To My Abusive Ex: You Ruined Relationships For Me

Максим Степаненко

I do remember very well when we first met.

It was a warm day almost seven summers ago. You were twenty-two and I was barely eighteen. I was clumsy, shy, felt like a fish out of water and had more nicknames than friends, nevertheless you still gave me attention and your friendly nature was enough to capture mine.

I can’t say your looks were the best but you made a good impression by making me feel comfortable in a way many others never could, for the first time in ages I felt like somebody was actually listening to what I had to say. That genuine and rare kind of connection was right there and without a second glance staying away from you would become quite an impossible task.

Our friendship evolved to the point I caught myself exchanging sweet nothings, willing to do anything for you since there was none else I’d rather be with… I wasn’t familiar to the concept until that day – I had fallen in love and my then best friend was the very reason. You apparently felt it too, to my delight you were the first one to use the L word, loud and clear. There was finally a chance we could make it happen and six months later you asked to become exclusive, a word whose meaning you apparently never knew. At first, you said you wanted us to keep it low key, away from your family’s eyes, a dirty little secret… To which I agreed with, you were my first, I believed and respected you so much to see through your good intentions.

I’d remain oblivious to your cheating habit until a mutual friend accidentally tipped off, there was a slumber party in your apartment I couldn’t attend to and without any hesitation you had sex with one of the guests. At first it was hard to assimilate, how could it be?! You’d always call me late at night to talk about us and I would wake up to your early morning texts everyday, they read “I love you” followed by wishes for a good day, a spontaneous move, one I never even asked for.

I took the matter in my own hands and investigated the rumors, to my dismay they were confirmed to be true, I had found solid proof. I was conflicted but decided to play it cool, to speak with you directly. Even upon confrontation, you denied it ever happened. You were running out of luck, as other rumors about previous encounters, with different people began to appear. It was almost like Heaven sent me a sign, a wake up call.

In shock, I went as far as personally asking every partner whom you cheated on me with about those supposed encounters. You couldn’t hide it anymore, things began to go south.

In a twist of turns, when you were cornered with the evidence, you pretended to be a victim and put the blame on me instead. The blame for being lied to and cheated on, that I deserved it for being an alleged control freak and jealous – even though all I wanted was to understand why. I was told a relationship couldn’t work without trust, that I crossed a line by invading your privacy. The opportunity to take the upper hand was seized and you could never claim responsibility for anything, this was clearly just another power-play you were dedicated to win. Well, you did. Instead of leaving I apologized for the mistakes, your mistakes. Unlike me, you never said you were sorry, there wasn’t any display of regret. Somehow your friends took control of the situation and made me believe you would change for the better. How come I didn’t realize they were putting more effort in the relationship than you ever did?

You refused to stop talking to these people you hooked up with and on top of everything, not only you described the sexual encounters with them but also stated they were so much better than me, that my body was unattractive, that there was something wrong with my face.

I decided I wanted to look good for you. So I starved myself and shrunk a lot more than I should have. Yet somehow you were never satisfied, I was still ugly, this time you compared me to a terminal patient but could never admit you were my illness.

Each passing day you treaded on me a little bit more. Sometimes you acknowledged it and apologized, promised you’d work on becoming a better person but everything you did was merely an attempt to keep me on a leash, so I would never get away. You had a nice way with words and a young fragile person like me was the perfect target. You created a diversion and we remained together for months afterwards… Your aggressive attitude was always temporarily soothed by a honeymoon phase, when you’d tell me pretty things and played the good partner, I still remember that moment of emotional vulnerability when you shared, among fake tears, that it was just difficult to be good, just another ace up your sleeve. You were lying as usual, there was an attempt to induce trust… I still get mad it was successful.

You would buy me gifts, treat me for dinner and holidays. I was told people change, that damage could be repaired, that only someone uptight wouldn’t give others an opportunity to grow as a person, you even quoted The Brave Caterpillar and said “Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.” so many times… These moments made me believe your epiphany was legitimate… Not because you were convincing but because I wanted it to be. My love for you was still intact even after all the heavy blows, I wanted to believe, I had hope.

I was intoxicated with your lies, deep inside I assumed I was really unworthy and incapable of being loved. Who would ever want an unattractive person like me anyway? Only you would, you made that very clear. Then you said you wanted to protect me by keeping me away from my friends, all of a sudden they were not good enough for me anymore. You were hot and cold, on and off.

More months had passed and I couldn’t stop thinking about dying, could no longer leave my bed. I was thin and tired, weakened… Still you called me names, said I looked like a dying person. Maybe I really was, you were killing me and I hit the rock bottom pretty hard.

The abuse never stopped and the night after New Year’s Eve you tried to physically assault me for the first time. That was when I finally stood up, I had shown you I was still alive and kicking, that I wasn’t entirely yours to destroy, I wasn’t yet a corpse. You retaliated by choking me but I pushed you back. Intentionally you ran away like a coward and hid behind your friends, painting me as crazy just like you always did whenever you lost control. I never showed them the emotional and physical scars you left on me and to no surprise they sided with you.

The next morning you dumped me claiming there was no respect between us… Somehow you were right, you never respected me at all. Had only I known earlier I wouldn’t have gone through so much. Although, I cried and begged you to stay. After dragging me away from my friends and even family, you were all I had left.

With your typical cynicism you remained in touch, keeping me at arm’s length but never truly letting me go. I was deluded with promises that it was just a temporary break… But you never came back to me, still I couldn’t see it was for the better. You drained me to the point I was blinded, you had succeeded on becoming my world and I couldn’t see how severe this situation was. You got bored and ghosted me.

All the energy I had left was now dedicated on planning my own death. After visiting a few doctors and being prescribed with medications, back on May of that same year, I finally attempted to overdose on sleeping pills. It didn’t work but before passing out, I called one of your friends to tell them about what just happened and among tears I asked them to forgive me, I asked for your forgiveness.

No mercy was found. You’ve told everybody it was just an act, even though I was in the hospital for days. You continued to ignore my existence until I finally woke up and saw your toxicity had taken me over, there was a dark cloud preventing me from understanding I had a meaning beyond your own definition, so I packed my things and finally left, alone. Your friends were just as toxic anyway.

Oddly enough, that was when you started asking about my whereabouts, telling people I had abandoned you. Oh, the irony! Finally I could see your true colors. It was too late for you anyway, I was gone for good, you would never find me again. I had nothing to lose.

It took me time to realize I was abused instead of loved. Even after years I felt like an empty vessel, dead inside. I was never able look at life or people the same way. I struggled with my weight again and developed a body dysmorphic disorder, depression worsened and I plunged to the rock bottom once more. You had stolen so much.

I was the shell of a person with not even an inch of self-respect, I believed first love was the only “true love” and you did a pretty good job at keeping the illusion, by painting rainbows after the storm. If only I had known you were always as empty as you left me, you knew you were worthless this whole time, the undesirable one, the vampire draining people’s lives in a desperate attempt to feel any relevant… Well, today I understand the reason you inflicted wounds – Because only through pain people could ever remember you… You don’t know how to love, there’s nothing else you could offer but an inflated ego.

I write this letter not as a personal vendetta, I don’t intend to expose you. In fact I hope to never see you again but do wish you might change and grow into a decent person… Because I am and always were so much bigger than you and by bringing closure to this chapter of my life I am giving myself one more proof of how strong I am. Through this letter, I seek not to speak to you but to inspire every other person who can relate to me, who just like me found themselves in the talons of creatures like you

May you know it takes so much perseverance to believe in a person’s lies and forgive them anyway, it takes a lot of selfless love in order to try and protect a partner even when we are the ones who need protection. It takes a lot of endurance and sacrifice to cuddle with someone after knowing they had been deliberately unfaithful. It takes a lot of gut, a lot of courage, a lot of love to fight for someone… Because you can’t possibly know what any of that means. And at last, I hope you fall in love – So you might understand what it feels like to be a giver instead of a taker.

I hope every other person who find themselves in a situation like mine, regardless of age and gender, appropriate they’re worthy of love, not just someone else’s but their own love… I want them to see that in such a polarized and cold world, being able to love is a bliss and that there’s always someone who can appreciate it, they deserve no less. People who fall in love deserve honesty, companionship, commitment, nurturing and above all – respect.

They deserve an actual relationship but if there are no signs that’s going to happen, I wish they stop daydreaming and leave as soon as they can. There’s a better catch somewhere dreaming of someone just like them, it’s true and I can’t emphasize it enough.

Sometimes I still find myself unable to completely trust people. The ghost of you still haunts me, I can still hear you laughing at the stake of my pain and misery. But I have chosen to fight, to overcome the inner-demons you raised in me, to believe every person is different, that they won’t hurt me like you did and even if they try, they won’t succeed unless I let them. You can’t define me, you never did. Thank god every individual is unique for this way I won’t ever find you again in anybody else.

After you, every relationship I had was clouded by the fear of abandonment and betrayal. I lost my perspective in life for a long time.

But I’m working on rebuilding it, those negative emotions are fading quicker than I expected. Everytime I dig down deep into my soul and find a scar you left, I work on healing it instead of dwelling on it – I work on letting it go. You’re not eternal, you’re not immortal and you won’t be remembered forever. Golden hearts will cross my path and replace all the bad memories with good, much better ones. I will be happy and I will enjoy life, I will fall in love. I deserve it. I refuse to let you win. TC mark

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