By Julia Sullivan
Dear Mr. President,
I did not cast my vote for you this past election, nor do I support your viewpoints or condone the way you treat women, minorities, the disabled and the disenfranchised. But amid the tweeting, the name-calling and the braggadocious behavior, I almost forgot to thank you for altering my life course in the most positive way possible.
I want to thank you, Mr. Trump, because you killed my relationship of two-and-a-half years.
This isn’t a satirical letter secretly condemning you to rot in hell, although I’m sure you’ve received plenty of those. Rather, this letter is an earnest expression of gratitude, because you ultimately saved me from veering down a course in life that was so inexplicably wrong.
When I met my ex in the summer of 2014 (we will call him Justin), he was everything I could want and more in a partner. He was sweet, gentlemanly and had the same oddball sense of humor as me. My parents adored him, and so did my friends. We fell hard for one another — fast.
And for the next year, that was our relationship: a slew of obnoxiously cute Facebook photos, slow dances in the refrigerator light (I swear we were living a T-Swift song at one point) and countless crude inside jokes. Then two things happened that abruptly changed the course of that love story: I accepted a job relocation offer to New York City, and you, Mr. Donald Trump announced your bid for presidency.
With your campaign still ramping up, and after much emotional turmoil, Justin and I agreed to enter a long-distance relationship for a year — him still in Arizona, and me across the country in NYC. Although I could tell he was deeply shaken by my choice, I thought our love transcended distance. This was our decision. We were a team.
But on Christmas Eve in 2015, roughly a week before I was to move to New York City, we had our first big politically charged argument. With a lit tree and It’s A Wonderful Life streaming in the background, Justin paused to scroll through his Facebook feed.
“F*cking liberal idiots,” he muttered under his breath. “Being politically correct is gonna get us killed.”
He was talking about your proposed ban on allowing Muslims into the country. It was the first seriously seething political commentary I’d ever heard him say aloud, at least to me.
You can probably guess what happened next. I retorted instantly, drawing a comparison of the ban to the type of xenophobia that inspired the Holocaust. But it wasn’t the kind of back-and-forth, levelheaded sharing of viewpoints you’d expect to see with two people who love each other. He wasn’t telling me things I didn’t already know. Rather, I would argue my point and he would laugh. He was mocking me.
Give me a keyboard and a glass of wine, and I will rip you a new one. But as for verbal, face-to-face arguments, I become meek. And when that opponent is someone I love, I become even meeker.
With each cut, Justin’s neck would redden, as if my welling eyes and averted stare were fueling his testosterone reserves. He’d say things like, “Get educated” or “Are you kidding me? You sound so ignorant.” I should also mention that Justin teaches adults, so he’s especially good at making a full-grown woman feel like a moron.
In that moment, I felt stupid. He accomplished what he was aiming to do because I momentarily questioned a lifelong set of beliefs. Was I really as dumb as Justin said I was for thinking the way I did?
“If we’re going to stay together, you need to change,” he told me.
Sans the political squabbles, our long-distance relationship wasn’t going any smoother. Once the initial excitement of my move settled down and the sweet texts and bouquets of flowers ceased, Justin would go days, even weeks a few times, without contacting me. He stopped reading my writing because he “didn’t have time.” I felt him slowly slipping between my fingers, but my pride prevented me from calling him out.
I should mention that Justin never explicitly said he supported you, Mr. Trump. But he loathed your opponent, Hillary, with vengeance. And knowing that I supported her made him even angrier. A “feminazi,” he’d call her, in shock that I’d ever cast my for such a “c*nt.”
Those fire-spitting, chauvinistic put-downs would occur mostly, not surprisingly, around 1:50am in the morning, like the spitting-drunk call I received from Justin one summer night.
“Lisssten,” he slurred. “If we’re gonna stay together, you need to change the way you think.”
Although I asked him why and what I needed to change, deep down, I knew exactly what he meant — he wanted me to reverse who I was, fundamentally, at my core. And while that truth devastated me, that devastation was diluted by those happily hazy memories.
After each fight, I’d dig my face into his old, worn shirt he left me, inhaling in between sobs. I was still so inexplicably in love with Justin. So despite his verbal lashings, despite the fact that our love for one another seemed one-sided, and despite the fact that I knew I was romanticizing this “love story” (I’m a writer, after all), I couldn’t give up.
During this time, you said Hillary was a “nasty” woman, promoted a Mexico-U.S. border wall, and bragged about assaulting women. Maybe I was drawing imaginary comparisons, but Justin’s strength — at least when faced with me — seemed to skyrocket with each outrageous claim you made.
Expectedly, our bickering intensified those rare times we would see each other in person. It’s like he was actively seeking arguments, using even the most seemingly insignificant stimulus — from billboards to commercials to a song that would play on the radio — to launch an attack. At some point, it became less about you, Mr. Trump, and more about me. Justin saw me as an immoral, uneducated person.
Our downfall hit its climax one night in mid-October 2016 on a trip to visit him in Arizona. We were at a bar per Justin’s request, and he was downing whiskey at an exorbitantly fast rate. I knew there was a storm brewing.
”If we’re going to be together, you need to be on my team,” he asserted. “You’re not on my side. What kind of children would we raise?” He eventually became so infuriated with me that I ran out of the bar in tears. This was over an argument about Hillary Clinton’s emails, by the way. He didn’t come after me.
Our two-year anniversary occurred on November 9th, 2016 — one day after the election. We posted forcefully cheery Facebook statuses about each other, but we didn’t talk about the previous night’s events or how we really felt about the results. My candidate lost. And by that time, we were lost, too.
A few weeks later, we ended our relationship on a 3” iPhone screen over FaceTime. We couldn’t even look at each other in the eyes.
Justin is not a cold-hearted villain. Truthfully, I can’t blame a man for not wanting a partner who challenges his ideologies. Sometimes, you just need to be with someone more like yourself.
But it also wasn’t political polarity that broke Justin and I up. I have several friends who voted for you, Mr. Trump, and I wouldn’t rule out dating someone who voted for you in the future. Rather, it was the contentious mansplaining, chauvinistic put-downs and “my way or the highway” attitude that ended us — all of which were fueled (and inspired) by arguments with you at the center.
In relationships (and in politics), there comes a time when complacency no longer cuts it, where passively standing on the sidelines and hoping for the best doesn’t just become ineffective; it becomes dangerous. That being said, I don’t place 100 percent of the blame on you, Mr. Trump, for killing my relationship.
But your hateful, berating campaign rhetoric did help unleash a dormant beast in a man. And it was one of the best things ever to happen to me.
This article originally appeared on YourTango.
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