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Know Your Story

 

So now that Bruce Perry and Oprah have put ACES on CBS’s 60 Minutes it is officially time to have the conversation about OUR Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES).  Yes OUR,  I don’t know anyone who is exempt.
 
My Story started when I was 8 years old, at least what I can remember.  I was in 2nd grade when my Grandfather died and my Mom had somewhat of a hysterical reaction.  Not sure why… but fast forward to my 30s, I go to the OBGYN and they refer me for therapy based on my inability to report my medical history because my Mom had died of Mental Illness  She had been in and out of the psychiatric hospital since the time I was about 8. I know she had serious bouts of alcohol abuse and was diagnosed with every possible label out there in the 70s.    Long story short, she never healed and died from the side effect of medication, smoking and deep mental strife.
 
I went to the therapist as recommended because something inside of me told me this was a good idea… and it was.  Two years later I got divorced.  My husband had left the marriage and I wasn’t quite aware of that because I was in survival mode.  I had been for most of my life.  I just didn’t know it.  It was just how I knew how to be.  And it served me well through school, and college and my Master's degree…
 
My therapist asked me some questions to assess how I was feeling.  I did not know… I could not tell her.  Soon enough I was having back pain and challenges walking and doing multiple sessions of Physical Therapy(PT).  My PT asked me “Do you know how to breathe?”  “I guess not. ” I said.  My body was in knots.
 
I remember telling my Therapist the story of My Mom. The words ring, “…and she never got better.”  My story of my Mom had a very sad ending.  I did not want that for myself or my daughter (or anyone).  So I worked at understanding what had happened to me and why my life was changing so dramatically.  My Dad died at the same time my marriage ended.  Double whammy… lot’s to learn.
 
About 10 years later I was diagnosed with breast cancer.  Yikes… time for more work… what is happening to me? 
 
My goal in going to therapy was to not take medication be mentally healthy.  After 12 years, before moving on, I thanked my therapist for keeping me from having to take medication.  She responded, “ My goal was to support you as a person who didn’t have a present parent.” 
Wow!  What a different way to reframe my story.  Although my Mom was physically there when she could be, she wasn’t always present.  Through my years in therapy I learned to get in touch with my thoughts and feelings.  It has been amazing and changed the way I look at my relationship with my self, others and the experience I am having in the world.
 
Full circle, I learn about the Adverse Childhood Experience Study.  I attend a workshop where the keynote speaker is the OBGYN who referred me for therapy (Actually it was his nurse midwife who referred me)  presenting about the history of the ACES study and the implications, he was now in the Legislature.  I was right there listening to his information… he emphasized the impact on people just like me.  I had gone to school and was a “successful” professional.   I had also already experienced two of the effects of ACES – Divorce and Cancer.  He also described many of the children and families I have worked with over 25 years in the public schools and child care centers.
 
I encourage you to learn your story… things don’t happen to you… they happen, and when you understand why, you understand how to make the necessary changes to rewrite your story. AND, when you change the world around you changes.

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Thank you for this! Your words connected with my soul. Especially your therapist's words of "present parent". I have been writing a book on my ACEs, a teaching memoir, and have danced around this concept. I experienced an AH-HA moment as I read your words! 

I am often told by others how much they admire my courage for sharing my "story of hope" with the world. I am passing that thanks along to you, as well. Thank you for your courage in sharing YOUR story.

Peace to you.

www.facebook.com/groups/unicornshadows/

Dana Brown posted:

Thank you, Jessie, for your courage for sharing your story and your journey of rewriting your story. Your narrative and healing process is inspirational. Our ACEs Connection community is richly blessed when our members create our brave space for learning, engaging, uplifting, honoring, and caring for ourselves and each other.

We are all relearning what we've learned. Appreciating so many valuable comments shared following your post, I'm so grateful to learn from our members. Our social media platform of communities of practice creates connectivity which is profound and life-changing. We have found our "home", our "tribe".

Thank you Dana. I will be posting again soon regarding the benefits of knowing your story and then the benefits of telling your story!

 

Thank you, Jessie, for your courage for sharing your story and your journey of rewriting your story. Your narrative and healing process is inspirational. Our ACEs Connection community is richly blessed when our members create our brave space for learning, engaging, uplifting, honoring, and caring for ourselves and each other.

We are all relearning what we've learned. Appreciating so many valuable comments shared following your post, I'm so grateful to learn from our members. Our social media platform of communities of practice creates connectivity which is profound and life-changing. We have found our "home", our "tribe".

On Mon, Mar 19, 2018 at 6:36 AM ACEsConnection <
communitymanager@acesconnection.com> wrote:
Thank you for recognizing hope in my post. My faith in God is my corner
stone. In my retirement I would like to bring the curriculum from Elevate
Montana to church's so many people are hurting.

Thank you all for connecting with me about my post!  I feel the connection on this site! It is so comforting and empowering to tell my story and have it heard and responded to.  Not so much outside of this site... but I believe the more we talk about this and keep showing up as "normal" folks - who are still learning and growing and actively involved in their communities the more people will come forth to tell their story and more connection can be made.  I have been encouraging folks in the education world on social media to learn more.  I will post more here as well!  Again, thank you for being there and being present for this phase of my healing! Love is the ANSWER! 

 

Is it just me, or is there a shortage of constructive and healthy information about growing up “parentless” because of adults not being present - for various reasons?  

My mother, also died a terrible death, after spending her life as a contentious mentally ill person.  She was always ready to fight with anyone who crossed her.  I was not raised by my father at all. So because of my mothers wild, strange, angry, abusive, depriving and neglectful behavior, I felt very much like I was on my own.  She always ran away from her problems and we moved away from what little support system I did have when I was young, so I very much identify with orphans.  This has affected my adult life in profound ways.  I have worked very hard at developing my own value system of kindness, forgiveness, peacefulness, and stability, but what I have accomplished has been mostly from scratch,  including a wonderful marriage and it’s 35th year.

Jessie Graham,  I truly appreciated your story. And I noticed that your words did not come across as bitter.  I wish you the very best and I will share a tidbit with you that has helped me: “Suffering ceases to be suffering, the moment it takes on meaning.” Victor Frankl. -quote from his book “Man’s Search For Meaning”

I can relate to so much of this, Jessie! Thank you so much for sharing your story.  Living in survival mode is all too familiar to me.  There's nothing like the moment you realize it and begin to discover there are other "modes" in life! 

Jessie:

You shared! I'm so grateful and moved and inspired. Thank you. 

2 things you said really moved me. 

"he emphasized the impact on people just like me." and I remember that aha when not just in survival mode but being reflective or realizing, wait, there's a bigger picture, frame, framework and it changed everything.

and this. You write:

"I encourage you to learn your story… things don’t happen to you… they happen, and when you understand why, you understand how to make the necessary changes to rewrite your story. AND, when you change the world around you changes."

I LOVE your language. Learn and rewrite (rewire at the same time because it's hopeful, neutral and not medical. 

So glad you are here!
Cissy

Jessie, Thank you for bravely sharing your story.  I am sure that many members of ACEs Connection can relate.  One of the beauties of this site is we no longer have to feel alone or marginalized.  I am grateful to see OB-GYNs on board with ACEs too!  Thank you so much for writing such a self-compassionate story - it is a great reminder to all of us!  Karen 

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