I didn’t think I’d still be thinking about you almost three years after everything ended. I feel your shadow follow me wherever I go. It’s like you can’t let me ever truly forget about you. The day I left you, I thought that would be the last time I ever see your face, but you still haunt my dreams at night.
The thing is… I think I’d feel an absence of a friend if your shadow was to ever leave me. It’s become an extension of who I am, almost like an extra limb. Although broken and disfigured, it’s part of me.
You were so mesmerizing when I met you. Your whole being intrigued me and like a drug, I craved more. It was fast, and it was exhilarating, and I fell in love with you.
I wondered why someone like you wanted a girl like me. When we first started dating, you set my soul on fire. Everything you had, I wanted. You held me like you’d never let me go. You looked at me like no one has ever looked at me. You made me feel like I was meant to be with you forever.
And then, one night, I saw something in you… something dark. I saw a switch flip in your eyes. Your voice changed. Your body language changed. The way you looked at me changed. It scared me, but I figured it was the alcohol or just an off night. I wasn’t sure what to make of your Jekyll and Hyde moment.
That red flag flapped in the wind like a hurricane was coming, but I turned away.
From that moment on, you’d steal something from me that I can never get back. I can’t quite pinpoint exactly what it is that you took, but the scar you left throbs constantly.
Every name you called me archived into my subconscious. Every time you threatened me or punished me, part of my innocence was chipped away at. It came so easy to you. You were a master at finding the exact thing to say to break me down. But I still thought that somehow, in spite of all the pain you inflicted on me, you still loved me. But this was not love.
This was a nightmare.
I remember walking into the house and hearing wails coming from the bathroom. I entered and saw your naked body collapsed in the shower, crying uncontrollably as “Iron & Wine” echoed in the background. There’s more to this than what it seems, I thought. It was moments like this that I wanted to believe it was all worth something bigger.
Then the switch would flip again.
My heart and mind never had a quiet moment. You’d barrel into the room, take me by the shoulders, and demand explanations for things in my past that weren’t even in my mind anymore. You’d berate me and call me a slut. You’d contort your body, curse at me, and tell me that I didn’t deserve love. The threats would start. The abuse spit from your mouth with force. You’d punch through the drywall in the bathroom, inches away from my face. When I’d cry, you’d mock me. You’d make me start to believe it all. I’m not worthy. I am a slut. I am lucky to have you or I’d have no one. And then you’d comfort me, and bring me into your arms. You’d tell me you didn’t ever want anyone else.
And the cycle would start again.
Today I sit here still haunted by you. Sometimes you appear in my dreams as if you are still here with me. I still hear your voice sometimes.
But, in a sick and twisted way, I wouldn’t know what to do if I didn’t still feel your presence. It makes me feel like I’m alive and that I’m fighting for something. And more than anything, I feel sorry for you. You will never actually know what you truly did to me. You have moved on with your life – onto the next love of your life, and probably into the same exact situation, just a different face.
I want to thank you for finally getting me to the point where I left you. Thank you for helping me make the best decision of my life. Thank you for helping me dodge a bullet by not accepting the ring. Thank you for showing everyone in my life how truly fucked up you are. Thank you for making it impossible not to laugh whenever you drunk text me. Thank you for making every other guy I’ll ever meet exponentially better than you just by existing.
The next man will know about you. He will know your story, he will know your name and where you came from. He will know about the tattoos we got together that once signified “forever” and now signify “don’t ever let anyone treat you like that again.”
The next man will probably hate you, and I’ll understand. The next man will wonder why a man could ever lay his hands on a woman he claimed to love. He will hold me when I feel your invisible hold on me. But most importantly, the next man will love me the way you never could. He will not abuse me, push me, spit on me, or call me names. And for that, I thank you.
I hope wherever you are, you can lay your head down at night and be okay with the way your life turned out. And although I might still see you in my dreams, it’s a hell of a lot better than the nightmare I lived in.