An open letter to the girl who ruined my relationship
In a way, you saved me
I was thinking about you on Thursday. Results day. Did you get into the uni you wanted? Oxford, wasn’t it? See, I’ve done my research, too.
I’ve spent a long time thinking about you. Which one of us was the ‘other woman’. Who fucked up the most. Who should be the most angry, who should feel guilty. But before we get to that, let’s talk about what happened, from my perspective.
He kissed me at a party that August. He never mentioned you, nor did anyone else. His friends, his family, no-one. As far as I was concerned, it was just me and him. Perfect. Lovely. Finally, I was in a mature relationship.
I first noticed you when I was in London with him. By then, I’d given him everything, I was desperately in love. We were sitting in a cafe, and I’d just been to see The Lion King, and I tweeted about it. It received an instantaneous favourite from an unfamiliar account. I laughed and passed my phone over to my boyfriend, asking him who this stranger was, and why she was taking an interest in our innocuous jaunt to London.
My boyfriend gave me a throwaway comment about how it was you having a joke. That you were just a girl he’d had a very short thing with, and you’d set your friends on me.
When I got home, I clicked on your Twitter. Who isn’t curious about their boyfriend’s secret ex-girlfriend, after all? But if this was a joke, it was a weird one. Scrolling through, it seemed that all your Tweets were about me.
Sometimes you replied to something I’d said. The fascinating tidbit that I’d had ‘a salad this morning, so a pizza for dinner was totally okay’, garnered the response ‘Bet you’ve got a sausage roll in your bag though you fat bitch’. Maybe I was being paranoid – but you had posted that just a few hours after my initial Tweet. And there were more. Months and months of them. The Tweets about ‘getting revenge’ scared me the most. They told a story of fury. Pure, unbridled, jealous fury. To test that I wasn’t, in fact, going mad, I posted the lyrics to my favourite Taylor Swift song. Sure enough, ‘thanks for stealing my friend’s favourite song’ popped up, right on schedule.
So what was this? Harassment? You knew I didn’t follow you. But he did. Every day he’d feel guilt for having picked me and not you. I felt a cold chill. All these months, everyone except me must have known about it. Suddenly, the dirty looks that I received at his work made sense. My first relationship had made me the unwitting villain, even though I never knew about you in the first place.
I lost interest in anything that wasn’t fighting tooth and nail to keep him, to get you out of my life and my head. My friends got sick of me talking about it. But I couldn’t think of anything else. My abandonment issues, my daddy issues, my depression and my problems with food all came to a head. I lost eight pounds in a week. I didn’t cry much, but I was constantly shaking. I couldn’t hold a pen.
He told me not to worry. I’d cry and give him ultimatums. He’d still tell me not to worry. He knew I wouldn’t leave him. I was a puppy dog. I was Deputy Head Girl, I had a place at a world-class university, and was holding down a job plus a hundred different hobbies, but when it came to love, I was an amateur. Losing him felt like death. Of course, there were other things stressing me out. I had untreated depression. I remember one night I had picked up a razor for the first time in months and, in the midst of self-harming, lo-and-behold, I received a message from one of your best friends saying ‘You know your boyfriend is cheating on you’.
You’d already ruined the facade. You’d inserted yourself visibly into his life and mine and you weren’t going away. Now I knew that he had at least one skeleton in the closet, I suspected he probably had a lot more. He’d lied to me and, when I found out he was still talking to you, this person who was making me miserable, I couldn’t trust him. Resentment set in. He was letting you blame me for his mistakes.
We survived the summer. When I went to university, he found someone else. I found someone else. In fact, I found a few someone elses and then I found a proper someone, who loves me especially when it is hard, and so far hasn’t revealed a secret lover. I’m happy.
I think about you a lot. I think about what would have happened if you hadn’t entered my life that day on Twitter. Maybe I wouldn’t have found out that he had a habit of bending the truth. Maybe we’d still be together. In a way, you saved me from that.
But I want you to know it was at a cost. You took your anger out on me when I didn’t deserve it. You were venomous towards a stranger that, believe it or not, didn’t set out to make you miserable. I still don’t want you to be miserable. I hope you find that bright women like us don’t deserve to be messed around by men, however charming they may be. I hope you know that I despise what he did to you. I hope you know that I say this because I’ve been as guilty as you, and I also need to constantly remind myself that there is more to life than ‘dating the boy on the football team’, as Taylor Swift so artfully put it.
I’ve forgiven you. I hope you can forgive me.
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