Last week, my son Marc asked me to buy him some clothes for winter. I do not have the money to do that and I asked my ex for money for school clothes. I didn’t want to ask him, but Marc needed clothes and I don’t have the money required, so I asked.
45 minutes after I sent the text, my ex replied, “No.”
I expected that answer, so I began texting back, “Okey dokey.” But right before I hit the send button, my friend asked me, “Kellie, is that what you really think?”Turns out that I did not feel Will’s answer was okey dokey. Turns out I had a bunch of other feelings on the matter.
As I texted my true feelings, my heart began to race. The old angst that I was going to pay for my insolence rose up strong. I hit send, and waited for Will’s response.
Funny thing – I didn’t have to wait 45 minutes for a reply this time. Will quickly texted that I should go take another “Happy Pill” and leave him the hell alone.
In the old days, this reply would elicit feelings of hurt, shame, and abandonment. Yet this time, I felt a laugh well up from within me. Did Will really think that attempting to insult me and angrily withdrawing from the conversation was enough to put me in my place after all this time?
Did he really think that his son’s mother would go away quietly because he told me to go? Did Will think that his next text in which he told me he didn’t care what I thought “anymore” would bother me? When did he ever care what I thought before?
All together, I think there were a total of five texts after the initial “No”. I actually sent the last text, but it could have been because he took my advice: I told Will that if he didn’t want to hear from me when our son needed something, he’d have to block my number. Maybe he did block my number because I don’t remember ever getting the last word with Will before.
If it hadn’t been for my friend who asked, “Kellie, is that what you really think?”, I would have stopped at “okey dokey.” I would have accepted Will’s answer because it was what I’d expected of him, but I would have internalized my anger over his inability to be a big boy and do what was right by his son. Once upon a time, my fear of what he would say in return would have kept me quiet.
Fighting past my initial anxiety proved fruitful for me. I did not “win” because I got the last word in (but I remember a time when I would have been proud of that).
I won because I said what I felt, uncensored.
I won because when I recognized the methods Will used in his attempt to shut me up, I laughed because I found that those games don’t work with me anymore.
I won because I expressed my anger healthfully – no name calling, no blurring the lines by bringing in my relationship with Will into a conversation about our son.
I won because with each word of his texts, Will became noticeably smaller in my mind. I realized that he is no longer my abuser because I do not allow his words to change the way I think of myself.
I won because I have built a life with family and friends who love me just as I am, and encourage me to express who I am by asking questions like, “Is that what you really think?”
I won because my ex-abuser’s words are meaningless; I vanquished his power over me with a laugh.