The Strength to Choose Another Way
Joan discusses how Yuna’s bravery in FFX helped her confront her abusive husband and escape her marriage.
When I was probably too young to be making big life decisions, I got married. Unfortunately, I got married to a man that was emotionally abusive and manipulative, and had systematically isolated me from my family and most of my friends. All the while he made me feel as if this was how relationships were supposed to be, that all I needed to do was submit and it would all be fine.
One of the things I was allowed to do at the time was play videogames, because he himself was something of a gamer, particularly with RPGs. In fact, he’d introduced me to videogames before we’d gotten married, and it was the one positive thing that came out of that relationship.
I started playing Final Fantasy X the last summer of our marriage, as I wasn’t taking any classes at the time and I had always thought it looked pretty; what I didn’t expect was how relevant the game would be to my life at the time.
I immediately liked Yuna, though I didn’t realize why until the reveal at Zanarkand… but it became obvious afterward. Here was a girl who was doing exactly what people expected of her, with the end goal of her own destruction. Even if the game didn’t really say what was supposed to happen at the Final Summoning until later, the sense of dread and a choice which wasn’t really a choice stayed with me. I found myself living my misery through Yuna and the nobility of suffering. Good girls were supposed to smile and bear it, weren’t they? The best saints were martyrs, after all.
Then she rejected the Final Summoning.
It was a shock to see her deny it and go to save the world another way, a better way. My first reaction was betrayal; how could Yuna find a way out, when I couldn’t seem to get the courage to do so
myself? This girl’s bravery had gone from the kind that put up with things and accepted them, to the kind that was really brave; do something different, unknown. Scarier. And I realized I wasn’t being brave at all.
When I finished the game, I found myself crying at the end, not because of the sad ending FMV, but because I realized that I had to do something to end the death spiral I was on in my marriage. I could no longer just passively accept my fate. If Yuna—people pleasing and passive herself—could reject her path of destruction, I really had no reason not to do so myself.
It wasn’t immediate, my leaving. There were a couple weeks of indecision, a couple of things in my real life that needed to happen first. But I couldn’t help but think of Yuna, facing Yunalesca and rejecting the Final Summoning when I finally faced him, and told him that I could no longer live like I had been. And while the animation wouldn’t be able to show it anyway, I wondered if Yuna’s knees almost buckled too, and if her heart had been racing as fast as mine.
And maybe Yuna had the rest of the world to think of saving, and a team behind her, but we both saved our own lives in the end.
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