A little background – I was married to my best friend from high school at 22, and ended our disaster of a marriage at 26. The following are the misadventures and lessons learned from discovering I was married to a stranger, and starting life over before the age of 30.
The man I married when I was 22 was physically, and even more so, verbally and emotionally abusive. There was not a day that went by, especially in the latter years of our marriage, where I wasn’t referred to as fat, stupid, worthless, or ugly. And while I know now that I am none of those things, there were days when I was with him that I believed it simply from listening to it like a broken record.
He was not a fan of me being independent in any way, and put down any idea I ever had to better myself. Even at the time, I understood that this was all just a way for him to control me, to quell his own insecurities. But it still left me raw and absolutely terrified of failure. He refused to move out of the apartment in his mother’s house, and gave every excuse as to why we should stay there, despite it again being based on his own insecurities. I honestly don’t think he ever intended on us living independently, which is simply not normal or healthy for me.
He made it known that my desire for a healthy sex life was, in his opinion, sick; that I should have happily and gladly accepted our beyond sub-par physical relationship. Any sex toy I brought into the house was destroyed, because again, in his words, my wanting anything else to touch me besides him was sick and wrong. And my, at-the-time, bisexual identity (I now identify as pansexual) sickened him.
He caused near-irreparable emotional damage to me. He caused physical trauma that, while still fairly minor, will be an on-again-off-again painful reminder of him every time an injury caused by him flares up.
I have every reason to hate him. But I don’t.
Now, don’t get me wrong – I don’t LIKE him. I don’t wish we were back together, or miss him, or think about the ‘good times’. But I’m not sitting around sticking needles into a voodoo doll, or dwelling on it either. Was I angry at first? Of course – I don’t think I’d qualify as human if I wasn’t. Did I hate him? Yup. But as with many things, time has washed away most of the feelings – severely negative, or even positive – that I had for him. He simply holds little to no significance in my current life, despite being a part of my past.
The funny thing is, I’m not that forgiving of a person. It’s odd for me to let things go, especially something so substantial. And time can help, but it doesn’t make you forget, or magically fix everything either. What I do have on my side is hindsight. Looking back, I was miserable. Subtract the abuse from the situation, and it still wasn’t, and would never have been, the right place or relationship for me.
The two years since I left him have been the best years of my life. My life before him wasn’t bad. But we started dating shortly before my 21st birthday, which means that I simply hadn’t had time to really grow into my own skin as an adult without him. The sense of self-sufficiency and independence I’ve developed since leaving him has been better than I ever could have imagined. I have a healthy level of self-esteem, have developed my own interests, and have become someone I actually like. My body is still pretty close to the one I had while I was with him, but I don’t hate the way I look anymore. I am stronger and smarter than I ever could have been, had he not come in to, and exited my life. Knowing now what not to do in a relationship for myself has led me to find someone with whom I fit on more levels than I previously knew existed.
So, since I am well aware that I came away from this situation a better person, how could I hate him? As much as he was the negative factor of the whole experience, I would not be where I am today without it. Would it have been nice not to be abused and divorced? Definitely. But I’m not sure I would’ve ended up the same person, and I’m really happy with my life now and wouldn’t trade it for anything. So, while he’ll never be my favorite person, and I don’t for a moment relish what I went through; I cannot hate him, because that would, in a way, be wishing to undo the person I am. And I wouldn’t trade the ‘now’ me for anything.