By Ashley Yaner
Easton has turned my life around!
Training has had a significant positive impact on both my physical and mental health, and I’d like to share my story in hopes of making a difference in someone else’s life. Maybe you don’t think martial arts is your thing. Maybe you are too scared. Maybe you don’t like being so close to such strong and seemingly intimidating people. If you have a few minutes to read on, please, I would like to share with you how I began my Jiu Jitsu journey with the Easton family, and how this journey has helped me. I truly hope my story will influence others to try Jiu Jitsu, to keep on swimming when the going gets tough, and to find their inner strength.
Trigger warning: Please read on at your own discretion. The story I am about to share with you is pretty dang personal…
When I was a child I was abused and had no way to defend myself. My father, my mother, my neighbors. Sexual, physical, emotional. I was neglected. I was manipulated and thrown around like trash. Great stuff to grow up with as a little girl, I tell ya! It’s all I knew; this was my way of life. That’s not the end of it, either. When I was in college, again, I was sexually assaulted. Twice. This really did serious damage to my confidence and sense of being. I was told to keep quiet by the school administration, and my adoptive family told me that everything that had happened was either a lie or totally my fault. As a cherry on top, my abusive father decided to harass and stalk me where I work, where I live, where I eat and sleep each day. He could care less about the protective order I got from court. He wants me to squirm in fear and remember that all of the abuse he dealt to me as a little girl was my fault, and I deserved every drop.
As one could imagine, by this point in my life I was crushed and felt completely abandoned. Hyper-vigilance and extreme self-doubt were normal. In fact, my self-esteem was so small you had to search for it through a high-powered microscope. I was severely depressed and was plagued by anxiety. I was extremely overweight and felt like I had nowhere to go and no confidence to stick up for myself and be who I truly wanted to be.
It was obvious I needed to find something to help me cope and to improve my life. I tried quite a few different solutions here. Alcohol and food probably weren’t the best choice, but I tried those options too. These helped for a while, but only made things worse in the long run. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EDMR) was probably the least pleasant, most difficult, yet most effective path I took. However, it sucked. I even tried to end my life. It didn’t work so well, thankfully! As I now know, suicide was not the right answer. The next best thing I knew how to do was to cry and live in constant fear.
SOMETHING HAD TO CHANGE! This was not how I wanted or deserved to live.
My loving, patient hubby encouraged me to try martial arts. He knew that martial arts would help both my physical health and my mental health. I tried Ninjitsu, Aikido, Karate, and finally Jiu Jitsu.
Jiu Jitsu is a close-contact martial art. Believe me, I had to face my inner demons to overcome some serious flashbacks that I encountered when I started training Jiu Jitsu. The close proximity to big, burly men made my mind go to dark places, and my body froze all the time. To be honest, I thought about quitting many times because of the pain I endured with these flashbacks. I can tell you, it was worth all of the effort in the end! Easton helped me build my confidence, my self-esteem, and my inner strength.
No one knew my story at Easton when I started training Jiu Jitsu. No one. I wanted to keep it that way. This, I was determined, would be my turning point in life. No more pity parties for this gal!
As soon as I stepped through the doors of Easton BJJ in December of 2013, I felt safe. I felt at home and encouraged by not only my teammates, but by my coaches and professors. My Easton family supported me and encouraged me to keep on trying, to keep on pushing myself through uncomfortable situations. (Since no one knew my story, this was a pretty cool situation to be in). My teammates, coaches, and professors were there every step of the way. No one gave up on me, ever. Because of this, I didn’t give up on me, either.
I have been training Jiu Jitsu for almost three years now and I no longer have the horrible flashbacks. My depression is starting to subside and my anxiety is slowly simmering down to something more manageable. Because of all of the support and encouragement my Easton family gave me, I have the confidence to stick up for myself now. My coaches and professors encouraged me and supported me in ways they can’t even imagine. Not only have I been able to overcome my fears, flashbacks, and depression through training Jiu Jitsu, I am now in love with the sport. I lost over 40 lbs. and have become strong, and more confident than ever!
Jiu Jistu is my life. My Easton family taught me that I can deal with any setback life might present. My Easton family has taught me to endure and to be strong. Thank you! Thank you, thank you, thank you!
Teammates, coaches, and professors, I would like to extend a heartfelt thank you for turning my life around. You didn’t know my story at the time, but now you do. If anyone you know has suffered through what I have suffered, please encourage them and support them like you have done with me. You might not know the background story of all the students at Easton, but I can sure tell you your teaching, your support, and your encouragement every step of the way has been extraordinary.
Thank you, Easton family, for turning my life around!