Dear J is a reoccurring series in the TGS Sunday Letters. Each Dear J letter is written anonymously by one of our writers. These letters are the things we didn’t say, the things we wish we did and the things that we never will.
The life we had was a distorted reality. I was living what I believed to be a fairy tale. We talked marriage, kids, and said it was all going to happen before we were 30. Looking back now, I’m amazed to see that the life we created was built upon a foundation of lies, deceit, and abuse.
You entered my life when I was at the malleable age of 15. This was the beginning of you subconsciously setting the stage for every failed relationship I’ve ever had.
From you, I learned that I was unlovable and that I was unable to love. I learned that paranoia should fuel a relationship. I learned that true validation can only come from a man, and that the only way a relationship could succeed was if there were superior and inferior roles. You taught me to be afraid of men. You taught me to fear vulnerability and neglect emotion. It was from our failed relationship that I formed a hard exterior and created a natural barrier between myself and any man who shows interest in me. You showed me “love” through control.
I remember when you told me I wasn’t allowed to dye my hair or get a tattoo. I remember when you told me I was required call you whenever I went out with friends during my first year of college. You controlled not only my physical body, but my mental and emotional being. You robbed me of 4 years where I thought I was in control, but in reality, my life was controlled by you, John – a manipulative, condescending, abusive man who I believed knew what was best for me.
You told me that if I didn’t have sex with you, your testicles would explode. And I believed you. I was an 18-year-old virgin, what did I know about men’s anatomy and how sex worked? All I wanted to do was please you, no matter the circumstance. But even my naïve, young mind knew something was wrong when you told me we weren’t allowed to use contraception of any kind because it “wasn’t allowed” where you came from. This is when I stopped you for the first time in 3 years from pushing me too far, and this is when I began to feel empowered.
Fast forward to when I tried to break things off. After 4 years of our relationship being on-again-off-again, I finally started to see what everyone else was seeing. I used starting my new job and beginning my second year of college as an excuse that I was getting “too busy” for a long-distance relationship. I took the exceptionally harsh verbal blows from you (as I always did) because I knew it would all be worth it when I finally ended the relationship.
When it was finally over, my life shattered and the world I thought I knew came crashing down as reality set in. I entered what I had left of my youth with a disjointed idea of what relationships were supposed to be. I tried dating, I tried the hook-up culture, but every romantic relationship I pursued thereafter ended with me being the “psychotic, paranoid, weird girl” who thought something was wrong when the man in the relationship wasn’t controlling me.
I write you this letter, John, because I hope you’ve changed. I hope that you haven’t ruined the lives of any other women. I want you to understand the hurt and I don’t want to see you make the same mistakes twice.
I want you to see me now. My friends wouldn’t believe the woman I used to be when compared to the woman I am today. Today, I am everything you told me not to be – I’m a liberal, I’m a feminist, I have a nose piercing and a tattoo and I dye my hair and I like indie pop and I drink a lot. I want you to meet me again, 8 years after we meet for the first time. I’ve never felt more authentically and unapologetically me.
So, I want to thank you. Your idiocy, your abuse, and your hatred for what is right and loving and just has made me into who I am today. The wounds you created on my being remained open and throbbing for so many years, but they have finally started to mend as I enter into early adulthood. Through the pain of recovery, I have become stronger, wiser, and more intentional about the relationships I pursue. Thanks to you, I have become the person you dreaded. I have become exactly the person I never knew I wanted to be.
Thank you for everything.
P.S. – My mom was right about you all along.