I wanted to see his life fall apart, but instead, I saw him being happy.
After escaping from my abusive relationship, I would occasionally use social media to check up on my ex.
It wasn’t because I missed him or wanted him back, but because when someone has beaten you down for three years, sexually abused and assaulted you, part of you wants to see their life in ruins.
I was extremely bitter following the breakup. This man had taken everything I had, broken me as a human being, and then, as a final insult, had raped me in my own home. I wanted to see his life fall apart. I wanted to see his misfortune. But what I saw instead, were photos of him smiling with another woman.
Relationships break down for a number of reasons, and naturally, there will be feelings attached when seeing an ex with a new love. I had experienced some of those feelings before; the twinge of jealousy, the reflective ‘what ifs’, the inevitable comparisons between myself and the new partner. But this time the feelings were different than anything I’d felt before.
I hadn’t expected to feel angry. After all, I had escaped. Granted, it was with a crippling depression and PTSD symptoms, but I was alive. The relief of that completely disappeared when I saw him with this new woman.
I was furious because they were happy. It wasn’t fair that he was allowed to move on and be happy while I was going to weekly therapy sessions to deal with what he did to me. I was angry because, from the outside, it didn’t look like he was treating her how he had treated me. It made me feel like something was wrong with me – like I was so weak and meant so little that I was easy to manipulate and abuse.
The initial anger quickly turned into fear, because we used to be happy once, too. I was beaten down so much I can’t remember one happy memory with him, but I know there must have been some early in the relationship, because that’s how abusive relationships work. They call it the honeymoon period because the relationship is so good in the beginning it makes it easier to excuse the cracks when they start to appear and expose the abusive person that lies underneath.
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So when I looked at his new girlfriend, smile captured in a Facebook profile picture with an emoji heart as the caption, I felt terrified for her. I wanted to get in my car and drive to her house and plead with her to run away from him as fast as she could.