letter to my ex
When I met you, you were warm and funny. You made me laugh; made me feel safe; talked about things I desperately wanted someone to talk to about. Stupid things and large, sweeping political things. You made sure I was ok. You helped me with things you knew I could do myself, but you wanted to help me out. I loved being around you. I felt safe and warm and loved.
I can’t talk about the times I felt uncomfortable during sex. I can’t write down what you said on a daily basis and how you made me feel about my own body. I can write down the times I hid in the bathroom with the door locked, frantically singing in the shower to drown out the sound of you yelling and hammering on the door to get in. Not knowing if ever opening the door was going to be a good idea. Never being able to use the bathroom with the door locked without having you demand to know why I was stopping you getting in.
I can write down how you would yell at me when I did the dishes, or put the cushions on the (clean) floor, in exactly the same way you did as obviously these things meant I didn’t really care about you at all. Those two actions meant I hated you. And leaving my handbag at the front door. That was something that only the selfish person that I am could possibly think wouldn’t make your world collapse. Or buying you a low fat birthday cake that had 10 extra calories than I said to you, which meant I was trying to poison you.
You said I didn’t remember the good times. In the last two years, the good times have been weekends where we haven’t gone out of the house but haven’t argued. I don’t count them because they don’t count in a healthy relationship. You yelled at me and stormed off on both our holidays and told me I was too fat and ugly for anything to happen between us while we were away. That’s what I remember from the holidays. And when I look at the photos I see me putting on a brave face. And trying to blot out the things I didn’t want to have happened.
I missed weddings, birthdays, nights out with friends and days out with family that I organised and then couldn’t show up for because we’d argued until 3 in the morning and I was too worn out to face people. What would I say when I saw them? But it didn’t matter because you wouldn’t let me leave the house. Or you would eventually stop shouting and keeping me in a room, and let me have my phone back but by then I would be too tired to cope with more arguments we would inevitably have if I went out and then came home. I often couldn’t make it in to work and when I did I was tired, ratty, unable to make good decisions and unable to talk to the people around me. I lost myself in the debris of us.
I made it to a hen night but only after you’d shouted for two hours, thrown an ironing board at me, trapped me in a room for an hour to make sure I knew how sorry you were and then said you’d actually thought about trying not to shout at me that day as you didn’t want to upset me before I went out. I was so grateful for that little chink of light in you that I glossed over what had actually happened. I made it out to the hen night at a comedy club. And one of the comedians made a joke about domestic violence and everybody laughed. And I threw up in the toilets stone cold sober.
Couples counselling was on your terms. Two counsellors together: one male, one female; both on my side as far as you were concerned. Although mostly you talked about me and not yourself, which meant the focus of the sessions was on me. And I didn’t want to antagonise you by talking about you and all the things on the list you said we shouldn’t talk about in counselling as they were too private.
I can’t get down on paper the feeling of never knowing what you were going to get angry about, how long the arguments went on for, how many nights I cried because I was so tired and just wanted to sleep. I can’t fully explain how it felt to be constantly woken up at night and how desperately you tried to keep me talking in the morning before work, and then blame my lateness on making time for the things I wanted and needed to do in the morning, which weren’t talking about our relationship or your business for an hour and a half.
The day you held me down on the bed and told me to shut the fuck up was the last straw. I knew then I was never going to be safe with you and that I had never actually been safe with you, no matter what you said or what either of us wanted to believe. I went away with you for the weekend after that and we had a surreal time. As if none of these things had ever happened and we were just what we should have been: two people in love on a weekend break in a lovely city. But we weren’t underneath and I couldn’t ignore how scared and sick I felt when we were beside each other.
You want us to try again, because this time it’s going to be different. You see it this time. You didn’t realise before how much I meant to you and what was wrong with us. But now you do. I can’t believe you. I believed you the last time. And the time before. And the time before that. Our main big new start began with you screaming at me when we were loading up the moving van and then waving an iron about outside our new house, with me trapped at the back of the van. Because I’d asked you not to yell at me in the street in front of our new neighbours and was ‘closing you down’. I asked you not to ruin our fresh start. Four weeks later I was on a train to my parents after you pushed me to the ground after 4 hours of yelling and following me round the house. I used up my hope for our fresh starts. I love you with all my heart and it breaks me up to leave you and see how upset you are. But I can’t ever come back. I can’t ever take the chance again.
We do NOT give permission for posts published as personal experiences to be reproduced, translated or otherwise published elsewhere. We will not contact people who submit their personal experiences on behalf of journalists, bloggers or other third sector organisations. These testimonies remain the intellectual copyright of their authors and must be treated with the ethical guidelines used by academics for research involving human subjects. Our full guidelines can be read here.