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A letter to my family: Coming out as a survivor.

November 26, 2017

 

My Lovely Family

 

Its time to get everyone on the same page even if it so incredibly difficult. 

I was in a pretty abusive relationship in high school the repercussions of which I'm still sorting through. The most startling of which is that I can lay claim to the title of survivor. It's so easy to invalidate your experiences - it wasn't really abusive, it wasn't that bad, other people had it worse so I shouldn't complain. But that is exactly how conversations get stifled and people going through the same garbage remain isolated from each other. So I am sharing this with you, to foster conversation and understanding and to remind myself that people have my back.

 

It was like all relationships, there was good and bad. I loved him, he was funny and had the capacity for kindness but he was unwell and that sickness spilled over into our relationship. I am very much done making excuses for him: yes he was fighting demons, no that does not excuse his actions. He was an abuser. 

I was thrown out of a moving car after an argument. I was told I wasn't skinny enough to the point of developing an eating disorder. I was sexually assaulted more times than I can remember. He would threaten to hurt himself if I didn't agree with him, and on several instances severely cut himself and let me tend to it and take the blame. 

 

Even now, years later and in a safe and validating space I feel the need to air out these events like a resume, as if I need to show my credentials to be in this space. That thought pattern is so prevalent in survivors, the need for someone to say "yes that was abusive enough to count" and it is so incredibly jacked up. I've been through some stuff, maybe not as much as others, maybe more than some, but regardless I am staking a claim to the title of survivor and I want to help others do the same. 

 

Realizing other survivors have your back, acknowledging your struggles and understanding how you're feeling is an amazing way to heal. I'm reaching out to you, my amazing family for whom I am always grateful, to come clean. I am not apologizing for keeping this hidden, it's hard enough to accept the truth of it for myself and I especially don't want you to feel any guilt for not noticing, it took me years to accept it for what it was even though I lived it first hand. But this is how it was. 

 

I am a survivor. I know far far too many other survivors. I am learning to hit reset. 

 

Starting over and undoing that damage takes time, takes deliberateness, and takes work. I am thankful for the patience of my partner as we sort out our pasts and only keep the things we like in our shared space. 

 

Boxing has helped so so much in this rebuilding. It's given me the confidence to lay claim to the title of survivor, to know my experience is real and valid and more than that it gives me the power to not let that experience control my life. I feel badass. I feel in control. I feel like myself. Most importantly I feel supported. The community I have joined when I started boxing has turned into one of the most important group of people in my life. When anyone there is going through something we close ranks; we have each others backs and keep each other safe. 

 

I am still healing, and likely will be for quite some time, but knowing I have support from the Hit Reset community is an amazingly strong foundation to work off of.

 

Thank you for listening as always, I love you all so so much. 

Dale

 

P.s. To my fellow survivors and those who don't feel entitled to the moniker: your experience is so goddam valid. You have a staunch supporter in me- I will have your back so outrageously hard. I am here to listen and talk and support you.  Let yourself accept your struggles as real, hear your feelings about them, hit reset and start to rebuild.

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