I love my job as a trauma educator. Here is a picture of me with Dr. Vincent Fellitti, one the original researchers of the now famous, Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE) Study and one of the first trauma educators.
Yes, I wish I had a better quality photo of such a momentous moment in my life. Yet, I do have a photo. Imagine, meeting someone whose work helped vastly illuminate your personal and professional life. Back then, Dr. Fellitti was interested in getting ACEs embedded into culture, so all people would learn about it. He envisioned stories being told on primetime TV; television was still a thing back then. His mind was open to any and all possibilities. The conversation was fascinating and intriguing.
As a survivor, learning about trauma excited me then and still does to this day. I should clarify, learning about one’s particular trauma and its details doesn’t excite me, rather, it’s learning about the ways trauma impacts a person’s brain, body and behavior. More importantly, learning how our brains’ adapt to unbearable situations and how that can influence our lives today.
I am an adult educator, a workforce development trainer, and a fellow parent, partner, community member trying to manage the impact trauma made to my developing brain, nervous system and body. The journey is fascinating. Right now I am elbows deep into the Vagus Nerve. I first started in depth studying on the Vagus Nerve around the time the Higgs boson or “God Particle” was discovered. The more I learned about the “wandering nerve”, I jokingly called it the “God Nerve. I still have reverence for it but now have developed an affinity for it, much in the way my children adore pizza. When they were younger they said they wanted to marry pizza. Feeling the way I do about how the longest nerve that keeps us safe and receives and gives sensory information to the brain, I understand.
On that day so long ago with Dr. Felitti, our conversation centered on how to spread the word and get people to talk about trauma and ACEs. Today I hear people talk about trauma and ACEs and not just at Mental Health conferences or trainings. I hear young people share their stories. I hear middle aged people talking with their siblings. I hear refugees share that they never knew they had trauma until now. Each time, I hear a bit of self-compassion emerge with the understanding. Their resilience stands in the light of their challenges. Notes of validation calm their minds as they realize what they have been through, how they survived.
I think of Dr. Fellitti and marvel; this is his vision starting to take root. We aren’t there yet; we are making progress. It feels great to be in the room and know that others are there who understand.
I love my job. If you are a person who wants to learn more about trauma for yourself, your family or your organization, please contact me. We can talk by phone or Zoom if you prefer. If you prefer group learning, check out my events and sign up.
Click here for more information about ACEs can be found on the Center for Disease Control website.