About Diana Dunning

When I was 43 years old I met with a friend of my father to obtain more information about he as he had left the family home when I was a teenager and I had no further contact with him. She mentioned as we were parting 'two of you were adopted - the older two?'. I was convinced this related to my two older brothers however due to privacy laws, could only find out by asking the question regarding my adoption status. The response from DoCS NSW was in the affirmative. Since then I have been working through the impact of this on who I am, and understanding why I react the way I do, as well as integrating my new self and world into an understanding of myself.

Sitting under the Trauma tree

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My working life came to an abrupt end in April this year.  I could do it no longer, aware that I was becoming more reactive and despondent by the changes in the work space to an open plan office, and the pressure of Government contracts and KPIs. I resigned and left.  Applying for financial support from Centrelink created more trauma and was fruitless.  I have thirteen weeks to appeal as my bank balance continues to decrease.  For the moment I sit and wait and write rather than rushing to the next thing to manage my angst.  What started as a rapidly flowing memoire developed into a metaphor of what happens when I am triggered by aspects of the trauma of separation at birth and the three month delay in placement with my adopting family.  My two brains are the Trauma tree: my thinking brain (the top of the tree), and my baby brain/amygdala (a nodule in the tree that oozes, drips and trickles towards the edge of the lake, creating a puddle of sticky mud some way from the base of the tree).  The character representing me is Molly Mallard who grew up with a family of ducks.

Molly Mallard, get out of the mud’, the voice of Spirit, the white shepherd, barked with a sense of urgency. ‘Get over here!’  Molly knew and trusted his voice and it gave her the strength to extract herself from the grip of the mud and waddle towards Spirit as he continued to guide her: ‘you just need to get out of the mud and come and sit at the base of tree’.  He joined her there and sat with her, his compassionate voice encouraging her ‘well done Molly!’.  His being there for her was comforting in itself without any more words needing to be spoken.  He understood her sadness and distress.

What happened?’, he gently asked after some time.  She could not answer.  She had no memory of what had happened, only the feeling of being triggered and overwhelmed by trauma.  ‘You fell out of the tree again’, he replied to his oft asked rhetorical question, concerned that the fall and the mud had almost destroyed her, she was losing perspective and the will to climb the tree only to fall again.  He saw the signs that staying in the mud seemed preferable to her rather than dealing with the cycle of climbing and falling, climbing and falling.  ‘I can’t keep doing this’ she cried feebly to him.  ‘Sh sh sh sh, it’s okay, just rest, we’ll talk tomorrow’, he whispered sensing that this time it was different for her.  She puffed herself up, wriggled her body to settle on the grass, head under wing and slept.

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