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I can’t even begin to address this letter with the word “dear.” There is nothing dear about you. This, the 12th in my 30-day letter writing challenge, is for the person I hate the most/has caused me the most pain. I have long held that hate is a wasted emotion. It takes too much precious energy to hate someone. I try very hard not to harbor ill will toward anyone, and actually, I harbor no ill will toward you—although I did for a very long time. I don’t think you intentionally set out to cause me the most pain I’ve ever experienced in my life—you were simply being you. Sadly, I stumbled upon you and welcomed you and your daughter into my home at the lowest point in my life—and you brought me even lower than I ever thought possible.

I grabbed hold of you because I was terrified of being alone. I had not been single since I was 17 years old. I had suddenly found myself adrift with a young child and no steady income. I panicked. What I reached for turned out to be, not a branch to hold onto, but a viper with unbearably sharp teeth and venom that continues to suck the life out of friendships I once treasured. I never thought I was the kind of woman that would let myself be controlled by another human being. Within the span of 4 months, your lies, deception, blind anger, and jealousy provoked me to do things that were utterly against my nature. I turned my back on the very essence of who I was—who I thankfully returned to—and alienated people who were extraordinarily important in my life and the life of my son.

I never believed that I could be so naive, even in the face of hard evidence, that I didn’t realize what was going on under my very nose. I honestly thought you were sick. I took you to the emergency room time and again thinking that you were sick. I had no idea what you were really after when you’d ask me to leave you there and come back. I took care of your child—fed her, clothed her, and put her Christmas presents before my own utility bills after you got yourself fired while “sleeping on the job.” Sleeping, really? You slept all day, how could you have been that tired? Oh, you know I have all the answers now. I won’t ever know how you pulled it off but I thank God I finally found out and kicked you to the curb before you literally killed me.

In retrospect, I was probably already dying. At least metaphorically. I spent 4 months in constant fear—failing at my job while I tried to keep your temper tantrums at bay during my working hours. I wondered for the longest time how you managed to dredge up so much damning information about those close to me and then realized, not that long ago, that you weren’t doing background checks, you were reading personal letters and medical files on my computer when I wasn’t at home. The only good thing that came out of that entire mess was the fact that I lost 30 lbs. from September to December. I look at pictures from back then and my face is so thin—my eyes so haunted. While the weight all came back and then some, you would never believe how my eyes shine now.

I don’t hate you. I can’t. It was my choice to bring you into my life. I may have been completely vulnerable and a good patsy for your game, but God gave me free will and I should have been strong enough to exercise it once I realized the damage that was being done. I hurt someone so very dear to me—our romantic relationship had ended but it needn’t have gone the way it did. It took a long time to smooth that over and earn her trust again. I also lost a great many very good friends in the process. In particular, a group of truly wonderful men who I had the pleasure of sharing Sunday dinners with every week for years and years. We had shared vacations, birthdays, holidays, weddings, funerals, and even homes together. You tore me away from them. Likely they shall never forgive me, but I will never blame them for fleeing from a burning building.

Yes, having you in my life caused me the most pain I’ve ever endured. My life has been fraught with things/people/events I have cause to regret, but don’t. You, however, are my one regret. I can’t take back that time. I lost four precious months of my life and the damage that was done to my son was nearly irreparable. That is what hurts the most. And yes, that is all on me as well. He is finally, thankfully, happy and secure—he is finally able to trust again. I suppose in a way, I should thank you, I came out of that time a broken woman—I spent a week as an inpatient recovering from a massive nervous breakdown after you left. I was thin, scared, alone, and one day, not long after, found myself seeking welfare. Oh, how the mighty fall. But because of all of that, I grew up. I pulled up my big girl underpants and I learned how to become a mother to my child. I learned how to go it alone and do what needed to be done to put him first. Most importantly, I learned to watch out for people like you and to never, ever let anyone come into my life again with the sole purpose of exploiting me, controlling me, and tearing apart my life in order to step in and remove me from all my loved ones.

I hope you have found peace within you. I hope you have finally and honestly gotten clean and sober. I hope you never physically hurt anyone like that ever again (and if you do, I hope they kill you before you inflict that much damage—oh, but that would be ill will, wouldn’t it?). I also hope that you learn what true love really is. And, finally, I hope I never, ever hear from you again.

From the one who will never again be led astray.