By: L Young
Here's a survivor’s story from someone we helped and a player like us....
Abuse is insidious. It’s not as obvious as many people assume it to be. If it were, many of us would not end up in those situations in the first place. My story is no different. She was charming at first. VERY charming…
I had thought everything through, so I assumed. I thought I was making a good choice born from a place of love, commitment and logic. What I didn’t know is that what I fell in love with was mostly a facade designed to keep me chained in an unhealthy cycle that was about to unfold very shortly.
It began with lying and gaslighting. Nearly constant deception that she would adamantly refute even when caught. This of course led to arguing that was never resolved. No apology. No…anything. It was as if, according to her behavior, nothing had ever happened. She would wake the next morning as if all was normal and NOTHING was ever said. This continued to happen even years later as the arguing slowly evolved into manipulation and violence.
Honestly, it’s difficult for me to remember 14 years in perfect detail as PTSD has taken its toll on me. I can only remember spotty flashes of horrible memories; being choked, slammed into the kitchen floor, and having dog food shoved in my mouth until I gagged. I still live with injuries to my neck, lower back, and knees.
I can’t say I love talking about these memories. I’d prefer to forget them, but if this story can help just one person then the pain associated with the memories is worth it.
In the end she had ultimate authority, and I was not allowed to challenge it without repercussions. There were no spoken rules, always only implied. By the end of my marriage I was essentially a slave. If I was not bending to her will, I knew I would pay for that in a way my body, and mind, could not afford. I became a broken and shattered human being; I couldn’t even recognize myself in the mirror anymore. My self esteem was gone. I didn’t even care much if I lived.
I had been lying to everyone for years. In fact, I had gotten to be so adept at lying about my relationship—as a means of survival—that everyone thought we had the perfect marriage. At that point, I was lying to myself even. I told myself she will change. It will get better. She doesn’t mean it. I couldn’t have been anymore wrong.
So much of my time and headspace was consumed with thoughts of fear, protecting myself, lying to myself, pleasing her, anxiety, and chasing her approval, that I became isolated from the people I loved most. I couldn’t even leave my home to see friends and family without worrying what I would come back to. I was absolutely now stuck in a twisted cycle. What’s worse, is I was terrified to tell anyone. What if no one believed me?
Then, one day, I took a leap of faith and told my closest friend the truth. Little did I know, two years later, that decision would save my life. It was that friend who helped me see the light and develop the ounce of courage and self esteem I needed in order to take the first step; leave and get help from local organizations that protect people like me. Organizations that help repair people like me. They are out there. To anyone reading this, I promise they are out there waiting to help you be YOU again.
When I left my ex, I was terrified. I won’t lie and say I did this without fear. I put my faith in my friend, and the people that were now here to help keep me safe, to make me whole again. Over time that faith in others turned into faith in myself.
In the end, it was Ally Remembered Foundation that helped me sever ties with my abuser completely. My now ex-wife was using the fact that we weren’t legally divorced as a means to keep talking to me when I just wanted to be left alone. If it weren’t for Ally Remembered, I would not have been able to get a divorce. They paid for the whole thing. They gave me the final puzzle piece of my life back; complete freedom again.
The ability to sleep peacefully at night knowing that no one can hurt me now because it’s truly over. They helped give me my “beginning”. You’re never too old to begin again. I’m now 41. Words cannot express the gratitude I have for what I have been given by Ally Remembered, as well as my best friend, because it is truly priceless. I have been able to do a significant amount of healing. My therapist says, “it takes time, you’re doing great!” I am now in a heathy relationship with a wonderful partner for almost 2.5 years.
The future is wide open to me now, and I look forward to all it may bring with confidence. I may have had to lose most of the things I owned in the divorce in order to get the divorce done quickly, but you cannot put a price tag on freedom. Rebuilding from something like this takes time and resources, but it is a challenge I welcome as a free human being.
It is my hope that anyone reading this who is in a similar situation realizes they aren’t alone no matter how much they feel like they are, and that they take the first step to reach out to someone safe. People are out there waiting to help you and heal you.
I didn’t think anyone was, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. I would never have imagined of all places it would have been the paintball community where I would find the help I needed. I would have never known that when I picked up my first paintball marker 20 years ago, it would have led me to someone that grabbed my hand and pulled me out of the water as I was drowning.
It is also my hope that anyone reading this who isn’t in an abusive situation, learns to listen without judgement, and create safe spaces for people like me to speak openly. It is my greatest hope that more people will reach out to others with empathy and humanity. We are all human and subject to suffering. No one is above that. We all need love and safe places to open up.
Be kind to one another. You never know whose life you will change that day. You never know who’s hero you may become with just a simple action or sentence. It only takes a spark to ignite a fire.