From Survivor to Thriver by Jen Parker
Written by Jen Parker
For 13 years, I was told that I wasn’t enough. I was told how to act, what music to listen to and what to wear. I was told to have the pillows on the couch a certain way and how to fold socks so that they make a little ball or else an argument ensued. I had to adhere to my husband’s schedule and got yelled at if I wasn’t home when he wanted me home. I was a prisoner in my own marriage.
I remember watching Oprah one day and seeing a lady introduce her to pole dancing. My eyes lit up and I told my husband I wanted to try it. He laughed at me and said I couldn’t do it. He told me (in a “loving” way) that I wasn’t capable of doing a lot of things. After being told the same thing for 13 years, I believed him. I lost myself in my abusive marriage. I no longer remembered what made me happy, what brought passion into my life and how to laugh. My life existed only to take care of my two babies, who sparked the only joy I had in my life.
After a violent night and calling 911, I filed a restraining order. I could finally breathe again.
I started the journey of rediscovering myself. I tried flying trapeze, silks and a handful of other activities but in the back of my head, I was still curious about pole dancing. After a silks class, I asked the instructor if I could observe a little bit of her next class, which was a pole dancing class. I remember watching these strong women climb up the pole and I thought to myself, “I can do that…I can do that.” I went home and purchased a Groupon for a nearby studio despite feeling both terrified and excited at the same time. I walked into the pole studio for my first class and headed towards the back of the room since all the girls seemed to know each other and had their particular pole already picked out.
I knew class would be challenging and that I needed upper body strength to improve, but what I didn’t know was how empowering I would feel after taking pole classes and sticking to it. I didn’t realize that watching myself become stronger made my mind stronger. I was finally doing something my abusive husband told me I wasn’t capable of. For many years, I was told that I was weak, but here I was, pulling myself up and climbing a pole while feeling beautiful.
Pole helped me find myself again. It healed me, which is something I never imagined it would do. I also didn’t expect to find a sisterhood of encouraging, empowering confidence-boosting women who surrounded me. It’s that support that helps me improve and push harder to achieve my pole goals.
Almost 5 years ago, I walked into a pole studio a scared, survivor of an abusive marriage. Today, I am a strong, confident thriver who has over come a horrible, painful part of my life thanks to pole.
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