Despite Everything

To the first boy I believed when he told me he loved me:

If I’m going to be completely honest, I didn’t want to write this letter, but I felt like I had to. Mainly because I don’t want you to think there’s any chance of us getting back together even though I lead you to believe there was. I also never want anyone to think that I still care, because the reality is, I don’t.

After looking back on every moment we spent as friends and more, I’m saddened by the fact that I let all the red flags blow over. From getting legitimately mad at me for being agnostic to threatening your life when I said another boy’s name (despite the fact I told you it wasn’t and never would be funny), I’m sure you never truly cared about me to the extent you lead me to believe. You wanted someone to tell you that you were important to them, because you didn’t feel like you truly had a place in this world. You were controlling and narcissistic, but incredibly uncertain about your future and your choices. You were constantly projecting your insecurities onto others despite your “better than everyone” facade, which is honestly one of your greatest downfalls.

After four months of being single and working on my own happiness, I’ve reflected a lot on our time together. As much as I wish I had great things to say about our relationship, I feel like none of it was kicks and giggles. After four months of being myself again, I have something you could have never given me no matter how hard you tried. A better perspective.

One of my favorite parts about life is looking back and realizing how much I’ve grown, so I decided to write this letter to illustrate everything I’ve learned from the seemingly constant low that was us as a couple. I was so caught up in having someone to talk to at every moment, that I didn't see what was really going on. I’m very grateful that now I can recognize how bad it was, because now I know I’ll never let emotional abuse hurt me again. I know to look out for signs of manipulation and to always follow my instincts. As much as it might hurt to read this, ultimately, I’m sure I would’ve been better if I had been on my own. Though I am proud of how much I’ve changed since June, our relationship has given me nothing more than another story to add to my collection. The pain you brought into my life wasn’t worth anything positive that could’ve ever happened between us.

For starters, I think it’s important to note that we knew each other 2 weeks before we started communicating constantly, 6 before you decided we were an item, 7 weeks before we became official, 8 weeks before you told me you loved me, and 16 until we broke up and I cut off as many ties as I could. We were friends for 4 months, together for 2. That is not a long time. The amount of damage you caused doesn’t make sense.

Like most people, you have many flaws. Something you do consistently is turn yourself into either the hero or the victim. There’s no in between. Do you remember the time you told me you wanted to cheat on me, but when I got upset, you told me that I shouldn’t make everything about me and that I was being selfish? You claimed that you wanting to cheat was less about you basically telling me you didn’t care about our relationship and more about you simply openly dealing with your confusing internal feelings. You told me that I should admire your honesty and always support you instead of overreacting to the fact that you said you wanted to cheat on me. A girl who’s been cheated on. You even thought it was a good idea to tell me exactly what she looks like and everything. Then, after a few minutes of you making me feel inadequate and unimportant, you changed your language to lead me to believe that I was lucky to be with a man who could control himself like you could. God knows what was running through your mind when you told me to stop overreacting.

Another thing that always bothered me is your stubbornness. You can never be wrong. I’ve known this the entire time I’ve known you, but I didn’t realize how overpowering it was until we were official. Even when it was about the most petty things, you always had to be right. For instance, something I vividly remember is when you told me something along the lines of “I would never screenshot one of your mirror selfie snapchats because I know how insecure you are about your appearance”. Even after I told you I wasn’t, you insisted I was. There was no part of you that ever thought there was even a possibility of you being wrong, so you dragged out all arguments to hopefully guarantee that I would agree with you at some point. You were constantly telling me exactly how to feel about everything and refused to hear me out if I didn’t side with you. Eventually, I learned to never bring up anything I knew you would end up arguing with me over because quite frankly, it exhausted me.

It was exhausting to argue with you, exhausting to facetime you for hours every day, and it was exhausting when you would make me push off my homework until after you went to bed. It was exhausting having to give you constant validation and it was exhausting always trying to make you feel better. For my AP Psychology course, our teacher had us record our sleep schedule from October 2nd (the Friday we broke up) until October 16th, and I ended up sleeping more than anyone in my class. I guess I was making up for every moment you told me that you’d hurt yourself if I took a nap instead of talking to you, even though everything was fine when you’d refuse to talk to me.

I hate that I even have to explain this, but my friends are not hateful people. They are objective and usually have solid reasoning to back up their decisions. They’re smart, dedicated, independent girls and we always look out for each other. They are the family I got to choose, a huge part of my life, and they all hated you. And looking back, they had completely valid reasons. I never understood why you would always make me talk to your friends (friend), but whenever we ended up talking to mine, you’d be mean, stand-offish, and vicious towards them. From calling one of them stupid to her face to telling me I should leave their houses to facetime you, you were always difficult and selfish. You were constantly trying to get me to believe that they could never appreciate me to the extent that you did, but they were never the issue. All of your problems regarding them were reflections of you, not how they felt about me and definitely not how I felt about them.

Despite telling you that I didn’t want to have the time commitment that was our relationship after our break up and you still texting me everyday, I knew that “we” were going to dissolve faster than you could ever imagine. I know I hurt you deeply, but when someone hurts you, you have two choices. You can waste all your energy on being devastated, or you can accept it, reflect, and continue on. I know I should’ve ended it when I first realized it was going downhill instead of making myself miserable for two weeks, but I’m going to stand by the choices I made. I’m not sorry I left you behind when I did.

A few weeks after our breakup, the thing that ended up surprising me the most is the fact that you thought I would want to see you when you came to Southern California. After so many awkward, post-breakup conversations that turned into you talking about us moving in together, your freakish fantasies that involved us running into each other in bars when we’re 23, and then weeks of me never texting you back, you still thought I was holding onto something. You still thought we could be friends. Despite everything.

So, this letter is for every time you rained on my parade, every time you turned your mistakes into mine, and every time you made me into someone I wasn’t. I knew you well enough to know you thought you had good intentions, but the reality was that you never clapped when I won. Instead of celebrating my victories, we always ended up mourning your losses. Whenever I talked about my life and how I was actively trying to make myself better, you’d get defensive, change the subject, and talk about how much where you are sucks. Yes, you have said things that have brightened my days, but has been so many more times when you say things that I never need or want to hear. I know you don’t necessarily mean any harm, you just want me to be your anchor, but unfortunately you didn't realize that means I have to drown.

Looking back, I shouldn’t have ignored the red flags. I should’ve listened to my friends and been more honest with you and myself. But the best part about us is the fact I can write this and know that I will never let anyone do more damage than you did to me ever again. Despite everything, I’m better.


                (Not) yours,

                    The Ex Girlfriend


PS: There’s this song, it’s called “Right For Me”. It came out a few days before we broke up and it was one of the things that really pushed me to just cut it off. I asked you to listen to it a few times, but you always said you didn’t have time. Understandable, it’s a 3 minute song. I can’t explain it, but there’s something about that song that made me feel like I wouldn’t regret letting you go, so I did, and I haven’t regretted it at all.

Lizzie Bromley