When Humpty Dumpty fell off the wall, he was literally shattered. As far as we knew, not even all the king’s men had been able to patch him up. But what would have happened if they had? We see how emotionally broken Humpty is, even when his shell is fixed. As he powerfully says, ‘It was just an accident. But it changed my life’. It makes him too scared to do all the things he used to love. He stays low down, in the shadow of the wall. Eventually, Humpty’s desire to reconnect with the birds in the sky is stronger than his fears & he finds ways to climb into the light again. This is a book that explores trauma in a simple & engaging way. It gives hope that even when terrible things happen, we can build resilience & live happier lives again.
Even in adulthood, a single incident trauma can have a massive psychological impact. Here we learn that Humpty is a famous bird watcher who has a great fall. Despite the tragedy, Humpty is a mature egg who can draw on his happy memories, skills & experiences to motivate himself in the difficult work of recovery. But Humpty can’t face his fears all at once – he learns to make paper aeroplanes, to feel closer to the birds in the sky, whilst his feet stay firmly on the ground. When his plane lands on top of the wall, he grasps the ladder & climbs slowly, one rung at a time.
How much harder must recovery be for a child who has lived with abuse, neglect & loss? Repeated exposure to trauma from a very early age impacts on the development of the nervous system & leads to hypersensitivity for signs of danger. It impacts on the ability to stay open to experiences & relationships, rather than becoming closed & defensive. When this happens, it is very hard for a child to have the confidence needed to seek support & comfort from parents or carers, have adventures & find joy in the world.
After the Fall provides opportunities to think about how trauma influences emotions & behaviour. To weigh up whether the ladder to recovery is worth the risk or not, & whether we have the resources to climb it. To invite curiosity about whether to go it alone like Humpty or get some help. Little but important steps towards connection, understanding & recovery.