Ask Scott: An Ex Wants To Apologize

Hey Scott,

Recently a very close friend had informed me that an ex-girlfriend of mine from a few years ago had contacted him.  He told me that she wanted to apologize to me.  I have her blocked on all of my social media so she couldn’t just spring back into my life unexpectedly.  

As much as I loved her when we were together, and as much as I love her now, the fact of the matter is that she had become addicted to heroin over the course of our relationship.  This addiction is actually the direct reason we broke up.  Once she left treatment for the last time in our relationship, she decided that she much preferred a path that allowed her to do heroin; that path did not include me.  The reasoning she gave was that she couldn’t handle a relationship and recovery from addiction at the same time.

She had another boyfriend (one who would do heroin with her) a few days after breaking up with me.

I don’t quite fault her for how much her addiction took over her life; heroin addiction is an absolute nightmare that I wouldn’t wish on anybody.  I also understand that to some degree, she wasn’t fully responsible for her actions.  But at the same time, we probably shouldn’t be using our personal struggles as excuses to hurt others.

Her decisions hurt me and my future relationships immensely; they hurt me in ways I have trouble explaining.  For the longest time, I wouldn’t and couldn’t establish a romantic connection with anyone.  I still have trouble finding and establishing relationships because of the damage from that relationship.  Thankfully, I actually have someone I am talking to right now that I am comfortable with romantically and emotionally and such.  

But that actually adds another layer to my dilemma.  There’s just a lot of danger here, for me.  My friend informed me that she had just recently finished a treatment program.  While I’m extremely hopeful that she is able to sustain her recovery, I don’t wish to go through that pain again.

If I let my ex apologize, I’m opening the door to feelings I’m not really confident I want to feel again.  That would jeopardize the relationship I am currently building with someone else.  On the other hand, if I don’t get the closure from her apology, this issue could gnaw at me for a long time; who knows when it will end?  

It’s already gnawed at me so much that I just had to write to someone.  ‘Tis why I’m writing you this.

Help.  Please.

What Do I Even. . . Do?


Dear What Do I Even. . . Do,

It is apparent that regardless of the decision to make, there will be a consequence.  The way forward here is deciding which consequence is better suited to where you are in your life right now.  

Your concern for the reigniting of old flames is valid and would add layers of complication to a situation you already seem incredibly distressed about.  Personally, I’m a strong advocate for discussion.  I do not believe that holding back emotions or feelings about a situation leads to actual progress; it’s regressive.

The closure you both would get from this apology might just be what the other needs to heal and move on from this situation.  At the very least, you owe yourself, if no one else, peace.  Would silence and deep, long-term “gnawing” really bring you peace?  Or would hearing and acknowledging an apology bring you peace?  Closure or silence?  Your pick.

On the topic of addiction, I am pleased to see that you at least have an understanding of the power addiction has over one’s life; I also agree that personal sufferings are not excuses for destructive behavior.  It is entirely okay for you to decide who to let back into your life.  You are allowed to be your own personal filter.  You are under no obligation to allow anyone or anything into your life that you do not agree to.  

With that said, this is a decision only you can make.  I can only guide you to understand the implications of either decision, but it seems you already have a stronghold of that.  There is a compromise here, though.  You can allow her to apologize to you, on your terms.  You can communicate through your mutual friend that you will only hear her apology and then proceed to block her again; you could also ask your friend to play the role of messenger, and deliver her apology to you, without you having to engage in any of those stronger feelings that might bubble up.

Again, the choice is yours.  Whatever you choose, make sure it sits right with you; make sure it is what you truly want.