My soon-to-be-ex, was a serial cheater. D-Day #1 was in August of 2018, when one of his mistresses sent a confession email to me at my work email address (with pictures attached!) to tell me how “sorry” she felt. Even though she was sorry, she used a fake name for her email. At the time, I was pregnant with a very wanted (and surprise) baby after struggling with infertility for years. I was a mess, and decided to work on reconciliation with him. We went to 5 different marriage counselors, a marriage retreat, and I saw an individual counselor. I really tried.
During 2018/2019, I received more “trickle” truth, including discovering multiple online affairs (he had 25 fake email addresses), hookers…. it was a never-ending bottomless pit of pain.
Easter Day was D-Day #2. I discovered that he had cheated on me in 2014 and again in 2016 with a friend from college. I knew this woman. She was diagnosed with cancer at age 30 and I assisted her with her estate planning, and I tried to be super supportive. I would often send her notes of encouragement. I had a family member around her same age die of cancer around the same time, and I was trying to help her.
I was floored when I discovered that he had cheated on me with HER. I sent her a message (we had been friends) in April of 2019, which she read, but never responded to. I worked hard in my individual therapy (I was diagnosed with PTSD when I was 9 months pregnant) to deal with the trauma of multiple lies/serial cheating. I have made significant progress, and then this…..
On December 23, just 2 days before Christmas, this OW sends me some sort of”confession” letter since apparently she’s been diagnosed with terminal cancer.
“Hi *She Persisted*:
I am very sorry for the pain I have caused you. I really did like you and hated myself for being the cause of any pain to you, when you were nothing but nice and supportive to me. I did you wrong and for that, I will always be sorry. You didn’t deserve this. I don’t know what “*STBX* said but I imagine it’s not the whole truth. It never is.
I found out a couple months ago that my breast cancer is now stage 4. No idea if I’m going to be around for a couple more years or be that rare outlier. I am looking back and seeing the things I did wrong and what I wish I could do right. You were high on that list. Words cannot truly convey how sorry I am. You are a good person.
I won’t bother you again. I hope you have a long and happy healthy life. If you want to send me a message cursing me out, my inbox is open. If you want to call and curse at me – xxx-xxx-xxxx. Just because I’m terminal doesn’t mean I don’t deserve a curse out.
AND NOW, I am emotional wreck, once again. I already have bad memories of discovering this affair on Easter, but Christmas too? Why now?
Please help me make sense of this, CL and CN. I just want it to be Tuesday already.
Dear She Persisted,
Just what you wanted for Christmas — affirmation from the Other Woman that you’re a good person. And bonus — she likes you!
Can you return that Christmas present for an itchy ill-fitting sweater instead? Or a flaming bag of dog poo?
Stage 4 cancer doesn’t make the OW any less of a fuckwit. A more unfortunate fuckwit, yes, but still a fuckwit. You reached out to her in April 2019 — nearly two full years ago. She could’ve sent her regrets then. Or better yet, never fucked your husband.
But now that she’s dying, she would like some absolution to hedge her bets against Cosmic Judgement Day.
Okay, whatever. Her misfortune has nothing to do with you. Cells divided weirdly and gave her cancer. That’s random. Could happen to anyone. Your pain, however, has everything to do with her. It’s not random. She inflicted it. Willingly. Over the span of YEARS.
But, but Tracy! Cancer trumps all. She Persisted must find her grace and forgive this poor wretch!
No. That’s not required. Forgiveness, if you believe in it, is your own personal journey and whether and when you decide to forgive is your business and cannot be on your abuser’s timeline. That’s just more entitlement. (CALL ME! GIVE ME CENTRALITY! NOW!)
Look, you might decide to forgive her, and then keep it to yourself. No need to traumatize yourself and expend energy on the OW. Or you may decide to reply to her note with a single sentence: “I forgive you, and never contact me again.”
That would call her bluff. Because I sincerely doubt she wants forgiveness for some afterlife accounting of her sins. I think she wants a last hit of centrality. She wants to be ENGAGED with. Called. Discussed. Worried about. Invested in. And I would totally deny her that.
Not because you’re spiteful, or take pleasure in her cancer, (who you are was made abundantly clear when you tried to HELP her through cancer the first time), but because she fired you from the job of caring about her. And she must live with that or explain it to her maker.
So what to do with that non-apology apology? Let’s feed it to the Universal Bullshit Translator. Its quarter panels are expanding from all the holiday cookies. It could use a work out.
I am very sorry for the pain I have caused you.
The nameless nebulous pain that has no subject.
I really did like you and hated myself for being the cause of any pain to you, when you were nothing but nice and supportive to me.
I, I, I, me, myself, me.
I miss you being nice and supportive of me. Especially now that my life is in the shitter.
I hated myself so much that I fucked your husband in 2014. That’s why I did it again in 2016.
I did you wrong and for that, I will always be sorry.
So sorry I can’t actually utter what I did exactly that I’m sorry about.
You didn’t deserve this.
I really didn’t care if you deserved it. I’m sure I had some handy justifications for fucking your husband, which escape me now. But now I have cancer, which I totally do not deserve, and the weighty matters of cosmic injustice are suddenly of interest.
I don’t know what “*STBX* said but I imagine it’s not the whole truth. It never is.
He sucks! We are sisters united in his suck! Let’s conspire against him and be friends once more! He lied to me too. MORE even!
I found out a couple months ago that my breast cancer is now stage 4.
You should care about my boobs.
No idea if I’m going to be around for a couple more years or be that rare outlier.
Manipulation channel is set firmly on sad sausage.
Oh fate, you cruel mistress. The sort of mistress that fucks your husband and expects a Get Well card.
I am looking back and seeing the things I did wrong and what I wish I could do right.
I wish I could do right, but my dividing cancer cells make it impossible for me to, say, leave you a large legacy for emotional damages.
You were high on that list.
On my “Things I Did Wrong” list you were just above jeggings and too many Jaegermeister shots. It’s a long list, but you were in the top 10.
Words cannot truly convey how sorry I am. You are a good person.
I’m not leaving you any money, so please accept this generic compliment.
I won’t bother you again. I hope you have a long and happy healthy life.
Unlike me. (sob!)
If you want to send me a message cursing me out, my inbox is open. If you want to call and curse at me – xxx-xxx-xxxx. Just because I’m terminal doesn’t mean I don’t deserve a curse out.
Because I’m terminal I feel entitled to your attention. Just like I felt entitled to your husband. And your forgiveness. And you can send me one of those edible arrangements if you feel inspired. Radiation cannot kill my entitlement.
She Persisted, don’t give her Easter or Christmas or Arbor Day or any other day. The OW’s days may be numbered, but yours deserve to be free.