Crystal Currie of Compass Life Skills and Counseling: “Be honest about your feelings from your experiences”

Be honest about your feelings from your experiences — being honest and accepting feelings or realities is difficult, but it’s truly what makes us unique and understand other’s perspectives are valid. The world seems to be reeling from one crisis to another. We’ve experienced a global pandemic, economic uncertainty, political and social turmoil. Then there are personal traumas […]

Thrive invites voices from many spheres to share their perspectives on our Community platform. Community stories are not commissioned by our editorial team, and opinions expressed by Community contributors do not reflect the opinions of Thrive or its employees. More information on our Community guidelines is available here.

Be honest about your feelings from your experiences — being honest and accepting feelings or realities is difficult, but it’s truly what makes us unique and understand other’s perspectives are valid.

The world seems to be reeling from one crisis to another. We’ve experienced a global pandemic, economic uncertainty, political and social turmoil. Then there are personal traumas that people are dealing with, such as the loss of a loved one, health issues, unemployment, divorce or the loss of a job.

Coping with change can be traumatic as it often affects every part of our lives.

How do you deal with loss or change in your life? What coping strategies can you use? Do you ignore them and just push through, or do you use specific techniques?

In this series called “5 Things You Need To Heal After a Dramatic Loss Or Life Change” we are interviewing successful people who were able to heal after a difficult life change such as the loss of a loved one, loss of a job, or other personal hardships. We are also talking to Wellness experts, Therapists, and Mental Health Professionals who can share lessons from their experience and research.

As a part of this interview series, I had the pleasure of interviewing, Crystal Currie, LCMHC, TF-CBT, BC-TMH, NCC.

Crystal Currie is Nationally Certified Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapist, and her main goal is to help adults navigate past childhood experiences and trauma to achieve balance and self-healing. Her road to founding her own company has not been an easy one. It has been paved with over a decade of work experience in various therapeutic settings, and multiple accreditations that include: Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor (LCMHC), National Certified Counselor (NCC), Nationally Certified Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapist and Board Certified-TeleMental Health Provider (BC-TMH).

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we start, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?

I was born to my mom and dad when they were teenagers, 14 and 15 respectively. They were not together and were in high school. I spent about the first three years of my life not with my mom — until this day, I still have not received clarity about my whereabouts during that time. It’s truly a secret amongst my family and no one talks about even ‘till this day. My dad was just out there doing his own thing and getting into trouble. My mom did come get me at some point, but I don’t remember her before the age of five. Early on she had very abusive boyfriends and it would create a very volatile and toxic home environment. So, when I turned 17 in 2003, I went to college and said I’d never come back because of those bad memories. However, in 2020, I did return home to Raleigh N.C. I’m always fascinated by the thought that I now feel safe to live in a place that I previously escaped.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

My favorite life lesson quote is: “Our experiences shape the lens; we use to see the world.” For me this quote just puts into perspective that everybody’s journey is different and because of that we all perceive things differently — even if we all went through similar situations. It allows me to see other people and myself has human, as flawed people as well, and it keeps me grounded. Like I am who I am, I think the way I do because of what my experiences have been. And most importantly, being okay with that.

You have been blessed with much success. In your opinion, what are the top three qualities that you possess that have helped you accomplish so much? If you can, please share a story or example for each.

I really do have a heart for people. I love helping people and seeing them at their absolute best. But I also enjoy getting my hands dirty and meeting people wherever they are in their journey.

I am resilient — It’s funny because my dad says this all the time to me. He is so surprised that I turned out as great as I did considering the experiences I’ve been through. I accredit a lot of that to “resiliency” because I was so determined to become the opposite of what I experienced; that it really caused me to laser focus on what I wanted to do.

Self-awareness. When I was growing up, I experienced a lot of projection from all the adults around me, particularly by those with a lot of emotional wounds. This made it difficult as I become an adult to figure out my own thoughts and feelings. Therefore, I had to work hard to figure out what I thought and felt about something because the adults in my life tried to force feed ideas. Creating our own ideas and thoughts about things ensures we can meet our own desires and needs. I am very clear about what I want, what I don’t want, and what I need.

Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion about ‘Healing after Loss’. Do you feel comfortable sharing with our readers about your dramatic loss or life change?

Yes. This is the moment where my mother and I’s relationship just blew to smithereens. I got engaged in October 2013 and our wedding was scheduled in May 2014. To premise the story, I was not very honest with myself about who my mother was and the state our relationship at the time. I really tried to create this idea about who my mom was that made me feel more comfortable. During the wedding planning, my mom told me she would be buying my wedding dress and the flowers. I was so happy and thought it was thoughtful of her! I planned this whole thing — I set up an appointment with local boutique in Charlotte and invited some very important women in life to this big day. I really thought it was going to be a like an HGTV style wedding dress experience. A week and half before the fitting, I kept calling my mom and she was not answering her phone. I would text her — nothing, for days. I finally get a response from her saying that she had been working, with complete attitude. She also let me know that she would not be coming to the fitting or buying anything anymore — nothing. I felt so confused and completely distraught. My husband and I didn’t have the funds for this. That was a great loss for me. While planning my wedding (the happiest time of my life), I realized my mother was not a great parent. This was just a manifestation of things that I had happened in the past, but I chose to ignore it and make the best of it. I grieved the loss of my mother throughout this whole process, and she did not attend my wedding. I looked for her that whole day, you couldn’t tell, but in my heart, I looked for her — and she never showed up.

What was the scariest part of that event? What did you think was the worst thing that could happen to you?

I was scared about people finding out that I was unlovable because that is how my mother made me feel. I didn’t want people to think: “if your mother didn’t love you enough to come to your own wedding, there has to be something wrong with you.”

How did you react in the short term?

I cried, I blamed myself. I really didn’t hold her responsible. I cried so much throughout the entire wedding process. I cried out of grief. I always envisioned I would plan this amazing, beautiful wedding with my mom, and I was so attached to that image that when it didn’t come true, I was broken. I grieved like someone had died.

After the dust settled, what coping mechanisms did you use?

I went to therapy, and I found people in places that where safe for me. Places where I could be vulnerable and be open. Most importantly, people who genuinely loved me. Nothing ever replaces a parent’s love, but they made me feel lovable — authentically. I didn’t have to perform, I just had to be Crystal and that was enough.

Can you share with us how you were eventually able to heal and “let go” of the negative aspects of that event?

It was hard to get to this point, I came to the point where I realized I needed to change the expectations of who my mother was. I had created this image of her (without her permission and I take full responsibility of that) of who I thought who she should be. However, her behavior has always shown me that she couldn’t be what I expected. It was also unfair of me to expect those things of her when her behavior has always told otherwise. That is what helped with all the disappointing feelings and let downs. Now I can see her for who she is, I am very aware of what she can or can’t do, or what she will do or not do.

Aside from letting go, what did you do to create an internal, emotional shift to feel better?

I forgave her with without an apology or explanation. Oftentimes, we feel like we need to know why and need to know that the person knew they did wrong. The part about changing my expectations was that there was never going to be an apology. There will also never be an explanation good enough to explain why she didn’t come — never. I had to forgive her without these things. This was hard — just being transparent. I wanted her to pay. This anger and resentment were only hurting me. The forgiveness part was truly for me.

Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to cope and heal? Can you share a story about that?

The very integral people were: Jacque’ White, my pastor’s wife. She has nurtured me for the last ten years and stepped up when I didn’t have anywhere to go. I also have a dear friend, Tavia Jackson; she was there during the dress fitting. Tavia was the one who initially told me I needed therapy because I was beginning to self-sabotage my marriage. I also watched how these women mothered their children and it taught me how to be a mother too. The last person is my stepmother, Madonna. She is married to my dad, she is the one who really stepped in and bought my wedding dress. You would have no idea that I am not her child, because she treats me like her own. It takes a great person to take a child who is not theirs as their own.

Were you able to eventually reframe the consequences and turn it into a positive situation? Can you explain how you did that?

Yes, I became a licensed therapist. I became a therapist that focused on adults who had childhood traumas. I also created workshops for adults who have unhealthy relationships with their parents. Lastly, I just launched a workbook about forgiveness — because it takes a lot of work to forgive, and this guide helps you find true forgiveness. My life is about creating safe spaces for people to heal.

What did you learn about yourself from this very difficult experience? Can you please explain with a story or example?

To be unapologetic about my feelings: I say this because when my family found out that my mother and I were not talking, they framed it as “Crystal is not talking to her mom.” Without fully being aware of what happened. I felt like there were completely negating my experience about what happened to me. Just because she is mom does not mean I need to talk to her. This is when I really become unapologetic about my feelings and about my experience. I also learned that you can’t argue people’s feelings and when people don’t meet your expectations, adjust them. With that being said, sometimes you do have be the bigger person. Most importantly, rejection doesn’t mean you aren’t lovable; it means the other person doesn’t know how to love you.

Fantastic. Here is the main question of our interview. Based on your experiences and knowledge, what advice would you give others to help them get through a difficult life challenge? What are your “5 Things You Need To Heal After a Dramatic Loss Or Life Change? Please share a story or example for each.

  • Be honest about your feelings from your experiences — being honest and accepting feelings or realities is difficult, but it’s truly what makes us unique and understand other’s perspectives are valid.
  • Find safe places and people to talk with — just like I mentioned above. These women played a pivotal role in me finally making amends with those negative feelings and experiences.
  • Be unapologetic about what you need to heal — as I mentioned previously, you can’t negate yours or anyone else’s feelings. Let people feel what they need to feel.
  • Go to therapy — there is nothing wrong with needing help. Therapy was one of the key things I did that helped me move on and find peace in my life.
  • Take your time — this is truly your journey. Wounds are not healed overnight.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?

I would say children to have the space to talk about their parent’s missteps. My children tell me all the time when I don’t do something right, I am so thankful for that. I want other children to have the space to talk about these things with their parents too.

We are very blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them. 🙂

Yes! I’d love to have the chance to meet Iyanla Vanzant, from Iyanla, Fix My Life. She had her own show on The OWN Network for many years and she would hammer out all the issues and trauma’s families had over a weekend. She would force parents take responsibility for the things they did, she would force the children to take responsibility for what they did. 2021 was her last season, it was amazing.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

Yes! Please follow me on Instagram, @CrystalRCurrie and @CompassLifeSkills. My website is: and . I’m eager and happy to connect with you all!

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

    We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.