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Stuck for an apology
I cheated on my girlfriend from high school and I recently bumped into her again now 10 years on since we broke up. I struck up a quick conversation but it was very awkward and I left feeling very anxious, I didn't get a chance to apologise to her. A few days later I get a call from her angry husband saying I messed up her life, that she had found it really hard from our break up , I apologised profusely to him and said I was a stupid kid and I'm very sorry for my actions and he accepted the situation but went on to say to leave her alone or he'll kill me.
This was 3 months ago and I haven't been able to let it go (I have much better morals now). I think about it all the time and its completely disrupting my life. I'm getting really depressed and cant sleep, thinking I hurt her so badly. I had no idea she took it so hard. I want to apologise to her in an email or message, but fear the thought of me again will just stir the pot (and risks him coming after me). So I'm really lost for what to do: should I send him the message and ask to pass it on when the time is right, or just send her the message directly, or do I leave it alone and let it cool off?
Welcome to the forum!
This sounds like a really complex and delicate situation. I’m honestly not sure what the right course of action is here (sorry that’s not very helpful!).
Something I noticed throughout your post, though, is the unexpected and surprising nature of this situation – bumping into your ex-girlfriend unexpectedly, getting a surprise call from her husband a few days later, and having no idea that the breakup had had such an impact on her. I can understand why you would still be thinking about this months later and trying to wrap your head around it.
I’m also hearing how much you truly regret what happened and how much you really care about your ex-girlfriend and her wellbeing.
I understand that this situation is starting to become overwhelming for you (to the point where it is impacting your mood and sleep). I'm wondering what kind of things you do (or have done in the past) to help you cope with stressful or upsetting situations?
Thank you for sharing this with us, Baja555. I look forward to hearing from you if you would like to talk more.
- Marie (:
Thanks for the message, it has completely taken me by surprise. Its a bit of a prickly situation and I don't know the full extent of her feelings. Whether he was ramping up the details to make it sound worse than it is, or if she genuinely feels this way. I don't know. It's the uncertainty of it all that is tricky to deal with. I haven't really had to deal with this type of situation before, but I generally like to talk things out when times get rough and I generally always accept the blame.
Great to hear from you. I completely agree that uncertainty can be really difficult to deal with, and sometimes it is so overwhelming that it is all we can focus on.
It sounds like you have some great ways of managing things when they get tough - like being able to go to people to talk things out. Is it okay to ask who these people normally are?
I'm also wondering if speaking to someone, like a GP or a mental health professional, could maybe help in giving you some strategies to manage the uncertainty and sleeping difficulties that you have at the moment, until it gets better. What do you think?
Hoping to hear from you again soon.
- Marie (:
I am really sorry to hear that this has become such a real disruption to your life and your serenity.
One of my friends had a sort of similar situation. Her boyfriend in highschool had cheated on her & it really messed her up (for other complicated reasons which is not my story to tell, but it wasn't just infidelity in a highschool romance), and then 15 years down the track, they bumped into each other as parents of children at the same school.
My friend was really put off kilter by this & it consumed her mind for quite a while. Her husband wasn't like the angry one you've encountered, but my friend ended up asking the guy to sit down with her & talk, just to get a bit of closure on the thing (which he did & they can now walk past each other at the school & say hi & all is well).
What i feel from your story, is that you want to make amends. Sometimes this isn't possible in face to face terms, eg. the risk of her husband harming you, or that you feel it will hurt her more by being in touch with her.
So, maybe writing the message to her will be your way of laying this thing to rest.
Write it, think about it, edit it, think about it .... and then decide what you do next.
If you have a trusted person to have as a sounding board (eg. close friend, therapist), that may help.
It may be that the process of writing it out, expressing your remorse, & basically making a sincere attempt at making amends might be enough for you to be able to let it go.
If not, you might respecfully ask her husband to pass the message to her, explaining to him again how much this has affected you & how important it feels for you to say how genuinely sorry you are.
I had a scenario in which i wanted to explain myself to someone, & the above process (writing the letter) was actually enough for me at the time, without having to physically pass the message to them (to do so would have opened up a channel of communication that i didn't want opened up).
I hope you are able to work through your feelings & find a solution that brings you some peace & the knowledge that you have done your best.
Thank you for coming here.
You are welcome any time to talk some more.
Thanks Birdy, its nice to know there are other situations out there that are similar. I'm concerned in my case as I didn't really get a good vibe off him and also didn't feel as though I got a word in to defend myself. I go over the conversation with him over and over again, with what I could have said with a bit more time and tact.
I have penned a very nice letter of apology but that's where I'm stuck now.
It is completely normal, i think, to rehash the conversation & think about the things you wanted to say - especially as the whole thing caught you completely offguard, you're always going to think of the things you wished you'd been able to say.
Unfortunately, we don't always get the opportunity to make-good.
We all have things we regret and I'm sure we all have situations for which we would like to apologise. The difference for you is that you've been confronted with this thing from the past & it's now taken over your thoughts &, to an extent, your life at the moment.
So, you've written a message. Do you feel any better for having written it? Did you write it recently or directly after the confrontation? I only ask because i found with my thing, i only ended up feeling a sense of catharsis or relief after I'd drafted it and edited it a few times. It took some weeks.
If you know her husband to be a bit aggressive (i think that's clear) , i think it's wise to take your time deciding on the best way forward.
I ended up burning my letter. After i had worked it through many times & was feeling better in my heart, i decided i didn't want or need to give it to the lerson. So i lit a fire and chucked it in & sent it with love into the universe. I have done a similar thing & buried the letter in the garden, planting a plant on top. It all felt good & that I had done my "sorry" or whatever
I know it hurts and is sending your thoughts spiralling about wanting to say what you want to say. It feels all-consuming at the moment.
In the end though, you know where your heart is at. You know you regret & feel sorry for what you did.
But also, you were a kid. You were a young adolescent making the mistakes that young adolescents make & will continue to make.
Looking back as an adult, you can see you did wrong.
We have all done wrong, not one of us is exempt.
Maybe if you can sit with the feelings, sit with the apology you've written, & even if in the end you decide that the best thing to do is to burn it & send it off into the universe with your best vibes, that might be enough to release your feelings.
Maybe talking about it here will help too? .
You have taken responsibilty for your foolish ways as a boy, and feel remorse for that. Whether or not she is able to accept your expression of regret & apology is out of your hands in the end. But you know your heart & it's important you hold yourself & your younger *foolish* self, with compassion as well.
Hi Baja, welcome
I've taken an interest in this thread as you've raised an issue I've had all my life. So thankyou for raising it. It has obviously caused and still causing you significant harm and confusion let alone fear.
When I was 19yo I was a member of the defence force and got into a fight. I caused some harm to the other guy even though he started the conflict. I felt guilty and apologized even though it stained my service record. I left the ADF and 12 months later found out he was posted to a base 4 hours away from home. I visited the town nearby his base and saw him driving his car, stopped him and apologized again- he drove off.
I'm now 63yo and 4 years ago, 40 years after the incident, I found him on Facebook. He now lived in Canada. I messaged him to yet again apologise. He blocked me. See the similarities?
I've asked many friends what they would have done and all of them said "I would have stopped contact after the first apology". So I knew it was my problem.
Since then I've done some mental work on this issue with some assistance from therapy. One therapist said to me many years ago "Tony, when are you going to stop saving the world" So I've come to terms with my main issue here- guilty conscience. I think you have that also.
My suggestion is this- leave it be. If you ever bump into her again be friendly again and THEN apologised for betraying her and wish her well in her life.
You might well have caused her concern but when she met and fell in love with her now husband such scars would come to the surface especially when she needed reassurance from him and that means he would have been obligated to prove to her that he was going to be loyal and monogamous. See why he was on the attack?.
To help you more I have selected a few threads you can read and if you like, you can comment on at the end. You only need to read the first post of each. Use google
So, throughout life as you are a sensitive kind person you are more likely to suffer these bouts of conflict from other people. I have changed my life somewhat and used mental pigeon holes to place some people in there as they can be irrational, aggressive and unsupportive or defensive without justification.