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.
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?