An Open Letter to My Abuser

Subject: An Open Letter to My Abuser
Date: 26 Dec 2020

I loved you fiercely. From every shadow and crevice of my soul emanated a light and affection I had never known. Maybe that’s why I let you come back so many times. I have spent years blaming myself, buying into the narrative you sold me of my irrefutable guilt for your behavior and your choices.

I never claimed to be perfect, in fact I’m far from it. I left you when our first son was born, and I kept him from you for nearly four years, convinced it was in his best interest, and mine. That uncertainty and guilt drove me to come clean, and at first I believed all your lies. I think maybe you did too. That we would be a family, that you would love and support us, that you could love me. But the truth is, you can’t love anything unless there’s something in it for you. You are incapable (or unwilling) to place yourself in a position of vulnerability for fear that you will relinquish your precious control.

Getting pregnant again was a terrifying and mind altering experience. I wanted so desperately to be happy, to find some solace in your empty promises of love, family, marriage, and stability. I followed you around like a blind, lost puppy while you systematically destroyed my finances, my self-esteem, and our older son’s emotional stability. I watched, in helpless shock, as your touted discipline turned to abuse, too crippled by fear and rage towards myself to come to terms with the truth.

I contemplated ending the pregnancy that I had longed for, as the earth shattering truths of your inability to sustain a relationship surfaced. Yet I kept fighting. For you, for us, for the family you always promised but never delivered. There were moments of such immeasurable joy that I convinced myself it could be real. You could change. You would change.

The only thing that started to change though, was me. I began to question your harshness and your siloed world perspective. I unsuccessfully tried to silence the nagging thoughts that my children and I deserved more. I was faced with the truth that we were only tagging along in your desperate attempt to live out your own dreams, and thus, would always be in your way.

So I did something unconscionable. I left you. I have done it many times before, but this time, I left knowing I wouldn’t be coming back. I floundered and you noticed, and made every conscionable effort to convince me to stay. I played along, knowing full well that it was another act of your established, ongoing play of manipulation.

You accuse me of being a liar, and a horrible person. You view my desperate moments of trying to claim my own desires as selfish, brutal betrayal. You have become so secure in your role of victimhood that I doubt you could be convinced of your fault in any of it. You never hit me, and that was your justification for being a good person, and a good man.

But I can’t hate you anymore. Hating you drains me of the very last scraps of will and hope that remain. I reflect on the moments of joy and hope, and recognize that underneath the manufactured facade of a callous monster hides a little boy who is scared, lost, and desperate for love. I think one day that understanding will lead to compassion, and perhaps that compassion will grant me forgiveness.

Forgiveness for myself, for the year in which I subjected my son to instability and abuse, all the while believing if I just changed enough, everything would be okay. Forgiveness for you, for pushing me to trust you, to love you, to believe you, and ultimately to leave you—all while convincing me thoroughly that I am the one to blame.

My eternal love, there is not a day that goes by in which I am not tormented by this overwhelming grief for the loss of what we should have been. I narrowly escape the judgement and whispered disbelief of those who have witnessed my insane merry-go-round of commitment to you.

I will raise our two beautiful boys with the knowledge that you intentionally abandoned them. I will pray desperately that I will be enough to fill in the inevitable gaps in their self-esteem, trying to provide love for a father who couldn’t be bothered to stay. I don’t know where you are, or how you could do this to them, but I’m hoping someday I’ll stop looking and stop caring.

The carousel never stops turning. But this is where I’m choosing to get off.