Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Phenomenal People Interview: Megan Cyrulewski

Megan Cyrulewski with her daughter.
What can I say about Megan Cyrulewski?  She is one of the bravest and strongest women I know.  She managed to fight emotional abuse and domestic violence and file for divorce in order to save herself and her daughter from further abuse.  She battled postpartum depression with grace even through stays at a psychiatric ward.  Through all of this she has triumphed by writing down her story so the world can benefit and learn from her experiences. 

The name of her book, “Who am I” is already available on Amazon.  Of course the first question I had to ask her is, “Who are you?”

Her answers were humble, “Who am I now?  I’m a mom; I’m a mom first.  I’m also an attorney and an author.  I’m also a lot different than I was three years ago.”

Megan has gown exponentially as a human being and as a mother in the past three years. I asked her how she is different now:  “I had a l lot of therapy to deal with the postpartum and emotional abuse from my ex-husband.  I grew up…I’m more careful, more careful when it comes to relationships either friends or dating.  I’m careful who I bring around Madelyne  (her daughter).  She is first and foremost in my life.  I don’t really want to date at this time in my life.  I want to spend time with Madelyne and my friends.”  

I asked her then to tell her story, for those of you who are new to it: 

“Well I wrote about a crazy period of time in my life, where it seemed like everything happened at one time.  The postpartum depression, the domestic violence, emotional abuse, psych ward, divorce and child custody battle.  This all happened while I was in Law School.  I start my book out when me and my ex-husband met…however the story really starts when Madelyne was born.” 

Those kinds of experiences can change anyone.  I asked Megan what kind of person these experiences have made her?  “It has definitely made me more open, I wrote a book about it.  I let myself open up and allow myself to tell my story.  Postpartum has a nasty stigma; I wanted to get my story out there for others to know about.  Emotional abuse is a side of domestic violence—not a lot of people know that it even exists—it made me want to open up about myself.  If I could help a couple woman recognize it and get help earlier than I was able to then I have done my job.”

Since writing the book has clearly impacted her life I wanted to know the real reasons she wrote the book:  “Everyone was telling me I should tell the story.  I thought it was time to write it down and get it out, and it was therapeutic and gave me closure.  My ex and his girlfriend ripped me apart in court--- and I didn’t get to retaliate because my lawyer said I shouldn’t.  I wanted to get those things out.  In the book I explain how in those moments, what I was thinking and what I wanted to do. The book is a little bit of a verbal response to him.

Did I write it to get back at him---absolutely not.  I spent four years of our marriage and did not get to say what I wanted to say...I finally got my voice out there for people to read.  Finally I got my closure.  I can laugh at the crazy shit that my ex and his wife do now.”

At this point I had to wonder, how was Megan’s daughter Madelyne affected by all of this?  “She doesn’t know her dad.  Once she goes to school now days there are single parents and gay couples who are parents.  It’s not as unusual for her to say her family is her mom and her grandparents.  Because of the things that her father has done now, there is no way Madelyne will be in contact with him.  I don’t know what I will say when the day comes and she asks about her dad.  I don’t even know.”  She will obviously cross that bridge when she comes to it.

I then wanted to know if Megan was worried that her ex would retaliate in some manner about her book:  “I would not be surprised if a lawsuit shows up in my mailbox.  He tries to find a way to make money quickly, but he has no case.  The best defense to writing a memoir is the truth, and I wrote that.”

What does Megan want people to take away from her book:” Whatever your situation is, if you want things to change and you see that hope and that hope alone gives you the power to change anything.  Never give up hope.  As long as you have a little bit of hope that the life you are living now is not what you want you can do it—I wanted a better life me and Madelyne and I got that life.”

How is her life now?  “I’m the most content that I have ever been.  I am calm and peaceful; this is where I’m at in my life.  I have a great family and support system from friends. With a child you see the world through a whole new set of eyes.  I’m taking advantage of that now until she gets older and doesn’t want to be around me.”

But who wouldn’t want to be around Megan with all her wisdom and insight?  I asked her if she considered herself an activist:  “Yeah definitely for postpartum depression and domestic violence.  I would love to work on both.  Right now I’m working on getting my book out there and name out there.  But someday I would love to do public speaking or anything really.”  Who says writing a book about an important subject is not activism?

So is she writing any more books?  “I am now writing a crime fiction book.  I would like to do that.  I enjoy the law and writing about that.  I enjoy the nuances about law that people don’t know about.  Writing fiction is fun.  Writing a memoir was like reliving the situation.  I had to step away from my computer for a couple of days a couple of times. Someone said my book is very raw and it is.  I was at the bottom and wanted to kill myself.”

How has Megan become so mentally strong since then? “Accepting what happened in the past, turning a negative situation into a positive one.  Doing something positive.  And of course therapy and prescription drugs.  2013 was my last therapy session.  Therapy helped me realize that my ex didn’t just have anger issues but my ex was an emotional abuser.  I thought maybe I did something wrong, but that is who he is and he will not seek help for it.  I am not the reason; I didn’t make him angry all the time. I’m not worthless and a piece of crap and this was his issue to begin with---he exploited my feelings of worthlessness.”

But now Megan’s daughter makes all those negative feelings a true thing of the past:
“Madelyne is feisty, incredibly intelligent and hilarious.  She tries to make us laugh.  She is happy.  Fun to be around. “

Does Megan regret the path that she took? “ I don’t regret marrying my ex, everything I’ve done in my life has led to me having Madelyne.  I was to meant to be her mom.”

What does Megan want to leave you with in the end?  “I would not wish postpartum on my worst enemy.  You think you are not a good enough mom.  You know you love this child, but you think you are not good enough.  You think I should kill myself.  If Madelyne spit up, that was my fault.  I was very sensitive to every little thing that normal babies do.  Anytime anything happened I thought, ‘she hates me, I’m horrible.”’

What would she say to anyone experiencing these symptoms?  “See your doctor immediately, I sought treatment in a hospital, it was right for me in the situation.  Some women just have to take an anti-depressant.  If it starts with not wanting to get out of bed, or something is off—go see your doctor.”

Megan has one last piece of advice about emotional abuse:  “I want to tell people about the emotional abuse signs: if your spouse is cutting you down, name calling, telling you no one else would marry you.  If it is constant and he is belittling you:  Talk to someone you feel comfortable talking with.  I kept quiet.  Confide in somebody, get someone else’s perspective. Get help.” 

To check out her memoir, please click on the link:  

Megan's Memoir

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