Abuse, Pages from the Past

Dear John: The Letter

I am not sure I can make you understand how utterly naive I was….

I wrote a letter to my former husband when I left. I intended for him to read it after we were several hours away. I wrote it because I wanted him to understand why I was leaving. I was hoping it would be a wake up call for him. I wanted him to see his destructive behavior for what it was and make real efforts to get help and change for real this time. I knew he needed professional help and it was one of the prerequisites I had in place before I would return home. I naively thought I would be returning home in 2-3 weeks. I am not sure I can make you understand how utterly naive I was. Even now I look back in disbelief. This naivety over the situation I was in is one reason that I write this blog.  At the time all I knew was that things were bad and getting worse and that I wanted it, needed it, to stop. I did not recognize the depth of the damage I had undergone. Despite being an unhealthy coping mechanism, I had learned to breathe underwater. And I know I am not the only one.

Sharing this letter is important because a lot of the writing you read now is from a different person. Oh sure, I still have the same DNA, eye color, and name, but I am not the same person. The fear, anguish, and despair I had felt for so long are not there anymore. I am not saying I am completely healed and do not still sometimes revert, but I definitely see things more clearly now. I want to share with you where I was emotionally when I left. It was not a strong independent person who decided that she had had enough, but a woman desperate for help, so desperate that she was willing to take her children and drive nearly 900 miles to her parents house while her husband was at work. I cannot tell you how terrifying that was, but I knew if I did not do it that way I would not get away.

The kids knew that he got frequently got angry and sometimes this was directed at them. I told them that we were going to Grandpa and Grandma’s house for a little while so that their dad could work on some issues he had. They brought up his issues with anger, not me. They understood and did not question. That was all I felt they needed to know. Also, as children they were looking forward to the prospect of seeing their cousins and family.

I apologized profusely when I finally called him, when several hours away, to tell him what I had done, but still I stayed the course. He was furious. He threatened to fly up and bring us back. Even his dad called and tried to talk me out of it. I was determine to finish what I had started. I was desperate and did not see any other way.

When he walked through the front door of our house alone, I stayed on the phone with him. I talked to him off and on throughout the drive. I tried to ease his pain in any way I could besides turning back. I knew he was hurting. By the time I reached my parents house I was exhausted. I had just completed the hardest decision I had ever made in my life up until that point. I did not know it would get harder.

Here is the letter:

In view of last night’s conversation you may view this as a betrayal, but because of last night’s conversation I actually feel much better about this, because I feel more sure you that you will view this as an act of love much more quickly than you would have before. Please do not make the assumption that this was an easy decision. Quite the opposite. It is the hardest decision I have ever had to make. The ideal situation would have been that you were open to this option and reassured the kids that you are ok with it. I am not blaming you. I understand. I just wish it had worked out differently. But I view this as a completely necessary step of the healing process. And I am also acting under advisement. This is my decision, but I have sought a lot of council about this. The things I heard from you last night were so very encouraging. You are definitely on the right track. But as I cautioned you, this is a honeymoon period.

One thing that I hope you are able to see is that this is not punitive. You were “perfect” last night. Selfless, caring, respectful to me, my space and my privacy, unsuspicious.  This is not about me getting tired of you not changing. But this may also be a part of the cycle that we always go through. My staying only allows the cycle to continue. I have come to realize that all these years of enduring this cycle has only allowed it to continue. I have enabled you. While nothing this drastic has ever happened before and I see that there is some difference, my being away for a while will help ensure that we will not slip back into our old ways. I need some distance too. I have been conditioned to go through this part of the cycle with hope. Always hoping this is the last time. I am breaking the cycle. And I really believe that nothing short of my absence will accomplish that.

I hope that we can look back from some time in the future and say that this is a story of redemption. This will be, most likely, the darkest time of your life. And as your life partner, I am sorry I am not here to go through it with you. This is however a valley where I cannot accompany you. This is a part of our journey where we each need to walk alone. I am not leaving you. You will have time to focus not on us, but on you. While I appreciate your reading the Complete Husband last night and you were able to get good information, can I encourage you not to focus so much on our marriage while we are gone but on you and your relationship with God? We will work on the marriage together.

I do have some fears for many reasons. Your mental stability and safety, something with which I hope your parents will be able to be a help to you. I am worried you will not respond to this well and do something irreversible as a way of lashing out at me. I fear that you will view this as another hoop to jump through in order to get back to your life as quickly as possible. So much rides on your response to this time of absence. You have much to do while we are gone. You have already begun the process but it is just the start. I will need for you to have started sessions with both a counselor and a psychiatrist while we are gone. At this time, I do not have a list of what needs to happen before we come back and I hope we can communicate regularly and congenially every step of this process.

I have struggled greatly over the fact that I will not be here to take care of you. I have washed all of your clothes. Ironed your pants and hung them up. (Sorry I was not able to iron all of them). I am sorry you will have to be taking care of your own food. I was unable to go through with this because of my feelings and guilt over this decision the day before yesterday but I have come to realize that my feelings need to be overridden for the overall good. These feelings are temporary and minute in light of what we have to gain through this. [I realize this does not make sense, but I was trying to explain that I was going to leave the day before but did not out of guilt and feeling like I would be responsible for breaking up my family.]

I do care for you deeply. Deeply enough to do the right thing and leave. To stop enabling you. To stop the cycle. To stop hiding your sins and thereby allowing this to continue. If you truly give God your life – all the dirtiest most selfish nooks and crannies, we can look back at this as the best-worst time of our lives. I know you will not be perfect. Neither will I. I will do my best to extend to you grace as a human being and ask you to do the same for me. I will be in contact and certainly make sure you are able to talk to the kids. This is as much for them as it is you and I. I PROMISE YOU – I will hold you in high regard to the kids and will reassure them of your love for them.

I love you very much. And I am praying for the best outcome. For you, for me and for the kids.

I love you.

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