I am writing to you from the future – 2020 to be exact, and you will be relieved to know that it is much, much brighter than the darkness you are in now. ☀
You are still so young, but you feel like you have aged a decade over the past year. It has been exhausting, painful, confusing, lonely and at times, hopeless. You have felt fear and terror in a completely new and alien way. Not the horror-movie-rollercoaster-drop-nervous-about-an-exam kind of way, but in a my-safety-is-in-immediate-danger kind of way. This has shook you, and shattered whatever pieces of innocence you were still carrying from childhood.
Your relationships with the people who love and care for you most are suffering. How you feel about yourself – in your heart, body and mind is suffering. You are being turned against people one by one, even though these people are not the enemy. The ground underneath you, littered with eggshells, feels unstable. You feel that no one understands. You don’t see how this story is ever going to end happily. Spoiler – it doesn’t. However, your story is only beginning. This is but a bad chapter. So, keep reading! 📖
I am not going to delve into details about the emotional, verbal and physical violence and harm that you have and will experience. I don’t need to, because it is your reality right now, although it breaks my heart to say it. You will spend enough time thinking about it, having nightmares and panic attacks, talking to trusted loved ones, Gardaí, nurses and doctors, counsellors and strangers on nights out who will openly stare at you in curiosity and ask you “is it true?” without even asking if you are OK or if you want to talk about it.
You will have the inevitable ‘talk’ with new friends and boyfriends in the future and hold your breath for their appalled reaction. You will explain why you often jump at sudden movements and noises and cannot sit through certain scenes on TV. You will be the subject of vicious gossip, and you will have people who doubt you and your story. Some people I have mentioned in this paragraph will be incredible. Some people will disappoint you and will not understand – and they never will. They don’t matter, and you will learn that you do not need them or their validation. ❤
You know what you have suffered and will suffer is wrong. You know it deep down. You are just too isolated and manipulated to see the light right now, but it’s coming! ✨
Now for some good news! Someday, you will be sitting in a therapy room and your therapist will ask you; “What did you learn?”. You will think for a minute and say; “I think that I learned that I can survive much more than I thought I could, and that – surprisingly – instead of growing harder, angrier and more resentful, I grew softer and kinder”. Instead of using that kindness and softness to forgive people for unforgiveable acts and giving abusers second, third and fourth chances, you will instead use it to love yourself and others more openly and fiercely and with more empathy and compassion than before. You will be far slower to judge others, particularly other women, because you have been the girl who was judged.
You are on the verge of becoming – as cliché as it sounds – a much wiser and more resilient person. But don’t fall into the trap of “what he put you through made you stronger!”. His actions did not make you stronger, how you dealt with it made you stronger. All the credit goes to you. 💜
You will let go of the shame and guilt that you will carry for some time. Guilt at what your loved ones went through as they tried to help you. Shame that you enabled this behaviour and continued to love someone who abused you. Shame that you lashed out and said nasty things you did not mean, shame that you got involved in horrible arguments. Shame that the desperation and sadness brought out the worst in you at times. You will not always be proud of your words and actions. You will realise that you are an imperfect human and always will be, but you are growing and becoming the best you. 🌷
You will finally realise that no, you did not deserve a single second of abuse and no, you were not the problem. You will learn to reject the toxic narrative that abuse can ever be justified. You will realise that that shame and guilt you are carrying – it belongs to him, and everyone who enable and continues to enable inexcusable behaviour.
You will make friendships of gold with people who would move mountains for you and love you as you are. You will have loving and caring relationships with men. You will feel closer to your family and feel far more grateful for their unconditional love. You will fall in love with someone who will help you learn how love is supposed to be feel…who would rather die than raise their hand to you or speak to you in the ways you are now being spoken to. No threats, screaming, fits of rage, violence, body-shaming, gaslighting, victim-blaming, mind games…no attempts to chip away at your heart until you become a submissive, self-loathing victim. Just love and joy and respect and adoration and communication and patience and acceptance and understanding and support and fun – it just feels good, in your heart and your head. This is what you deserve. 💖
You will travel and make so many precious memories. You will feel grateful every day that it ended when it did. You will feel free. Although now, and for quite a lot of time, you will feel that you are in your love and that you are helping someone who claims to need help to ‘get better’. You will learn that you never owe your love or care to someone who will consistently drain you and ultimately discard you once they have found someone else to manipulate. Abusive people do not change without an extensive amount of self-reflection, determination, and professional help. Very few abusers can face taking this path. You will learn that abuse never just happens once. Silence enables violence. It will happen again.
You will create a career dedicating yourself to helping others – breaking down myths, stigma and stereotypes and aiming to empower others. You will talk to thousands of people of all ages about healthy and unhealthy relationships. You will play your little part in changing attitudes and beliefs. You will always have a fire in your belly – keep her lit! It will keep you determined and driven. 💥
Change is coming, and I am so excited for your bright, bright future. Sit tight, you will be free soon. I don’t think you are going to recognise yourself in a few years’ time – but I think you will love the ‘new’ Grace. I can’t wait for you to meet her! 💌