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. 

Triggers Transformed to Miracles

There was one day that everything seemed to change. I pushed up against a wall in my heart, and found a hidden door. The one I had been searching for, longing for. It had been there, but I didn’t realize I held the key. 

“I deserve to be with someone who wants to support me emotionally.” 

I stood in the kitchen. As the words exited my mouth it felt more like someone was speaking through me than I was speaking for myself. I had never known this kind of bravery. I had never seen myself stand so firm. Who was this person? Who was I becoming? 

This, of course, came out of an unnecessary fight. A fight that had been going on for so long I had just learned to live with the anger and frustration. I had been asking for help over and over. I was losing it. But I knew it was temporary. My shit was all in the fan. I just needed some help. 

I’ve made a lot of choices in my life that contribute to my own personal growth. Basically, I’m a professional student. And no matter how much I long for the quenching of my thirst for knowledge, and no matter how fulfilling these desires are for me; I can admit that it takes its toll on the people with whom we share our lives and our space. 

I was deep in my master’s program. I was preparing my PhD applications. All the stress was drowning me. There were many days I was running on little to no sleep. I was trying to decide on which programs I wanted to apply to. I was trying to figure out how to keep living all of my dreams-finding a balance between work and life. It’s nearly impossible. 

I was teaching two courses, taking two courses, trying to get together a writing sample, working 25-30 hours a week, still doing my best to be available to my partner. Always trying to keep the lines of communication open about which programs I was looking at, the locations our life might be moving toward. 

I cried a lot. 

At one point, she openly admitted to withholding affection from me. I blamed myself for taking on too much. 

She complained a lot. 

“You’re not doing enough,” was a refrain I heard often.

“You’re unbearable to be around.” 

“When you leave the house a mess, this is the shit that makes me want to drink. I told you it was important that my space not be filled with clutter.”

When a recovering alcoholic tells a raging codependent that their lifestyle spiraling out of control is pushing that alcoholic toward that codependent biggest fear-this is crazy making. The three C’s of al-anon (we didn’t cause it; can’t control it; can’t cure it) somehow get lost in the sea of self-loathing and self-blaming buried under the inner critic telling us-“If you can do better-this will be under control. Your life is unmanageable, and it’s affecting the alcoholic. You are bad. You promised her you would do better, and you’re failing to follow through.” 

This preliminary blaming for the addict’s choice to drink which may or may not be coming around the next bend of chaos is stifling. But I was not going to give up on my dreams. I couldn’t. 

This day, I was rushing around to get my stuff together for school, and to follow it up with a restaurant shift. I was frantically searching for my apron-which I realized was in the washer. It was Wednesday. It was her day off. I had put that laundry in the washer on Sunday. This is what grad school looks like. 

As I expressed my frustration for the circumstance, she retorted with this:
“Why is there still laundry in the washer?”

The condescension in her tone was not subtle. 

I said, “Because I FUCKING forgot about it. On my list of priorities, it’s somewhere around number 30. If it is a big deal to you-take care of it. I just can’t right now.”

I hit my breaking point. I reacted to the circumstance. I reacted to the implication that my life choices were interfering with her happiness. I accepted the blame, but tried to push it away by screaming my frustration in an effort to finally be heard. 

“I guess I’ll fix it, just like I fix everything else. Even though it’s my one day off. I’ll take care of the laundry that you never finished.”
TRIGGERED: Suddenly, I’m eight years old. Standing in the kitchen, crying about laundry. Feeling inadequate. Feeling like an inconvenience. Feeling like I can’t hold up my end of the deal. Her tone and words combined, and the comment translated itself in my mind. It became, “You aren’t good enough. Good thing I’m more awesome. You’ve ruined my day. You’re lazy. You can’t do anything right.”

Excessive self-criticism, I know. 

THE MIRACLE: An equally sudden shift occurred. I realized, I was 29. Standing in her kitchen. Listening to her berate me for my inadequacies. But I didn’t feel inadequate-I felt overwhelmed. I recognized overwhelm through a new lens. The inner critic had never seen this lens before, and had no power to usurp my words as I clearly, coherently, and quite powerfully expressed them. 

“I deserve to be with someone who wants to support me emotionally.” 

That was almost a year ago, and I’m still struggling to integrate that from an intellectual knowing and brashly articulated sentiment into a core belief. But I am getting there-one day at a time my self-esteem and self-worth are getting stronger. My ego is getting healthier. That is really all I can ask for. 

Why I write

In a creative writing course, the instructor told us that you know you are a writer when you have to write. And then droned on about some “white hot burning.”

I have learned, that when I do not write, my mind becomes a dank cellar with rotting vegetables on its shelves.

In a poetry course, we defined poetry and it defined me.

My professor pulled me aside after class, and told me I needed to pursue this thing inside me. I told him that poetry was my passion, and that others had tried to talk me out of seeking a PhD. He said fuck ‘em.

In a literature course, we read a lot, and assigned our meanings through historical and biographical evidence bound in the texts.

I found that critical theory breathes new life into old texts, and that to write well is to transcend time and space; a chance to be more than earthly.

I write, because all of these things have helped me define who I am, and my position in this world.

I write, because one day my therapist asked me to write a letter to my mother and bring it to her to share. When I finished, she was less concerned with my relationship with my mother, and laid out only her evidence that writing was my gift.

I write because I want to know more about the nature of things. Sometimes, these things are people, or trees, or experiences that I have had and even the ones which I have denied myself the opportunity to have. I have an obsession with the aesthetic of the neat.

I don’t write to create a different reality. I write, to better understand my own.

I write because I know that there are always layers beyond the surface which are much more intimate and telling than anything we typically share, even with our most intimate friends.

I write because I am full of questions; like what the fuck is wrong with me? How do forests thrive for years untouched, but every potted plant I have ever had, withers under my care and love?

I write because when I read a book or poem, I am not concerned so much with what the book means to me, or how it makes me feel, but I want to know what the writer was thinking when they wrote it. What inspired them to write this story? What trauma were they working through?

I write, because there will always be someone to feel as misunderstood as I have felt. I write to understand my Self, my motives, my pain, my happiness.

I write to find the answers to all of my questions.

 

Writing to me, is a selfish act. I made the mistake of telling someone that I wrote on that day, about them. What I had meant, was that I had written about an experience I had had, and I wanted them to know that it was important that they were there, too. But, when their response was, I am happy to be the reason you write, I knew that they grossly misunderstood who I was and what my purpose was becoming. I write for myself asshole. And he could never take that away from me, although I had stopped writing for a while after for fear of being misunderstood by more than just him.

I write, because  literature has taught me more about myself than anything else I have experienced.

I write, because when I read, I am transformed if only slightly; and when I write I am formed, if only slightly.

I write, because in writing I find my lifeline and my breath.

But most people never know what the pages of my journal or all the Word documents that I hide really have to reveal about me. I have long said that I am an open book. When most people meet me, they do not know how to interpret what lies in between my covers.

I write more than most will ever know. Because in my fear, I hide it all. I do not want people to know who I am or where I ache. Because that would make me more human than I am ready to be.