The girls and I were chatting the other day about the things we wished we had told our various exes after a break up. We all felt that at the end of a relationship, so much can go unsaid – the good, the bad and sometimes the downright ugly. Personally I feel my feet did the talking when I finally walked out on my last serious ex, but this chat got me thinking about the things I could have said, which led me to the idea of writing it all in a letter (you know, the kind I wrote to little me here). I would never ever send this letter to him by the way (he doesn’t deserve it), but it was cathartic for me to jot these thoughts down and I thought as I’ve been bad about posting for a while I’d share it here with you…
I’d like you to take a moment to rewind to when we first met, do you remember the girl that walked into your life? A girl with confidence, happiness and a sense of self-belief, newly single and enjoying carving her way in the world. Now think about the girl I was when I finally walked out on you. I was unrecognisable, even to myself. I’d look in the mirror and all I could see looking back was a broken and shattered shell of a girl who had lost almost every scrap of herself to your lies and manipulations.
What did I ever do to deserve this treatment from you? I know you didn’t have the best start in life and you had to deal with some pretty traumatic things which I wouldn’t wish on anyone, but why did you let those things define you? What made you think because you’d had a hard time you could inflict your anger on me? They say this vicious world sharpens and strengthens us all like knives, but whether we use that power to protect others or cause them pain is always our own choice; sadly you chose the latter and somehow I bore the brunt of that.
I cared about you and I did my best by us, but all you ever thought about was yourself. Our relationship was dictated on your terms the whole time and you reveled in holding power over me. I was a toy to you and you were the puppeteer. You lied, cheated and abused me. You made me feel as though everything was always my fault. You would twist all situations to suit you. You would disappear for days on end and when you finally returned out of your head after your depraved benders and I’d question you about where you had been, you’d scream at me and claim that I lacked empathy with your past. You projected so many of your own issues onto me that I started to believe that maybe I was as worthless as you’d make out. You would criticise me at every turn; you made me feel ugly, stupid and alone. You played with my mind constantly, chipping away at me, destroying my innocence.
Just when you knew I was at breaking point and slipping away from your control, you’d reel me back in and beg for forgiveness. You’d tell me you needed me, that I was the only one who understood you. You’d plead that you would change because without me you didn’t think you’d be able to carry on. You’d claim that if I left you, your life wasn’t worth living and you would end it. Although they were empty threats, the thought of having to carry that burden terrified me and that held me hostage. You had a way of twisting things so I would feel like I had let you down and you always became the injured martyr.
You knew I wasn’t the type of person to give up on someone when they needed me the most or to walk out when the going got tough and you used that to your advantage. You do that to people don’t you? You latch onto their weaknesses and manipulate them to your strength. It’s only now I realise, I was your strength, you were my weakness.
You had a knack of shifting the blame and of making people believe you’d been wronged. I reacted to your behaviours and all of a sudden without a conscious thought I would find myself grovelling and apologising for things I hadn’t even done, begging you to forgive me for questioning where you’d been, terrified you would hurt yourself and I’d have to carry the guilt you placed on me. You’d throw my apologies back in my face or ignore them coldly with silence for days on end whilst I walked on eggshells. You had no regard for my feelings at all and you never will. I’ve come to see that there is nothing uglier that a human without compassion and you have none.
Despite all of this, I still don’t regret meeting you, I only wish that I had walked away much sooner. I stuck around fighting for us and clung to the belief that you were the good man I’d originally met. The truth is though, you were never really that nice guy, it was all just part of your psychopathic act. The moment your true colours started to shine through, was the moment I should have left you. It was my fault for staying so long, I take full responsibility for that.
I also regret apologising when things weren’t my fault, for saying sorry just to smooth things over or to calm you down. I did it out of fear. I let you have the upper hand in every situation in order to avoid being screamed at or worse. Your wild volcanic rages terrified me, as did the days of eerie silence that followed.
I know now that sometimes in life you have to accept a leopard can’t change his spots, and that men like you will always follow the flashing lights to make themselves feel validated in a life that’s false. I say “men” but the truth is you aren’t a real man and certainly not the hero you pretend to be. You are nothing more than a weak bully. I gave you so many chances to change, but you just didn’t take them. We all have opportunities to better ourselves or to stay the same, so while you chose to stay the same, I chose to do better and leave. You may have thought you were clever with your manipulative abuse but the measure of real intelligence is the ability to change.
Never have I known such relief as the day I walked out of that flat knowing I would not return. I still made sure you would be ok though, even when I left. I didn’t do this for your sake, I did if for mine, so that I could go to sleep at night knowing I had remained true to myself and my values of being a decent human being. Even then you mistook my kindness for weakness, but weak is certainly not what you remember about me now is it? Now you search for my kindness in others, but you’ll struggle find it, I promise you that. I have a tonne of flaws, but a good heart and that seems rare in today’s world. Walking away from you was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do, yet getting over you was the easiest, I’d done my grieving for us long before I left. I broke my own heart loving you, you crushed my spirit for a long time, the experience of you changed me irrevocably but I am a better person for it and have reverted to that happy girl you first met, only this time I’m actually happier as I am so much stronger. I can’t tell you how proud I am of myself for surviving you.
It’s been years yet still you can’t let go, still you harass me to tell me you will change and that you need me, but that won’t wash anymore. In your most recent insincere begging email you asked if I ever crossed your mind. I ignored you of course, but the truth is, yes you do, yes you will probably always cross my mind. Whenever I see a woman crying uncontrollably, and clutching her chest because her heart physically hurts from finding out that the man she loves has betrayed, embarrassed or taken advantage of her yet again. When I see a girl torn in two and wanting to believe the promises a man’s feeding her aren’t empty, and when everyone around her – including her own gut – is screaming at her to walk away, that’s when you will cross my mind, because I was once her and that was down to you.
Oddly I’m not bitter about any of this, what would be the point? I am happy now so I can forgive you for it all. Forgiveness is another term for freedom and I owe myself that. I can’t bring myself to wish you all the best for the future though because that would be a lie but I don’t wish bad things for you either. I simply hope that you get what you truly deserve. I don’t know whether that is good or bad but that is no longer my business, that is between you and karma.