Trigger warning: The Rough and The Raw series contains descriptions of domestic violence and sexual abuse. We love this author for her honesty, her depth, her truth and her strength. We’ve created this series so that other Girls Who Travel who think they might be alone will realize they are not and find their own truth and strength.
I’m the woman you didn’t know was almost kidnapped by her ex. I’m the woman you didn’t know who had her face held against the sidewalk with his knee for trying to call the cops. I’m the woman you didn’t know was technically in child pornography because she was 15 and he was 20. I’m the woman you didn’t know who cried her eyes out while he shoved his cock inside her mouth because “he owned her.” I’m the woman you didn’t know that started smoking because it was the only sense of psychological relief she could have from him. I’m the woman you didn’t know he begged to sleep with again, putting $100 on the table because he looked at her with no self-worth.
I’m the woman you didn’t know who was in a domestically violent, psychologically and sexually abusive relationship. And that’s okay.
This is my thank you to my ex-boyfriend.
Thank you for seven years of trauma.
Because I’ve learned so deeply how important time is that it’s now become a way I live. I fell in love with time because of you, because I didn’t want to lose any more time being unhappy like I was during the seven years we were together. I didn’t want to waste any more time on anything less than happiness.
Thank you for being the boy who cried wolf and for trying to isolate me.
I learned on how to treasure my friends for life. Without your rumors and my refusal to speak up, I wouldn’t have learned who was going to refuse to back down to you and become irreplaceable in my life. I wouldn’t have learned that the people who believed in one-side stories aren’t worth my words or my time.
Thank you for borrowing thousands from me and putting me in debt.
Because now I can travel the world without being financially strained. Today, I can say “I understand” what it means to be in financial strain, to be unemployed for half a year, and to know what “the grind” truly means. I learned what “don’t sacrifice what you want the most for what you want in the moment” really means. Because of you putting me in debt, I learned how to save and that’s given me financial freedom and the freedom to travel. I have been able to fall in love with the world now because of you taught me hard financial lessons.
Thank you for setting the stage as the toxic man.
Because I gained hope in all other men to be better: to be a better boyfriend than you, to have better ethics than you, to be a better human than you, to be better than you. The reason I have strong hope in men today is not because of the men who said you were a bad person, but because of your male friends who stood up to you after you tried to kidnap me, your male friends who called the cops on you. I have hope in men today because you helped set the stage of what men should not be, and I have hope today because I know everyone else can be better.
Thank you for being the boyfriend who hated me.
Because I’ve gotten to experience for the first time of what it means to have a partner who loves me. I’ve learned what it means to have a partner and not a boy, and you became the story of everything I can strive to be better than. With your anger at everything in life, you helped guide me to what type of person I want in my life. I’ve found the one I want to spend the rest of my life with. If time travel is real, and any modifications of the past changes the future, I wouldn’t change a single thing with you because the man I fell in love with today is too good to give up.
Most of all, thank you for making me hate life.
Because I’d never have gained the heart that I have now. I feel for people. I see people hurt and I want to help. If you were not you; I wouldn’t be me. And I have news for you, I love the “me” I am now. I love that I can say, “I have been there” or “I understand”.
Because now I am obsessed with the feeling of being alive. I can’t help but fall in love with life every damn day, and I will keep falling in love with every minute I’m alive for the rest of my life. I kind of like the “me of today” and I wouldn’t be the “me of today” without you. Because today, I am happy, in love, and excited for a future. Today, I can’t wait to see and experience more of the world.