Health & Wellness

Jennifer: I Have A Voice

How poetry can bring healing.
Published March 20, 2018

Jennifer, 41, Lost 37 lbs*

*People following the WW program can expect to lose 1-2 pounds/week. Jennifer lost weight on a prior program and is continuing on WeightWatchers.

“My healing process has left me feeling whole, centered, and powerful.”

In a marriage, over the years you get condi­tioned not to have any boundaries, especially when it comes to sex. You say to yourself, “This is my husband and this is normal.” But I was a police officer and during training, there was a unit on sexual assault with very clear definitions of what it is. The hair-pulling, shoving, and force during sex weren’t normal. I had visited a women’s shelter to receive counseling about six years into my marriage, but I still stayed for six more years. But I felt that my husband’s violence was escalating in force and frequency.

One night, my son, who was 10 years old at the time, burst through our bedroom door and interrupted us in the act. My husband slammed the door on him. The next morning, I woke up, took the kids to school, and drove to work. In the parking lot of my office building, I started crying uncontrollably. I realized that I couldn’t allow my two children to see me victimized. So I told my boss I wasn’t coming in, I packed the car, took the kids out of school, and drove to my mother’s house, which was three hours away. As we were driving away, I said, “I think I just did the stupidest thing,” and my son said to me, “Mom, you did the bravest thing.” At that tender age, he knew that much. I never went back.

I started stuffing my mouth with food. I wanted to melt into the background, I didn’t want to talk about what had happened. Putting on weight was a tactic that I used to protect myself. However, I did call the local domestic violence shelter and made counsel­ing appointments for my son and myself.

About four months after I left, I found a book called Poetic Medicine: The Healing Art of Poem-Making. I had always loved to write, so I started to use the exercises to help me learn to express my feelings. I created some powerful poems, which grew into a series. At first, I feared retaliation from my ex-husband, but after I read several of my poems at a poetry reading, I realized that there were no bad consequences. People at the poetry reading told me that my story is helping them heal, and I gained the courage to publish my book, Battle Cry, by Jen May, and sell it on Amazon.

Once I’d found my voice, I began feeling the need to take care of my health, so I joined WW.

I started taking a kettlebell–TRX fusion class. I felt myself getting back to a healthier place. Through poetry readings, Connect, and a form of therapy called EMDR, which works to take power away from painful memories, I was able to gain strength and heal.

Having people tell you, “You need to leave your marriage right now,” is not easy and digestible. It takes time to summon the courage to make a change. Also, you may need time to gather resources and support. It took nine people on the phone with me telling me it was the right choice to convince me to leave. I am so grateful that I had strong support to catch me during that time.

I look back at the person who drove away that day, and I can’t believe that she was me. I can’t believe I endured so much. I was once afraid to speak up, but now I believe you can say anything. And that is the most enlighten­ing feeling. It’s so powerful to know that I have a voice and that it matters.

If you or someone you know is a victim of sexual assault, click here for resources.