The Voices Of & For Parenting Surivors

Big Book News!

Parenting_with_PTSD_postcardWe have some big news to share! In the past year we have gotten a greater understanding of who we want to reach with this book, and with that in mind we will be re-releasing the book with some additional content, more resources, and a new title. As of June 2017, Trigger Points will become Parenting With PTSD. We hope that the new title, combined with an awareness raising campaign, will help us connect with more survivor parents who need us.

We will be filming a book trailer, re-vamping the website, and creating new social media accounts over the next few weeks. Please follow us on Twitter and Instagram and sign up on our newsletter through the form below to keep up to date! We will have a free book day when the book is released, and if you want to make sure you don’t miss out, the newsletter is the best option for that.

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The Voices Of & For Parenting Surivors

On Grieving the Loss of a Parent Who’s Still Alive

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Last year I turned 41. I am now officially middle aged. Apparently this is the point in time when my generation’s parents start dropping like flies. In the past two years, I have lost count of how many of my friends, neighbors and acquaintances have lost a parent. Each time, I have watched the ritual unfold. Condolences are offered, funerals are planned. The sordid mess of sorting through a lifetime of possessions and settling wills is dealt with. And everywhere the bereaved adult child goes, they hear the words “I am sorry for your loss.”

Whether their relationship was loving, strained, or a mixture of both. Whether the parent was nurturing or neglectful. Still the words “I am sorry for your loss” are offered up. A benediction for mourning. A recognition that the passing of a parent marks a particular shift in one’s life journey.

I have watched as space is made for the adult child to grieve. How it is understood that it will take a while to return to “regular life” after such a loss. I have watched as the bereaved talk openly about their grief, which comes in waves, over the course of years. And I have been jealous. Because this kind of understanding will never be given to me. And it’s my fault, isn’t it? Because it was my choice.

The decision to permanently cut off contact with my parents was almost anti-climactic. After years of trying off and on to figure out how to have a relationship with them without sacrificing myself, I realized that I was trying for the impossible. I was embroiled in yet another abusive drama, in which I was somehow to blame for a parent’s alcoholic misbehavior. This familiar ebb and flow of dysfunction had played out so many times in so many ways that I realized I wasn’t angry any more, I was just sad. I looked into my future and saw it play out for the rest of my life and I knew I just couldn’t do it anymore. My husband and I were planning to have a child. Was this what I wanted my child to grow up watching? Were these people going to have a positive impact on my child? No.

In the 10 years since I made that decision, I have never once regretted it. I am a happier person without them in my life. It’s sad, but true. However, there is no rite of passage for the child who has had to make a choice between her mental health and a relationship with her parents. There is no supportive community gathering around offering up condolences and casseroles. There is just a long, lonely adjustment to the reality that you are, in a way, an orphan now.

When my parents pass away, I will get a call, or an email, from some relative. I will be asked if I will attend the funeral, but I will not, because I have already done my grieving. I have grieved the parts of that relationship that were good. I have grieved for what could have been. I have grieved for all the ways I needed them to show up for me that they were not capable of. And I am done. And I am angry that I did it alone, with no one to turn to me and say “I am sorry for your loss.”

I am angry that in addition to losing my family, I lost out on the rite of passage, on the support of community, on the acknowledgement of this very significant transition in my life. There is no ritual to support a child who has lost her family in this way, and there should be. It takes incredible bravery to do this in the face of cultural backlash, to give up the comfort of the known pain for the unknown.  To believe in spite of all previous evidence that I deserve better, and to walk away from people who will never love me the way I want them to.

I will never regret the decision I made, but I wish that it wasn’t such a lonely choice.

 

The writer of this article has chosen to remain anonymous.

 

The Voices Of & For Parenting Surivors

Happy Anniversary to Us

trigger_points_book_givaway_ig_image_2To celebrate the one year anniversary of the Trigger Points Anthology, we are giving away the Kindle version of the book on Amazon for FREE November 18-20!

The Trigger Points Anthology sheds light on a topic most parenting books never address: what is it like to raise children when you were abused as a child? With contributions by 21 writers, this anthology and workbook covers the common triggers that arise as parents navigate everything from pregnancy to the teenage years, and helps to let survivors know that they are not alone. As Brene Brown says, the two most powerful words when we are in struggle are “Me too”. This book is a me-too for all the parents working to break the cycle of abuse.

Buy now on Amazon US at: http://amzn.to/2fRMwGC

Buy now on Amazon CA at: http://amzn.to/2eTCNLy

Survivors Empowering Survivors

The Power of Community: 3 reasons you need a tribe, and how to get one.

I was at a neighborhood party a few weeks ago. It was a celebration of the successful completion of our annual block party. I sat down with a glass of wine to chat with one of my neighbors, and she told me during our conversation that her daughter had died under tragic circumstances at age 30.

“You probably read about it in the news” she told me.

She also told me that across the hall from her lived another woman whose daughter had died at the same age, and that when she was having a hard day she would walk across the hall and knock on the door, knowing that there was someone who would understand.

A week later I was talking to a friend of mine who confided that she was starting the process of separating from her husband. We talked about the overwhelming list of practical details she had in the weeks ahead, including finding a full time job and a new place to live. And I thought of another friend of mine, who is also going through a separation. I thought they would probably get along really well, and could both use someone to talk to. Someone who would understand. So I put them in contact and they got together over coffee.

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Human beings are a funny species. There are billions of us on the planet, and yet many of us live our lives feeling alone. We often feel that no one else could understand what we are going through, or no one else has the crazy thoughts that we have. This feeling of separation makes us sick, both emotionally and physically. We are a social species, we are meant to live in connection with others. But in order to be truly connected, we have to be vulnerable. That’s the scary part. We have to admit that we need help sometimes.

Before I became a parent, someone told me that parenting was like turning the amp up to eleven. Life is just more intense. The highs are higher and the lows are deep abysmal valleys. As a survivor of childhood abuse, my experience of becoming a parent certainly fit that description and more. I was suddenly confronted with the reality that no matter how much healing work I had done prior to having children, a whole new level of issues were arising for me. Anxiety, depression, and PTSD all reared their ugly heads. I knew it was related to my childhood trauma, but I couldn’t find any information about how other parents survived this. Until the day that I did. When I read Dawn’s article on Scary Mommy about Raising a Daughter as a Survivor, I knew I needed to talk with her. I did, and together we formed a community for other parents like us. Because when we are “in the rumble” as Brene Brown would say, with the hard things of life, we need to talk to someone who will understand.  And the ones who understand best are in the rumble with you.

Thinking about my experiences in the two years since Dawn and I started the Trigger Points community and anthology project, I realized I have learned so much about the power of community, and why we need it. Here are my top 3 benefits from forming this community:

  1. It normalized my struggles

Before I had the Trigger Points group, I didn’t have a baseline to compare against. I could talk to other moms about the developmental transitions my child was going through, but I didn’t feel like I could talk about what I was going through. And I really needed to hear that what I was experiencing was perfectly normal for someone with my history. Now when something comes up for me, I know exactly where to turn.

  1. It gave me a place to talk freely without censoring myself.

Have you ever had one of “those” days and then been asked “How are you?” by the grocery store clerk? And you really want to tell her “Actually I feel like total shit right now and I would like nothing more than to curl up in a ball and cry or better yet punch something, but instead I’m here buying fucking groceries.” But instead you just mumble out a “Fine”?  I hate those days. As a survivor, I learned from the reactions of people around me that my story was too much for most people. So as I grew older, I self censored. A lot. Now I have a place where I don’t have to do that, and it is such a gift.

  1. Advice & Resources

The Trigger Points community has been an amazing resource for me. Books to read, therapy modes to try, and more have been recommended. Even something simple like a playlist of songs (link to post) to listen to on hard days has made a huge difference.

Some other amazing things have happened in my life since Dawn and I started the Trigger Points Community. For instance, I shared my story in a spoken word performance at She Talks, and learned that not only could I speak publicly about being a survivor, but I would receive a standing ovation for doing so. That was so incredibly healing for me.

And one of the best things to happen after creating this anthology and community, is getting messages from other survivors that say things like “Thank you, I felt so alone and now I don’t feel alone anymore.” Knowing that Dawn and I have created this safe space for others is so incredibly rewarding.

I have always had a strong pull to create community, because I have seen the benefits of it in my own life, and in the lives of those around me. I have learned that I need different tribes for different phases and stages of my life, and that if I outgrow one tribe, I will find or build a new one. So I urge you, if you are feeling alone in any part of your life, go find your tribe.

How to find your tribe:

  1. Start with who you know and ask around. You may be surprised to find that a friend of a friend is in the exact situation you are, and is also looking to connect.
  2. Look to Facebook groups, Meetups, and libraries. Librarians are some of the best people to ask, they know everything!
  3. Start one yourself. If you can’t find what you are looking for, then the world needs you to step up and create it. You are never the only person going through anything. Never. Someone out there is wishing that they could find you, I guarantee it.

I know it can be scary to show your vulnerability and admit you need help, and often we are afraid to reach out because we don’t want to be a burden. But we need each other. There is someone out there who will hear your story and it will not be a burden at all. It will be a gift. Go find that person.

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Author: Joyelle Brandt

Joyelle Brandt is a radical self love warrior, on a mission to help women understand that their ugly is beautiful. As an artist, author and speaker, she uses the creative arts to help women heal their relationships with their bodies and recover from abuse trauma. She is the author/illustrator of the children’s book Princess Monsters from A to Z, and co-editor of the Trigger Points Anthology, a groundbreaking collection of writing by parents who are survivors of childhood abuse. Joyelle believes that her purpose in life is to be a beacon of light, and that the three most important things are love, kindness and gratitude. 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.

Website: www.joyellebrandt.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/joyelle.brandt

Twitter: www.twitter.com/joyellebrandt

Instagram: JoyelleBrandt

 Tomorrow is the big day! For our one year anniversary we are having a Kindle giveaway of the Trigger Points Anthology!

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The Trigger Points Anthology sheds light on a topic most parenting books never address: what is it like to raise children when you were abused as a child? With contributions by 21 writers, this anthology and workbook covers the common triggers that arise as parents navigate everything from pregnancy to the teenage years, and helps to let survivors know that they are not alone. As Brene Brown says, the two most powerful words when we are in struggle are “Me too”. This book is a me-too for all the parents working to break the cycle of abuse.

Buy on Amazon US at: http://amzn.to/2fRMwGC

Buy on Amazon CA at: http://amzn.to/2eTCNLy

 

The Voices Of & For Parenting Surivors

The #FacesOfPTSD campaign launches today!

Today we are launching the ‪#‎FacesOfPTSD‬ campaign to raise awareness and start a conversation about survivors mental health. When we can talk about it, we can heal.

How you can participate:

· “Attend” and share the #FacesOfPTSD event scheduled for Friday, May 6 th

· On May 6 th , share an image of yourself—or if you don’t live with PTSD but still want to show support, share one of the images posted on our page—and be sure to include the hashtag #FacesOfPTSD

· Use any of the #FacesOfPTSD campaign images if you publish a blog post or any articles about PTSD

· Know the facts. Women and children get PTSD. Women get it twice as often as men. Children get PTSD.

Men get PTSD and women in the military get PTSD, too, typically from sexual assault rather than combat.

Let’s make a change!

It’s important to accurately represent the thousands of women and men living day to day, while doing the best they can to manage flashbacks, constant triggers and the debilitating medical and mental health effects of this disorder. It’s time to recognize the many #FacesOfPTSD.