subject line: I think i'm finally clean March 30, 2017 by Hannah Brencher Texas One of our first dates was the kind of date I’d always imagined would be how my story would start with The One: On your own patch of land where you wanted to build a house, we two-stepped in the pasture by the moonlight to my favorite Randy Rogers Band song playing out of your Jeep’s speakers. But mosquitoes kept biting me at the place where the tops of my boots touched my bare calves. I awkwardly swatted at them while we danced. I was sweatier than I wanted to be. I remember thinking the sweet moment all felt forced somehow. In the very deepest parts of me that I wasn’t totally aware of, I took those mosquito bites as some sort of sign that as much as I wanted us to be this perfect thing I had always dreamed of, we just weren’t it.Fast forward two-and-a-half years, countless tears, fights, break-ups, make-ups, and one call to the police later, and I’m finally on the other side of it all. When I saw those photos of you secretly physically violating my personal space and privacy when we hadn’t even spoken in a month, you sealed the deal for me in all the ways I absolutely needed. Thank you. Sure, my sense of security was shot. My heart still pounds at every Ford F150 I pass on every street, no matter how far I am from your apartment. I check the plates every time to see if they’re yours. I breathe a sigh of relief when they’re not. I carry pepper spray now. Can you believe that? I’ve never been a paranoid girl, but that’s what you did to me. While you were at our city’s Women’s March posting on Facebook about “real men supporting women” I was hiding at my parents’ feeling scared and violated and intimidated. I don’t run on the trail now, for fear of running into you; I look over my shoulder every time I get into my car.But now that the shock has worn off and the dust has settled, the paranoia has been replaced with a slew of other emotions. I mourn the loss of you often. The man I thought I knew, the man whose rough hands I can still exactly remember what it feels like to hold, is gone. He’s replaced by someone sick, someone scared, and someone who apparently never respected me enough to be real with me for just. one. second. Someone who didn’t respect my father enough to apologize to him when he confronted him about his stalker-like actions. I get so mad that the tears flow freely when I think about how you scared my parents and my sweet roommate. You didn’t just violate my world, but also theirs. How could you have done this? Who are you?But I’m also thankful. I had already said that 2017 would really be the year I wasn’t going to go back to you, but we know I’ve said that before. You have ways of getting me to believe that no one will ever love me as much as you claimed to. I was driving down the highway yesterday and literally laughed out loud when it hit me: I don’t have to wonder anymore - there is absolutely better out there for me. Anything is better than being with you who thought it okay to violate me in such a way. The decision is finally a no-brainer, so thank you.If you find this email: I’m sorry I didn’t stop us sooner. I hope you get the help you need, but I will not be a part of it, or your world, ever again. Surely you know that, but in case you didn’t. I beg of you to be honest with yourself. I hope you’re not drinking too much. I really wish you would have just apologized to my dad. In a week and a half I’m moving nine hours away to the city I always said I wanted to go back to, working at one of my favorite places in the whole world. I’m buying my own piece of land there, too. So don’t go driving by my apartment anymore, because I won’t be there.