ATN: The Power of Community
Once upon a time…
…just two years ago, I was absolutely clueless about attachment and trauma. During my thirty-three years as a teacher educator, no one I knew talked about ACEs, trauma, attachment, or trauma-sensitive schools. I never mentioned or even thought of trauma as a possible cause for behavior problems in the classroom.
I was not alone.
After two grueling years healing from childhood trauma, I was just crawling out of what felt like an endless rabbit hole. In fact, the intensity of the experience drove me to early retirement. One day, while doing an Internet search on the effects of insecure attachment and early childhood sexual abuse, I stumbled onto Attachment & Trauma Network (ATN). I had no idea anyone was connecting attachment and trauma! I knew they were intertwined in my story and I was excited to find others who understood the connection.
Out of the rabbit hole…
My initial devouring of the website convinced me that ATN works diligently to help traumatized children. If only this kind of help existed when I was a child, I thought. My parents’ lack of knowledge unintentionally compounded the damage done by the abuse that began at the age of three. Soon after beginning therapy, I realized the extent of the damage, but had little understanding of how I had become so fractured. I truly thought I would never crawl out of the rabbit hole.
Although I didn’t know it yet, the process of healing my dissociative parts through EMDR would give me a window on the inner world of traumatized children. My expertise in child development and early education provided the foundation for understanding the layered effects of developmental trauma. But I emerged with more. Not only did I have a deep understanding of trauma and attachment-driven behaviors, I could also describe them from inside the child.
…and into ATN
ATN’s mission provided purpose at a crucial time. I decided to volunteer, so I sent an email that literally changed the course of my life. The power of finding community at that particular point in my life cannot be overestimated.
As I healed, I found inside me a Storyteller who had always wanted to become an author. I had taught children’s literature for over thirty years and waited for the day I would finally fulfill my dream. ATN directed me to Laura Dennis, the ATN blog manager. My first ATN blog post was shared on social media over 400 times. I never saw that coming! I had barely told my story to those closest to me and now it had gone around the world.
Soon after, I published my first book, BRAVE: A Personal Story of Healing Childhood Trauma, which is gaining recognition amongst educators, therapists, parents, and survivors. My second book, Jeannie’s BRAVE Childhood: Behavior and Healing through the Lens of Attachment and Trauma, just launched January 26. And next week, I will speak for the second time at the Creating Trauma Sensitive Schools Conference, where my topic will be “Behavior through the Lens of Attachment, Trauma, and Dissociation.”
Now, I want to do all I can to help others understand the complicated inner workings of children who live in survival mode. They have so much potential! Even on their most difficult day, they demonstrate great resilience and do best they can. Both Jeannie and Alice (of Wonderland fame) understood this:
I was surviving, and it looked like resilience.
Alice, whose armchair was starting to show signs of all the dragging back and forth, said, “Never be fooled by the apparent resilience of a child.”
Jeannie looked serious as she reflected, “That was like you in Wonderland. Your adventures got really confusing and hard sometimes, but you appeared to be taking it all in stride. I did that too.” (Jeannie’s BRAVE Childhood p89)
Come join me in Washington, DC. Together, we can help other children, too.