Writing is cathartic, it often relieves the pressure of the things in our heads and hearts weighing us down. A letter written to someone that you never intended to read, may seem silly, but it is powerfully liberating! It's like that thing that people tell us about forgiveness not being for the other person, but for us. Writing an unsent letter can often give us that same freedom that forgiveness does; to keep pushing on our journey. It often allows us to reconcile, recover, reclaim, and redeem. There is so much power in writing a letter, reading it out loud, and then burning or shredding it; it's like you are purging the emotions and pain within the words. Girl, let me tell you, sometimes, it takes multiple "unsent" letters because just one doesn't cover everything! :)
I want to share a letter that one of our HEAL women's group members Laura, shared with me; it's a letter that she wrote to her ex to be read during court. Laura never got the opportunity to share/ read it out loud, therefore, wanted to give her the platform to share it with the world. Her story is UTTERLY powerful. I applaud Laura for her transparency and vulnerability in exposing her pain and triumph not only with abuse but also with addiction. Thank you Laura for trusting me with your story and your courage to allow others to benefit from your authenticity.
"Where do I even start? When we first started dating you saw me as a, what did you call me—a “stepping stone” and “an opportunity to get out of your parents’ house before the age of 30.” You were charming and funny and talked about the importance of God and family. You had your struggles with addiction as I did, and I thought we would be able to support each other and understand one another without judgment. You spent time with me pretending to like and enjoy my favorite tv shows, gaining my trust. You groomed me and preyed on my kindness. After a short time of being together, I found the messages where you told multiple girls that you did not love me and that my car and apartment were the reasons you stuck around.
I wish I had had the strength and self-respect to kick you out then, but I believed you were “sorry” and that you “didn’t mean it,” as you told me.
You had already told me I could quit my job and stay home to take care of the apartment and you would take care of us financially by selling drugs. You didn’t. Our lights almost got cut off, my car payment was not paid, and we were almost evicted for not paying rent. Everything was falling apart. What I didn’t realize at the time was that you were slowly taking everything from me that I had worked so hard for. I was now financially dependent on you. You were in control.
Soon after this, one evening you decided you needed to control me even more than you
already did. You sat at your desk and filled a needle up with crystal meth, something I had never done
and never once showed interest in. You waited until I was just drunk enough, you took my arm and you injected that needle into my vein. I looked up at you and asked you “why did you do that?” and you said, “because I want you to feel what I feel.” You told me later that this was your way of getting me to quit drinking alcohol. You got me hooked immediately and fed me drugs every day for months. Just another way to ensure my dependency on you.
You made me cover up my arms in 100-degree weather when we were around people because you knew that if people saw where you had been sticking me, they would blame you. You started telling me that my car and apartment were yours, not mine. What could I do at this point? I had nothing. Any coins I saved up; you took. I only ate when you gave me food. I found more messages to girls and you would say “at least I come home to you,” (like that was supposed to make me feel better).
You would take my car and go wherever you pleased whenever you pleased. You would leave me at home wondering why you didn’t want to spend time with me anymore. You demanded I do our laundry and clean and keep my mouth shut when people came over. I was not allowed to have male friends or even make eye contact with any man without you exploding on me.
I was not allowed to deadbolt the door when you weren’t home because that automatically meant I was having sex with someone else in the apartment. I remember multiple times other people visited us would lock the door, not knowing the rule you had put into place and you would assume it was me who did it, and you would come home and get violent with me at just the thought of me disobeying or
Things had already escalated quickly and only got worse when you started hitting me,
shoving me into things, choking me, throwing things at me, constantly accusing me of cheating, all the while that’s what you were doing to me, not me to you. You had let go of the charming act because you knew you had me. I know for a fact, one of the many men that witnessed you hurting me told you that if you didn’t start treating me better that he would. You laughed and told him that I would never leave you. You gave me a black eye one time when I was driving us home from Walmart. It was dark outside and I was on the highway. As soon as we got home, I ran into the bathroom to use my makeup to cover the bruise before your friend arrived a few minutes later. Most of the time when people came over you told me to stay in the bedroom out of sight.
You would leave the guests in the living room, come shootme up with meth, have sex with me and then leave again. I remember feeling so empty and alone in our relationship.
Begging you for real affection and connection and you told me no, that I didn’t deserve it
and that you didn’t have to. I felt so stuck. I didn’t want my family in Dallas to know what was happening to me. I was ashamed and did not want them to worry, so I just hoped and prayed that things would eventually get better. Then we decided to get pregnant. You wanted a reason to quit using and selling drugs, and I wanted to save our relationship. Two extremely selfish reasons to bring a baby into this world. Regardless, maybe then you would stop hitting me, cheating on me, and we could have a good life together.
Make-up wasn’t covering my bruises well and more and more people were starting to notice.
Three days after I found out I was pregnant, you shot me up for the last time giving me my current
sobriety date of May 17, 2019. You started moving out of the apartment, as my lease was ending. For 2 ½ days, I hallucinated and then slept, coming down and off of meth. It was horrific. I felt like I was dying and I wanted to die. You left me alone, scared, pregnant, and you didn’t care. When I woke up on May 19th, reality was setting in. It was the first day in months that I was able to think clearly as if a fog had been clouding my brain nonstop for the first half of 2019.
May 24th was the last time you laid your hands on me. You knew I was pregnant. I screamed “IM PREGNANT!” Why didn’t you stop hitting me? I was carrying your child. You forced me onto my stomach as my nose bled all over the bed and I knew at that moment if I did not submit to you and get quiet you weren’t going to stop hurting me. I was terrified that I was going to lose the baby after this incident. I would never have forgiven you if I had miscarried that day.
I was supposed to move with you into the rat-infested house your aunt rented to you, but I knew it wasn’t suitable for raising a child and if you were as terrifying as you were under my
roof, I only imagined how awful it would be for me living under your roof. Even after the last assault, you begged me to move in with you and help you get clean. I said no, that you needed to do it on your own as I had. I did ask to stay with you for two days while I figured out my sober living situation. You said yes, but then on the second night, you accused me of stealing your meth and proceeded to kick me out onto the West side of San Antonio with no money and barely any gas in my car in the middle of the night. I remember as I walked out of your door I asked “what about our baby?” and you yelled, “Fuck that baby!” I can still hear you saying it in my head today.
I slept in my car for two nights, freshening up at Walmart. It was humiliating and you still didn’t care. I moved to Austin to get away from you so I could have a safe pregnancy. The abuse was not going to end otherwise. Throughout my pregnancy you continued to sleep around, even sending me a video recording of you and another girl having sex. I still wasn’t willing to give up on you. I begged you to go to rehab. All you did was treat my pregnancy like it was a vacation. It wasn’t real to you because the baby wasn’t here yet. It was very real to me, as I was putting my life back together after you had destroyed me and everything, I had worked so hard for. I worked two jobs preparing for the birth of our daughter, while you did NOTHING.
You continued to emotionally abuse me, and I continued to hope that you would change.
You didn’t step up as a man or as a father. I finally realized and accepted this with the help of my loved ones who were there for me throughout my pregnancy. You weren’t who I needed you to be. On September 24th, 2019, a few months before our daughter was born, I told you to stay away until you could prove your entire life changed. Since then, I know you have picked up two more charges, another assault bodily injury charge, as well as a resisting arrest charge. Hearing this just reconfirms that I made the right choice finally leaving you.
Grace Elizabeth Shute is our daughter’s name because she was and still is my saving grace. She and I
have a beautiful life now. I am in school to be a counselor for drug addicts and alcoholics, I have a great job with benefits, I own my own home and we have wonderful friends and family. Grace is the happiest sweetest, funniest, most vivacious almost 2-year-old. I did all of this on my own and without you because what you are, is a monster. The fact that this case went to trial doesn’t convince me that you’ve changed at all. A real man would own up to his actions and take responsibility. You are a perfect example of everything I want to protect Grace from. Can you imagine the idea of your daughter dating someone like you? Imagine her being treated the way you treated me?
I can’t stand the idea of my baby girl being hurt in all the ways you hurt me. Let me ask you, was it worth it? Making me your stepping stone to what you claimed as independence. Using me and abusing me for your selfish gain. As angry and hurt as I am for what you did to me and how you treated me, you are still the father of my child and for her sake, I do hope that you seek treatment for your issues, especially your anger issues. You’ve missed out on the first two years of her life because of your choices and your choices alone.
Parenthood is a privilege, not a right, and at this point, you’ve earned nothing. All Grace knows is love and I will not allow you to bring in any chaos or pain.
I will always do everything in my power as her mother to make sure you are never a reason for her tears.
It is up to you to grow up and take responsibility and prove to me that you are not the monster you were back then. You always told me to “know my place” as a woman. Well, this is it, "Theodore". Happy and free."
Note: The name of Laura's ex has been changed to protect privacy.
I challenge you with the following questions:
Is there an unwritten/ unsent letter that needs to be written?
What is the worst that could happen as a result of writing the letter; what is positive that could result from writing the letter?
What would you write in an open letter to someone that has hurt you?
If you could name three emotions that you carry with you as a result of that hurt, what would they be?
What do you need to reconcile, recover, reclaim, and redeem?
Considering you write the letter, what three emotions did you feel afterward?