In returning to one of my lists of pre-selected questions for getting to know people, I have found a few on one list that kind of apply to the same topic (also, person).
It’s a topic that I’ve been tossing around for a while (even mentioned it here, not too long ago) but I think I have figured out a way to address it without taking it to a place that should be reserved for particular company (at least, before I make it broadly public).
The three “questions” from this list, that I am going to mesh into as coherent a post as possible, are someone who made your life hell or treated you badly, someone you need to let go or wish you didn’t know and something you wish you hadn’t done in your life. I guess a letter is as good a way as any to address this situation without getting deep into a lot of details. So…here goes:
To my abuser –
We met at a time in my life when I was, to borrow a phrase, feeling my oats. I was fairly fresh off that “high school sweethearts” relationship, in a new city where no one knew me or anything about who I had been. I was in a position to reinvent myself however I chose to and you would definitely be part of that.
Before I really knew what was happening, I was growing quite attached to you. Looking back now, I’m not sure what drew me to you. You weren’t, still aren’t, my definition of attractive. That is not meant to be unkind. You just don’t fit the mold of what I am typically drawn to, aesthetically. And yet, I was. Again and again, until I couldn’t walk away. Not even when another prospect came along. Not even when our incompatibilities were so clear.
I have struggled with the idea of calling what you did to me “abuse” because I know people who have been abused and I am still not sure that our situation was as bad as that. The internet is interesting in that respect. As I float around the internet, I find things that tell me not to question the situation. That if I think you were abusive, you probably were. That I shouldn’t compare my situation to others because I will always be able to find someone worse off than I was, someone hurt worse than I was. That it is never the victim’s fault and my compliance did not make you irreprehensible.
You used my attraction to you, my willingness to please you, my sexuality against me to get what you wanted from me. I was never more to you than a toy. You said pretty things to me, called me a friend, even apologized for having been a bad friend, but I no longer believe that any of that was anything outside of strengthening your control over me. Even years after I had last let you touch me, years after I took back control of myself, you still believed you had the same sway, that meeting an old friend required sneaking because breakfast, you were certain, would surely turn physical because we had always been physical. If there hadn’t been at least a small part of you that believed that, you wouldn’t have handled it the way you did.
Or maybe you would have. Honesty was never your strongest suit. You were always skilled at cheating, you were always skilled at manipulation but you were not skilled at honesty. But I am sure that somewhere in the back of your mind, you were expecting me to “repay” you for traveling an hour out of your way to “catch up with an old friend” Even though in the weeks leading up to that day, I had been pouring out my heart to you about a man who had recently captured my interest. He was, in that moment, little more to you than a theory. He was someone I could put out of my mind long enough to pleasure you one more time.
And that was the story, all along. Pleasure you. It was never about me. It was always about what made you feel good. What satisfied you. What got you off. If I got something positive out of it that was a byproduct. Even the times you did lower yourself to give me what I wanted were for your benefit. You have to relinquish a taste of the carrot every once in a while, to make sure it continues to be properly motivating.
It has taken me years to accept that this was not only an unhealthy situation but borderline abusive. I have only recently – in the last couple of weeks – abandoned the “borderline” modifier. But in the limited interaction I still have with you, I see that you are still broken and no stronger for it. I have been broken, mended, and broken again and I am better for it. I am not afraid to love just because I have been broken. I love harder because I have been broken.
In that respect, it is hard to say I wish I hadn’t gone through what you put me through. I learned from it. I am better for it. But it is definitely time that I let you go. I no longer believe that there is a place in your life for my kindness, my friendship, or my heart.