Letter from the past

CW: abusive relationships, PTSD, rape

I got a letter today from my abusive ex-boyfriend, J. I’ve blocked him on everything possible, and he finds me on fucking LinkedIn. I just wrote and a deleted a sentence about how shitty it is that on my good streak, he comes back and how I cannot catch a break. But I don’t really feel that way. I feel lucky that this is happening now. I couldn’t imagine having this hit me a month ago, I bet I would have begun to cycle within the first 12 hours of reading it. Hopefully, I still don’t start. I feel OK right now.

One of the primary triggers of my episodes is stress, and I would definitely call my PTSD stressful. My whole world feels more dangerous suddenly. Cars seem closer to me when I drive, men who look my way slightly too long make me shake, every creak and shadow in my apartment is a burglar who will kill me. Every time I’m in public my imagination is 10 steps ahead of my thinking brain and I can’t stop picturing every man I pass suddenly turning around and stabbing or grabbing me. I can’t turn it off.

I never went through experiences where I feared for my life, but I spent four years perpetually fearing anger and violence. I could never predict what would set him off. At the time, I believed that was because of what J told me, that I was dumb and immature and a bad girlfriend and if I were better, then none of that would happen. It was all my fault, I made him angry and I was so lucky that he put up with me. I had it burned into my brain that because I am who I am, I should expect random violence and rape and anger.

It’s been four years since we were together, though I can’t go more than 10 days without having a nightmare that I have upset someone over something I thought was nothing, that they are angry and the relationship is irredeemable, or that there is a person or people that want to hurt me and I am being hunted down, or that I get to relive some memory and wake up with old pain made fresh. I barely walk around with my brain set to scare me. To me, both of those are incredible. I am so healthy compared to where I’ve been. The nightmares used to be every night and my environment always felt like how it feels now. You can barely see the scars now.

Well, unless someone decides to rip them open.

The email said:

Hey Natasha,
It’s been awhile. I know you probably have a terrible image of me and I’m deserving of that. I want to apologize and reconnect. I was an ass. I’m sorry. I’m really, truly sorry. You were always kind to me and I manipulated you.  I want to get to know you again.. [email redacted]

So two things strike me:

  1. Seems a little understated. Ya know, considering.
  2. Then again, what the hell would enough of a statement be to be not understated?

I don’t think I can handle talking to him. I think this flare in my subconscious anxieties has already made it clear that I am only tentatively healed. Some people stay with you like a handprint on your heart, but he’s more of a soccer cleat on my fight-or-flight.

The things he said weren’t wrong, but they weren’t enough. I try imagining the scenario where we meet and there’s no version of the situation* where he says anything that makes living with my trauma easier. I don’t carry an active grudge against him because goodness knows I don’t have the extra energy, but I do not like him or respect him. I don’t want him to be happy. I don’t want him to find satisfaction in things. I do not want to give him the closure of apologizing to me since it won’t change anything for me after he’s done so much damage.

I won’t be seeing him. And I’ll block him on LinkenIn, too.


*save where he says he’s off to become a Tibetan monk or join the French Foreign Legion and he’s trying to say his last good-byes.


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