Ronni Tichenor has a Ph.D. in Sociology specializing in family studies from the University of Michigan. Jennie Weaver received her degree from the Vanderbilt School of Nursing, and is a board-certified family nurse practitioner with over 25 years of experience in family practice and mental health. In their new book, “Healing Begins with Us: Breaking the Cycle of Trauma and Abuse and Rebuilding the Sibling Bond” they share their inspiring and hopeful story of healing from their painful upbringing. (Ronni Tichenor, Jennie Weaver, 2023)
“Healing Begins With Us” is the story of two sisters who were not supposed to be friends. Ronni and Jennie grew up in a home with addiction, mental illness, and abuse issues that generated unhealthy dynamics and often pitted them against each other. In this book, they tell the raw truth about their childhood experiences, including the abuse that occurred between them. As they moved toward adulthood, they managed to come together and heal their relationship and break the cycle of intergenerational trauma and abuse in creating their own families. Using their personal and professional experience, they offer advice to help others who are looking to heal from their own painful upbringings or heal their sibling relationships. As sisters and survivors who found a way to emerge from a tragic cycle of intergenerational trauma and abuse, the authors are able to share how to undo the harmful myths and patterns of dysfunction, how to recognize the family dynamics generated by abuse, addiction and mental illness, how to navigate the rocky road of healing damaged sibling relationships in a dysfunctional family, and how to find forgiveness despite the unlikelihood of reconciliation.
It is hard enough to survive abuse and trauma, but being able to recognize it can be half the battle. In Chapter One Introduction, the authors explain that they wrote this book ‘in the hopes of making our extraordinary journey commonplace’ and they only wish is ‘that others will recognize themselves in what we share and use our story….to facilitate their own healing.’ This is because they themselves did not recognize that their parents were abusive and that their home was dysfunctional until they were in their 20s, married, and trying to create stable, loving homes of their own. According to the authors, if children experience Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), they can cause health problems as adults. These ACEs include physical abuse, psychological abuse, and mental illness in parents, among others and more than 60% of people experience at least one. They are handed down from generation to generation and can cause coping behaviors such as overeating, smoking, and substance abuse. Most of the information is presented in the form of conversations between them so the language is easy to understand. Their main focus is on the effects of their experiences and they emphasize that they do not see themselves as victims. The material is honest, direct, and oftentimes painful to read, but they just want to bring awareness and validation to people who experienced similar upbringing. “Healing Begins With Us” is a powerful testament to the will to rise above childhood traumas and create a better tomorrow by breaking intergenerational trauma. The title comes from the fact that oftentimes, the abuser does not acknowledge the harm done, so it is up to us to rise above it. It is recommended for readers interested in self help books that deal with dysfunctional families and breaking intergenerational trauma.
“We are here to say, ‘We see you. We are you.’ We are telling our story to give a name to what so many people experience but don’t fully understand, and to invite them into The Light where they can learn, heal, and create lives of joy.”
*The author received a copy of this book for an honest review. The views and opinions expressed here belong solely to her.