[The following letter was written by a client; a sexual assault survivor bidding farewell to a former lover, as she tries to accept the end of an abusive relationship. What is interesting is that the writer is trying to take responsibility for being abused and struggling with the guilt of walking out of the relationship even though it was to protect herself. It is a startling insight into the mind of a woman who is still learning what abuse is. For information on emotional abuse, read more here]
Wait, you played too many roles in my life to be called just a “lover”; you were way more than that! You were my best friend, my arch rival, my casual hook-up, my future husband, all rolled into one.
Since this is the last time I will ever write to you, let me just put all my cards on the table.
One, I was not trying to label what we had and two, telling everyone that I loved another guy was a way to cope with our falling out. You should’ve known I was in pain. Three, I haven’t been in love since we parted ways.
I admit I hurt you. The home we had built together has crumbled inside my head; the only thing I miss is your touch which feels slightly surreal now. I wish our separation hadn’t been so acrimonious and that we could have at least tried to be amicable.
I’d like to confess something now. I loved the idea of you more than I loved you. That man who told me that he had found absolute love in me after years and how he longed for a future with me. The way he showed me how he felt with gestures that would’ve been more acceptable coming from a 13 year old- that was the man I loved. The man who denies having said every tender word, of sharing those intimate moments, of making those promises and who panics when I show him proof of it, that cannot be my man. That was just gaslighting. I find it safer now to believe that my lover has died. I am still mourning his death. I’ll be found one day, seated at that same wooden table in that tiny house on Bow Road, London, waiting for the man who never truly existed.
I love you but I love me more- classically cliché yet indisputably true. I have to let my broken heart heal.
You called me your home. You don’t call someone that for fun, you know.
Things are coming back to me now. I remember, how you used to compare my face with your ex-girlfriend’s and say that she was more beautiful than I could ever be. My face was scarred from a near death accident and what I wanted from you was a little bit of empathy. You said I was needy. Well, I had to be because you ignored my feelings all the time. Our definitions of fidelity are different, but I had hoped they would be the same. Then there were things you did to invalidate me, to undermine and sabotage me. I had my faults too. I lied to feel more womanly, more desirable, more lovable because according to you, I wasn’t that. When we were trying to work things out, we came so close to making it. Or so I thought, until I needed emotional support. You told me you’d be there for me and then one fine day, you vanished. I know you have issues, my sweet lover, but I have never violated what was sacred between us. I am not accusing you here of anything. We were incompatible, let’s just say that.
There were other things too. Things that are so intangible: the insults, the rejection, the silence, the hurt, things that I am trying to express so inarticulately. Again, I do not blame you. I felt ugly and I let you butcher my self-confidence. You were ashamed of my weight. You thought I was chubby so you preferred to meet in dingy little corners. You even called me suffocating at one point. You would start that cycle- of long and interminable conversations that would go on and the moment I wanted to talk, you were done and I had to assume that it was over. You would blow hot and cold: declaring that I was your soulmate one moment and then distanced yourself from me the other. You could be so cruel and I was so confused. In a way, that was what opened my eyes. The constant walking on eggshells around you. It’s good I got out after that. Even though I’m still carrying all that baggage from our time together I can at least call a spade a spade.
We were toxic. No, wait, you were toxic.
I still cling to the hope that we can end it well. I wish I had run after you when you left, held you close and whispered- “I know this is the last time we will be together, so if this is the end, let’s remember the love we shared. Let’s not forget each other. I’ll keep the earring you gave me and you keep the lipstick mark on the card. Thank you for picking up that book I left by the side of the road. Thank you for that solitary tear you shed for me once. That, for me, was love.
I’m sorry for my bad temper, for flirting to make you jealous, for being too emotional, for getting influenced by other people, for letting them come between us and for being so damn insecure. But it doesn’t change the fact that you abused me, and I refuse to say sorry for that.
Right now, I can hardly keep it together because I’m coming apart at the seams, so it’s best I end this love-hate letter to you now.
Thank you for teaching me something. Like not to waste money or food. It sounds banal but that’s all I can think of.
Just so you know, I will be happy to see you happy. Stay happy for me, even if it isn’t with me anymore.