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  • Janyne McConnaughey, PhD

Therapy: Do I Hear Crickets?

Silence. Crickets. More silence. More Crickets.

Sometimes I post a blog and the silence is deafening—except for the crickets.

I get it. I sometimes make people uncomfortable.

Other times, I post a blog and in my limited world, it literally goes viral. My ‘How Shall We then Dress’ blog was one that came as a complete surprise to me. Since I am both curious and analytical, I am watching for trends in the data provided about my blog. For my Facebook world, my posts about spiritual topics are the ticket—especially if I put humor into it. That makes sense.

But honestly, my church-related well of deep thought will run dry because it isn’t my mission. I have said almost everything I would ever want to say about the church, Christians, legalism, and what is often spiritual abuse. If I wanted to hang onto my anger about all the really awful things that happened to Scott and I during our years in ‘ministry’ I could blog for a lifetime, but it seems so unproductive.

I am very grateful for those who have been following and often sharing my blogs! Many who do this are young mothers who appreciate my kindness as they raise their children (My First Tattoo: Pear of Kindness). Then there are mental health professionals and educators who find my understanding of trauma informative (Trauma: I was an Underachiever and The Classroom through the Lens of Trauma). Often these are former students. I am so impressed with the generation I helped mentor! Most of my PM interactions are from those who have also experienced abuse. These messages bring me both heartache and joy. I am honored to receive them.

Sometimes someone in ministry shares a blog. That is uber exciting!

It is interesting that the blog ‘I Went to Therapy’ is still hanging onto the first place position in my analytics. I took the Facebook world by storm with that one! I could almost hear it. “What on earth is she saying? Does she really mean that she went to therapy—like in ‘she had a mental health problem’ therapy? Did she just announce to the world that she went to psychotherapy?”

Yes. I. Did.

Then, as I continued, with every post that I made with therapy in the title, the readership became less and less. Crickets.

My assumptions (possibly wrong) are that once everyone got over the shock, they probably didn’t want to talk about therapy any more. I had an interesting series of cricket experiences as I began to tell my story. When I was able to find out why this happened, it was clearly because these individuals had a story they didn’t ever talk about publicly. I made them uncomfortable. The church generally has this reaction. Do we think going to therapy indicates spiritual weakness? God help us all!

In comparison, every blog I have written for the Attachment and Trauma Network has been read over 1,000 times and my posts are shared extensively (389 times in one case). Those blogs specifically address my story of trauma. Those who are working to understand trauma and help traumatized children are not leaving me in ‘cricketland.’

The really cool thing about all this reading and sharing is that I was so surprised when it happened. I had to be told that my posts were being read and shared at such a high rate. I am so completely blonde sometimes and my overwhelming need to be successful died on the therapy couch. It was buried under huge piles of tissues and I threw it in the trash.

I am retired with no desire to build a career or become so occupied that it feels like I am working again. No. No. No. I never want to be too busy to take a phone call from my children. I never want to be so overwhelmed that I don’t have time to write blogs and books or help someone on his or her journey. I certainly do not want to be obsessed by traction on social media. No. No. No.

My only desire is to help both children and adults understand and heal the effects of trauma and insecure attachment. To do that, my voice must be heard. Crickets are the opposite of being heard. That is my only reason for writing a blog about crickets.

Another possibility is that my blogs about therapy and trauma are not spiritual enough. I have no intent to make everything I say spiritual. Oops, did I say that? My faith is inherent in everything I do, but our church-wide focus on making everything a spiritual issue is blinding us from the very knowledge and help that could set people free.

I suppose I take issue with the separation of God and knowledge. My book, Brave: Healing from Childhood Trauma does not include one single scripture reference—on purpose. It isn’t about scripture; it is about attachment and trauma. It is a professional piece of writing about the damage caused by early childhood abuse. It is a description of the quality psychotherapy and client dedication necessary to heal from complex trauma. It is about how God led me to the professional help I needed and surrounded my husband, therapist and me as I healed from a mental health tsunami.

Before the crickets begin chirping, understand that ‘God’ is mentioned 102 times in my 250-page book. God is so much more than the Bible. I had been immersed in scripture for 60 years. What I needed was to be immersed in God. One day my therapist said, “You know a lot about the Bible.” Yes, I did; but it was distracting me from God and healing. I wasn’t angry with God for my abuse; I was angry with all I had been told about God. I needed to meet the God who could talk to me through sunsets and my therapist's wisdom and skill during EMDR therapy.

When I include the word therapy in my blog titles, I hear crickets. Maybe I should just randomly include ‘God’ in the titles. Maybe that would help, but it would completely miss the point. My journey to fully experiencing God came through the unconditional acceptance of my story while in therapy, not while in the church. (Very loud crickets)

I had to loose all the layers of pain and Christian platitudes in order to find the God who has loved me since the day I was created. I had to understand that my abuse was the result of human choice and not ever in the plan God had for my life. I had to realize that God loved me enough to send me to therapy—not to just any therapist, but to the one therapist who would pour her life into me during the final years of her practice and hold onto me as a lifetime of trauma and pain poured from my body. God loved me that much.

So, I understand the crickets. My openness and honesty about mental illness makes many people uncomfortable. The word therapy makes others move on. The lack of scripture in my book will make some wonder about my priorities. My honest wrestling with God throughout the book can only be explained by the expression, ‘taking it to the mat.’ I understand I make some uncomfortable, but for those who are doing their best to understand trauma and attachment and bring healing to both children and adults, my voice is important. God has given us a window of knowledge as to how we can fully heal trauma. We need to not close the blinds by separating God's truth from psychiatric truth.

My path is going to be a professional journey; but in the midst of my treatment of the topics for which I am intimately and professionally qualified to discuss, there will always be a story about God sending me to therapy so we could write a love story together. My book may not look like everyone expects it to look. It also probably won't make everyone comfortable since It includes the word 'therapy' 136 times. Crickets.

There, I said it. I wonder if I will hear crickets today? If I do, it is OK, because God and I had a great time writing this together (with both laughter and tears). I can feel God smiling at my willingness to finally be exactly who I was created to be—even if I hear crickets.

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