Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Letting Go: Eleven Things I Never Told My Ex

Letting Go Meant Forgiving Myself
For the longest time, I wasn't good at letting go.  
I was your biggest cheerleader and insisted that you were a good person who was hurting inside---even when you called me a bitch and a know-it-all. I told you that I had doubts and didn't want to marry you the night before our wedding. Then I told you that I would marry you anyway.

I went with you to the therapist and talked about my feelings even though all three of us knew that you drank too much and had anger issues long before you met me.

When I look back at our life together, I realize that I said many things I didn't mean and kept the truths to myself. I sank to your level and became as dishonest as you were in an effort to keep the peace.

Even when everything fell apart, I still didn't come clean.
Therapists sometimes recommend writing a letter full of thoughts that we wouldn't normally express. They say that you should burn it as a symbolic way of letting it go, but I would rather share it—just in case it can help someone who might be living like I did: protecting not just his secrets, but mine, afraid to tell anyone out of embarrassment, fear, or pride. You might feel alone, but you're not. You may feel like you deserve it, but you don't. And you may feel like you don't have a say, but you do. 

1. I never wanted to spend as much time with you as you did me.

I said I missed you when you were away from me because I did. I was happy when I looked forward to seeing you at the end of the day, several nights a week. You took it upon yourself to manipulate the situation so that eventually we'd wind up working and living together 24-7. 

Spending that much time with you showed me who you really are, and that’s when things changed. Eventually, every time I didn't agree with something you said or did, you'd throw a tantrum and announce that we spent too much time together. Suddenly, you had to get away from me. But I wonder, did you notice how I didn’t complain about your change of heart? How quickly and easily I let go and agreed to being apart all day and sometimes at night?
I wish our separations could've lasted longer than a few days. But when you'd complain that you missed me too much and needed me, it was easier for me to give in than be subjected to your tantrums and crazy mood swings.
2. When you asked my kids about what I did when you weren't around, they told me. Every. Single. Time. 

You acted like you were never jealous, that I was the lucky one and that you would walk out the door at any moment, but in reality, you stalked me. Via my kids. 
I don't have the words to accurately describe what I think of a man who would use children in this way. The closest I can come is: disgusting, untrustworthy, and pathetic. The next time you want to know if I hang out with the landscaper when he's not mowing my lawn, ask me.
3. I didn't get old and lose the urge to go to clubs. You just can't dance. 
Drunk or sober, it doesn't matter, just do us all a favor and stay off of the dance floor. It's embarrassing.
4. I hated being the breadwinner.
When we first met, and I allowed you a peek into my situation—single mother of three, working multiple jobs—you assured me that I'd never have to do it alone again; that you'd take care of me if I'd just let go and allow you to.
At first I believed you, but I also urged you to find your passion. While I supported your dreams, I also supported your need to travel, to eat out constantly, and to binge drink. As my level of resentment rose, so did the bills and the amount of hours I worked. 
Eventually, I also became responsible for your therapist, the debt you brought into the marriage, and your credit cards. I wore a $20 Cubic Zirconia I bought online so nobody would know that you (I) couldn't afford a (my own) engagement ring. And yes, in all fairness, you did have a job. But the extra $350 a week doesn't go very far when your husband's appetite is as big as the three teenagers you live with.
5. It is not humanly possible for a woman to climax as fast as you always did. 
And because my life with you was so exhausting, I could not be bothered trying to. It was easier to take care of things myself as was the norm in our relationship. After our first thirty second encounter, I had to wonder if it would get better, and it did. For you. I managed to teach you a few things and can only hope that your future conquests don't consider forty-five seconds a quickie.

6. No one liked you.

So Many Secrets And Lies 

But everyone liked me, so for my sake they kept their mouths shut, crossed their fingers, and hoped that they were wrong.

The best man at my cousin's wedding waited till we were over before telling me how you cornered him and said, "If you try and steal my wife, I'll fucking kill you." And the person who saw you in the shady part of town buying pills tried to spare my feelings by not exposing you. 
But once we split, I realized that everyone had distanced themselves and now I'm alone, too embarrassed by what you did to try and rebuild my relationships.

7. That time when you went away without me and the kids because you said we weren't welcome? While you were gone we discovered that you weren't welcome in our home anymore. 
You had to go to Florida for your grandmother's birthday by yourself. "We just got back from the Outer Banks and we (I) don't have the money for another trip (both of which you insisted upon although I, the breadwinner, objected)", you said. And so you went by yourself.
Of course you didn't want us to go. You were supposed to be sober, so if we had, you wouldn't have gotten drunk on the plane and called to tell me about the UFOs you saw outside the window, racing among the clouds. (Did you notice that I stopped answering the phone after that call?)

And we would've wanted to do more than just sit on the couch with the seniors watching the news all day and night, complaining about the sorry state of the world that everyone else created. With us around, you wouldn't have been able to tell your mom, aunt, and grandmother that "It's so nice to be here with you. You're my real family", then come home and say to me, "It's so nice to be home. You guys are my real family." 
While you stayed perpetually drunk and thankfully distant, the kids and I hung out together, watching comedies and laughing. We relaxed for the first time in years, blissfully not subjected to your complaints about feeling like an outsider because you refused to join in, or being told to be more quiet when we enjoyed each other a little too loudly for you and your hangovers. Our jokes were smart and uninterrupted by explanations you required because you just didn't get them. It was a great weekend and the only thing that kept it from being perfect was your return. Oh, how I longed to let go.
8. I was attracted to other men when I was with you. So many. 
I loved you until you made me hate you. And while I did not plan on acting on it, I was attracted to almost every other man I saw when I was with you. I'd look at the guy in the suit and wonder, What would it be like to be with someone and only have to work thirty hours a week? To have my weekends off? And then there was the guy who looked like he took care of himself. And the one who smiled all the time. If I compared them to you, anyone was more attractive.
9. I kept a separate bank account that you didn't know about.
It was obvious early on that not only would you never be the world's best provider, but that we probably weren't going to make it. Driven by a fear of failure, I kept trying with you, but also driven by the fear of starvation, I planned ahead.
When my job cut my hours in half and we had to depend on you, I stepped up saving my money, knowing that there was no way you'd be able to handle doing what I had done for so long. 
And so we separated—after you offered to drive my daughter and her friend around, knowing all the while that you were drunk—and by separation, I mean you living in my spare room, still sponging off of me. When I tried to settle up on expenses, you were drunk again, and this time you got angry and physical.
I told you that I threw you out of the house that night for your own good and I meant it, but I wasn't referring to your sobriety like you thought. My kids and my stash saved your life. My first reaction was to take a chair over your head and to continue beating you with it until you were dead. But then I thought of my kids and the money and how we didn't need anything from you—especially your presence. And that's when I finally let go.
10. You are one of the dumbest people I know.
Your spelling is atrocious, you can barely read, and the only conversations you are good at are heavily peppered with cliches—other people's words and ideas. 
I couldn't let you order anything online because my bank account would get hacked every time, and your biggest accomplishment during our time together was when you used Legos to stop the bathroom fan from shaking...and they still fall out of the ceiling from time to time. 
The only person I know who might be dumber than you is me. I invited you into my home and into my family's lives and allowed you to stay much longer than you should have. I knew I wasn't being smart but I couldn't let go. I kept hoping that the impostor you hooked me up with in the first place might return. I own my lack of intelligence in that respect, but I'm still smart enough to know that I don't deserve to be treated like that ever again. 
This Way To Complete Peace

11. I don't miss you. You served your purpose and now I wish you'd disappear. 
When you would yell at me, "You're the problem!" and "I wouldn't drink so much or be so depressed and angry if it wasn't for you!", I felt guilty enough to wonder if it wasn't true. After all, omission is the same as lying, and I kept a lot from you. But after a while, those hateful words became excuses made by a person who had no desire to change himself. With that realization, I was able to see how you changed me.
For so long, I wondered how I could go from picking such loving partners to picking losers, never getting the lesson until the ultimate loser was tossed into my lap and legally chained to my leg.
You were the mirror that showed me how I blamed myself for choosing fathers for my children that were not capable of taking care of themselves, let alone anyone else. I became the world's best caregiver, so good at doing my job, that when in the company of others, I couldn't stop.
But no matter how I excelled at being both parents, I could not let go of the feeling of failure, all too aware that I was only one person trying to care for three. Your hatred was my hatred, and when I finally rid myself of you, the hatred left as well, unable to sustain itself amongst a tight knit family that truly and unconditionally love each other. My kids have forgiven me for being human and we've moved on, closer and happier than ever.
Your nasty phone calls and texts are like the summer gnats that serve no real purpose. And like those bugs that briefly disappear for a season or two before popping up to annoy us by hovering around and trying to get attention, rest assured that your efforts are wasted, because honestly, none of us misses you at all.
Even though you're finally gone, I am haunted by the fact that as long as I carry these truths, I am stuck with you.
So I am letting them go—in my own virtual Chinese lantern. They are heavy, laden with ugliness and burdens I shouldn't have had to bear. If they sink instead of floating to Heaven, they will take their rightful place in Hell, far away from those of us who struggle to live in the light despite people like you who work hard at mucking up the works.

It doesn't matter whether or not you read this, because none of this was ever about you. It was always about me. In every other situation, I could easily see the lesson, and at some point I'd appreciate the role it played in my life. In your case, I was given hints and clues, but I needed a brick to fall on my head. You were the brick and that's where your significance ends.

As I shout out for truth and freedom from secrets, I no longer give that legal document or that metal band permission to act as excuses for bad behavior. I shed them, letting go so that I am free to immerse myself in honesty and happiness, two looks that fit every body type.

Let It All Go And Do You

BECOME AWARE: http://www.adweek.com/adfreak/bruised-woman-billboard-heals-faster-more-passersby-look-her-163297

CF Winn is the award-winning author of The COFFEE BREAK SERIES, a quirky group of short stories meant to be read while on break or in the waiting room of the doctor’s office. Her first novella, SUKI, has been grabbing hearts and hugging souls all over the United States. 

You can now order SUKI in paperback at https://www.amazon.com/dp/0615726313

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Medic2RN said...

It appears as though everyone has forgiven you except you have not forgiven yourself....until now. I hope that this "Chinese lantern" has lightened your burden and you can finally find peace. Thank you for sharing an incredibly personal story.

CF Winn said...

Yep. Letting this go has been one of the best things I have ever treated myself to. Your kind words mean so much and I thank you for taking the time to read this. I hope it inspires others to see their situation for what it is and to discover their own self worth. Isolating myself was the worst thing I could've done. It's lonely and punishing.

happyandhumble said...

Reading this makes wonder why I stayed?? WHY? but then I realized that having an experience like this made me who I am today. Made me realize that i'm pretty fricken' cool and I deserve to be happy. Now I am with a man who loves and respects me and the feeling is 100% mutual.

CF Winn said...

I think you stayed so that you could be extra sure of what you wanted and what to look for in the future, and it seems like you found it. I'm so happy and proud for you. You are cool and deserve to be happy. Thank you for reading. I'm glad it made an impact. I wish you much more future happiness! :)

Ashleigh - www.beingashleigh.com said...


This is such a brilliant post. Thanks so much for sharing my 'Dumped By Text?!' blog post. I can really relate to a LOT of these points! Fab post. Definitely off without them!

Ashleigh :)
Being Ashleigh Blog

CF Winn said...

It's been interesting to hear everyone's thoughts and feelings about this post. I've been getting emails and messages like crazy because it seems to have hit a nerve. Obviously we are not treating each other (and sometimes ourselves) very nicely. Thanks for reading!

Dawn Brazil said...

LOL oh my Gosh this had some hilarious moments in it. But also some really sad ones, too. Sorry you went through all of that but I hope that writing this was cathartic for you.

CF Winn said...

Thanks Dawn. If I can find the humor, then I can find forgiveness and most importantly, the lessons. Thanks for reading.

Unknown said...

Very well written. Women love drama. We all love a good story, thanks for sharing.

CF Winn said...

Honestly, I'm one woman who has had more than enough unwelcome drama, and I'm sure that there are many other women AND men who share my feelings. If only I could take credit for writing a "story"...LOL...Thanks for reading!

Jan said...

I went through a very similar type of marriage - ugh! Glad you are out of it!

CF Winn said...

I'm so sorry you had to go through any of that!

Anonymous said...

I have retweeted this so many times as a bookmark, thinking - I'll go back and read it when I have time. I am so glad I did. It is not an unusual dynamic - you just ended up with a rather extreme version of it. Thank you for sharing what you learned, and congratulations on your liberation. ;-)

CF Winn said...

Thank you Paula...for your support and your kind words. It felt good to let all of this finally go!

Megan Louise said...

What a brilliantly worded piece.
I know that I carry emotional debris from a relationship and have never had the guts to even word what I feel, or think about him now.
Reading this makes me wonder if I should say all I wanted to say.
I love this, and it is wonderful to see you found freedom!

CF Winn said...

Thank you for reading. I hope you say it. It doesn't have to be seen by your ex-partner, because your freedom is YOURS. The freedom is in the release and whatever way you find it, is the way in which it should be done. I hope you unburden yourself. Good luck!