There Won’t Be Flowers On Their Grave

5 Lessons On The Path To Overcoming An Emotionally Abusive Relationship 


I’ve put off writing about this subject for some time. There is just so much to say and to share that the idea of writing it all at once results in procrastination on my part. So I am starting here for now and letting the process of sharing happen much like the process of healing, gradually.



1) Accept you are grieving a death

Every death is a loss. We grieve the end of a relationship and within that the dreams we had for our life, our family, our life purpose. Even when in hindsight you saw it coming, it still feels like a knock on the door at 3am. No matter how toxic your relationship was or became, there was love and it is lost. You committed to it and built a temple of promises and dreams around it. You might fall to your knees, crumble and not believe you can go on. You will. Scarred and bruised, never the same again, yet more beautiful and more powerful than ever before. Trust me on this. You will amaze yourself. 


2) Educate yourself 

on what abuse is, what it looks like and how it happens. This is even more important for those who have experienced psychological/emotional abuse and when there are children involved because you will need to protect yourself and your children for some time to come.  Psychological abuse is the bruise you can’t see but is equally as damaging. When you read the descriptions of the methods and tactics used by abusive people, this validation is empowering. You did not imagine it, you did not cause it and you did not deserve it.


Psychological abusers wear persona’s like interchangeable masks. They manipulate, lie, gas-light, deceive and take advantage of your empathetic and trusting nature. Abusive partners are dangerous, lethal even and once you have freed yourself from their control you have made their biggest fear come true. You left and now this very hurt and damaged person may pursue a path of blind vengence. You may have to stand your ground for some time as an outcast in a world still largely seduced by the charm and facade of the chameleon you once loved.  Only your friends and family will know the truth and could never fall for the sophisticated lies they will surely tell. So hold them close and leave the rest to discover the truth for themselves.


3) Hate when it feels right and then let it go 

You can’t skip the stages of grief, and anger is one of those stages. It’s a nice fantasy to imagine we can rise above these negative feelings but anger is natural, necessary and okay. Too much of well intentioned ‘self help’ material misses the mark by skipping over this not so attractive experience. The trick is to not be consumed by it.  The only way to avoid living in bitterness is to allow that hate and anger, not to avoid it. Take yourself to a forest or field if you need and scream that anger out of you. Anger is a wild and forceful energy that demands you to listen. Feel it, express it in a constructive way and you will rise above it. When you feel yourself being sucked in by these feelings, bring yourself back with these words, “Now give all that energy to love”.


4) Choose your Narrative

You are not a victim. What happened to you does not define you. You have the power to choose the story you tell yourself. It is that story that will shape your future. Only you have that power and control. Will it be “I am a victim, he destroyed my life, she took everything from me”, or will it be “I experienced a toxic, abusive relationship and I found the strength to leave it. I learned from it and I grew. I am stronger now and free.” 


5) Justice and Karma are not your Responsibility 

You’ve heard the expression “to dig one’s own grave”. Hold on to that. Hold on to the knowledge that those who lack the strength to be better, ARE making their own karma with or without you. People who hurt others are living a life of far greater suffering than we can ever imagine. So do not waste your precious time and energy waiting for justice, it is not yours to deliver. All you can know for now is there will not be flowers on their grave,  because when karma does make her way around, you’ll be too busy living your own life to even notice. You will have moved on to a better place.


Below are local links to helpful resources right here in Nanaimo. The people who give their time in these organisations are ready to help.


Here are some links to help you with Step 2.



Welcoming improved access to help in Nanaimo with the addition of our newest Counsellor!

We are so delighted to announce the addition of another Counsellor to the Limitless Wellness team.  In the profession of Counselling, private Counsellors often work completely independently. This is is how Sarah of Limitless Wellness started out. Over the years as Sarah’s business and professional standing within the community grew, so did the demand for Counselling and her services. 

The integrity of the profession and commitment to safe, compassionate and effective Counselling has always been at the forefront of Sarah’s mind. This is what has driven Sarah to establish Limitless Wellness as a respected and reputable name within the realm of mental health services. 

It is hard enough to find the courage to reach out for help. One should not then have to stumble about to find a Counsellor they feel safe with and who can actually help. Over the years, Sarah has heard this has been the experience for so many of her clients and it has fuelled her  mission to gradually and very carefully invite Counsellors to join her team at Limitless Wellness. 

We are growing as a comradery of like minded helpers who’s only goal is to best help others while supporting each other in the process.

We want our clients to feel safe in knowing that any Counsellor from Limitless Wellness is a therapist who truly cares, is committed to helping and always maintaining the highest standard of care one should expect from the privileged position entrusted to us. 

Paula Reynolds RPCc is a Registered Professional Counsellor Candidate, a certified Clinical Hypnotherapist, and a certified Life Coach. She has a BA in Psychology, postgraduate classes in Counselling Psychology, and experience working in Mental Health.

“I’m here to listen without judgment and to help you find deeper meaning and purpose in all the confusion, hurt, and distress. I will be here for you, and I will support you through the process of creating quality in your life. We will work together to find a clear path forward, a path that works for you. There is hope! “ – Paula Reynolds 

Here’s just a snippet of what Paula’s clients have said:

“Right from my initial meeting with Paula I felt safe and comfortable in expressing my concerns. Often after awkwardly trying to describe my feelings she articulated them, without leading me, so that I was able to pursue my thoughts more deeply rather than stumble ineffectually over my words.”

Welcome Paula! We are delighted to work with you. 

You can read more about Paula here – 

Sarah Flynn RPC & Associates Nanaimo’s Compassionate Counsellors

To get in touch with our team you can call or email in complete confidence:

604 259 1254

5 Reasons To Consider Homeschooling

Little Bear Photo NanaimoOkay wait, hear me out before deciding I’ve lost it completely.  We have not yet decided where or how our children will be educated. We have an almost three year old and a 6 month old. I am simply considering homeschooling and wondering if it will be the best option for us. There is no one box fits all and I am sure that both approaches to education can and do produce happy, educated children. For the purpose of this blog, ‘Homeschool’ refers to both ‘Homeschool’ and ‘Distributed Learning’ educational approaches in British Columbia. *See end of page for explanations.

I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences. Do you homeschool your kids already? Are your kids in the public system and loving it?


1) School does not prepare children for the real world

If we do choose the traditional school approach, it will not be for the purpose of preparing them for the ‘real’ world. Let’s face it, School is nothing like the real world or at least the mostly civilized society we fortunate people live in. School is a war zone. It is an inadequately supervised, overcrowded cluster of societies best and worst at the most vulnerable and emotionally immature time in a person’s life. That’s what it was in my day and from everything I’ve heard, it is what it is today. In your entire adult working life have you ever said to yourself “Wow this is exactly how it was in school”? So why do it then? I know for me, I’m honestly afraid of the responsibility of educating my children. A huge part of me would rather delegate that role to someone else but I don’t think that fear is a very good reason to do anything.


2) Homeschooling is not what you think. 

It does not mean locking your child up 7 days a week in order to produce a pale, socially awkward, strange adolescent. From what I have read and heard, it is a very social and community driven means of education and one that can be tailored to the specific talents and aptitudes of each unique child. It also doesn’t mean that you must spend every waking hour with your kids either (thank God, right?!). There are numerous programs and classes available specifically for homeschooled children. Read more here:

This Nanaimo DL school sounds fantastic!!

Nanaimo Museum programs

Parks and Recreation Programs

Vancouver Island Libraries


3)  Homeschooling will reduce your childs exposure to negative influences and experiences

I’m talking about bullying, drugs, sex, bad teachers! I am not saying that I’d like to eliminate negative experiences. Encounters with unhealthy peers and adults is a normal part of life. I think the majority of us would agree that peer influence is at an all time high. Bullying is so much more harmful than it ever was and I should know. I am a Counsellor here in Nanaimo and I’ve worked with youth from most of the high schools. We as adults do not have a complete handle on what, how and who is influencing our children.  Through home schooling, parents stand a better chance at guiding the type and quality of their kids social environments, both on and offline.


4) Traditional School crushes creativity

Human intelligence is extraordinarily diverse and until our education system transforms to recognize this, children will continue to suffer and potentially never even know their own brilliance. I don’t need to say anymore on this point as Ken Robinson’s Ted Talk says it all.

“Many highly talented, brilliant, creative people think they’re not – because the thing they were good at at school wasn’t valued, or was actually stigmatized.”



5) You won’t be alone

This blog is an education for me too. I’m including numerous useful links to online resources I’ve found. From what I am reading, it looks like BC is the place to be for any family looking for alternatives to the traditional school system.




* Homeschooling definition BC –

*Distributed Learning definition BC –

Photo Credit – Little Bear Photo

Big News For Nanaimo Counselling!

It is with great pleasure and excitement that I announce the addition of a new member to Limitless Wellness. After many years in solo counselling practice, it is time to let Limitless Wellness grow and meet the increasing demand for great Counselling Services in Nanaimo, BC.

There many Counsellors in practice but finding one that you can connect and feel safe with is far more difficult. With raising two little girls, I simply can’t see everyone who is reaching out to me. Rather than turning these individuals away, not knowing if they would get the help they are seeking, I decided to find another Therapist whose passion, curiosity and desire to help, lined up with my own.

So began the thorough search for another Therapist in practice in and around Nanaimo. I found Esther’s website and the authenticity emanating from her words made her stand a part from all the others. Sometimes the Universe seems to act in funny ways and within 12 hours of discovering Esther online, she literally walked right in front of me in downtown Nanaimo. Perhaps it was kismet or at the very least a sign I needed to trust my initial instincts and reach out to her. Later that day, my email to Esther explained how I had seen her and I was the lady nursing the baby in the store she had visited. I figured that by being completely honest she would either think my email a bit strange and ignore it or she would be intrigued and respond. Either way I’d know a lot more about her and whether or not we would get on well.

Long story short, Esther has a presence and calmness that glows around her and I am delighted to add her to the team. She has an honest and tangible passion for helping and is committed to aiding her clients on their journey of healing. I trust that clients are going to be safe in her hands and I look forward to working with her and seeing the amazing work she will do. You can read more about Esther here.

Esther and I now offer appointments 7 days a week for individual, youth and couples/marriage Counselling, both in Nanaimo and Online.

Welcome Esther!

Just A thought…Youth Suicide

A difficult topic and one deserving of our attention. Perhaps one way to connect with the young people in our lives is to share our own story with them. Let’s not wait for the conversation, let’s start it. By sharing this message, we can use the power of social media in a positive way and possibly save people a lot of pain.

Just A Thought…3 Sentences To Stop Saying To Children

A simple thought, that if implemented could have an enormous impact on the confidence and wellbeing of our children. The Holidays are upon us and that means lots of socializing. Here’s an idea to keep in mind as we help our children feel comfortable around lots of people and new environments.

Credit: Music and Video edit by Cory at Little Bear Photography

Nanaimo Teens Are “Doing A Thing” & Emotional Intimacy Is Suffering

Nanaimo, Vancouver Island, teens, youth, sex, relationships, counselling, communication,Teenagers starting to date has always been a scary prospect for parents. Your teen’s safety, getting too serious, or having their heart broken are just some of the concerns we as parents must manage. Many of us probably wish our teens would not date until they are 18, but besides locking them in their rooms, there is not much we can do to stop them. So what’s it like for today’s teens, right here in Nanaimo?

I work with youth and teens here in Nanaimo and my goal is to both help our young people on their path, while also working to strengthen family relationships as a whole. The latter is the purpose of this piece. My hope is that in reading this, you as parents feel more informed and encouraged to open up non-judgemental dialogue around the subject of relationships and intimacy.

“Doing a thing” is the new way teens are experiencing being sexually intimate. This is the term used when two teens are engaging sexually but without commitment, or exclusivity. One could be “doing a thing” with any number of others.
Now of course this is not the case for all teens. Some teens are not sexually active and there are still some who do date. This is also not something that is just limited Nanaimo. I am however speaking to what is now common place amongst today’s youth.
Teenagers experimenting and playing the field is nothing new but I do not believe it has ever been the norm or standard. Dating the person you are being intimate with is no longer the expectation. The rules have changed. More and more adolescent boys believe they do not need emotional intimacy and more and more adolescent girls are choosing to be intimate in its absence.

This is a very complex topic and there is no one answer as to why this is now the way amongst our youth. It is likely a combination of many factors, influences and failings within today’s society, culture, and family life pressures. One of these factors is certainly the tragic loss of human connection and this I am certain is playing a major role in the choices our young people are making.

This is not an argument for monogamy, nor am I stating it is either gender’s fault, or even that of the parents. Pointing the finger does not further our understanding. I do think most of us would agree, intimacy with another person is not something we wish our teens to take lightly and it appears that has become the case. It is a mistake to think that emotions are not involved in sexually intimate relationships. So what has happened to them? Are these feelings being ignored and pushed down? Are our teens telling themselves to disregard their emotions because this is how their peers are behaving? My fear is that in believing it is better to be intimate without emotional connection or that they do not need it, today’s youth will become unfulfilled adults, not knowing the full spectrum of human experience, or depths of intimacy and connection.

Our teens are the years in which we feel the most intensely, we leap head first without hesitation, we experience all the wonderful and nerve wracking emotions that come with the new relationships, flirtations and crushes of this maturing age. It is a necessary part of growing up or at least it has been until now. We wondered “does he like me”, “will she say yes”, “why hasn’t he called yet”. It is a time of getting to know who we are, what we desire from our relationships and how to care for those we are in relationships with. As much as we all felt heartache or rejection during these years I doubt we would take it back. If it really is the case that teens are not experiencing the emotional vulnerability of connected intimacy then how will these adults turn out?

I don’t have the answers, as I have yet to meet one of these adults. My wish is to simply open up the conversation and ask, what do you wish your teen to know about relationships and sex? When communication has become so detached in today’s world, how are you managing to connect with your teen in the home and discuss their own emotions and feelings? I would love to hear your thoughts, your experiences or comments. Is your teen dating? Do they feel safe to share with you and do you feel comfortable talking with them?

My Own Struggle

IMG_9330The Irish Times Newspaper just published a piece I wrote about my own emotional struggles in Canada, as an Irish Emigrant. I am sharing the piece below and a link to the original piece. I think it’s important to remember that not all emotions and struggles can be resolved and put to bed. Sometimes there is no solution and all we can do is share with others and accept the present moment.

My heart is torn between Ireland and Canada

I never chose to stay in Canada, though I have not chosen to leave either. This is the conundrum my heart struggles with in the background, every day.

Six years have passed since I landed in Vancouver, with two suitcases, packed by my genius compactor of a father, and a one way ticket. “I’ll come home in a couple of weeks if I don’t like it,” are the words that made me capable of putting one foot in front of the other and boarding that plane.

Looking back, I really don’t know how I did it. I think I just had nothing to lose. A perfect storm had gathered of youth, the end of a long and turbulent relationship, and the darkness of the recession.

Now I am married two years, and have a beautiful 7-month-old baby girl. I am happy and I have a pretty wonderful life. But what of my mother, my family? What of my home, where the streets of Dublin feel like mine, and trees in Rathfarnham are scarred with my initials?

My heart is scarred with the loss of my home, while it simultaneously fills with love for my daughter, my family and our life in Canada. Will I always feel this way? Has Ireland forgotten me, and am I grieving for an unrequited love?

The Generation Emigration Facebook page reminds me all too often that I am not alone in my loss. The headlines in my feed stir up feelings that find little resolve. I rarely click on the articles, not wanting to invite in these complex feelings to an otherwise happy day. I am now a counsellor. I help people to work through their emotions and even still, I don’t know what to do with this specific yet elusive ache in my soul.

What I miss is hard to define. I think perhaps I am mourning the future I may not have. As my mother ages, will I not be there? As my daughter grows, will she only know Ireland as the place her mother laments about, after a few too many glasses of wine? My eyes sting as I think of this. Is this reason enough to uproot my life here and return to a country that may have no place for my husband or me?

Life is better in Canada. At least it is better than the Ireland I knew six years ago. I am also better. The me I was back then is unlikely to have much in common with the me now. I left as I turned 24. I had recently ended a five and a 1/2-year relationship, moved home and lost my job in the recession. After moving to Canada, it felt I was really living for the first time.

I also struggled, was depressed, and came very close to packing it all in. In fact, the day I met my husband-to-be, I had called in sick to work and from under my duvet, I had cried on the phone to my mother. She had encouraged me to stick with it. From her own experience living in Canada, she said it would take two years to really settle in.

While everyone at home warned me not to return, my life pushed on and roots were put down. I went back to school, changed careers, married and had a baby. I am now the person I believe I was meant to become. My life has been an adventurous one and my experiences were necessary to get me to the place I am today. For this reason, I cannot regret that moment I purchased a one-way ticket, as my mother and sister watched TV in the living room.

If I do decide to leave again, this time I will have something to lose. It would mean uprooting my life, as well as those of my daughter and husband. I find solace in reminding myself that the future cannot be known. In my early 20s I thought I had it all figured out and my future was very clear. I was very wrong, and thankfully so.

For now I must remind myself to live in the present. My dreams of home do not consume me, and should they ever, I know I have a partner who loves me and would never shut down the idea of beginning a whole new adventure.

See the original here!

Limitless Wellness Open in Nanaimo, BC

12651355_10153617639838884_5975947156127529377_nAfter a brief and wonderful break, Limitless Wellness is back. The office is now located in beautiful Nanaimo, BC. We moved here in May of last year and no more than a week later we welcomed our lovely baby girl into the world.

The new office is still a home office and I am so grateful to be able to work this way. I very much believe in avoiding the non-personal and clinical feel so common in therapy, rather I strive to create a warm and welcoming environment. Here is a picture of the new office. I am still looking for the right piece of art/decor to finish it off. Got any ideas?

marriage counsellor nanaimo

Just as I started back to work, I received the most touching email from a former client. The message came at the best time and served as the perfect reminder, that the work my clients and I do, is so important. With my clients permission, here is a excerpt from his message to me;

“You truly are an excellent counselor. You helped me through what was the most difficult thing in my life to address. You made me feel very comfortable in our meetings, and that in turn made it possible to talk about the things that had haunted me the past almost decade….I am very grateful that I had the opportunity to meet you, and work through my issues with you. I really have no other words to describe how thankful I am, other than to say you have made an unbelievable difference in my life and I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Those on the island are extremely lucky to have you in their corner, and I wish all the best in life.”

As our little one is just 9 months old, I am working part time and accepting a limited number of clients. My current focus is on working with youth and couples. I am just so excited to work with those here in Nanaimo and the surrounding area.

Here’s to living a thoughtful and compassionate life and supporting the community here on Vancouver Island.

4 Reasons Why Those Who Seek Counselling Are Not The “Crazy” Ones

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The stigma around mental health and needing help, is gradually being chipped away at. But the completely misguided notion that those who seek help in their lives are somehow, “weaker”, “crazier”, “less stable”, “less capable”, than the rest of us, still exists.

The truth however is quite the opposite. The individuals I meet in my office, are far more aware, emotionally intelligent, genuine and open than most of the people I encounter in my life.


And here’s why:

  1. Through just the simple yet courageous act of seeking Counselling, that individual is accepting they are not happy and they desire to change. That is not the act of a crazy person. It is far more crazy to spend your life in miserable way.
  2. By coming to Counselling, the individual is already aware they and they alone have the power to change. They may not know how or even believe it at the beginning, but they are turning their focus inwards and trying to trust themselves. This is not the action of a weak person. A much weaker person likely turns their focus outwards, blaming the world and everyone in it for how they feel. Projecting their own issues on to innocent bystanders in a desperate attempt to escape themselves.
  3. During Counselling, the individual learns to become more open and curious with themselves. They begin to navigate and process their own emotions and experiences and expose their true selves in the presence of someone else. This is not the skill of an unstable person. I would argue that instability arises when people do not know how to express their thoughts and feelings and instead either push their feelings down or become completely overcome by them.
  4. Those who seek help know that no man or woman is expected to go it alone. They know that human beings can achieve so much more when we work together and support each other. This is not the knowledge of an incapable person. Incapable people are not those who lack a skill of some kind, they are those who are not willing to acknowledge where they need help and reach out to the resources available to them.


I’ve always loved the proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child” but I wonder what comes after that. If we are to go by today’s society, it would probably go something like this, “Tt takes a village to raise a child, but after that you are on your own”.

No one is crazy or we are all a little crazy. Either way, seeking Counselling or support is nothing to be ashamed of, it is something to be proud of.

My invitation today is to consider this as the new proverb; “It takes a village to raise a child and a village to help the adult”.