It gets better.
There’s much more to it than just that of course, but that’s the main point I want you to take from this letter.
Right now you’re probably working until 8pm because even though you’ve been promoted, you’re still working your old shifts. You usually get picked up by him. No doubt you’ll grab some food on the way home too. You’ll eventually get inside your dingy, disgusting flat. He’ll go into the living room and you might follow him, sit at the computer and browse Facebook for a few hours – ignoring each other. You might clamber over the rubbish to get to the bed, which only you now use. The bedsheets haven’t been changed in over a month and the bed frame is so broken, it’s basically just a mattress on the floor with surrounding wood. You’ll spend at least an hour each night in the utility room, staring out the window at the park your multi storey flat block backs onto. You’ll stare at the ground from the 4th floor, willing your brain to have the nerve to throw yourself out. He didn’t know you thought about things like that. He must’ve been just as miserable as you were but he played video games and shouted and denied instead.
You can’t see an end that doesn’t involve you smushed against the concrete below. You don’t think he’d let you leave. You tried to before, during a big fight. He always twists your words or changes tactic and makes you feel guilty.
I’ve got some good news. You do leave him and that horrible life. It takes you until February but you do it. It’s a struggle at first. The night you arrive at Janine’s at midnight – backpack with only your laptop, phone charger and a few changes of clothes inside – is intense. You’re panting from running the entire distance because you were terrified he was going to come after you. You’re ecstatic and the relief you feel is mind blowing, but it’s a huge struggle not to turn around and run back to him. You sit there on the sofa after Janine goes to bed and wonder how on earth you’re going to do this without him. Everything that has happened over the past 2 years has a link to him in some way and you’re not even sure who you are as a person anymore.
I think you leave it about a week before you put yourself on dating apps. Not to find a relationship, no you’re pretty adverse to that at the moment. You just want some fun. You end up talking to someone called Sam. You have some fun but get a little attached. Don’t worry, it’s normal. The same thing happens with Charlie and Josh. You’re being a bit reckless and slutty but that’s okay too because you’re dead against slut shaming. You drink a lot too and start hanging out with friends again.
There’s a moment, a couple of months after you start this new life, that just blows your mind. You’re sat on a rooftop, a little sleepy because you’ve been on an early shift at work. You’re having (non alcoholic) drinks with a guy he knows. You realise you haven’t checked your phone in like 3 hours and dread suddenly pours through your veins. You start to panic because you can’t imagine how many texts and missed calls you’ll have, especially if he’s seen you with this guy. You rip your bag from the ground with such ferocity that it stops the guy from talking and he watches you. You tear it open and desperately grope about for your phone. When you find it, you press the button and look at the notifications.
You had one..
From your housemate..
Telling you about her day.
That was a turning point in your head. That was the moment you realised you were free.
And now it’s the following October. You’re the happiest you’ve ever been in your adult life. You’ve met that person, the one you’re positive you’ll marry and spend forever with. He thinks it too. Your life still isn’t perfect: he has to work away a lot and it makes you sad, and your job is getting you down because the hours are taking their toll and your pay isn’t amazing. But I wish I could go back in time and spare you all the pain of not knowing, of wishing you were dead.
It does get better. It is better.