Susan Packard was an ambitious twentysomething living in Chicago and working in television in the 1980s. This was the first job that required her to travel frequently, an exciting way to see the world and meet new people. But it was on one such work trip that Packard was assaulted by a stranger at her hotel room. Shortly afterward, on a different trip, Packard was strip-searched at an airport, an experience that resurfaced her initial trauma that she had not fully dealt with or addressed.
Packard’s initial response to both occurrences? She put her feelings on “lockdown.”
Over the following years, Packard fully committed herself to her career and found ultimate success as the COO of HGTV. However, when confronted by a number of tragedies – a coworker's suicide, the death of her father, and the unexpected passing of her sister and mother, Packard recognized it was time to address the traumas of her life.
Packard took time off work and decided to make major changes to her life: She sought treatment for a drinking problem and began practicing centering, a method of meditative prayer. Over time, she began to feel a sense of peace, became a better listener, and saw her relationships deepen and her anxieties wane.
Resilience, she realizes, was also a crucial ingredient in her healing process.
You have to tune into your feelings to heal, and show up as an honest, authentic person—rather than hiding and hoping the pain stops, Packard says.