Leslie Lindsey Davis is the author of the book “You Can’t Eat Love” where she shares the lessons she learned on a journey to learn to love herself. Part of the work was finally dealing with the ungrieved loss of her mother decades before.
Leslie learned how to name and honor the emotions that she had kept shoving down. It was not until she began to confront the emotions, especially the grief that she was able to set aside her ‘drug of choice’ – food.
Her least favorite phrase as it relates to grief is “you’ll get over it” followed quickly by “aren’t you over that yet?” As part of her journey, Leslie lost over 100 pounds when she learned the art of self-love and how to process her grief properly. Her book helps others learn these same lessons. How do you heal in a world that wants to keep moving forward and doesn’t want to hear about your pain?
Brian Smith 0:00
Close your eyes and imagine what are the things in life that causes the greatest pain, the things that bring us grief, or challenges, challenges designed to help us grow to ultimately become what we were always meant to be. We feel like we’ve been buried. But what if, like a seed we’ve been planted, and having been planted, to grow to become a mighty tree. Now, open your eyes, open your eyes to this way of viewing life. Come with me as we explore your true, infinite, eternal nature. This is grief to growth. And I am your host, Brian Smith. Hey everybody, this is Brian back with another episode of grief to growth. And today I’ve got with me Leslie, Lindsey Davis and Leslie is the author of the book you can’t eat love, where she shares the lessons she learned her journey to learn to love herself. Part of the work was finally dealing dealing with the angry loss of her mother decades before Leslie learned how to name and honor the emotions that she had kept shoving down. It wasn’t until she began to confront the emotions, especially the grief that she was able to set aside her drug of choice, which was food. Her least favorite phase as relates to grief is you’ll get over it followed quickly by Aren’t you over that yet, which is we’ve all heard of us. Those of us have been in grief. So with that, I want to welcome to grifter growth. Leslie Davis. Well, thank you so much, Brian, I’m, I’m really excited to be able to talk to you today. Yeah, I’m looking forward to having this conversation. I know your book is called You can’t eat love. And you started on this journey of self discovery. So tell me what started the journey of self discovery that you’re going through?
Leslie Davis 1:46
Well, actually, it started with a moment of grief, if you want to know the Absolute Truth. About six years ago, my oldest son decided he didn’t want to have a relationship with me anymore. And my father had died just a couple of months before that. And then my oldest son and his wife had their first baby, which, ironically, was the coincide with same time that I lost my mother, the birth of him was two weeks after the loss of my mother. So I went, you know, down into this deep spiral. And because I really had not learned how to grieve, I didn’t know what to do. And so it was like, you know, falling off of the edge of a cliff and you’re free falling without a parachute or trampoline or anything else. And that was when I realized I could go one of two directions. And I decided, because I didn’t want my children to be in the same situation I had been. I decided I was going to have to learn how to grieve, but not only how to grieve how to deal with all the other emotions that I did not know how to deal with.
Brian Smith 2:56
Yeah, that sounds like a lot happening at one time with your son and the birth of your grandchild and your mother, you know, passing away. So do you feel like you mentioned in your bio, that you had to engrave loss of your mother? Why do you feel like you weren’t able to do that grief work at the time?
Leslie Davis 3:14
Well, she died. And then two weeks later, my oldest child was born. And my you know, my entire family. I mean, I was 26, my youngest sibling was 18. So you don’t have a lot of life experience at that point in time. But at the same time, everyone that was around me was either struggling with their own grief, or my husband’s side of the family, they were ecstatic that they had a new grandchild nephew, whatever, you know, my husband had a new son, all of these things. So everybody forgot about me. And when you’re forgotten about you think well, you just have to soldier on. Right. And so you, I did you know the best that I could which reflecting back I was not taking care of myself. I didn’t know how to do that. But I don’t know about you. But I realized as time went forward, anytime an important person in my life would would pass away with die. That grief would come back. It’s kind of like, if you vacuum your house, but you don’t move all the furniture and you vacuum it well, the stuff comes out from under the furniture, but you still don’t get it all out from under the furniture until you actually move the furniture and you know, clean out from underneath it. So to me not dealing with grief in the moment or at the time and working our way. Not so much through it but to the point that we are better than we were. It comes back out.
Brian Smith 4:56
Yeah, I think there’s a lot of really important things that you said in there. I mean One of the things that I tell people all the time is when it comes to grief, it’s really about self care. And a lot of times we’re not taught how to take care of ourselves. And we don’t understand that we need to do that. And the other thing that you that you touched on there is grief. I like your analogy is kind of like the dust under the furniture, because it’ll just hide out there. And it’ll hide out there until something else triggers it. And then we realized we never actually dealt with it. So how long was it between the time that your mother passed, and you felt like you were able to start dealing with your grief?
Leslie Davis 5:31
31 years? Yeah, the one that I felt that I could start dealing with it was that I started dealing with, right, I didn’t have an option. I realized if I was going to survive, I was going to have to confront it. And that that was difficult. But what I realized also is I didn’t have to do the work by myself. And I’m grateful for podcasts like yours, because you are so authentic, and honest. And you don’t try and sugarcoat it, you don’t try and say, you know, we have to get over this, you know, the cliche comments that people make about loss are so unhelpful. Hmm.
Brian Smith 6:22
So, yeah, so yeah, what you said, you know, people might say, Wow, 31 years, and I’ve heard of this, I’ve heard of people, it’ll be decades sometimes before people can deal with the grief. And, and we don’t even know that we need to because no one’s taught us that we have to go through this process and do this work. And we don’t realize that grief is manifesting in different ways. And I know you mentioned that that food was your drug of choice, did you? Do you think that the grief is what led to that eating issue that you had?
Leslie Davis 6:52
Well, grief was just a part of it, because I didn’t know how to deal with any other emotions. You know, grief is just one of those major, major emotions. And as I was preparing to talk to you today, one of the thoughts that came to my mind is even as young children, we’re not taught how to grieve the small losses. And can we experience loss in small ways, from the time that we’re young, you know, it can be that we either lost a toy or a toy broke, and it was a toy that we enjoyed playing with, or we moved or friend moved. It can be that, you know, we’re changing schools, they’re all these little teeny tiny losses that happened in our life, that we’re not taught how to acknowledge how to address and how to mourn those tiny losses. And so we really never had the opportunity to learn how to how to experience how to enjoy joy, for example, we don’t really know how to experience happiness. There’s this wide range of emotions that we really are not taught how to experience. Grief just happens to be to me, like the giant elephant in the room, right? Because it’s the one that nobody wants to touch. But I was thinking, you know, part of what you’re doing, I believe is so beneficial people and I don’t want to put words in your mouth. But this is just, you know, the thoughts that I’ve had is I’ve listened to you. What you what you were doing is you’re taking this elephant and you’re putting it in the middle of the room and you’re saying everybody, let’s look at this thing. And we can circle back around and if we can get to small children, or even children for the hit the teenage years, and start teaching them how to mourn things and acknowledge that they are mourning them. Well then when something of great magnitude such as the loss of your daughter, the loss of my mother, you know, the loss of a very close loved one, one of those huge losses happens. We are not hamstrung. Yeah, we already have some of the tools, we already have some of the ability to be able to do what we need to do in order to cope with that.
Brian Smith 9:13
Yeah, yeah. Again, some excellent points you made in there. We don’t. We don’t teach our children emotional intelligence. We don’t teach people how to deal with uncomfortable emotions. So we tend to stuff things down, we tend to ignore things we tend to self medicate. Now all these different various things that we do to deal with them. And it kind of seems to work for a while until this major thing comes along that just then we have no clue. We have no tools on how to deal with it and and it blows us away and then you know, and as you said, People say to you, well, aren’t you over that yet or Don’t worry, you’ll get over time heals all wounds we’ve heard, we’ve all heard that. And I what I say to people as time allows you to heal all wounds, but time on its own not heal on ones. It just doesn’t happen magically grief is grief is work, you know. And I tell people that it’s a process we have to go through.
Leslie Davis 10:09
Well, very much so. And I can remember my now ex husband, this is just among the many recent season x, five years after my mother had died. It was Mother’s Day. And I was feeling very, very, very sad. And his comment was, aren’t you over that yet? And I, I felt ashamed. I really did. I felt ashamed that I was not over that yet. And truthfully, it wasn’t until probably 15, maybe 20 years ago, when I read the book, motherless daughters, that I understood that what I was feeling was normal. That I wasn’t crazy. That what I was feeling was normal. We don’t get over these things. Oh, my gosh, that just makes me crazy. You’ll get over this. No, you don’t get over it, you may get through it. Right, but you’re not over it. You know, one day maybe better than the next day. I tell people that grief is like being in the middle of an ocean. And you’ve got a lifejacket on. And some days The ocean is you know, relatively calm, and you’re just kind of bobbing along and you’re very comfortable. Other days, the waves get a little bit bigger. And then they’re those days, when a tsunami hits you out of nowhere. Out of absolutely nowhere new, we’re slammed to the bottom of the ocean floor and you are struggling with everything that you have to get back to the surface. And I realized that not having the tools not having the vocabulary, also not having the self love to be able to say you know what, this is how I’m feeling right now, I need to just take a moment, I need to discover what caused me to feel this. Because as you mentioned, different things will trigger us and they can come absolutely out of the blue. It can be a commercial. Yeah, it can be a billboard that you drive past. It can be a word that somebody says in such a way that it reminds you. And I discovered that if I wasn’t going to take the time to learn how to take care of myself. In those moments, I was going to continue being slammed to the bottom of the ocean floor with no ability to get myself back up to the top. So it’s not that we don’t go to the floor. It’s not that we don’t have the tsunamis. It’s it’s a matter of what do we do after that happens? How do we take care of ourselves? After that happens? How do we talk to ourselves? How do we allow other people to speak to us? When those people say, well, aren’t you over that yet? Well, no, of course I’m not over it. This person was extremely important in my life. So why would you think that I would be over it? And then we walk away? Hmm.
Brian Smith 13:07
Yeah. Yeah, I think what you said is, there’s very profound and you know, it’s and what I try to do with people’s, I try to be very transparent about things. Because sometimes people will look at me and say, Oh, you thought you’ve healed this, you’ve worked, you’re all you’re all done, and you’re over, I’m like, No, I still have bad days. And so I have bad moments. The thing is, we don’t, we can’t always stay on balance, what we learn how to return to balance more quickly. So you’re right. And I love that analogy. I’ve used to you know myself about the waves. And I tell people, the first part of the grief, the waves are just, they’re unpredictable. And they’re just slamming you all the time, they get farther and farther out, they become more predictable. But there’s still times when they just you know, things will hit you out of the blue. There’s still times when, you know, like you said a word or phrase or commercial or whatever it is that can trigger a memory that can take us right back to that moment. And it’s important that people understand that doesn’t mean you’re going crazy, doesn’t mean you haven’t done the work properly. Because these people are important to us. So I’m going to miss my daughter for the rest of my life as I’m sure you’ll miss your mother. And that’s and that’s okay.
Leslie Davis 14:16
And it is okay. And I think that that’s one of the things that I’m so grateful that you’re being very honest about grief, you know, you’re being very transparent that, you know, it doesn’t go away. I mean, you’re not going to make your daughter disappear off the face of the earth simply because she is no longer walking on this physical earth. And I have I have gotten so frustrated with people who lose a loved one, regardless of the circumstance of how they lose them, where they try and pretend that they never existed.
Brian Smith 14:49
Leslie Davis 14:50
And I find that to be so sad because that person was important. And they made a difference who were impacted your life. And I know in my family, because none of us had the skills, I’m the oldest of six, six kids, and then my dad, and none of us had the skills that we needed to be able to cope with this. And so we would tiptoe around whether or not our mother was alive or dead. And she wouldn’t, it was almost, you know, as if that name which cannot be spoken. And it wasn’t until you know, I started doing the work. And then my, I have three sisters until each one of them started doing a little bit of the work, that each of us in our own way was able to no longer pretend that our mother did not exist. But I think that that’s one of the saddest things is that people don’t have the skills, they don’t have the safe place to go to honor the grief. And that that’s what I think that we need to do. And that’s why I’m saying we need to teach small children how to mourn a loss, so that they’re mourning it in a safe place, a small loss, being mourned properly in a safe place so that when they get to the big losses, they’re not just absolutely devastated beyond repair. I’m not saying you’re not going to be devastated, but not devastated beyond repair.
Brian Smith 16:26
Yes, yes. And that that coping mechanism of pretending the perfect person didn’t exist is just your everybody’s walking around sad, pretending to be happy, but you don’t stop thinking about that person, you can’t. You just don’t want to, you don’t want to, quote trigger the other person. And sometimes people will bring up my daughter, and they’ll say, you know, I hope I didn’t make you sad, or they won’t want to bring her up because they think it’s gonna make me sad, and like, you can’t make me sad. And you believe me, I think about my daughter every day. So you not bringing her up is not serving either one of us. But I’ve actually worked with clients that have that have had children pass, and one partner will say, well, we’re going to pretend they didn’t exist. I mean, they don’t say that, literally. But they’ll put the pictures away, they won’t talk about them. And then the other person’s left just suffering tremendously, because all they’re thinking about is that is that child is that’s not that’s quote, not there anymore. And I think it’s very important that we keep that person alive, whatever your beliefs are, some people believe that they still exist, I do happen, but my daughter is still here. But in any event, keep the memory alive, talk about them, celebrate them, you know, celebrate what an important part of your life that they were, if that’s that’s your belief, or in my case that that my daughter still is. So you know, this, it’s one of those very, very common coping mechanisms is just doesn’t work is pretending the person that never existed?
Leslie Davis 17:56
Well, it doesn’t, who is it serving, it’s not serving a single solitary person, because the person who is running around pretending that they didn’t exist, I can only imagine how much of their brain space is being occupied trying to keep that demon down, locked up down in the cellar. And then as you mentioned, you know, the other person wants to talk about them, they want to have a conversation about them, they want to discuss with them, but they don’t have a safe place to to have that discussion. So you, to me, you’ve almost got two sides of the same coin. You’ve got two people stuffing down these feelings in two different sellers, but they’re the exact same thing. And if only the you know the person who wants to speak about it can speak with the person that they trust the most. Who is trying to keep you know the person from not being mentioned. If only they could have an honest conversation. I just imagine how much healing could take place. Now, I will say this. One of the things that I learned is we heal from these losses we do heal, the scars remain. And if it’s a deep enough wound, the pain when you bump it is still there.
Brian Smith 19:15
Leslie Davis 19:16
And the the scars, to me are what tell another person. You know what, I may not have gone through what you went through, but I can only imagine how you were feeling. And we just leave it right there. For example, my our youngest son is getting married in less than a month. And my husband’s father died 15 years ago, and my husband was saying the other day that he was feeling very sad because his father wasn’t going to be there to see his his grandson get married. He couldn’t fish with them and all this and I said to him, I can imagine how you’re feeling. I said I would be sad too. I said actually I know exactly how you are feeling. And I said, while it may not be exactly how you’re feeling, I have a very good idea of how you are feeling because that’s how I have felt myself. I said, you know, do you want to talk about that some more, and he was okay. But, you know, we often people often are uncomfortable when somebody else is grieving. And I believe it’s their own fear and lack of skill that makes them uncomfortable. And one of the things that I learned is, if I can say to somebody, I can only imagine how you are feeling. I don’t need to say to them, I know how you’re feeling. Because really, truly, I don’t, I don’t know how you are feeling. So I’m not inside of you. But I can imagine how you’re feeling. And I can imagine how you were feeling based on how I feel.
Brian Smith 20:58
Leslie Davis 20:59
But just think how much better that sounds and saying, Oh, I’m so sorry. I know how you feel. But no, you really don’t. Yeah,
Brian Smith 21:09
yeah, exactly. So what I’m after all those years, what started you on your journey to, to healing your grief into into self discovery?
Leslie Davis 21:21
Well, I decided that I wanted to live my very best life that if I was really going to honor my mother, who died at the age of 49. And this year, let’s see at the time, I was 59. I decided if I was going to live my very best life, and I was going to live to be 153 years old. And one day someone celebrate all 153 years at 1201 on the 150/3. And one day, I’ll go so that’s all right. The only way I would be able to do that is if I was helping mentally, physically and emotionally. And I realized that to honor her. Her life was cut short, she died of cancer. Her life was cut short. So to honor her, I needed to live my very best life. But at the same time, I wanted to live my very best life. And so I decided I need to get healthy mentally, physically and emotionally. And I realized the biggest piece of that was to get healthy emotionally. Because I had spent so many years stuffing down emotions, everything from sadness to anger. And a lot of times anger was a consequence of sadness. And it was when I started doing that journey of self discovery, and honoring what I felt and being able to verbalize to somebody else. Right now, this is how I’m feeling. I’m not asking you to do anything about it. I’m simply informing you that right now, this is how I’m feeling. And then you were talking about nobody can make you sad. That was like a ginormous aha moment for me when I realized no one can make me anything except reservations for dinner.
Yes, absolutely. I wanted to keep my power, I could make a choice to be sad, I can make a choice to be happy, I can make a choice to be angry, but no one is going to make me anything anymore. And if I was going to honor myself and live my best life, I needed to, you know, hold on to my power. So really being able to acknowledge that yes, I’m very sad because you know, my mother’s not here to celebrate these moments. Yo, she’s missed every every single event in all of her grandchildren’s lives. She’s missed major events and all of her children’s lives. And I didn’t want to continue living a life in my rearview mirror. Right for
I want I wanted to live, you know, the best life that I could. So to do that I needed to, you know, honor that.
Brian Smith 24:02
So where do you think that wisdom came from that to learn how to do that, to understand that you are in control of your emotions and to start speaking again about your mother? Did that come from inside? Or did did you read some books? Or Where’d that come from?
Leslie Davis 24:17
Well, it actually came from a verse in the Bible. I stumbled upon I want to say it’s psalms 149 147. God heals. Let’s see what is it? God heals all wounds and Jesus button or God heals all something in Jesus binds all wounds something to that effect. And that was like, Okay, I don’t have to deny that I had these wounds. I don’t have to deny that I had these scars anymore. So let’s start from there. Okay, okay. And that was It’s really the aha moment. And since since that time for the past six years, part of my morning routine is I read verse out of a chapter out of Psalms every morning, I read a chapter out of Proverbs every day. And then I read another chapter in the Bible. But I also read some other inspirational readings. And I write three pages in a small notebook. I’m not, you know, in the big eight and a half by 11. Note, but then I write three pages in a small notebook conversations with myself. Because I discovered that the ones that I have in my head were not productive. Yeah, the ones that I have on paper a little bit more productive. And I don’t reread the conversations, I simply write them and, you know, close the book, and I’m done for the day.
Brian Smith 25:49
Yeah. So you, you have developed a practice that works for you that that to allow you to deal with your grief. And I understand when you started on this journey, you didn’t tell anybody about it. Why is that?
Leslie Davis 26:04
I didn’t want I mean, I don’t know about you. But when we start on journeys, you end up with the what I call the watching police, and they start watching you and they start questioning you and they start telling you, you should you be doing that. And then the shoulds in the woods come out. And I’m just you know, and I felt as if I had enough shame to deal with within myself, I had enough shoulds and Woods within myself, I didn’t need the outside world contributing to the shame in the woods and those things. Because I was battling my own stuff, I didn’t need to battle the exterior stuff. Because I don’t know about you. But when you know, when the outside world starts questioning you, then you start questioning yourself. Even if what you are doing is incredibly logical, it works, it’s going to work for you. You have already determined what your reasons are, you’ve determined your objective, and you’ve got a clearly thought out plan to the best of your ability. When those people show up, don’t start questioning yourself.
Brian Smith 27:16
Well, you know, the thing is, and this is an interesting dynamic, I think in families. It’s not a it’s not a intentionally negative thing, but they always want to keep us the same. They don’t want to see us transform. You know, it’s like whether it’s losing weight or quitting drinking or quitting smoke. I’m not saying they wish negative things on us. But they, they tend to, like always put us back to where we were. But they’re like, this is the person that I know, for good or for bad. So when you say I’m going to make a transformation, that’s your right, that’s when they start coming out with the Are you sure you could do this? And I you know, and so I understand exactly why you would keep it, you know, keep it to yourself, at least for a while?
Leslie Davis 27:58
Oh, well, it is, as I started making the changes as I started, you know, getting healthier and dealing, you know, with some of the emotions and things like that. My husband started questioning things, you know, what are you doing? Why are you changing what’s going on, and I really couldn’t verbalize what was going on. But he also doesn’t have a very high EQ. So it would be very difficult really, and truly for me to explain it so that he could understand it. He’s incredibly intelligent, but his EQ is incredibly low. In so many people that we are surrounded by have very low EQ. So whenever people start doing this high level, emotional work, if we’re not talking to another person who is you know, it moderate to high level emotional vocabulary, even it’s difficult to explain, because, let’s face it, our emotions come from that part of the brain that don’t have any language. Yeah, it’s pictures. And so when we start trying to explain these things to people who are logical and literal, they don’t get it.
Brian Smith 29:09
Yeah, that’s, that’s a really good point for people. I just want to fill in the for people that don’t know what EQ is, that’s emotional quotient as opposed to intelligence quotient. So a lot of times, you’re right, we can people can be very, very intelligent, and have no ability to understand emotion and just saw a quote, I mean, with Helen Mirren the other day talking about, you know, when you’re trying to explain something, some are trying to argue something somebody first begin with, do they have the ability to understand it? And some people in our life are not going to have the ability to understand what we’re doing when we say, I’m going to stop doing this and I’m going to start doing this. They will just look at you like, why why would you do that?
We’ll get back to grief to growth in just a few seconds. Did you know that Brian is an author and a life coach. If you’re grieving or know someone who is grieving his book, go reef to growth is a best selling easy to read book that might help you or someone you know, people work with Brian as a life coach to break through barriers and live their best lives. You can find out more about Brian and what he offers at WWW dot grief to growth.com www dot g ri e f, the number two, gr o w t h.com. If you’d like to support this podcast, visit www.patreon.com slash grief to growth www.patren.com slash g ri e f, the number two gr o w th to make a financial contribution. And now back to grief to growth.
Leslie Davis 30:47
Exactly because they don’t understand it. It’s you know, it’s out of their realm of logic. And that was the other thing that I discovered on the journey is that, you know, families we talked about dysfunctional families and families who were loaded with dysfunction, generational dysfunction, because I started looking back at my own family, we we did not have the coping mechanisms for grief. We really didn’t have the coping mechanisms for many emotions at all. Going back generationally, for example, my grandfather’s father died when he was pretty young. And he was, you know, in an environment where you have to be a man, you know, you got to man up, and men are not allowed or expected, or even encouraged to feel emotions. In my grandmother’s family, on my mother’s side, her parent, her father ran away with his secretary when she was young. And you know, you just have to get through these things. So she didn’t have the coping mechanisms to deal with that kind of grief. And then on my father’s side of the family, his mother was supposedly orphaned. And I later discovered she was not orphaned. She was sent off with her older sister and the father lived not all that far away, but never saw her again. And so what do you do with that? So generationally, we’ve been taught to not deal with emotions. So when when we’re hit with something big, we don’t know how to how to handle it. And so the work that you were doing is so very, very important. Because the less connected we become, which is what I believe is happening, even though we’ve got the you know, zoom and telephones and all that we actually are becoming less connected. The work that you are doing actually is going to benefit people in so many ways, because you’re giving people skills, that generationally they don’t have, and then you stop and you pause and you think, well, if I’m looking back at the generations that went before me, of course, I don’t have these skills, right. And if we look at the skills, you know, are the people that are around us, of course, they don’t have those skills. So when we start doing something different, we’re pushing the boundaries. We’re changing the rules. Yeah. And not only that, but we’re changing the game totally and completely. And that causes a lot of tension and discomfort. Yes. Because circling back to what you said earlier, people want us to stay where we were, where they knew us, because that’s where they’re comfortable. Because when we change, they have to do something.
Brian Smith 33:36
Yeah, yeah, people, human beings do not like change. And you know, I really appreciate what you said about the generational things. My grandmother lived with us when I was growing up. And she’s to say, because my grandmother was very stoic person didn’t express much emotion. But she had enough emotional intelligence to understand that she didn’t know how to express emotion. I remember saying to my mother, you know, I had a main step mother, but you have books, you have TV, you have things you can learn tools from, so you can do differently than I did I. And I still remember my grandmother saying that, and I was probably 10 or 12 years old. And it’s affected me even to this day, because I realized, this is something that I’m going to have to learn. When I was when I was in my 30s or so I was going through, you know, it’s like a, like a midlife crisis or whatever. And I found a book from a guy that I was so excited about was a guy named john Eldridge. And the book was called Wild at Heart. And it was about how men bonding with their fathers and emotions and all that kind of stuff. So I remember giving the book to my father. And you know, he just could not understand it just just didn’t get it. No, no blame, no judgment, because that’s, that’s where they’re coming from. That’s where the generations coming from. So I realized and my generation, at least for me, I’ve got to, I’ve got to do something different. It has to be intentional. So I have two girls, and I’m like, I’m going to be different with my girls. I’m going to I’m going to make decision to be different. So I’m saying this and I know that you’re, you’re saying the same thing to people, you’ve got to make that decision.
Leslie Davis 35:07
Right, you have to make that decision, you have to make that choice. And one of the things that I realized, even when my, my three boys were younger, I didn’t want them to had the same outcome that I had. So like you, I made a decision early on, that I wanted to raise boys who were kind who were caring and who were compassionate, awesome. Because I, what I was projecting for them was who they were going to end up marrying. And I wanted them to marry someone who was also kind, compassionate and caring. Well, if they are not kind, compassionate or caring, they’re not going to be seeking out or or attracted to, or the person that is attracted to them is not going to be kind, compassionate, caring, but they also needed to have enough maturity and self love to be able to weed their way through the the narcissist and all those other kinds of people. And I have to say, I, despite the fact that I haven’t spoken to my oldest child, now in almost seven years, you know, he, he made a good choice and a wife, not so great. And you know, the rest of the decisions, but you know, that’s okay. That’s his choice. It’s not mine. But my other two boys are in very, very good relationships. I’m extremely proud of, you know, the people that they’ve grown up to be, even though my youngest one will tell you that he was not raised by his parents, he was raised by wolves. But I feel like you know, it’s up to us as we are raising children and your children are still in your daughter is still in her formative years. We’ve got to establish boundaries, and also teach them to look for people who are going to support them emotionally. Because let’s face it, we go through life, life is not a flatline, life has its mountains, and it’s got his valleys, sometimes it’s Mount Everest, sometimes it’s the bottom of the Marianas Trench. And if we don’t have a life partner, that can help us during those times. Well, then we end up repeating that cycle. And we need to have a life partner that can help us and support us in the joyous moments, in addition to the lowest moments.
Brian Smith 37:32
Yeah, absolutely. So I’m, I’m curious, when you when you began your journey, what did you expect the outcome to be? And did it turn out to be what you expected it to be?
Leslie Davis 37:44
Well, what I expected was that I was just going to feel better. I didn’t expect it to be hard. I will tell you that I thought it was gonna be you know, okay, I’m going to do these few things. And in a couple of months, it’s all going to be over with and it’s going to be great. Well, I don’t know about you. But when when I started doing the the hard work of the hard work, which is being honest with myself about my emotions, my feelings, you know, learning how to take care of myself learning how to verbalize those things. It’s almost like you can use one of two analogies, peeling an onion, you know, you peel back one layer, you find another layer, or you go into an old house that has never been really redone. And you start taking off one layer of wallpaper and you discover 50 more layers of wallpaper. So it became like that, just as I thought, oh, okay, I got this is like something would happen. I’d get smacked. And I thought you had it. No, you know, you have to keep doing the work. But it’s just like mowing your grass. You don’t mow your grass one time. And that’s it. You know, the grass grows and you have to keep mowing it. Well, the same thing that I discovered is this is not a one and done deal. Just because today I’m okay doesn’t mean that tomorrow, something won’t happen. And I don’t have to figure out how to deal with that. And I’m not talking about just the grief, I’m talking about the joy as well. So everything. So here we are six years later since I began the journey, and I’m still doing the work. And how do I do that? I read books, I listen to podcasts, I read magazines I write. I do you know, things to help me become a better version of myself so that each day I’m working to become a better version of myself with the understanding this is not a one and done.
Brian Smith 39:37
Right, right. Yeah. Yeah, that’s that’s a really good answer. And I think that’s, that’s really that’s what life that’s just being humans about, you know, it’s about always improving and always being better. And, you know, and I think, you know, when people say I’m the same as I was 20 years ago, I’m like, well, that’s a real shame, cuz I hope I’m not the same in 20 years. Hopefully I’ll look back, you know, 20 years and say Didn’t know, there’s so much more I’ve learned and I learned, I learned new things every day. And I like, you know, and it’s it’s work, but it’s not a grind. I mean, it’s it can become, you know, a pleasurable thing and the things that you’re doing sound like, similar to the things that I do, I do them on a daily basis, but I do them because I’m starting to see the benefits from and you don’t you might not see him, but the very beginning, but after a while, you can look back yourself a five or six years ago and say, oh, okay, I can see that. I’ve grown some since then.
Leslie Davis 40:34
Well, and also just like, you know, riding a bike or doing anything else, the more we practice, because truthfully, this is a lot of practice, and we practice the things that we’re doing. It’s not a one and done. But the more we practice, the easier it becomes for us. And then we can move to that next level. So, for example, I was at a party the other Saturday, and two of the people there had just lost a loved one one, it was her husband, the other was the father. And so I greeted them and said, I’m so sorry about your husband. I can just imagine how you’re feeling. She said, Oh, it’s it’s okay. And I said, I paused and I looked her in the eye, and I put my hand on her elbow, and I said, No, it’s not okay. I said, I can just imagine, you know, how you’re feeling? And she said, Oh, you’re right. No, it’s not okay. But right now, today, I’m doing okay. I said, you know that, I’m glad to hear that. But she was really startled that I didn’t, except her canned answer, which is what we do so many times. And this that, for me, has come through practicing, not just with other people. But one of the things that I talk about is finding those situations, finding those people that you know, are going to do or say certain things. So for example, Thanksgiving is coming up in a few months, right? You know, that Aunt Sally is going to be there. And Aunt Sally is going to say whatever Aunt Sally is going to say. And you know, how it makes you feel, or you know, how you feel when Aunt Sally does whatever, we need to start practicing for those events. So that we’re prepared for a response or a reaction, we can make choices ahead of time. So you know, in the with with regard to your daughter with regard to my mother with regard to somebody else who has recently lost a loved one, a holiday comes up, it’s not that they have never existed on the face of the earth, that holiday is there, we miss them, we wish that they were enjoying that holiday with us. And if someone says something, if you’ve practice saying, you know what, my mother would have really enjoyed this moment. And I’m feel very sad that right now she’s not here. If we’ve practiced that, then we can say it. It sounds natural. And we are not concerned about the reaction of the other people.
Brian Smith 43:05
Yeah, yeah, I think that’s we’re stating our truth. That’s so important. You know, because we do, you know, I’ve noticed that, like, we’ll greet someone, and we’re just the standard greeting, how you doing? Right? And then the other person, most of the time, we don’t even answer the question, sometimes just we answered with how are you doing? Or, you know, or, or if we do answer, I’m fine. I’m good. You know, and we just move on, because we know no one really cares. I mean, no, one, it’s not a genuine question. So it is fun to kind of practice at some time and say, you know, how are you really doing, I really want to know, and then you watch people’s faces, you can watch their expression change, you’re like, Oh, you really do care how I’m doing and then they’ll, then they’ll tell you, you know that they’re struggling. And that’s and it’s okay, but we have this thing about, like, no one wants to make anybody else uncomfortable. You know, I don’t want to make you sad by by sharing my sadness with you. But if it’s a true friend, they really want to know how you’re doing.
Leslie Davis 44:03
Well, in talking about, you know, how are you doing? My second son and his wife lived in the UK for two years. And he made the comment that he observed that most of the people over there say, you’re doing okay, they don’t ask, you know, how are you doing? They ask you doing okay. And so I had switched to say you’re doing okay. And I’ve been really surprised by the responses that I’ve gotten. Hmm. Because it First of all, it catches people off guard, because they’re expecting the hell are you doing and then they just respond back to you. And if you listen to your own self, when somebody asks you, how are you doing? I’m fine, and you probably are not fine at the moment. If they’re asking but you know that they really don’t care, right? Or they’re not concerned. They’re just trying to get on with the pleasantries. But I even had the experience where I was getting my drink at Sonic one day and I asked the person who was handing me my drink. I said, you’re doing okay. And she paused, and she just started sobbing because she had just broken up with her boyfriend or her boyfriend had just broken up with her. But I caught her off guard. Because I broke the pattern.
Brian Smith 45:24
Right? Right. Right. And you had an opportunity to have a genuine moment that that she’ll probably remember for the rest of her life. And sometimes people that those small things can really make someone else’s day you know that someone someone cares. Someone, you know, cares enough to ask me a genuine question. So So let’s see. I’m Leslie, I’m curious, what made you decide to write a book
Leslie Davis 45:51
I got tired of, well, first of all, Mother’s Day, two years ago, I sat down. My youngest sister always made pies to honor our mother for Mother’s Day. And I never did because I hated Mother’s Day. My first Mother’s Day, Mother’s Day as a mother was my first Mother’s Day Without my mother. So one of those tried to avoid it. So anyway, I intentionally decided because I’d done all this emotional work, decided that I would honor my mother by making pie. And so I, the day after Mother’s Day, I sat down with a piece of the pie. And these thoughts started falling out of my head, and I grabbed a pen and paper and wrote down what I was remembering, which basically, I was triggered back into a place in time. And it occurred to me that what I had been trying to do with food, I mean, I’d already lost about 100 pounds at this point in time. But it occurred to me what I had been trying to do with food was to eat love. And I realized that that is the moment when I said you can’t eat love. You know, love is in the memories. Love is in the doing love it. You know, love is in everything but not in food. So I wrote this little bit down and then the words kept haunting me. And also people kept asking me, Well, what did you do to lose the weight. And so I sat down and just started writing, and the book fell out. It’s not so much a book about you know, losing weight or anything like that. It’s really more about learning to love yourself so that you can change your relationship with your drug of choice. Because I sent the book my youngest sister ended up getting a degree in counseling, and she works in the area of grief, specifically and an addiction also. And she said, Really, the book could be called you can’t drink love, you can’t drug love. You can’t you know, whatever your drug of choice is love. Because you know, so many times it’s we’re trying to do we’re trying to fill what I call that myself sized hole in my heart. So anyway, long story short. Yeah, that’s how the book happened.
Brian Smith 48:04
Yeah, that’s, that’s great. You know, what you just said about the hole in your heart that reminded me when you mentioned this earlier about the wound that we have something one of my first grief counselor said to me, that was so profound, she said, you know, she modeled like, here’s, here’s your heart, and it’s got a hole in it now, and the edges are raw. And so everything’s gonna gonna hurt those edges and everything. But eventually, those edges will, will smoothed over and they won’t hurt so bad in terms of being triggered. But you’ll always have that hole. You always had that, that hole, what you know, that memory of your daughter or whatever. And so we do try to fill those holes sometimes with other things, because it’s like, we know there’s something missing. So you know, it might be alcohol might be food, it might be some people poured themselves into work, you know, lots of different things, anything to avoid actually doing the word. I mean, we seem to be really good about that. And we can do it for you know, if we could do it for decades, sometimes before we realize, Oh, this is what’s causing that and thinking about grief. You know, as you were mentioned earlier, being an emotion. Grief is actually I think it’s a container for all different types of emotions, a lot of different things that could come in and out. And grief is that one kind of catch up thing that we put everything under. But we don’t realize what’s causing it. You know, a lot of times we don’t understand what’s You know, this is reason why I’m so sad. It’s because I haven’t dealt with this.
Leslie Davis 49:29
Well, you mentioned here that grief is it’s like I even say in my book, you know, if you didn’t think you needed algebra, remember all those times you said why when am I ever going to need algebra, right? But you need algebra to understand not only grief, but also anger. Because usually those two emotions are summations of things. And you know the the A plus B and sometimes plus D, E, F, G, whatever equals you know, grief or anger and That was part of the work that I had to do, you know, teasing it apart. And I’m grateful that you mentioned that because yes, it is a summation. And it’s really not until we sit down and start teasing it apart, that we are able to look at the different elements to understand. Okay, so this is why I’m feeling like this, right. And I think that one of the hardest things to do is to pause long enough to do that work of teasing it apart. And looking at each piece of it. It’s almost like a Lego thing, you know, you pick up this completed Lego object. And it looks like there’s not a lot to it, but you start taking it apart and you realize, okay, well, so they used a two cube to make this look like this. They used a four cube, they used a six cube. So we need to be able to pause long enough to take those things apart, and then honor each one of those pieces and say, Oh, now I understand. Okay, well, what can I do right now? to take care of that?
Brian Smith 51:08
Yeah, yeah, I completely agree with you. And you know, the thing is, against that, it’s that learning that emotional intelligence, learning that emotional language, going within examining your own emotions, teasing them apart. And unfortunately, a lot of us were never taught that. And, you know, it’s, it’s really interesting. And the work that I do, I interviewed a guy a couple of weeks ago, he’s, he’s into grief stuff. And he goes, it’s really great to talk to another guy, because we never see men in this field. I go to I go to conferences, I go to things, and it’s 80 90% women, and the guys that are there, a lot of times we’re brought along by their wives. So we don’t we don’t teach and I love what you said about your boys, because we don’t teach that to our boys. And it’s not a biological thing. It’s not like this is how men are men are men are biologically, it’s the way that we’ve been programmed. And we’re all programmed. And so we all have to understand our programming and decide, I’m going to make a conscious decision to do something different if we’re going to do something different.
Leslie Davis 52:14
Well, in we, we become good at what we practice. And so if we are not allowed to practice grieving, being male or female, doesn’t make any difference. If we’re not allowed to practice breathing, we don’t know what to do, right? But now, you know, the female of the spicy, the spicy species is usually encouraged to be a little bit more compassionate. You know, guys, especially of my generation, possibly your generation, it was frowned upon, you know, what are you doing crying, things like that. So an emotional male is viewed as being very weak. And I always was uncomfortable with that definition. Just as I was uncomfortable with, you know, a weepy female, being, you know, a very kind and caring person. But you know, either extreme is not good. But I like that, you know, you are going to conferences, and you are an example to people to say, you know, look at me, I am a healthy, male, healthy mentally, emotionally and physically. And I am not afraid to do this work. And I think that that is so important, because you’re modeling for generations, that it is okay to express your feelings. Yeah. It is okay to, you know, to be sad, it’s okay to be kind, it’s okay to be loving. Because I feel like the media especially does a great disservice to the world. That, you know, it’s not encouraged. It’s just not encouraged. So I’m grateful to hear that you do attend conferences, and I do wish that more people were there. But I can just imagine the guys that are being dragged along by their wives. Do you ever get an opportunity to have an actual private conversation with them? Because I’d be very, very curious to hear what it is they have to say that they are getting out of the conference.
Brian Smith 54:12
Yeah. And then there are obviously exceptions, all the things we’re talking about. There are men that are very in touch with their feelings. But it’s interesting to have his observation. And while we’re talking about that, on the flip side, while women tend to be more emotionally intelligent, women are not taught self care. So a lot of times, women are like, they’ll take care of everybody else other than themselves. And I’ve worked with a lot of women. I’m like, No, this is time for you to take care of you. And I was talking with someone just the other day, who had a loss of a teenager in their life that was killed and they’re like, well, I’m falling apart. I’m not getting anything done. I’m not doing all the things I should be doing. I’m not back at work yet. I’m like, it’s been 30 days. You know, give yourself a break. But this is how women tend to react. It’s like I’m not doing all the things I need to be doing, you know, taking care of the house and Taking care of this person taking care of that person. And people are we’re encouraging this person to go out and get involved and like causes and stuff. And I said, No, do not let someone put that on you 30 days out, don’t let someone do that to you.
Leslie Davis 55:15
And well, in the reason that I’m laughing is when my mother died two weeks later, my oldest child was born. Right. Okay, I was, my mother in law happened to be there because she was supposed to be there for baby Sharon, she ended up staying for a week and they left on my birthday. My birthday is a week after my child was born. I was feeling guilty because I didn’t want to clean the house. I felt guilty because I would end up sitting, you know, for six hours not moving literally not moving. I felt guilty because I didn’t want to fix dinner, I felt guilty because I didn’t want to do the laundry. I didn’t want to go the Gretna delete the list of things I didn’t want to do was an incredibly long show. And I felt guilty because I didn’t want to do those things. And you know, knowing what I know. Now, of course, I didn’t feel like doing any of those things. But I didn’t have anybody saying to me, of course you don’t feel like doing any of those things. No, you’re sad. What can I do? You know, can I listen? Just tell me something, just sit here. And I will you can cry all you want. Now listen to you. I didn’t have the ability to do anything with that. So you know, that’s one of the reasons why my grief went so far underground, right? I couldn’t, I wasn’t around people who had that coping mechanism. But you know, you talk about women in the lack of self care. Something that I talked about is put your own oxygen mask on first. When we fly, they tell you put your own oxygen mask on first and help somebody else. And I always went, yeah, right. Anyway, you have about 30 seconds when that plane loses oxygen or pressure in those mass drop down, you’ve got about 30 seconds to get that mask on. And if you’re busy helping everybody else, and I tell people this, if you’re busy helping everybody else, you’re gonna be laid out in the aisle, the planes gonna land, they’re gonna step over you and sit there sit nice person who helped me they’re going to go on their way and where are you going to be? Right?
Brian Smith 57:21
Right. The other thing is, if you if you don’t take care of yourself, that you’re not going to be there to help anyone, anyone else. So that’s what I’ll tell the people you know, sometimes it’s like, you’ve got to take care of yourself first. And it’s okay. self love is not selfish, you know, it’s actually a part of something that you have to do to be healthy. So. So tell people, where can we get your book and tell us a little bit more about what we can expect if we get your book?
Leslie Davis 57:48
Well, you can get my book at Amazon, Barnes and Noble. It’s also available on nook and some of the other e readers. And what you can expect when you get the book is me having a conversation with you pretty much like we’re having a conversation right now. Because I wrote the book, the way that I taught. And the lessons that you learn in there are you know how to put your own oxygen mask on first, but also finding your why why are you doing something major in your life? Why are you deciding to make a huge change? But I talked about, you know, learning to love yourself is the main theme and the skills and the habits and things that you want to have so that when you’re driving your car down the road of life and you hit a traffic jam, you don’t park your car, get out and walk home. You know, we keep moving forward. And I talk about celebrating the little things because even even if we are especially when we are having you know one of these days where we don’t know if we can get out of bed, celebrate the fact that you did get out of bed look at you You got out of bed. This is how you felt I’m so proud of you. You got out of bed. That is amazing.
Brian Smith 59:03
Leslie Davis 59:04
And you stop right there. You don’t shut us You don’t want us you don’t put us you stop right there celebrate the little things. And if they wouldn’t reach out to me You can find me at You can’t eat love calm or reach out to me by email Leslie. And I would really love to hear from you. I am available, you know, anytime so just reach out.
Brian Smith 59:27
All right. Well, Leslie, it’s been really great getting to know you and to learn more about your story. And I appreciate you sharing it with with people. Because I think it’s really, really important that we model this for people and we give people permission to talk about the grief and explore the grief. And so thank you so much for being here today.
Leslie Davis 59:46
Well, thank you so much. And if I could just leave your listeners with just one parting statement. Sure. And that is no matter what is going on. No matter what anybody is saying to you just know this You are enough, just as you are. Awesome. Thank you, Brian. I really appreciate it.
Brian Smith 1:00:06
All right, have a great rest of your day. You too. Thanks. So that does it for another episode of grief to growth. I sure hope you enjoyed it. If you like this content, make sure you subscribe, so click on the subscribe button here, and then click on the bell to receive notifications and click on all that way you’ll be notified whenever I release new content. Thanks for watching, and have a great day.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai