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Doc@DrIrene.com

Empowered One Year

Empowered One Year & Giving Back...

August 22, 2000

Dear Doctor Irene:

Last Friday was the one year anniversary of the police's response to a domestic violence call to my home.  Although that's a pretty negative statement....it also is the anniversary date of my decision to take back my power.  Every negative experience has a positive twist to it.

It's been an incredibly difficult, emotional and exhilarating year.  I've learned so much, grown so much and felt so much......I am not the same woman who opened the door to the policeman last year.

I knew I was in an abusive relationship, I knew I was a codependent and I knew I enabled so many of my husband's behaviors.  I also knew that I was dying a slow, torturous death by emotional, psychological, verbal and sexual abuse.  I got counseling for both of us and walked out the door on December 28, 1999 with the support of my counselors, friends and family.  I spent a few nights in a domestic abuse shelter, lived with my children at a girlfriend's home for a month waiting for him to get out of MY house (finally turned off all the utilities and put a "For Sale" sign up in front of the house to get him out), dealt with him "stealing" my car (our only joint asset), handled his controlling and manipulative behaviors regarding the divorce and have kept custody of my little boy, who is my ex's great nephew.  My little boy was the reason I stayed with him so long - he came into my life when he was 8 months old and on Tuesday I will silently celebrate the 4th year of sharing his life.  I've proven myself to the authorities and have been promised that the adoption (the first single parent adoption in this county in years) will be finalized by the end of the year.  :) :) :) !!! We still are connected via my little boy, but visitation is not court ordered and will not be because it is a single parent adoption.  Although the ex tries to control me through him, he has no power.....he is just spinning his wheels.  There is a bond between them and at this point it is still in my little boy's best interests to maintain contact with my ex. Yes.

Visitation weekends are stressful for me - I worry due to the ex's addictions.  But I have a network of people who keep an eye on them both and my ex lives with another couple so I know my son is pretty safe.  Not completely safe, but it is the best I can do for now.

Because the state technically has custody of my little boy, I had to testify in court about our abusive marriage and about my ability to parent a special needs child.  When I was called to the stand to testify, I THOUGHT I was going to be testifying ONLY about my little boy.  Instead I was asked all types of personal questions in order to prove that I was a stable person. This was less than sixty days after we had separated.  It was one of the most difficult two hours of my life - carefully choosing the right words, remembering not to become defensive and showing that it was in my little boy's best interests to remain with me as the pre-adoptive placement.  All our problems were laid in front of the court - I had to literally spill my guts.  It was the most vulnerable moment of my life.  Four attorneys questioned me along with the judge.  The courtroom was packed with professionals from the state agencies because everyone wanted to see how the court handled the change in my little boy's placement...it was a very unique case. 

I succeeded.  After the judge handed down his ruling declaring that my little boy was to remain in my sole custody with the supervision of the state agency as the pre-adoptive placement, a cheer went up throughout the courtroom.  Of course I cried - thank God for waterproof mascara!!  Although this was the most vulnerable experience of my life, it was definitely the most empowering experience also.  I learned so many valuable lessons - the most important one being that sometimes you just have to take a risk. Before this experience, my idea of risk-taking was going grocery shopping without a list.  <grin>  :)

I've had setbacks during the past eight months.  There's been nights when I have wrapped myself in blankets and cried on the couch.  There's been nights when I have questioned myself and my choices.  I've had boundary failures. But it's okay....at least I am living....I am continually growing, learning and flourishing. Thanks for mentioning that setbacks are a necessary and inevitable part of growth...

I know where I still need work.  My journey is far from over.  I don't want it to be over!! :)  This recovery work is not easy, but it is so worthwhile.  I will never put myself back into that plexi-glass box again.  It was a safe place, I didn't hurt there, but I didn't FEEL there either.  To not feel is totally unacceptable to me.

Why am I writing this to you?  Because I know that you and the people who visit your site will understand.  Although my friends and family express empathy...it's not like sharing and celebrating with people who really KNOW and UNDERSTAND where you have been, what you have experienced and how far you have journeyed.

I belong to the "I'm Responsible" list.  There's so much knowledge and sharing there....it's been a major support for me.  One of the wise ones there posted a statement that said that the more you share your story, the less power it has over you. Yes... No more shame; nothing to fear or have held over your head. You are strong enough to be OK with all of you...

I've become my county's "poster woman" for domestic abuse, speaking at groups.  It's helped me so much.  I find comfort that I have helped others too.  I've written my story out and I know it will be published in a major magazine next year.  It's just a matter of time. Yippeee! And, thanks for the "scoop!" 

I have my power back.  Thank you so much for being there for me when I needed it, Dr. Irene.  You've helped me change my life.  You've helped me save my life.

With respect and gratitude, Pamela   Dearest Pamela, Thank YOU.  Boy, do I love a person who takes their power and commands their own respect. You certainly have mine. God bless you and your son lovely lady, and thank you for taking the time to write this...

My very best,