I dont know what to do

My Ex H has apologised to me an an email.

He said ‘I am very sorry I sent you abusive texts. there is no justification for this’

I dont know what to do.

In ‘the old days’, even quite recently, I would have accepted his apology and not referred to it again. BUT not because I thought a) he meant it b) I really thought it was ok or c) I forgave it. No, I would have ‘accepted his apology’ because thats what I ‘should do‘. And I would have stuffed down my feelings about the whole episode, pretended they didn’t matter, downplayed my distress and carried on. This is what I did about countless ‘things’ that have upset me over the years. The feelings do not go away, but I allowed others to feel ‘forgiven’ that it was ‘all ok’ and carried around anger, resentment & hurt myself…This is not healthy. I actually have no idea where a ‘healthy boundary’ for this kind of stuff IS.

Now I realise this episode is , in the grand scheme of things, not that big a deal. BUT, I lost my whole Sunday to stressing over this, I was really very upset about it. I felt anxious, vulnerable and distressed. My children have been upset again. I start thinking wistfully about the barrier the ExP created for me between me and my bullying abusive exH. My friends, including my terminally ill friend, got dragged into it – (that bit is my responsibility – I didn’t HAVE to tell them)

So how DO I feel inside? I feel very, very upset indeed. I feel furiously resentful about ExH’s lack of parenting effort, angry that he thinks it’s ok to use language like that about me, angry that he abuses me when I’m vulnerable, angry that he is such an immature emotionally unsafe person that he’s carrying about this bitterness for YEARS.I’m angry with myself for marrying him, frustrated that in fact we seem no further forward than when we first separated, irritated that his opinion seems to matter (actually his opinion DOESN’T matter, but anyone thinking is ok calling me a c* word gets under my skin)

What is an appropriate response to his apology ? Nothing at all ? An email written and refined detailing exactly how unacceptable I found this?  I don’t know. I do know that I FEEL that he has behaved really badly and I have done nothing at all to provoke that. And I do NOT feel like accepting his apology at this point in time…Conversely I really don’t want to be someone who lugs around a shedload of resentments and anger from small things / the past …

But as I say, I realise I don’t know where a healthy line would be drawn…I seem to have missed that developmental stage …Everything feels very raw in the sober world, there’s no numbing effects of drinking, and equally no well of personal experience to draw on… it feels new and my response is not coming instinctively or naturally .. So what would you do ( and why)?


  1. Lily, in that situation I would also be asking for advice. For what it’s worth I wouldn’t respond. I would not engage in any further discussion on the matter because for me that would lead to constant rumination, upset and anger which would be damaging. And I would be processing my feelings through talking to me therapist and working through them with her. Hugs Tori XX

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  2. This is what I replied to him

    Sending me abusive messages is completely unacceptable.
    I will be retaining these messages and should you send anything similar at any point in the future I will not hesitate to involve the Police.
    If you do not cease making derogatory remarks about me to our children I will institute child safeguarding investigations, as it is not in the children’s best interests to be exposed to abusive and insulting remarks about their mother.

    I trust the above is clear.

    I feel very empowered now. Like I have behaved in an authentic way. That is what I WANTED to say, not accepting his apology but not carrying round “anger”. Drawing my line and making it very clear what I will and will not tolerate.

    Lily 🌷

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  3. Lily I think it is important that you respond with what feels right to you. You have history and know what needs to be done. Trusting yourself to do what is right for you is important. Remember his anger is his behavior that comes from within him based on whatever is going on in his life. You became the target of his ire but it really has nothing to do with you. I have found not taking responsibility for other peoples feelings is really important. I can’t change them, I can’t force them to act as I think they should so I focus on my responses. I want my responses to make me feel good about myself as that is all I can control. His addiction was speaking at 3 am I would imagine. Hopefully you can get to a place where you feel sorry for him and don’t let his “crazy” get to you. Rise above it all my friend. It is a happier place. Your respect for yourself and integrity will be a great role model for those boys.


  4. I don’t know what to say. I can only encourage you to limit or completely avoid interaction with anyone who hurts you this much. You owe him nothing.

    I forget, have you been to AA? There are some good reading on resentment and anger. The big book gets a few things pretty right. Not drinking the poison and hoping someone else does is one of them…

    Put your needs first. Do whatever feels right to you.

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  5. I think that forgiveness is a very powerful thing. It frees us. It is not always an easy thing to do. And in some circumstances it isn’t the right thing to do. You mentioned that ExH had become a Christian? Perhaps that has something to do with his turnaround. I personally would have ignored the email. Allowed myself time to deal with the emotions before considering a response. The last thing you need right now is more conflict.

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    • I completely agree Jenna, about forgiveness. It IS very powerful, but only valid when it is REAL. I have too often superficially ‘forgiven’, whilst not doing so at all in my heart. Not only does that send a message that ” Its ok to treat me badly because I will forgive you”, it does not draw healthy boundaries for me, about what I feel ok to accept from people around me. And ‘forgiveness’ is, I am coming to think, powerful precisely because it / when it comes from the heart. I have the greatest respect for genuine people of (any) faith; judging by his behaviour I do not believe that he is a true follower of Christianity, although of course there is always the possibility of improvement. That sounds really prissy, but I am bloody angry; and I am not denying that anger or pretending it doesn’t matter … because it does to me. Do you see what I mean ? Lily x

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  6. For whatever it’s worth-I have a couple of observations.
    One thing I’ve noticed through the years is that whenever I have tried to break free from a relationship, changing MY behavior, the other person involved will continually try to “hook” me. If an old, tried and true way no longer works, they will find other ways. This also ties into the drama triangle you wrote about recently. So for instance in this case, your ExP started out being the Persecutor-by sending you abusive e-mails- hoping to “Victimize” you. He then switched roles and became the “Victim”-the victim of his own actions and now needing a “Rescuer”. That would be you forgiving him and letting him off the hook. OF course, you could have turned around and yelled at him, which at that point You would be the persecutor. And on and on and on. The healthy thing is to step outside of the triangle. To “not play” anymore. Which is what you are doing by imforming him that his behavior is not acceptable and will not be tolerated. There is no need to be anymore engaged than that. Everytime you become engaged with him, you’re hooked. Yes, you may be livid and screaming-just don’t play that out with him. And yes, forgiveness is freeing. However, it’s not always an instantaneous thing. Sometimes it takes much time and distance. And that’s okay. Not sure if it’s a viable suggestion that you change your phone number so that he can no longer contact you-I realize that with your work, you may need to keep your number-But you can certainly block his communication. Ignore his BS..
    You are processing so much! And dealing with your anger and resentment is so necessary-at the very least because you don’t want it to show up in the form of some illness. There are healthy ways to do that without interacting with your ExP at all.
    Sending love!


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