Letter To My Ex

18 February 2016


Okay. So this post is a really hard one for me to write. Not so much for the topic, I have talked about this topic to a few people with ease, but the idea of putting it out into the world in the form of a blog post that people will read - and some people, such as my mum, might read kinda scares me. I don't want my mum to read this post because it might make her upset to read and I really don't wanna make her upset.

I'm also scared that the person involved may find it, and for that reason I'm changing his name to John* and I wanna add this disclaimer: these events happened from my POV. These are my thoughts and feelings. These are things I never brought up to him because I felt like I couldn't. I don't believe he's a bad guy. I don't believe he realised how what he was doing impacted on me or that what he was doing was a bit not okay. And I don't hate him.

* = names have been changed.

Okay! Let's dive right into this thing then!

Dear John*,

We were in a relationship for just over a year, and I liked you a lot. I was quite happy. I remember when you asked me out, and kissed my forehead. After two weeks of seeing each other you asked me to be your girlfriend. I was happy. You were my first ever actual boyfriend. I was 18 years old.

Not long after that, the signs that should have been red flags started to appear.

The first one I kinda remember was being at the New Years Eve party, we'd been together just over a month and you had told me that you loved me the day before. I really liked you, and so thought that I loved you as well. You had been getting annoyed at me for only sending one 'x' in texts, and wanted more. So I sent more.

But at the NYE party, you got very drunk and we were in a quiet room, just us. You proposed. Not like an actual proper proposal, a drunken one. And I had to stop you from finishing your sentence. I wasn't ready to be married. I want to be in a relationship for at least a year and have moved in together before I ever touch upon marriage.

I thought that was the end of that. It had taken numerous attempts to get you to stop it.

Marriage became a recurring thing in our relationship, and something I'll touch upon a bit later.

When I was with you, and when I reflect upon that year, I wasn't really in control. Of anything. You wouldn't give me the wifi password or let me use your netbook at yours because "I wouldn't talk to" you. Which would be okay, if you didn't spend most of your time with me watching tv and playing games. I never really knew what to do, so I would awkwardly just sit there next to you on your double bed. Waiting for you to get bored and talk to me.

It was boring. And I felt like I was only good for having sex with. Which brings me nicely to the next red flag.

I could probably count the amount of times I actually wanted to have sex on one hand. Because it was rare. And we had sex a lot more times than that.

"Why didn't you say no?" I would. And you did take no as an answer and stop pestering me... For about 5 minutes. Then your hands would wander south again and you'd kiss my neck until I said yes.

I never wanted to say yes but I was so fed up with saying no. Because it felt like 'no' wasn't what you wanted to hear and I felt like I had to just get it over with. I didn't enjoy it. Not really. I felt nervous. You was the first person I ever slept with. But you had slept with a lot more people and for some reason, that panicked me. I didn't feel good enough, and I felt under a lot of pressure, especially when you asked "is there anything you wanna try?"

Not only that but you'd joke about putting "it" "there", which made one position too scary for me so I couldn't go through with it for fear of "that".

We used a condom once. I would have preferred to use them, but we just didn't. Sex just kinda happened. I was always on the pill though. You would joke that you would impregnate me so that I'd always have to be in your life, but also say that because of your drinking and smoking that you were probably infertile anyway. I thought it was kinda romantic at first but looking back... No. It really wasn't.I also remember one instance where I didn't want to take my bra off. I was - and still am - unhappy with the way I look, and I felt a lot more comfortable about wearing it. But you told me "if we're in love, you wouldn't care. Because when you love somebody you can be vulnerable with them. Look, I'm completely naked, why won't you take your bra off?" So, I did, even though I explained to you that it made my uncomfortable, and we proceeded to have sex while I was extremely uncomfortable. When it ended, I put my underwear straight back on again and lay down awkwardly. That is still vivid in my mind, how I felt. The exact wording you used is a bit blurry but I remember how it roughly went. So I guess disclaimer: these weren't your exact words, but it is the message I got and is very similar to what was said.

Because of this whole situation without using condoms, I had two pregnancy scares because my period was late (I got it the day after I'd take the tests). It was terrifying for me. And I remember when I told you, you said "I know I said I want to have kids with you, but not right now". Another moment surrounding this was maybe a year after we broke up, when I had my smear test carried out (a test that checks your cervix/tests for cervical cancer if you don't know). It took the nurse 3 attempts to carry it out. And on the third attempt she only managed it as I covered my face with my hands and cried really hard. The test itself wasn't uncomfortable, but it flashed back memories to when I wasn't "ready" to have sex and had to force myself to remain calm, almost like PTSD but not? The nurse asked afterwards if "anything has ever happened" to me. I said no, and justified it in my head with "well. I gave consent."

I have had sex since this, and I do feel like I'm managing to cope a lot better. Education and talking to people has definitely helped and I feel I've learned now that if I don't want to do something then I will say 'no'.

Moving on from that lovely topic, I used to get really upset when you didn't want me to take your picture, I know, it's a stupid thing to get upset over. I don't know why, but in my head my upset over it came from the idea that if you didn't want to be in a picture with me then it was because there was something wrong with me. I realise now that it was because you were just uncomfortable being in front of a camera.

I was also upset that you didn't want me to meet your friends. You had met my friends pretty soon into seeing each other. But you never wanted me to meet yours because "they're dicks". It took maybe 4-6 months to properly meet them. I had met one of your friends at that 'college night out', briefly, and afterwards I can't remember meeting them until your birthday which was 7 months after we started seeing each other. I might have met them briefly before then, but I guess disclaimer: I can't remember this exactly. My point in this was just that you didn't want me to meet your friends and that it took months before I did.

You used to get annoyed at me when I'd do something stupid and laugh where I'd say 'I'm such a child'. You were very defensive and told me not to say that. And I'm really not sure why that was... I think it had something to do with your exes who were younger than me Your friends would sometimes tease you about them being younger. I remember an instance where your friend
Nathan* asked what age I am, and when I said I was 18 he was seemingly shocked. It felt really weird, because you were really snappy when I would say "I'm such a child" as a joke. Disclaimer: I don't think it was a really weird kinda thing where your exes were YEAAAARS younger than me, but only a few years, nothing dodgy so I really don't understand it.

Let me get back around to the whole 'marriage' thing again. So okay... The NYE party was the first instance of this happening. We had before this talked about how in the case of marriage we'd both want a Church wedding (You for your religion and me just because I think Churches are cute. I really don't mind too much where I get married, as long as it can be decorated really cutely) and how we'd want your little sister to be flower girl.

But you had tried to 'propose' on numerous occasions, and I always told you no, just because of my rule mentioned at the start of this entry. Then finally one day, we'd left your friend's party early, because I was overly anxious around so many people I didn't know. So we walked home. You made me hot chocolate. You were a bit drunk. And this time you just kept asking, non-stop. I said no more times than I have fingers and toes, but eventually it all got too much and I started to feel like 'no' wasn't an answer any more so I said 'yes'. From that moment on you wanted me to call you my fiancé. You'd call me 'princess' which is honestly a word I can't listen to any more. (as a sidenote: the song 'stand by me' is a song I can't listen to anymore.)

There were a couple of things that happened at various different points in the relationship. One of the things at the beginning was when you would spell my name wrong ("Gayle") and it would piss me off. I remember telling you numerous times how annoying I found that and would get extremely angry. I have no idea why you found it so funny, perhaps my anger wasn't coming across? I remember you had even written it in my Valentines card. (It was my first Valentines in a relationship), and I had to force you to get me a card. I just really wanted that day to be special. On Valentines that year, you bought me a card and an 'I love you' mug.

When I asked you if I could try to smoke one of your cigarettes you said 'No, I don't want you to smoke.' when I explained that I just wanted to try it you got angry, 'fine then, try one! I want to see you choke!' So I didn't try one.

Also at the start of the relationship, you would tell me that everybody leaves you and made me promise not to leave you. ("You're the best thing to happen to me, please don't leave me"). You also used to keep telling me about your ex, who you described as being "the one who got away" and that no matter how much you loved me, you'd always love her - this is an instance where I became in the wrong. Because understandably, I'd gotten jealous. However I shouldn't have tried to make you jealous by saying "yeah, like I know this person who I had a crush on for a while". That's not how you handle a situation like that. And I deeply regret ever saying this. It doesn't excuse one of your actions that I'll mention later on, but it does help me understand them a little bit.

One month, I started to get a bit run down. (If you follow me on twitter you'll have seen me talk every so often about how sometimes I'll get random pain, fatigue and struggle with breathing. It's not new, but it's not common, and it happened once a few years ago for a week, where I got so bad that I couldn't walk.) I really could not walk. So to make me feel better, to cheer me up, you decided to 'treat' me and have a weekend for Gail. Which I did enjoy. And I honestly don't care about people spending money on me (a point I'll come back to again in a bit about something different) but if someone calls it a 'treat' you'd expect that you're paying for next to nothing. On the two outings we went on, I paid to visit both attractions, for both of us, which is kinda costly. But I also get that I probably earned slightly more money than you did, because of my job (min wage but still triple what we used to earn on 'apprentice' wages) and a lot of your money went on cigarettes, alcohol and 'other stuff'. And I get that smoking was a bad habit to quit, and there were a lot of other pressures on you as well as a pressure to socialise, but it was possible to not spend so much as soon as you got it, and to save up. I'd mention that I spent a lot of money in that relationship but to be totally fair you did pay me back.

However, that kind of brings me to my second last issue. When I stopped having sex with you, you suddenly started to buy me a lot. You bought me two teddy bears out of the blue. For our anniversary, you bought me this gorgeous dress, which I still haven't worn. For Christmas you were really thoughtful - you bought me an engraved necklace with our anniversary on it, a porcelain doll which you knew I wanted and invested a lot of time into making a scrapbook for me, with memories going back a few years. I actually felt so awful because these gifts were really beautiful, but again, I didn't need anything like that. Sure I got a bit pissy because you bought me an Argos necklace for my birthday while I bought you a N64 + games... Presents aren't everything. But why did you only start doing that when I stopped sleeping with you? I totally understand that it might have been with the best of intentions but it came off as really odd. As if you were trying to buy back sex. I loved that you were putting the effort in but it came a bit late.

When we broke up, I cried for 15 minutes because my biggest fear was how you would feel. I not longer felt like the relationship was good for me, and that I'd be happier when I was out of it. I was more upset because I didn't want you to be upset - because you made me promise not to leave you. I was scared because I'd told myself that the next time I saw you I would break it off - and you came to my house which you had never done before (to surprise me). When I said "I can't do this any more" and told you how I felt, you said "thank god, I thought you were cheating on me". Which now I understand (because of the comment when you made me jealous) but then you told me that you'd been reading my social medias - you'd been reading my tweets. You don't use twitter. You didn't trust me so you checked up on me.

You said that because I'd been to Glasgow twice in a week, and because I was tweeting my friend Larry* saying that I was in Glasgow and that 'well, hannah is here' (who was also friends with Larry*) I must have been cheating. My comment was explaining to Larry* why I was in Glasgow and that it would be cool to meet up because hannah was also visiting. I still haven't met Larry* and we hardly talk any more.

I would never cheat on anybody.

I had made arrangements to meet my friend Nicole, so you left and then later, I left too. While I was walking to the train station, you text me to tell me that you were crying and couldn't see where you were going as you cycled so you accidentally bumped into this guy who shouted at you and I felt a lot worse.

I wasn't perfectly innocent in this either. I shouldn't have kept the relationship going for the last few months when I'd already decided that I was done. My justification was that I wanted to give you a good year, because you had told me that everything was going wrong. It would have been fairer to have just told you how I felt when I felt it and ended the relationship sooner. That is my fault. I'm sorry.

I shouldn't have tried to make you jealous when you made me jealous. That was the wrong way to deal with it. And I deeply apologise. I've learned from this and will never do that again.

I should have communicated with you better, and told you when you made me feel uncomfortable. I should have told you 'no' more firmly and maybe we should have had that argument that you kept telling me we needed to have in order to develop more. Arguments still scare me. I don't like the aftermath of them.

I should have been stronger than I was.

And I should have considered your mental health more. You never fully told me about your issues - you told me about your anxiety but you never delved deeper. I know there must have been something more going on inside your mind but you never told me, and I was too selfish to ask you. I burdened all my anxiety and depression onto you without a thought as to how you felt. And that was pretty shit of me to do.

I've moved on now, and I'm happy. And I know you've moved on too, and I'm glad. But if you find this, I want you to understand fully why we broke up. The relationship we had wasn't healthy - and felt a bit emotionally manipulative, but I don't blame you for that. I don't think you were fully aware of how your actions impacted on me, which was my fault and the fault on society. Because I should have communicated with you better, but at the same time I shouldn't have felt to scared to speak out.

I don't regret our relationship. Because at times it was really nice. But it wasn't right. And I hope you can see that.

Emotional Manipulation and Manipulative relationships are a big problem, and what I went through wasn't nearly as bad as some other people go through. I feel like although women are the ones who are seen more to go through it, men are equally going through it. I feel that society thinks that its okay, almost normal for a woman to control a man's actions. But that is also wrong. It's so wrong.

I feel like I recently nearly became the one trying to take control, and I have felt awful about it ever since, because I know how much it sucks. (I'm still really sorry - I'm sure you know who you are. I'm not upset any more. I'm sorry for making you feel like a prick with my soppy message. I know its resolved now but I'm still really sorry.)

Please don't think I have a 'victim complex' in this situation. I have a platform - even if it is relatively small, and I wanted to speak out about this issue because it's a growing problem and so many people are suffering in silence, or remaining in these kinds of abusive relationships. The impacts from them last a long time, and are difficult to get over. I can't even begin to imagine how hard it must be for people who went through more than me. If you are going through this, please talk to somebody. Tell a loved one, or call somebody. There are plenty of charities out there to offer support. Two of them include:

Woman's aid: https://www.womensaid.org.uk/ 

Refuge: http://www.refuge.org.uk/