Confidential to a Friend

I was very upset when I received your letter this week, X. I had no idea that this was what you’ve been going through for the last two years. I apologize for not being a more attentive friend; I truly was clueless. But, now that you’ve ended this volatile relationship, I want to assure you that you are doing the right thing.

You were dating an emotionally abusive guy. The way he isolated you from your friends and constantly degraded and belittled you is indicative of that. His intention was to make you emotionally dependent on him and ruin your self-esteem. Why did he do it? Because he was afraid you would leave him and he wanted you to feel like you could never do that. Because you are a wonderful person who everyone loves/wants/wants to be and it made him insecure about himself. Because he wanted to make you just as vulnerable as he is. Because he’s a dick. Whatever his reasons are, they were his own and they had nothing to do with you. In fact, his insecurity was developed long before he met you and he’ll probably carry it long after you.

No one should ever say the things he’s said to you or do the things he’s done to you. No one should ever scream at you, threaten you, or intimidate you with demonstrations of his physical strength. He may have never physically harmed you but he has caused you some severe psychological damage with this behavior. He’s made you question your abilities, doubt your beauty, and lose faith in yourself. This is one of highest forms of betrayal from a lover. We live in a society in which fat cats profit from the insecurities of women with their multi-billion dollar industries that sell us a whole bunch of shit that promises to make us better. More desirable, more physically appealing, closer to a ridiculous standard of beauty.  You lover should be your salvation from all these things. He should make you feel beautiful, should reinforce your strengths, and encourage you to overcome your insecurities. If he doesn’t, you are much better alone. We women have enough people trying to put us down, tell us what to be, what to look like, what to want. You sure as hell don’t need to have the ‘closest person to our heart’ do the same.

X, you are undoubtedly one of the most amazing people I’ve ever met. When I’m around you, I can’t help but smile because you are happiness incarnate. I’m envious of how amazingly intelligent and talented you are. I love your creative eye because you imagine the world in such a fanciful way. I aspire to be as “I don’t give a shit” as you. I heart your clothes. And most of all, I fancy the way that you can make a sincere connection with everyone you talk to — like that random guy at the subway station that had a following of cats. Remember? You have the ability of arousing the loveliest of feelings from people because your heart is good and your intentions are always pure. People feel that positive energy radiating from you and the generosity of your soul. Basically, you’re the bee’s knees and anyone who says otherwise sucks at life. No, sucks at existence.

It’s a good thing that you’ve dumped that moronic tool. Trust me. You may feel as though you’ve sunk two years into this relationship and nothing has come of it. However, realize that you’ve gained very valuable experience from this. You were able to notice this behavior pattern of his that was harmful and free yourself from it. Many people in your position blame themselves — this type of treatment conditions them to do that — and don’t leave a relationship like this until every shred of self-esteem they have is gone. Your inclination to make it work because of the amount of time you’ve put into the relationship and the fact that you “love him” is normal. In fact, many researchers have proven that romantic love has similar effects on the brain as a drug addiction. This is what’s fueling your desire to give it another try. Kick the habit and ignore these feelings. I know, easier said than done. The best thing you can do is distract yourself as much as possible. Do anything that you like, that makes you smile, that you’re somewhat interested in. And, in those times when you can’t help but think about it, talk to someone. Get it out of your head and bounce your ideas off of someone. This will be useful in two ways. Firstly, it will help you get everything off of your chest. Nothing is worse than internalizing the negative and, most likely, self-harming thoughts that you are having. Secondly, it will give you another person’s perspective on the situation, which is something that I think you really need right now.

I know you said that you’re ‘ashamed’ to talk to your friends. Know that you can always talk to me or find some campus resources that are a little less close to home. You could always go to CAPS, talk to a student from Speak to Swatties, or get everything out in a journal. However, I don’t want you to feel ashamed.  I want you to understand that this situation of yours is one that many others have faced as well. What you’ve experienced for the past two years is, unfortunately, not uncommon and I wanted to print this for you so that you know that you’re not having experiencing this in isolation. I want you to be able to casually ask someone what they thought of this article or overhear someone talking about it. Just listen to what that person has to say. I assure you it will make you feel loads better to listen to their rant about how much of a bitchface-jerk they think the guy in this situation is. At the very least, you’ll see just how many people would defend you in this situation or can empathize with what is happening to you.  As one of my professors said in class the other day, a lot college relationships a bit twisted. It’s hard to find yourself and date at the same time. Hell, these things are individually difficult, nevermind together.

Be strong now and realize that you are making the best damned decision you can right now. As our hero Elly says, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” Don’t give it to him, love. Know that you are beautiful, courageous, and a lot better off without him.

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