Fool me twice!

Dear Amy: After 20 years and many tears, my ex has decided to reappear.

He found my daughter on social media. She was hesitant to put him in touch. This man literally ran out of our lives. This put me into a major depression. I had a total breakdown.

I made contact, and he told me about his life and mistakes. He apologized to me.

I told him I had forgiven him long ago.

He recently broke up with his girlfriend and I am baffled about why he’s in touch.

I just can’t wrap my mind around as to why he wants to talk to me now after all these years.

He talks about all the good times we had. He remembers every single detail of events from years’ past, like they were yesterday.

He said that he messed up badly and regretted everything he did that hurt me.

He has not asked me for anything, except to listen.

I have loved this man the whole time he was gone and now I am afraid I will be hurt again. It’s very painful for me. I am afraid.

I don’t know what he wants of me (if anything), and it’s very confusing.

What should I do? Should I just ask him, point blank?

Or should I just fade away and leave the past in the past?

I have had a lot of trauma and abandonment in my life, and I don’t know if I could handle being hurt again.

— Dazed and Confused

Dazed: I’m going to be that cynical friend — the one who challenges you when you’re lost in the weeds.

He’s in touch with you now because he just broke up with his girlfriend.

He’s manipulating you now with tales from the crypt because — he just broke up with his girlfriend.

My question for you is: Why does he get to be in charge? Why does he get to dominate these conversations?

Maybe it’s time for you to be in charge. You’ve had 20 years to prepare. And you deserve to express yourself, not out of anger, but because you have a voice and a point of view.

You could say, “Well, we’ve walked down memory lane. That was nice. Now, what’s next?”

If he says, “I just want to be friends. I want to make amends,” you can say. “You’ve done that, and I accept. We’re good!”

He may imply (but not say) that he wants to rekindle the relationship.

If so, you — still in charge — will say, “I need to think about it. Don’t call me, I’ll call you.”

You could take this as the closure you’ve been denied over the last 20 years. Don’t fade away. Consider walking away. And if you want to give a relationship with him another try, do so with your eyes wide open. (c) Ask Amy

True story: I read this advice column last night before bed at around midnight or 12:30 AM. (Ask Amy’s new content comes out at midnight each night in my time zone.) And reading this really upset me. Gracious heavenly saints. Agitated, I went to bed, or I tried to; and four sleepless hours passed before I started to wonder if I’d forgotten to take my nightly sedative. I staggered out of bed, went downstairs, took it, watched the opening of a Hallmark Christmas movie, and then came upstairs and fell asleep before 5:00 in the morning.

Come 4:00 PM, my dad called up the stairs to me, and I managed to utter, “I’m asleep. Please come up here and wake me up,” and he obliged. He turned on lights and said my room looked nice, and he laughed at how I was faceplanting my bed. I groaned. And then LuLu the Pup leapt onto the bed and plopped herself on top of me.

So, this letter was deeply upsetting for a multitude of reasons. I don’t even know where to start, but the obvious issue is that humans are supposed to learn discernment when they’re hurt by someone. Once bitten, twice shy. Or, fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. 

It doesn’t mean we need to become hostile and verbally aggressive toward the person who hurt us (although I often choose that route), but the important thing is to put up a wall to prevent a recurrence of the hurt. This letter writer has had twenty freakin’ years to realize that he hurt her and therefore shouldn’t be trusted, and after all that time, she’s still in love with him. It’s never crossed her mind to hold him accountable for abandoning her. It’s never crossed her mind to come to a place of personal power like, “You were cruel to walk out my daughter and me. If you think you can just waltz back into my life, then you’ve got a shitload to answer for, buddy.”

I get that he’s been apologetic, but I’m not buying his apologies. There’s too much damning evidence that he’s using her:

  • His girlfriend just dumped him.
  • He’s only sorry now because he needs her back (so he won’t feel alone and dumped).
  • He’s apologized, yes, but he hasn’t asked how he can make it up to her. Offering to move heaven and earth, and then doing so, comes to mind, just offhand.

He recently broke up with his girlfriend and I am baffled about why he’s in touch.

This is what’s so heartbreaking! The letter writer wanted Ask Amy to say:

He’s clearly been pining for you ever since he walked out. He regrets his actions and wants another chance. Just hear him out and be openminded. 

But that’s not what Ask Amy said. This poor letter writer was hoping against hope that this cad actually cares about her, but… no. Just no.

I’ve known guys who’ve recycled through past girlfriends. It’s appalling. One girlfriend dumps him, so he goes back to a past girlfriend instead of having to start the process all over again. This attitude is disgusting because it treats people as if they’re disposable and interchangeable.

I mean, it’s different if a guy breaks up with someone because he’s still madly in love with someone from the past. But that’s not really what I’m referring to.

I have had a lot of trauma and abandonment in my life, and I don’t know if I could handle being hurt again.

There are no guarantees in life, but at some point the letter writer needs to take a certain amount of responsibility for protecting herself. If she were blindsided by someone, it wouldn’t necessarily be on her that she allowed someone to hurt her. But in this instance, when she darned well knows what this louse is capable of, it will really be on her if she lets him hurt her again. There aren’t even words for her level of naïvete.

She’s dealt with abandonment and trauma, and yet she’s setting herself up to experience more of it. I don’t think the lesson here is to be able to handle abandonment without coming undone. The lesson is to be discerning and to avoid letting untrustworthy people into her life in the first place. I’d look at it that way. And if she’s abandoned by someone where there were no obvious signs that it was coming (which certainly isn’t the case here), then she should learn to look back and see the signs before it happened, which she probably turned a blind eye to at the time.

I don’t know what he wants of me (if anything), and it’s very confusing.

What should I do? Should I just ask him, point blank?

Or should I just fade away and leave the past in the past?

I love Ask Amy’s advice. The letter writer isn’t being very proactive here, nor very assertive; and she has every right to be both. “What are you looking for? Why are you back in my life now? Are you on the rebound from your last girlfriend? Are you just interested in my forgiveness?” The letter writer seems quite passive and incapable of speaking up and asking these things.

It’s kind of weird. I recently reconnected with someone I knew four years ago. I blogged about it at the time, if I recall. I was glad to reconnect when he reached out to me, because I’d always felt bad that we ended things on such awful terms. But as it turned out, he was just as diabolical now as he was back in 2017. As soon as I confirmed that, I was gone. Like, okay, that’s all I need to know. And now I’m better off, because I’m no longer feeling bad that we parted on bad terms. He’s just a bad person. [Shrug.]

There should always be discernment. People can grow and change, but they need to prove it instead of asking you to take it on faith. Never take it on faith.

3 thoughts on “Fool me twice!

  1. Oh how I’ve missed these! I have to agree with you on this one Meg, it’s all very convenient timing isn’t it. Letter writer also said, he’s told me all about his life and said he regrets hurting me.. so he didn’t ask if you were ok, what you’d been up to, if you even wanted to hear from him? No thanks Mr Man, you’ve apologised and now I think you should move on.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oooh, good insights!! Very good point that he hasn’t been expressing an interest in her!! I agree with you that Mr. Man should move on!! He’s up to no good!! Hmmph. [Shaking my head at him.] Thanks for commenting!! It’s great to see you!!

      Liked by 1 person

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