in the morning. It was very difficult for me to walk some days. It would come and go. I would track it. I knew it was related to what I was going through. I knew that it was stress in my body. I woke up on August 7th and I knew I needed to get someone else's story out of my body.
Candice Schutter: 27:45
Tracy Stamper: 27:47
The words that I was responding to were words that were spoken to me. They were not my story, yet they had lodged themselves in my body because I couldn't figure out how to safely get them out. I still haven't figured it out. Do I feel safe sharing this? No, I don't. But I knew loud and clear that morning after weeks of the most intense ankle and knee pain that I had had since that time, that I needed to just share something about why I was no longer walking through the world the same way I used to. And so I wrote a post.
Candice Schutter: 28:31
Let me underscore here that Tracy is a writer. So when she says she wrote a post, I know that she's not like most people, I just like sat down and cranked out a few words and push, send it out into the ethers. She wrote a post y'all. She sat and she considered her words and she's a beautiful gifted writer. So she wrote something that was very well thought out and articulate. She did not do this flippantly, especially given the charge nature of the topic, especially given that she's a writer, this was something that was very well thought out and articulated. And I know this because I read this post. So tell us.
Tracy Stamper: 29:09
Yeah. Like you said, it was very, very carefully crafted. Every single word was very carefully crafted. And in it, I shared that I was no longer going to be teaching. I was no longer going to be training. I referred folks who were interested to colleagues, so I really was doing my best to be a a good little soldier, kind of thing. And I have dear friends who are involved in the organization and I did not want to hurt them. I did not wanna hurt their practices, their businesses. I did not want to hurt the founder. I didn't want to hurt anyone, but I wanted to stop hurting myself. Literally. And I just knew that it was time to get this woman's words out of my body, not by sharing them specifically, which I have done, you know, with maybe three or four people, you being one of them. And I shared that I was no longer associated with the organization and that I didn't like the way things had ended. That was the only thing that I said.
Candice Schutter: 30:28
Yeah, well, there was nothing. I don't recall it specifically, but I do remember reading it and it was very diplomatic and there was nothing in it that pointed a finger at anyone in particular, you were very much about owning your own discomfort and how it went down. And it was very cryptic, in fact, what, what does that even mean? Now, for me, not so much cryptic, because I had been down that road so I could read between the lines, but in terms of saving the face of the organization, it was, Bravo job well done. There was nothing in it that was revealing to anyone who didn't, who wasn't intimately involved.
Tracy Stamper: 31:04
Right. I guarded the family secrets well.
Candice Schutter: 31:07
Yeah. You did.
Tracy Stamper: 31:07
Candice Schutter: 31:08
Yeah. And you also spoke though to your discomfort, which was in some ways liberating. So I can see how you were doing your best to straddle that.
Tracy Stamper: 31:17
And it was, there really was no preparation for what transpired from that point on. The comments that landed on that post were wild.
Candice Schutter: 31:30
It was a shit show.
Tracy Stamper: 31:32
It was a shit show. So we have gone from mindfuck to shitshow, all in one episode.
Candice Schutter: 31:38
Call it what it is. Exactly.
Tracy Stamper: 31:39
All of the above. It was all over the place. People literally from the world over were commenting on.
Candice Schutter: 31:49
It blew up.
Tracy Stamper: 31:50
It blew up.
Candice Schutter: 31:51
You know how Facebook is, the people that you interact with you see, and everyone else is just like dead to you, I guess, according to Facebook. It's like, why do I see the same 20 people only when I have 1500 friends? I don't know. And so I hadn't seen, I didn't know anything about anything. We hadn't communicated in years. I hadn't seen a post from you. And I hadn't been engaging with people even the organization's circle. So I wasn't even seeing them. So it had somehow gotten so much engagement that it was rippling in terms of its exposure. Like it went most likely to, you know, your colleagues first and then it sort of just expanded out and somehow it got big enough so that it popped up on my feed. And I saw this woman that I love doing this incredibly brave thing. And I, I mean, this was 2018. So I had left around 10 years prior. On purpose for a while I had actually hidden, I didn't want to unfriend people because I genuinely enjoyed and loved many of the people who I was friends with through the community. So I, in no way wanted to separate from them. And yet I just, for a long time, just didn't want to see anything associated with the practice. And so I hadn't seen many posts from people in the community. And when I did, when they just squeaked in, I took as much of a distance as I possibly could from everything. I would avoid commenting. And when I saw your post, I just couldn't. I was reading, I didn't read all the comments because there were so many, but I read enough of them to just feel empathically like, holy shit, like what you must have been feeling. Just to give people a sense, when you say the comments were all over the place, it was like people saying, you know, I love and support you. I wish you well. So there was some of that. And then there was... I heard this term recently when doing research for this episode, that there's this term in the cultiverse around people who become the flying monkeys for whoever the leader is. And so there were flying monkey comments, they were smattered in. And people just reciting the principles of the practice and gaslighting you.
Tracy Stamper: 34:12
Candice Schutter: 34:12
I remember one in particular really pissed me off. And she was someone that I had never met. She came in after I had left and she had become this sort of new figurehead person that was just showing up a lot. I mean, I had seen posts from her, even though I knew nothing about what was going on in the community, because she was sort of, one of the new up and coming faces in the inner circle. And I remember she said, I won't quote the exact teaching, but she used one of the teachings and it was such a blatant attempt to gaslight you. And I was just like, are you fucking kidding me?
Tracy Stamper: 34:48
Candice Schutter: 34:49
And I didn't comment on any of those though, because there was one particular individual who on that comment said something to the effect of keep drinking the Kool-Aid, why don't you.
Tracy Stamper: 34:59
He did.
Candice Schutter: 35:00
I was just like, well, good for him. Somebody standing up and saying that. And I don't, I knew well enough that I knew I didn't want to waste my energy in some sort of defensive posturing back and forth with someone. I have no interest in that I don't.
Tracy Stamper: 35:14
Candice Schutter: 35:14
I don't need to defend my experience or anyone else's. I just need to stand next to the person who's being courageous enough to show up and state her truth. And so all I did is I scrolled all the way down to the very bottom and I added a comment and I just said. "Welcome to the other side. I love you." Or something like that. And that's all I said, and I left it. You sent me a message shortly after and you said. "Damn, I love you. Let's connect. And I didn't know it was your birthday," right. And just to give you a sense of who Tracy is, like, she's going through the shit show online and she's like, got to make sure I wished Candace a happy birthday. I like really? Like, least of your worries right now. And thank you. So from there, we ended up having a phone conversation and I remember it quite vividly because it was... okay, just to give people a sense when I left the organization, because it was in the inner most inner most circle. Because I had developed deep friendships with the people who were in that circle with me, there wasn't a lot of it going on, but there was a little bit of commiseration. There was a little bit of, Hey, this doesn't feel right. Or, I don't like how that went down. And so I had had the benefit of being able to have a few of those conversations. And then when I left, right around that time a little bit before and a little bit after other people that I had become very close with left too. So we had had conversations around what didn't feel good to us. And we had validated one another a bit and we were still again, physically out, but not mentally out. So we did a lot of word salad in terms of speaking about our feelings. I remember you telling me, Tracy, about writing a letter to the founder and the higher ups and how you showed it to your therapist. And she was like, what are you even saying? Like, just say that you want to leave or say this doesn't feel good or say it's like, we'd become so accustomed to the high talk. Like the high talk is just this exhausting thing where even if you're confiding to your coworker, who you both left this organization that was toxic in many ways, you're confiding to each other and you're doing all of this verbal calisthenics to make sure that it doesn't sound this way and that way. And you're not a victim, and it's exhausting.
Tracy Stamper: 37:37
Candice Schutter: 37:38
It's exhausting. And I had had those conversations and I had moved through my bitterness and anger. And I had gotten past the point where, when I saw on the feed, the founder, I wasn't, as I wasn't triggered in the same way. I had come like a long, long way. And even so, talking with you and hearing about your experience was activating to me because it took me back into the places of my body, where there's stories that live. And we had this conversation and what I remember about it, I'll let you share your experience of it. What I remember was I really felt that those words of like welcome to the other side. I felt this sense of, alright, you're here. Like, you're awake in some way. It feels a little bit like you're talking to somebody who came out of a dream scape that you were once in and they're suddenly lucid and you can have a conversation. And so I remember that feeling of just being like, oh, there she is. Like, let's talk about what happened. And I also remember, when I spoke earlier about the loaded language and what I just mentioned the high talk. I also really noticed, because I had been out for so long and the people that I knew that were in had been out for so long and we had unraveled a lot of that conditioning. We're still sloughing it off, but we had unraveled a lot of it. I remember how much consideration you had around every word. And I could hear the high talk. I could hear.
Tracy Stamper: 39:09
Candice Schutter: 39:09
You not fully being ready to own your experience and your anger. And I even tested the waters a couple of times, and I was like, that's just really fucked up. That's all that that is. Like, you can say it as many ways as you want to, but it's wrong and it's hurtful. I didn't want to push you too far, too fast, but I felt like I want to demonstrate, this is where you can end up. And I remember you said to me something to the effect of how far off that felt like the place that I was coming from and the place that you were in. I remember you commented on like how far away it felt and how is it that you're there and I'm not. And I said to you, I've been out for 10 years, but it's not because I'm 10 years ahead of you. It's because I got to the center 10 years before you. I went through the same journey that you went through of enmeshment and confusion and gaslighting and all the things. And then I came out of it and I've had all of these years to wake up from the spell that I was under. It is very much like you're sloughing off a trance and you can't just, poof you're out of it. And that's part of how, you know, that you were indoctrinated.
Tracy Stamper: 40:19
Candice Schutter: 40:20
If it's as simple as just leaving and then you're good. If it's as simple as, oh now my brain works the way that it worked before. It's like, no, my brain doesn't work the same way anymore. Some fucked-upedness happened. Because it's like soul retrieval, you know, it's like I have to play back that power that I lost. I lost it incrementally, and I have to take it back incrementally. There's no other way to do it. So I said to you, you can call and talk to me whenever you want, and just know that it's going to take as long as it takes. And I want to be a resource for you. And this part you're going through sucks. I've been there. It's really painful.
Tracy Stamper: 41:01
And I knew you had been through it because you had, had to do the same things that I was doing. You had said it's been years since I spoke to anyone who's involved in the organization. And I thought, wow, I'm not the only one who had to just walk away in order to heal. I'm not the only one. Of course, since then I've learned time and time and time again, I'm not the only one. And now I have people tentatively reaching out to me.
Candice Schutter: 41:34
Oh, great. That's nice to hear.
Tracy Stamper: 41:38
Candice Schutter: 41:49
And I think it's important to speak to why is the cutting of ties so important? Because, like I said, these are people that you grow to love and you value the friendships and the relationships. And so what is it that makes it such that I can't engage with that person any longer? Is it because there's something wrong with that person? No. It's because there's this, you shared an example with me about a woman who we both know. When you left, she reached out to you and I want to give people an example of why you're not able to talk to other trainers about why you left because of what happens. Yeah.
Tracy Stamper: 42:29
I received a message from a former colleague of mine and she started out being very supportive and I'm sorry, this has gone on for you. And then she shared that she had had quite a year and it was just hellacious. And then she said that she didn't understand why people including me had to speak in ways that created drama.
Candice Schutter: 42:58
Tracy Stamper: 43:00
I heard from another woman who I really respect. She's fabulous. And she wrote me a very, very long message and, keep in mind, none of these people knew the play-by-play of what had happened.
Candice Schutter: 43:16
Tracy Stamper: 43:17
So that's pretty important.
Candice Schutter: 43:19
It is important, but also, who are they giving the benefit of the doubt to?
Tracy Stamper: 43:23
Candice Schutter: 43:24
That's important. That's the thing to notice here as you're hearing this story, everyone.
Tracy Stamper: 43:28
Exactly. So she went into long detail about a woman in her community who came to her classes. And this woman I believe had moved from another culture to the US. Was in her nineties. And my former colleague was telling me how much benefit this woman got from the practice. Which of course she did. I saw that happen all the time.
Candice Schutter: 43:57
Tracy Stamper: 43:58
And at the end of this communication, she said, the woman who spoke to me in a way that made my cells slam on the brake, she said, she's not hurting this woman in her nineties. She's adding value to the life of this woman in her nineties who's engaged in the modality. I have no doubt that that's true, but what about me?
Candice Schutter: 44:21
Tracy Stamper: 44:22
I was hurt. And that's something that you've really helped me clarify is where is there room for me in this?
Candice Schutter: 44:30
Exactly. And that's why when we say with deep love and reverence, I can't engage with said individuals is because the projection of self-sacrifice, it becomes a way of reinforcing the abuse. And it makes perfect sense that that would be their response because they are likewise conditioned to self sacrifice and to place the needs of the 90 year old woman above their own. That's the agreement. And Tracy and I are now existing in a universe where it's like, well, what if everybody's considered, I don't know, just a thought, how about us?
Tracy Stamper: 45:07
Candice Schutter: 45:07
I mean, this goes way back in our, in human history, this sense of like self flagellation and self sacrifice and martyrdom and all this. If it's the water that you swim in, how do you support somebody who's no longer in the water. You just can't. And so it's this tragic realization that in order to separate, you have to separate from the people who are closest to that, the people who are, are swimming in the deepest waters. And for me, what was also interesting about our conversation was that all those many years later, my partner and I had moved to the outskirts of town and I'd been teaching Zumba at like 24 hour fitness and other places in the city and I had a huge following and my classes were awesome. And because we moved away and because I didn't consider it a lateral move to go teach at this high end club, I considered it a step up and they were going to pay me a little bit more and it was closer to our new home. I decided to start teaching Zumba this new club. And it turned out it wasn't a great fit for me. I was starting from scratch. I was having trouble building a following because the way that I taught was very different than the way that everyone else taught it. And it wasn't just jiving with the population as well. And so it was kind of struggling and questioning the fact that I had given up these other classes for this. And so I get a call from this friend, this colleague that I had known for years, and she said that she was leaving and this club, it had this decades long, for decades, they had been offering the modality that I had left. She asked me, would you teach? And I thought two things. I thought, okay, I don't feel anxious and nauseous at the thought anymore.
Tracy Stamper: 46:48
That's a plus.
Candice Schutter: 46:50
Definitely. That was definitely on the pro list, I guess. But barely.
Tracy Stamper: 46:54
Candice Schutter: 46:57
I thought about the way that my physical body had felt as a result of the physical actions of the practice. And I thought, wow, that would feel good again. And I thought, I don't feel myself in the high talks so much anymore. I feel like I can just take the best bits and leave the rest and I can do it however I want to do it. So yeah, sure. Why not? And it ended up being a really wonderful, healing thing for me to do because the community at this particular place was just glorious and just such lovely, lovely students that didn't appear to be in any sort of altered state. We're just loving the movement. And I kept it pretty simple, and I did the parts that I loved. And I, I just continually kept reminding myself to be true to myself and to just leave out all the rest. So I was having this positive experience and also knowing that there was a time limit on it that I wasn't gonna be able to do it for long, that it was almost like I had to take back something, and then I could let it go for good. And so I was teaching at the time. And so it was this crazy cocktail of emotions because I had finally gotten it in my body, that the practice had nothing to do with the people.
Tracy Stamper: 48:05
Candice Schutter: 48:07
Not to say there wasn't any residue, because it would come up like, you know, students would come in and they would talk about the epicenter, and they would talk about the founders and I was doing a lot less protecting. Like I would say things like I don't go downtown to the epicenter anymore. I worked there and it didn't really work for me. And I love the practice. I would sort of imply, but not outwardly state, which I think is fine. In that context, there's no reason for me to speak ill of anyone. And so, I share that because I feel like when we had that conversation, I was in this space of having taken something back and you were in the space of having lost it.
Tracy Stamper: 48:45
Candice Schutter: 48:46
It made me realize how far I had come.
Tracy Stamper: 48:50
Candice Schutter: 48:51
And it hurt so badly to know that this was still happening. That was the first moment that, I mean, when was that, three and a half years ago, it's taken this long, but that was the first moment when I was like, this is bullshit. The fact that you, somebody that I loved and cared about, had been hurt in this way. And that I had never said anything. Because of this indoctrination, I hadn't witnessed anyone flat out just say what happened with doing a fucking choreographed dance around every second of it.
Tracy Stamper: 49:24
Candice Schutter: 49:26
When I talked to you and I heard you doing that dance, I was like, this is ridiculous.
Tracy Stamper: 49:32
Candice Schutter: 49:32
This is so ridiculous. What are we doing? And we spent some time not communicating because you were in integration mode and grief and all of that. And I knew that needed to happen. And I also said to you, like at any point, if you're ready, let's have a conversation around this. And we started having conversations around it and it led to us having these breakthroughs together and also when you landed on that piece, around the family secrets, part of the reason why that knocked me on my ass and the truth of it, I was like, oh my God. This is what I do in my family too. Why am I so passionate about self-expression? Because it's mine. It's my experience. And I get to share it. And if in sharing it, you in some way are implicated, that's between you and your God. It's not my business to tend to your heart at the cost of my own. No longer. And you can hear me screaming through the ethers here, because it's just at the core of how I've had to learn to show up with my own family. In my family of origin. And I've had to have those conversations. And I, now that I think about it, holy shit. I never put this together. So we spoke in August of 2018. In October of 2018 ish, y'all can Google it if you want the exact date, is around the time that Christine Blasey Ford was at the Brett Kavanaugh hearing. I have no words to express the courage that that woman possesses. And I was, as so many of us women, especially survivors were so deeply and profoundly affected by her testimony. And I was profoundly affected by that. It triggered some really latent stuff for me around abuse that I had suffered. And I had this moment where I was reckoning with everything that I was feeling, and I kept seeing the attacks of Christine Blasey Ford for sharing her story and her experience. And they were coming from every possible point of entry. She was getting a lot of backlash just for even speaking about her experience and how dare she. But also for not being able to recollect certain details of this trauma, which if you know anything about trauma, that's sort of the point of disassociation.
Tracy Stamper: 51:51
Candice Schutter: 51:52
So I was really triggered by this because I don't remember details of some of the trauma that I experienced and I know that it happened. And I felt that fire of how dare you question something that is so visceral and true in my body. And so I sat down and I wrote this post about trauma. It just kind of came pouring out of me. It was just like a Facebook post and it was getting a decent amount of engagement. I should note that I didn't name anything about any trauma, any person, nothing. I just spoke to that I had had trauma and I didn't remember certain details. That was pretty much all I had shared that was really deeply personal. The rest was just around trauma in general. And I know that you, because we had communicated, I was seeing your posts and you had posted on a website that had published some of your work. And so I submitted it and they picked it up and they published it. It was very visible. And I to hear nothing from my parents around it, which I thought was a little strange that there was no acknowledgement because I also sent out a email newsletter. I knew that my dad had read it. I knew that my mom had seen it on social media. And then a few days go by and I get a call from my dad and he and my mom had spoken, which was very unusual. My parents had been divorced my whole life, essentially, since I was an infant. And they barely had contact and that they had spoken, and he essentially had been elected to ask me this question, which was, did you think of how that would have felt to us? You sharing that? And this was a watershed moment in my life. I'm sharing the story in this context because it absolutely connects to how I got so ensnared in the dynamic of the organization we're talking about, and perhaps the conversation I had with you is part of what gave me the courage to allow the lava to overflow for the first time. And I said to my dad, I just started bawling and wailing. And I said to him, that is all I've ever thought of my whole fucking life. I'm done. I'm done taking care of your feelings. I'm done mediating between you and mom. I'm done. Like I get to have my life and I get to have my voice and I get to have my experience. And I'll be damned if my dad, I mean, it was a long conversation and I feel like I was every age in that conversation, I was like a blabbering infant. Cause he left when I was little, I mean, it was breakthrough conversation for us. And fortunately for me, he was able to meet me there and say, you're right.
Tracy Stamper: 54:23
Candice Schutter: 54:23
I'm sorry. And he hates, to this day, and I'll use that word because I know that I'm so visible because he's so private and he allows me that and really, because I gave him no choice. And that's the point we have to get to where it's like, you don't get to dictate what I do and do not share with the world. And you can ask me to be conscientious, which I am. And you can ask that I take your feelings into consideration, which I always do. And you can ask that I filter out certain details, which I have done. And there's a point at which I will just say, I love you, and no. This is my story to tell. And this point that you got to where you said, no, this is my story to tell. And that you were attacked.
Tracy Stamper: 55:09
Candice Schutter: 55:20
And this is important because some people might say, well, why aren't you naming this organization? Why are you not holding them to account? And we are holding them to account. And sometimes the naming of the organization, especially in this culture of social media and cancel culture and the safe distance that people have to attack online, it becomes a distraction. Like if we named this organization, we would have to spend so much energy.
Tracy Stamper: 55:48
Candice Schutter: 55:49
Navigating the backlash of having named it.
Tracy Stamper: 55:51
Candice Schutter: 55:52
So we're not, not naming it because we're afraid, although we are afraid.
Tracy Stamper: 55:56
Candice Schutter: 55:57
We are afraid and we're not, not naming it because of that. It's the drama, because we do believe to a certain degree in not creating drama. But when the, again, and I've said this so many times in episode after episode, we humans love to take really beautiful, wonderful teachings and weaponize them. We just love it. We love it. We love it. And because this beautiful teaching of, Hey, don't create drama. Connect with what's really going on and communicate around that. I'm all for that. But what ends up happening is that becomes a tool of don't create any waves.
Tracy Stamper: 56:34
Candice Schutter: 56:35
Don't have needs because if you have needs, then automatically you're creating drama. If I'm being 100% transparent, part of the reason I'm not naming the organization is because if you want to engage, you have to name yourself. It's on you. I'm not going to let you pin that on me.
Tracy Stamper: 56:53
Candice Schutter: 56:55
And mistake my motives. That's the main thing. My motive is to share and help people who are suffering with similar dynamics so that they can maybe wake up a little bit sooner and maybe that'll include some people in the organization maybe not. I don't have an agenda around. That would be great if it did, but whatever. If it becomes about, you're trying to take us down. And we say from the get-go no, we're not. We're just sharing what happened. And if you want to engage in that conversation, then you have to start it.
Tracy Stamper: 57:28
Right. Right. I have no interest in taking anyone down.
Candice Schutter: 57:33
Tracy Stamper: 57:33
Never. That's just, it's not part of my fiber.
Candice Schutter: 57:36
I don't want to take anyone down either. I want to wake people up.
Tracy Stamper: 57:41
Candice Schutter: 57:42
Like I said, in the very, very beginning of this podcast, this is not about them. This conversation is not about centering the people at the top. That's the problem. It's about waking up the people who surround them. Because if we continually focus on the Donald Trumps and the Putins and the everybody who's at the top of hierarchies that's abusing power. If we just focus on taking them down another weed is just going to grow up in the same place. That's not the point. The point is to enlighten people to the fact that, Hey, you're vulnerable. If you think that you're not vulnerable to this.
Tracy Stamper: 58:22
Candice Schutter: 58:22
Think again. It may be happening in your workplace, in your home, in your family of origin, in your community center, at your PTA meeting. Like these dynamics happen everywhere all the time. And if we wake up to them, then there aren't people who are willing to fall prey to those weeds. And so for me, the reason I'm not interested in taking anyone down is because it's not the point. Not only is it morally not something that speaks to me, it's just really not the point of all this.
Tracy Stamper: 58:49
Candice Schutter: 58:50
Tracy Stamper: 58:51
In fact, I have done so many mental gymnastics around how can I be in integrity with what I'm feeling and what I experienced and where I am and why I'm here? How can I do that without that casting a shadow on anyone else? To the point of paralysis, right? That was what I did for those eight months.
Candice Schutter: 59:18
Tracy Stamper: 59:20
And that's what I did to have that pain land in my joints where I would, I felt like I was 117 years old. When I got out of bed some mornings. I was in so much pain. And it's, it's interesting when I'm hearing you talk about what your intention is in sharing this, and you talk about shedding light so that others might learn or see something in their own experience. And then I ask myself, what is my intention in sharing this in the same venue with you? And the word lifeline comes to me. Because your typing 'welcome to the other side' was a lifeline for me. You extended that hand of friendship at a time where I was really down and really in pain. And said, come on. So if my experience, as difficult as it is to talk about, and as stilted as it might sound, because I'm still in mentally, if any words that I can share might become a lifeline to anyone else, Bravo. And even more so than that. And this is new for me. I want to be a lifeline to myself.
Candice Schutter: 1:00:50
Tracy Stamper: 1:00:51
There needs to be room for me in the story. Like my partner said, let yourself off the hook. You've been carrying this for too long.
Candice Schutter: 1:01:04
Beautifully said, yes.
Tracy Stamper: 1:01:07
I feel like I can sense the brain fog that I have around this that I haven't, I'm not in the clear yet. I'm still mentally in.
Candice Schutter: 1:01:17
Tracy Stamper: 1:01:17
So right now I can feel the repercussions of being mentally foggy around it.
Candice Schutter: 1:01:26
Tracy Stamper: 1:01:26
Does that make sense?
Candice Schutter: 1:01:27
Yeah. Well, and I think in some ways it's the beauty of you choosing to do this project right now in your process. And I think it's going to be really helpful for you to hear yourself, tell these stories. Because of what you said right there at the end about how you're wanting to show up for yourself and validate yourself. And I know for me listening to some of my earlier podcasts and some of the stories that are triggering for me that I told has been so healing to me and it's felt weird. Cause like, there've been a few times we're on the trail. I'm like, I'm gonna listen to this episode. And I'm listening to myself and I'm like, why are you listening to yourself? And there's something about hearing my own voice say things to me.
Tracy Stamper: 1:02:06
Candice Schutter: 1:02:07
That is really powerful. So I think it'll help with the fog a little bit, because you'll be able to, because when you're talking about it, you're probably activated.
Tracy Stamper: 1:02:16
Candice Schutter: 1:02:17
And so you're not even fully present to yourself. So the fact that you're able to listen to it later and like, if you get triggered, you can pause it and come back after you have a drink of water or whatever. I think it's going to be, I'm hoping, at least at the very least that it's supports you in that way. And then we can talk about when and what we want to share. Tracy and I will be back again next week for part three, where we keep the conversation going. We'll be speaking about the aftermath of leaving culty culture, and we'll talk candidly about susceptibility and how our personal histories may have shaped our experiences at the Org. Many of you who are currently or previously involved with the Org have reached out to us via email and social media. We love hearing from you, so please keep sending us your messages. And also, based on the frequency and some of the content of these dialogues, as well as comments in public posts, we've decided to create a private Facebook community for the sharing of personal stories. Tracy and I will be moderating this safe space to share stories and contextualize your experiences on the other side of high-demand culture. If this speaks to you or you think you might be interested in joining us, reach out to either one of us on social media or send us a message at thedeeperpulse.com/connect. Thank you again for being brave with us, and we'll see you next week. Until then keep on moving toward what moves you. Caio.

© The Deeper Pulse, Candice Schutter