It has been a year and a half since you set me free. Since I set myself free. A beautiful, sparkling, sunshine-filled year and a half. And I want you to know that I finally forgive you.
I forgive you for forcing me to do things that I never wanted to do. For forcing me to do things that would have made me cringe and shiver with dread had you not already engraved your name inside of my skull and convinced me that no one would ever love me the way you did. No one else would ever have me. I couldn’t do any better. I wouldn’t do any better. That I would have to pay you for your generosity in my own blood and tears. The raw burning of your hand against the side of my face only served as a painful reminder of your love for me.
I forgive you for telling me that in order to be happy in a relationship with me, you had to fuck other people. That to be happy in a relationship with me, you had to experiment with transmen–your newfound favorite fetish. I am so grateful that I can now look back and understand how tremendously wrong, problematic and twisted that is. But with tears and despair filling my throat, I had agreed. I had said okay. Because remember? Without you, I would be nothing. Just like you taught me.
I forgive you for alienating me from my most supportive friends. The friends who repeatedly warned me about your behavior. The friends who begged me to turn back, to leave you. Oh, but they just didn’t understand, you said. They were jealous because I loved you. They were against you because you were psychologically ill. They would never understand us. But in the end, they were right. In the end, they were my knights in shining armor. Not you. How many times did I leave you before I was finally set free? Do I fit into the statistics? Was it 8, like my sister told me? 8 times before I no longer had to suffer at your hands? 80? 800? You had me in your pocket. You had me in a noose.
I forgive you for ruining a large portion of my Study Abroad experience. For breaking up with me around Valentine’s Day, after I had been so tremendously anxious, so scared, a week after your mother had to tell me over the internet that you were institutionalized. I couldn’t use my cell phone to make phone calls. I forgive you for ripping away everything I had known, everything you had conditioned me to want and need, when I was completely isolated from any support system. I forgive you for dating your best friend a week later, when we had been together for almost four years. I’m sure that this was simply the most opportune time for you. You always got your way.
I forgive you for molding and shaping and forcing me into the shape of a woman I today cannot recognize. For making me so incredibly dependent on you, so weak and trembling, that every thought in my head, every second of the day, revolved around you. I know now that you wanted it that way. You wanted that power and control over me, and damn it, did you have it. I was constantly afraid of how you would react to my thoughts, feelings, actions, dreams. You forbade me to go to parties. You forbade me to drink any alcohol, despite the fact that I was over 21 and could do so legally. You forbade me to hang out with any male friends one-on-one. You forbade me to even say I found another human being attractive, though you reminded me all the time of who topped your list of “People I Would Leave Sarah For.” My undergraduate years could have been so vibrant, so full of life. But you had stripped me of that life. You had pulled it out from within me and put it in a jar beside your bed.
I forgive you for stripping me from my faith. I have never been a religious person, and I never will be. I don’t subscribe to any one religious doctrine. But my relationship with my God is important to me. It gives me strength, it gives me hope, it gives me a feeling of purpose. God to me is Love. Love for all, and Love for everyone. Period. And you took that from me. Whenever I brought my God up, whenever I tried to talk to you about my spirituality and belief system, you argued with me. Told me that people who turned to religion or God or spirituality in that sense were misguided, stupid, blind. They just couldn’t swallow the facts. That God was Dead. So I buried my spirituality deep within myself. I suffocated it. I am still in an active attempt to revive it.
I am no longer angry. I am no longer bitter. I refuse to allow what happened to me to make me into a hardened, unforgiving, bitter, angry person. I refuse to live that way. I forgive you. And I hope that one day in your life, you find true peace with yourself and with what you did to me.
I have discovered the power and beauty within myself. I am beautiful, whole, worthy, all on my own. I can mold myself into a better person, and I can grow. I wish you nothing but the best now and always, but I don’t need you anymore. It’s finally over. I can breathe, and I can live, and I can smile. I can experience true happiness. One day, I will meet someone who will allow me to finally experience what it means and feels like to truly deeply love another person–something you were never able to show me. Something I have yet to experience. But the shadow of you has been gone for one and a half years. And the world has never been brighter.