- Janyne McConnaughey, PhD
A Peek into Jeannie's BRAVE Childhood!
This book defines me as a writer. It is an interweaving narrative that almost defies description. One of my endorsers for Jeannie's BRAVE Childhood stated, "From cover to cover, this book is a masterpiece. Cohesive and expertly crafted." (Susan Jenkins) The day I sent it to my publisher (Cladach Publishing) I felt this was true, but it feels great for someone besides my self to tell me that. All those who have previewed are excited for the launch so I thought my blog readers might like a glimpse! Launch day is January 26th! (Available on Amazon)
Jeannie, the composite of all of my child selves,(1) and Alice, of Alice in Wonderland fame, were having a conversation. They became close friends during the writing of this book, but they first met during the writing of BRAVE: A Personal Story of Healing Childhood Trauma. The insights the two provided were instrumental to my writing; and on this day, Jeannie expressed a concern for the readers.
“I hope the readers are familiar with the story of Wonderland. They kind of need to be.”
“Yes, I agree!” Alice responded. “I hope they know about the White Rabbit, falling down rabbit holes, and finding keys. Oh, and understand about growing and shrinking!”
“And,” Jeannie continued, “the dormouse, the March Hare, the Cheshire Cat, the Duchess, the Queen and her Gardeners, as well as the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party. This book will make more sense if they do!”
Alice and Jeannie had a point. They looked up at me and giggled as Jeannie said, “I bet they wonder why there’s an armchair on the cover.”
Alice laughed and said, “Because we are all mad here!”
Yes, there were times I felt that way! My inner child developed in multiple split parts and used the fantasies of her childhood to survive. The story of Alice was one such fantasy. Alice was an expert at survival—just like Jeannie.
Alice’s story is as interwoven in this book as it was in my childhood, during my years of teaching children’s literature, and within in my eclectic office décor. The inner world I built in order to survive my childhood trauma was as creative as the pain was deep. The lines between fantasy and reality were often blurred during my childhood, during healing, and now within the pages of this book. For “black vs. white” or “fantasy vs. reality” thinkers this may be problematic, but it is an essential component in understanding hurting children.
My purpose in using storytelling and fanciful settings is to help the reader view the often difficult situations children experience with a childlike perspective. Seeing trauma and survival through the child’s eyes helps us to understand their needs-based behaviors. The child has few strategies for survival beyond his or her own imagination.
The story of childhood sexual abuse (2) that is fully explained in BRAVE is foundational, but not essential, to this book (see Addendum I: Synopsis of BRAVE). My insecure attachment and abuse resulted in a life lived via dissociative coping strategies. Often mistaken as “mad,” splitting off parts in order to survive is a completely normal response to childhood abuse.
My story unfolded during several years of intensive therapy. I didn’t process my childhood memories as an adult remembering what happened. My dissociated child selves sat on the therapy couch inside my adult body and processed with Dr. Sue (Dr. Susan Kwiecien—see her Foreword to BRAVE in Addendum II of this book).
For the sake of my readers, I have done my very best to make it clear when I, one of my child selves, or Alice is talking. Should anyone be confused, that confusion will serve to illustrate the complicated inner world of traumatized children. I couldn’t always be absolutely sure who was talking. In the following pages, my child selves sometimes blend, go by different names, and pop up unexpectedly. Really, Alice is the only one who seemed to fully understand all the child selves were actually one child named Jeannie.
Occasionally, one of the three adult selves who lived my life as a college professor/teacher educator (the Three Chairs) steps in to speak. Non Janyne originally wrote this Introduction in a style that sounded decidedly like a college lecture. She agreed to this revision, but insisted that every book should have objectives. Knowing full well this is like the first night of class when I would read the syllabus—though students (and readers!) just want to get on with it—I will humor Non Janyne and state here that my objectives are:
1. To use my personal story as a window to the internalized messages and developmental effects of disrupted attachment and trauma.
2. To view misunderstood behaviors through the lens of trauma and attachment.
3. To explain and illustrate the role of healing as essential in fostering self-compassion; as a path to creating behavioral change; and as a precursor to forgiveness.
4. To illustrate avenues of healing through therapy (including EMDR (3)), conversations (self talk), storytelling (live and written), literature, play, and reframing.
There we have it. And now, my readers—and Alice—are waiting.
‘I don’t see how [s]he can ever finish, if [s]he doesn’t begin.’ But she waited patiently.
1. My dissociative child parts are identified as “child selves” to emphasize they are all “me.” They were not created to tell my story. They surfaced with distinct personalities.
2. It is possible that readers who have experienced sexual abuse as children may be occasionally triggered by some content in this book. Please seek professional care. is book is not intended to act as a self-help guide to healing, but it may provide helpful insights for individuals in therapy.
3. Both professional and client-oriented information about EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) is available at EMDR Institute, Inc. http://www.emdr.com/
4. All quotes attributed to Alice are from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, written by English mathematician Charles Lutwidge Dodgson under the pseudonym Lewis Carroll, and first published in 1865.