Dear Queer Abby,
I need advice. I live in a small city and I don’t have many friends. Three years ago, I moved here to be with a partner but we broke up about a year ago when the relationship turned abusive.
My ex has lived in this city for 20 years, is a musician and knows everyone. I definitely inappropriately outed him as abusive but no one believes me. I have/had a lot of mental health issues and wasn’t the best partner myself, and they’ve used this to turn people against me.
I know I sound paranoid but people who were my friends (I thought) no longer respond to me at all. Somehow I did feel like adding their name to a local list of abusers was the right thing to do. Anonymously.
The real trouble started when I reached out to a handful of people for support and was challenged, rebuffed, ignored and humiliated. One of their bandmates has been actively spreading around that I’m a liar. I’m not a liar. It did happen. But I feel crazy.
I don’t have enough money to move away and I’m afraid to go to shows, bars, even the comic book store, where I might run into judging people.
As if the original abuse wasn’t enough! I don’t feel indignant though, I just feel depressed, anxious and defeated. I go to therapy and all that but I could really use your wisdom on what to do here.
Shunned Here In Traumatized Terror & Embarrassed
I’m so, so sorry for what you’re going through in your town. It sounds rotten.
The good news is, you existed before this relationship, and you will be able to exist and form your own reality after this relationship.
I consulted with a Capricorn, and here’s what we think you should do: Make a plan to get the fuck out of there.
Decide where you want to go. Do you want to move back to the place you moved from? Do you have good friends or an opportunity in a different town? Are you looking to join a community in a larger city? See what seems easy, what place feels inviting, and write it down.
Side question: If you needed help, would your family members help you out with money? If so, I recommend reaching out. Getting as far away from an abusive ex and his town of delegates is as legitimate a reason to ask for help as any.
Back to the plan.
Reach out to your friends and people you know from your past. See if you can find a sublet or a room or a job somewhere else. Anywhere else.
Consider the bare minimum you’ll financially need to get there. (I suggest Marie Kondo-ing your space. Moving is significantly easier and cheaper once you realize you can find another vintage couch in any city on Earth.)
Figure out every single thing you can do in the meantime to work towards that goal. Babysitting, dog walking, house cleaning, Uber driving, phone sex operating, WHAT-EVER.
Have no young-person friends? Great. Fuck them. More time to work towards your dollar amount.
People’s inability to show up for you when you were in a time of trouble just shows you who they are. We don’t have time to think about those bozos, because you have money to make and personal growth to attend to.
In the meantime, I recommend you cultivate activities that are less reliant on crowds of this dude’s conspirators. Go to movies alone, volunteer to walk dogs at the Humane Society, get into a meditation practice, and start calling the people who know you well and knew you before this happened. Reach out.
It feels upsettingly easy and natural to isolate after abuse. Picking up the phone (not the text) and calling anyone who is kind will help you. There are people who love you. They may not be the coolest people on earth, but they exist, be it your grandma or cousin or former roommate.
It’s like deprogramming from a cult. Talk to people who can remind you who you are.
The world is large and this person can enjoy his small kingdom of enablers, but you, my dear, do not have to stick around to see it.
Why fight against this cold current? Go where it’s warm.
P.S. When you do see these people in public (at the grocery store or the comic book shop) I recommend you channel Jinkx Monsoon saying “Water off a duck’s back.” When she was on Drag Race, she was made to work in close quarters with queens who were actively bullying her. And YET! She had her mantra and she let her light shine, not necessarily on them (because they were undeserving assholes — I am looking at you, Roxxxy Andrews), but where it counted and needed to be.
I would maintain a Dog Whisperer/Oprah stance of calm, assertive energy. You can be polite and friendly on a surface level and then walk away and pray/wish for them that they never have to be in the situation you were in, because that was a terrible place to be. Don’t spit when you hear their names, just let them go.
I’m so glad you’re out of the relationship, and I believe you can get out of this city. You deserve a second act!
CONFIDENTIAL TO SHITTE:
When I was a younger person, I broke up with an abusive artist whose work a lot of people loved. The breakup did the quick work of revealing who was willing to toss me in a ditch if it given the chance to be closer to low-level fame, but it also illuminated the people left standing. The people I knew from before, and the newer friends who were willing to listen and show up when I needed them.
It’s important not to let the negative voices or strangers’ opinions take up all the space in your head. Turn up the volume on the people and animals who love you, feed those relationships by being a good reciprocal friend, and I wish you the very best.
If you have a question for Queer Abby, send it in an email to [email protected].