A Letter to the Abuser who Nearly Destroyed Me
I think it is pretty safe to say that you won’t ever read this, so it is safe for me to write it. If you do, I’m pretty sure I’ll be in trouble because you’ll know I’m writing to you, but I need to say this, so I don’t care.
When we met, you must have been able to see my vulnerability and a deep need for love a mile off. The long years of addiction notwithstanding, I was reeling from a bereavement I was still struggling with four years after the death. As if that wasn’t painful enough, I was trying to extricate my heart from an agonizing six years of unrequited love. I was desperate for love, for attention, and for someone to tell me they thought I was beautiful.
And you certainly obliged there. You showered me with love, compliments, gifts, money, free alcohol, and marijuana. You couldn’t do enough for me. You became my best friend, and while I rejected your romantic advances (well, when I was sober enough to do so anyway), we got very close. You confided in me, I confided more in you, and I ignored the voice in my head telling me that you were not to be trusted and that I was worth more.
After a few months, I was hooked, and we got together. Early in our relationship, I was regularly frustrated that all you seemed to like about me was that I was beautiful; when asked what else, you had little to say. Again, that voice warned me to get out, but I didn’t want to be alone, so I stayed.
I was 37 and didn’t want any more children.
You assured me that this wasn’t a problem, you knew from experiences with a former girlfriend that you couldn’t have children. I suspect the voice in my head that knew you weren’t to be trusted; it wasn’t overly surprised when I found myself pregnant just five months into our relationship. I had a real battle with myself over the decision I needed to make.
The pregnancy gave me my first extended period of sobriety since I was 18, and with brutal reality, the veil was lifted on our relationship. With abject horror, I realized what a mistake I had made and what a terrible situation I had put myself and my boys in.
You began to show your true colors once you knew you had me trapped. You stopped pretending. You tried to prevent me from seeing friends you were jealous of. You complained about how much time I spent with my parents. You stopped me listening to music and reading. You imposed restrictions on my time and even caused problems between me and my sons.
Even before our child was born, I knew I had to get out.
Yet, being a 37-year-old newly single mother of a newborn and two teenagers was a terrifying prospect, and I wasn’t mentally or emotionally strong enough to do it. So I gritted my teeth, succumbed to your demands, and returned to drinking and smoking as soon as I stopped breastfeeding.
This time, you knew that my drinking didn’t involve you, and instead of encouraging it as you had before (when the only child I was letting down wasn’t yours), you threatened, criticised, shamed and frightened me. None of those tactics made me chase sobriety, they just made me need to drink more to manage my fears.
One day you found a diary entry I had written about how unhappy I was. You could have used that insider information to help repair the relationship. That wasn’t your style. Instead, you used that as the grounds to launch an all out war on me. You spent time acquiring ‘evidence’ of my flaws. You tricked me time and again into failing to meet your ever-changing standards.
When I eventually plucked up the courage to end the relationship, you accepted it. Or so it seemed. You refused to move out, bullying, manipulating, frightening and weakening me even more. I felt an overwhelming relief when you told me almost a year later that you would go.
And now, we have been at war for years. I could list countless examples here of how I have been manipulated and bullied since then, how my son suffers terribly, how being your son is damaging him, but I won’t.
Instead, I want to thank you.
I am choosing gratitude and forgiveness over resentment and anger.
You gave me a wonderful son, who, I have often said, saved my life. Had he not been around, I might not be in a position to be writing for Sober Mommies. I might not be in any position at all. My addiction predated you, and but for our son, it might well have taken me.
You have helped me to see how strong I can be. You still try to make me feel weak, and sometimes it works, but not for long. I am a fierce warrior who will fight to protect myself and my children. I always have been. You helped me to really see it.
You have helped me to see that I deserve more from men than I have had in the past. You nearly destroyed me and I have learned many lessons. Some of those lessons have come wrapped in barbed wire with big high walls around them. I need to break down some of the walls you helped me build to allow me to let love in again. But I know to never accept less than I know I am worthy of.
I have learned that I must always listen to that voice in my head. My intuition always sees the red flags, and you, my friend, were covered in them.
You are pivotal in my recovery story. Yes, you, the man who bought me with free cider and weed. The breakdown that led to my recovery was, in a very large part, thanks to you. You weakened me so much that there was nothing left in my reserves when other stuff collided with your shit, and I fell apart. Those cracks let the light of Yoga into my life, and I began to heal. I am grateful for the pain that led to my healing, so how can I not be grateful to you?
I feel sorry for you.
I’m sorry that I appeared in your life as a weak, vulnerable woman, ripe for control, who then turned out not to be. I am sorry that you think control and bullying is how to show love. And I am sorry that you are missing out on so much joy with that beautiful little boy because you cannot put someone else’s needs before yourself.
I’d like to say I also hope one day we can be friends. That requires trust that will never be there. Maybe one day we will be able to have a civil relationship that doesn’t have terms and conditions.
I hope one day you find out how to be really happy without it being at someone else’s expense. We all deserve to be happy, even you.
Thank you, Me.
Esther is from Wales in the UK. She beat 20 years of alcoholism and drug abuse at the age of 41 when she trained to be a yoga teacher. She has been sober since Oct 12, 2014, and has written a book about her adventures (Bent Back into Shape, Beating Addiction Through Yoga).
Esther loves music, Yoga, her babies (three human sons and one dog daughter), walking in the hills and at the coast, and dancing like no one is watching (even when she is at the grocery store!). She is passionate about the power of Yoga to create health and happiness, and believes that through its transformational power, and particularly learning to breathe, we can create space, peace, healing and joy in our lives.