The BRAVE Series

by Janyne McConnaughey PhD

A BRAVE LIFE: Survival, Resilience, Faith and Hope

Book 3 in the BRAVE Series

by Janyne McConnaughey, PhD

What does a high-functioning survivor of childhood trauma look like? In this third book in the BRAVE series, Janyne shares the story of how she lived her adult life with—and above—the effects of trauma.

Janyne’s dissociative coping mechanisms, that she created and used as a child, allowed her to survive as an adult—in both functional and maladaptive ways. To others she seemed to be thriving as she and her husband raised a family and served in the church, while Janyne accomplished a forty-year career in education. Her resilience and faith gave her hope and held her until therapeutic healing became possible.

Readers of Janyne’s two previous books in the series will recognize her whimsical weaving of informative narration, creative storytelling, and raw vulnerability. She takes the reader through her years in California, Missouri, Colorado, finally reaching the ‘Emerald City’ of Seattle. During the journey she comes to understand more about the abundant life and the many ways it was stolen from her by childhood trauma.

A BRAVE Life offers hope and insight to all who have persevered and silently suffered without knowing why. It is also a handbook to help the church better understand how to minister to those who, as children, were victims of the unspeakable.

ISBN: 9781945099236 • Paperback • 5.5″ x 8.5″ • 244 pgs


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“I appreciate the grace with which Janyne relates how the church failed her, the clarity with which she shares her struggle with guilt and shame, and the candidness with which she tells her journey to mental health. Every person in ministry, courageous enough to read A Brave Life, will recognize the need to become more caring toward adults within their ministry who evidence indications of childhood trauma.”Al Magnuson, retired executive minister, Converge Heartland

“Trauma is about fear and hurting. Healing is about relationship and safety. Relationship needs hope and faith. In this book, Janyne, Non-Janyne, Jane, and all the children we have come to love from Janyne’s first two books, come together to teach us about resilience. All of the beautiful, vulnerable voices tell a difficult truth that leaves the reader feeling more connected to his/her faith.”Melissa Sadin, EdD, MAT, M.Ed.

Janyne McConnaughey, PhD, retired from a career in education that spanned forty years—from early-childhood educator to college professor—in order to heal from the effects of the childhood abuse she had suffered. During therapy, Janyne wrote her way to healing and now is redeeming her story by helping others to understand and heal from childhood trauma.
She serves on the Board of Directors of the Attachment & Trauma Network, Inc. And she continues to write books, to blog at, and to guest blog for organizations that address childhood trauma.
Janyne and her husband, Scott, live in the Seattle area, where they enjoy being near their children and grandchildren. Find Janyne online at:

The first two books in the BRAVE series:


A Personal Story of Healing Childhood Trauma

Janyne wasn’t exactly sure why she had gone to therapy, but she did sense her wonderful life was a cover for deep inner pain that she called “the dark cloud.” During her first EMDR therapy session, three fractured adult parts made a perfect three-point landing in her conscious awareness. Thus began three years of intensive therapy as she fought to heal from sexual abuse that began in a home daycare at the age of three. With a sometimes-conflicted faith in God, and with the support of her therapist, and of her husband, Janyne fought to heal and integrate. This is Janyne’s story and also a tribute to a therapist and client who worked as a team to heal attachment wounds and increasingly tragic memories. Insights into the early wiring of unmet attachment needs as well as dissociative coping mechanisms are integral to this memoir of healing. Both pain and hope are present on every page. Janyne is both vulnerable and triumphant in her writing and will help every reader believe healing from childhood trauma is possible.

ISBN: 9781945099052 Paperback • 5.5″ x 8.5″ • 256 pgs


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“Janyne McConnaughey is vulnerable in the kind of way that changes the world! Her story challenges us to face life in all its pain, while finding hope and courage to persist. Janyne wrestles with how to think about God in light of her suffering, and that alone makes this book a gem. I recommend it!”  –THOMAS JAY OORD, author of The Uncontrolling Love of God

“With courage, candor and clinical perception, Janyne McConnaughey, who at the brave age of sixty-one, under the guidance of a skilled and loving therapist in EMDR, embarked on a grueling journey; a journey through, and out of, a world of repressed wounds from childhood trauma. Here we meet her multiple adult personalities, her hiding, wounded children and witness the power of the human spirit to rise above pain. She has documented the astonishing ability of the human mind to bury trauma in a grave of unconsciousness, and yet still attain to greater than normal performance and notable accomplishments in life. It is an arresting testimony to the tragic outcome of neglected and damaged children. Whatever happens to children affects them for a lifetime. Thanks to such a tenacious, transparent and tender author, we are all afforded the high hope that healing is possible, no matter the depth of the hidden wounds. Brave is a highly recommended read for therapists, concerned family and patients alike.”  –ALICE SCOTT-FERGUSON, therapist and author

“Dr. Janyne provides a rare glimpse into the world of mental illness. Her insights into the healing process are both profound and articulate. The way she painstakingly honors herself in the telling of the story allows the reader to respect her as both the subject matter and the narrator (teacher) who explains a very difficult experience to understand. Truly an inspiration, this story of the successful journey from broken and dissociative to integrated and fully aware provides an excellent narrative for anyone who desires understanding about what it takes to overcome the very real, lasting effects of unprocessed trauma in a child’s life. I highly recommend it for the professional and for those who love someone living with mental illness like dissociative disorders.”  –KIERSTEN ADKINS, Executive Director, Pathway To Hope

Brave is an incredible adventure into the resiliency of the human spirit. Janyne has an uncanny ability to vulnerably delve into her own complex psyche and describe in vivid detail her stories of trauma, struggle and most importantly, her healing. As a therapist, I was in awe at the growth she experienced and how much insight and wisdom she was able to share. I know her book will help countless others who struggle to come to grips with the dragon of trauma. Whether you are a therapist wanting to understand your clients and help them navigate through the difficult terrain of trauma, or you’re someone who wants to read about what hope and healing looks like … this book is definitely for you. I highly recommend it!  –MARK G. KARRIS, author of Divine Echoes: Reconciling Prayer with the Uncontrolling Love of God


Behavior & Healing through the Lens of Attachment & Trauma

The author uses parts of her own story, her expertise in child development, storytelling, and a fascinating interweaving of beloved literary characters to reveal how she worked to re-frame the messages she internalized as a child, clearing a path to healing, behavioral change, forgiveness, growing faith, and the rediscovery of simple joys. The unfolding relationship between the author and her child self, Jeannie, illustrates the dedication, trials, and triumphs inherent in developing the attachment relationship necessary for full healing.

ISBN: 9781945099120 Paperback • 5.5″ x 8.5″ •  232 pgs


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“From cover to cover, this book is a masterpiece. Cohesive and expertly crafted. As a lifelong educator, I believe reading this book will enable anyone who works with children to see the unseen, to better recognize and touch with grace the heart of a silent sufferer.“ –SUSAN ELAINE JENKINS, author of Scandalon: Running from Shame and Finding God’s Scandalous Love
“A masterful journey into a human psyche deeply affected by the dragon of trauma. It will undoubtedly help countless others find reassurance, hope, and wholeness. This is candid and gifted storytelling and fascinating integration of the latest findings in trauma research, attachment theory, self-compassion and forgiveness…. This book is not only for those affected by trauma, but also for therapists desiring to understand their heroic clients more deeply and to walk alongside them more effectively.” –MARK KARRIS, author of Season of Heartbreak: Healing for the Heart, Brain, and Soul
“With creativity and honesty, Janyne McConnaughey goes deep. Using a narrative approach to explore pain, trauma, and healing, Janyne carries her readers along with insightful prose. This is a great followup to Brave!” –THOMAS JAY OORD, author of God Can’t: How to Believe in God and Love After Tragedy, Abuse, and Other Evils
“I was riveted. Janyne generously and openly brings the reader into her process of healing from her own childhood trauma, writing from the perspective of her childhood parts who had to cope at the time, as well as from the perspective of the wise adult Janyne who loves these children as they should have been loved then. If you want a real-time glimpse into the minds and hearts of children who are coping with maternal neglect, read this book. If you want a deeper understanding of childhood trauma and healing, read this book.” –LIZ HUNTER, marriage and family therapist
“Janyne has a gift for taking us into her rabbit hole and helping us understand the challenges of healing from trauma. I strongly recommend this book to educators who wish to understand their students who may be dissociating in their class. Thanks to Janyne’s transparent telling of her own story, the complex concept of dissociation can be understood without needing a psychology degree.” –MELISSA SADIN, author of Teachers Guide to Trauma
“A fantastical weaving of story, instruction and resilience. As a wounded healer, Janyne takes us on a journey of healing from trauma and shattering of the self, to re-attachment and wholeness. This is a playful and imaginative labor of love, as insightful and hope-filled as her previous book in the series, Brave.” –LON MARSHALL, marriage and family therapist
“Janyne cleverly interweaves the story of her childhood selves with that of Alice and her trip to Wonderland. This heart-wrenching, harrowing, hopeful story has changed the way I approach ministry. ” –SUSAN ARMSTRONG, DM, pastor of care and discipleship
“I recommend it to anyone who needs a gentler introduction to the reality and lasting effects of childhood sexual abuse and trauma, insecure attachment, and Dissociative Identity Disorders.” –LESLIE R. MIKESELL, Ph.D
“Janyne McConnaughey opens a window into the thought processes of a child in trauma. I am now more knowledgeable and better equipped to teach my students.” –ROSIE LOLESS, elementary school teacher
“Captivating, thrilling, and empowering…For those who wonder if healing is possible…Told from a fanciful yet truly grounded perspective.” –KIERSTEN ADKINS, M.A., LPC, exec. director, Pathway To Hope


Hello. My name is Ms. Skeptic and I am here today to interview Dr. Janyne McConnaughey about her recent revelations concerning her life with a dissociative disorder. She has accepted this interview in hopes she can help others in understanding the disorder. Now, Dr. McConnaughey, for those who do not know you, will you tell us a little about your life?

Honestly, the life story I always told was of a pretty idyllic 1950s childhood. Much of my story of growing up in a preacher’s home and serving in church-related educational ministries, and my now thirty-eight year marriage is included here. On the surface, it was a wonderful life!

You are aware most who say they have DID (Dissociative Identity Disorder) do not have such idyllic descriptions of their lives? Were there signs that others might have noticed in you?

The disorder is mostly hidden and often misdiagnosed. A few things are helpful in understanding this. The first is an understanding of what a dissociative disorder is. In my journey, I began to understand dissociation as more of a spectrum. To some degree, in order to cope, everyone dissociates from reality on occasion—daydreaming for instance—very common and usually healthy.
On the other end of the spectrum is the person who separates into multiple identities to divide up the pain and live life. In this category there are some who have periods of amnesia while various “parts” live life. In my case, “DID NOS,” (Dissociative Disorder—Not Otherwise Specified) there was not significant amnesia between my alternate identities or “alters.” Thus, I didn’t wake up and find clothes in my closet that I didn’t remember buying. I did have significant blocked memories (due to repression), but none impaired my ability to function on a day-to-day basis.

So no one could tell?

No. After I explain it to my closest family and friends, they often say, “Well, that actually makes sense.” But we all have quirky things we do, and this was what everyone assumed.

I must pause at this point to say there are those in the field of psychology who do not believe in the diagnosis of DID. What are your thoughts on this?

(Sigh) This is so damaging for those who are dissociative—especially in one specific way. Dissociation at every level on the spectrum is a coping mechanism and as such is not a systemic mental illness—in other words, no one is born dissociative, it is a result of what happened to him or her. Granted, there may be some predisposed tendencies, such as intelligence and creative cognitive coping skills, but it is always the result of some type of trauma—usually sexual abuse at a very young age. As a coping mechanism for trauma, dissociation can be healed. It is complicated but possible. If a professional does not believe in the validity of the diagnosis, then the answer is usually medication—which may alleviate the symptoms to some degree but never addresses true healing.
In addition, being believed was important to my healing. I knew there were three adults in my head and felt myself shift to them periodically through the day. There was nothing in my story to cause me at sixty one to suddenly create a fantasy such as this—for what? Attention? (Laughter, lots of laughter.) Dissociative disorders are all about hiding—especially at my level of what I call “functional dissociation.” When I finally came to my own conclusion about being dissociative, it was absolutely crucial to be believed!Did you know?Absolutely not. Did I know something was not right? Yes! Most spend years in therapy before it is correctly diagnosed.

When did you decide to seek therapy? What brought you to this decision?

For some, the idea God audibly told me to go to a specific therapist is probably going to be harder to swallow than the disorder itself, but that is exactly what happened. I described my fear of going to therapy in one of my first blog posts. At sixty one, I was at the top of my professional career, a wife, mother, and grandmother, with many wonderful friends—and absolutely terrified.

Why were you afraid?

Great question. I was unaware of living as multiple identities, but did spend my life running away from a “me” I could neither understand nor tolerate. My life was successfully navigated above the turmoil. I didn’t understand what it was, but I knew it had the power to destroy my carefully-constructed life.

How long were you in therapy before you understood what you were dealing with?

This is a very simple question, which involves a very complicated answer. My first session, in hindsight, was an amazing display put on by “Janyne” to prove there was absolutely nothing wrong. I was just trying to decide about signing the contract for the following year, since teaching at the college didn’t seem like a good fit for me any longer. In the next couple sessions, it became apparent I had mother issues. This is not uncommon—maybe you do too? (Uncomfortable laughter.) By the third or fourth session we decided I should work through some of my anxiety issues by going back to my childhood memories with my mother. This was when I had my first introduction to EMDR.

Can you explain EMDR?

Yes, this is always a question. It is a recognized, research-validated therapy treatment in which the client remains aware but is able to go below the surface of cognitively processed events and resolve the underlying emotions connected to the memories stored in the limbic brain. It is done in a variety of ways by bypassing the cognitive part of the brain and allowing the experience, with all of the intensity of the attached emotions, to surface. In my case, this also released repressed memories. If unfamiliar with this recognized type of therapy, it might be good to explore the EMDR International Association website.

Why was EMDR so important to your healing?

My survival was dependent on cognitive coping strategies and few therapeutic interventions would have been successful in getting underneath my defenses. There are some concerns that EMDR causes memories to surface too quickly and may overwhelm dissociative clients who do not have strong processing structures in place. As with any therapy, the keys are skillful use and care for the client. For me, EMDR was the avenue of healing.

Why do you believe this was true?

Many with dissociative disorders spend years in various therapeutic situations without ever obtaining a correct diagnosis. The whole purpose of dissociation is to hide subconsciously repressed or suppressed memories. While EMDR is designed as a way to process memories, in my case it also served as a mechanism to retrieve frozen memories from dissociative states. This doesn’t mean it would be effective in this specific way for everyone, since each case is unique.
My simple question of “Which one?” (explained in Chapter 4) early in therapy probably moved my healing at warp speed, since it allowed me to see my inner structures of functioning personas and dissociative states. My ability to see and analyze these dissociative structures was a gift, but I would never have allowed myself to see it outside of EMDR therapy. My structures were too perfect and I was too strong.

How do you know the memories were real?

This question voices a common fear. I was concerned that a therapist would convince me something had happened in my early life, but she never did that. This may occur on occasion with the rare, unethical therapist, and probably is the reason for the myth. It is horrible and prevents many from seeking help. Before the first memory of abuse surfaced, I said, “I don’t think we are going to find anything, do you?” My therapist never led me down any path. She simply believed in the truth of the memories that did surface.

But how did you know it was real?

My first memory was when I was probably three. While in the memory, there were neither adult words nor understanding to explain the pain. The truth my body told, and the anguish pouring out of me, could not be manufactured. I have no doubts. Once the memories were processed, the related triggers vanished—proof of the connection between the abuse and the triggers that had plagued me all my life. Many of these triggers are explained in the following pages.

So, you have no doubts about the absolute truth of your memories?

Oh! Thank you for asking this question! Anyone who studies memory knows things may not have happened exactly like you remember them. In my case, there were many false cover memories (flat memories without emotion) to hide the real memories. In every one of them, I was brave and strong and escaped danger. Most of the time, it was illogical that a child, teen, or young adult could have escaped the situation, but my story convinced me. I never said these false versions of the memories in EMDR—even when I wanted to do so. I was a child and while the memory may not be exact, there is no question but something happened—something involving very traumatic sexual abuse. My body told the story during therapy, triggers made me live the memories my entire life, and once I faced the truth, there was nothing in me to doubt it. In fact, it finally made sense.

Didn’t remembering make it worse?

This is exactly what I would have thought, but the process of EMDR takes the power out of the memory by releasing it so it can be understood by the adult self. Integration was not possible until the power was removed from the memory.

What is integration?

The first step to becoming one whole person happened to me the day in therapy when I became aware of the three adults who had been living in separate compartments in my brain. I saw them and they saw each other. One of my therapist friends called it a “perfect three-point landing.” Recognition happened again and again as the alters entered my conscious world. I knew them immediately and could describe each of their personalities. So the first step was awareness. Then we had to find out why they had been created or split—always trauma of some kind had occurred. Once the trauma was healed, if they were twins (one who lived and one who held the pain), they could become one or integrate.
Integration only comes through healing—the split remains because of unprocessed pain. Shifting is a survival skill. I could not have held all the pain in one person.

The process sounds very complicated—how long were you in therapy?

I almost hesitate to answer this question. If someone is heading into therapy, he or she often wants to know exactly how long it will take to be helped. That’s an unanswerable question. I thought I would be “outta there” in a couple sessions. My denial makes me laugh; but in reality, the time it took me to reach integration was unbelievably short. It is very common for people to say eight to twelve years! That seems realistic! It is complicated. I completed the integration of the three adults in less than six months, but was sometimes in therapy for seven to eight hours in a week. What we did in so short a time was literally impossible! To say it is possible or recommend it to anyone would be irresponsible! I did not know how to do this any other way. We all knew this was true. Once the problem presented itself, I attacked it with a vengeance. It was necessary for me to give up almost everything in my life to heal; and I lived through months of hell—while still working. Most of that period of time is a blur. Without my writing, the memory of the deep processing would be lost.
So, never do what I did! Go slowly. Take time. Take breaks. Stabilize. Then go back. Slower would have been better for me; but I didn’t know any other way.

Is it hard for you to go back and read what you wrote during therapy?

Sometimes. Most of the raw processing was accidentally deleted. Those raw documents would probably be difficult to read; I did not have a clear sense of self, probably because of the extent of the trauma which created such a disorganized state. Much of my raw processing was transferred to a version of the story in which my identity was carefully disguised—a method, which distanced me from my own pain. I’m saving the volumes of material related to the psychological process of healing, for a later book. It is a very messy process, but true healing cannot happen unless someone is willing to get messy. Getting messy is something we almost always avoid, probably because we think we are the only ones who ever had such awful thoughts. Part of my sharing my messiness in this book is to tell others it is OK—you are not alone. There is so much fear. We need to help each other feel safe.

Is there anything else you would like your readers to know before they read this book?

It is important to say my parents knew what happened to me at three but made choices based on the era in which they lived. My father loved me, and my mother was incapable of being the mother I needed. They both on separate occasions said I was “difficult” as a child. Yes, I imagine I was. It is also important to know I was born in 1953. What happened to me (multiple times) was unthinkable. As children, we were taught to respect adults and obey them. I had no words to describe what happened, and my perpetrators told me no one would believe me. They were right. Therefore, I used every possible God-given coping mechanism to survive.

It is hard to listen to you and not believe you.

(Laughing.) Yes, I wish I could just sit and talk to anyone who is skeptical. My openness and clear honesty is a gift. I have nothing to gain personally by sharing my story—except to help others.

Thank you for sharing so openly with me today. I do think this interview—and your BRAVE books—will help others to understand more about dissociation. I wish you the best as you continue to live out your life.

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