Here is Part 3 of this continued series of letters both to and from an honest misogynist. May it stir your heart to action against violence. This piece was written in collaboration with Rose Gwynn. 

Part 1

Part 2

Dear Honest Misogynist,

What a journey this has been. I have learned so much from you, my good teacher.

You showed me a world where love and hate are synonyms.

Even as I believed you were empowering me, you were devouring me. I offered you kindness, but your heart was so full of narcissism, hate, and charm, my love couldn’t find a home there. How is it that hate felt so much like love?

You were a good teacher

You utilized manipulation, dehumanization, and selfishness to get what you wanted while I suffered in silence. You taught me the importance of clearly naming my needs. I now believe this truth: I am worth caring for.

You knew exactly what to say so I’d understand what you wanted me to be. We developed our own unspoken language; I fulfilled your desires instinctively. You found a way to replace my voice with your own. Did you actually love me? Or did you only love who you were when I played this role you wrote for me?

You took every shred of innocence and goodness I had, exploiting my kindness for your own pleasure. Sometimes I wonder if the softness of my heart will be forever sheared. Will I ever feel the wonder, safety, and adoration that I felt in your arms?

I tried so, so hard to be what you needed. I gave too much of myself, and I don’t know how to get it back.

You were a good teacher

You taught me to be afraid of violating you, so I learned masterfully how to violate myself.

You are gifted in how you focus your gaze, making others feel special, but your warmth soon became a roaring blaze that scorched me and left me with ugly scars.

I learned to reject your control and sneering taunts. It is from the destruction of my soul that I have been reborn. You taught me the courage to rise.

I do not need your gaze of approval any longer. I stand tall and bold in the knowledge that I am strong, beautiful, and worthy. This is truer than true.

You were a good teacher.

You taught me the difference between being kind and being devoured. All you had for me once your lust was satisfied was scorn and contempt.

There is a severe mercy in the way you drove me out of your heart over and over, forcing me to nourish myself in order to survive. You forced me to grow.

Thank you for the lessons you taught me. I will no longer allow you this role in my life, but I will never stop learning from you.

You have forever marked me; I will never again deny my pain or diminish the significance of your violence.

I want you to know that though I will not forget you, you will no longer control me. I will move forward now in wounded hope, timid freedom, and raw beauty. You showed me how strong and kind I really am, and for that I am grateful.

I know that you are broken, and so I have decided I will no longer hold bitterness for you. Instead, I invite you to look inside yourself. Own your darkness, push into your thirst for power and control, for there is goodness in you, but it is waiting on the other side of your violence.