Change starts now.
Somewhere along the way, I started believing that I was worthy of better treatment. No longer will I allow this baggage to infiltrate my mind.
We can’t control the events that the world will throw in our paths, but we do have the authority to manage our reaction to each and every one. That’s not to say that pain, fear, anger, and other negative emotions cannot play a role, but there comes a time when one must let go.
I’m not proud to admit it, but specific incidents torment me to this day. More specifically, events that transpired between ex-boyfriends and myself, and other malicious men who entered my life seem to lurk in the forefront of my psyche. It’s evident to me that clinging to such pain affects me more than those who initially caused it.
All of that will change. Now. As I gaze upon a kinder present, I now confront these demons from my past. I do this for myself, and my wellbeing.
To the boyfriend who shoved me because my dress was "too short"
It began with you screaming at me because the length of my dress indicated that I was “asking for it from other guys.” I tried to explain that I wore it for you (after all, you had helped me choose the dress while shopping), but you “informed” me that I was lying. As you may recall, I did not apologize for the length of my dress. I will never apologize for it. I'm sorry, however, that you were taught that force is instrumental when trying to prove a point. It is not; there are better ways to communicate your frustration than laying your hands on another person — especially someone you love. Furthermore, I regret that you grew up in a culture that instructed you to police a woman’s body and sexuality. You have no right to do so, and you will never secure a healthy relationship until you understand that.
To the date who pressed a knife against my neck when I denied him sex
It feels strange to apologize to you, for you made me fear that death had come for me. The anxiety you planted in me that night has prevented me from trusting other men. I'd like to extend my sympathies to you, given the understanding that you were raised to believe that violence was an appropriate means to getting what you want. You could have told me that you were attracted to me, and wished to be intimate. It saddens me that you did not feel you could express this in a peaceful manner, as I was taught to do.
To the fling who aggressively slut-shamed me
Like a rabid chihuahua, you maniacally hurled the worst insults you could muster, made illogical accusations, and attacked my moral compass. I understand it; you felt inadequate in certain aspects of your masculinity, and sought to make me feel as small as you did. This saddens me, for I saw wonderful qualities in you. I’m sorry that you believed your worth could be reduced to something so shallow. However, I did not deserve your wrath.
To the boyfriend who attempted to control every move I made
Do you know that I have nightmares about our relationship? Losing aspects of myself to your hunger for power was one of my biggest regrets. Yet, I’m sorry that you felt you could lose me if you allowed me to run free. Spending time with my friends and family, pursuing my own hobbies, and taking time for myself would not have diminished my (strong) feelings for you. What were you told to make you believe otherwise? Whatever it was, I hope you know that — despite everything — I think you’re better than that.
To the collection of bosses and supervisors who sexually harassed me
I pity you all. With the mindset you displayed to me, it is evident that you are unable to maintain healthy, loving relationships with women your own age and professional level. It’s unfortunate that you will miss out on the benefits of such connections or were willing to sacrifice them for the thrill of attempting sexual contact with me. Do you think so little of yourself that you must seek accompaniment from an impressionable young woman, when logic must tell you that any and all attractions would be superficial (or worse, monetary-based)?
Lastly, I apologize to myself for accepting such treatment. None of this was OK, and I should have known I deserved better. Somewhere along the way, I started believing that I was worthy of better treatment. No longer will I allow this baggage to infiltrate my mind.
To you, reader
If you find yourself identifying with my experiences, I want you to know that I am sorry. Though we may not be acquainted, I know that you also don’t deserve it. No one is perfect, but our mistakes do not render us undeserving of healthy, happy relationships.
Let us leave our pasts behind, and relish a future untainted by the ghosts of our former miseries. It’s about time.