Rosemary Donahue
June 02, 2016 12:55 pm
Getty / Plume Creative

Yesterday, I hit a relationship milestone. The thing is, that milestone isn’t something that happened in my current relationship — it’s something that happened in my relationship with my ex. He finally paid me back every last shiny (okay, digital — shoutout to Venmo) penny he owed me, and it felt GREAT. The thing about things that feel great is that we usually want to share them with all our friends, and in this ~era of social media~, most of my friends are reachable most instantly through the internet.

I thought about tweeting about this milestone, and at first I hesitated. Was it tacky? Was it a betrayal of someone I’d formerly shared a home with to talk publicly about the fact that he’d, previously to this day, owed me money — a large enough sum that he’d been paying me in installments since we’d broken up? And then I remembered — we broke up for reasons that were largely his fault. While I’d enabled some of the behaviors that had gotten us to that point a year and a half ago, I’ve also done a lot of healing since then — and in that healing, I’ve learned that it is important for me to take back my narrative, and to not let other people silence me. I’ve learned that it’s important to put myself first, and that his feelings are not important when he’s the one who hurt me. I don’t need to protect him or worry about what people might think about me or my actions, all this time later, over a simple tweet that expresses joy because I have a weight off my shoulders that should’ve never been there in the first place.

So, I tweeted the tweet. Not just to share it with my friends, but also because my Twitter timeline is a place for ME. A place where I get to craft my own story, and I shouldn’t have to worry about what other people are going to think or say (though it doesn’t always work that way, and Twitter isn’t 100% safe all the time — but that’s a story for another time).

Other women and non-binary folks are doing this, too. We are realizing that we’re allowed to talk about the people who have hurt us in our relationships, and we’re allowed to do so publicly — even though, frequently, our exes have employed tactics during our relationships like emotional abuse and gaslighting to make us believe that we were the problem and everything was our fault (eye-roll).

Social media is our space, and while people often say that we should “take the high road” and keep our negative opinions of others to ourselves, I say, screw that! While I do NOT condone internet bullying, not EVER, and would never say that we should lie about our exes or ask people to send threats to our exes handles, I think that it can be cathartic to say on social media, “Hey, here is my experience, it might be relatable to you, let’s talk” (in so many words or emojis). Because the thing is, we’re all going through this together in some way or another, though it can often feel like we’re alone when we’re in the middle of a bad relationship.

When I was in my bad relationship, I had almost completely alienated my friends — that’s part of why it went on so long. I was afraid I wouldn’t have anyone if we broke up, and afraid no one would understand what I was feeling if I tried to talk about it. But talking about things on social media can often be a way of reaching out, both to allow other people to start telling their stories, as well as to let people speak up and say, “Hey, I’m listening, and you matter.” And even if neither of those things happens, it can feel pretty damn satisfying to finally get something off your chest and out into the universe that you’ve been holding in.

So, what I have to say is this — don’t let anyone silence you, especially not days or months or years after a bad thing has ended. Your story is yours alone, and you are free to tell it, however you want to.

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