Reader Story: An Open Letter to an Ex-Boyfriend
Shared by atomisms.
To my friends and family, to those who care about me, this has been a long time coming. I am happy. And I am healthy. But I have to put to rest a girl that I used to know.
I am sick and tired of you. Years ago, I chose to move out of that apartment, physically leaving you behind, but I have carried the repercussions of that relationship with me ever since. I have allowed myself to be tortured by my past mistakes and my past weakness. I chose to allow you to take advantage of me in so many ways. The greatest mistake that I made was not realizing that I deserve to be treated with more respect.
I put myself in that position, and I am disgusted by the way that I was treated. Today, maybe you’ve changed; maybe you’ve realized the error of your ways, and cleaned up your fucking act. Or, if not, maybe you just haven’t met another girl who is too desperate, too niave, too stupid to see through your facade of hair gel, tight pants, and wanna-be celebrity. The boy that I lived with years ago was scum – loathsome, stealing, cheating, lying, abusive, fucking scum.
My life today could not be further from what it was when you knew the girl that I used to be. I am more successful. I have earned a Master’s Degree. Children and adults rely on me. I am surrounded by people that I can rely on. I am married to an incredibly intelligent and loving man. He reminds me that I am a beautiful person. He teaches me new things. He is a musician and an artist. He inspires me. From the time when he and I first met, and for the rest of our lives, we have and will continue to share every moment that we can, and we will be there for every birthday party, until we aren’t around to celebrate anymore.
As I sincerely choose to put that time behind me and enter “the rest of my life,” I am sick and tired of living with the ghost of the girl that I used to be.
When I allowed you to be a part of my life, I was unbelievably foolish. You didn’t pay rent. You didn’t pay utilities. You didn’t pay for food. You didn’t pay for alcohol. You didn’t enhance my life. You didn’t read my writing. You didn’t encourage me to pursue what made me happy. And I was stupid enough to think that our relationship was “normal” or to think that in some (now unfathomable) way, we shared something like “love.”
Along with the girl that I used to be, I am done with your memory. I no longer expect to ever see a dime of the money that I “invested” in you – naively believing that there would come a point when you would see me, perhaps decide that I deserved your respect, and maybe even change your ways.
Having said goodbye, I vow to do everything I can to educate and support young women who might be on their way toward the path that I mistakenly chose years ago. I will not say “if I can spare one” girl from the pain that I felt then I have achieved my goal because I hope that I can help every fucking girl possible. I hope every girl not only sees the truth about boys like the one who I allowed to take advantage of me, but also that every little girl can see the truth about herself.
She does not ever need to endure being used, being lied to, being taken advantage of, being disrespected, being hurt, all under the guise of a “relationship.” Many men treat females with the love and respect that they deserve, but she must be wary of the men who don’t. Though it might be a little lonely, I will tell her that I hope that her guy doesn’t come along right away. I will tell her not to waste her time waiting or looking for him. Not because I want her to endure an imbalanced, unhealthy relationship, but because I want her to spend that crucial time with herself. I will tell her to learn everything she possibly can; I will tell her to travel and live around the world. I will tell her to sleep on beaches and watch sunsets and eat amazing food and make mistakes and read good books and learn new languages and take scary risks and make herself happy and seek out good friends and nurture those friendships. I will tell her to get to know the people that truly value who she is and to honor them and reciprocate that love. I will tell her to honor herself; I will tell her to live richly.
And Lee, if you happen to someday have a daughter, I hope you will do the same for her. I hope you will think back to the abusive boy that you were, and I hope you will think about the idiotic girl that I was, and I hope that you will warn your daughter. Tell her not to make the same mistake that I did. Teach her to be strong and proud of who she is – a young woman who knows that she doesn’t have to endure any sort of pain because she believes that pain is what love is made of.
Real love can be challenging. Real love can inspire you to change and grow. Real love can be fun. Real love can make you laugh. Real love can be hard. Real love makes you smile when you feel like there’s nothing to smile about. Real love is an adventure.
But real love is never painful.
And goodbye to the girl that I once was.
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