Being a member of the Y means something different to everyone. Read what one member had to share about her long journey from being a victim to finding her strength in so many ways-
To my Y Family,
It’s been about a year and a half since I joined the Y. I started off in a really depressive state of mind. I had been a victim of domestic violence and the aftermath was something I could not cope with alone. For a while I floated around town feeling complete emptiness and abandonment. I went through so-called friends that had their own best interests at heart. I had been depleted emotionally and physically, not even knowing where to begin my life over. I ended up connecting with Monadnock Family Services (MFS) and began to participate in a program called InShape. That is how I met Diane Croteau. Diane is a long time YMCA member and she took me under her wing and helped me a lot. She showed me the healing effects of gardening. Her story empowered me to complete the InShape program and move forward. This is where the healing began. I needed to first feel like I belonged to something greater. I refused to accept the terms of being a victim and a survivor of domestic violence, instead I wanted to conquer it! I wanted to understand! I wanted to protect! I wanted to inform!
This is when I met some instructors at the Y that became very important to me. David Olson, Erin Yelle, and Christine Yardley showed me their strength and empowered me to fight back in another way. David helped me to face issues in a personal and positive way with running. That taught me how to let go of pain positively. There were many times when we would run and tears would pour down my face. It was pain! An inner pain that had been bottled up for years. As I began to apologize to the group another runner, Barb, said to me “It’s ok, you have to let this go, work through it.” I worked through it and realized on that day that I had truly begun to climb a steep hill of recovery. Nobody judged me and I began to trust again. However, I was still shattered and afraid. I had many sleepless nights and continued counseling through MFS Act Team. It was like walking at night with nothing but the light of the moon to guide you through.
I continued going to the Y and my attention was drawn to instructor Erin Yelle. I noticed how strong she was! I said to myself, “Man, if I was that strong nobody could ever hurt me or my boys again”. I decided to confide in her and she understood and I no longer felt like a victim or a survivor. I began to conquer uncharted territory! I still cried weekly to my counselor but I continued to climb. The road to recovery was hard and sometimes I wanted to crawl under a rock out of fear or embarrassment that I would be labeled or judged but I wasn’t.
The whole community was reaching out to me because I had opened my arms in desperate need of positive coping skills and I found new tools. My past abusive conditions left me unaware of my own potential but I knew I was still missing something. That is when Helene (Keene Family YMCA’s CEO) noticed me in the locker room teary eyed about the emptiness I was feeling. She asked me what was wrong and we spoke. She told me “Go back to school, you can do it.” It made me think, and I heard her words but that ingrained fear crept back in. What was I afraid of? I had been through crazy obstacles with Dave, pounded weights and strength trained with Erin, and spinned to Mars (as least that’s what it felt like!) with Christine. The whole Y community has been instrumental, showing their concern for my well-being and pushing me forward. “Win, don’t look back, you can do this!”
Since the spring I had been employed at Pizza Hut in Keene and one day I went to work and found out they were closing. People were relocated and others lost their jobs. I stayed and helped clean and close up the building and stayed strong until the end. I remembered my conversation with Helene and thought about going to school. I also needed a new job. Now I am taking classes in the morning and working at the Welcome Center at the Y a few days a week. With my new inner strength my outer strength grew and my friendships grew too. When I go to the Y I do take my burdens with me but the load is lighter and the moon is full and bright! Although I can’t see what’s around me my path is bright and there is a huge support system ready and willing at the Y. The faces of all the people I love dearly make me happy. When I ride my new bike that Erin gave me to my job at the Y I am happy.
The moon shines on all their faces. From the bottom of my heart, I thank you for being the instrument for my recovery. The solid rock that is the Keene Family YMCA.