Happy Labor Day, Monday! I just wanted to sleep in this morning because the weather in Illinois is teasing me into a peaceful day of slumber and relaxation, but duty calls and I’m preparing for whatever the day might bring. I know from experience that living life experiences can sometimes knock us down and if we’re not vigilant on who we are and whose we are, we might continue to exist in a life that we don’t love ; a life that we think we’re unable to change and so we continue on, ‘stuck’ in a life of misery and sameness. Don’t believe the hype! You can make your life better through choice and action!
Kathleen Pooler is a victim of domestic abuse. She, unlike many women, made a choice to take back her power. She has written a memoir about her struggles and triumph out of domestic abuse. I invite women voices to Authentic Woman to serve as a beacon of hope for other women voices… Kathy’s story will inspire other women of abuse with renewed hope and purpose for their own lives.
Empowering Ourselves to Overcome Abuse
I spent the first eighteen years of my life in a loving, supportive family. My parents, Bob and Kathryn were childhood sweethearts who modeled a caring and respectful relationship. I went out into the world fully expecting I would find the same in a spouse. It was all I knew—stability, security, love.
The problem was I didn’t discern the red flags and assumed the man I chose to marry would fulfill my fantasy of happily ever after. Like my parents, “till death do you part.” Eight years later, with two young children in tow, I repeated the mistake and married a man to meet my gnawing need to be a complete family again.
I had everything I needed to make a good life for myself. Instead, I spent the next twenty-five years engulfed in the abyss of two abusive marriages, first to a man who drank too much then to a man whose untreated bipolar disorder forced me to flee in broad daylight with my two school aged children for fear of physical abuse.
I had allowed myself to be emotionally abused, bullied and brainwashed all for the sake of being a family, like my own. How had I allowed that to happen?
I explore the factors that influenced me to make these self-defeating choices in my upcoming memoir, Ever Faithful to His Lead: My Journey Away From Emotional Abuse.
Walking away required me to look at myself and accept the mistakes and missteps of my past. It forced me to come face-to-face with my vulnerabilities and flaws.
Writing my memoir helped me to heal. I found the answers to a question that had nagged at me for years:
“How does a young woman from a loving Catholic family, make so many wise choices about her career but so many poor choices about love that she ends up escaping in broad daylight with her two children from her second husband for fear of physical abuse?”
I never thought of myself as the abused wife. I studied domestic violence in my nursing program. I took care of patients who were abused. I was a strong and capable woman. Surely, I wasn’t one of those women who keep making excuses for a spouse’s outrageous behavior. Besides, I didn’t have broken bones or bruises.
Years later, I realized, abuse in any form is abuse:
*One does not have to sustain physical injury to be abused. Emotional abuse in the form of intimidation, bullying, safety threats, lying is harmful and the impact on the children of mothers who are in abusive relationships is far-reaching and damaging.
* Abuse impacts all socioeconomic groups. I was a masters-prepared nurse from
a loving family and yet I got into two emotionally abusive marriages.
*Denial and magical thinking can keep one from recognizing abusive behavior and taking action.
*Emotional abuse can lead to physical abuse. According to the National
Coalition of Domestic Violence Awareness, “One in every four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime; 1.3 million women are victims of
physical assault by an intimate partner each year; Most cases of domestic violence are never reported.”
These are staggering statistics of epidemic proportion.
I was able to rescue myself from two abusive marriages. The first thing I had to do was to break through the denial that my life was not what I had dreamed it would be. Then I had to take responsibility for the role I had played in allowing abuse to happen. I had to make the conscious decision to change the way I was approaching relationships and choices. I had to claim the power within and then once I claimed it, I had to honor it.
My greatest hope is that by offering my insights into the poor decisions I made will help others learn from my story. I found my inner strength through my faith in God and the love and support of my family and friends. My nursing career enabled me to support myself and my children.
Abuse is abuse in any form and nobody deserves to be trapped in an abusive relationship.
I want to inspire hope and action for my readers who need to tap into their own inner strength and find freedom from abuse of any kind.
Once we are connected to our own inner strength, we empower ourselves to live life on our own terms. For me that meant, allowing myself to be vulnerable and admitting my role in creating the circumstances that led to two emotionally abusive marriages. When I became clear on the part I was playing, I was able to not only accept the responsibility to change, but to forgive myself and put my energies into creating the life I wanted and deserved. To me, that is empowerment at its best.
Kathleen Pooler is an author and a retired Family Nurse Practitioner whose memoir, Ever Faithful to His Lead: My Journey Away From Emotional Abuse, published on July 28.2014 and work-in-progress sequel, Hope Matters: A Memoir are about how the power of hope through her faith in God helped her to transform, heal and transcend life’s obstacles and disappointments: domestic abuse, divorce, single parenting, loving and letting go of an alcoholic son, cancer and heart failure to live a life of joy and contentment. She believes that hope matters and that we are all strengthened and enlightened when we share our stories.
She lives with her husband Wayne in eastern New York.
She blogs weekly at her Memoir Writer’s Journey blog: http://krpooler.com