First of all, if I am ever to forgive you, I need you to know how much you hurt me. You stole away a blissful innocence that I can’t get back. Because of you, I have no memory of a carefree childhood unshrouded by your presence. Because of you I thought love could only be expressed in a way that degraded me. In every man who has ever hurt me, I see your reflection. You laid the groundwork to my endless fight to find out what ‘healthy’ means.

In most of the hardships I’ve been through, I can look back and find a purpose. I can see how I’ve grown and truly say that it was hard, but worth it. This is not so with you. I look back and feel the same acrid taste in my mouth that I did when I finally told what was meant to be ‘our little secret.’

Sometimes I think if you had never hurt me I wouldn’t have gone on to have an unplanned pregnancy. I wouldn’t have to have placed my baby for adoption. I wouldn’t have to miss her every day.

You have made me feel like a number, a victim, a statistic. I see in myself a textbook case study of a woman who has been a victim of people like you. I have made it my mission to help other women realize that they are not victims of circumstance. That they do not have to continue to self destruct simply because they have been broken before. But I struggle to believe that for myself.

I hope you find the healing you so desperately search for.

To believe that means to admit that I have been broken. I want to believe that you made a mistake, that you are a good person at the core. Even though you have never apologized, I see the shame and guilt on your face. I see the textbook in you, too–a victim as well. You try to drown out the pain from your own past, and the guilt of how you took it out on me. I try so hard to understand you. I know you have made progress since then. I wish you had healed before you hurt me, but you can rest assured that the cycle of abuse stops here.

I hope you find the healing you so desperately search for. I hope you can see that the lifestyle you lead won’t get you there. One day, if you could stop seeing yourself as a victim, and accept your choices for what they were, we could be friends again.

The girl from my textbook I see in my past does not mean I see her in my future. I was a victim, but now I’m a survivor. You have left me with a scar, but I don’t have to keep re-opening my own wound. I have the knowledge and power to leave that pain behind, and stop allowing it to consume me.

At some point I need to take my own advice and choose to stop hurting, and placing blame on you for my own decisions. I am strong enough to do that. To forgive you doesn’t mean I’m okay with your choices. It means I am making a decision to stop feeling angry and hateful. Not to forgive hurts me just as much as it hurts you. I don’t have to hurt anymore.To put these thoughts in a letter is progress. And I will choose to keep making progress until I can really, truly let go.

I forgive you.