(Disclaimer: This will be the ninth and final part of a miniature series of blogs that will reference a less-than-loving past relationship. This is the story of my abusive relationship and how I wound up in and out of it over the course of three years. Please see Content Warning before reading if you are concerned about the nature of the story, as I will not be leaving out any details. All names, places, and identities will be altered for no other reason than to avoid conflict. Changed names, locations, and other things deemed necessary will be marked with *.)
I think I was staring at my phone so hard that I was drooling. One minute I was talking to my mom about some plans that Kamron had made for me for my birthday, the next I was reliving a nightmare.
“Who was that?” my mom asked.
After a couple of seconds I just said, “Uhh, it’s…it’s Jesse, actually.”
My mom instantly took on the face of someone who had just seen a ghost. She didn’t have to tell me what she was thinking, because I was thinking the same. I had recently changed my number when I got a new phone, you know, after he broke mine. This was the first time I had ever changed my number since I had had a cell phone; yet, here he was, texting me. Just let that sink in for a minute. I don’t know how he got my number, and I was torn between two emotions: flattery and rage.
I was flattered that Jesse had thought of me on my birthday, but I was outraged because this was an unfamiliar number, meaning he had changed HIS number as well; for what reason, I have no idea. But he had the audacity to track down my new number and text me anyways. In my mind, he had no reason to haul off and change his phone number. I was the one trying to hide, why would he feel the need to disconnect his old line unless he had a tall tale to go with it? I hadn’t even tried to contact him since the night he doused me in rotten eggs. Either way, I was not in any position to feel sorry for him this time. He had humiliated me, degraded me, and punished me for things I had not committed. I was left for dead on his front porch, by his will. Who knows what would have happened if the cops didn’t arrive when they did?
Truth be told, I was actually beyond satisfied that he texted me. I had the satisfaction of knowing that he would never receive a “thank you”, or a “how are you”, or even “let’s meet up”, even though he was certain he would. The ball was now in my court, and I had the power to make it stay there. He knew I would come back to him every single time. But this time, he thought wrong. I didn’t care about his threats, I didn’t listen to his antics, I didn’t buy in to his bull shit. I deleted the message, put my phone down, and continued talking to my mom about my upcoming date. I can’t explain her relief when she realized that I was unmoved by Jesse’s pathetic attempts to reach back out to me. I was truly over him. Actually, I was thoroughly disgusted by him.
Kamron and I started dating not long after. I was blissfully happy for a while. Happier than I can ever recall having been at the time. Jesse, of course, got word of my happiness and new boyfriend. When he tried to test Kamron, he was humbled. Kamron wasn’t going to put up with Jesse lurking around or acting out about our relationship. The only time it almost got serious was when Jesse tried to bow up to Kamron when they ran into each other at the local one-stop shop. Kamron told him how it was going to be, and called Jesse out on being the coward that he truly is. Jesse would never have thrown a punch at Kamron in a million years, he knew he would be toast if he even tried.
For the first time in a long time, I felt secured. I was protected by someone. Kamron, to this day, still doesn’t know what all had happened to between Jesse and I, which doesn’t matter because he was there when I needed someone the most. He bridged a gap that I would have inevitably fallen back into, and perhaps never made it out of. Before I was actually able to get Jesse out of my life for good, he made sure to spread a rumor about me having an incurable sexually transmitted disease. My roommates at the time turned against me, my friends ditched me, all of them. And mine and Kamron’s relationship was short-lived. It ended as anyone would expect a rebound relationship to end. As it turns out, Kamron wasn’t the greatest boyfriend in the world. He eventually ended up cheating on me and dumping me.
Time’s were tough, but they had nothing on me. I was wearing the scarlet letter for having, yet another, hypothetical STD, my boyfriend cheated and broke up with me, and all my friends tuned their backs on me, but none of it was worse than anything I had already been through. There was no way of clearing my name around Ruford City, and to be quite honest, I could care less about proving myself to a bunch of people who were clearly dedicated to reveling in my adversities. So I moved.
I packed my bags and set out for Oklahoma. A guy friend of mine from high school had mentioned an academic forgiveness program at Oklahoma State University. I had failed out of college and was on academic suspension, and rightfully so, because I never went to class. I was too caught up in my own world to focus on school. It was time for a change, though. I didn’t even ask questions about this school, the program, or who I would be sending my appeal to. I just wrote the letter, crossed my fingers, and prayed.
A couple of weeks later, I received a letter in the mail, informing me about OSU’s decision to accept me into their academic forgiveness program. Again, I asked no questions. My mom was beside herself, and so was I. Off we went; three hours North to Stillwater, Oklahoma, to tour the school and find a place that I could rent. No sooner than my feet hit the ground in Oklahoma did I find an apartment. I signed a lease, straight away. I told them I wanted the first available move-in date which ended up being only three weeks away.
I went home and started packing, pre-maturely. I was too excited. Too ready. Everything I had known and lived through was total shit, and I knew I was better than the life I led. The people of Ruford City were going nowhere fast, and I was. I was never meant to stick around that town, or the people who inhabited it. Don’t get me wrong, there are a few good seeds, but very few, and far between.
I got to OSU and made all A’s my first semester. As time went on, I maintained a 3.0 average GPA and graduated college in May of 2016. I spent four amazing years at OSU, and during that time, I met a guy. I had crushed on him for a long time, and when we started dating it was like I was living in a completely alternate universe. He took his hat off when he greeted women, and he still does. He told me I was beautiful before telling me I was hot, and he still does. He opened the door for me, and he still does. He took me on frequent dates, and he still does. He willingly wanted to meet my parents, and today my parents absolutely adore him. He came over more often than I came to him, he held my hand in public, he listened to me, he shared similar interests, he laughed, he was active, he was handsome, he was gentle, he was kind, he was polite, and to this day, he is still every single one of those things.
I almost felt like I would never be good enough for him, at first. I was certain that he would eventually cheat, and leave me, so I stayed stand-offish for a while so I wouldn’t become attached. I would find myself becoming over-defensive at any hint of criticism. Clint has seen me come unhinged about some petty stuff, but I am learning as I go that not every small criticism is a slap in the face. Clint would never say or do anything to harm me. Right now, I am still re-learning what it means to live without fear of the past, because it does still haunt me quite often. I have dreams all of the time that I am being punished to live a life with Jesse in exchange for a crime I never committed. Other times I will dream that I am trying to run from him, but I can’t and I am continuously being sucked backwards, toward him, against my will.
Since I have started writing this series, I have not had a single nightmare about Jesse. I believe that talking about my trials and coming clean about my hardships has improved my ability to be a better version of myself, which is exactly what I was going for.
I know you all probably want to know if Jesse ever got his. You are probably hoping he got his ass handed to him or that my family went after him, or that he wound up in jail, etc. And I am sorry to disappoint you, but the answer is no. No, he never was held responsible for anything he did. He is still out there in the free and clear. He has tried reaching out to me a few times since I last blew him off, but his attempts of redemption have fallen on deaf ears. I care nothing about him, nothing for him. I care about people like the version of myself that I was 6-8 years ago who are susceptible to this kind of abuse. I care about insecure girls who feel like they should compromise their character as a prerequisite for a relationship that has nothing to do with love.
I remember when I use to try and tell people about what was going on in my relationship, about how Jesse really was. I would get threatened with court constantly because he thought I was “slandering” him. If only I knew then what I know now after having taken law and all that applies to media and the law, I would have continued to tell my story without fear. But here I am, some odd years later, educated, recovering, and well on my way to helping many other voiceless victims do the same.
I never needed the revenge that most people would hope for. I never cared if Jesse was harmed or if he went to jail. I just didn’t want to see him again, and I didn’t take him back, ever. To him, the worst form of revenge I could possibly seek was refusing him. I got my revenge, because I think the best revenge comes in the form of happiness. And I am happier today than I have ever been in my entire life.
The best part is, this Saturday, on May 20, 2017, I will marry Clint. I deserve to marry a man of integrity and nobility, but I couldn’t very well do that with all of these skeletons in my closet. Some of you may think I am just airing my dirty laundry or seeking attention, and you can totally go on thinking that, but you can also know that you are wrong. I am writing this series to be a voice. The astonishing number of people that have reached out to me about their own abusive relationships has me terrified. I am flattered by all of the messages, but more importantly, abuse like this is far more common than anyone realizes, and not talked about near enough.
I am thankful for the abuse. I am grateful that I went through everything that I did. I thank God that it was no worse, and that it did not last longer. I am thankful that I got out when I did. I have so much to be grateful for when it comes to having been involved in an abusive relationship. Without it, I don’t think I would have been able to recognize what true love actually is. I didn’t deserve the things that I went through, but they made me stronger, smarter, and tougher. This story will always be a part of my life, but it will be more of a distant memory, from now on. After much prayer, I have forgiven Jesse, and for me, that is enough.
For everyone who has read this series, I thank you. I appreciate your readership more than you know, and I can only hope that you take this story and use it’s identifiers as a guide to avoid harmful or abusive relationships. If you are a victim of abuse, please talk to me. Send me a message, I would love to hear your story and support you as you find your road to freedom. It’s time that we take a stand against manipulative, narcissistic behavior and normalize the conversation of abuse without fear that someone will accuse us of lying or slandering our abusers. These people deserve to be exposed for who they truly are. They are a danger to others, and there is no reason to keep them protected.
However, in order to move forward, forgiving is a huge step. Without forgiveness, I would still be allowing him to remain a leech on my life, depriving me of all things wonderful and loving.
“There will always be a part of me that is sloppy and dirty, but I like that, with all the other parts of myself. Can you say the same for yourself…? Can you forgive?”
— Silver Linings Playbook