Beyond Aftershocks is set midlife, mid-chaos, mid-continent, and mid-career. Joyce’s incessant busy-ness is first interrupted by pain, then doomed by flashbacks. The dilemma of clashing realities threatens her success as a merchant and her cherished roles as mother, wife, community leader, and retail store owner. The struggle to mesh old beliefs of an indulged childhood with the abuse revealed in flashbacks is a journey filled with self-doubt, and soul-shattering shame. Even as insights from flashbacks explain her misplaced anger and strange repulsions to sounds and smells, Joyce faces new challenges. Compassionate therapists buttress her survival; the love of two adult sons, sister survivors, and a few loyal friends support her transitions. Dogged determination and evolving spirituality help her hold on to sanity. Finding voice is essential to rekindling Joyce’s spirit. The voice silenced in abuse and released in flashbacks expands in ways she never dreamed possible. Like Dorothy, upon returning to Kansas, Joyce recognizes gifts gleaned during exile. She realizes she has come home at last, home to living in her own skin. She embraces each day with a compassion that affirms her personal truths and integrates the dichotomies in her reality. This reader review succinctly summarizes what many have said: I expected it to be full of horrible scenes of child abuse… I was wrong, and it surprised me…. I learned how our body and mind work together to protect us… what a great gift…I recommend it to anyone who struggles with the unknown within them.
When I was in the crisis of healing flashbacks to childhood sexual abuse, I wanted to read an account of an adult who had survived the craziness and disorientation of flashbacks that had unlocked repressed memories. I wanted to read about someone who not only survived, but who lived a happy and successful life. What I found were many books written by intellectuals and therapists. Even searching the web today for the top books on incest, the same situation exists. I share my story in a manner that unfolds like a mystery novel, with a myriad of challenges adding to the complexity of the healing journey. Outside challenges come from family members, extended family, sister survivors, co-workers, therapists and cultural norms. The toughest challenges come from within the self, the inner critic, who learned through enduring abuse to deny self and to live the life that others expected. Fasten your seat belt, this read will take you on a ride into your self, a journey that invites introspection and self compassion.
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