It’s been 7 years since we split and I spent the first two years feeling responsible for you. I felt guilty for fighting for myself and all that I deserve in life. I felt that it was my job to make sure you were okay and found a purpose in life; a reason to keep going and not give up on life.
Although I know you cannot wrap your mind around it, I wish I could share the damage you left me to clean up once I broke free from your emotional abuse. You see, it’s not that you are a bad person, it’s that you were never loved correctly before me and therefore you could not receive my love. Instead, you rejected me and beat me down with your words and senseless actions.
One of the many things I came to realize is marriage takes two people. I suggested therapy, books on relationships, talking about feelings, and you wanted nothing to do with it. I constantly tried to figure out what I had done wrong and what was wrong with me. Why couldn’t I make you happy? Was I not a good wife and mother in your eyes? Did I talk about my feelings too much? How could I make you happy?
I figured if nothing else I could make you happy physically. But that, too, faded quickly. As a woman, not feeling wanted by your spouse is devastating on many levels and is ultimately catastrophic in terms of her self confidence. Was I not pretty enough? Was I not thin and fit enough or too thin? Why didn’t you find me attractive anymore? Was I not adventurous enough? Should I have spent more time on my hair and makeup each day even when I was exhausted from caring for our daughter? I quickly lost the little bit of self confidence I had and felt like I was worthless. Getting something as small as a kiss for no reason or having my hand held while we walked through the store was a struggle.
Because of you, I hate my smile and I cover it with my hand. I hate my skin because it’s too pale. My hair is never right and my lips are too thin. You shamed me for getting tattoos therefore I wont wear a bikini to group outings because I fear new people will think I am trash. Instead of feeling proud of my body after giving birth to our daughter I look at myself in the mirror and wish my breasts were bigger and fuller. My legs are not toned and I look awful in skirts and dresses, so I don’t own any. I second guess myself in decisions I make and explain myself when I don’t need to.
You valued our vehicles more than you valued me. When I brought home our Jeep with a cracked windshield from a stone I was terrified to tell you because I knew you would be upset. Sure enough, you lectured me on being a better driver. If I parked close to the store in a parking lot you lectured me on how other drivers could scratch the doors.
You scolded me on not returning videos to the video store on time when we had a late fee. There were countless times I was told I was irresponsible for spending minimal amounts of money on a new bra or a pair of work pants. When our daughter was sick, I was expected to call into work despite having a meeting or event that could win me a promotion. In fact, I nearly lost jobs due to calling in because you didn’t want to inconvenience your boss. The list of your scoldings, meaningless lessons, and times of giving me the cold shoulder could go on for pages. The times you beat me down with your words scarred me and resulted in me apologizing relentlessly in other relationships for something as simple as dropping and shattering a glass on the kitchen floor. Mental and emotional abuse from you caused me to walk on egg shells around others until I realized I could finally be done apologizing.
Each time I stood up for myself to your family or even you, I was made to feel like I was too bold. I was too strong willed and hot headed. Speaking my mind was immature and inappropriate. I was told to calm down and manage my anger when in reality you couldn’t handle my bold and direct personality. Because of you I questioned if I was too strong. I learned how to let you and your family walk all over me because it made you happier. Silence was key with you.
Breaking free from our relationship was the best decision I have ever made. And it was in that very moment, as I packed my clothes from my dresser, that you broke down and begged me to stay. For me, it was already over and had been over for quite some time. I had discovered a mere sense of what I deserved in life after you had allowed me to feel unwanted and worthless. You allowed me to question my ability to make someone I love happy and question myself as a woman. You, as a father of a beautiful little girl, allowed the woman you vowed to love to feel inadequate.
Instead of being stuck on the damage I took with me when I left, I would like to thank you. I genuinely want to thank you for taking me to rock bottom because as I stand here on top of the mountains I have climbed, I am able to look down and see you surrounded by your loss. I spent 2 years repairing myself and learning how to break free from all that you taught me about myself.
Today, I am able to say thank you and mean it. I have turned the tables and I am able to say with confidence that it is because of you I am free. I can walk into rooms with confidence. The worries I have about my hair and looks is minimal and is comparable to that of a normal woman on an average day. I wear shorts and show my legs and I look good! I have gotten several more of those “trashy” tattoos, which coincidentally draw compliments from those around me. I call them art, and each one has a story behind it. I am thin and not as toned as I could be and I don’t care because the only person that has to love my body is me. My bold personality and strong willed words have helped me climb ladders at work, sail through school with more men than women in my profession, and cut ties with toxic people. I’ve stopped apologizing for what is out of my control and learned to take control when necessary. No one walks on me or knocks me down and if they try, I get back up with style and class because I will never hit rock bottom again. I am limitless in my abilities and I am perfect the way I am.
Thank you for pushing me to find my drive. Without you, I would not have a beautiful daughter to love unconditionally. I will continue to raise her to learn these ways and push her to go further than I could have ever dreamed. Thank you for the times you made me smile and feel what I thought was love for now I know the difference between love and lust.
Today, I am free and I will forever continue to soar.