Finding Treasure in the Dirt, Part Three

This week on the Allender Center Podcast, Dr. Dan Allender concludes his three-part conversation with Laurie Proctor, who has completed the Training Certificate and the Externship Program with The Allender Center. They are joined by Emma, Laura’s 14-year-old daughter, who reflects on an experience of trauma and what it was like for her mom to respond to that experience with wisdom and care.

Dan: “I’ve got a privilege I seldom have, and that is to talk to a sassy, articulate, precocious 14-year-old about trauma with her mother.”

Laurie: “She is a shining star. She lights up a room when she walks in, and she brings joy and goodness.”

Emma shares about her time in a dance studio under instructors who were cruel and demanding, subjecting Emma to what Dan describes as “the viciousness of comparison.” Over time, her body began to exhibit a trauma response that will sound familiar to many: her vision narrowed, she found she could no longer dance the way she once had, and she felt like her worldview was framed by tinted glasses—everywhere she looked she heard, “You’re horrible. You don’t deserve to be in this class.”

Emma: “I felt something was wrong. It used to not be that way. I loved dance, and I loved my teacher. But something changed. I couldn’t name it, but it was really hard.”

Laurie: “It was like watching someone you love, your 13-year-old daughter, be in an abusive relationship.”

Emma: “I lost the ability to do my best or even be my best version of myself. I was frozen, frozen in fear and shame. I no longer felt good enough.”

Laurie recalls recognizing the trauma as she saw Emma crying every time they left the dance studio. She knew that if she swept in and tried to confront the teacher, she risked heaping shame upon shame for Emma. Instead, she gradually reflected what she was seeing and named it as trauma.

Dan: “It’s so important that you had not only a mother who loves you, but who also had enough wisdom to confirm and expand something that you were experiencing in your body.”

After Emma realized the impact of the experience on her body, she knew she had to get out of that studio, no matter how hard it was to leave her friends. Eventually she found the courage to enroll at a new dance studio, where she met a teacher whose kindness and care invited Emma to believe in herself again and to return to her love of dancing. Emma says that because of her parents and that teacher, she has been able to find her footing again, not only in dance but in life. Now, Emma shares how this experience has given her the desire to help others deal with their own experiences of trauma—like she has seen her mom do through the Training Certificate and her work with SowThat.

Emma: “I would love to help people like my mom does. I look up to her, she’s my role model.”