It’s been awhile, hasn’t it? About 4 years since we first met, actually. I felt the need to write to you now, although I should have done it a long time ago. It’s taken me some time to be able to do this, but now that I see you’re really moving on in your life (congrats on the baby, by the way), I needed to say a few things. I have three things I need you to hear, and I really need you to read it all. Don’t get angry and ball it up after the first page and don’t throw it at your girlfriend. Yeah, I remember.
The first thing I need to tell you is the hardest. The hardest for me to say and the hardest for you to hear, I’m sure. It came as quite the shock to me so I can’t imagine how you’re going to take it. I guess the best way to do this would be to just say it, so here goes nothing: you were abusive. Now, here’s where I need you to just hold on and resist ripping up the letter. I know what you’re probably thinking right now; you never hit me, you never actually meant to hit me with the objects you flung in my direction, and you only shoved me that once. Well besides the fact that even once is abuse, there are other types of abuse.
Every time you put me down or made me feel bad for having aspirations was a mental shove. Every time you masked an insult with sarcasm or a conveniently timed laugh was an emotional slap. Every time you forced me one way or another, found out where I was without me knowing or charmed your way into getting what you wanted, it was all abuse in one form or another. It just took me a while to realize it.
If you recall, you never actually asked me out. One day you made a joke about being my boyfriend and I laughed. Then the jokes became more frequent, you walked me home once and bang, we were a couple. I just went with it. You somehow had me sucked into your orbit from the moment we met. You had this way of convincing people they had a thought they wouldn’t have on their own in a million years. You told me we were dating, so we were.
You said you would never push me to do anything I wasn’t ready for, so when things kept progressing, I must have wanted it. You stopped when I said stop, right? So you must have been a good boyfriend. Wrong. You knew all the right buttons to push. You would say you weren’t pushing as your fingers came in contact with my bra clasp. You would insist that you would never make me uncomfortable as I slid your hand further down my leg for the seventeenth time that afternoon. Your calming voice would charm me into forgetting what your sleazy hands were doing until I thought it was my idea.
Even when we broke up, you were manipulating me. The conversation started with you being livid that I picked up a shift at work instead of coming over like we had planned. Somehow it ended in a mutual breakup that wasn’t so mutual. Then a week later we had a conversation that started with a drunk you cursing at me and somehow ended with a mutual decision to reassess our relationship. Again, I’m not so sure how that became mutual.
Our last encounter is when I finally saw you for who you are. We worked the night shift together because the manager decided, completely on his own I’m sure, that we could handle that. You were under the impression that I was going to take you back. Maybe I would have if you had played your cards right. I was clearly not in control of my own thoughts when you were around. But no, I didn’t take you back. I didn’t even want to speak to you.
I finally saw you for the manipulative piece of dirt you had always been, and that caused something to snap. Gone was the calm, manipulative boyfriend I had been shackled to for months. He left to make room for the destructive and angry man that I never would have let walk me home. You were out of cleverly-phrased, snide comments that could be mistaken for poorly worded compliments. Instead you hurled hurtful words, and your cellphone, at me in hopes to break me, but I was already broken. I had finally realized what I had done to myself and nothing could break me any further. I couldn't have cared less that you thought there was a spot in Hell for me. Maybe there is, right next to yours.
So regardless of the shove that burnt my arm on the oven door as you left my life for good, you were abusive. You manipulated me, you put me down and worst of all you took my self-control. I could do nothing without your say. I could say nothing without your nod of approval. Even when you weren’t around, the constant thought of you kept me in line. You loomed over me like Big Brother, always watching.
The second thing I need to tell you is that I’m sorry. I’m sorry I forced you to change your phone plan so you could text me constantly. I’m sorry I wasted all your time by making you walk me home from work every day. I’m sorry I accepted extra shifts at work, with no urging from you at all. I’m sorry I told you I’d consider taking you back. Except I’m not sorry. Not anymore. I am done being sorry for things I didn’t do.
But I am sorry for one thing. I’m sorry that I ever gave you power. I’m sorry that I let you control me for so long. I am sorry that I never stood up to you and I’m sorry that it took me this long to contact you again. You should know what happened after you left. I didn’t curl up into a little ball and wait for rescue. I didn’t quit my job, like you did. I wasn’t lost without you to tell me what to do.
I moved on. I worked hard and I went to college. Actually, I graduate in a month. I wish I could say I completely forgot about you, but clearly, I didn’t. I remember everything, but that doesn’t make me weak. In fact, it makes me strong. Knowing I lived through your circles of Hell and became the person I am today, not despite your torture, but because of it, brings me pride. I am stronger now, because of you.
The last thing I need to say is the most important. I saw your little girl on Facebook. She’s gorgeous. It’s been four years, and trust me, I know a lot can happen in four years, so I’m not assuming you haven’t changed, but I just have to be sure. I need you to be good to that little girl. The thought that my demon could be haunting a poor baby girl who did nothing to deserve that fate rocks me to my core. So please be good to her.
When you knocked me down I had my family to pick me back up. If you knock her down she has no one. When you stood me up I had friends to take your place. If you stand her up she’s fatherless. When you hurt me my wounds healed. If you hurt her the scars will haunt her forever. When I realized what you were doing to me I was able to get away, to remove you from my life like a tumor. If you do the same to her she won’t ever be able to rid herself of you.
I was able to give up hope of you ever being good for me, but a daughter won’t. A girl needs her father. Mine would love to hand deliver this message with a few “messages” of his own because that’s what dads do. They protect and defend. They don’t manipulate and put down. So please, don’t treat her the way you treated me. Don’t put her through what you put me through, because for her, it will be so much worse.
So there it is. The three things I needed to tell you. I truly hope you made it to this point. I really do hope that you have changed and that that adorable little baby has a father as great as mine. As much as I want to be jealous that she gets the guy I never got, I can’t be. If she truly is your world and you’ve changed for her, then I’m happy. I couldn’t do it, so I’d just be glad that someone could. Thank you for taking the time to actually listen to me, something you could never do before.
The One You Tried To Break.