Dear James, Part 4

Dear James,

Do you remember the first time you were abusive to me?  I do.  It was a Saturday morning and we had plans to go to a car show.  You told me I was being too cheerful, that I needed to be quiet in the morning.  Do you remember doing this?  I do.  I was taken aback and thought you were kidding.  You weren’t.  And do you remember what I did next?  I apologized.  To you.  For being cheerful and excited about spending the day with you.  I would do this a million more times for things that included:

  • Smiling
  • Being too happy
  • Being silly
  • Talking too loudly
  • Laughing
  • Humming

When we first met, these were all things you loved about me.  Why were they then, after only a few weeks, starting to bother you?   The saddest thing of all is that I believed you. I also believed that there was something terribly wrong with me and tried until nearly that last day we were together to be the girl you wanted me to be.  I lost every part of me trying to be that girl.


There were brief periods when I thought I had figured it out.  My attempts, however, would fail at every turn.  Any of the above scenarios would be turned upside down when you would then claim that I was:

  • Too quiet
  • Too serious
  • Hiding something
  • Disinterested

This caused me even more anxiety, confusion and despair.  I didn’t realize then that you were actually a disordered sociopath who deliberately controlled and manipulated me with a set of ever-changing rules and with no boundary you weren’t willing to cross. You, however, had carte blanche to live your life however you chose and were self-assured in establishing your own boundaries that were never to be crossed or questioned.

The other component, beyond you being a sociopath, is the cyclical nature of abuse.  My attempts would seem to work during the honeymoon period, then tensions would build and I would desperately scramble to try other ways of managing your behavior, followed by you exploding in either rage or, your favorite, the silent treatment.  And then it would start all over again.  It went from every three weeks at the beginning of our relationship to every three days at the end. Every three fucking days.

And when I write this I just imagine all the arguments you have crafted to say that I am either to blame or that I like playing the victim.  Sorry, your PhD won’t save you with this one.  I am neither to blame nor do I enjoy playing the victim.  If you were really listening, you’d hear that I’m playing the survivor.  A survivor who is trying and succeeding at getting her life back after you tore it apart on purpose to fill your black hole of abject self-hatred.



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