My life is composed of a few stories. My first story began in high school with my first relationship, an unhealthy one. It didn’t start off that way. It had a positive start. I was only 15 years old going into my sophomore year of highschool; he was a freshman. He was sweet and initially made me feel special. It turned out to be emotionally, verbally, physically, financially, and sexually abusive.
I am blessed to have two incredible, loving parents who taught me and showed me that I can do anything I put my heart into fully. My parents are high school sweethearts. They had a dream to build a log home, and they did it. My dad drew the blueprints and did most of the work himself. When I was little, we would go up north to the land, planted trees and mapped out the dream. They had this beautiful relationship throughout all these years.
During my abusive relationship with my first boyfriend, I thought maybe this is how it is behind closed doors. I didn’t know any better. I was so young, and no one really talked about unhealthy relationships back then.
I was graduating high school and was about to go to college. My plan was to work toward my degree in Occupational Therapy. My boyfriend did not like that. He was concerned that I would be working with men. He tried to stop me from attending college. He said that I should just go to the technical school, become a mechanic, and work with him. As if there are no men in that field! But, this is the way he could keep an eye on me.
Our relationship was marked by break-ups and make-ups. It was a daily emotional roller coaster. He would threaten me and say, "If I can't have you, no one else will." He was an avid hunter, and he had already attempted suicide in the past. The fear of suicide kept me in this cycle because I was afraid he would kill himself because of me. Today, I know that it would be his own doing and not be because of me. At that age, I didn’t know better.
My name is Karla Docter, and this is my Kintsugi Story.
We had a terrible fight about me going to college. I was driving home, crying and I was in so much pain. I woke up my mom in the middle of the night. I said, “I think I need to see a therapist.” I didn’t want to live if this is what living felt like. My mom said all the right things. I am so grateful, she was supportive. I know that so many people don't have that luxury.
I kept trying to break up with him. He consistently called me and would show up my work, trying to get me fired. One time while at work, I got a call from his psychologist, and she was trying to convince me to come in for a counseling session together. She said he wanted to improve and work this out. At that point, I was really done.
We had been together for three years; it was three years of torture. I did go to that session, but my intention was to make him understand that I had had enough. I was worthy of better. I was able to articulate, and the therapist was able to say it in a way that he understood, or so I thought. He asked to go for a walk after the session. He really didn’t get it, and then tried getting back together. Eventually, I was able to get away from him, and the calls stopped. By that time, the damage was done. I didn’t know that a healthy relationship was possible, or what one looked like. That was my normal.
Toxic Relationships & Violations
I went from that relationship on to the next unhealthy relationship, on to the next unhealthy relationship and was essentially stuck in that cycle. I would realize that I deserved better, and I would leave the relationship I was in. Then, I would find myself in another toxic relationship.
In college, I made new friends. I tried to stay away from the “boyfriend” term, as I associated it with pain and suffering. So, I had this guy that I loved as a friend, and he called me to come check out his new home . He had always been so nice and thoughtful in the past. He gave me a tour of the house, and he left his bedroom as the last stop.
It came as a total surprise as he forced himself on me. I was able to fight him off, grabbed my things and ran out of the house. I couldn't get a hold of anybody. I felt so lost. I didn't know what to do or where to go. I had been sexually abused in my relationships before, but this time it was different. I finally got a hold of a friend. I went to his house, and I was telling him everything that had happened. He was consoling me; I was feeling better because I was being validated and comforted. Then, he tried to make a move on me. I left and came home and told my roommate what had happened. She doubted me, and asked “Are you sure they would do that?”.
Alcohol Abuse to Cope
It was this moment I decided that I would try to pretend that what happened to me that night never happened. I was going to pack it in a box, tie it with a bow, and stash it away. Then, unbeknownst to me, the heavy drinking began. I was to drinking to numb, to cope. I switched my major from Occupational Therapy to Criminal Justice, Psychology and Forensic Science. I wanted to be CSI before it was a popular TV show. I graduated in 2005.
In spring of 2006, I was on my way to my boyfriend's house after spending some time at my local pub where I was voluntarily over-served. It was so cold. It was a very foggy night, and I could barely see a foot in front of my car. I was trying hard to focus and trying to drive. Little did I know, I was going way under the speed limit.
I had passed my exit, by a whole city, and was pulled over by a cop. Gratefully, I did not hurt myself or anybody else. There had been nights where I would wake up in the morning, and I would say, “How the heck did I get home?” I would see my car parked in the driveway, “Oh my God, I drove last night this drunk?”
As a consequence from being stopped, I had to have an alcohol assessment done. I lived in Milwaukee, and I thought that all 23 year-olds drank a lot of alcohol and spent their time partying. After being truthful with my habits, the therapist sent me to attend group counseling. I needed to learn that my behavior was really not the norm.
Speaking My Truth
I was the only woman among many male meth, cocaine and some heroin addicts. There were a few who were there because of DUIs and a couple who got in trouble because of marijuana. I was way out of my element there. I was given an assignment to ask my friends about me and my behavior, when partying. I did not want to do this, and I felt a ton of shame and guilt surrounding my behavior.
I was a hot mess. I was happy one second and angry the next. It was a vicious cycle. I did not love myself.
I realized that I had to come out and speak my story, tell my truth, embarrassed or not--I had to share. I told all the details to this group of very intimidating men. The counselor pulled me to the side and said, “You know what, Karla, that took a lot of courage to share all of that with this group.” I think it was like the first time that I actually felt strong. It was a big pivotal moment for me.
Years prior, I had been robbed at gun point. I had looked for help from a counselor. Who was not specialized in trauma. They tried to find blame in my family life, in my history, and that didn’t feel right. This had nothing to do with blaming anything else. It was when I decided to take responsibility for the trajectory of my life, without pointing fingers, that I felt empowered.
I realized that I would have to change career path again. I was too anxious for a profession in Criminal Justice, it was not a good fit. I went to the library and checked out books on topics such as domestic violence and sexual assault. Now that I was equipped with terms to go with my experience. I was compelled to empower myself with knowledge of what had happened and how I was reacting to it.
I'm Not Crazy
The more I read about the subject, the more I understood my choices, my feelings. I was not crazy; I was reacting to what had transpired, and I was not alone in my experience. I loved learning about it. I was getting intuitive feelings, and I believe I was being directed to work with survivors. I wanted to learn more about it and help others heal. This was my purpose. The DUI opened my eyes to see the signs for my calling. And now I could see.
I wanted to work directly in the field, so I sent in many applications to volunteer or work with a resume and a cover letter. I had no experience in this area aside from having been a victim and recovered, learned on my own. After a year and a half of applying, someone finally gave me a chance, because I didn’t give up. I started volunteering, I was dedicated, went the extra mile, and within a month a miracle happened. They offered me a full-time job in the area that mattered most to me.
My Second Life
I accepted a job in Oklahoma, and moved there with my boyfriend at the time, and became a Crisis Advocacy Services Coordinator at a non-profit. I coordinated the 24-hour Sexual Assault Victim Advocacy Program. After we moved, that's when the next chapter began, my second story.
I loved what I was able to do. Bringing in millions of dollars of grant funds for this organization to serve hundreds of thousands of people who had been traumatized. I received several promotions, took over various programs and built a large dedicated team. We served thousands of individuals throughout the community.
I developed new programs and services to support teens, and I was able to make a really big difference in people’s lives. Still, I felt like there was another calling awaiting me, that there was something more for me to do. There was a woman who is an incredible advocate in our field, and she had passed away very suddenly. She had left behind an amazing legacy, and I kept thinking about my legacy. If I were gone tomorrow, what would be my legacy? Have I made enough of a difference? Did I live to my fullest potential? While I was being featured in news interviews regularly, receiving awards and recognition, and influencing legislative change, when I looked in the mirror, I knew I was capable of more. I had a bigger story to share.
I wanted to impact and empower more women with sharing my personal journey and coaching. I wanted to help them thrive in all areas of life, just as I had done. Why not me?
Why not me really? I wanted to influence, affect, empower women, on the ground and on a stage, not from a management position. I wanted to help the women be their best version of themselves. I wanted to help them step into their purpose, as I had stepped into mine. I wanted them to see their gifts as I had found mine. I wanted to help them break the cycle of shame, silence and brokenness. I wanted to help them recognize their own worth and overcome the obstacles holding them back from the beautiful life they were created for. So, I started my own coaching and speaking business part-time.
Life is full of surprises and not all of them are so great.
Shortly after I found out my dream of getting pregnant came true, my life underwent some major obstacles and big life challenges. After a decade of service, I resigned from the job I loved to take another position that would be less stressful during my pregnancy.
After returning to work from maternity leave, something was different. I was feeling like I was going to lose my job; it was a strong inner feeling I had. At the same time, I was seeing signs again. I felt like I was getting messages as I had previously in my life. I was being pulled to a very spiritual place. I felt that I was going to be ok no matter what. Calm had come over me. I meditated. I gave some big deep breaths, and I resolved to accept whatever may come. If I did lose my job, I believed it was what was supposed to happen, and I would be ok.
“Life is happening for me, not to me.”
I said that as a mantra. I repeated it so many times. It got me stronger. I needed to be reminded that the Universe was working for me and not against me. It was conspiring in my favor. So, I surrendered.
What was supposed to be one of the most beautiful times of my life, ended up being one of the most challenging both personally and professionally. In my heart, I knew that what is meant for me, will not move past me, and this gave me peace. When we don’t get what we think we wanted, there is something better waiting for you. Just before Christmas, I had an empowerment hypnotherapy session done. I had to ask myself, “Karla, what do you want?” I knew that I wanted more than my current situation, and that I was in control of making that happen. I am worthy of all of my desires, just as all the women that I get to help and have helped throughout the years.
Life is always changing. I co-wrote a book with another 20 beautiful, extraordinary women. I coach, speak, volunteer and I do what I believe is my purpose. I also know that the story is still evolving. I am excited for my third story.
My name is Karla Docter, and I am Kintsugi.
If you have a story to share, please email sales@Mikahfahsion.com
To learn more about Karla:
You can learn more about Karla, contact her and find her book at www.venturelifecoaching.com.
You can also follow her @venturelifecoaching on Facebook and Instagram where she shares her gifts, empowerment and knowledge regularly.
She also has a free gift if you would like to start to create your ideal life, you can get access to her free training video, audio and guide at www.venturelifecoaching.com/ideal
If you are in immediate danger, call 9-1-1. For anonymous, confidential help, 24/7, please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE)
For resources and support for sexual assault visit www.RAINN.org or call 800.656.HOPE (4673), you'll to be routed to a local sexual assault service provider in your area.