Four years ago, I decided to start a conversation about the long term impact of childhood abuse. More specifically, about what happens when those abused children grow up and have children of their own. When I had become a parent, I went looking for books on this topic, and I didn’t find anything. But I knew I couldn’t be the only one who was dealing with this. And once I found one other person who was willing to write about this, I said, let’s collect these stories. The stories of these brave parenting survivors. Let’s share their struggles and their wisdom, and how they manage triggers and flashbacks while raising their kids. Let’s talk about how we break the cycle of abuse. So we created the anthology Parenting with PTSD, a collection of writing by 26 brave parenting survivors who are working to stop the inter generational cycle of abuse.
That decision completely changed the course of my life and my work. Now I am a writer, speaker and coach who works with trauma survivors who are parents. This work has been incredibly rewarding, and also there have been many days where I have asked myself why I don’t just get a day job like a normal person. On those days, there are three things that keep me going.
The first is that memory of looking for that book and not finding it. I had a deep knowing that this book needed to exist. I didn’t see anybody else talking about this. And I knew from my own experience of becoming a mother, that I had been completely blindsided by the triggers and flashbacks that showed up in my life after becoming a parent. So I knew there must be other people who were also experiencing that.
Second, I have a firm belief that what we cannot speak about, we cannot heal. I realized that I had spent a lot of my life not speaking about being a survivor of childhood sexual abuse because of shame, and I was done letting that shame run my life. Once I started sharing with other survivors, my own experiences were validated and normalized, and that is such a powerful tool for healing.
Finally, I get these messages from people who have read our book and they say things like “Thank you, I thought I was going crazy. I understand now what is happening inside of me, and know that I am not broken.” And that’s the magic.
We all have challenges in our lives, something that is hard, and maybe has a little bit of shame around it. And if we allow that shame to silence us, we miss out on that opportunity to connect, to heal, to normalize and validate our experiences. Whatever that thing is for you, whatever you are dealing with, I hope that you will reach out and find at least one other person who has had that same experience, and just have a conversation. Because healing happens in community.
If you would like to learn more about Parenting After Trauma, I have a workshop coming up on May 13th in Port Moody, BC. To learn more and register, visit http://breathingspacecounselling.ca/events
About the Author:
Joyelle Brandt is a self care coach for moms. She specializes in working with mothers who are survivors of abuse, to help them develop a personalized self soothing toolkit for stress management. As a speaker, mothering coach, and multi-media creator, Joyelle works to dismantle the stigma that keeps childhood abuse survivors stuck in shame and self-hatred. She is the author/illustrator of Princess Monsters from A to Z and co-editor of Parenting with PTSD, the groundbreaking anthology that breaks the silence about the long-term impact of childhood trauma so that parents can break the cycle of abuse.
When she is not busy raising two rambunctious boys, she is most often found playing her guitar or covered in paint at her art desk. You can keep up with Joyelle at http://www.joyellebrandt.com/