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.
Midlife flashbacks of childhood sexual assault toppled Joyce’s seemingly perfect world. She spiraled down from her roles as wife, mother, and merchant to a dark place of confusion, fear and shame. Recalling more than a decade of abuse from family and others compromised Joyce’s ambition, her spirituality and nearly her sanity. Within three years, she was divorced, unemployed, and exiled from birth family.
Joyce’s story doesn’t end there. She embraced empowerment using psychotherapy, process painting, and prescription medicine, interwoven with many other therapies.
Emerging a leader, Joyce founded Finding Our Voices, a nonprofit that supports survivors of sexual violation. She teaches workshops, conducts outreach, and provides art-based healing. Joyce actively campaigns to raise public awareness and extend the network of survivor resources.
Joyce’s transformation into award-winning author, mentor, and sought-after speaker began on a small farm in Kansas. Her education spanned the distance from one-room schoolhouse to two university degrees. Joyce rekindled the skills she had developed as a teacher, counselor, farmer, and small business owner to achieve her current success.
Today, surrounded by the foothills of the Rockies, Joyce creates art, container gardens, plays piano, and sips steaming lattes’ when she’s not traveling to inspire and encourage others.
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.
Beyond Aftershocks: Reclaiming Self after Sexual Trauma
You are invited to travel on a midlife journey into my SELF—a path from people-pleasing submission to self-direction, a healing adventure from incest victim to mentor, and a spiritual walk from beliefs based on cultural expectations to an inner-directed path. In this story, you will move with me through trauma that spawned a loss of Self and a recovery that heralds a reclaimed Self.