Lots of old feelings have been rushing in through the doors these past few days.
On Saturday morning, I got a surprising Facebook message from a friend of mine – we’ll call her Abby. Abby and I both dated the same guy, Evan, during our early adulthood – she dated him around 2006 – 2008ish, and I dated him from 2008 – 2010. Evan last tried to contact me in 2012, but other than that, I haven’t heard or seen him in 6+ years.
Evan was, to put it simply, an abusive asshole. The two years I dated him consisted mainly of emotional abuse, with some physical abuse as well, which included pinning me to his bed and screaming in my face, throwing ashtrays at the wall next to my head, ashing cigarettes on me, sexual coercion, threats of self-harm, physical intimidation, and sleep deprivation. He would often make me cry, comfort me as I was crying, and then get angry when I would reject his attempts at comforting me. I was young at the time (I was 19 and he was 22 when we started dating) and had recently had my heart broken by my high school sweetheart, so I was desperate to be loved and desired by someone. This desperation led me straight into an abuse cycle that lasted two years, which I tried and failed to leave at least 20 times – literally.
I won’t get into much more detail about the relationship here, but the two years I endured with him were so traumatizing that they directly contributed to my drinking problem, which started immediately after he and I broke up. It wasn’t a slow ramp-up to drinking, either; no, it was full-blown alcohol abuse right out of the gates at age 21. I drank to get shitfaced multiple nights a week. This helped me to effectively black-out many of the hurtful and traumatizing memories I had from that time in my life. It also made it easy to avoid processing and healing these deep wounds caused by that relationship, until just recently when I made the final decision to get sober.
Abby had a very, very similar experience with Evan when she dated him. After she and Evan broke up and he started dating me, she told me that she experienced a breakdown, and developed her own problematic relationship with alcohol, which she is just now recovering from as well. She and I became friends over the shared experience, and we have recently started encouraging each other in sobriety, with our shared experience as something to commiserate over.
On Saturday, Abby messaged me to tell me that the girl Evan dated before her, Allie, contacted her out of the blue a few days prior. Allie was Evan’s first serious girlfriend during his high school years, and the one who apparently broke his heart the hardest. Surprise surprise, Evan had been incredibly abusive to Allie as well, going so far as to leave bruises on her skin, gas-lighting her, and emotionally scarring her for years following their relationship.
Allie told Abby that Evan had sent her an email back in May, which she had only just seen recently because it was to an account she rarely uses. Evan’s email was disjointed, delusional and erratic. He wished her a “happy 10th breakup anniversary” and asked her to let bygones be bygones. He wished for a reconciliation, and for them to become friends again – as if they were ever friends in the first place. He admitted to being arrested for two DUIs. After ten years, he could not – would not – let go of her.
Because of the nature of their relationship when they broke up, Allie told Evan that if he ever tried to contact her again, she would go to the police. And so when she finally saw that email he sent back in May, one of the many, she finally made good on her promise. She went to the police. And then she contacted some of Evan’s ex-friends, who told her to contact Abby. Then Abby contacted me. She told me that Allie wanted to chat with both of us about Evan.
Without getting into too much detail, Allie believes there may be some physical evidence in Evan’s possession that could potentially land him in jail. Evidence that affects all three of us. It’s equally scary and liberating to think about. In a weird, messed up way, I am so glad to have found this little nugget of camaraderie in these two girls – girls who Evan had only ever talked down about, and tried to paint as bad people…when all along, he was the one who was horrible.
They know. I mean, they really know what it was like to be under the thumb of that monster. All of my feelings of uneasiness and self-doubt and shame about the situation are quickly starting to dissolve. This burden I’ve kept in my back pocket for so long is finally starting to lift. And even if nothing comes of the situation legally speaking, at the very least, I’ll have the chance to finally feel 100% validated and reassured by two women who know exactly what I had to deal with because, unfortunately, they had to deal with it too.
Anyway, it’s amazing to me how life ebbs and flows like this. I’m now able to look at this past relationship and all the harm it caused me through a sober and introspective lens. Closure may finally be somewhere close behind. And it’s amazing, how far I’ve come – I’m no longer willingly hurting myself with booze or other destructive habits because of what someone else did to me. Slowly, these poisonous tentacles that have been gripping my heart and mind are starting to loosen their hold. It’s one small step among many in the right direction.