Did I do the right thing? (very long)

Ugh. Where to begin… this could get long, kids.


My now ex-fiance left me back in 2002 for another woman. He left me high and dry, without a warning. The last thing he said to me was “I can’t wait until you are out here. I love you so much.” (we were working on a fiance visa to bring me into the States, I’m from Canada). Two days of silence, and then he contacts me on stupid MSN Messenger to break up with me. I begged him to let me call him, so we could at least talk it over, but he refused, saying that I would end up crying and talking him out of it. Oookay. Then, he refused to speak to me. Ever. He wouldn’t respond to my emails, phone calls, nothing. I was of course stunned, shocked, depressed, all that good stuff that comes with going through a break up. So I stopped calling him, cold turkey, since it obviously wasn’t getting anywhere. It took a long, long time to get over, many lonely nights sobbing myself to sleep, many mornings of wishing I didn’t wake up, not eating, trips to the hospital, suicide attempts - oh what fun it all was. Certainly my darkest hour and not my most graceful period, for certain. I’m ashamed of my mistakes, but have moved on.

His best friend ended up coming to my rescue. He was a man who thought my ex did an awful thing to me, and didn’t support his cheating on me at all. As most people didn’t, but he was there for me. He called me and tried to cheer me up, he let me cry it all out, and talk about whatever I wanted. He would stay up, losing sleep to listen to me bitch and whine and cry. I suppose it should have been obvious to me that he was in love with me, but I was stuck in my self absorbed little pity party world. He invited me out for Christmas vacation after I’d quit my job in utter frustration and was stressed to the point that I thought it was due time for another nervous breakdown. Whee! Anyway, long story short, he proposed to me that Christmas, shocking me, grounding me, and changing my life completely. I married him the following February.

My ex was out of both of our lives, having screwed us both over for the woman he left me for. (He was living in a house with my husband that they were sharing rent for, and he just up and left to live with this girl without saying a word, leaving my husband with a much higher payment than had been agreed upon, plus he’d borrowed about $1000 on top of that, and never said a word about paying him back).

So hubby and I are leading our now happier lives, when last year, news came that my ex’s girl was leaving him. He couldn’t go home to his parents’, since they had no room for him anymore, and he couldn’t afford an apartment on his own, so he was stuck. Lo and behold, who does he come running to? My husband. We talked about it for a while, then finally we decided to write my ex a polite but firm letter, asking him to please stay out of our lives. Neither of us wanted him in our lives anymore, he was pretty obviously a fairweather friend at best, and both of us were just tired of dealing with his crap. I composed the letter, very carefully, not cursing, just stating, basically: look, we do not want you as a friend, in our lives, and these are the reasons why.

The funny thing about that was, he understood our reasons, but was shocked out of his mind to find out we were married. He was the last to know. He showed up at my husband’s work one day, crying, saying he was sorry. He wanted to meet with me personally to apologise. At first, I was thrilled. Hell, isn’t this what I’d really wanted all along? An apology! Bonus for the evil side of me that his life had fallen apart since leaving me, too. Ego strokage. Woo! (I kid. I’m not that petty.)

Then one day my mother calls me, and begs me not to meet with him. She starts saying if he thinks he can get away with that kind of thing, and all will be forgiven, he’ll just keep doing that kind of thing to people. I think it over for, literally, months. Finally I tell my husband, no, I won’t forgive my ex. He [my ex] is a very simplistic kind of thinker … I want to say “not very bright”, but I don’t think that sums things up quite right. He buys into stereotypes and uses them as truths. And he’s stubborn as a mule when he thinks he’s right. He seemed to believe all he had to do to make right what he did wrong was to apologise to me. The one thing he got right was my nature - he always, always knew who I was deep inside. He always knew me. And he knew, he just knew, even when he was cheating, that I would eventually forgive him. So I decided maybe it was time to throw him for a real loop. I refused to meet with him. And refused to speak to him. He didn’t quite seem to believe this at first, and kept trying to call.

Finally, on Christmas Day last year, he called and got me. He cheerfully informed me that he was calling to wish me and my husband a Merry Christmas. This was the first time I’d heard his voice since he said “I can’t wait until you are out here. I love you so much.” I paused. My eyes filled with tears. It hurt, god damnit, it hurt so bad. And then I said into the receiver, equally cheerful: “Oh. Too bad!” And hung up. I was shaking. To hide my tears, I got angry. It was easier to deal with. My husband came inside from loading presents into the trunk and asked me what was wrong, and I angrily told him what had just happened. I ended up letting go of the anger for the rest of the day, but kept thinking about it.

When my husband returned to work in the new year, my ex showed up at his work again, crying. He begged to at least talk to me, to let me know he knew what he did was “fucked up”. It was tearing me apart. I would hear his name and cry. It felt like I was going through the breakup all over again. My husband saw this and got fed up. Finally, he called my ex himself and told him to stay away from me, and never, ever call our home again. Finally, finally, something sank in for my ex. He respected our wishes and stayed away.

And so a great, dark cloud was lifted from my shoulders. My ex was gone, I stopped having nightmares about him, and his name was rarely mentioned again.

The thing is, somewhere in that time period, without my telling a soul - I forgave him in my own heart. I mean, come on, look at me now! I should be thanking him for where I am today. I have a kind, loving husband who lives only to see me smile and takes perfect care of me. We’re similar enough to get along and different enough to keep things interesting. I love and care about him with all of my heart. We plan on buying a home someday soon and starting to have fat little babies. Yes, in my heart, my ex has been forgiven for quite some time.

So now, a mutual friend has told us that my ex is working hard, trying to mend the bridges he’s burned. I found out that recently, he sent my husband a check to repay him some of what he owed him from so long ago. He called my husband at work to make sure the check went through, my husband just said to him he thought the whole thing was called off (he’d told him not to worry about the damn money when he told him to stay out of our lives), my ex started to get angry and growled “Just take it.” So my husband took me out clothes shopping today, telling me all that money he paid back was going to me. No complaints here. :stuck_out_tongue:

I started talking to my husband today, and I told him, “Just between you and me, I don’t hate [my ex]. Sometimes I still get angry at what he did, but I don’t hate him. I forgive him, too … but I don’t know if he should know that.” My husband immediately says, “NO! Don’t let him know you forgive him! He’s just starting to get straightened out. You did us all a huge favour by not forgiving him.” I’ve been thinking about this all day. I don’t want my ex to hurt other girls the way he hurt me. I don’t want him to treat people like his own personal stepping stones. I know I can’t control who somebody is, but I wanted to set an example. I wanted to show him that his actions had consequences. I don’t think my situation is unique, or uniquely horrible. I know people have gone through worse than me. I just wanted to make a tiny difference, in just one person’s life, that might make a difference to others he meets down the road.

Sometimes I feel torn up with guilt. Ha! Me! The one who was cheated on in the first place, feeling guilty. But I do. Tell me, Dopers who have read this far … did I do the right thing? Am I a heartless witch for not forgiving him? Am I thinking too damn hard on something I have no control over? Am I (and my husband) giving myself too much credit?

Forgiving him now seems a little pointless. You know, nine months after I hang up on him and my husband tells him off, calling him up and saying “Oh, I forgave you a while back. Sorry 'bout that.” would seem kind of bitchy, I think. Should I just throw the guilt and the past out with the rubbish? This has only resurfaced because I’ve been hearing lately how regretful my ex sounds. I don’t know if he’s regretful because of what he’s done, or just regretful because I ended up not forgiving him like he thought I would. I don’t even know if it matters.

Damnit, why do I feel guilty?

I would say don’t even worry about forgiving him now. For you it would just bring all that emotional garbage back into the forefront. You need to get over him and just stop thinking about it. Of course it could be hard what with the fact that he still tries to contact you or your husband. You need to sever all communication with him, and don’t even talk about him with your husband. I imagine your husband could feel jealous that you still have all these emotional hangups over your ex. Its not your responsibility to make him feel better about what he has done. I promise you he will get over it, he will not die because you never forgave him.

Let him feel regretful. I agree with your husband - why let him know he’s forgiven, if he is? If he truly is feeling that bad about what happened, maybe it will wake him up for the future.

This, coming from the person who forgives everybody for everything, so take it with a grain of salt :wink:

Anastaseon , you can forgive someone in your heart and not necessarily have to tell that person that you have forgiven them. The important thing is that you don’t go through life angry and let it eat you up inside…Anger is not your problem however - your problem is that you are still letting this man MANIPULATE you. The smartest thing you ever did was to listen to your highly perceptive and intelligent mother! By taking that stand with your ex you showed him that he can not screw WITH YOU. Is he going to learn some elaborate, cosmic lesson because of it? Is he going to turn his life around and never hurt another woman the way he hurt you? I tend to think not…call me cyncial (you wouldn’t be the first!). He thought he knew you. He thought he could treat you like and old junk yard dog and you’d just keep coming back for more…but no, you seem to have a back bone. I’m sure that troubles him. I don’t think he’s going to rest until he sees you weaken into a pool of jello before him. He knows the affect he’s had on you. I will even venture to say that he suspects that if he could just see you one more time he could unsettle you to the point where you would not only forgive him, but maybe (just maybe) even fall into his arms and say you’ll take him back!

Oh yes, he appears to be “working hard to mend the bridges he’s burned”. And wow, he even sent your husband a check for what he owed him. (Soon he will be working with orphans!)…But I notice that he called your husband at work to make sure the check went through. Hm, wasn’t this after your husband specifically told him never to call and to stay out of both of your lives? That shows a lack of respect right there…And when your husband said that he didn’t need to take the money your ex got ANGRY. You see, if that’s not the big clue in all of this I don’t know what is. First of all, if he had really turned over a new leaf he wouldn’t have had to call to find out if your husband got the check (uh, he would know when the check was cashed). He would have respected your husband’s wishes that he not make contact with either of you…but more importantly, when your husband initially didn’t want to take the check he would not have gotten angry. The anger to me shows that he hasn’t changed one bit. He is hoping that he can eventually fool your husband into thinking he’s made some great turn around - and he needs him to take the check and make a BIG show of it to do that. Why does he want to make your husband think he’s changed?? Because the next step is that he will call your husband again and ask to see you, to explain himself and beg your forgiveness. Or maybe he will be more subtle…but you mark my words, his only goal here is to get you to see or talk to him Anastaseon. You are probably the only person who has ever said no to him (besides your husband that is) and he can not have that. I don’t trust him and neither should you. This man has hidden agenda written all over his sociopathic forehead.

You have nothing whatsoever to feel guilty over. Cut the cord and don’t look back. Forgive him in your heart and MOVE ON…There is no reason to ever see him again. There is no reason for your husband to ever take another phone call from him again. It’s over. If your ex has really changed he will leave you and your husband in peace and NEVER BOTHER YOU AGAIN. He will stop using your “mutal friend” to send messages about what a great guy he is now and how much he’s changed his life :rolleyes:

I’m so glad that you’ve found happiness with your new husband. Yay! There is some justice in the world…Now, you go and live your life with him and enjoy yourself. You deserve it! Don’t give this slippery slime another thought. Move on and be happy!


Sorry for the long quote, but I think this is the answer here. He doesn’t quite get it that you mean business, and he wants to worm his way back into your life again. Getting angry when his attempt to make up for past deeds is rebuffed? Not a good sign. Would he then get angry if he got to meet with you but you were cold to him?

Forgive him in your heart, if you wish - but not for him, for you. You’ll feel better if you drop as much of the hatred as possible. However, I wouldn’t tell him - I don’t think he deserves to know that, and it sounds like it’d only encourage more dramatics on his part.

Anastasaeon it sounds like you’ve made peace with yourself. That’s all you need to do. He knows he messed up. He knows that neither you nor your husband want anything to do with him because of what he’s done. He’s the one that has to learn to live with it, not you or your husband. Good for you for being able to move on and have a good life with your husband. The guy did you a favor. You’re life is so much better without him, so don’t worry about verbally forgiving him. What he needs to do is go on with his life and leave you two alone.

Heh. I lived with an ex for thirteen years. One day he decided he’d found someone new and told me he was leaving. Like you I had a tough time getting over it, but I did and moved on. Now, I have a wonderful boyfriend whom I have grown to love and cherish. My ex found out that life was not better with somebody else and is miserable. HAH! I don’t bear any grudges against him but I do not and will not have anything to do with him. He’s history. Besides, he found out he couldn’t do anywhere near as good as me. :smiley:

In my experience, forgiveness is about 5% for the person being forgiven, and 95% for the person DOING the forgiving. He isn’t going to feel better because you forgive him. He has to forgive himself for being a shithead. It can only come from him. You’ve made peace with yourself and he needs to do the same. He eventually will. Your stamp of approval cannot change who he is. He is doing that himself, and in time, he’ll realize that life is a big lesson learned in small bits over many years. He’ll be fine. And so will you.

There are layers to forgiveness.

For general peace:

People ask for or offer forgiveness to make peace. They don’t really mean it but just want to smoothe things over and get past it. That’s not always a bad thing and in some situations the only practical alternative.

For personal peace:

That it’s a bit harder to come by and takes time. I’ll echo what most have already said; It’s 90% for yourself and 10% for the transgressor. People have to let go to gain personal peace after being wronged. People have to forgive themselves IF they truly feel that they are sorry for having hurt somebody.
Sounds like you’ve let time pass and forgiven him for your own peace of mind. It doesn’t mean that you have to hug and make friends and it doesn’t say anything about where he is in this entire process. Only he can know it and no amount of tears will bear witness. His actions in the future towards others (and you, if circumstances permit) will show it.

You’re doing the right thing. :slight_smile:

I wish I had a fraction of your strength.

Speaking as someone who’s been in all four (or is it five?) peoples’ positions here, you did nothing wrong and everything right. Any guilt you might possibly feel about leaving him hanging is way hell of balanced out by the crap you went through after he dumped you.

Shana said what I was thinking too. Forgive him all you want, for your own peace. But telling him that he’s forgiven will just open up another can of worms, one that your husband especially seems to not want to touch with a ten-foot pole. Allowing him to know that will just teach him that he doesn’t have to respect the “don’t contact us” boundary that you two have set up, and do you really want to go there?

I think that you’ve done the right thing for both yourself and your husband so far, and maybe you just need encouragement to keep doing it. After all, your husband has supported the hell out of you; maybe it’s time to support him on his ultimatum to this guy. Positive contact with the ex would just undermine that. Just let it be. You seem to have found your peace, and sooner or later, the ex will vanish again, leaving you two to your lives. Continuing to ignore him can only help that.

Thank you everyone, so much (even those who just managed to get through the long post)! Shana, your post seems to hit the nail on the head. I’m certain it seems plain as day to everyone else, but since I’m inside the situation, I’m having a harder time seeing very clearly. Well, I was. I see a little better now.

Shana, you bring up his disrespect by contacting us again and again - I’m not sure how I managed to miss it this time around, but that was one of the things I initially got very angry at after I sent the letter last year. We asked him not to contact us, and then he goes and shows up in my husband’s office, crying. Now this minor hoopla and anger over a check. (even minor hoopla is still hoopla!)In the end, you’re 100% correct: a lot of tears, lots of smoke and mirrors, but very little respect. You are all correct: he has not really changed. If he does change, it’s none of my business anymore. He’s not my child; I cannot babysit him. I can’t protect anyone else from his selfishness. That’s not my job. I’ll admit it; there’s a little ego involved on my part. I like to think I made a change. I know I did make an impact, but the only way that will retain the punch it carried is to shut up about it. :wink:

“Sociopath” is an interesting word to use. Someone, somewhere, on some message board (maybe even here) a long while ago posted an online test about the signs of a sociopath. I remember he fit the description almost perfectly. I didn’t exaggerate, I was as fair as I could be (I wasn’t angry at that time, I think I just looked at the test and thought, damn, this behaviour sounds familiar … ) However, I didn’t invest much trust in an online test, but it was food for thought.

And why, yes, for those wondering, my husband is a saint. :slight_smile: I don’t know how that guy puts up with me! He’s very patient and kind, and very understanding. We’d actually gone this whole nine months without ex dramatics of any sort (he was very sweet and understanding when I had emotional whiplash last year brought about by the ex - he says he knows a part of me still “loves” (or obsesses, that’s what it really was in the end, anyway) the guy, and probably always will - but he also knows very well that I love and care for him, my own husband, 100x more than that). Anyway, it was just yesterday, he took me out ona surprise clothes shopping trip to get some fall/winter clothes, and I asked him what did I do to deserve this wonderful surprise? And he hesitated, and then he told me where the extra bit of money came from. He said he wasn’t going to tell me at first, because he knew I’d think too hard on it. (does he know me or what? :smiley: ) He then said he’d made a promise to himself: any and all money my ex paid him back was going to be spent on me. He says after all I went through, he thinks it’s appropriate that I have it. I think he thought I was going to get angry again that my ex had contacted him after our explicit request(s), but for some reason, this time I mulled it over, and told him I didn’t hate the guy. I had forgiven him. It was then that my husband started telling me the little things he knew from the mutual friend. I’d been thinking too hard on it and feeling guilty ever since (get out the nails and cross, folks, another one is climbing up the ladder!). Of course, now my husband is quietly kicking his own ass for telling me *any * information about the ex, because the last thing in the world he wants is for me to feel guilty and/or stir up the past.

I didn’t realise it would be so hard, even years down the road. But that’s okay. I can handle it. I’ve suffered this and a gallstone, and survived, by Og! :smiley:

Deep breath … now let it go. One of these days it will all be out. Not forgotten, no, but it will be out. Clean.

The toughest thing I ever did was to tell my lying, cheating ex “You only think you want to get back together, but I’m sorry, there is no future between us.”

Have I forgiven her? Yeah, I guess I have. Do I feel guilty about not wanting to try it again? Not a bit.

Let it go.

Shana is 100% right.

Don’t answer his calls, don’t open his emails and mark any letters “return to sender” whether they contain cheques or not. Tell your friend and husband you don’t want to hear his name mentioned again.

You have forgiven him for the hurt he caused you, but you aren’t giving him the opportunity to cause any more.

This is all about making him feel better, and that’s not your concern. You’ve forgiven him, you’re healing and now you and your husband have to move on.

You don’t need to feel guilty for anything.

I think that you’ve done an admirable job in a difficult situation, and I hope you can continue to be happy and at peace with yourself. I just worry about one bit:

Infant obesity is a very serious issue!


All right, then, we look forward to having trim, health-conscious babies who have a healthy self image!

I just love all those pudgy baby rolls on their little arms and hands and feet and cheeks!

Awww, lighten up. Fat babies are cool. It’s called **baby fat ** for a reason. They grow out of it, everyone here knew what she meant and how and didn’t take it so literally.

First, you definitely did the right thing. You’re over it. It’s not your fault if he isn’t. Live your life, enjoy your husband, and especially enjoy the making of the fat babies.

Secondly, fat babies are cuter than skinny babies. Everyone knows this. :wink:

You are doing the right things, both of you. There’s an old saying that the opposite of love isn’t hate, it’s indifference. You’re working on indifferenting him, and that’s right where you need to be.

Second, as irishgirl said, his emotional troubles are not your burden to carry. When you start thinking about things from the past and how they went and how he treated you, say to yourself, “I can feel bad about this, or I can forget about it. Those are my only choices, and I choose to forget about it” and let it go. As many times as it takes.

Anastaseon, given the very detailed --and long–background info in your post, I’m not sure you are over this guy… if not, you certainly would have been able to size this guy up in less than a paragraph, ok, maybe one and half paragraph. As someone else here mentioned, he’s still manipulating you, which i find odd coming from a happily married person, married to someone else!

if you are having trouble moving on, maybe telling you ex to “fuck off!!” will help you :wink:

You feel guilty because you are a kind, caring person.

Your ex sounds like a user, a taker and a manipulator, and those types of people rarely change. I think (just my opinion, mind you) that he only doled out the money because he knew he could follow up with a phone call and try to inch his way into your life again, because of what* he *wants, not because he’s trying to do the right thing.

Also, and this might sting a little, but I don’t think this is about you, or how he feels about you. I think this is about him gaining control over a situation that he clearly has no control over anymore, thanks to you. :wink: You “won” by taking away his power, and *that’s *what I think he’s mad about.

You’ve forgiven him, and that’s healthy. That makes it easier for you to let go of any love, anger or guilt and move on.

What your ex does with his life is his business, and if he interferes in yours anymore, I’d get a restraining order.