Judy Atkinson’s Fireside Yarns

Judy Atkinson, Member of the Order of Australia (AM)

Judy Atkinson, Member of the Order of Australia (AM)

Some of you will know that Judy Atkinson and her wonderful book Trauma Trails – Recreating Song Lines: The Transgenerational Effects of Trauma in Indigenous Australia inspired me to start working in the healing trauma field.

Now, Judy has taken over my Friday mid-afternoons with her Fireside Yarns, organised with her daughter Carlie Atkinson and son-in-law David Ryan. Just before 15.00 (Perth time) each Friday (unless rain in northern NSW interferes), I put my feet up and ‘tune in’ to the We Al-li Facebook page. Judy talks for about 30 minutes, covering a variety of issues, and then takes questions for the following 30 minutes. The Fireside Yarns are always very interesting and I have learnt a lot from Judy, Carlie and others who have tuned in.

In her last Fireside Yarn (the 10th), Judy talks about the nature of healing (starting at around 8’00” into the session). She describes healing as, first of all, an Awakening. ‘It’s an awakening to what is in our bodies, in our souls, that we have pushed aside because the pain is there.’ People become aware of the deep pain inside them.

Judy describes a woman who was abducted and sexually assaulted when she was three years old. She wasn’t allowed to speak about her experiences because her parents were too ashamed. Later in life, she was the victim in a violent domestic relationship. He then left her and she fell apart. She felt that nobody loved her.

She ended up in a psych unit. When she tried to talk to the psychiatrist and psychologist there, they told her that she just needed to take her medication, an anti-depressant drug. She needed to forget her past and just get on with life. The drug made her feel suicidal, for the first time in her life.

The woman ended up at Judy’s front door one day. Judy told her she wasn’t a therapist, but invited her in. She set her up with a computer and told her to write and paint what she wanted. That’s when her story started to come out, the abduction and rape as a child.

Later the woman did a course with Judy, graduated with a degree in social work and ended up working in communities helping other Aboriginal people. She said to Judy one time that healing for her was about learning about herself. It’s like an education about me, the inside of me. So healing is an Awakening.

Judy goes on to describe healing as an experience of Safety. Why not listen to Judy’s description of the elements of healing? And check out her future Fireside Yarns? All past Yarns can be found on the We Al-li Facebook page.

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