1. “Thank God he’s gone.”

by Annie Kaszina on April 10, 2006

Harriet*’s face had been etched into a mask of anxiety and
pain by the years spent putting herself last while she tried to make bad
relationships work. She came up to me
on the last day of the course I’d been running on Domestic Violence Recovery to
tell me how far she had come along her journey.


She said she’d learned so much that she’d wished she’d
known before. She also said that in
recent years she had made better relationships. She’d been through domestic violence and wasn’t going there any
more. Her latest relationship, which
had ended during my course, had not been abusive, but her partner had been
‘difficult’, the kind of man who pulls you down. 

He was, she said, always negative, with no energy, someone
who needed her to support him emotionally the whole time. She had found him a drain. He was someone who didn’t say or do very
much. He relied on her to lift his
spirits and do all the caring. He didn’t lift a finger around the house, or
even buy the occasional bottle of wine to ‘show willing’.

But still, she had been sad when it had ended because he
was ‘a lovely person’; he was just a little depressed and depressing – her
judgement not mine. 

Then, as she continued to think about her lovely ex,
Harriet’s face changed completely. She
said, more to herself than me: “Actually, you know, he was abusive. It is abusive to pull your partner
down and contribute nothing to a relationship, but take, take, take.” 

She ran quickly through his behaviours and attitudes again
registering his constant lack of respect and consideration of her feelings and
re-evaluating her entire relationship. 

And then she said it: “Thank God he’s gone” – the very phrase that became my refrain
after my own unlovely partner’s departure.

Harriet had started to see all the limitations that a
depressive, inconsiderate partner imposed on her life – and all the
opportunities and options that lay before her without him there to blight
them. 

It wasn’t that she envisaged a future of wild days and
nights partying with beautiful people in exotic places. 

What she saw was being able to return home after a day’s
work, free to do exactly what she wanted. She saw the simple pleasures of being able to cook herself a meal – or
not – chat to a friend, flop in front of the television, or soak in a hot tub
without the constant need to worry about and lift another person’s mood. 

She saw herself actually having the space to put herself
first for once – and even love herself first. Instead of last. 

She saw herself as blessed by his departure, rather than
proved to be a failure as a woman and a partner. 

She saw it as the start of a new and rewarding period in
her life – her relationship with herself – rather than the end of her last hope
of ever being in a relationship.

She saw it as the door slamming on a miserable past,
rather than slamming on any hope of ever creating a worthwhile future.

She saw that his presence, rather than his absence,
diminished her. 

She saw that she had a far greater chance of dreaming, and
achieving her dreams, without him than she had ever had with him. 

And instead of bemoaning the failure of the relationship
and her single status, she rejoiced in the promise of her future.

“Thank God, he’s gone”. Thank God, Harriet can see that anyone who brings her down and
disregards her feelings is abusive – and that life will be far, far
richer without him.

*not her real name

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