People 16 January 2018
Marie de Foucaud and her husband moved their family of six from France to the US for a job opportunity that de Foucaud simply could not resist. It’s a monumental move, and it turned out to be a brilliant one. The story of what brought her to that truly life-changing event begins with an upbringing that reads much like a fantasy. She spent the first three years of her life in Paris and then moved to the countryside of France, in the Chateau de la Loire area, where her family had property. From ten-years-old on, she went to a boarding school in a city called Saumur.
After graduating, she went to business school in Angers. Then, she says, “Thanks to an exchange program, I moved to the States for the last year of school in Missouri at Truman State University. It was an amazing year in the middle of nowhere, where I benefited from the wonderful American pedagogy and way of life."
Studying hard majors she was passionate about - PR and International Communications while enjoying the stunning sports infrastructures of the campus, riding horses and swimming almost every night, de Foucaud became ingrained in the American dream.
"Since I did not want to leave the US with only a student experience, I strained myself to find a job in the country," says de Foucaud. "I ended up getting my first position in New York, at Nike Communications, a public relations firm specialized in luxury, where I was offered to assist the PR Director for champagnes and Art de la tables brands. An exciting first job, discovering the world of PR within Luxury industry in the greatest city of the world.”
After two years in the US, de Foucaud returned to her native France and it wasn’t until many years, one husband, and four children later that she was presented with an opportunity to move back. She was the Global Communications Director for high-end jewelry brand Boucheron when an exciting prospect presented itself. It was a huge proposition, moving a family of six to a new country, which, in some ways, ended up feeling like a whole new world. “Coming back sixteen years later, just a bit older and with a family, is offering me quite a different experience.”
Despite the magnitude of such a move, the de Foucaud family decided to take the leap. Now, she and her husband live in Brooklyn in the Carroll Garden’s area with their four children, Mayeul (10), Eloi (8), and twins Alma and Louis (5). She is the Chief Marketing & Communications Officer at Richard Attias & Associates and her husband works in high-end real estate at Barnes International.
When de Foucaud first got the offer, she was excited. “I was determined immediately to rise to this passionate challenge.” As for her husband, well, she says, “I had been telling him for years that I was willing to move back abroad at some point - for me, for the two of us, and for our kids. I wanted to offer my kids the possibility of becoming bi-lingual and multi-cultural. This is a minimum in the world nowadays."
"I wanted to offer my kids the possibility of becoming bi-lingual and multi-cultural. This is a minimum in the world nowadays."
-Marie de Foucaud
De Foucaud hopes the family will have the occasion to have them become tri or quadri-lingual. And the plan is to travel with them on a regular basis for vacation so they see the world and get some flavors from all continents beyond Europe and the States.
"Renaud, my husband, was very pleased with his life in Paris," says de Foucaud. "But, luckily, he is quite accommodating and above all, I think he was aware that he had no choice anyway. I had already decided and it was not an option to not seize the opportunity."
She was looking forward to telling the children about the move but their response was not the one for which a mother would hope. She explains, “We waited for a specific evening once everything was completely confirmed to gather them all and share the news. They all cried. The two older ones were bereft to leave their school and friends. The twins were probably crying because they were seeing the oldest siblings cry…. Inconsolable.”
Of course, de Foucaud wasn’t without at least a few misgivings herself. She didn’t like being dependent on Visas for one. And, she says, “We were afraid of the cost of living. For a family of 6, we wondered if we’d manage to afford it while still having a nice life.” But their experiences following the move have now far over-shadowed any of those trepidations.
“New York is such an exciting city,” she comments. “We were all excited to discover the new places surrounding this new chapter of our lives.” For such a grand move, the transition was an impressively positive one, especially for de Foucaud’s children. “And America is so kid friendly. Every place is welcoming to kids, everything is good to celebrate and have fun."
Marie de Foucaud. Photo credit: David Jacobs
"We are much more serious in France and the kids are annoying to many," she admits. "Arriving here, we have discovered what it is to go to a restaurant with our children and feel like we are not disturbing everyone and observe nice vibes all around. At school, my kids have an occasion every week to dress with costumes or to bring treats. This is a major change of culture which definitely helped the kids to enjoy their new lives."
Marie de Foucaud. Photo credit: David Jacobs
"Arriving here, we have discovered what it is to go to a restaurant with our children and feel like we are not disturbing everyone and observe nice vibes all around. At school, my kids have an occasion every week to dress with costumes or to bring treats. This is a major change of culture which definitely helped the kids to enjoy their new lives."
For her part, de Foucaud became very concentrated on work. A new country, a new industry, a job created for her with no team yet, meant immediate major challenging projects to jump into. "I wanted to succeed and knew I had to find the keys and be immediately operational," she recalls. "The only option was to work-work-work and catch up as quickly as possible, and build a team and a department.”
What de Foucaud and her family have gained from the experience has been nothing short of remarkable. De Foucaud explains, “After three months here, the kids were speaking fluent English. After two years, they are completely bilingual, switching from one language to the other with such ease. For all of us, diving into a new culture is tremendously rich. Again, I believe to best navigate into today’s complex world, you need the international perspective. And this is only something you can catch living in different countries – or travelling intensively.
From a professional stand point, Richard Attias & Associates, de Foucaud's firm has begotten her incredible experience, both in International Public Affairs and a precious knowledge in geopolitics. She has also had the opportunity to contribute to major initiatives worldwide. With a particular focus on digital and technologies especially in the Communications and Marketing industries.
And de Foucaud has a simple piece of advice for others considering a similar move. She refers to her favorite quote, which is from Xavier Dolan, “Everything is possible to who dreams, dares, works and never gives up.” De Foucaud adds, “Take the lead in your life. Do not wait for the opportunities to fall from the sky. Create your opportunities and go for it. This is what makes life interesting. Also, for those who want to grow in their professional life, if there’s a risk, take it”
After all is said and done, says she doesn’t have one single regret about the move. In fact, she feels quite the opposite she says, "I just feel lucky and excited about what’s coming next.”
For decades, women have been unknowingly suffering from PSD and intergenerational trauma, but now Dr. Valerie Rein wants women to reclaim their power through mind, body and healing tools.
As women, no matter how many accomplishments we have or how successful we look on the outside, we all occasionally hear that nagging internal voice telling us to do more. We criticize ourselves more than anyone else and then throw ourselves into the never-ending cycle of self-care, all in effort to save ourselves from crashing into this invisible internal wall. According to psychologist, entrepreneur and author, Dr. Valerie Rein, these feelings are not your fault and there is nothing wrong with you— but chances are you definitely suffering from Patriarchy Stress Disorder.
Patriarchy Stress Disorder (PSD) is defined as the collective inherited trauma of oppression that forms an invisible inner barrier to women's happiness and fulfillment. The term was coined by Rein who discovered a missing link between trauma and the effects that patriarchal power structures have had on certain groups of people all throughout history up until the present day. Her life experience, in addition to research, have led Rein to develop a deeper understanding of the ways in which men and women are experiencing symptoms of trauma and stress that have been genetically passed down from previously oppressed generations.
What makes the discovery of this disorder significant is that it provides women with an answer to the stresses and trauma we feel but cannot explain or overcome. After being admitted to the ER with stroke-like symptoms one afternoon, when Rein noticed the left side of her body and face going numb, she was baffled to learn from her doctors that the results of her tests revealed that her stroke-like symptoms were caused by stress. Rein was then left to figure out what exactly she did for her clients in order for them to be able to step into the fullness of themselves that she was unable to do for herself. "What started seeping through the tears was the realization that I checked all the boxes that society told me I needed to feel happy and fulfilled, but I didn't feel happy or fulfilled and I didn't feel unhappy either. I didn't feel much of anything at all, not even stress," she stated.
Photo Courtesy of Dr. Valerie Rein
This raised the question for Rein as to what sort of hidden traumas women are suppressing without having any awareness of its presence. In her evaluation of her healing methodology, Rein realized that she was using mind, body and trauma healing tools with her clients because, while they had never experienced a traumatic event, they were showing the tell-tale symptoms of trauma which are described as a disconnect from parts of ourselves, body and emotions. In addition to her personal evaluation, research at the time had revealed that traumatic experiences are, in fact, passed down genetically throughout generations. This was Rein's lightbulb moment. The answer to a very real problem that she, and all women, have been experiencing is intergenerational trauma as a result of oppression formed under the patriarchy.
Although Rein's discovery would undoubtably change the way women experience and understand stress, it was crucial that she first broaden the definition of trauma not with the intention of catering to PSD, but to better identify the ways in which trauma presents itself in the current generation. When studying psychology from the books and diagnostic manuals written exclusively by white men, trauma was narrowly defined as a life-threatening experience. By that definition, not many people fit the bill despite showing trauma-like symptoms such as disconnections from parts of their body, emotions and self-expression. However, as the field of psychology has expanded, more voices have been joining the conversations and expanding the definition of trauma based on their lived experience. "I have broadened the definition to say that any experience that makes us feel unsafe psychically or emotionally can be traumatic," stated Rein. By redefining trauma, people across the gender spectrum are able to find validation in their experiences and begin their journey to healing these traumas not just for ourselves, but for future generations.
While PSD is not experienced by one particular gender, as women who have been one of the most historically disadvantaged and oppressed groups, we have inherited survival instructions that express themselves differently for different women. For some women, this means their nervous systems freeze when faced with something that has been historically dangerous for women such as stepping into their power, speaking out, being visible or making a lot of money. Then there are women who go into fight or flight mode. Although they are able to stand in the spotlight, they pay a high price for it when their nervous system begins to work in a constant state of hyper vigilance in order to keep them safe. These women often find themselves having trouble with anxiety, intimacy, sleeping or relaxing without a glass of wine or a pill. Because of this, adrenaline fatigue has become an epidemic among high achieving women that is resulting in heightened levels of stress and anxiety.
"For the first time, it makes sense that we are not broken or making this up, and we have gained this understanding by looking through the lens of a shared trauma. All of these things have been either forbidden or impossible for women. A woman's power has always been a punishable offense throughout history," stated Rein.
Although the idea of having a disorder may be scary to some and even potentially contribute to a victim mentality, Rein wants people to be empowered by PSD and to see it as a diagnosis meant to validate your experience by giving it a name, making it real and giving you a means to heal yourself. "There are still experiences in our lives that are triggering PSD and the more layers we heal, the more power we claim, the more resilience we have and more ability we have in staying plugged into our power and happiness. These triggers affect us less and less the more we heal," emphasized Rein. While the task of breaking intergenerational transmission of trauma seems intimidating, the author has flipped the negative approach to the healing journey from a game of survival to the game of how good can it get.
In her new book, Patriarchy Stress Disorder: The Invisible Barrier to Women's Happiness and Fulfillment, Rein details an easy system for healing that includes the necessary tools she has sourced over 20 years on her healing exploration with the pioneers of mind, body and trauma resolution. Her 5-step system serves to help "Jailbreakers" escape the inner prison of PSD and other hidden trauma through the process of Waking Up in Prison, Meeting the Prison Guards, Turning the Prison Guards into Body Guards, Digging the Tunnel to Freedom and Savoring Freedom. Readers can also find free tools on Rein's website to help aid in their healing journey and exploration.
"I think of the book coming out as the birth of a movement. Healing is not women against men– it's women, men and people across the gender spectrum, coming together in a shared understanding that we all have trauma and we can all heal."