Learn more about our organization and our founder, Nancy Allen
I CREATED TAIL OF THE BELL TO FILL A RESOURCE GAP THAT I PERSONALLY EXPERIENCED
With a team of incredibly talented employees, we provide unique programs for incest survivors to be connected and help them thrive in their personal, communal, and professional spaces. We incorporate a holistic approach to supporting these individuals while raising community awareness; by educating employers on ways to assist survivors and better navigate their workspace, by enabling survivors to empower one another in a safe place, and by providing a survivor’s voice through motivational talks at seminars and other engagements.
This organization is what I have been ultimately working towards all my life, and is the product of my own personal growth and professional success—by accumulating new skills, engaging with dynamic groups of people, exploring and utilizing resources, integrating formal education, leading teams in corporations, as well as embracing insights gained from my own personal traumatic experiences. It was created by following my passion and personal pursuit of my dreams, and I hope to pass the beacon of inspiration and hope to you! Before diving a bit deeper into specifics, let me begin with explaining our unusual name that combines my statistical knowledge as an actuary with my personal experiences and beliefs as an incest survivor.
This unique leverage of combined skills provides a way for you to understand how you too can improve your quality of life and get what you truly want.
How? Let’s get started!
Most of us are familiar with the typical grading system where teachers evaluate their students on a “curve”. The teachers subdivide their ratings into five letter grades with corresponding percentages representing high, average, and low performance levels. The top 20% get As and Bs; the middle 60% get Cs, and finally the bottom 20% get Ds and Fs. They are actually describing a bell curve that gets its name because of the shape of the graphical plot of these marks; it looks like a bell such as The Liberty Bell, a strong symbol of our freedom and independence!
So, what does this have to do with our organization? In addition to the grading example, the bell curve is often used to describe the occurrence of a wide variety of real world human characteristic data, such as a person’s height or IQ, where most numbers are concentrated around an average, there’s equal likelihood of highs and lows, and extreme occurrences are rarer. In our case, the bell curve is used to represent the distribution of normal life experiences. Most people will have child and adult experiences that fall within a tight range around the average such as riding a bike for the first time, marriage, graduation, moving locations, etc. As you move further away from the center, where the average life occurrences reside, toward the graphical ends you will see extreme outliers. On the right side, you will see those that have achieved rare, ever-lasting bliss. Conversely, on the left side, you will see those that have experienced extreme tragedy and loss. These individual outliers are the lone warriors that when grouped together, become the “tail”.
Regardless of where you currently fall on the life experiences bell curve, it does not imply that your past life events dictate your future, nor does it infer that you will remain there forever. Referring again to the grading example, once you have received a poor grade you can’t go back and change it, but, you can control how you respond to receiving that poor mark and effect the grades you receive in the future. Will you call yourself a failure and give up? Or will you push yourself forward, despite the difficulty? If you are struggling, you may opt to seek help from the teacher, partner with a classmate, or hire a tutor. Similarly, while you can never change what has happened in your past, you can influence your future and hence modify your overall spot on the life experiences bell curve. With a bit of guidance, support, and the right resources, we can help you make these changes, so you may achieve happiness. And thus begins our journey.
Tail of the Bell works with individuals whose personal histories are at the extreme left end of a life experiences bell curve to empower them to move beyond their beginnings, stand big, connect with their peers, choose happiness, and fulfill their dreams. These are people who have experienced extreme trauma and, as outliers, may find it difficult to be accepted and understood by those with more common personal histories. If this resonates with you and you are one of these outliers, you are not alone and we can help.
As a father-daughter incest survivor myself, and an outlier on the extreme trauma side of the childhood life experiences bell curve, I found myself looking for help and support again and again. Shortly after my father’s death, when I was 28 years old, I was overwhelmed with terrifying, recurring nightmares and became suicidal, unable to cope with the repeated trauma. I was a young mother, and my deep love for my two toddler boys ultimately saved my life. I voluntarily checked myself into a psychiatric hospital where I found an amazing therapist who was able to start me down the path of my journey to thriving. I had been in therapy three times prior (court ordered during foster care at age 14 and voluntary at ages 17 and 20) but I was not able to make any progress since the abuse silently continued. However, when the flood gates opened after my father’s death, I was finally ready. Over the course of two years, I did the work—and I do mean work—pushed through the pain, realized it wasn’t my fault, let go of the inner shame, forgave myself, and healed.
Yes, the lifelong impacts are always there, but I’ve learned to accept my limitations and honor my survivor lens through which I will always view life. Everyday life activities, events, and milestones such as the birth of my children, bathing and putting my boys to bed, my children reaching the age when my own abuse started, geographical moves, job changes, facing authority figures, crowds, etc., etc., were all experienced through a survivor’s perspective. In some ways, I could relate to others in similar circumstances, but I always felt different—and though the people that knew of my history listened, empathized, and supported me, they never truly understood. I accepted this as a fact of life, believing the adage “it is what it is”, and continued my journey, often feeling alone even amongst the people that loved me dearly. Slowly but surely, I began to discover new things about myself and integrated the fragmented pieces and parts into being fully, and unapologetically, me. Life wasn’t all rosy, and I experienced ups and downs as we all do. But ultimately, I was able to quell my demons and empower myself with the confidence that I would move forward. I knew deep within that no matter what life challenges were thrown at me, nothing would ever surmount to what I had already been through. I had survived. And I began to honor “me”.
I channeled my struggles into triumph and grew into a successful, strong woman both professionally and personally. I learned to appreciate all that life offered and with my loving husband, we raised our four sons, gave back to the community, lived our dreams, and truly appreciated all the amazing little moments that life had to offer. At work I was accepted, respected, and revered for my skills, drive, and success; I eventually progressed my way up the management chain to executive leadership. At age 46, I became friends with another incest survivor, and for the first time in my life, felt truly understood. How different would my life have been if I had the opportunity to connect and share my thoughts with other survivors during all the years that I had walked through everyday life feeling different and misunderstood? I began formulating plans to give back to other survivors the gift of knowledge that in reality, You Are Not Alone (YANA). I forgave myself at a different level, allowed myself to be angry with my father for all I had lost (something I had never been able to do prior), and symbolically poured a container of my urine over his grave on the 20th anniversary of his death. I had finally come to truly understand that it was me that had to accept myself; it couldn’t come from someone else, it had to come from me. My subsequent happiness meant that I had changed my position on the life experiences bell curve. I had glorious moments that some never get to experience, in part because I appreciated every little twinkling of life as a gift. I was at peace and had been for many years.
And then, suddenly and unexpectedly, another tragedy struck my family. In 2013 at the age of 49, my husband of 28 years died, and I fell hard. Not only was I devastated by his loss, but I was shocked at how raw and forceful those old childhood feelings and nightmares roared back, paralyzing me once again. I went back into therapy for about seven months, forced to revisit the demons that I had worked so hard to conquer. When I finished, I relocated my family to another state as a fresh start. Here, I joined a widows and widowers Life-After-Loss group where, while finding comfort by connecting with people who had also lost a spouse, I once again felt like an outlier. My late-husband’s death was a tragic end to a series of an evening’s events that created the perfect storm. Initially investigated as a potential homicide, but ultimately deemed a suicide, he was discovered by our teenage twins while I was traveling on a business trip. Beyond the circumstances, how could I even explain to a group of people that were also grieving their spouse that I hadn’t just lost my husband? Like many of them that lost someone deeply loved, I had lost my best friend, my partner, my lover, my teacher, my cohort-in-playful-mischief, the father of my children, my killer-of-icky-bugs, my welcome-home hug at the end of the day, and so much more. Also like them, I had lost my way of life and sense of self. I had to step up into a primary caregiver role; being a single parent of traumatized young men that had their own unique set of losses, while juggling a full-time job, adjusting to a new community, and my “new normal” way of life. But as an incest survivor, my loss was even greater, for I had lost the person that had walked beside me every step of my journey. He was my protector, my rock, my mirror, my safe place, my shut-off valve, and the one person who really knew me and adored me anyway. We had been together since the age of 15 for 33 beautiful years. I had lost my everything.
People often say they would make the greatest sacrifice and die for their children, but I did more than that for mine. I lived for my sons when I wanted to die. I viewed my husband’s death as the beginning of my end. Still, I saw no other choice but to push through immense pain once again. Over time, I worked through it with the help of my children, family, co-workers, and some amazing friends. I healed and grew.
Once I knew my children were okay and well on their own path as happy, independent adults, I was able to truly focus on my next chapter. I had been correct in believing that my late-husband’s death was an ending, but I learned that it wasn’t the beginning of my end, but rather the end of my beginning. I was at a crossroad once again and realized I had my whole life ahead of me. I spent a lot of time pondering what I wanted, who I was, and what my—not our—dreams were. I wanted to give back and help those who were not truly happy and fulfilled as fellow outliers. Those that had lost, grieved, suffered, and still felt alone when surrounded by loved ones. Those that leaned into and committed to their own journey to healing, yet still felt a void in themselves that prevented them from fulfilling their dreams. The ones who sat, shrouded in silence, shamed by society, who wished to stand big in the face of it all, and not just be survivors, but “thrivers”. The ones who could so greatly benefit from being connected to, and supported by, fellow survivors as they transitioned through everyday life events such as becoming a new mother, making job changes, parenting their children, starting or ending relationships, and even losing their primary supporter. The ones who I resonated with.
That’s what started me down the path of creating Tail of the Bell. I’m not a therapist. I am a professionally certified coach, an experienced Mom (foster, adoptive, biological, and stand-in for those temporarily needing one), a loving sister, a compassionate friend, a gifted mentor and teacher, a giving volunteer, an energetic motivator, and a strong leader that’s worked in the corporate world as an actuary and data expert for 30+ years investing in and empowering hundreds of individuals I have had the privilege to work with along the way. I’m also a dog-lover (especially big furry ones) and a laugher-at-my-own-mistakes (and I’ve had some deep belly laughs at my own expense). I like to quilt but somehow, I always manage to have a long-standing project that just doesn’t seem to get done. I cook (love it), clean (hate it), and overall DIY when I can. I know who I am, and I am comfortable being me, warts and all. I’m open and honest and talk about my childhood experiences truthfully just as I would any other topic.
At Tail of the Bell, we treat our incest survivor clients with the honesty, integrity, respect, warmth, and openness they have always deserved and apply these same standards to all individuals we interact with in the pursuit of our mission. If my story resonates with you, please contact us, we are here to help. Together, we can stand big in the face of our own demons, and move forward in the pursuit of our dreams. Are you ready?
Feeling like no one understands you and you are alone?
We can help by...
Connecting you with other incest survivors who can relate to you by seeing the world through a similar lens and are seeking to improve their own lives.
YANA (You are not alone.)
Thinking that your past trauma defines who you are and that you are not “good enough”?
We can help by...
Being a mirror for you to see yourself from a different perspective and help you appreciate and then capitalize on your unique talents and gifts.
Reflect but don't dwell...
Going through a new chapter in your life or had a recent life changing event?
We can help by...
Supporting and encouraging you through your transitional journey.
Lean in to grow..