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The college essay that proves Positive Childhood Experiences work for my family

 

I am going to give you a little context before I share the College Essay that prove PCEs DO mitigate ACEs.

I was young when I had my first born and his life started off rocky. His father asked me to abort him when I was 8 months pregnant right after he was discharged from the military for being an alcoholic. We tried to make it work and the alcohol won. My infant son and I moved away across the country to start anew, never looking back. I struggled for a long time trying to get on my feet. I worked full-time and was going to college. We lived in poverty most of his childhood. Even working fulltime I could not support the two of us, and trying to navigate the "system" was a fulltime job in itself, that only left me feeling worse as the bias of the system workers of me being a "poor young single mother" loomed over my head and the many unwelcoming steps I had to take just to get food on the table or my son in a safe daycare so that I could work.

It all came to a head 9 years ago, that I in fact had childhood trauma that had me spinning on the toxic intergenerational hamsters wheel. I endured severe trauma, that had me looking square into the face of it all. When all I could see is the tiny face of my son mirroring right back. I knew I had to dive right in and begin the path of healing myself and my son. When all the doctors and therapists could do was put me on 18 pills a day to "treat" me, I found Yoga. Immediately I chose that path to begin my healing. I would practice yoga in my living room with my son, hoping that the tools we were learning would help him along the way. I then discovered children's yoga and became a trainer. I have certified over 300 people around the country, my son being one of them when he was 8 years old.

While I do not practice Yoga as much as I did, I do use the tools every day of my life. I am so proud to say that my son does too. It helped him through the 18 moves, 8 schools, terrible scarring cystic acne, and 6 major surgeries. He breaths into the spaces that make him feel anxious or moves his body to release tension.

My son is currently spending his days applying for college, he has a dream of becoming a Politician with a Law Degree. This has been his vision since he was literally 6 years old. He was born into this world with a mission and knew it.

I say all of this because he was so excited to share with me one of the essay questions from the college applications. While it was hard to hear and swallow(I spent a few days crying it out too) that I know he has an ACE score, and that he does remember much of it, he also is living proof that Positive Childhood Experiences can buffer ACEs. It felt good to talk about his childhood, acknowledge the adversity and how far we have come together. I am glad he is able to use his experiences in a way that hopefully will get him into the college he wants so he can be a first generation college graduate, and one day a Trauma-Informed Politician that makes a positive impact in our society.

Here is his question and his answer:

Q: What is the most significant challenge you have overcame and the steps you used to better your life?

A: Tears rolling down my mothers face were the sign my life had to reset. The place that I had called home just minutes before escaped my view as our car drove away. I was too young to understand at the time, but this would be my life of uncertainty, and it’s the most significant challenge I have faced in my life.

The uncertainty started after my mother left her abusive relationship and took me across the country. Some days were spent in a cramped apartment, other days were spent with my head resting on the cold concrete. This lifestyle of constant moving mirrored my school life, I had more first days of school than trips to the dentist. Nothing in my life was set in stone, anything could change in seconds.

Yoga became the insurance to my uncertainty. After my mother endured a failed suicide attempt, she turned to an alternative form of healing, yoga. What started as sporadic sessions in my living room turned into regular weekly occurrences. Every week I would get out my yoga mat and roll it out, allowing my body to relax and forget about life's problems as I went through the poses I knew. My mom would open the lessons with the phrase “namaste,” meaning the good things in me see the good things in you, and the good things in you see the good things in me, even when you are having a bad day because we all have bad days and that does not make us a bad person. These lessons were the only part of my life that was consistent, yoga can be done from anywhere and I always have access to regulate my emotions.

Yoga has gone from a hobby to a career, I am now a certified kids yoga teacher. Over the years I have provided children with lessons on yoga, teaching them how to manage stress and have the tools to self regulate. My goal in teaching these lessons is to give children the same sense of certainty and security that yoga was able to provide for me, namaste.

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Wow. What a terrific story.


Yoga 12-Step Recovery sessions have been a terrific resource for me.

Years ago, when I likely would have benefited greatly from yoga, I went to a class and was “position shamed” by the teacher. She railed on how inflexible my body was, how I could not get into the proper form, etc. I let that experience put me off of yoga for another 10 years or so!

All this is to say

- I hear you and your son.

- Going to the mat has become a lifesaver.  

- Yoga instructors need to be trauma-informed so they don’t traumatize already traumatized people. Trying a new form of physical anything can be jarring, fear-evoking, and harrowing to people who hold trauma in their bodies. Yogis who nudge gently and judge never are the ones who’ll see me coming back!

Namaste, y’all.

Carey Sipp

SE Regional Community Facilitator

PACEs Connection

csipp@pacesconnection.com

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