Part 1: Fear and Forgiveness with JET

After a childhood of pushing fear aside to survive, JoAnn E. Trudeau chose acceptance. That one decision changed her and her family’s life forever, mending an area of her life drowned in chaos and confusion.

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“We all have a story. We all have a hole. We all have pain. It’s time for you to choose. Are you going to be a victim? Or, are you going to use this to grow and make your life better?” —JoAnn E. Trudeau (JET)

After a childhood of pushing fear aside to survive, JET chose acceptance. That one decision changed her and her family’s life forever, mending an area of her life drowned in chaos and confusion.

In part one, learn what happens when you choose to forgive.

As we are gearing up for season 3, we’d love your feedback. Please take a few minutes to complete this survey.

JET Part 1

Jet: I've been in survival mode since I was nine years old. So like, even when I go into the fear interview, I I'm like

anytime fear would speak to me during, since I was nine, since my parents divorced, I, I literally didn't couldn't even listen to it because. I just was always in survival mode. I ju I didn't have time to think about, oh, well, should I, you know, I did. It was like, this is what I got to do. This is what I got to do to survive.

This is what I got to do to survive. So constant. So I grew up that way.

Tiffany: I'm your host, Tiffany Sauder. And this is Scared confident I met Jett Trudeau. So her name is Joanne Trudeau, but her. Initials are jet, which is super cool. So she goes by jet and I met her three or four years ago, um, on a work trip, our husbands worked together and there was like a reward trip.

And so over a period of four days, we just spent quite a bit of time together at dinners and, um, walking this. And that was when I first met her. And JET is definitely one of those people that when you see her in a room, she has her own presence about her that you can't not notice. And remember her. And then just a couple months ago, um, earlier this year in 2021, my husband and I were invited to her and her husband, Kevin, um, their Valerie Newell.

And I knew that they had been through. Some storms as a couple. And I think as we get older, you just start to really look for those people who are real and so many ways, and add this vow, renewal. It was real and so many ways. And I left it and I knew I had to have her on this show. I had to get closer to the story I had to like quietly listen to her heart because she has this.

Juxtaposition of exactly what scare confident is about it is the courage and vulnerability to be completely comfortable in her fear. And yet also this quiet, strong courage that has kept her going through so many things in her life. There's so much here. And we really wanted to be sure that the story. I was able to be told and it's an entirety.

And so we've cut it into two parts and I encourage you to listen to both of them because you'll see some common threads. They're two distinct stories, but they're very connected. And I could tell you the story, but she tells it best

Jet: anyway, back to meeting. And I had heard through my brother that my mom, um, put my, put my youngest brother, Rocky. She couldn't, she couldn't take care of him anymore. She couldn't handle him anymore. He was, he was too hard to, to, to, to discipline. She couldn't get them on the school bus, like all these things.

He didn't want to go to school. And so I heard she put them in a children's home and I was like, what? So here I am in Indianapolis. I'm 21. I had been dating Kevin three months because on the three-month marquee, he had already proposed to me. And so we were engaged. And so I found out this information and I got off the phone and I remember looking at Kevin, I was in my apartment and I said to him, I know you love me.

I know we're newly engaged. You know, I love you, but. I have to go get my brother and now I have baggage. So I completely understand if you don't want to, to marry me anymore. And he, I remember he looked at me and he gave me a hug and he said, that's one of the things I love about you is the way you love your family.

So I called my mom, hadn't talked to her in forever. And I said, listen, Josh told me. I said, I want you to go to the lawyer. I want you to get custody papers. I said, I'm coming down and I'm getting Rocky. And of course to my mom, what she's done ever since I was little. Oh, okay. Yeah. You, you could do a much better job.

Yeah. Yeah. Okay. Maybe you could do a better job with him. Yeah. Then I can, I can, I can't, I can't, I can't do it. So. Got in my car. And I drove from Indiana to North Carolina and I picked up my brother and I brought him back to my two bedroom apartment. I bought a day bed and a dresser and I he's seven years old.

I was a, um, assistant manager and at a, at an apartment complex that I was living at. So then Kevin and I are living. And our two bedroom apartment engaged, um, raising an eight year old. And let me tell you, it was not easy at all because my brother had major issues because of the way he was, he was raised and because of the age difference, it was just like him there.

And, you know, he didn't have like what I had where I had my older brothers around and then my younger brothers around and. He had this hole, which I used to always tell him, I'm like he had his mom actually leave him. Like he had the trauma of being a seven year old and being taken to the doctor. And I mean, this just breaks my heart, but you know, my mom talking to the doctor and he's right next to her and her saying, you know, I just don't know what to do.

I can't, he doesn't listen to me. I can't, you know, handle him and, and, and the realization that they took him that day and put him in that home. And my brother literally was like, no, I promise I'll be good. Mommy. I'll promise. I'll be good. And it had to be sedated and on his stomach

Tiffany: and get a shot because

Jet: he was so, you know, so he had.

This trauma, this big, whole, this trauma that was so big. And I used to always tell him, I'm like, I can't fill that hole. I'm your sister. And I love you so much. I'm like, I love you so much that I'm just your sister and I'm just doing the best that I can. And one of the things that I thought I was doing right was, um, I would not abdicate my power to kill.

And so any of the discipline, any of the stuff with, with Rocky was always me. Like I never let Kevin do it because of my trauma from my mom always advocating the power, which my oldest brother told me, um, that I was doing it wrong because one day my brother would get older and be a 16 year old and I'm just a sister and I'm just a girl.

And he needs that, man. You know, Howard, but I thought I knew better and I did it. Um, so anyway, Kevin did the best that he could do to just a little piece of all of that. And we had Rocky for five years. Um, before I got pregnant with Tommy, I learned so much with Rocky. That it really, I read, I tell my brother I'm like, you were like an angel because I learned so much with you that I really credit the good sense that I had as a parent, as a mom with Tommy.

To my brother, like I learned like what you better mean what you say and say what you mean, and there's no bargaining. If I tell you this, like, you know, and then a sense of love, a sense of security, a sense of you don't have to do anything to earn my love. Like I love you. You are you. And also I learned very early on that we are all here on our own.

Separate journeys. We have our own growth. We have our own trials and tribulations. We have, it's all like, even though we're together, we're all on our individual paths. And before Tommy came, when I was pregnant, you want to talk about fear? Whew, fear. I had huge fears cause I was like, what if I turn out like my mom.

What if I turn out like my mom, what if I don't have a connection to this child? What if I, if I can't like, what if I, and it was, it was big, but then when he came, I just had this innate sense that he has his own spirit. I am just having the privilege of being his mom. Right now. And if he really is not a reflection of me, he is his own person and he is going to tell us who he is and what he came to do and what, what he, what he came to be.

And, and all that. Like, so I had just a really accelerated before I went into it. It wasn't like, you know, oh, if my kid throws a temper tantrum, that's a reflection on me. You know, that kind of thing. Anyway. When I got pregnant with Tommy, um, back in the day, 21 years ago, they had this new technology that you could through the hospital, send a box, um, to family members that were out of state and they could then attach this box somehow to their TV and you could dial a number and they could actually see you in the hospital and see.

Like it was like the original FaceTime or something. I don't know, like it was crazy. So I ordered two boxes. I had brothers in New York and I had brothers in North Carolina. So I sent a box to New York and I sent a box to North Carolina. Well, in North Carolina, my mom also wanted. And my mom stayed closer to one of us.

And that was my brother, Lenny, who is a year and a half younger than me. He was always sympathetic to her and always more caring to her and always more tolerant and loving to her. And so she stayed a little bit connected to him while he had the box and he told her that he had the box. And so she went over to see.

And that's her first grandson born. And she says, now that something happened to her, then that she was just like, you know, she just like immediate connection. And so Lenny is telling me after Tommy's born and I come home from the hospital and everything, and he. You know, mom really wants to come visit you.

And I was like, what

Tiffany: have you been years since you'd spoken to her? Like,

Jet: yes, she actually, I saw her, she came to my wedding, mine and Kevin's wedding. She wasn't going to, and, um, Lenny somehow convinced her to fly out to, cause we got married in lake Tahoe. Uh, convinced her to fly out to lake Tahoe. Um, And that was the first time in, in several years.

Like maybe three. What was it? I guess it would have been two and a half years. Um, almost three years that she had seen Rocky even. Um, yeah, so, um, I saw her at my wedding. And then that was it. You know, I just, I never talked to her or anything. So all of a sudden she's like talking about wanting to come visit and like see her grandson.

And I remember saying to Kevin, I'm like, she wasn't a mom now she wants to be a grandma. I'm like, that's crazy. And Kevin's like, okay. You know, I, you know, he supported me, but, um, I went to bed. I remember going to bed one night and I remember praying about it. Like, what do I do? Like, what do I do in this situation?

God. And it just came so clear to me. I never want to look into my son's eyes and know that I stopped somebody from loving him because of my issues with that person. And I felt. I'm not going to do that. If there's somebody who wants to love my son, then they can love him. He'll figure her out. He'll see what she's all about.

And then he won't have a relationship with her, but at least I can say I didn't stop it because of my issues with that person. You know what I mean? I never stopped anybody from wanting to get to know my son or love my son, if that's what they want to do. So then she, she got a plane ticket and she came out and it was uncomfortable, but she was amazing with this little baby.

And I was just like, wow, like I, I was in shock and she was there for she, she came to Indiana. She was there for maybe a week, four days or whatever. And. Because of how I saw she was with him and this little baby, I was like softening up to her a little bit. And then she went home and then she would call me, she would start calling me and talking to me, how's how's Tommy and oh, he's so, you know, and everything.

And then she would send me little things for him. And then the next thing I know, she's like, I really want to move to Indiana. And I was like, whoa. And so I told Kevin and Karen never forget it. Kevin goes, are you going to let her and I go lay there. I'm like, she's a grown woman. I'm not. I said, but I know one thing, I'm not doing anything to help her.

This isn't a gravy train. She's not, I'm not, I'm not doing anything to help her. This is something she wants. She needs to do it on her own. And man, she did. She started calling all these apartment complexes. She took a transfer. She was working at Kroger deli and she took a transfer to the Kroger deli and Carmel Indiana.

And, and, and she did it. And then once I saw that she did that, that's when I like, was like, okay. And then over time it was just, it was really amazing. And I, I told her, I was like, You sucked as a mom, but you really rock as a grandma. And I came to understand that my mom has such a low self-esteem about herself and she has let fear rule her, her entire life and everything she's ever done has always been fear fear-based and ruling her.

She, I remember being in a room years ago before, before got custody of Rocky and everything. And all my brothers were in the room and her and I were in a kitchen. And I said, mom, I said, when you look in that room and you see all those men in there, I'm like, those are my brothers and I just look in there and I just feel with pride.

I'm like, those are your sons. I said, what, what do you feel when you look in there and you see those men, I'm like, those are your sons. And I'll never forget it. She said, when I look in there, I think to myself, how could anything that good ever come from me? And I was just like, wow. So. Tommy didn't come from her.

Tommy came from us. Wow.

Tiffany: Holy cow.

Jet: And for some reason he just, it was, it just did something inside of her and because it didn't directly come from her and her self-loathing and her fear and all the things that. She could actually just love him and he just loved her. And man, let me tell you. It just it's crazy because she lived in that apartment and she worked at Kroger's and it was three miles away from our house.

And I would have Friday night family dinners and she would come over and her, her third husband, Ray, who was a really nice man actually would come over and we'd all have family dinner. And, um, she was just, she was just a great grandma now. And in all of this. I thought there was healing in there for Rocky too, but that was a little bit hard for Rocky because here he's seeing his mother and she's being such a good grandmother.

And I'll remember, I remember one time Rocky was a senior and we were in our second house, our house in Noblesville and. I don't remember what happened and it set Rocky off. He said something to me. And I said, Hey, I said, I'm just your sister. I did the best that I could. And my mom was there. I said, you're not angry at me.

I say, you're angry at her. I said, talk to her. I said, yell at her. She's your mother. I go, she's the one who left you and Rocky like looked. And then he looked at my mom and my moms at that point starts crying and she goes, Rocky, you're mad at me. She's like, say it to me. She says, you're mad at me. And Rocky looked at my mom and then he looked back at me.

And he got really loud and he's like, no, I mad at her. I'm so mad at her because she was my sister and she stepped up and she should have done this and she should have done this. And I know I'm mad at her. I'm not mad at you. I'm mad at her. And it was just such displayed anger towards me. Um, so right now, Rocky has a relationship with my mom where he's had his own healing and he just looks at her as, you know, More it's more like a grandmother relationship or whatever.

Now that Rocky's older and he looks back, he realizes, which I always told them. I said, one day, one day you will get older and you will realize the extent of how much Kevin and I love to, and that we weren't your parents, but we chose to raise you. And you understand that everything that we do. Was to help you and to give you a better chance at life.

I can't even tell you how many weeks we were at the school. We were at the principal's office. We were like, just, you know, and I just remember getting to a point where I told my brother, I'm like, listen, we all have a story. We all have a hole. We all have a pain. I'm like, it's time for you to choose. Are you going to be evicted?

Are you going to use this and grow and make your life better? And I would just not have any of the victim mentality with him. I was just like, and now that he's older, he looks back and he's like, I was such a rotten snot nose, little kid. And you guys love me so much. And I'm so sorry. And you know, he's just so, so grateful.

But anyway, all of that garbage that I just like told you is to say the first real forgiveness is. My mom, because I, none of, none of all the joy, all the, the years of, I mean, my mom wound us Mo wound up moving in with us when we moved to Arizona, because the apartments weren't ready. And I mean, this is a woman who would get up at five 30 in the morning.

And so when Tommy came down, She would be like, what do you want for breakfast, honey? And make him bacon and eggs and a bagel, and then drive him to school and then go wait for 45 minutes in the pickup lines. There's that she was the first one there to pick him up and just like, like such beauty would have never been known if, if I didn't just let go and just forgive and just, and most people.

That meet my mom or meet me and her. Now they think we've been like this for close. Like they have no idea because when I look at my mom, now I just see who she is now. She just did the best that she knew how to do. And she had our own struggles and her, her upbringing was so messed up and it's like, she did the best.

She knew how to do, you know, so now to bring us to Kevin and I, and that's what you really wanted

Tiffany: to talk about. I think, uh, at a basic level, I mean, your mom's story is. We all have this choice of what, when and how we get through our fear. And it's so interesting, her association with herself and having the freedom to be able to love maybe in ways that she dreamed of, you know, and couldn't show up even for herself when you guys were young.

And so it's, it's such a beautiful story. I would love to know jet with your mom before we transitioned to Kevin. Did she ever ask for your forgiveness or did you have to offer it first?

Jet: Wow, that's a really good question.

I don't, I don't remember a time where she ever asked for it. Um, I, I remember specific two specific, very powerful times, but, um, There was a time that, um, I made her watch a movie. Um, the five people you meet in heaven by Mitch Albom. Cause I had read the book and I watched the movie and um, I knew she carried so much pain with her father and how he was.

And the movie basically like shows you that, like you don't know what he went through and what shaped him and his, you know, She watched it and it was a motion just like keeping an eye and just weeping. And she to this day will say that that movie, that my daughter made me watch, helped release a lot of what I carried in understanding.

You just never know what people go through, you know, and to forgive her father to actually release and forgive him, which helped her in a way. Um, and then the shack to, uh, was very helpful in helping her, uh, forgive and release, but still to this day, if you talk to my mom, she's very, um, my mom tends to always go to the negative.

You'll have to, you have to really call her out on it. And one thing I do love about my mom is that I call her out on her shit all the time. And I do it in such a way that I love the fact that my mom will always laugh at herself, but like she just tends to be at the negative, go to the negative so quickly.

And it's very hard for her. To see her worth and her value and what she does bring to the table. She can now more so than she ever could before, but it's a constant reminder to her constant reminder to her. You got to constantly pull it out of her, this whole fear journey for me even was your initial listening to your initial interview as fear.

I was like, wow, that is so vulnerable. That was so vulnerable and beautiful. And even at times, like scared, I was scared. I was scared for you because of the vulnerability that you showed. And then I applied it all to me and I was like, I was like, it's such a different, it just, it just shows up so differently.

And everybody's different journey, like where you would be like vulnerable in the fact of fear, like saying to you, like you're going to fail or, or something like that. Like I was trying to explain to Kevin I'm like, I don't have that because when fear starts to tell me stuff like. You're going to fail or you're not going to succeed or, or, you know, like, I, my automatic default is that survival jet mode is like, shut the F up because like, you don't even know, like, I've, I've been through it all.

Like, are you kidding me? Like, are you kidding me? But when fear talks to me and this is so weird, Tiffany, but I'm, I'm just telling you, and I've talked with Kevin for a long time about it. What Butler fear tells me. You are so fat, you are so ugly. You are when fear tells me anything on the physical side.

Holy shit. I believe everything it says. And I don't know another way, because fear has spoke to me throughout all of this, even in survival mode, like through my whole life. Fear knows that it can't get me on the other side. Cause like, for example, if I have to get in front of a room full of people and all eyes are on me, like it starts, you are so fat, you are so ugly.

Everybody's looking at you going, what happened to her? Like how, like, it's just crazy how fear can speak to me that way. And I did the fear interview. And I got all the way through it. And to the end, when it was like, okay, now that you know that this is fear, and this is what fear is saying to you, what can you say to it?

I am at a loss because I've been hearing it for so long in my life that I don't know a time that I don't have that going on. And so I don't even know what to say to it. So anyway, I say all this, because. You've had successful people and you've had people talking about their fear at that level, but I mean, have you ever even talked to somebody who has that kind of fear like that, that, that speaks to you in that way?

Like, I don't know. That may be a whole nother, like thing to even look at.

Tiffany: We're all experts on our own journey, but I can share with you. Kind of what I hear from you and kind of play it back to you and see if it connects at all. I think in some ways your heart is so good that I think fear knows it.

Can't quiet that, but the way that it makes you stand back from the impact that you can have, because your heart literally is so good is by creating this like literal physical barrier where you don't step into the side. Like the fullness of what you can love, the people in space and things around you, because suddenly on that barrier, you see yourself from the outside in all other times, when you're just doing your thing, you see yourself from the inside out and you know, the purity of your motives, you know, but in that moment you cross this sort of like barrier.

Wow. And suddenly you see yourself from the outside in and wow. That is when I think all this judgment comes is you're like, but so I don't know.

Jet: Wow. That was big for me. Thank you.

Tiffany: It's like, that is what I feel like is, is fear. Once to make me small, it's like be small, be small. It's like, no, like. When you think about the generational change that was able to occur in that moment, that you decided to step toward your mom, even lean towards her.

Think about change, like one a God's was powerful tools as the family, a hundred percent. Why wouldn't it be the thing that he attacked? And it's like, he's been working on it for 50, 60, 70, 80, 90 years. Right. And those patterns become so routine in that moment when you lean forward, fuckwits happened.

It's crazy.

Jet: It is crazy. It's beautiful.

Tiffany: You are a healer, Jack. Like you are, you bring people together like this, you love in a way that is uncommon. And that is like, when you see yourself physically that's when I think Satan is able to just be like, No, you're just a human in a carnal body and it's gross and ugly, you know?

And you're like, oh yeah, that's right.

Jet: That is so, wow. Thank you. Wow. Just to put it in those words that I can like, see that now see that visual. How thank you so much for that. Thank you.

Tiffany: I think for women, there's a lot of times that our physical appearance can hold us back in a lot of ways, and that can make us act in ways that aren't maybe as true to. Oh natural, like motives and ambitions. And when you think about the people in your life, you don't experience them in their physical body.

You have, you've experienced them through the lens of their character as their values, through the amount that they care through, what they're willing to give and the way that they love you and the way that they make you feel. And yet we don't view ourselves that way. Oftentimes, when we see ourselves from a distance, we first look at the outside of ourselves and when jet was able to see how I experience her, how so many around her experience, her, she was able to like remove her caricature of herself in her mind's eye and replace it with.

The way that we see and love her. And I believe fear got smaller for her in that moment when she started to see and understand, no, my physical body is not who I am and she's a beautiful woman, but that doesn't matter usually. And the way that we see ourselves,

I think one of the things that I stood out to me. Better heard and understood jet story with her family is that without her courage and compassion, and I would say just like insane selflessness, the healing that took place in her family could never have occurred. It took just one. And I think in every family it needs just one, one person who.

Is selfless enough, one person who is forgiving, who forgives first one person who will go first, who will say first, who will choose words of kindness and not of retaliation or anger. Like it just takes one to totally change a family culture. And, you know, we heard in jet story and you'll continue to hear in jet story that it didn't happen in one instance.

But that layer upon layer of choosing kindness and forgiveness and stepping in when other people couldn't or wouldn't, I just was reminded that you're never going to. I wish that you wouldn't have,

if you have time, encourage you to move right on to the part, two of debt story, you'll see it move from her extended family to her nuclear family. And there's lots to learn.

Listen to the episode