By Dr. Jeanne King, PhD.
The Foundation from Which I Stood
I was a sophomore in college struggling to find my place in the world. From the outside looking in, one would have thought I had it all. Straight A student; Dean’s List in graduate school; Valedictorian of gifted-children’s high school; Multiple state trophy Latin scholar throughout high school and junior high; Head-turning physical appearance (so they said); Voted most popular among my peers; Enjoyed a fulfilling sorority life with loads of campus fun; and Always had a steady boyfriend. I was in top physical shape as an avid swimmer with the foundation of a childhood gymnast. Yet, inside—while healthy and happy—I was alone and I knew there was more.
What I Really Wanted in Life
I wanted higher purpose and well-being independent of my accomplishments, and not attached to other people’s love, acceptance and appreciation. I wanted pure happiness not connected to anything someone could give or take away from me—just pure unadulterated well-being.
As an undergrad, I radiated well-being from the outside in, but inside I knew something larger was possible. I had a reputation in my family as being different…spacey, kind of out there. But, it was hard to bad mouth because I had been the most accomplished in my immediate family. Even so, that didn’t stop `em. My two older brothers, whom each disgraced our family, had their fair share of put-downs, intimidation and out right bullying toward me over the years.
Despite all that was right for me, relatively speaking, I knew there was more to life. How to get there was a mystery, yet I felt confident that I would find my way, somehow someday. A door opened along these lines when I learned to meditate in 1972. It became a very important part of my success, my work, my identity…my life.
The Roots of My Well-Being
Like most southern belles, I was raised to believe that I was supposed to get married and have a family. My career, if I was to have one, could only be “nurse” or “teacher.” Not liking the sights, sounds and smells of medicine, nursing was out of the question and I wanted to do more than teach in the traditional way.
My maternal grandmother, who was the most important parental figure in my life, encouraged me to go to graduate school. She repeatedly said, your education is the only thing someone could not take from you. At the time, I thought it was a weird thing to tell anyone, but assumed she had this belief because her own brother took advantage of my grandpa in their business dealings back in the day.
I took her advice and completed graduate school and elected to study clinical psychology, because my adored cousin was a psychologist and I so admired her as did my mother. I was clever enough to turn that traditional Northwestern University education into a meditation marathon…by doing my doctoral study on the psychophysiology of meditation and its implications for psychotherapy. From here, I launched a 27-year fulfilling professional career in Energy Psychology, teaching meditation to help people regulate stress-related chronic medical conditions.
The Walls to My Well-Being
During the inception of that career, I ended up getting pregnant with an obstetrician/gynecologist that I was dating shortly after I completed graduate school. He demanded that I abort the pregnancy unless I married him…as though it was his decision. The stress this caused me during this pregnancy was over the top, culminating in physical violence rearing its ugly head in my second trimester.
This man taught me more about intimate partner violence than one could ever learn in a text book or by counseling others professionally. Funny thing is I didn’t truly grasp the curriculum until I was in divorce court 10 years later when my attorney said, “You know, you are a battered woman?”
I was appalled by that statement even though I had already endured bodily injury through domestic assault and had been subjected to severe emotional, verbal abuse, as well as a witness to chronic child abuse for nearly a decade.
During this chapter of my life, all I had built came crumbling down. So, I turned my energy toward personal healing and discovered the “keyboard high,” as I affectionately called it. I learned to heal trauma through writing, cleansing and silence. My skills in Energy Psychology blossomed, exponentially.
An Awakening with Purpose
I realized that I was not the person my ex wanted me to believe I was. I remember when I was securing my dual state licensure to practice as a psychologist in another state, like it was yesterday. I was sitting at my desk combing through the transcripts Northwestern sent to me and I burst into uncontrollable tears. Here’s why.
All of my professors gave me exemplary reviews in addition to having straight A’s and being on the Dean’s List at Northwestern University throughout graduate school. Evidently, that memory had faded in light of what I was living over the past decade. At home in my life with my ex, I was a “dummy” in every way, shape and form. And when I wasn’t a “dummy,” I was “weird” because I meditated daily.
What became apparent to me was that my intellect, and my capacity for sustained silence and expanded consciousness were my greatest assets; not my liabilities.
For the next twenty years, I created a writing passage in my life that became the path to a rewarding livelihood, which I turned into a public charity and professional mission to help other people entangled in domestic violence. Partners in Prevention grew out of that commitment. As of today, we have helped thousands of women worldwide to break the cycle of intimate partner violence. And I have learned to open myself up to states of sustained, profound well-being beyond my imagination.
The Thorns and Flowers of My Success
I was a prolific ferocious writer—producing a domestic violence book (All But My Soul), telling my personal story amidst a review of the professional literature. To my surprise, it became a college text book in Criminal Justice studies. Then, within the next handful of years, I wrote and published 12 eBooks and over 550 articles on domestic abuse dynamics and healing from intimate partner violence. We circulated these writings making them available to domestic violence shelters and people searching on the Internet for answers about narcissistic domestic abuse.
What I didn’t realize at the time was that I was positioning myself against some unfamiliar challenges, which I had to learn to overcome during the next decade.
Challenge #1 ~ Psychologists Don’t Spill Their Guts All Over the Internet
It’s about the patient, never about you (the psychologist)! Fortunately, for my patients and for me, I only write about me; I don’t talk about myself. That would be too much.
Challenge #2 ~ Domestic Violence Victims Fear Psychologists
Historically psychologists became extensions of the abusers. These are the professionals that domestic abusers use to pathologize victims in their effort to discredit them and silence the abuse.
So here I am a psychologist reaching out to victims of domestic abuse telling the nitty-gritty of my domestic violence escapades. Just imagine what that was like for them and for me.
What I realized through people’s reactions to my writings is that my story was far from unique. There were, and are, hundreds of thousands of women in this situation: Highly effective successful women in business, law and medicine entrapped in intimate partner violence at home. And they had no place to turn.
Quickly, Partners in Prevention became a resource for these women and their families. In so doing, I found a way to bring the experience of ultimate well-being to them, as well as to myself, through the healing lessons of Energy Psychology.
If you have surrendered your personal esteem and liberties to a coercive, controlling intimate partner, we can help you find your way back home. Visit the Healing Hub for People in Toxic Relationships, and expect these resources to resonate with your experience and guide you back to the best YOU ever!
© Dr Jeanne King, PhD — Domestic Violence Prevention and Intervention