Most of us carry some form of trauma, and over time, this pain often becomes a normal, silent advocate for the decisions we make. In Brandy’s case, she’d held onto pain that stemmed from her childhood which she shares in her TEDx Talk, delivered as an emotional letter she wrote to her eight-year-old self.
Brandy relates the burden of masking trauma to putting on a new outfit each day in an effort to hide suffering from others. For many, this behavior is cultivated early in life as children learn to cope and cover their pain, whether they are aware of it or not, which ultimately transcends to their adult selves. To this point, Brandy notes that 50% of mental health diagnoses are given to children under the age of 14; which means that half of mental health diagnoses are given to children before they’ve even reached high school.
A child’s environment shapes their expectations, personality, and ability to deal with hardship and adversity. At these developmental ages, children need an interactive environment where they feel seen and heard by their caregivers. But if children, like Brandy, do not receive this caring and nurturing, these concurring hardships will surface in aspects of a child’s adult life and affect the way they form intimate relationships, friendships, and even the way they parent their own children.
Despite her upbringing and emotional hardships, Brandy was determined to leave a different legacy for her children. She didn’t want to be remembered as a mother filled with pain, but rather, she wanted her daughters to see her as a woman who overcame pain and led with purpose.
However, the real adversity was beyond this determination and desire for strength. It came when she watched her loving husband care for and love their daughters, which brought up deep feelings of loss and hurt from her own childhood. Brandy began to realize that the issue is not only a child’s environment and a parent’s efforts, but rather, it was whether the caregivers themselves were healed or working towards a place of healing and self-preservation. She could not show up for her children if she did not feel whole on her own.
Brandy’s work as a social worker further proved this to be true. She began to work with children from broken homes to create a life plan that would help them change course and take steps towards a better life. But Brandy found little success in this work. She began to notice that these children, typically ages 12–18, were too deep in cycles of dysfunction. In order to break the cycle, she found that it was not children that she could change, but the parents and caretakers of these children. She believed that the pain of these children was a result of the pain of their caretakers, because a caretaker cannot provide a loving and nurturing environment if they’re broken themselves.
Brandy’s goal of breaking generational cycles of trauma begins with offering support and guidance to parents and caretakers. She created My Motherhood Magic, an online community that provides support for parents and encourages them to continue on their journey of self-healing. As Brandy says so beautifully, “I want my daughters to know that the best gift that I can give them is the gift of mending myself.” It is through strong parents that we can build strong families, and these families will be the building blocks for stronger communities—but it all starts with you.
A Personal Message From Our Founder, Achea Redd
I have always believed that there was something damaging about secrets and silence. Although I didn’t have the science to prove it, there was something intuitively that always felt exhilarating when I used my voice to speak my truth. Brandy speaks about this very topic in such an eloquent and authentic way. I enjoyed every moment, and I found myself nodding my head and saying yep aloud a few times. Now, as we dive further into the study of mental health, we are finding that trauma isn’t just something we can ignore or even erase. And just because we don’t discuss something doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. Shame hides in the dark and secrets make us sick. In fact, as a people, it’s killing us. It’s time to use our voices to share our stories so we can heal and prevent another generation from the same thing. As you have heard many times before, if you don’t know your history, you are bound to repeat it.
Photo Via My Motherhood Magic