It took aging in to a very restless soul before I went looking for and found others like me; women convinced they were “over” or “through” the ripple effects of childhood abuse, only to be blindsided by flashbacks, panic attacks and dangerous levels of hopelessness after becoming mothers. What I discovered and now aim to help others understand is how absolutely normal it is for a parenting survivor of childhood trauma to be triggered by her own child, and by doing basic acts of parenting for the child.
As a parenting survivor with an ACE score of 9, and as a woman who has spent her professional career working in the trenches of the mental health system, it has become crystal clear that not including educational, medical, wellness, and behavioral health interventions for the parent experiencing post-traumatic stress is the missing piece to breaking (often times) generational cycles of abuse and dysfunction.
Trauma survivors do the best they can to undo the lessons neglect, physical and sexual violence teach them growing up. But no one tells them there will come a time when they’ll need to start the work all over again, and that time will coincide with parenthood. The degree will vary, but survivors come face to face with a new kind of trigger once becoming a parent, and that trigger is raising a child. I’ve come to learn that for mothers like us, it’s not a matter of if our children will trigger us, but when.
ACEs (adverse childhood experiences) science and a growing body of research on resilience is teaching us that exposure to trauma during critical times of development encodes trauma in the brain and stress response system, leaving a person to possibly react disproportionately when triggered. Doesn’t it make sense, then, that even if a person has learned to manage symptoms of post-traumatic stress and live a “functioning” life, becoming a parent will expose her to triggers she hasn’t yet experienced, possibly initiating a whole new cycle of disproportionate reactions or abuse?
Why doesn’t anyone talk about this?
Emily Read Daniels, founder of Here This Now, and I, Dawn Daum co-editor of Parenting with PTSD invite parents, caregivers, clinical and non-clinical staff to join us for a truly one of a kind workshop in hopes of starting that conversation.
Our intention is to offer understanding and healing for parenting survivors and those who support them through increasing awareness on
- ACEs science and its impact on mental, emotional, and physical health
- Common triggers parenting survivors experience
- Common reactions and symptoms experienced by parenting survivors
- The role self-regulation and co-regulation play in recalibrating the body’s response system
The buffer a parenting survivor needs to be to successfully break a cycle of abuse cannot happen if the parenting survivor is not taught to understand when she is triggered, how she is triggered, and what to do about it when it happens. Trauma survivors cannot heal and protect against what they cannot recognize is happening.
I hope you will join us June 28th at the Hancock Inn in Hancock, New Hampshire. Our goal is for you to leave the workshop feeling supported, informed, validated, and equipped to strengthen individual resilience and aid in a survivor’s healing.
To learn more details and register for the Parenting with PTSD workshop, visit the HERE this NOW registration page.
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