By Dr. Jeanne King, PhD.
Home in Meditation
In my twenties, I longed to live in an ashram, but my upbringing oriented me toward marriage and family. My whole life was about meditation, from my personal daily meditation practice to teaching self-regulation, biofeedback and meditation in my clinical psychotherapy practice.
In my thirties, I finally settled down with the man I had children with, because I was pregnant. Had I not have been pregnant, I never would have married that man. From the beginning, I knew I could not spend my life with him. But once flooded with pregnancy and his coercion that I abort the pregnancy or marry him, I leaned in and convinced myself it was God’s will.
Personal Commitment Hidden in Professional Endeavors
During those years of building a family, I continued to embrace my alliance with meditation as the essential essence of my identity even though I loved being Mom.
My then partner (now my ex) hated my meditation practice from the core of his being. I would retreat into a dark room, close the door and within the hour come out glowing in happiness, felt not flaunted. (On second thought, it radiated from me effortlessly and naturally.) Within moments, however, I was met with an avalanche of verbal emotional abuse around how I was unavailable, unappealing, self-absorbed, selfish and crazy.
Why crazy? Because, from his perspective it’s crazy to go into a dark room all by yourself and moments later come out joyous. To protect my personal alliance with my spiritual practice, I played it down and did my best to only meditate in his absence (after he left for work or before his return home).
But of course there were holidays and weekends in which my meditation practice became the central theme of his resentment and displaced anger toward me. The net result of this mirage of personal assaults toward my practicing meditation drove me to make the business of teaching meditation my pre-occupation. You see, my excellence in this was sometimes a feather in his cap. So, it became a safer devotion for me.
During those years I built a fabulous clinic which I named the Chicago Center for the Treatment of Pain and Stress, and became the president of the Illinois Biofeedback Society. My meditation practice as a result could be rationalized in my personal life as just this thing I was doing to support my growth in my business life. Hence, I thought it was more acceptable and could be met with greater tolerance.
Domestic Violence Shows True Colors
That worked for about 10 years and three births. But, then the tension of the family abuse and control dynamics escalated out of control. Over the years the police had been in and out of our house repeatedly for domestic violence incidents. I had suffered a spinal injury in which it took four years for me to fully recover, and my children each had their fair share of physical abuse with bodily injury to the oldest.
My ex, an obstetrician gynecologist, was and is a bona fide bully and deranged tyrant. This became utterly glaring to me when he took a belt to one of our children leaving ten inch welts across his thigh because the child (age ten) wished to wear a short-sleeve shirt to temple during Indian Summer all while he was demanding the child wear a long-sleeve shirt. He beat that child repetitively, inches from his groin, with the buckle end of a belt over a personal power struggle.
Police Turning Point
That incident drove me to the police with my physically and emotionally battered child. It was my breaking point. He was arrested and ultimately made himself the victim of the subsequent findings (his exposure). There was a “civil finding of abuse” by the Domestic Relations Court and a “child abuse finding” by the Department of Children and Family Services.
I had hoped this would be a wake up call for healthy change. I was wrong.
That intervention became the inception of turning the tables. We spent five plus years in divorce court, depleting the family estate, building his case for erasing Mommy. (For a complete detailing of this personal documentary, see All But My Soul: Abuse Beyond Control. Or, for salient segments of this story, visit InnerSanctuaryOnline.org/blog)
Just before my exile, after a hellish horrific ride in family court corruption along with continued threats upon my life, I turned to my counsel and asked, what are his grounds for seeking sole custody. Counsel kindly said, “He says, You meditate.” (Ironically, when my oldest and youngest met up with me as adults, they both asked me to teach them “how to meditate.”)
The Flip ~ Fast Forward Twenty Years
As I sit in my home and look around, I realize I am in my ashram. My personal devotion to my spiritual practice is no longer shoved under the carpet. It’s the central part of who and what I am.
Here I am on winter break enjoying an intestinal cleanse laced in 10 days of silence. The health and vibrance emanating from within me radiates throughout my nest. I am home in my ashram. All this while my professional life is now about helping people in and after intimate partner violence, currently popularized as narcissistic domestic abuse.
So in many respects I have done a complete flip, wherein before my personal life was about domestic abuse and my professional life was about teaching meditation. Now my personal life is about maintaining health, wholeness and happiness—freely meditating as routinely as people sleep; while my professional life is about helping people understand the dynamics of relationship violence, changing battering behavior and healing domestic abuse trauma.
Take a look at your own life and recognize how you, too, may be standing in the shoes of your soul’s calling. Be thankful for all you are and all that has led up to you being YOU.
For more personal and professional insights about domestic violence dynamics and healing, visit InnerSanctuaryOnline.org. These writings have helped thousands of people worldwide find wholeness, happiness and well-being.
© Jeanne King, Ph.D. — Domestic Violence Prevention and Intervention