Meet the Trigger Points Contributors

Trigger Points Editor and Contributor: Dawn Daum

Introducing Trigger Points Editor & Contributor Dawn Daum, author of Raising a Girl as a Survivor and Permission to Love.

me1

“After my failed search for stories on what it’s like to live and experience motherhood as a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, I was reminded how quiet survivors are. I know the role that shame has in keeping it that way, but a discussion on the effects of the abuse that resurface, or suddenly arise, when we become mothers is something we need to talk about. It’s vital to our ability to raise healthy girls.”

Raising a Girl as a Survivor

Dawn Daum

Trigger Points: Childhood Abuse Survivors Experiences of Parenting

1. What was the most surprising thing about becoming a parent?

How little I actually realized about what it means to be a parent, before I actually had kids. I was very naïve in how I believed I would accomplish “giving my kids the life I never had.” My kids having a “normal” childhood was a picture in my head of a nice house, not having to say no and  lots of love. I had no idea that just because I loved them didn’t mean I would know what the hell I was doing.

I was clueless on the level of conscious availability it takes to raise healthy kids. My daughter is 6 and my son is 3, being Mom means everything I do, say, react to and choose to make important or un-important in my life spills over in to their lives. I never in a million years thought I would matter that much.

2. Tell us about one of your proudest parenting moments.

My daughter was chosen for student of the month last October. That month students were chosen based on the character trait pride. I was ridiculously proud of her. It made me step back and acknowledge that even though my journey through motherhood hits some pretty rough roads sometimes, I am in fact getting it right along the way. My daughter takes pride in who she is, how she treats others and what she creates. I didn’t know what that felt like until I was well in to my 20’s.

3. Was it difficult for you to participate in this project? What strength did you pull from to get past the fear and contribute?

The actual act of writing out my experiences as a parent who experienced childhood abuse was not difficult. The tough part has been keeping eye contact when speaking about it. When I start to feel the sting of vulnerability, and I notice I’m looking anywhere but at the person I am speaking to, I remind myself that it’s shame I’m feeling, not disgust I am projecting. A mantra of sorts that I have held on to is for every time I keep eye contact while talking about my experiences as a parent and survivor, I am strengthening a mental muscle that will eventually defeat the shame.

4. Do you believe participating in this project has changed you in any way? If so, how?

In what way hasn’t it?!! I mean every day I am working on using this tool we have created as a catalyst for conversation and change. And when I’m not jotting down one more thing to do, I’m starting another list of things to consider doing. It is hard work but it doesn’t feel like work I have to do, instead like work I want to do. My life has veered so far off the “map” I created in my head because of this project; for that I am so grateful.

5. What is the greatest lesson you have learned from your children?

To slow the hell down. Breastfeeding was my first lesson. For the first time, I had to just sit still. I couldn’t rush the moment. I couldn’t think up a new task to take up time and busy my mind. I had to just sit down; slow down. Now that I have a preschooler and first grader on my hands and I’m back to working full time, time is FLYING! I can’t give all of my time to my children, but I understand the importance of giving all of me to them when I have the time.

6. When you are not writing or parenting, what do you love to do?

I love listening to music that moves me. I love getting together with friends to play poker and catch up with each other. I love sometimes deep and sometimes just plain ridiculous conversations with my girls. And I absolutely love sharing a good bottle of red wine with my husband, with phones out of arms length and the tv OFF!

Until I became a parent, I was able to drown out the flashbacks I had experienced throughout my adult life. When I became a mom, I could no longer do that. I couldn’t get away from the triggers, because my children had become the source of them. I started to live in an on again, off again state of panic. I suddenly had no control over the way my body reacted to the very people I loved the most in this world. I couldn’t understand why I always wanted to run away from my children, instead of towards them.

Permission to Love

Dawn Daum

Trigger Points: Childhood Abuse Survivors Experiences of Parenting

Bio:

Dawn Daum is a thirty-something wife, Momma to two, survivor and student of life. She spends her work week as a mental health care manager, helping others put and keep pieces of their lives together. Dawn is currently working on her first novel and recently published Trigger Points: Abuse Survivors Experiences of Parenting, which she co-edited with Joyelle Brandt. Her work has been featured on Huff Post Parents, Huff Post Comedy, The Indie Chicks, Elephant Journal and Scary Mommy.

Website: W.T.F. words thought feelings
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/wordsthoughtsfeelings
Twitter: https://twitter.com/TDawn81


book cover

The Trigger Points Anthology is now available for Kindle and paperback. Click the link to get your copy today!!

Trigger Points Anthology paperback

Trigger Points Anthology for Kindle

Become a member of the supportive Trigger Points community on Facebook and Twitter to connect with other parenting survivors.

 

Meet the Trigger Points Contributors

Trigger Points Editor and Contributor: Joyelle Brandt

Introducing Joyelle Brandt, co-editor of the Trigger Points Anthology & author of Staring at the Sun and Tainted.

Joy

It’s a fine line

This tight-rope walk

Of delving in

But not too far

Digging down

But not too deep

Staring at the sun

With our shades on

Staring at the Sun

Joyelle Brandt

Trigger Points: Childhood Abuse Survivors Experiences of Parenting

1. What was the most surprising thing about becoming a parent?

Becoming a mom gave my life a sense of purpose that I had been craving, and it also completely changed my creative life. Everything I create now relates to being a mother.

2. Tell us about one of your proudest parenting moments.

On anti-bullying day I had a discussion with my son about why it means so much to me that he wear his pink shirt to school. I told him that I had been bullied very badly as a child, and so this day meant a lot to me. He turned to me and said “Why didn’t you just get a monitor to help you?” And I realized that in his world, he trusts implicitly that the people in charge will keep him safe. And that to me was the biggest parenting win ever.

3. Was it difficult for you to participate in this project? What strength did you pull from to get past the fear and contribute?

It’s so funny, because I have been reading all the contributors answers to this question and they are all “No, it wasn’t hard at all.” Holy crap, I don’t even have words to describe how $#%$ hard this has been. I am so grateful to have partnered with Dawn on this project, because there have been times when it has all been just too much for me to handle and I needed to step away for a while. Every bit of my experience and instinct told me NOT to talk about this stuff, and there has been a whole lot of fear and anxiety to battle through to do this. Last week I had a full on mental break and just spent an entire day crying.

What I have learned is that I need to get a whole lot better at asking for support. And I need to ask often and loudly. Because there is support available to me, when I stop pretending that everything is great and I am totally ok. It’s that first part of showing my vulnerable, aching heart that sucks.

4. Do you believe participating in this project has changed you in any way? If so, how?

You know that quote “If you want to heal the world, start by healing yourself”? That’s pretty much how this goes for me. Working on this project has shown all the places in myself that need healing. Sometimes I get lost in the practical details, so I can stay in my comfortable detached mental state; then a big reminder shows up to tell me to tune back into my heart and remember that the journey starts within.

5. What is the greatest lesson you have learned from your children?

Tune into joy. When I think back on my day, often the moments I am most grateful for are the simple moments with them. Laughing together as we watch The Grinch, making crafts or playing board games together. Having a cuddle before bed. These are the moments that make life worth living.

6. When you are not writing or parenting, what do you love to do?

I love to write songs and stories, make art, go for walks in nature with my headphones on, and play poi. I also love curling up on my couch with a good fantasty novel and a cup of tea.

“As he gets older there will be more talks. Talks about how to be a kind and considerate lover. Talks about consent. And I know at some point during those talks I will have to make a choice that most survivors dread. Will I tell my son what happened to me or not?”

Tainted

Joyelle Brandt

Trigger Points: Childhood Abuse Survivors Experiences of Parenting

 

 

Bio:

Joyelle Brandt is a creative mama who believes in the power of the arts to create social change. She is the author/illustrator of Princess Monsters from A to Z, and an accomplished singer/songwriter and speaker. 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. Joyelle has two major projects at the moment:

She is currently creating Love Your Body events, retreats and workshops to help women reclaim ownership of their bodies and learn to love their whole selves.

As well, she recently published the Trigger Points Anthology: Childhood Abuse Survivors Experiences of Parenting, which she co-edited with Dawn Daum.

Website: www.joyellebrandt.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/joyelle.brandt

Twitter: www.twitter.com/joyellebrandt


 

book cover

The Trigger Points Anthology is now available for Kindle and paperback. Click the link to get your copy today!!

Trigger Points Anthology paperback

Trigger Points Anthology for Kindle

Become a member of the supportive Trigger Points community on Facebook and Twitter to connect with other parenting survivors.

 

 

Meet the Trigger Points Contributors

Trigger Points Contributor: Aprel Phelps Downey

Introducing Trigger Points Contributor Aprel Downey, author of I Stand Guard At My Post.

aprel downey

1. What was the most surprising thing about becoming a parent?

The most surprising thing about becoming a parent has been my ability to be a parent. When I was in my early twenties, I had the mindset that children were not something that would be a part of my life. I was not against parenting and always felt happiness and excitement for my friends that started their own family. Things were different for me because I could barely take care of myself, let alone be responsible for another human being.

When I found out I was pregnant my initial reaction was fear. My cousin gave me a piece of advice during my pregnancy that has stuck with me today. She told me to be the kind of parent that I wish I had growing up. I let that advice serve as the motivating factor for my approach to parenting, and now ten years later I am the proud parent of a kind, loving, amazing daughter.

2. Tell us about one of your proudest parenting moments.

One of my proudest parenting moments happened not too long ago. My daughter and I were talking one day after school. I told her how proud of her I was for always trying her best in school and with her activities. I shared with her that it can be hard work to be a kid sometimes and I want her to know that her hard work is recognized and appreciated.

She looked at me, smiled and said “I know you are proud of me mom. Even when you don’t say it, I still feel it.” For my daughter to know in her heart that I am proud of her means that I must be doing something right in the parenting department.

3. Was it difficult for you to participate in this project? What strength did you pull from to get past the fear and contribute?

It was not extremely difficult for me to participate in this project. As I was writing my story, I was conscious of the fact that there will be people who know me personally that will not be happy with what I wrote. This kept a significant amount of fear tugging at me with each word I typed. I just tried to take deep breathes and tell myself that I have every right to share my story, despite how uncomfortable it may make others feel.

The strength I pulled from in order to get past that fear was empowerment. Each word I typed made me feel stronger, as if I was taking back some of my voice that had been lost as a child. I knew that the words I was writing would touch another abuse survivor who is trying to break the cycle with their own approach to parenting. That helped me put my fear into perspective and submit my contribution.

4. Do you believe participating in this project has changed you in any way? If so, how?

I do believe that participating in this project has changed me. It has made me feel more confident in my parenting ability. I am able to see vast differences in the way I’m raising my daughter and the way that I was raised. Connecting with other abuse survivors who are also parents has been like a breath of fresh air. Knowing that I am not alone in struggling to break the cycle of abuse has been comforting.

5. What is the greatest lesson you have learned from your children?

The greatest lesson I have learned from my daughter is how amazing unconditional love feels. I spent so much of my life chasing after expectations that I thought would make someone love me. No matter what I did or which condition I met, there was always another condition waiting in its place. As a result, I never felt worthy of love.

My daughter has shown me that it is possible to love someone just for who they are, no questions asked or conditions that need to be met first. She loves me when I’m laughing, happy and having a great day just as much as she loves me when I’m grumpy or sad. There are no conditions I need to meet with her. She loves me just because I’m her mom!

6. When you are not writing or parenting, what do you love to do?

I love to listen to music, read a good book or spend time with my husband and daughter. I also have an amazingly supportive group of girlfriends that always make me laugh whenever we get together.

“My eyes fill with tears. I grieve for that little girl who just wanted someone to care that she was being hurt. My daughter’s fear is not quite this extreme, but it triggers me. I don’t want her to ever be afraid to come to me for any reason. I go overboard making sure she never feels that way.”

I Stand Guard At My Post

Aprel Phelps Downey

Trigger Points: Childhood Abuse Survivors Experiences of Parenting

 

Bio:

Aprel Phelps Downey has held a passion for writing since her childhood days of elementary school. That passion has been the driving force behind everything that she has set out to do in her life.

As a child abuse survivor, she understands firsthand the emotional challenges involved in trying to move on from a painful life experience. She shares her story so that other survivors know they are not alone. She believes that standing together and supporting one another makes the healing process a little easier to endure.

 

Website: http://aprelphelpsdowney.com

Twitter: @aphelpsdowney

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/aprelphelpsdowneyauthor


book cover

The Trigger Points Anthology is now available for Kindle and paperback. Click the link to get your copy today!!

Trigger Points Anthology paperback

Trigger Points Anthology for Kindle

Become a member of the supportive Trigger Points community on Facebook and Twitter to connect with other parenting survivors.

 

 

 

Meet the Trigger Points Contributors

Trigger Points Contributor: Christine Cissy White

Introducing Trigger Points Contributor Christine Cissy White, author of Little Girl Riding Shotgun in My Psyche.

cissy white

1. What was the most surprising thing about becoming a parent?

How satisfying it was to be able to meet the needs of my daughter and that I’d want to do so even at 3 a.m. when she was crying. This doesn’t mean I wasn’t exhausted and tired as hell. But I’d worried so much about what I might be lousy at or unable to do well. I had failed to predict how easy some of it would be, how natural and rewarding it could and did feel.
2. Tell us about one of your proudest parenting moments.

It’s when my daughter is soothing or attending to a younger child, especially my cousin’s son. She talks in a sing song voice or takes his hand and is loving, attentive and responsible. Sometimes I’ll catch her repeating things I say. I love that. And I hope it means she’s that gentle, patient and tender with herself when she’s needy or fearful. Plus, when she was a toddler she’d say, “I can do it myself. With help.” She saw no contradiction in being independent and asking for help. It took me much longer to learn this.

3. Was it difficult for you to participate in this project? What strength did you pull from to get past the fear and contribute?

It was hard to write an essay that is honest, respects the privacy of my kid but where I tell the truth about how challenging aspects of parenting have been. And to focus in on only one aspect. Also, my kid is now 13 and so knowing this would get published was another factor in my having a direct conversation about being a survivor, what that means and finding the right time, place and space to say that. Now that my story can be found on a Google search that reality couldn’t be pushed back any more. The strength I drew from is my firm belief that children feel more than they know. Adding facts, age appropriate and specific to the kid and  trusting my instincts in my own parenting are balanced  with the need for breaking silence in a bigger way so that parenting is easier for others who are also survivors.

4. Do you believe participating in this project has changed you in any way? If so, how?

Absolutely. It has put me in touch with SO MANY others. I had not known any other survivor parent writers who were “out” and when I saw Dawn’s article and heard about this project I was literally overjoyed. It’s been a part of an amazing survivor community explosion and it’s wonderful. Game changing. Liberating. Powerful.

5. What is the greatest lesson you have learned from your children?

I’m a mother and the way I became one is through adoption. Adoption means there was a loss for the child. At least one. Of first family, maybe first culture too. I don’t want to minimize any of that. It’s big. But as a parent, what I love about adoption is that I don’t go into my relationship with my daughter presuming to know who or how she is or assuming x, y or z trait is from this person or that. It’s her. She’s her. It allows me to know and love her as she unfolds. And honestly, I think I’d love better if I did this more in all of my relationships. Sometimes I remember. Other times I do not.

6. When you are not writing or parenting, what do you love to do?

Write. Drink iced coffee. Chew gum. Lean into warm towels just out of the dryer. Read or hear poetry or Moth or TedTalks. Spend time with the people in my inner circle. Preferably sharing a meal or sitting under a blanket or by a fire with dog or cats close.

“The little girl I was wasn’t as confident as my own child is now. Sometimes I watch, stare and marvel.

Sometimes I worry I am parenting to my voids rather than her gifts.

How can I keep my distorted old beliefs from seeping through my floor boards where my daughter’s bare feet cross?”

Little Girl Riding Shotgun in My Psyche

Christine Cissy White

Trigger Points: Childhood Abuse Survivors Experiences of Parenting

 

Bio:

Christine “Cissy” White knows blogs, speaks and consults about the healing power of writing, the lifelong impact of Adverse Childhood Experiences, and how breaking the silence helps break the cycle of violence. She’s been published in The Boston Globe, Ms. Magazine online, Spirituality & Health and To Write Love on Her Arms. She’s a columnist at Elephant Journal who is co-authoring the book, “Your Childhood is Making You Fat, Sick and Dead: Write to Heal” with Nancy Slonim Aronie. She facilitates free-writing groups at The Heal Write Now Center in Weymouth, MA. Daily joys are mothering, friendship, poetry, hand-holding and time in nature and with pets. 
Website: www.healwritenow.com
Twitter: @healwritenow


 

book cover

The Trigger Points Anthology is now available for Kindle and paperback. Click the link to get your copy today!!

Trigger Points Anthology paperback

Trigger Points Anthology for Kindle

Become a member of the supportive Trigger Points community on Facebook and Twitter to connect with other parenting survivors.

Meet the Trigger Points Contributors

Trigger Points Contributor Jodie Ortega

Introducing Trigger Points Contributor Jodie Ortega, author of Thank You.

jodie ortega

1. What was the most surprising thing about becoming a parent?

My abuse started when I was four years old so my perception of love and reality was distorted along with the physiology of my brain which was heavily impacted due to the abuse.  In the months leading up to the birth of my child, I was indeed very excited for the next chapter, but was also terrified because of the firm belief that I might not have the capacity to unconditionally love my baby as I had not experienced a similar love in my childhood.

2. Tell us about one of your proudest parenting moments.

Upon returning from therapy one evening, my child asked where I went. “Mama went to therapy.  She needs help healing.”  His response, “Well, to me you are perfect.”

3. Was it difficult for you to participate in this project? What Strength did you pull from to get past the fear and contribute?

I initially had the fear that people were going to judge me as a parent, but I pretty much told ‘Fear’ to get lost.

4. Do you believe participating in this project has changed you in any way? If so, how?

It has introduced me to another division of this post trauma club.  I knew I wasn’t the only one that had difficulty parenting as a survivor, and it’s wonderful to establish friendships and be able to talk about certain issues that I usually reserve for others that “get it”.

5. What is the greatest lesson you have learned from your children?

My child has taught me that four year old Jodie couldn’t have done anything to prevent being sexually abused, and that her memory needs to honoured for her bravery.   Continuing to live my life helping other fellow survivors is one the greatest gifts I can give my child and the greatest insult I can give to my grandfather.

6. When you are not writing or parenting, what do you love to do?

I love sharing my stories of survival to those that need the inspiration.

Just like every cliché

Loving you was instant and true

But I quickly realized I had to practice

Self love in order to properly love you

Thank You

Jodie Ortega

Trigger Points: Childhood Abuse Survivors Experiences of Parenting

Bio:

Jodie Ortega is a Hip Hop dancer turned advocate, spoken word artist, and TEDx Speaker (Take that, PTSD!).  She has been able to flip the narrative of victim hood into a unique brand of storytelling, combining the arts with the celebration of surviving, thriving, and everything in between.  Her work has been recognized by Vancouver Rape Relief and Women’s Shelter and her TEDx talk has caught the attention of UN Women, Greater Los Angeles Chapter.  To date, Jodie has publicly broken her silence in Vancouver, Toronto and San Francisco. Jodie is excitedly preparing for the Love Your Body Summit in Port Moody, Canada on February 6, 2016.  She will be sharing her story and facilitating a slam poetry workshop at a day that is dedicated to empowering girls and women to love their bodies.

Twitter: https://twitter.com/dontrunbabygirl

Instagram: https://twitter.com/dontrunbabygirl


 

book cover

The Trigger Points Anthology is now available for Kindle and paperback. Click the link to get your copy today!!

Trigger Points Anthology paperback

Trigger Points Anthology for Kindle

Become a member of the supportive Trigger Points community on Facebook and Twitter to connect with other parenting survivors.