I write for catharsis. Something about writing where I know it will eventually be seen by someone is healing for me and helps me process what I’m dealing with and going through. I recently took on a second job doing respite care with a family who has an autistic child (8) and a neurotypical child (11). The kids respond well to me, the parents seem to really like me, and working the job is really enjoyable. The downside is that they live just 3 blocks away from the building I lived in with an abusive ex boyfriend. I can feel my anxiety amping up as the bus gets closer to the stop. I literally cannot stop doing SOMEthing while I’m at their house, at the bus stop waiting to go home, walking between, etc. I worked at their house the last two nights and ended up scrubbing half their kitchen and catching up on their dishes, something completely and totally outside of my duties of respite care. On realizing that the cause of anxiety is tied to my ex, I decided I needed to write him a letter. What follows is everything I’ve wanted to tell him, but never will.
When we first met, you were a charming sailor, five years older and five years wiser, or so it seemed to me. You charmed your way into my pants fairly quickly and seemed to not want to leave. You wavered between just wanting to be friends, nothing more, wanting the benefits, and wanting a partner. You convinced me to stay over at your apartment when you moved out of barracks, even though you knew I’d catch shit from my dad.
Once we were together, you resisted any inclusion in my family. You resisted any inclusion of my own friends. You would not allow my friends to come over and would not go see them, but when it came time to see your family or friends, I had to be there. You isolated me. You put a rift between me and my family. You put a rift between me and the few friends I’d managed to make.
When the going got tough, you convinced me to take the “easy out” of joining the military as an enlisted member, even though everyone else in my family was an officer. When they sent me home from Basic, you had nothing but scorn for me even though you knew how hard I worked to try to stay there.
At every turn, you shot down my ideas. Nothing I did or said or wanted was ever good enough. You took all of my dreams and you trampled them. You took my already low self esteem and flushed it down the toilet. You made me feel like I wasn’t worth anything, like no matter what I did, I wouldn’t amount to anything, like no matter how hard I tried, it would never be good enough.
You took advantage of my innocence. You made it seem like it was normal to get blackout drunk on a regular basis. You made it seem like it was okay to wake up having sex. You made it seem like it was okay to drag me back from the bed after I’d passed out and keep going. I thought you were laughing with me, but I know now you were laughing at me. You never cared, you just wanted a toy.
You tore down my dreams and made me feel like I would never accomplish any of them. You took from me the hope that I’d get to the places I wanted to go, that I’d be able to do the things I wanted to do. And you let your friends do the same. You never once came to my defense on anything.
From the very beginning, you took advantage of my anxieties and compulsions. You knew I couldn’t handle being left alone or going to things alone, so you used that to isolate me. Even when we were with your friends or your family, you never welcomed me to them, I was always an outsider. You knew that I couldn’t leave a mess to sit, so you never once lifted a finger. It didn’t seem to matter to you how hard I worked to cook and clean and make as much money as I could, there was always something you found undone, always something that needed attention, always something I’d done wrong. Even when I finally snapped and stopped doing the dishes, something I had done compulsively and meticulously for close to a decade, you didn’t lift a finger. It never seemed to dawn on you how infuriating it was to spend hours tidying and cleaning the apartment only for you to tear apart a gun in the first 15minutes of being home and leave bits and screws and tools all over the living room, which I knew you would chastise me for not cleaning the next day.
You betrayed my trust. When we met, you told me that you’d been cheated on. You told me that you didn’t want to make anyone else feel the way you felt. You told me that you could never cheat. I believed you. I trusted you. Near the end of our relationship, when I felt us drifting apart, you spent those weekends in the other city. I know you were hanging out with girls. I know that at least one of those girls was your ex. I know that one of those girls ended up being your partner after I left. When you announced the pregnancy and due date on facebook, I had to remove you as a friend. You’d insisted that you didn’t want kids, but really that was me, right? I did the math. Your son was conceived when we were still living together, a month before we broke up. You cheated on me, you got her pregnant, and you decided that living together and raising the kid would be best.
You broke me. It’s been 7 years since I last saw you. It’s been 7 whole years and I still hurt every time the thought of you bubbles up. The streets we lived on are still hard for me to go down, I try not to look when I need to. My anxiety bubbles up whenever I end up in the neighbourhood we used to live in. There’s good things, good people there, that I want to see and do, I can’t because you are still there in my mind. It’s been 7 years since we last lived together and I still get bubbles of anxiety over the dishes and the cleanliness of my home, when these things used to be completely manageable. You’re the reason why my anxiety over the dishes went from “dishes not being clean” to “needing to clean dishes.” It may not seem like a big difference to you, but it is huge. You’re the reason I have mould growing in the kitchen on a regular basis and have for the last 7 years.
Your son is in grade 2 this year. Congratulations on having an offspring. You took that dream from me. If I’d had a kid with you, at least I would have been able to have a kid of my own. It’s been so long and life’s winding path has taken me so far that it looks like I won’t ever be able to have a kid at all.
You took so much from me and you never once gave me anything.
I don’t hate you, I don’t want to see you burn or anything. I just don’t want to see you ever again. I don’t want to cross paths with you. I don’t want to find out if your life ended up happy. I don’t want to know if you changed, even though I know you probably did, everyone does.
I don’t regret dating you. You taught me many valuable lessons. Lessons about limits. Lessons about tolerance. Lessons about recognizing abuse and isolation. Lessons about who makes a good friend and who doesn’t. Lessons about seeing the signs of unfaithfulness. To regret would be not recognizing these lessons I learned.
I just wish I hadn’t learned them.
I wish I hadn’t needed to learn them. I wish that when we were together, you could have been kind. I wish you would have listened. I wish you would have taken my mental health into consideration and done something to help it instead of making things worse. I wish you could have supported me instead of bringing me down. I wish you could have been honest with me, even when the honesty was tough.
I hope you’re all those things and more for your family. I hope that you figured shit out. I hope that you didn’t screw things up for them. They deserve better than what you gave me.
I hope you learned what you needed to.