An Open Letter to my Ex
I don’t know how to write this. Every time I think of you blood boils inside me, tears form at my eyes; but the rage is directed within. How could I have let you do that to me? How could I have been so stupid?
Because now I am damaged, and though I am beginning to repair, every time I see a friend being put down by a partner, being laughed at when they express a desire, having their opinions or work belittled, I want to grab them, shake them and tell them that it does not have to be like this. You deserve so much better.
But that’s how I ended up with you in the first place, isn’t it? In our ‘but oh you’re not my girlfriend’ relationship. I ended up with you because I didn’t think I deserved anything more. At sixteen, I’d never really had that kind of attention - I didn’t think I was worth loving - so I accepted the warped attention you gave me, though only given in private. I think that that’s the saddest part, when you found me I felt worthless, and when you left me I was worth even less than when you started. You left behind half a person, but my God was that a liberated shell you cast aside.
That’s when it all started to click. When it was finally over, and it stopped aching, that’s when I began to realise how much of myself I’d been coaxed to give up. For two years, you’d chipped away at everything that makes me who I am. I don’t know how much you meant it or even how much you realised you were doing, but realising what you had done to me hurt me. It hurt like hell.
Friends I didn’t deserve rallied around me and tried to get me back to the girl they’d lost, the girl who’d abandoned them, been poisoned against them. You made me feel so alone, like you were the only one in the world I could turn to, the only one who would lower themselves to listen to my trivial pains; and then when I did turn to you, you’d laugh them away. Sometimes I’d be bold, and a shadow of my former self would creep over me and I’d tell you that you can’t speak to me like that, you can’t make me feel like I’m not important, like my fears mean nothing. But of course, that’s when it would flip. Of course it would be the other way round, it was in fact me trivialising your worries, by voicing my own, belittling you, not trusting you. That’s why you didn’t trust me; how could you when I’d do things like this, go crazy over nothing, cry and blame you or my dad or my childhood; how could I be so insensitive, putting it all on you like that!
So how did I ever love you? How did I ever mistake what we had, for love? All you did was make me feel unworthy, needy, jealous, crazy. And all I did was validate you, my behaviour but a mirror of my desperation for you to love me. To be loved.
That wasn’t love. I know that now. You can’t love someone who tries to make you see the world as though you have wronged everything and everyone in it. You can’t love someone who laughs at your dreams, ignores your hopes, trivialises your fears.
And I am so grateful that I forced myself to cut all contact from you, allowed myself to see our time together for what it was: toxic. Because now I’m free, and though it took time for me to understand real love, I’m there, and it’s no thanks to you. I’m not going to sit here and pretend that I’m glad we happened, glad I could see what bad love is so that I could appreciate real love when it finally came. Because I’m not, and I never will be, and I will continue to try and point out your behaviours in friends, and friends’ partners, until people begin to recognise it for themselves.
I’m not going to wish you the best, but I’m not going to hope you the worst. I’m detached from you now; live your life, and don’t do to anyone else what you did to me when we were kids.