Alone and Alive this Valentine’s Day

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Dear M,

I awoke on what would be our last Valentine’s Day together to find a dozen red roses and an assortment of my favourite chocolate.

I’m sure I looked comical as I stood there stunned. I was home alone and I remember saying, shit, out loud. You were on to me. It’s the only reason you would go to so much trouble. After all, you don’t ‘do’ Valentine’s Day.

You told me that the previous year. I wasn’t surprised. You’re not the romantic type. We were out shopping the weekend before Valentine’s Day when you insisted on taking me to see a boutique. You know the one you and your ex-girlfriend liked to frequent.

You spotted a cape and had me try it on. It looked good on me and you wanted to buy it for Valentine’s Day. I was confused. You were adamant about not doing something. It was awkward but I accepted your gift to avoid appearing ungrateful.

At this point in our relationship I knew you well enough to know that while you bought the cape, I was the one who would pay for it in groceries, beer, and cigarettes. This was reminiscent of my Christmas present.

It was Christmas Eve and you took me to a store you said was unique. You wanted to buy me a dress. I tried on a dress that I loved. You were thrilled to buy it for me. The store clerk took your debit card and started to fold the dress and put it in a bag. She apologized when she said your card was declined. I was so embarrassed for you and gave the clerk my card. You told me you would pay me back. I knew you wouldn’t. I was right.

This was becoming the story of my life. The chaos, the mismanagement of everything in your life was now becoming my reality. Another year of being disappointed and manipulated started to take a toll on my general well-being. My self-esteem was at an all-time low.

You were starting to recognize that I was unhappy and you were desperate to keep me. I’m easy to read. I don’t hide my feelings well and I stopped trying. My sadness was spiralling into a deep, dark depression. I was afraid I was going to die. Trapped in a loveless, abusive relationship with a man who wasn’t above manipulation, control, or threats, to get or keep, what he wanted.

It was around this time that I started talking to my dog-park friends about leaving you. I told them you owned guns and you had a temper, but I didn’t think you would ever hurt me. I said, “If I go missing, tell the police to drain the pond.” And I laughed.

How many women who die at the hands of an ex-partner actually believe that he will kill them?

I know that you didn’t love me. This Valentine display of love was just another one of your tricks. One of your mind games. You will do anything and be with anyone to avoid being alone.

I’m sure you have someone new in your life. You always said you would move on right away. I wonder if she knows that she’s nobody special. She’s just the next one to fill a void in your chaotic, tilt-a-whirl life. I feel sorry for her.

As for me, I am embracing a calm life without you. I’m thankful to be on my own. No more strife, no more dysfunction, no more abuse. I am free.

So this Valentine’s Day I will celebrate all that is good in my life. For all blessings that bring calm to my days and quiet to my nights. And this Valentine’s Day I will celebrate that I am alone, I am free, and I am alive!