FUCK YOU: A Letter

I am having a bad day. Repeating emotions coming through to show me something that I hadn’t been able to see yet. Self-blame patterns, shame, guilt, and buried hurts.

 
I googled “why victims protect their abusers” I’ve already read about trauma bonding. I am just trying, desperately, to understand my own patterns so I don’t do this shot to myself again. 
She sent me a message once saying that it hurt that we couldn’t talk. 
You know what else hurts? Realizing that I gave eight years of my life to a relationship that was built entirely on lies and satisfying the needs and wants of one person whose behavior continually proves that they are self-seeking and that it will never change. 

It hurts to hate myself for having a kind heart.

 It hurts to have to remind myself over and over and over again that loving someone who mistreats me does not make me a flawed human, or weak, or bad.

It hurts to come to terms with and accept that no matter what I did or could have done what I truly needed didn’t exist in that space and any time I thought I had it was an illusion, a metaphorical band-aid plastered over my wound to just get me to shut up.

It hurts to realize that the only time my partner really ever gave me affection was around their friends to build some illusion of a loving relationship and that it made me uncomfortable and I didn’t know why.

 It hurts to realize that every time the person I chose to be my partner had an opportunity to actually be a partner they chose to walk away, and abandon me emotionally, but play the victim when I scraped up what was left of my dignity and strength to walk away and try and find clarity. 

It hurts that when I did find clarity, my clarity was undermined and replaced with another lie intended only for that person to numb out their own shame. 

It hurts to have spent so much time questioning my own worth and sanity only to finally realize that there had never been anything wrong with me except my core belief that I didn’t deserve better, and that I could help her. 

It hurts to realize that my idea of love was toxic, and that receiving love is just as important, and that the lack of love I received wasn’t because I was blocked from accepting it, but that my partner was blocked from giving it in a way that I needed. 

It hurts that she admitted that she knew what I needed, but she withheld it to “see what I would do.” 

Shut down, assfuck. That’s what I would do. Find a way to protect my vulnerability from being manipulated against me. 

It hurts to know that the person I chose would have done anything they could to not choose me. 

It hurts to come to terms with the fact that the person I chose to love really only ever wanted me to hate them, and made choices to make that happen, and admitted to it-more than once. 

 And that I blamed myself for it. 

I guess it’s true. The truth hurts. It’s all I ever really wanted. It’s also true that the truth will set you free. That’s what I wanted most. 

I don’t expect her to care. She clearly never really has. I don’t expect that to change now. I just know better than to expect that of her. Not of other people though. Because it isn’t “expecting too much” to expect the people who say “I love you” to actually LOVE YOU. and expectations aren’t wrong, or setting oneself up for failure and disappointment. As long as they’re realistic. 

She expected me to be perfect, self-sufficient and subservient to her every demand. 

I just expected her to actually care about me. And she couldn’t. Because she lacks that capability. That’s sad. 

I feel bad for her. But I don’t feel bad I left. I feel bad I stayed for so long

 
And underneath all that hurt is the truth that I can be happy. Truly happy. And I do deserve love. Real love. Not whatever she fucking had to offer me.

 
I’m praying for her new girlfriend. That she wises up on a timeline more congruent with the last girlfriend than with mine. What I mean is, that she can see through your bullshit quickly.  And not just ask you for another heaping pile of it to pick through, and keep herself occupied for a few months at a time. 

Because she has kids to take care of, and we both already know that you’re just like the asshole that abused me when I was a kid. That you never really thought his behavior was wrong. And you are the asshole that abused me as an adult. And I’m the asshole who thought that was fucking normal. It wasn’t. 
You told me that you learned there were two kinds of people in the world. People like your mom and people like your dad. 

You became him. Abusive and predatory. Self seeking and narcissistic. And I thought if I could get someone like you to love me then I would be worthy of love. 

I handed my power over to you daily. And I didn’t get it. You were right. I was weak. Or, I let you have the power. 

I let you beat me down for years, and play the victim whenever I could finally stand up for myself. 
I still pray for you to get the help you need. Although I’m sure it’s a waste of my time. I still pray for myself. That at some point this will stop hurting. That the memory of you won’t sting so bad. That the eight years I spent with you were actually worth the wisdom I gained. To love myself first. Which is why I won’t grant you any more access into my life. At least I’ve got that down. But it still fucking hurts. 

Backward Feeling

My therapist had told me for years-you can’t feel for other people. But I can. And I do. Saying that I can’t had sent the message to my subconscious that this was a challenge. I love a good challenge. I started to take on her emotions, and I had no idea I was doing it. I accepted her pain. But in my willful unknowing-I thought it must certainly be me. So, when the projections started flying around I had already begun to believe that there was something wrong with me. 

The earliest one I can remember was right before I went into therapy. It wasn’t my first rodeo in therapy. My first time was when I was 8. My mom says, “you were always a happy kid, and then one day you weren’t anymore.” Right-so, toss me to the school counselor because that doesn’t alienate anyone in their third grade class. She gets out of class because she can’t adjust like the rest of us. Thanks mom. 

This time, life was happening. It’s cool. Shit happens. I lost my job. Got fired. I had a guest complaint which I still maintain was the biggest bullshit claim I have ever heard. I am no stranger to guest complaints throughout the ten years I spent in the restaraunt industry. I always owned it. This one, though, was an all out lie. But, you know, whatever. I’m sure I needed out of there for a reason. In hindsight…it was bringing me even more truth that I still wasn’t willing to recognize. 

So, I lost my job. With that loss came a whole heaping weight of, “what the fuck do I do now?” Overwhelm. Sadness. Fear. Things I now understand to be totally normal in that situation. Totally valid. Totally acceptable. 

Yet, this is how it went down.  

The next day, I was laying in bed. Throwing myself a pity party, otherwise known as trying to figure out what my next steps should be. The bottom dropped out. What the hell do I do? I tried talking to my partner about it. But, you know, things just work out, everything is fine. Let’s just have sex. I, obviously, couldn’t go there. I wish I could have, it just wasn’t what I needed. There’s a pretty strong chance it COULD have been exactly what I needed, but in that moment-it wasn’t right. I said no, not now. I can’t. 

She flew out of the bed in a huffy puffy mess of her own perceived rejection. I laid there alone in my own perceived rejection. We were young. We were stupid. I don’t know whose perceived rejection was more or less valid, but nobody felt loved that Sunday morning. 

As I laid alone and cried, she went to take a shower. As I laid alone and cried, I could hear her masturbating in the shower. My hurt and shame and fear and rejection compounded exponentially. I felt useless and used. She didn’t want to have sex with me to connect and help bring me out of my funkiness. She didn’t want to have sex with me because she loved me and knew the healing power of human connection. If she did, I very likely would have completely surrendered to her proposition and her touch. I guess my soul knew things I hadn’t figured out. 

As I laid there, vulnerable, alone, and deeply hurt a surge of anger built up in me. Who was this person that I shard my life with? What kind of a person acts like this in these situations? She’s a monster. Why would she hurt me like that? What did I do to deserve this? 

The shower turned off. I was up and pacing. I didn’t know what to do or say. I don’t even remember what I did say. But I definitely didn’t shy away from expressing how incredible shitty that behavior was. 

She smirked at me, “I don’t even know how you heard that. I was trying really hard to be quiet.”

Fucking asshole. 

I hadn’t learned yet how to say, “I’m hurting.” But something tells me it wouldn’t have mattered. 

“It’s not about the fact that I heard it, it’s the fact that you DID IT!”

“I have needs.”

That was her answer. That was her sole means of justification. 

“I have needs.”

Selfish fucking asshole. 

I was speechless. 

But let’s break down this monstrosity of an interaction. Her needs for sexual gratification with or without my presence trumped my need for human contact and a genuine need for my difficult emotions to be soothed and processed. 

She left. She went to go watch football, and drink beer with her friends. She didn’t invite me. 

Instead, she looked at me and said, “You’re a lonely person. You need to go talk to someone.”

She was right. I had never felt more lonely than I did that afternoon. And I did make an appointment with a therapist shortly thereafter. But my loneliness in that moment was not wrong, chronic, unfounded, or even a ME problem. I felt her loneliness so deeply it became my own. I went to therapy to try and fix it. 

That never truly worked itself out. Only now can I see why. 

Hurt People Hurt People

Form the words 
First in your mind

Bring them forward

And say it. 

Stop victimizing yourself 

Take your power back

Stand up for yourself
I need you to say it

I need you to pull the I from 

under the guilt. 

Take the Am from
all the calamity
That has taken over your life. 

Remove the A from the shame

That you have perpetuated. 

take the Victim back from all those who were left 
in your wake. 

Transform that into survivor. 

You deserve to heal. 
We all deserve peace

The Beginning of the Final Ending: Oct 30, 2015

“I would be willing to marry you, if that was something you needed for this relationship to work.”

“Excuse me? WHAT?”

We were on a date. The first one we had been on in quite some time. I had taken the night off work at my restaurant job because I had a conference presentation scheduled for the next morning. I was nervous. Standing in front of a room of scholars to present one’s own ideas is intimidating to say the least. 

We had gone to one of our favorite spots. I didn’t make a reservation because I didn’t think it would be that difficult to get searing for a party of two. 

We waited for nearly two hours. The duration of the wait was extended by the weight of the silence that had been building between us. I was nervous for the presentation, but I was also scared of the direction our relationship was heading. I guess, I didn’t know what I wanted or what she wanted or where we even were. I had been trying to bring up the discomfort that had become our existence with each other. She didn’t seem to feel the same kind of discomfort. I felt our connection waning, and I didn’t know how to get it back. I needed something, but I wasn’t sure if she had it to give. I wasn’t sure how to ask for it. I wasn’t sure how to put it into words. I just knew something wasn’t quite right. 

After our really long wait, and the tossing around of ideas of where else we might go to satisfy our need for food-“No, I do not want to eat from a hot dog food truck. That does not appeal to me in any kind of way,” I said. 

The host took us to our table. I looked at the art hanging on the wall. It was a lonely picture. Blues and yellows. A woman sitting in a chair. It was titled: “These Two Needed to Have a Serious Talk.” 

The universe is so fucking cute. 

I felt so heavy. So helpless. So empty of any ability to express or make sense of anything I was feeling. I dropped my stuff and went to the bathroom. When I returned, that’s when she said it. 

“I would be willing to marry you if that is something you need for this relationship to work.”

I’ll never forget it. The way she presented this marriage proposal as a solution to the weight of our co-existence. This is not the kind of shock I was expecting to come from a marriage proposal. 

Her and I held strongly opposed views of marriage. When we first got together at 21 and 22 years old we agreed-marriage was a feeble institution and the consistent political fighting about whether or not gays should have the right to marry turned us both off from the idea that it was something we would ever need in order to feel complete in our relationship. I remember that conversation. We were driving to my parents house. 

Deep in the rebellion that defined my late teens and early twenties-i didn’t want labels or constriction. I didn’t want anniversaries or celebrations. I thought gifts were a cop-out. (I actually do still believe gifts are a sort of cop-out) I thought this made me freer. I was wrong. This was fear. 

Both of our histories had determined that marriage was a kind of trap, and often not healthy. My parents divorced right around my first birthday. I didn’t want to be like them. My mom and her current husband were both in their third marriage. I didn’t want to be like them. Her parents had been married her whole life. Despite the toxicity of their relationship-they found a way to make it work. Her father stayed in the basement while her mother ruled the upper level. There’s was more of a business partnership than one ruled by loving affection. She didn’t want to be like them. In that moment-we agreed, at least, about who and what we did not want this relationship to become.  

As time went on, my views about marriage changed. We argued about it a lot. She would say, “I’m committed to you.” I guess I was supposed to believe that. But I wanted an anniversary. I wanted a day that belonged to the celebration of our love and commitment. I wanted a pretty dress, and to write marriage vows, and to have my picture taken with the love of my life under a willow tree. I wanted to stand in front of a group of the people I care about with the person I care about the most and say-“This is my love. This is my life. This is my promise to always be here with you. No matter what. I choose you.” 

We fought about it a lot. And after our separation in 2013-I asked, first, if she would want to get married. More importantly, “What are you going to do about your father when we get married?” 

“He can choose to come, or not come. That’s on him.”

I felt a sense of relief, and a measured sense of growth. I felt like we were on the same page again. I felt like I was exactly where I was supposed to be. 

It was almost two years later, and after a whole lot of moving around the topic without settling on a determined structure or arrangement to be made. We piled up excuses about why this isn’t the right time, or when would be the right time, or how we would afford it. 

“I would be willing to marry you if that was something you needed for this relationship to work.”

It still stings every time I think about it. 

Had she not heard me, ever? Had she not listened to the ways my world view had shifted? Had she not listened to herself when she said that she didn’t want a business-like marriage? Was she just trying to appease me? Did she even WANT this, or to be with me? 

“Excuse me? WHAT? This is not how I expected this to go down. I don’t get it. You always said you didn’t want a relationship like your parents. Something that is reduced to an arrangement made out of necessity. That is exactly what you’re asking me here. If that is how you see this, then I don’t want anything to do with it.”

I could see it in her face that she knew she screwed up the words. That I was disappointed. And that she was internalizing this. I don’t know how long she had prepared this offer in her mind or how much she might have thought she just totally blew it. She did totally blow it. And I totally blew up. 

I had grown tired of making excuses for her. We still needed to make it through this dinner. We still had a second date night destination to get to. And I still had the looming anxiety of my 8 a.m. scholarly presentation ahead of me. 

I was hungry, angry, lonely, and tired. I reacted to her offer in the only way I knew how. 

We had been discussing marriage about a year before that. We looked at rings. We talked about the ones I liked and why I liked them. We had it narrowed down to a couple of perfect prospects. I was never going to be the one that proposed marriage to her because I knew it was my view that had changed. I was waiting for her to be ready. I understood that her fear of commitment was real. We even talked about her brother, and how he and his wife were together for 11 years before they got married. We joked that it was part of their make-up. I needed her to come to me. I needed her to make that choice for herself. I thought we were on our way to uncovering that space in her. The place where she could finally feel safe to be gay and to be loved. 

Then she got sick. When the steroid that she was put on cost nearly $3000 after her insurance’s contribution- I shelved the whole idea. Sometimes life happens, and we have to adjust. I was totally okay with it. I was okay with all of it. I was not okay with this proposal. It felt like a simultaneous dismissal and invitation. I just couldn’t make sense of it. 

We made it through the rest of our date. It was awkward, and the tensions were high. I think she knew that she had hurt me, and I don’t think she had intended that to be the case. I couldn’t find the words to express all of my mounting frustrations. 

We went home and went to bed. The next morning she went to work. I went to present my paper. I never heard anything from her. No good luck. Nothing. No support whatsoever. Perhaps my searching for that was selfish. Perhaps not everyone understands the true value of a kind word in challenging times. Perhaps she was too distraught and preoccupied with the weight of the night before. The date that took place, in my mind, specifically because I took the night off work so that I could present this work at 8 a.m. on a Saturday morning.  

After I finished-I called her. 

“Hey, what’s up?” She said. 

“Oh. Nothing. I just finished presenting my paper.”

I was met with silence. I fought back my tears of disappointment, and mounting feelings of shame that she didn’t remember. 

I was tired of making excuses for her. I still couldn’t understand that my needs were not being met in the way I needed them to be. I just kept accepting these crumbs. Even if I were able to articulate the way these transactions were hurting me-it didn’t matter. I couldn’t wrap my mind around why I gave so much and received so little in return. I couldn’t understand why I didn’t seem to be important to her. It seemed like I wasn’t on her mind at all. Maybe I was wrong. I just felt so lonely and so invisible. I cried, alone in the bathroom on campus. I just wanted someone to be proud of me. But not just anyone. I needed it to be her. 

Friends and family members alike helped me rationalize this intense two days. 

“You can’t expect her to be interested in the all the things you’re interested in. Not everything that is important to you will be important to her.”

I thought I understood. She never apologized for forgetting about me. I just kept moving. Trying to forget how much it hurt me. 

Eventually I realized that I didn’t need her to be interested in the same things I was interested in. I needed her to be interested in ME. 

Confronting Confusion

“How come {this person} thinks you want to have kids, and I think you don’t?”

“Don’t get it twisted.”

“I don’t think I’m getting anything twisted here. I can only assume that means you don’t want to have kids with me. It seems like having kids with me is just more responsibility than you want to take on.”

“When do you really think you’re going to have time for kids with everything else you want to do? How do you think having a kid while you’re in a phd program is supposed to work?”

“That IS me. That is who I am. That is MY life. My dreams and goals. So, like I said, it seems like you don’t want to have kids with ME.”

There was silence until she changed the subject to gossip about someone else. This was never resolved, but became a revolving conversation over the next two weeks. Where my words were twisted against me. 

“You said you want to have kids, but never that you wanted to have kids with me.” She said. 

Confused. “Who else would I be talking about? You’re my partner. Do I need to make that explicitly clear to you?”
“You act like it’s just something you want for your life.”

“It is. All of these things are my dreams. Unfortunately, I can only make a certain amount of them come true on my own. The others require a partner who wants the same things.”

I never could figure out who was pushing who away. It seemed like we had the same ideals and goals. It seemed like we wanted the same things. Sometimes the words we chose matched up. But whenever I asked for commitment to those words, or wanted to devise a plan of action-I was met with pure resistance. 

I played small. I felt defective. I believed that I was going to have to choose between my professional goals and my personal goals. 

I know life isn’t fair. But that behavior is simply unacceptable. Because I do want it all. I deserve it all. 

What is the truth here? I’m not sure. 

Ultimately, I chose to go in the direction of the dreams that I knew I could obtain. Not without their own fair struggle though. 

I chose the profession. I felt guilty about it. I felt like I gave up the opportunity to have a family. I was scared that I chose work over relationship. I was scared that I chose career over love. I even believed this for a while. I believed she was right. That I had to choose. 

In real love-those are not choices we actually have to make. In real love-two people can be honest with each other about their fears. 
Eventually, she said, “I don’t want to say I want something I don’t know I can actually have.” 

I said, “you don’t have to have it all figured out to commit to wanting something. I’m not saying when or how this might work. I’m asking if it’s something you want to work for. This is how we achieve goals. How do you think I got where I am? I’m not fucking lucky. I decided I wanted something, and put in action steps to get there.”
How sad. Here I was-asking to build a world with her. To grow and shift into a new way of being. And she couldn’t access the space in her self to take the risk and say “Yes. Let’s figure this shit out together.”

I couldn’t access the space in myself to say-“give this some more time.” Honestly, I thought two years would have been enough. I thought seven years in and out of the relationship would have been enough to know. I thought having a conversation about it would shine a light, clarify the confusion, and make sense of the chaos. Eventually it did. But first I had to leave it all behind. And find myself new. 

I still want a family. And I still want a phd. I still have no idea how that might come together. I’m okay with that uncertainty. I’m not okay with the kind of uncertainty that comes from indecisiveness of another person. That lack of commitment confounds me. But that’s okay. 

Today, I am more fully committed to myself, my wants, and my needs. I may not have all the answers. But I’m finding new questions to ask. That is my beacon of hope out of all the confusion. 

Not an Isolated Incident

The tensions were high. The tensions were often high. I worked 60 hours a week, and so did she. Juggling graduate school, teaching, and working kept me stretched to my limits. Stress ruled our lives. I always did my best, and I guess she probably thinks she did, too. I still tried to maintain the home and play housewife. Home cooked meals, and cuddles in the couch. Gentle touch, and a warm embrace was all I really needed. I still loved her. I wanted to make space for her. I still held on to the Us I wanted us to be. 
I was home for an evening. No class, no work, and when she returned from work-I was happy for her arrival. In those moments, she was my life. 
I heard the door open and close. She came in and greeted the dog, and I waited. I waited. I waited. I know she saw my car in the driveway. I can’t wrap my mind around why her excitement to see ME did not match my excitement to see HER. I waited. Finally, I went to the kitchen. Sadness triggered, defenses engaged. 
“How come when you come home, you greet the dog, but not me?”
“Are you seriously jealous of the dog? It’s just what we do. You’re never here when I get home. I didn’t really think about it.”
“I’m not jealous of the dog. That’s not the point. I know I’m not here a lot, but I am today. One would think that would make it even more important to, I don’t know, say hello.”
“Hello.” Her cold tone matched her cold eyes. 
This was not an isolated incident. So, when I thought that I could somehow be better-that had become my mental refrain. “I’m a bad girlfriend. I don’t give her enough attention. She’s so used to coming home without me here, it’s like I’m not here at all. How could I do that to her?”
I don’t know how it happened. How my thinking got so warped, and how it could get so twisted so quickly. I have no idea how my hurt feelings could so quickly get turned into sympathy for her. I have no idea how I so quickly internalized her shame. But it happened all the time. 

Addiction

Not always using substance
But always using something

To cover up the shame with more shame

Fun isn’t real and cannot be held

feigning freedom
Building traps without 
doors held open

Windy wishes blown 
Like stardust that was only ever
rusted truths compromised and crumbling 

After the storm has passed. 
A new storm will always be
on the horizon. The weather
patterns uncontrolled 

Sunshine that burns

Snowflakes falling
like sawdust in our eyes

Nothing is ever clear. 

There is no moment of knowing

Every second preparing 
against the next angry fix 

fighting a battle of wills 
In unknowing battlegrounds