Producer, Screenwriter, Philanthropist, & Survivor
Episode 11: The Loyal and Loud Tribe of Survivors
Lori is joined by film producer, screenwriter, philanthropist, and fellow survivor, Heather Robinson-Ross. Lori and Heather were both abused by the same perpetrator as children and discuss their journey as friends, survivors, and advocates. Heather recalls the loyal friend she found in Carrie Fisher, who once hand delivered a cow tongue to one of Heather’s assailants with the note, “If you ever touch my darling Heather or any other woman again, the next delivery will be something of yours in a much smaller box!”
Transcript of the Louder than Silence Podcast
Episode #11: The Loyal & Loud Tribe of Survivors
Transcribed by Adam Soisson
[Inspirational theme music plays.]
>> Lori: Thank you for joining us. In this podcast, we are real people, talking about real things. Child abuse and neglect: a topic that is all too often left in the shadows of silence, leaving survivors alone, fearful, and oftentimes without a voice. We’re having conversations to become louder than silence. It is here, where we will invite you to join us and be the change needed to end child abuse and neglect.
>> Lori: Alright everybody welcome to the Louder Than Silence podcast, my name is Lori Poland and I am the Executive Director for the National Foundation to End Child Abuse and Neglect. Today’s guest is one of my heroes. She is truly, since the moment I first heard from her, from the moment I hit record, she is truly one of my most favorite people. There are very few people in the world that I become hooked on and this one I am hook, line and sinker. She is somebody that has just moved into my world and into my heart, my soul and I genuinely feel like there’s this intergalactic connection and I am grateful that she’s here. I’m grateful that you’re all here. Her story is amazing, what she’s done with her life is incredible and you know what I love about this story is that no matter who we are and where we’ve been we’ve all got a story and our stories do not need to dictate the good, the bad, the successes, the failures, the addictions, whatever. They just don’t need to dictate that for us and my dear friend Heather Robinson Ross is the epitome of that. SO Heather, take it away sister.
>> Heather: Bring in the marching band. That’s a great opening, thank you so much and the feeling is mutual so thank you for having me. I don’t know if you just want me to just start.
>> Lori: Why don’t you tell our listeners who you are.
>> Heather: Sure. My name is Heather Robinson Ross. I am a friend of Lori Poland’s and I am an advocate against all things child abuse, domestic violence, across the board there are a lot of different nonprofits that I’ve worked with and I still work with them. But you and your organization, EndCAN, is something that’s very near and dear to my heart. About two years ago I was up here in Denver with my husband who is active duty military. He had been diagnosed with Waldenstrom’s Disease which is a terminal blood cancer and a rare form of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. We had tried doing the chemo route in California and it wasn’t successful so the Army sent us here for a year where we stayed in a hotel while he was receiving his treatment. We got here at the end of August so it was fairly new to us getting into that process and being faced with those circumstances. One day he was getting his chemo treatment and I was outside getting a break from everything and I started receiving phone calls from people I grew up with, some neighbors from the past and I didn’t want to even take phone calls so I was getting texts saying “Hey did you hear bout Lori Poland? Did you hear Lori Poland’s interview on Megan Kelly?” and I said no, I haven’t. I started calling some of these people back and they said, “you’ve got to listen to her story” so I said okay. So I listened to the story and it was just too much for me at that time. My mom was helping me staying in a hotel room right above us. During the interview with Megan Kelly they showed images of your kidnapper and it just took me back to that time. You live with it everyday but you don’t acknowledge it everyday. There are certain things that will trigger you and I just lost it. It was between the fear of losing my husband to this and I said, no, I’m not going to deal with it. I’d mentioned it before to someone else who was very close to me and their initial reaction is, “this is personal and it’s nobody’s business” and I completely agreed. I thought, I don’t have time for this crap right now, I can’t deal with it, you’re absolutely right. But after talking to my mom and talking to Gary I sat with it for a little and I know it sounds cheesy but it was just bothering me deep inside and I thought, you know, it is private and it is nobody’s business and those are the two things that if people don’t change that nothing is going to change. If I don’t talk about this situation, there might be someone further down the line. Or, there’s Lori who’s talking about it but what if we all took that stance that I’m not going to talk about it and woah, I might ruffle some feathers and after a while, after seeing Gary go through Chemo and after his truly 18 months of fighting for his life you get to the point where life is too short and if I can help one person by speaking out, and I don’t have to tell my story in depth, it’s just the fact that I get it, I know what that feeling is like. So I was talking to my mom and I said, “I’m going to reach out to Lori” and it was like having a first date almost. I was behind the Walgreens in Glendale and I’m sure people thought I had just robbed something. I’m sitting in my car, shaking and acting weird and I called you and got your voicemail. I left a voicemail and I thought, “ you know what universe, if she’s going to call me back great, if not I’ve done enough.”
>> Lori: Let me just interject, you had emailed me first and left me a message. My phone number is not available publicly so don’t give any ideas [laughs]. But you had emailed me and I was like, “who is this person?” So then I did a little bit of research on you and then in your email, it was a one-liner email.
>> Heather: I was so shady in my email like “you don’t know me but I know you.” [laughs]
>> Lori: Exactly, I knew you 35 years ago. [laughs] I remember you told me I need to be contacting you. I remember thinking, “who is this?” Here’s my phone number, call me. Two days later I called [laughs]
>> Heather: [laughs] So with that being said I have known about you almost my entire life. I had just turned five years old and as far as the timing goes, you and I have both tried to find the exact timing in police records but it happened so long ago and they’ve purged the records so I tell people, there have been people that said my incident happened a week, two weeks, a month, a couple months [before]. I just say to be clear so nobody comes back because I’m sure there are people out there waiting for me to say the wrong thing to be like, “oh she’s a liar” and I’m sure they’re probably listening so welcome. So I just, at some point before your kidnapping, I had an incident take place with your kidnapper and I don’t have to go into details about what happened to me but I can tell you that at five years old I didn’t know what closure really meant. I didn’t know what closure was. After going through counseling at a younger age, and then again as a teenager, and then again as a younger adult. I’ve had a lot of counseling on different levels. You realize how important that closure was. So for me to have gone for whatever amount of time not knowing who that person was to then seeing it on television that here’s this man. What he did to me was only, what I’ve been told and again you can reach out to whoever to verify this, it was a $50 misdemeanor and I don’t even think there would be any jail time for it. So the people that were in my life at that time decided that they did not want me to go in front of a judge because it wasn’t worth the punishment for him, it just wasn’t worth going through all that.
>> Lori: I do want to interject real quickly because I want our listeners to understand the year we’re speaking of is 1983 so in 1983 laws to protect children were significantly different than they are now so for a sexual crime against a child in 1983 the punishment was something along the lines of six months jail time and a $50 fine, that we know of. So things have changed drastically since then but the year that we’re speaking of was back then. Silver lining, that if something like that happened today somebody would be in significantly more trouble and it wouldn’t even be a question whether the people in your life would put you through something like that because they would know that there was justice on the other side. I don’t mean to interrupt.
>> Heather: No, you’re fine. That’s just it, I had just turned five so you’re at that age where, I was at an ice rink and this was a place where I was at all the time. These people that were around were like family. We would go and play in the warming room, we got permission from our parents. There’s been blame like, “oh this person should’ve been watching and this person” but nobody could have imagined in a million years what could have taken place. Not with me, not with you. You were out in your front yard so to put blame on somebody is not the way to go about doing it and especially when you’re around people that you know and are comfortable with. What I took from that as I got older is 1. The closure you were able to identify your kidnapper and bring him to justice which ultimately provided me that knowledge or the comfort to know I don’t have to deal with that anymore. Then going forward I learned that men with mustaches, dark hair and dark mustaches was a trigger. I didn’t even know what a trigger was back then and trigger has just now started to come about in the past 5-6 years that people talk about. It’s interesting to me that you’re able to, in that moment, you’re able to know how can I survive this. When he said to me, “I’ll let you go if you promise not to say anything to anybody.” There are certain things you remember so clearly and I remember going, “Yes, I won’t say a word.” When that door opened I ran like hell so there are certain things that you can’t ignore and you can’t remove from your mind. From that moment on I’ve always wanted to reach out to you in some way but never really knew how. Then we moved from Colorado to Arizona and it was amazing the timing when we were up here with my husband’s cancer treatment and at that moment that’s when I contacted you saying, “I’ve known about you for most of my life and I owe you a huge thank you because I don’t know if my life would have looked if I didn’t have that closure.” I am overweight, I utilize food as my comfort. I always have and that’s been my thing most of my life. I always thought if I’m not attractive then that won’t happen again or if I stay overweight, you hear people say that’s their protective armor. I think for me that was my protective armor. I think for me, I didn’t get into the drug scene, I didn’t get into the alcohol scene but food is my jam and I’ll eat that too [laughs]. So it’s interesting how you go through life and I know we were talking about an instance back in 2000 when again I thought that that weight was going to be my protection and it wasn’t. I ended up getting into a situation again where that didn’t work the way I thought it would. Then you go through those feelings as an adult. You know, at five years old there’s nothing you can do but as an adult you start thinking, “did I do this? Did I ask for this? What am I doing wrong?” and you feel embarrassed and ashamed. It’s interesting as you go through life and the thought process changes as you get older.
>> Lori: And yet it’s still the same sensations, right? That shame, that embarrassment, that guilt, that fear and the wanting to put everything into this secret place so that you don’t feel those feelings. At various different times in our lives we’d run into the same sensations just with different story lines. That’s really interesting. What I appreciate about you Heather is that, this podcast is called Louder Than Silence and one of the things that we’re really trying to emphasize is we don’t have to stand in the darkness any longer and we’ve together watched so many issues from when we were little that were seen as private matters and you don’t talk about that, that’s nobody’s business, and that was certainly a way of life. My parents, certainly my grandparents, that was the way things were done. What happens in our home stays in our home so what happens is when bad things happen or unsafe things take place, the responsibility to keep that silence is so heavy. You were told, “I’ll let you go if you say nothing.” So there was a negotiation and you stuck by your word and you said nothing and you didn’t do that to be malicious, you didn’t do that to cause more harm to anybody else. I know we talked about that the first time we spoke, you apologized to me and I’ll never forget thinking, “Wait, what? Why is this girl apologizing to me?” You had said, “If I had done what you did, if I had the ‘courage’ to identify him, you might not have been taken.” So I thought, “No no no, sister, we wouldn’t be here right now ready to change the world, ready to fight the fight, ready to take it on.” There’s nothing about our lives we can’t handle. We’re given what we can handle and there’s no need to apologize or feel guilty or feel shameful and yet we do. That Louder Than Silence piece is a big part of it and what I appreciate about you and I hope that all of our listeners are grasping is that it’s not a requirement for survivors to come out and say, “So then this happened and then this happened” and detail their circumstance. It’s not a requirement for survivors to come out and file a lawsuit and file criminal charges against their offenders. It’s not a requirement for you to be a poster child. The only thing that really matters is knowing that you are not alone and that, as we’ve seen with so many other issues in our lifetime, when we come together, that’s when change happens. That’s when the magic making begins. So I just have to know, in your life because Heather has a life, people [laughs]. I mean she has just lived it remarkably. You’ve got to tell everybody a little bit about your resume because there’s such a misnomer that when people go through trauma and they have abuse experiences that they’ll be addicts, that they’ll be living in hotels, they’ll be trashy, they’ll be promiscuous, or they’ll do all these things that maybe aren’t good for them. They’ll become offenders, that they’re going to struggle forever. You know, the struggle is real but I’ve never met another human that doesn’t have struggle, ever, even people without an abuse story. Yet, the people with them, they can go on to live these remarkable lives so I have two questions. 1. Tell us about the remarkable life you’ve gone on to live and 2. Who in that remarkable life did something remarkable for you to kind of model that you don’t have to come out and say it, there are ways of saying it. You know what I mean?
>> Heather: I have truly been blessed to have an incredible life. I got a start in the television industry actually here in Colorado. I was the youngest employee at American Cable Vision. I think I was 11 years old. I had to get a worker’s permit because my mom was doing stuff there and she wanted me to learn certain cameras and that I just loved it so I started there. When I lived in Tucson I worked at AOL back in 1996 and I was lucky enough to have met Carrie Fisher in an online chat room and this was back in the day when chat rooms were the thing. I met her because one night she called in to have her password reset, I reset it for her and our customary thing was to send an email saying this is how you can change it back to whatever you want. Well she kept my email address and every now and then, once in a while in the middle of the night she would say, “hey I’m having a problem with this can you help me?” I knew it was her because I was able to look up her information when she called in so over the course of 4-5 years we became very good friends online and during this time I had decided to move to LA because I wanted to be in the industry so bad. You know, American Cable Vision to Hollywood, I can do this. So when I got there I had met an Oscar-winning producer online and we had talked for a few months. Nothing sexual, nothing romantic, I thought this guy was super cool because I wanted to learn more and I accepted an offer to meet up with him for dinner. He was going to pick me up in Westwood and we were going to have dinner and talk over some projects. Again, I go back to my weight. By industry standards I was overweight so for me, I wasn’t an actress. I didn’t want to be an actress, I wasn’t trying to get into a film. I was just trying to learn more. So when I showed up I looked like an olive, I was wearing this green and black thing. I looked hideous, I can’t dress myself anyways. I show up and literally about a minute after I got in the car, he pulls the car over and he leans over, grabs the lever of the seat, flips it back and crawls on top of me and his pants are down around his thighs and I’m thinking, “what is going on here? How is this happening?” So I got away from him, I was able to get out of the car, I ran like hell and I get in my car and at this time I had a cell phone but it was one of those old, huge cellphones so I called my mom and I told her, “I feel like such an idiot. I don’t know, the guy told me to get the eff out of his car and if he ever saw me he’d kill me.” So I thought at that point I must deserve this somehow so I talked to a couple other friends, people I live next door to, I get home and Carrie Fisher was online and at this point we’re doing the AIM messenger and I sent her a message saying, “I’ve got to tell you what just happened. Do you have a second.” She said yes, and when I started to text it to her, she called me and we were able to talk and she let me just talk. She held space for me. She didn’t say anything, she just let me talk. Once I was done, she was so kind and she assured me it wasn’t my fault. At the same time, in true Carrie Fisher fashion she was like “That mother-effer, that’s just typical” so it was great to be able to vent to somebody who had been in the industry, who had been around that for years and literally grew up in it and was royalty. So I kind of leave it alone and she said let’s talk again and she gave me some space. About two weeks later she messaged me and said, “ I want you to know that I met with so-and-so over at Sony Studios.” I asked, “what do you mean?” She said, “Well, I went to Jerry’s Famous Deli in Westwood and I purchased a cow tongue.” Keep in mind, I had no idea what a cow tongue was. “I put it in an old Tiffany box that I had and I put a white bow on it. I thought he’d be in his office so I was over in that area and I hand-delivered it to him.” So I’m just sitting there thinking, “holy crap okay.” So I asked her what she said to him and she said, “Oh I left him a note – if you ever touch my darling Heather or any woman ever again, the next delivery will be something of yours in a much smaller box.” I just loved it. That is awesome. I mean, for somebody to go to that degree, I always thought for several years she was like a second mom. We had this really close bond and then she kind of went her way, I went my way, then we kind of came back together so we’ve done that back and forth but to know in that moment that something so serious and so scary, that she can take that and spin it and literally deliver a message with a point of, “you’re going down the wrong path and if you do it again, shit’s going to hit the fan.” It was awesome to have that so I told that story, I worked in television in Tucson and part of that television station had a radio station so I shared that story in that moment and shared what she had done. That story actually went viral which I thought was really interesting because the messages that a lot of people have sent me are “how awesome that she stood up for you at that point” where she put me in a situation where I wasn’t going to get hurt but she still got the message across. I know you and I have talked about, talking about breast cancer, going back to that person who said it’s personal and it’s nobody’s business, breast cancer is personal. Testicular cancer is personal but people are happy to put “save the ta-tas” on the back of their car where they try to make it fun where child abuse and neglect, it’s not funny and it’s not fun. It’s serious, it’s scary but at the same time there’s the Carrie Fisher’s of the world that can take something so simple as a cow tongue and turn that into a message. I don’t know if we start sending cow tongues to people but it’s amazing how those people step up. I wish I would’ve told that story when she was alive because to hear her tell it is I’m sure 1000 times better than what I have on my instant messages that I saved. And my mom too, I have to tell you my mom from the beginning has been that person to me as well. Unconditional love, understanding the ups and downs. Also my husband Gary as well, for the past nine years. It’s funny how those people come into your life. Then again in the surviving it. That moment for me could’ve gotten real bad. I was lucky enough that it is what it is. The same when I was five years old. Not a day goes by that I don’t think for a second what happened to you could have happened to me and to acknowledge that and to be grateful that we could even connect. It’s the same for you too, people get so caught up in the minutia of the details. The fact that you survived for three and a half days below the earth’s surface, that alone. I don’t care if you’re a parent, a sibling, a cousin, a friend. You are truly a miracle and anybody who denies that or questions that, come see me because I’ll tell you, it’s true. That could have very well been me and I don’t know if I would have survived it. It’s not a, “Oh poor Lori, oh poor Heather.” It’s, “You know what? We’re here and we’re kicking ass and taking names. We’ve found our voice.” I know there are people in my life who are pissed that I’m talking about it and like I said to you many times, that’s on them. If they need to get angry over something like that go for it but I’m not going to keep silent because of the fear that I may lose them in my life because guess what? I’ve already been removed from most of their lives because I’m such a horrible person so it’s like I’ll go ahead and be a horrible person but I’ll actually do something really good with my time and the people around me. I know I get on my soapbox but I say that because like you said, you don’t have to say a word to us, you don’t have to message us. You can stay online and stay anonymous. Whatever. The only thing you need to know is you’re not alone and there are people that understand on so many different levels, to extremes. There are people that say, “nothing really happened.” It doesn’t matter. This is that safe place for people to go. I know it sounds like a commercial but it’s true.
>> Lori: Well right and the whole intention is to bring some normalcy to the conversation and I don’t mean normalcy by way of diluting it and trying to make it an acceptable or an okay thing. That’s not at all what I’m saying because none of it is okay just like breast cancer is not okay. Just like leukemia is not okay. Just like suicide is not okay. None of it is okay and it is a thread in millions and tens of millions of people’s lives. Not even directly for everybody. This impacts everybody but your experience has impacted the way you operate in the world. It’s impacted your friendships, it’s impacted your relationships with your family members, it’s impacted your relationship with your husband because it can’t not. It can’t not. That doesn’t make it have any more weight or merit and anymore value than losing your first tooth. Thank goodness you lost your first tooth because know you’ve got a front tooth and you can chew. I’m not trying to minimize it, I’m not trying to simplify it. What I am trying to say is this is the story for so many of us and the more we can come together and not feel shame around our stories and just knowing like you said, we’re not alone and there’s a collectivism in it because when people congregate there’s power. Not faithfully but just in general, congregating in general creates communal ignition and that’s what we’re doing here.
>> Heather: There’s something comfortable with knowing that you may not have had the same experience but that feeling, that oh shit moment you have inside your gut or your heart and you know you’re in the wrong place at the wrong time. All of us have that same feeling no matter what it is. Whatever it is, you have that same gut feeling and to know that you found someone. Especially with cancer, we see people now with their hair thinned out a little bit more or you can tell by the way they look that they’ve gone through chemo. You’re a part of that tribe that you don’t want to be a pat of but you are and there’s no going back, and you can be successful. That producer, as I was trying to get away from him, he told me, “you’ll never making an effing movie in my town ever.” About five years later, I had a feature film get made through Universal Pictures called The Perfect Man and it starred Hilary Duff and Heather Locklear and Chris Noth and had a worldwide release of that. I was able to follow my dream and follow my path after what happened to me as a young kid and after having gone through that with that guy. So people can tell you you’re not going to do something over and over again but it’s like one of those posters you have on the wall. You prove them wrong. You can. You can go out there and do whatever you set your mind to. You can choose to be the drug addict or you can choose to follow the path that you really want to go down. If you’ve gotten on the wrong path there’s always that time to switch over. You can make that change, you just got to keep moving forward. You cannot allow, it’s been the hardest thing for me. You cannot allow other people’s impressions or their ideas of you to dictate your life because I’ve done that for a long time. I was always trying to make the other people happy. I would apologize for things that I never did just to smooth it all over. Finally when I got to that point – and there’s no magic pill – it’s just once you’ve lived your life enough to know, “you know I’m calling bullshit on this” and I hope I can say that-
>> Lori: Yeah you can.
>> Heather: -it’s like, enough. Enough of you telling me what I need to be doing. I’m not going to buy into your lies anymore so that’s been a hard thing for me to do but it’s kind of like when you get going on an exercise and you start breaking habits, now I’m happy to tell everybody what I think. I don’t care [laughs]. So if somebody’s out there listening and you’re afraid to tell people what you think just send them my way.
>> Lori: [laughs] Heather’s got ya. You know, the thing that I’d love to talk with our listeners about today is our journey and where we’ve been working together in these last couple of years. I’ve been, since we met actually, about a month and a half after we met I started writing my own experience and writing my own book. Like any ambitious overachiever like I am I thought I could get it done in six months and I was going to go away and a really dear friend and fellow survivor lent me her place in Vail for a few weekends and I got up there and I was ready to write then I was alone and I was writing and reading my case files and police reports and all of the court reports and I called you I don’t even know how many times crying. You suggested, “just go get a pizza” and I did [laughs]. You walked me through the beginning of that journey but I really thought in six months I’d have that done and my book would’ve been published and blah blah blah. I talked to everybody, I told everybody I’m writing my story, I’m wring this book. Here it is two years later and that alone is a process and it has not been an easy one. I’ve feared if I published, nobody’s going to buy it. I’ve been told by people who are supposed to love me unconditionally, I’ve been told, “you’re selfish, you’re greedy. Nobody wants to hear your story. Nobody cares. What you went through is nothing compared to what other people went through.” Honestly, I’m not in it to compare myself. I’m just in it to share my experience and I just want to thank you because through these last couple of years you’ve helped me stay on the beat and keep the course. People who are actually listening. I’ve called this girl hysterically crying more times than I care to count. It’s truly out of self-doubt and fear and I’m a Rockstar. I kick ass and take names [laughs] and yet I still have so many moments so I’m working on that book still. My hope and goal is to have it done by the end of the year. Heather and I started a project because Heather’s skill is – why don’t you tell our listeners about our project.
>> Heather: Sure. It goes back to when you and I first met, one of the things I wanted to do was join your Board and I had these ideas of oh yes I can do that and I accepted but then I realized very quickly that the fight for my husband’s life was taking a lot more than I ever imagined so when I backed out of that and asked you all if I could have some time, you and I started talking about what I could do to help you that won’t take that time. You and I were so kind to each other it was almost pathetic. You were like, “would you like to maybe write a maybe screenplay? Or maybe a movie or something?” I didn’t want you to think for a second that I reached out because of that so after we got through that moment it was like, “okay we’re at the table. We’re done with this. We’re going straight for what we need.” So we started writing the treatment and writing the screenplay and putting it together and your story, again, I go back to this. If anybody has an issue with your story, if they say for a second that nobody wants to hear about it, they’re full of shit. You survived – again, I’ll repeat this – you were three years old. You survived 15 feet below the earth’s surface in a toilet for three and a half days. If you don’t call that a miracle then I’m not fat [laughs]. I’ll tell you right now, parents, siblings, family, friends. If anybody has an issue with it, come see me because if you don’t see the miracle in this woman. For what you survived as a little girl, but then as you’ve survived as a human, raising little humans now and trying to help bring the end to child abuse and neglect, that is something that needs to be celebrated. That is something worthy of a book, many books. That is worthy of a movie. That is worthy of everybody knowing your story because they want that hope and that inspiration. I get so fired up about it because people get so hung up on, “well what is it going to make me look like? I’m a bad parent.” No. Shit happens. You lived and you survived and you brought him to justice, plain and simple. So yes to bring it back, we’re working on that screenplay and now with COVID everything in the industry is starting to come back but it’s basically dead for quite some time which is great because that allows us to even make that screenplay better. I’ve committed to you, I know we’ve talked to a couple studio people. The studio execs, they don’t have balls. They’re afraid. They hear of a little girl being kidnapped and your story and their first response is, “oh my God, this is real?” and then the second one is, “we’re not going to touch it because a little girl got kidnapped.” It’s like, grow some balls and share the story because you can go put a show on Netflix right now about these kids who are doing things that is highly inappropriate so if you’re able to greenlight that, what’s the issue here? Like I told you, if the studios pass then I have no problem committing my money to making sure the film gets made independent so either way it will get made and it’ll get made the way we want it to get made and that story will get told the way it deserves to be told. I can’t wait to see what happens with that, just from the interest we’ve received so far based off the treatment. There are actresses and actors contacting us because they know this is such an incredible story. It’ll be interesting to see what happens with that and I love that journey with you because after we got past the formalities, it was like we just dug in. We’re even to the point where I’m like, “I’m writing about this but I’m not going in depth because it doesn’t deserve it. It doesn’t need to be a shock factor.” The fact that you survived alone is the shock factor. That is huge. You don’t have to go into all the horrible details to tell your story and I think that’s what a lot of people are afraid of, that they’re going to be made to look bad. No. Why don’t you give us a chance to show what we’re doing and saying before assuming because those people in my life assume about everything. Give us a chance you know? So that’s what I love about it. How funny after all these years we’re able to come together.
>> Lori: Yes you’re a sister from another mister girl and I appreciate you and I appreciate your voice. I really value that you are an example of Louder Than Silence without having to be exploited and without having to bear it all. I have a tendency to overshare, not on purpose but I have this fear of not being liked and that’s what I love about you. You’ve got to this point in life where you don’t care if people like you or not.
>> Heather: Seriously, there’s people I thought would never not be in my life that are no longer in my life because I grew a pair and I was able to sit down across from them and say, “Listen, you can choose this way but I’m going to remove myself from the situation because I value my time in my life much more than dealing with the toxic drama.” Again, it’s like losing weight. I know I have to lose weight, I know I have to do these certain things to do that. When I get to that point, and I will get there, it will happen but you can’t rush people. That’s the other thing too, if you’re listening to this don’t feel like you have to just call up the phone and tell somebody to go eff themselves. It takes that time to really understand what you need internally and what makes you feel good. If you’re around people and you constantly feel like you’re going on a job interview around them, chances are pretty good they’re not your people. That’s a hard realization when they’re family.
>> Lori: What I appreciate about what you just said is progress not perfection and easy does it. One step at a time because it is genuinely a process. It’s like babies right? Before they ever run they have to first find their feet and I cannot, do not, ever met a human who expects a three month old to be running. There’s no, “you’re the worst kid I’ve ever known. I’m so disappointed in you that you’re crawling right now.” Instead it’s like, “look they found their feet in their mouth.” They’re so celebratory about that experience. When a baby finds it feet, the very first thing it does is stick it in its mouth.
>> Heather: I still chew on my toes, I’m not going to lie to you Lori [laughs]. I’m kidding, somebody’s going to hear that and be like, “see she really does have an eating problem [laughs].
>> Lori: [laughs] Heather I love you and I’m so thankful for you to be on this podcast with us. Everybody that’s listening thank you so much for taking the time to be with us and to share your experience with us just by hearing it. if you want to learn more you can check out our website at endcan.org. I am Lori Poland, I’m the Executive Director of the National Foundation to End Child Abuse and Neglect. We are real people have real conversations. Thank you Heather Ross for joining us today. We’ll certainly be hearing from Heather again and until next time have a great day.
[Inspirational theme music plays.]
>>Lori: I want to thank each of you again for joining us today and listening in. If you or someone you know is being abused, please call 1-800-4-A-CHILD. To learn more about EndCAN, visit www.endcan.org or find us on all social media platforms. Join us in being Louder than Silence and being a part of the change. Please leave a comment, like our podcast, or share with your friends. The more the word spreads, the more of a collective impact we can have. If you have a question or you know someone who would want to be a guest on our podcast, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks again, and have a great day.