A long, long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, I wrote a post about my abusive relationship on another blog. This blog has long since been deleted as well as the posts I wrote with it. I did copy over some of my posts to an external drive that I felt may be worth sharing again one day. This drama-filled, emotional personal story was one of the ones I have kept for years, unsure if I should edit it and re-share it or let it die. It was an extremely dark, abusive, and unhealthy time in my life from the age of about fifteen to twenty. Here I am at 27, almost 28, re-reading what I wrote several years ago, fresh from my break up.
Ever since I started my “Mental Health in the Geek Community” series, I have wanted to tell the story about how fandoms helped me through this horrible break up. I have stopped myself over and over again, fearful of what wounds would be re-opened or what drama or revealed secrets would befall me. I’ve been in therapy now for about 2 years, and I think it’s finally time that I share a bit of my story about how Doctor Who helped me heal and move on from an abusive teenage relationship.
Trigger Warning: I got into detail about the abuse I endured. It’s okay if you want to skip this post. I’ll see you in the next one.
Tin Foil Armor
Sometimes your knight in shining armor is actually just a boy in tin foil. To make a very long story a bit shorter, this boy and I met in tenth grade when we were about fifteen years old. We were just friends at first but were in a romantic relationship quickly after he and his ex girlfriend broke up. For awhile, things were pretty typical of a teenage romance, first kisses, saying ‘I love you’ without knowing what love really is, etc. But this relationship would be more tumultuous than anyone would expect. For the sake of the story, we’ll call this boy Bob.
Bob cheated on me a lot. Like A LOT. I actually found out more about his cheating long after we had broken up for the last time. We would go through the honeymoon phase where I’d be showered with love and attention; slowly he’d manipulate me into doing things I didn’t want to do with promises of love and commitment, then when I would stand up for myself or do anything he didn’t like, I’d get snide comments about how I should be more like X or Y, and then I’d be ignored or pushed aside until I found out he cheated. The cycle would go on and on until our last and final break up.
Bob also grew up in a religious household, and religion was very important to him at the start of our relationship. We butted heads a lot because of this. I consider myself Agnostic and as such, we disagreed about many things that were important to me. He tried to make me believe that I and everyone I loved was going to hell. He said that everything I believed was wrong, and how dare I think differently from him when I didn’t even believe in anything in the first place?! Not only did Bob break my heart with his constant cheating, but he had also worked tirelessly to break my mind as well.
All of this is to set the scene for what came after senior year of high school when he reluctantly proposed to shut me up about commitment. After a particularly nasty argument one night, he chose to hit me across the face. In that moment, I felt that I had deserved to be hit. I know now that I never deserved to be hit, ever. I wish so badly that I could say that this is when we broke up, but it wasn’t. Instead, we stayed together, and the abuse turned back to mental and emotional with him quickly forgetting about that night. But I never forgot.
The Break Up
Fast forward to me moving in with a roommate at about twenty years old. Bob hadn’t held a job for awhile now and decided to “stay the night” and just… not leave. Bob not keeping a job was just another issue that we fought constantly over. I ended up draining my savings account to keep us afloat. But what did we fight over the most? His constant lying. He lied about buying a video game. He lied about looking for a job. I had taken to going through his phone on occasion to catch him lying. When he’d find out how I figured out his latest lie, we’d fight. Fighting now consisted of not just name calling and belittling, but also grabbing: my arms, my hands, my hair, whatever he could get a hold of.
Then one day, I just blew up.
All it took was one word in the middle of a heated argument: bitch. I turned on him and snapped. He acted as if he was going to hit me when I reacted. I shouted at him, “I wish you would hit me again!” Instead of hitting me as I expected, he punched a hole into the wall instead. MY wall. The wall I was paying for with my money. Blinded with rage, I went for his xbox (which I had purchased for him by the way), but he grabbed me before I got to it. We went to the floor, struggling and pushing, but I froze when his hands were around my neck. It was the most terrifying moment in my life. After a tense and silent moment, we separated. I locked myself in my bedroom. Bob kept calling for me, banging on my bedroom door. I refused let him in, but I didn’t let anyone else in either.
I kicked him out after that. Unfortunately, he kept coming back to my house until I finally called my parents and asked to come home. The aftermath of leaving an abusive relationship and feeling like a shell of who I once was left me feeling like I didn’t deserve to be happy or to love again. I wasn’t ready to face these new demons or the harsh memories that would begin to shape my PTSD. Unfortunately, I chose to use that time to act in a destructive manner until a friend, who would be my husband one day, stepped in. He took my hand and showed me that I could move forward with just a little push from a man in a blue box.
Finding Comfort in Fandoms
Before diving into the good bits of this post, I want to remind you that escapism can be toxic. Please make sure that you are using escapism in a healthy way when using it to cope with hard times. Now I’ll take off my ‘mom’ apron and get back to the story.
I was dragged into the Doctor Who fandom kicking and screaming. I was so against watching the show because I felt like it was over run with “mainstream fans.” Also I liked to lie to myself and say that I didn’t like science fiction. It was truly a crock of crap of an excuse not to at least try the show out. So newly moved back in with my parents, my eyes cried out, my snack bags empty, and my friends all talked out, I finally watched the new Doctor Who series on Netflix starting with the ninth doctor. We don’t skip Nine in this household.
It took a few episodes for me to really get into Doctor Who. Watching it several years after it first aired, it was easy to call it cheesy and point out its flaws in the first episode. However, I began to slowly fall in love with the Doctor. I looked forward to an episode each night after work and school, limiting myself so I wouldn’t binge it completely. I was afraid when it would be over and I’d have nothing left to look forward to every day. And then the day came when the Ninth Doctor regenerated. I was watching this episode with Alec over Skype who already knew what was coming. He wanted to be with me when I experienced my first regeneration. Needless to say, I was completely and utterly devastated.
…The distraction from my personal life was welcomed and healed my broken heart in a way that only fandom can. That is until the first season ended, when I realized that the Doctor regenerates. Through my tears (and snotty nose), I told Alec I would never watch Doctor Who again! They took away Eccleston, and I didn’t want to get to know this new Doctor.Geek Out Challenge: Day 7
Me being just a wee bit dramatic aside, you have to understand that I had filled the holes in my life with Doctor Who, this version of the Doctor. It was like grieving for my break up all over again. Alec consoled me and promised that the Tenth Doctor was ‘Fantastic!’ and that I would love him even more than Nine. But I wasn’t ready yet. I took a couple of weeks off from the show, watching an anime instead until I was ready to meet Nine’s replacement.
Meeting the Tenth Doctor opened another door in my healing process for me. As silly as it may sound, it showed me that I can move on from some of the harder things in my life. While I was a bit skeptical about a new doctor at first, Ten stole my heart in his very first episode. I found myself falling in love with the Doctor all over again, maybe even more so. The best part was, I was spending a lot of time with Alec while we watched the show together. I was able to start opening up to him in ways I couldn’t before, and we were became even closer friends while I started to heal.
Ten also brought my husband and me closer. At the time of my break up from an abusive ex, Alec and I were best friends. While trying to lift my spirits with memes, fanfictions, and Doctor Who, Alec and I became very close. I started to share even more with him emotionally and mentally than I had with anyone else. It was the beginning of our friendship growing into something more… as cheesy as it sounds.Geek Out Challenge: Day 18
My Own Regeneration
Being able to look forward to spending time with Alec while watching my new favorite show gave me happiness that I had thought I didn’t deserve when I first returned to my parents’ home. I began to realize that I did deserve this happiness. I deserved to heal and move forward. I began to take care of myself too. No more red eyes from crying all night. No more empty snack bags cluttering the nightstand. No more moping around the house. I got out of bed on time for work each morning, I took care of my school assignments, and I started looking after my own happiness.
With renewed energy, I became motivated to change and work on myself for myself. Once I had my schedule down again, I started working out and eating better. I was terrified that I would see Bob somewhere, and my PTSD was just beginning to manifest, but I started to make my way out of the house which was a huge feat in itself for me. I began writing whole-heartedly again, mostly poetry which has made its way onto the blog through Monday Musings slowly. I think it’s easy to spot the poems from this time in my life, but I’m proud that I was able to use writing as an outlet to find myself again.
I was getting out of bed. I was finding motivation to workout. I was eating better. I was happy to get out of the house. I rewarded myself with episodes of Doctor Who and enjoyed pinning things about the show on Pinterest. Alec and I watched tons of episodes together (that eventually became a part of our Skype date night activities once we were dating)…Geek Out Challenge: Day 7
Happiness isn’t a constant, and sometimes you have to find the joy of little things to hoist yourself of out a pit of depression, like a fandom you can share with a friend. I found the beginning of my happiness again in a blue box that was bigger on the inside. I thought I was looking for the old Meg underneath all those layers of hurt to get back to the happiness I knew. I didn’t know that a regeneration of a new me would emerge. I have those memories, but I am not defined by my experiences. And my happiness isn’t dependent on a person or thing; I can find happiness within myself (maybe with a bit of prodding from a fictional character).
Has any fandom helped you during a personally trying time in your life? What fandom was it? Feel free to share what you feel comfortable with in the comments below.
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