A woman from Reno, Nevada in the USA, left her high-school sweetheart three weeks before they were meant to tie the knot. After realizing the man she fell in love when she was just 16 was no longer the same man four years later, Chandley Brelsford made the difficult but necessary decision to leave him and start afresh.
Taking to Facebook to tell her inspiring story, Chandley wrote: “The man I had fallen in love with was not the man I could call my husband. And it has shaken my character to its very core. The life I so desperately wanted to live with him was never going to exist. Our marriage would not be peaceful, supportive, and loving and it took 4 years for me to realize that this man was not right for me [sic].“I chose a man that made me feel special, but he did not make me feel valued. When I first took notice of him, I was 16 years old and completely infatuated. For two years, I believed nothing would come of it. But on June 8th, 2015 we went on our first date and I was smitten. I felt like I had been picked out of the crowd; I was the lucky winner of a long sought-after prize. And when red flags began to appear, I wilfully ignored all of them,” she continued.
When she just a first-year student in university, Chandley had to drive almost three hours every week to where her then-boyfriend was, just to make him happy. It got so bad that he started expecting it of her so she ended up getting weekend jobs in the same area instead of closer to her school.
She’d work over the weekend, cook and clean after him. She wasn’t even allowed to have friends and had to report her whereabouts and who she was hanging out with when she was not in class.
“If I did not answer my phone right away, he would immediately interrogate me. He would become greatly upset if I chose to see my family for a night rather than be with him. When I wasn’t at school or at work, I was rushing to finish the household duties. Sometimes he would come home early from work, and I would be thrown in a panic to finish everything quickly. If dinner wasn’t ready on time, then it was me being selfish and lazy with my time. I was constantly told I was not doing enough; that I obviously didn’t care enough if I couldn’t pay attention to these small details,” Chandley recalled in her post.
She did all of this because she loved her man and wanted to prove to him how serious she was about their relationship and that she would be a great wife to him. So, she tried to be perfect for him while she was dying inside and sacrificing her youth, mental health and loved ones.
“Slowly, I became more and more isolated. And had also lost myself along the way. I became so caught up in pleasing him, that I lessened my own wants and desires. When I graduated in 2018, my fate was sealed as I fully moved into the home I had been caring for the past 3 years. His hold on me was even tighter. I was looking forward to having more time for friends and family, but that never happened. I was hoping he would be happier now that he had more time with me, but it still was not enough for him. I was housebound even as I continued to work, take classes at the local community college, and volunteer at the hospital.”
When her high-school sweetheart finally proposed, she felt a sense of accomplishment, but that was short-lived because the emotional abuse only intensified. Until she decided to put a stop to it, choose herself and leave.
“I had escaped the house through the second storey window and was heading to the Foresthill Bridge, where we had shot our engagement photos. Thankfully, my dad and sister talked me down. It was the scariest day of my life and I never want to feel that way again.
“So now… the new adventure begins. One that I did not want to face. I wanted to be happily married to the man of my dreams. A part of me still does. But I can’t look back now. I still have goals and aspirations; I still want to get accepted into grad school and achieve my dream career. I have to learn to find value in myself now. I have to hold my head high even on the days that I feel my worst. I have the most amazing support system; I literally wouldn’t be here without all of them. I am still healing. I have outbursts of anger and sadness and I am trying to wade through it all with two jobs to put me back on my feet. I have learned what it means to set boundaries and what I cannot tolerate in a relationship. I have grown tremendously from this experience but there is still more growing to do.”
Chandley has turned a new leaf and is taking better care of herself. On 8 June, the day she was meant to say “I do” to the love of her life, Chandley slipped into her would-be wedding dress and had a solo wedding photo shoot.
Symbolically, she was saying “I do” to herself, promising that she’ll never neglect herself like that again. In the pictures, she looks as stunning as any bride – radiant and happy. In one picture, the soles of her shoes have the words, “Someday, but not today”.
“To all the women out there, no one is worth sacrificing what you hold dear. It doesn’t matter if he is good-looking or willing to spend money on you or promises you the whole world; if he does not show you respect now, then he never will. Love is blind. Your family and your friends will see the red flags before you are willing to accept them. Listen to them. Listen to yourself. Every person is deserving of a love that sets their soul on fire, as well as provides a place to rest when weary. This world is harsh sometimes, so hold onto those who are kind to you. For now, I will be focusing on myself, my goals, my faith, and my family and friends. I might be ready to get married again… someday, but not today,” she concluded her post.
You go, girl!
See more photos of her shoot here: