Ronni Tichenor and Jennie Weaver have this kind of seamless, deeply affecting removal from the source material holding a deeply personal place for them. This is a good thing. They retain a sense of core objectivity, even during the read’s most painfully intimate and unsparing passages. It’s this kind of objectivity, coupled with how professionally personal Tichenor and Weaver make things, that elevates the book – Healing Begins with Us: Breaking the Cycle of Trauma and Abuse and Rebuilding the Sibling Bond – to the next level.
As professionals with as much academic as lived experience in what they discuss, Tichenor and Weaver concurrently ace providing accurate descriptions and diagnoses per certain behaviors, dynamics, and mannerisms, with a warm, relatable, literary bedside manner. The amalgam of these elements proves an effectively powerful combination. This is reflected in passages like the following, where Tichenor and Weaver aptly and conscientiously weave their own experiences into the narrative fold, serving as analogical examples and diving points for strategy. “The process of breaking through our denial about what was really happening in our family took place over the course of a decade.
It began as the dynamics in the relationship between the two of us improved, as the trust between us grew and we spent more time talking to each other. The more we connected with each other, the more we shared, the more we began to understand what was really happening in the family,” the duo writes. This ties nicely into another, similar example of aforementioned literary structure. “The families we grow up in set the stage and tone for our lives as children. We then grow up to create our own families in the image of what we know best, including those of us who experienced abuse, addiction, mental illness, and other dysfunction in our homes. It happens unconsciously—sometimes in spite of our desire to do things differently—and creates a long chain of intergenerational trauma,” Tichenor and Weaver write.
They continue, “It takes a sustained and concerted effort to break that cycle. Without that commitment, it is very easy to end up with a partner that is abusive, and to hear your parents’ words come out of your mouth. We both feel extremely fortunate that we were able to find loving, caring partners at very early ages, and that we had each other for support in rewriting our parenting script so that our children could have happier childhoods than our own…We’ve said many times in this book that the primary motivator for our actions, as we tried to convince our parents and brother to work with us to create healthier family dynamics, was the desire to shield our children from the pain we endured, and to give them a happier life…We wanted to do better—MUCH better—but felt very unsure of ourselves.
We read books, watched videos, talked to other mothers, gathered advice. This means that we were sorting through our own trauma, attempting to mobilize our parents and brother to change, and trying to figure out how to parent appropriately and effectively all at the same time. It was a lot to carry…Our professions as a college professor and health care provider have given us ample opportunity to use our personal experiences to help educate and support other people along our journey.”