Dear Person Whom I Hope Never to Speak With Again,
A few days ago, in a publicly posted document that most of my friends could see, you wrote a whole lot of things about me, including this:
Ginny is a much more sympathetic character than Shaun. She is affable, friendly, intelligent, and is often kind and compassionate. However, she also has some serious mental health issues for which she refuses to seek treatment. Most of her issues are related to her relationship with her father. According to Ginny, her father is confident, outgoing, and strong- willed, and so (she admits) she projects a lot of her issues with him onto me. Her father is also a strict conservative Christian, and raised Ginny in a very oppressive household, from which she has many issues that will require decades of therapy.
Ginny often describes herself as not feeling any emotions most of the time. According to her, the majority of the time, her emotional existence is simply blank. I’ve heard some credible speculation that she perhaps has a dissociative disorder. Because of this, she admits, she has trouble understanding others’ emotions or motivations, and gets anxious when it seems like she is causing emotions that she didn’t intend. She also regularly admits that she doesn’t understand her own emotions. Apparently, pointing out this (undisputed) fact made her feel like “an emotional infant.” I cannot say that I completely disagree with that characterization.
Ginny is also truly committed, in a very deep part of herself, to Guess Culture. Ginny is terrified of making anyone angry or upset, and so neurotically monitors her own behavior to avoid conflict. Conflict of any sort petrifies her. As a result, she displays all of the behaviors of a socially adept Guess Person referenced above. She will constantly project an image of calm, or even enjoyment, when on the inside she is in turmoil. She will use everything at her disposal to hide the way she is feeling when she thinks that her feelings might lead to conflict or make someone upset with her. She does this unapologetically. It makes her a pleasant person to have around socially, but in any sort of close relationship, it’s a disaster.
So I just wanted to say, in response:
Thank you. Thank you for all these words about me. They are harsh, and they are false, but in many ways they are the most helpful thing you could have possibly said. Thank you for showing me, so clearly, the person I was afraid of being. The person I was afraid I was. In a few paragraphs you have neatly encapsulated the image of myself that I felt so much fear and shame over, in the years I was close to you. The person I felt maybe didn’t even deserve to exist anymore.
What you don’t know is that in the months since I stopped ever seeing or talking to you, that person has evaporated like a bad dream. I have been warm, and loving, and engaged, and honest. I have been the person I remember being in the years before I knew you. I am surrounded by love and joy. I have no fear that anyone who has been close to me in the last six months will recognize me in anything you’ve written here. So thank you, thank you, for showing me so clearly how far I’ve come. For showing me how much that fearful, closed, dissociated person belonged to you, and stayed behind when I left you.
Thank you for accusing me of using my suicidal thoughts as a weapon. Fearing that accusation was largely what kept me silent about them for months, until I became actually concerned about my own safety. Thank you for proving those fears valid, even as you complain that I didn’t share them with you at the time.
Thank you for sharing many, many private details, and actual text of private conversations between you and me. Thank you for not seeing what an incredibly invasive and violating thing that is to do. Every day, you make it easier and easier to believe myself when I remember you doing other invasive and violating things and acting like they were no problem. Every day, you make me less and less afraid that I am the one who is crazy here.
Thank you for making this public, where most of my friends can see if they choose. I don’t have to tell them any more how hostile, disrespectful, invasive, and gaslighting you’ve been to me. Now I can show them.
Five months ago this might have broken me, because I was afraid and I was not far enough out from under your shadow to know that the things you say about me are not true. I have healed, and I am strong, and you cannot touch me. I am angry and sad and incredulous, but I am not wounded. Thank you for showing me my own strength.
Thank you, and fuck you very much.