Editor’s note: These are powerful stories from our Oxford Hills community of folks who have gone through challenging times and found ways to recover. The ‘Resilience Matters to Me’ campaign helps foster a community of care and empowers the ability to build resilience through connecting and reaching out, to support and be supported. Thanks to all who are bravely sharing their stories, encouraging others to break the silence and stigma and know that no one is alone. 

Brendan Schauffler, 46, of Norway grew up with four Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs). Alcohol was a major part of Schauffler’s childhood which lead to Schauffler feeling his parents didn’t love him and his sister enough. “Why don’t you love me enough to put that aside,” Schauffler  recalls feeling. He was angry. Then his parents divorced while he was in high school and he was even more angry, especially with his father who was the catalyst for the divorce.

“I was angry at dad and blamed him for the divorce and didn’t talk to him much…I wanted to show him how upset I was.”

Then the bottom of Schauffler’s world dropped out from under him. His father committed suicide.

“I was 19. A week before he had called and left a message on the machine saying ‘hey, this is dad, I always loved you guys the most’ and I didn’t tell anyone about the message. Later I realized what it meant.

“It took me years to forgive myself for not doing something. That loss made me realize how much the people in my life cared for me.”


During high school Schauffler says he felt like he didn’t belong.

“I had friends, good ones, but I also had a belief that they couldn’t know all of me so I felt like an outsider, I felt inadequate.”

There were classmates, he says, that picked up on the fact his family had less money than others and that kept him from feeling that he fit in.

“I was lucky to have a couple of teachers who saw me and gave me a sense of value I wouldn’t have had otherwise.

“When I lost my dad I saw how much my friends cared for me. They tried really hard to ease that pain. As years passed I started to heal and that loss has taught me things. Showed me how fragile and unpredictable life is. You never know when you will lose something.”

Schauffler now takes every opportunity to tell people how much they mean to him and how much he cares for them.


Brendan Schauffler Submitted

When his dad died, he says his dad’s siblings really stepped up to care for his family and feels lucky to have strong relationships with them.

“They are still helping me understand who my dad was.”

Having the foundation of those relationships with friends and family helped him build resilience, he says. The relationships got stronger after his dad died and knowing he wanted to have kids someday and wanted them to have a totally different childhood, he learned from those relationships.

“My parents loved me and were doing the best they could they just didn’t have the opportunity to heal from the things they were carrying.

“It wasn’t until the past decade that I learned about ACEs and resilience and that they were dealing with their own ACEs trauma.”

How can others help those carrying trauma?


“Take a chance to extend some love and forgiveness to others in your life.”

Schauffler says the maxim “Everyone is fighting a battle we know nothing about” really resonates with him.

“Everyone is dealing with stuff. We can all be quick to respond when we feel slighted when it may have nothing to do with how they feel about us. Most of us are shouldering some sort of emotional burden and we don’t do ourselves any favors by keeping it hidden from each other. ‘How are you? Good, not so good’ … we need to let that [honesty] be part of our reality.”

QR code for resilience website.

“Hard things happen – Make a connection – Connecting helps us rebuild – Love. Support. Connect.” Look for these messages around the community and get involved in the campaign. Everyone can build resilience in ourselves, and help to build it amongst loved ones and community – so reach out because one positive relationship can make all the difference in a life. Visit www.resiliencematterstome.com to find all kinds of resources and supportive ideas, or reach out to Brendan Schauffler brendan.schauffler@mainehealth.org or Emma DayBranch emma.daybranch@mainehealth.org.                 

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