“It’s okay to look back, but you don’t have to live there” – Kathy Tuccaro encourages readers to DREAM BIG!
We’ve all heard the saying “people can change” at one point or another. While we might not always believe it, there’s no denying Kathy Tuccaro did just that.
After years of physical, verbal and sexual abuse, assault, violence, eating disorders, substance abuse, job loss and homelessness, Tuccaro decided to start writing a different ending for her story.
She sought the help she needed through a Women’s Recovery Program, got her certification in Occupational Health and Safety, and now drives the biggest truck in the world through the Alberta Oil Sands.
In her self-published memoir DREAM BIG! Tuccaro shares her journey from what she describes as the “root cellar of Rock Bottom” to inspirational triumph.
“I have always said I would write a book about my life because nobody would believe me otherwise,” she says. After being encouraged by others at speaking events she attended last year, she decided to start writing.
“I started with a pen and paper while sitting in the 208,000L water truck at work, waiting under the water tree for the tank to fill up. I had written the book within a month,” she says.
It was no easy feat to describe the physical and mental abuse she endured throughout her childhood, nor the sexual assault she faced in her modelling career at 17. Even after relocating to Jasper for a fresh start in 1991, Tuccaro was still confronted with challenges.
She graduated from her nursing program in 1998 as a divorced, single mother with a 3-year-old daughter. After several more years of physically and emotionally abusive relationships, Tuccaro resorted to self-harm and alcohol abuse, which ruined her career. With no job, she was evicted and her daughter stopped speaking to her.
“I had pushed everything into the background my entire life, and kept pretending that I was tough and that I could handle it until the time came when I lost my nursing career for good and relapsed hard with my drinking,” says Tuccaro.
But the gravity of the situation hit even harder during the week she spent living on the streets, when her depression could no longer be avoided or forgotten.
“A man named Toothless Joe slapped me on the back and said, ‘This is the life! Live it! Love it!’ and smiled a great big toothless grin! He was quite content of the life he was living, and the sheer shock of hearing him say that stunned me,” she says.
That was the moment that triggered her to get help. But, even after spending nearly two years in a women’s recovery program, landing a full-time job as a Heavy Equipment Operator, driving a 400 tonne 797F Caterpillar Truck, and initiating and participating in several community initiatives, the pain from her past lingers. “You still relive it as you write about it,” Tuccaro explains.
“The hardest part about sharing my story was realizing that my co-workers will know my very personal trauma, where up until now they’ve just seen a very happy person and have no idea of any of my history. I was having major anxiety about it until I realized that maybe they have family members or loved ones who are hurting, and the book just might be of assistance to them,” she says.
Though she’s been through a series of traumatic experiences, Tuccaro is determined to show her story is not an anomaly.
“I am just another abuse story and there are millions of others, some a lot worse. The point is, you don’t have to continue to tolerate it,” she explains. “Life is a choice and our perception of it will determine what our tomorrow will bring.”
Tuccaro travels internationally to give personal development classes in women’s shelters, youth centers and schools. She says her book is for the people she’s worked with, who have suffered greatly, to inspire them to dream big too.
“When I look back at all I have survived and how I am doing so well now in life, it blows me away sometimes,” she says.
Her story has been featured by the Canadian Women’s Foundation, Community Initiatives Against Family Violence, the Prairie Post, Women Inspired with Linda Ugelow, World’s Most Amazing People, Hell Yes Life, James Miller Lifeology and many more podcasts in the US, Canada, and Grenada in the West Indies.
For more information about the author and her story, visit her website www.kathytuccaro.com.