There are so many inspiring posts and true stories that are shared here on this forum, and I thought I’d like to share with you an open message that I sent to my ex when I discovered he had been reading my blog. For me, it was another of those defining moments. I had a choice, you see. My habitual response would have been to shut down, keep quiet and stop sharing my journey with the world. The knowledge that he once again had access to my inner thoughts instantly brought back the familiar feelings of fear and uncertainty – together with the still haunting shame that I’d fallen so heavily for his poisonous charms. The fact that, despite my love, he had systematically stripped me of everything that was important to me. Smiling in my face while he did it. How could I have been so stupid to believe his was a smile of love?
I know from some of the personal accounts here that many of you will be familiar with this sort of experience. I also know that (for me anyway) it took a colossal amount of courage and discipline to break the cycle that had trapped me for so many years. To those who don’t understand, it may seem a small thing to write an open message to somebody who has caused so much pain. “Well” they might think “that’s the least you can do! If I were in your shoes I’d have done a whole heap more!” Typically well-intentioned but uninformed fighting talk from people who don’t understand the power that such a debilitatingly cold grip can have over somebody. Yes, even over the normally feisty people that most of us are. As I’ve said before, I believe that we must already have been strong and feisty – why else would we seem such attractive targets?
I wrote this particular piece a year after I discovered the truth. I had already come a long way in my healing by then – but knowing how much further I am today, there was still a way to go at that time. I hope you find this article helpful.
“I know you’re out there… I can feel you now. And I know that you’re afraid… afraid of us. You’re afraid of change. I don’t know the future. I didn’t come here to tell you how this is going to end. I came here to tell how it’s going to begin…”
That is one of my favorite quotes from The Matrix, and my ex and I used it to open a training session at a large conference to teach managers the rudiments of coaching. I am using it now because I know for sure that this blog is now being read by my estranged husband. So I thought I’d say hello in a style that would be sure to grab his attention.
Yes, it’s true… once I found out he was watching me I seriously considered shutting the blog down. I fretted over the notion that perhaps it might give him some kind of sick hold over me again. Once again I felt the fear. The humiliation. And yes, the familiar feeling of him standing over my shoulder. In some ways peculiarly comforting (better the devil you know?) but in the most part frightening. I was shaken. For the first couple of days it was hard for me to make any sensible decision as once again the nagging questions started swirling through my brain. “What if he can get to me again? What if he’s been watching me all the time? What if he decides to suddenly make an appearance?”
And then I decided to stand proud. I decided that I have nothing to hide. And I also came to the conclusion there’s nothing that he can do now to hurt me. He’d already done everything within his power – and he’d failed. Because I’m free. You see I am not afraid anymore. This blog is MY voice, it’s MY journey, and it’s MY truth. And the truth will always out in the end.
I can’t begin to guess his reasons for suddenly taking such an avid interest in what I’m doing. After all, he hasn’t given my son or me a backwards glance since the very day I found out the truth about him. And yes, I’ve been through hell and back in the days and months that followed. At times it has felt as though I have been trapped inside my own matrix, and insanity has felt never less than a heartbeat away. I had loved him with all my heart and with all my soul. I believed he loved me too, you see, and the shock at discovering the depth of his betrayal and deceit was just about enough to kill me.
When I first discovered the truth, I didn’t know where to turn or whom I could trust. I worried that perhaps everyone else had known what was going on. I felt ashamed and stupid for not seeing what had been going on right under my nose – for years – how could I have been so blind? I couldn’t sleep. Some days I could hardly breathe. The pain was indescribable, and my days were spent wading through treacle and trying to keep my head above the quicksand that was threatening to drag me down in to the abyss. My son and I both stuck together like glue, and together we worked our way through the mire. Together we made sense of a tortuous situation that forced us to realize that our family life had been nothing but a sham. A recognition that seems so inconceivable, there are many people who simply couldn’t (and still can’t) take the whole truth on board. The public tarring and feathering I’ve talked about before, when trying to convince people that the caring soul they thought they knew is actually a cold heartless creature who never gave a damn – either about me, or about his ‘friends’, the very people who still can’t accept the facts.
And throughout those first weeks and months I missed him. Terribly. Heart-wrenchingly. I missed his touch, his smell, his voice. The smile and the face I knew and loved so well. The way he would hold me. The way our bodies just seemed to fit together so well. The way he walked. Even the noise he made when he cleared his throat – I always said I could pick him out from a mile away just from that sound!
Yes, there was certainly a time when I would never have wanted him to know the pain and destruction his actions have caused. There would have been a time when I would have wanted to keep everything quiet. I’d have chosen to keep the smile on my face and carry on as normal – keeping the shame and hurt to myself (and for myself). Damage limitation and all that malarkey.
And yes, I’ve questioned whether there can be any threat to me with him now reading my stories. Perhaps he’s smirking. Perhaps he’s sneering with a warped sense of pleasure as he prides himself at having had such a hold over me. Perhaps he takes some kind of sick kick in reading my stories of soul-searching and struggles as I learn to make sense of my shattered life.
So yes, the questions have been running around and around my head, and I have thought long and hard about what I was going to do. And I’ve decided through it all that I’m sticking exactly where I am. For I have decided that I am now safe from harm, and am finding the courage to start living the life of my dreams. So I decided that that this blog, my story, my life is just that. MY life. And I’m never going to shut up, bow down, hide or apologize ever again. I did that for far too long.
And you know what? Now I’m glad of all he’s done – because despite his best intentions, I am emerging stronger and wiser as a result. I’m glad of the opportunity to clear out ALL the old shit I had been carrying around. Not just the rubbish I’d accumulated over 11 years with my so-called soul-mate, but also all the other emotional baggage I hadn’t realized I had been holding in my psyche.
Yes, I’m GLAD I fell to my knees, and I’m proud of myself for doing so. For it was MY strength of character that allowed me to go there – not HIS perceived power over me. So, as I said in a previous post, thank you ex-husband. Thanks for leaving just enough of a trail for me to find you out. Because had I not discovered the truth about you, perhaps I would never have broken free. I know for certain that I would be in a very different place right now. A place that I don’t even care to consider.
But now I AM free – I’m free from you and your cold heartless deceit. You can’t touch me anymore, and you pose no threat to me either now or in the future. Because now I know for sure what it’s like to feel secure. To feel loved. To feel inspired to dream big and have the self-belief to follow those dreams. I’ve started now, and nothing and nobody can stop me. So go ahead, feel free – read and weep. Because you’ve already lost.
So to you, dear ex, as I said in the beginning: “I don’t know how this is going to end. I’m here to tell you how it begins…” For I HAVE changed, and life will never be the same again.