• Kristy Gnibus

An Open Letter to my Ex

Updated: Nov 25, 2019

Dear W,

I have never in all my life as an adult been called names like, "fat," "chubby," "stupid," ugly" or the like until you. Until you, I didn't even know that adults did those kinds of things. Not really. Abuse victims also seemed so foreign to me. Why would anyone ever take such terrible treatment? But, I did. I took it with you. I thought that belittling and abuse only happened in special cases with really ignorant people. I was wrong. I was so wrong about so much in this relationship. I allowed you to belittle me in ways I didn't know possible. You broke down any sense of pride I had. You allowed me to isolate myself from my friends and family. You allowed me to believe the only way to feel good about myself was through you, with your approval.

You knew you were wrong. You had this convenient habit of deleting all the texts you would send that were filled with hate, insecurity and loathe. You admitted it too. Each evening if it were a dreadful night of tearing me down you would empty out your text messages. It must have given you some relief to know when you woke up you wouldn't have to relive the terrible things you have said to me. I still did though. I kept those messages and memories. The ones where you told me no one would ever want me. I kept the memories of you abandoning me places or giving me the silent treatment when I couldn't figure out why or what I did wrong. You can't erase those. I can't either.

The abuse I withstood was not physical. Not until the very end. I have been asked if I feel lucky. Lucky it wasn't physical, and the answer is no. Emotional abuse can be subtle and insidious or overt and manipulative. Sometimes the pain from isolation, threats, name-calling, and accusations would feel like a punch in the gut that would linger for hours or days. I actually remember wishing you would just punch me right square in the face than rather not know what was next, not know how or what I was going to do to trigger another episode.

The strategy of trying to control me failed to satisfy you for the simple reason that the primary cause of your anxiety is within you. If you can really look back and clearly see how you treated me and not think you did anything wrong then there is only one answer. Narcissism.

I think it is important to be clear that these episodes were not provoked in any rational way. It would literally come out of nowhere. I didn't pay enough attention to you. I looked at someone else. I wore the wrong outfit. I wasn't something you thought I should be. I now know that it wasn't me at all that couldn't get it right. It was you.

I recall this one time before I finally put my foot down to end it all (even though I tried multiple times before). We went to therapy. I told the therapist I wanted to break it off and needed her there for my safety and for her to help you to take it seriously. Afterwards you left the room and said, "okay, talk to you later babe." You really just didn't get it. It was the most bizarre thing. I broke up with you the most official way possible and you told me and the therapist you'd see me later? After that, and speaking to my therapist more I knew if you didn't exit my life peacefully I was going to need help.

I have to be honest, even as I write this I have some twinge of fear. Fear of you reading this. Fear of your thoughts disapproving me, but that is why I waited. I waited years to write this. I wrote a letter shortly after, but I wasn't ready. It was filled with too much hurt, hate, and revenge. I am not that person, and I know that.

I actually feel sorry for you now. I assume that you are not well or were not. I believe that a healthy person does not need to control, demean, or punish someone. What I know for sure is this: emotionally abusive partners consciously and deliberately set out to hurt, humiliate and control their partners.  They see that as the best way to go about satisfying their own emotional needs.  They see what they do as creating a relationship that satisfies their need for power and control over another human being.

It eventually got to the point where you were intruding in on my work with calls, texts, and emails. You would show up at my gym, home, and anywhere you thought I could be. I came home one night and you were waiting for me. You hurt me, this time physically, and that was it.

I hope you have found help. I hope that you never hurt anyone as you hurt me. But with that said, I am grateful. I have learned a lesson the hard way. I will never allow it to happen again. Even a twinge of manipulation from someone and I immediately shut them down. I am beyond proud of myself for getting help. I am thankful for SafeNet, great friends, and family who supported and encouraged me even after isolating myself when I finally came back to life, they were there.

When it was finalized in court, I remember returning to the bench and just bawling. I released you. I released all the emotions I kept in and just wept. I wanted to do this alone so I was by myself in that courtroom, but people I didn't even know came over and hugged me. People are amazing, aren't they? I can't help but tear up as I write this. I am so grateful that this and you are behind me. I am so grateful I am free.


A Stronger Woman

"I am so much more than you told me I was.”

I am myself now, but I am different than before him. I went back to school immediately after to get my Ph.D. I am currently completing my dissertation.

I am open and willing to trust again. Trust that someone will be my equal, not control, manipulate or tear me down. There are far more good people out there than there are bad.

No matter who you are. No matter who they are. No one deserves this. There is not a "better" type of abuse. There should be NO abuse, no matter the form. I am always a shoulder to cry on. My home is always open. If not me, find someone. Abuse in a relationship generally does not get better, it escalates and gets worse. Take it seriously! If you are ever a person outside looking in on an abusive relationship, encourage them to get help.

Need help here in Erie? Click here.

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