To the stanger who showed me how to bring peace to my pain

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To: A familiar stranger

From: Theo Fleury

Charity: Breaking Free Foundation

Sponsor: The Unsealed is donation $20 to Breaking Free Foundation in honor of the first 20 shares of this letter

To a familiar stranger,

A World Cup Junior champion, a Stanley Cup champion and an Olympic Gold medalist, by most people’s standards, despite challenges, I achieved success in life through my hockey career. But I don’t believe I found true success until I encountered you.

Theo wrote a book about his life called Playing WIth Fire. Courtesy: Theo Fleury

My book led our paths to cross. We met just that one time. I don’t know your name. And I only clearly remember two words from our conversation.

When I wrote my book, I didn’t expect people to read it. 400 people showed up to my first book signing. I was shocked. That’s 400 people who had my book.

I thought to myself, “Why are these people here?”

After I started signing books, I spotted you in line. You had my book clutched to your chest. Your face was buried in the floor and you walked really slowly.

For some reason, I felt your energy but didn’t know why you were there. So I followed you all the way on the line. When you got to the front, you put a book on the table, looked me in the eye and said those two words.

That was when you said to me, “me too.”

I interpreted those words as, “It’s okay. I’m with you. I understand.”

It was at that moment I recognized the power of my honesty and my openness.

I was sexually abused by my hockey coach from ages 14-16.

Theo dreamed of becoming a professional. Courtesy: Fleury

As a teenager, I thought to myself, “Is this the price I have to pay to make it big?”

While I became a very good professional hockey player, scoring 455 goals in more than 1,000 games throughout 16 NHL seasons, in the backdrop – and sometimes in the forefront – of my career, I was surviving on drugs, sex, alcohol, and gambling. Those habits were unhealthy coping mechanisms to try and numb the pain from my trauma.

As a teenager, I thought to myself, “Is this the price I have to pay to make it big?”

Hockey taught me determination, dedication and devotion. When I met you, I began to use those traits to transform my trauma into my purpose, realizing that I wrote my book to not only share my story but to help others find their voice.

Your words gave me permission and motivation to continue telling my story. After our encounter, I became a motivational speaker. In the last ten years, I have shared my story more than 800 times.

Every time I speak, five, ten, fifteen, or twenty people will come up to me and say, “Thanks for telling your story. Whether you know it or not, you told my story too.”

Many of these people are in their 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s, or even 80s, telling their stories for the very first time. All they needed was someone to listen and be present. Also, I have received thousands upon thousands of emails from people impacted by my truth.

I know I will never get over the abuse and you and everyone else I have met probably won’t either. The way I see it, being sexually abused is a living murder. I was dead but still alive. 16 years ago, I had a gun in my mouth, exhausted from living in emotional pain and suffering.

Theo Fleury is a motivational speaker. Courtesy: Theo Fleury

Since then, I found new tools in the toolbox to cope with my pain. While I will be in therapy for the rest of my life, I have realized I can still be happy and productive. Today, I enjoy life, as I am actually living. That is the best revenge and that’s the message that I am trying to convey.

Hopefully, through my honesty, more victims will come forward sooner, avoiding eight or nine chapters of people’s lives consisting of surviving on drugs, alcohol, sex and gambling. I realize openness can heal you and help heal others.

I believe that everybody has a plan for their lives. The day I met you was part of my plan and I was part of your plan.

While I don’t know how your life unfolded after our brief interaction, I can tell you the day we met, success no longer had anything to do with how many goals I scored but rather how many lives I can change.

You helped me find my peace and I hope I helped you find yours.

Theo Fleury

Written with Lauren Brill

About the author:

Theo Fleury is a former professional hockey player. He played 16 seasons in the NHL. Today, he is a motivational speaker, sharing his story of sexual abuse.

About the sponsor and the charity:

Breaking Free Foundation provides survivors of traumatic life events with the treatment and support needed to reclaim their lives.

The Unsealed is donating $20 to Breaking Free Foundation in honor of the first 20 shares of this story. We will match the donation if we get 100 new Facebook followers and subscribers by 12-9-19.

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[…] enough, in the email was your letter to your late father, former NBA basketball star Anthony Mason, talking about your struggles after his death. You wrote […]

Sweet Lauren, I agree completely with the promise that Brian asked you to make. Frankly, it is the only way that I know to love; totally, completely, wholly and unconditionally. You deserve nothing less, nor does your future love.

Wow. What a truly moving and powerful story. We often take for granted the small gifts we give each other just by being present. I'm sad for the heartache. I'm glad you stayed and became. Who knows what little girl or boy will be attributing their life's purpose to some kindness you shared. Peace and Sunshine

You’re welcome Lauren looking forward to all the future stories :)

Thank you Tony. I appreciate all your support.

Thank you Tony. I appreciate all your support.

I’m sorry to hear about Brian but he was right you are too beautiful to not receive roses Lauren:)

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Thanks for this! So what movie set did you get on?

So nice Roger <3

Pat, Your letter touched me in a very profound way. It left me in tears in the middle of my work day. It made me want to share something with you. On a July morning in 2007 a police officer answered a 911 call I had made when my Mother went into cardiac arrest. Between that officer, my best friend and the fire fighters who showed up minutes later they were able to restart her heart, however at the hospital she passed away an hour later. At the end of his shift that officer stopped by my home to check on the situation and cried when I told him the unfortunate news I received only 4 hours prior. He tried to apologize to me. I looked at the anguish in his eyes and asked him directly what for? He described the ways he felt sorry. What I want to leave you with was my reply to him. I told him he had nothing to be sorry for because he answered the call in what was the darkest moment in my life. I told him that he was a hero regardless because it takes a special person to answer calls like that. You are a hero to people Pat. No one can ever take that away from you. I understand the process you're going through as I've been there myself and like you I still struggle with it when no one is looking. You aren't alone in this. I hope your healing process continues on and you can regain the happiness in this beautiful life. You'll always be a hero to those people, because you were there when the call came Best wishes Roger Chamberlain

Ruth, your letter moved me to tears. Once upon a time I was very closed off about the LGBT community but over a course of several years, I turned my fear into understanding and I actively stand with the community for their equal rights because it is the right thing to do.