Hello! My name is Kelly Lynch. I am a licensed clinical social worker, life coach, nutrition
coach, and personal trainer. I’m the happy, fierce, determined creator of @theunapologyproject, where I empower purpose driven women to take their power back. I believe so much in the power of language and story telling, because I see it at work every time my clients transform their lives by changing the language they use to describe their experiences.
This is work I’ve experienced firsthand, in my own life.
Before I tell my story, I want you to know - this is a story of marital abuse and domestic violence. There are triggers in my story, so please be mindful of your own experiences. Trauma doesn’t discriminate. I’m a trained psychotherapist, with over a decade of experience, and trauma still happened to me. Please know, if you have experienced or are experiencing trauma or are in an unsafe relationship, there are so many resources available, and all you need to do is ask for help.
But also, please know that as much as my story begins with trauma, it pivots to joy, and so
much empowered, epic authenticity.
My story begins on September 5th, 2009, the day I married my ex-husband. I remember walking down the aisle, with my dad telling me, both jokingly and seriously, we could turn around and run anytime. I thought I was walking towards the love of my life, and dismissed my dad as being silly and just trying to make me laugh. What I wasn’t willing to admit, however, was that my dad, along with the rest of my family, was right.
I had been dating my ex-husband for about four and a half years prior to getting married,
and while things hadn’t been perfect, I naively thought they were ok. I knew he had a temper, because when we argued, he’d yell and occasionally break things, like a mug or a glass. I dismissed those moments as, ‘Oh he’s angry, I’ll leave him alone to calm down, and everything will be fine.’ And, until we got married, that was manageable. Being in my very early 20’s at the time, and never having been in a relationship as serious as this one, there was a part of me that didn’t know any better, and there was another part of me that didn’t want to know better.
When we got married, it was like a switch flipped. Ultimately, we were married for a total of five years. For the first three and a half years, he engaged in repeated, consistent patterns of emotional and mental manipulation, gaslighting, financial abuse, and slowly but progressively isolated me totally from friends and family. I became very depressed, deeply anxious, and was struggling to keep it all together.
Looking back, I now realize it had gotten so bad, so quickly, and I didn’t want to admit to
myself how much I felt like a failure. So, I started saying false, distorted things to myself,
such as, ‘This is what you signed up for, Kel, you have to figure out how to make it work.’
In the last year and half of our marriage, he began to get physical with me. I had gotten
pregnant with our daughter in July of 2012, and just prior to getting pregnant, he had started a pattern of groping me inappropriately and throwing large tantrums when I turned him down for sexual intimacy. I was routinely dismissed when I expressed resentment about the way he was touching me, and ended up relenting to the tantrums, just to get them to stop. It felt objectifying, minimizing to who I was as a person, and degrading.
In the last six months of being married, he began to physically threaten me. There were three total incidents of him threatening my physical safety with a knife, and it was the final incident which made me decide to leave. Our daughter, who was born in February 2013, was a year and a half old at the time. The night of this final incident, we were goofing around after I had put our daughter to bed, and it went very bad, very quickly. I had giggled at him at one point, which caused him to fly into a rage. At one point while he was raging, he had become so loud that it woke our daughter up. I had picked her up out of her crib to soothe her while he was outside trying to calm down, and when he came inside to shower and get ready for bed, he went into the bathroom, grabbed multiple single boxes of bar soap, and threw them at me while I was holding our daughter. He continued to rage, slam doors, and scream at me, calling me names, and then he grabbed a butcher knife out of our kitchen knife block. He threatened to harm himself with it, and then instantly switched that to me, stating ‘I should just slit your throat instead.’ Ultimately, he walked around the house for close to two and a half hours with that knife, threatening me. When he finally put the knife away, he continued to berate me, and as the incident came to a close, one of the final things he said was ‘I should just beat you. You deserve it.’ He threw punches next to my head, and walked away.
I had never been so terrified. I truly believed I was going to die that night.
Once that night was over, I disclosed the degree of abuse to my parents. They immediately
helped me start to plan, as I also began looking for a divorce attorney. I planned for 6 weeks, on how to escape with my daughter, until it finally happened. My family hid me and my daughter for three days before I could see my attorney. I moved in with my parents, filed for the divorce and a protective order, and the divorce began.
The divorce was finalized in six months. Two months after getting divorced, the protective order against my ex-husband was lifted, I bought a home, and began the next phase of my life with my daughter.
My ex-husband and I now have shared physical custody of our daughter, and she lives with
me. She is a healthy, happy, thriving 6-year-old, and has great relationships with myself and
her father, as well as her extended family. My relationship with my ex-husband has significantly evolved, because I have had to learn how to co-parent with a man who once threatened my life, due to the determination of the court that we would share custody. At this point, we have a successful parenting relationship, and he has learned how to be respectful of my boundaries and the limits I keep on the relationship with him, because of what I have been through. We have learned how to navigate through an incredible amount of sharp edges, extremely transparent conversations about the impact we have mutually had on each other, and the ways we have experienced each other, both positively and negatively. Additionally, it has been an incredibly empowering experience personally, to realize and then lean into my ability to navigate an ongoing parenting relationship with a man I once believed was going to kill me. This proved to me that while I may have lived through serious trauma, I don’t ever need to allow trauma to define who I am and the way I choose to move through and experience the world.
I have been divorced at this point for 5 years. In the last 5 years, my life has drastically and
dramatically changed, all for the better. I stabilized the financial situation my ex-husband had created, settled into my new home, and focused on supporting my daughter as she adjusted to her new normal. I built what is now a thriving private psychotherapy practice, and began developing a coaching practice.
I have been through both therapy and personal coaching, for the purpose of bettering myself and my life. Therapy and coaching have been transformative, necessary experiences. In the process of each, I gained incredible insight about myself. I ended up in the position I was in because I had been willing to stifle my voice for the perceived benefit of someone else, but in stifling my voice, I also sacrificed my boundaries and my ability to take good care of myself. This created a snowball effect of me being willing to release relationships that mattered to me, releasing autonomy, and releasing control over my mental and physical health. In moving through therapy and coaching, I reconnected to myself, redefined my non-negotiables in relationships, redefined my terms for life, and both found and elevated my voice and desire to take up space in this world.
This – all of this – brought the biggest lesson.
Resiliency, and the ability to rise, is within every single one of us. We can have experiences,
positive and negative, but we do not have to lay down and surrender to those experiences.
There is always a choice, and the opportunity, to rise. In sharing my story, I continue to reinforce to myself why I am a survivor, and not a victim. It is not my fault that trauma happened to me. It is, however, always my responsibility to take ownership of my behaviors and choices, and to figure out what I will do about that. My purpose in this world, and in the gift of the life I have, is to teach my daughter how to rise, regardless of the obstacles placed in front of her, and to support as many people as I possibly can to do exactly the same.
Thank you all so much for reading, and I hope my story can give you all hope!