I started to write a letter to you the other day.
I thought I was ready.
So I powered up my computer and flexed my fingers ready to start typing.
I knew what I wanted to say. I had given the letter a title. I’m sorry. It was an apology letter. Naturally, those are the first words I typed. I’m sorry.
And soon as I typed the Y in sorry, tears started to flow down my cheeks. I couldn’t stop myself from crying. The tears kept coming until I couldn’t see what I was typing anymore. So I decided to abort the mission until a later time when the tears wouldn’t threaten to drench my computer.
So I came back today and sat down again. I powered up my computer again. I prepared myself to start typing. I tried to remember what I wanted to say the first time but my mind had devised a coping mechanism and had blocked those emotions from me. I could not access those words and those emotions anymore. My mind was trying to protect me from that place of hurt.
So as I type this, I have no tears in my eyes. At least not yet. My mind is taking care of me. For now. It knows that if I go to that place, I get weak and I break down and I cry like that little girl who had to watch her father humiliate her mother time and time again. I will let my mind do what it needs to do as long as it needs to do it, but I’m not sure it can keep blocking me from those emotions for much longer. What my mind seems to forget is that I have a way of reaching down to my darkest places and bringing all that darkness to the surface with my fingers. Normal people lie on a couch and pour their hearts to someone paid to listen. Me, I assault a poor word document with words drenched in tears. It’s a blessing and a curse. Catharsis.
So as I type this, dry-faced – and surprised nonetheless – I wonder if your mind sometimes does that to you. Does it protect you from all the hurt he put you through? Does it hide your emotions when you try to reach them just to wallow in them? Does your mind protect you from the memories of his abuse?
Oh, how I hope it does.
Tears or no tears, I’ll say what I came here to say. Only because it needs to be said. And because I’m not afraid to reach deep and bring the darkness to the light. Because even as my mind worries for me, I know that it has to hurt for it to heal. I know that I will be okay.
I’m sorry for the punches he threw at you. I’m sorry for the cruel words he spoke to you. I’m sorry for the humiliation he put you through in front of me.
I’m sorry that he constantly kept demeaning you and using you for his own selfish needs. You stayed because of your child. How would you fend for me if he was the breadwinner and you were the housewife? You stayed for me. I’m sorry you had to stay for me. I’m sorry that you put my needs first before your own. Even sorrier that you put his needs first before your own.
I am sorry that you never got to experience love in the true sense of the word. I’m sorry he was always mad at you for nothing. That as soon as you had the ring on your finger, barely 18, your honeymoon was over. He looked elsewhere for love. And you had nowhere to look. His abuse made sure that you anticipated his wrath even if he was miles away from you. I’m sorry for the beauty that was pounded out of you. The smile that was stolen from you and never given back. The words that he took from you by constantly shutting you down when you tried to express yourself. Your vibrant spirit that he grabbed from you and stamped on until it was unrecognizable.
You can’t get any of these back. And that kills me. It kills me that he changed you completely and turned you into a shell. It kills me that we only live once and that is the life that you got to live in your adulthood. I wish you could get a do-over. I wish you would choose yourself above everybody else given a second chance. That you would be just a little selfish this time around. I’m sorry that I could never be able to give you back those years.
I’m sorry I did not have a voice then to speak for you. To tell him that what he was doing was wrong and uncalled for. I was only a child, but still, still, I’m sorry that all I could do was watch and cower and do nothing. I’m sorry that he terrified me too. So much so that I could not defend you when you needed defending.
I’m sorry he lied and cheated and made you question your goodness. Your integrity. Your beauty. Your worth. Your humanity. Your existence. Just so that he could feel better about himself.
I’m sorry that he will never apologize to you. That patriarchy will not allow him to apologize to a woman. I’m sorry that he feels no remorse for what he put you through.
You deserved better. I’m sorry that all you got was him. And me.
We don’t deserve you.
Society owes you an apology.
He and his bosom buddy, patriarchy, owe you an apology.
But they won’t apologize any time soon.
I will do it instead.
I’m so sorry.
Illustration by Elsardt Kigen.