When we met, I was at a low point, coming off an online relationship with another damaged human being. We were a “thing” within a month, and we spent all our time together, living what my friends (who didn’t stick around to see THIS trainwreck play out) called, The Rockstar Lifestyle. I lost my job because of you. Then you quit yours…. And it all seemed so rational at the time. You were abused, you told me. You had been mistreated by all the women who came before, as I heard in excruciating detail, for hours at a time. They all treated you so badly. And you were dysfunctional in other ways, too. You claimed “OCD” and “social anxiety” and “panic attacks” when your anxiety overcame you.
I loved you and wanted to “fix” you, so that you could finally love me. I wanted to erase the memory of all the abuse that you’d previously endured and show you what “perfect love” looked like. I tried. Even when what you did and what you said were two separate things. Even on the occasions when the cognitive dissonance and unhappiness overcame me and I ran away from your silence (inevitably, to return when you protested). My efforts were never good enough to have the results intended, more was always demanded. When I once protested you said two things, one of a few instances of your inadvertent honesty: “I’m not going to change myself to fix you” and “I’m not a very good boyfriend. I will never be able to love you the way you need and want and deserve to be loved.” I should have listened then.
I paid for everything, since you were “sick” and couldn’t work, and you behaved as though you were entitled to everything. You expected me to pay without comment and no plans to repay it – your gym membership, phone, food, and finally, your rent, as well as mine. And you never did anything differently. Two years later, you’re now living in the comparative lap of luxury, and you complain about how much it sucks. Maybe you would be better off going back to White Trash Town and renting a room with a junkie again.
I was broke, and couldn’t sustain two apartments. So I did the completely rational thing: rather than stop paying for you and force you to pay your own way, I gave up my apartment and moved in with you, far away from my kids, in an apartment that was too expensive. There was no celebration of our further commitment to one another. Instead, you moved your brother in and he stayed on our couch, drinking and smoking, no job, night and day for 6 months. It’s a good thing that I was able to get another job.
All this time, there was a problem between us sexually. You just didn’t want it and I blamed myself for not being attractive enough. We never discussed it. Not our physical preferences, not the frequency, not the lack of connection I felt when we did have sex, whether you’d enjoyed (or not) what I did for you this way. We had sex if, when, how and for how long YOU wanted it. What I liked or wanted did not concern you. I had so many questions. I wanted to know why you left me in my bed, in the middle of an orgasm, to smoke in the other room. I wanted to know why you jump up after we’re done, with no pillow time or tenderness. I wanted to know why, when I cry or have nightmares, you can’t hold me and comfort me, but again leave the room. I wanted to know why, when I ask you to hold me for the simple comfort of another human body, you can’t. I wanted to know why you don’t like kissing. I wanted to know why you prefer to have sex from behind, and not looking into my eyes or having me look into yours. What are you afraid of? Being seen? Having me see what you don’t want me to see? I don’t expect an answer.
In all this time, you were never able to solve this, or fake it adequately, even with my best efforts. I loved you, and I wanted so badly for it to be “right”, the way it’s “supposed to be” between us. When I did bring it up you said, no you SCREAMED, that every time I talk about “The Problem” it undoes all that you’ve tried to do to solve it – effectively silencing me and forcing me to accept what is. But then, I can’t talk to you about anything that hurts me – and even if I did, you won’t do anything about it because you just don’t – CAN’T – care. Because it’s not about YOU. And finally, FINALLY, something is said that makes sense: when you look at me, you see only you – and you hate yourself so much that you can only hate me.
I know of my own knowing that it has NOTHING to do with me. I KNOW that I’ve saved your life over and over, protected you, supported you and made your life and the lives of your children WORLDS BETTER. I set myself and my needs aside in the face of your excuses and rationalizations about how you’re “different”. I’ve poured out my love for you like water in the desert, broken and remade myself over and over for you, and you don’t even notice. I feel invisible, neglected, taken for granted and quite frankly, used. You say that wasn’t your intention. It is, however, what IS, regardless of how you try to manipulate the facts.
There has been an erosion of your respect for me over time, beginning with forgetting basic courtesies like “please” and “thank you” and escalating to “playfully” punching me in the groin, burping in my face or giving me a closeup view of you sucking your own phlegm, and thinking that that’s “funny”. You trying to control me with your threats of “bugging out”, leaving, or suicide. You say you don’t go through my things, but that’s not true – you go through them, take what seems good or useful, helping yourself without asking.
I’ve been abused in many ways. Being screamed at, thrown into a table, called names, discarded and told to leave at your whim. Lied to, deceived, and allowed to believe what wasn’t so, having answers that you could have given withheld as though they were state secrets. Violence and the threat of violence used as a tool for you to get what you want.
Do you know how hard it is to function emotionally when you’ve been told that “some things are only true in the moment”? In one “moment” you say you love me, that you’re my guardian and protector, in another it’s that you hate me and want me gone. From “I love you forever and want to marry you” to “I’m gonna punch you in the face” and “I’m going to kill you” and “I’ll ruin your life” and “do you want to die tonight?”
In February, in the face of immense fear of what you would do, I told you that I’m ending it. I did this, rather than ghost out of your life, as an expression of my commitment to my own integrity, so you don’t tell yourself stories about “why”, or pretend it was all me being a “fucking retarded bitch” when people ask you what happened. You didn’t even ask me much. I took it as you not caring, and possibly being relieved that I’m finally going to be gone from your life.
Ironically, as of the last time we fought, you don’t even think there IS a problem, and if I think there is one, it’s MY problem, not YOURS or even OURS.
I have been waiting for you to come to me, ask me to stay, change my mind. But you haven’t. And that’s all I need to know, because men go after what they want. I tried – and failed – to find an apartment that I could afford on my own. My intention to leave was solid. But I drifted back into the haze of promises of a better future that I know won’t come. I’ve stopped believing. I can’t go through the motions and pretend it’s good enough, because it isn’t. I don’t see what’s in this for me anymore, if I ever did. Hell, even the sex sucks. I am not obligated to you in any way. I am free to discern and decide what serves me best. And I’m no longer willing to put my needs aside for the privilege of chasing you for crumbs.
You know, I prayed for clarity about what is REALLY happening for months. And it was there, staring me in the face, with me unwilling to see, all along. Maybe you noticed that I pulled back on some of the things I used to do: protesting the lack of communication, asking about your work schedule, and that I don’t nag about the sleeping arrangements any more. All things that should have put up a red flag for you, because that’s what I was waving.
You can’t love me – I understand that now. You just… can’t. And it’s nothing to do with me being unlovable or “hard to love”, it’s entirely you. I thought that if you just opened up to me, I would be able to show you how much you’re loved, but my greatest fear has apparently come true without my realizing it – you opened up and…there’s nothing there.
Finally – I have assassinated all hope that you would change. Your empty promises of things being “better” at some vague later time will no longer carry any weight. I told you once that when I stopped caring, I would burn it to the ground. Yesterday was that day. That sound you hear? It’s the sound of me striking the match.
You see, I spent all of the time you left me alone planning my escape, smiling at you and acting normal for months now. I tried it the honorable way, and failed. I didn’t want to see myself as the kind of person who would ghost out of someone’s life without a word, and I don’t like to lose. But I decided that it’s not losing if you’re walking out of a burning house, especially if it’s not yours. And I decided that my survival – by any means necessary – was worth being “dishonorable” to someone who had repeatedly dishonored me. So I put my plans in place, took my things and all the money you had, and left.
I have a private PO box, I’ve blocked your calls and texts and those of all your family and friends, blocked you on social media and did the best I could to ascertain that you have no way to contact me or find me at work. I’ve deleted all your old messages in every format, separated your phone account, cancelled your gym membership, burned your photos and those of your children. I ran – far enough that it will be a challenge to you without money and a car – to come here, if you even took note of which building I work in.
I imagine that you’re raging. I smile.