“Do you think you can help me?”

Mari fully expected the answer to be no as she sat in her first session with her counselor at HopeNet. She had been to other counselors but was never able to completely let them into her messed up, hidden and destructive world. She was at the end of her rope and not sure she had the strength to go on. She shared her whole ugly story with her counselor, not holding back this time. She didn’t have the energy to reconstruct a cleaned-up, sanitized version.

Mari saw the first glimmer of hope she’d felt in a long when she heard her counselor say, “Yes, I can help you.”

Behind the Mask

All Mari wanted as a young girl was to be a wife and a mother. She thought she was on her way to her dream life after she married her husband. They had six kids together, but soon the edges of her life started to blur.

Mari did not realize her husband was hiding behind a mask. As this mask began to come off, Mari’s life got more and more difficult. Her husband needed to control every situation, including how others viewed him and how they viewed Mari. His web of deceit slowly tightened around Mari. Her life became a game to him, where he determined the rules. The more Mari tried to play by his rules and acquiesce to his demands, the higher the demands became and the rules changed. Trying to please him didn’t work. Trying to defy him lead to social isolation and emotional abuse.

Mari did not realize how hopeless she had become; an emotional fog surrounded her life. This fog was her mind’s way of coping with the abuse that was daily chipping away at her confidence, her sense of self and her ability to help her children navigate the world.

A Glimmer of Hope

Mari’s husband eventually left her and her need increased as she was now a single mother, trying to raise six kids. In this state of desperation, Mari walked into HopeNet. Her sister had insisted she try to find help once again. HopeNet’s donor-provided sliding scale made it possible for her to afford professional counseling.  For the first time, Mari laid bare her situation completely. She held nothing back, thinking there was no way she had actually found someone who could help her. But at this point she had nothing to lose.

Mari had feared that her life was too complicated, too messy and too shameful for anyone to be able to help. Mari and her counselor began the slow process of rebuilding Mari’s confidence, unraveling the lies her husband had told her and unveiling his games. Mari learned tools for navigating co-parenting with her husband and how to not allow his deception and exploitation to control her life. Every time she walked out of her counselor’s office, she felt a little bit lighter, a little bit freer and with enough hope to make it through the next week.

Moving Forward with Hope

At Mari’s last appointment with her counselor at HopeNet, she was a little apprehensive to leave. But she also knew she now had the tools and resources she needed to not only survive, but to thrive! Three of Mari’s children are now in college. Mari finished nursing school and is working full time to provide for her children and to set an example of how to live free from fear, be confident in who you are and find the tools you need to move forward with hope.

If you would like to help clients like Mari, please donate to HopeNet here.