An open letter to an abuser
After years of rejecting me, my appearance, my personality and my family, all of a sudden you are
sending me these subtle messages of how you miss me, how you wish you hadn't of let me go.
Its very difficult not to wonder what has happened to you for you to make this 180 degree turn, however I should warn you that it will change nothing.
The last time we met, you had to get one of your personal insults in. In fact you managed to slip in several over the few conversations we had reinforcing that it was I that needed to change and that you would never change and didn't need to.
While I can acknowledge that nothing ever happens in a vacuum and I myself have had to face actions and behaviours in which I do not take pride, I do understand the process that remorse and regret involves.
I walked away without even my dignity intact. I was completely broken. The thing is sometimes a person has to be broken right down to their very foundations in order to build themselves up again strong, resilient and new. I have done that, while you have simply painted over the cracks in your damaged persona, and in case you didnt know - paint eventually peels away. I wonder, should I thank you for breaking me down so completely?
It takes courage to change. Change is a really frightening process. When we think about how we struggle with things such as moving home, changing jobs and other life events that bring change and how stressful they can be, I still don't think you will understand how difficult personal change is.
Personal change has to be a conscious exercise, every minute of every day of every week of every month until the change settles in and becomes the norm, replacing what was before. I began with one thing. I decided that there would be no more screaming and shouting in my life. I only talk and when a situation gets too fired up to continue speaking then I walk away, to think about it and come back to revisit it only by talking. This change invokes respect, regardless of how different the views may be of the people involved.
That said quiet speech can also be disrespectful, like how you used to tell me that I smell. That I'm fat and that you couldn't live your life out with someone whose weight was going to make them a liability to you. You constantly accused me of dishonesty and now I have discovered over time how you lied to me about so much, its hair raising.
Those around me, positive people who have brought joy to me have reinforced that while I could lose a few more pounds, my weight is not an issue in our relationships and since then I have in fact lost weight. Ironic isn't it? My Doctor made it clear that some of my medication would have expelled through my body odour and that the temporary radical treatment that I was going through was a cause of my change in body odour. That said, others who were around me at the time tell me that it was well managed and my odour was not unpleasant to them, this after I demanded brutal honesty from them.
You criticised everything about me, not just my weight, but also my parenting, my capacity to earn, my business sense, the clothes I wore. I am in certain respects a bit of a lone wof, and so isolating me from the few friends I had and my family was not a difficult task. You even managed to create the circumstances in which I was estranged from my children.
Did you honestly think that I wouldn't reach a point that I would leave. As you know, I did. It was leave or die. So I left.
I was confused. I didn't know who or what I was anymore. I didn't even know what foods I liked to eat, or which memories were real and which weren't. There were days when I wondered if I was really still alive, because on those days, I was just numb. Your long term gaslighting was so spectacular that it has taken me years to rediscover myself.
I am sane. I am honest. I am a good parent. I am good at my profession and I am recovering financially albeit slowly.
I cannot be proud of some of the things I did. I believed I was acting in order to preserve my sanity, to establish whether this was simply a nightmare or I really was certifiable. You think you know what I did, But actually in order to create some space for myself, I admitted to your accusations that were false. How bad must things be, when someone accuses you falsely and you confess, just so the emotional hammering will stop?
I lied to you. I lied about lying. How did it get to the point that I had to produce doctors letters proving where I was and what treatment I was going through in order to save a relationship? When I told my doctor why I needed the letter, he said to me that bearing in mind that you had chosen to flit across the world, rather than be by my side, and you chose to live in denial when you could quite easily have established the truth, he could not see how you had any right to demand such information. He told me even the most difficult people deserved better. He gave me the letter anyway. I never gave it to you. What he said really hit a nerve. I simply got on a plane and left. That decision was both the most painful and devastating decision of my life and yet also the one that saved it. And I keep that letter just to remind me why I never need to be abused again.
I admitted to lying to you, because I no longer believed you deserved the truth either way and even faced with all the evidence you would not have apologised and changed. As you say - you're never going to change. You didn't consider the possibilities of how your behaviour would boomerang back, if you were wrong. Well you were.
You were travelling the world on business class flights, while I struggled to keep the office going. I paid the salary for the girl who did your paperwork. I ate meals with church associates so I didn't have to spend on food and I mourned the loss of my children who had fled as a result of your irrational, impulsive and violent outbursts.
You accused me of theft when in fact you were the thief defrauding a system that you said you would never depend on. I wasn't even worth sharing my birthday or Christmas with. How many years was I left alone while you enjoyed Christmas dinner - estranged from my children because of your aggressive behaviour towards them, while you spent the time with your own, shutting me out completely? Too many. I wasn't even worth a phone call. A few short succinct texts. And yet I held on. Because your abuse had brainwashed me into believing that no one else would or could ever love me.
Ironic that when we first met, I lived in a posh neighbourhood, lived in a nice 5 bedroom detached house, replaced my car every three years, and could afford to visit my mother abroad and you lived in a furnished flat coming to the end of the equivalent of a bankruptcy. Now I live on a council estate in a god forsaken flat amongst junkies and convicts. And yet I'm happy. I'm happy because I know who and what I am. I have relationships with my children. I have lost weight not to regain my relationship with you, but in spite of it.
Remember my dog that you "rehomed" while I was away. Well I have a dog now too, that will never be taken from me because of a selfish partner. My home is my own and no one will ever take it from me, I have a rusty 15 year old car and I have my happiness.
In June next year the next big step in my professional career will take place and while you have probably comfortably earned five times my income over the last three years, I will easily equal yours within the following six months. It has taken patience and I had to rebuild my confidence. I do have the capacity to earn, I can run a business successfully.
I have left you behind. I spent a lot of time in counselling and fixed the things about me I didn't like and recognised the untruths about myself you constructed that I believed for far too long. I am human and will never be perfect. But I'm working on it. An evolving person.
So when you say you will never change, you are wrong. Nothing is static, we adapt and change according to our situations and our environment. Whether its a positive change or not depends on how conscious we are of how we are relating to that change. I am not the person you met, or the person who left you, So reminiscing or hoping for that person is futile. She doesn't exist anymore.
I wont be on the council estate for too much longer, because I have saved enough to buy a house, in a countryside village, in a place where I can start again. I could never have done that while "surviving" around you.
And most important I have discovered that I don't need reinforcement to know my self worth. I can exist as an individual and still be OK.
Abusers are not bad people. They are ill. And their illness infects those that they abuse. That's why there is such a risk that the abused eventually become abusers themselves. I have chosen to not to. I have chosen to be as whole as I can. I am ready. I am ready to love without an agenda, Just to be. To share of myself and to allow someone else to just be.
I hope for you that you discover that change is inevitable. That we all change. I hope that you discover that you can consciously channel that change for the good of yourself and others. and I hope that you let go of that which no longer exists. It matters not to me whether you get help or not, but it will matter to you in the long term.
Find yourself and go find healing. What happened to us turned out to be a lesson for me. Let it be one for you too.
And its over.
Ruth, a free range human being and a middle aged mum of three adult children and very young grandmother to two little girls, is a glass artist, and a digital strategist, She retains the right to change her mind about anything and believes in a compassionate approach to most things, you can contact her using the contact page on this blog.
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