Sometimes It’s Okay to Hate Your Ex

In the queer, polyamorous, and kink communities, we like to eschew many cis-hetero-mononormative relationship tropes. One of those is the idea that you must hate your ex.

I think letting go of this trope is a good thing. Relationships end for many reasons, most of them nothing to do with one party being a garbage human. Our communities and friendship circles and dating pools within these subcultures are small, so if we go out of our way to avoid our exes, we might end up not going to a lot of things.

But sometimes I think it’s okay to hate your ex. Sometimes I think it can even be a source of power and healing.

I don’t hate you because you’re my ex, I hate you because you abused me

At this point in my life, I’ve had quite a lot of relationships varying in seriousness from “very casual” to “genuinely thought I’d marry him”. That means I’ve amassed quite a few exes.

I don’t hate, or even dislike, the vast majority of my exes. There are those I remember fondly as a beautiful presence in my life that lasted a limited time. There are those I think of wistfully once in a while, allowing myself to think of what might have been in another life. Some I can happily wave or chat to when we bump into each other at the occasional event. Others I really don’t think of much at all any more.

But that ex? Him I hate. Viscerally and deeply and with a power that sometimes frightens me. Not because he’s my ex, but because he abused me. Because I sometimes still have nightmares. Because I had to wade through so much pain and spend so much money on therapy to escape him psychologically long after I escaped physically.

I don’t hate him because he’s my ex. I hate him because he abused me. (I’m reliably informed he hates me, too. That’s fine – his feelings have no impact on my life whatsoever at this point.)

Anger and hate aren’t always toxic

Toxic positivity would have us believe that “negative” emotions are always bad and to be avoided. I don’t believe that’s true at all. Yes, anger and hate can hurt us and eat away at us. But they can also be sources of incredible power.

My friend Sarah wrote this incredible post about not forgiving their abuser. I return to it again and again when I need a reminder that yet another well-meaning “forgive him for YOUR sake, hun!!!” is not good advice for me. I return to it when I need reminding that:

“Survivors never need to forgive our abusers. We don’t need to accept any apology, no matter what others think about its strength or veracity. We don’t need to be thankful or grateful or appreciative. We can be as angry and disgusted and unforgiving as we want to be.”

Sarah Brynn Holliday

I don’t forgive my abuser, either. I’ve tried. I have cried and yelled at the sky and punched pillows and been through years of therapy and burned everything he ever gave me. But I do not forgive him. If anything, the older I get, the less I forgive him.

But that anger gives me strength. It helps me to keep myself safe, to ensure that I will never again ignore the parade of bright fluttering red flags I ignored to be with him. It allows me to support other survivors, to speak out against intimate partner abuse in all its forms.

You’re allowed to hate people who hurt you

Whether they abused you or cheated on you or emotionally neglected you or something else entirely, please hear this loud and clear: you are allowed to feel anger, resentment, and even hate towards people who hurt you.

Being friends with your exes can be great in some contexts. But it’s not mandatory and sometimes it would do more harm than good to even attempt. Don’t feel obligated to listen to the people who tell you that forgiveness is the only way. It isn’t.

You are allowed to feel indifferent. You are allowed to be cordial but distant. And it’s okay to hate your ex if they caused you harm.

Will I ever stop hating my abuser? I don’t know, but I know I will always hate what he did to me.

[Guest Post] “RESPECT: Find Out What It Means to Me” by LittleWelshMinx

I recently decided to run a pitch call for newer voices in sex writing – specifically, the criteria was anyone who has never been paid to write about sex/relationships before. I got a huge number of pitches and many of them were outstanding in quality. In the end, picking just one from the 70+ I got was too hard, so I picked a small number of my favourites and will be publishing them one at a time between now and Christmas. Today’s is from LittleWelshMinx. This one stood out to me because of its unique take on the role of song in self-care around dating. I also wanted to share this one first because the reference to RESPECT is so timely given Aretha Franklin’s sad death last week. 

Without further ado, over to LWM…

“RESPECT: Find Out What It Means to Me”

Today I’m talking about relationship rituals.

I have been dating now for 18 years. During that time, I have developed certain rituals for getting me through the tough times and for getting me through the really tough times. As my regular readers will know, I’m a big music fan. I often use music as a way of feeling, thinking, soothing myself, and finding the strength to face the pain, love, rejection, betrayal, and the unknown that is the world of relationships and dating.

My parents have handed down to me a very eclectic taste in music, and one of their favourite genres – and mine – is soul. In turn, soul music became one of the key elements of my own personal relationship soundtrack.

The deep, powerful voices would resonate through my room, vibrating through my heart, connecting me to singers from over 50 years ago, making me feel slightly less alone as their voices raised in celebration, desperation, and elation.

Of all of them, I loved Aretha Franklin’s Respect the best.

Here was a woman, not bowed in defeat, not crying in a corner but standing up for herself. Rather than giving up and walking away, the woman within the narrative of the song seems to be drawing a line, telling her partner the way it is, and demanding better treatment. You get the sense that she has taken some crap and just isn’t prepared to take any more.

Every time I was in a bad place, and had been neglected, ignored, abandoned, patronised, cheated on or dumped, I would turn to music, and inevitably, turn to Aretha.

Respect acted like a much-needed shake from a collective sisterhood, putting fire in my heart and stiffening my backbone. When I was looking for the strength to keep going, stand up for myself, or screw up enough resolve to look inside for the truth, for the reality of my situation, to face my unhappiness and find the strength to leave, her voice and words would give me courage, hope, and determination. She sang about not taking any shit back in the 1960s. I’d be damned if I’d take any shit 50 years later.

And so this women, with her words and raw power, would get me through.

She was there for me during the pain and shame when “D” made me go shopping with him for his girlfriend’s Christmas present, knowing I loved him, and the day after he slept with me for the first time.

She was there for me when “S” was playing mind games, gaslighting me before I knew gaslighting was a thing, when in my bewildered state I questioned my own sanity and morals.

She was there for me when “J” trailed off into oblivion.

She was there when “R” left me for another woman, three days after introducing me to his extended family, and three months after insisting I meet his son.

This song, among many others, has been a touchstone for me. An audio reminder of who I am, what I want, and what I will and will not tolerate in my own life and relationships.

The thing to remember is that we all go through tough times and we all get our hearts broken at some point or another. To survive it, you need to have things you can fall back on, and songs like Respect, that help to snap you out of the pain, make you laugh at yourself, and keep moving forward.

Whenever I find myself hurting, I find bittersweet comfort knowing I can turn to music for solace. More than just reminding me to be strong, Aretha has been a thread throughout my dating life. Whenever I listen to Respect in a moment of pain, I am forced to remember the previous moments, but also forced to remember the fact that I got through them, and survived, a little wiser, a little tougher, and a little stronger.

When I heard the news of her death, I stopped in my tracks. Later that night I wept. I wept for a woman I never met, because her song helped me to become the woman I am.

Thank you, Aretha.

xxx

Little Welsh Minx in a masquerade mask.About LittleWelshMinx

Hello! I’m a 30-something girl from Wales, who likes classic literature, rugby, salsa, old Hollywood cinema, 40s/50s/60s fashion, and drinking gin and tonics. I blog about sex, from as many different view points, subjects, and angles as possible… academic, historical, geographical, scientific, technological, moral, personal, socioeconomic, political, emotional….

Sex – it’s not just a noun or a verb.

“Bring the Collar:” The True Story of a D/s Break-Up

I don’t want to write this post. I really don’t. I’ve been mulling it over all day and a huge part of me just wants to go, “oh fuck it” and write a generic “how to get over a break-up” listicle.

But I feel like that’d be a cop-out. Today’s 30 Days of D/s prompts is all about break-ups, and to be honest I’ve been inspired by Kayla’s amazing raw honesty in telling the story of her own D/s break-up a few years ago. So… here goes nothing, I guess.

15.05.2015

Realistically, I knew we were breaking up. Our relationship had disintegrated beyond repair now I’d finally, a good five years too late, begun to stand up for myself.

We were to meet in the park. Neutral ground. The stated aim: to have the make-or-break conversation. My true intention, though: to escape as quickly as possible with my head held high and my dignity intact.

All of this to say, dear readers: I knew it was over. It was overer than over. That relationship, like Marley, was dead as a doornail.

Still, it was three words on a text that broke me into pieces and tested my get the fuck out resolve to its limit.

“Bring the collar.”

Of course, I’d known he would want it back. That was in the contract. The Contract, to love and protect on his part. To love and obey on mine. Worth less, in the scheme of keeping us together, than the notepaper it was written on. But even so, this was the moment it sunk in. Master is releasing me. He doesn’t want me any more.

My subby heart broke then. I’d thought I was as good as over it – mentally checked out of the relationship I was technically still in. I’d mourned the man I’d loved, come to accept he’d never been real and this monster who now stood in his place had been him all along. The guy who told me I was the most beautiful woman he’d ever known, one perfect night in a student dorm room when I was nineteen, and the man who looked me in the eyes five years later and told me I was poison, were one and the same person.

But as his sub – his slave, he’d called me, though I was never entirely comfortable with the connotations of that word – I’d tried so hard to please. To obey, do everything he said, shut my mouth and look pretty and never take up more space than my little allotted corner. A toy isn’t supposed to complain when it’s tossed aside once playtime is over.

What I felt then, when I kissed the little silver lock of the collar one more time and handed it over to him while I tried not to cry, was that I’d failed. He’d thrown it at me plenty of times over the preceding weeks, while whatever was left of our love dripped down the drain. Bad sub. Not really submissive. Disobedient. If you’d just shut up and do as you were told, we’d be fine.

For years, I’d twisted myself until the core of my identity was being his. I wrote him a poem in the early days. In it, I said, “You are life. You are oxygen. You are everything.” My blood and breath. My heart and soul. More myself than I am.

What I know now, and wish I’d known then, is that I wasn’t the one who failed. I was just a young girl who got thrown into a lion’s den too complicated and fucked up to comprehend, and then spent years trying to tame the most vicious, dominant lion while he snapped and snarled at her heels.

He was the one who failed me. He promised too much, delivered too little, broke me down too hard. I gave love, and what I got in return was emotional devastation, over and over and fucking over.

In that moment, I saw him as he was. All my idealistic, teenage bullshit fell away and I saw a man who could never love me. In that moment, I took myself back. I gave him back his collar but I took back my agency, my power, my life.

You’re not my blood and breath. I am.

I belong to nobody. I am free. And I am happy.

No kinky item today. This is too raw to add anything to it. If you want to help with my ongoing therapy bills, just hit the buy me a coffee button!

On Being Dorothy and Getting Out of Oz

I have a tendency to say that Mr CK saved me or rescued me from the abusive relationship I was in prior to meeting him. He always pushes back when I say things like this, though I’ve never fully understood why. Just take the damn praise, man! But we had a conversation the other day that changed my thinking on this matter. I think I get where he’s coming from now.

A screenshot from the film The Wizard of Oz in black and white, featuring the Cowardly Lion, Dorothy, the Scarecrow and the Tin Man

He never rescued me. I rescued me. I am the Dorothy in this scenario.

(You’ve read or watched The Wizard of Oz, right? If you haven’t, please drop everything, educate yourself immediately, and come back to this post later.)

Dorothy is dropped in Oz partly as a result of her own decisions (running away from home during a tornado = arguably not the best idea, but we don’t blame her because she’s a kid,) but mainly as a result of bad luck (because who could’a guessed the tornado was gonna pick up her house and literally dump her in another world?)

I landed in a bad relationship partly due to my own decisions in holding poor personal boundaries and staying time and time again after episodes of abuse (though I do not blame myself for this and you shouldn’t either,) but mainly as a result of a person exploiting my feelings for them and an unequal power dynamic to gain control.

Lots of people remember that Glinda, the good witch, gives Dorothy the ruby slippers that eventually get her out of Oz and safely home. The readings of this tend to go along one of two lines. The first says that Glinda is the rescuer who gets Dorothy home. The second says that Glinda is a massive asshole for letting Dorothy go through all the angst of the rest of the story (including, let’s be real, nearly getting murdered by a vengeful witch multiple times) before giving her the last piece of the puzzle. I think both of these readings miss the point.

Glinda: “You don’t need to be helped any longer. You’ve always had the power to go back to Kansas.”
Dorothy: “I have?”
Scarecrow: “Then why didn’t you tell her before?”
Glinda: “She wouldn’t have believed me. She had to learn it for herself.”

It’s there. That’s it in those four lines.

She had the power all along.

Just as I always had the power to get out of that relationship. And people merely telling me this made no difference. Do you not think friends had been begging me to get out for years? Do you not think Mr CK, quietly in love with me from the sidelines, had begged me to get out – whether my leaving would result in he and I being together or not? None of that was what made me finally do it.

Glinda gives Dorothy the magic slippers, but that’s all. The rest, our young heroine does for herself (with a little help from her friends.) Mr CK showed me a door, and something wonderful – my freedom – on the other side of it. He said, hey, you can get out of Oz. But you have to choose it for yourself. But the rest? The rest, I did for myself.

The difference between this and all the other times someone had said “hey, Amy, this guy seems like kinda bad news!” wasn’t that he swept in like a knight on horseback and whisked me away. The difference was that I’d finally seen the truth and I couldn’t unsee it. The difference was that I wasn’t listening passively any longer. I had learned it for myself.

I was the one who clicked my heels together three times and said, “I deserve better than this!”

Yes, I realise that my Beloved is a lady in a floofy pink dress in this metaphor. Let’s go with it.