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Dublin: 6 °C Monday 10 December, 2018
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Dear Fifi: I'm still waiting for an apology from my ex - is this stupid?

A weekly advice column from a wagon who might well be unqualified to answer these questions.

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For me, 2018 has been a year of trying new things – mostly just for the hell of it, but also to figure out what I like, where I wanna be and how I want to do things. Recently I decided to stop posting on social media for a set period of time. Mostly just to see how it felt (and if I’d have the discipline) but also to see if I’d gain insight that might lead to me using the internet more mindfully. Why not?

Have you tried anything new lately? How did it go? Tell me that and anything else you bloody well like anonymously and confidentially here.

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I hold out hope that I might get an apology or even atonement from an ex-girlfriend, is this just desperate?

When you struggle to let go of an ex, you’re battling your memory of them, built-up resentments, long-over fights, ways they did you wrong, replaying it all over and over again. All these things that contribute to us feeling hard done by – like things need to be fixed somehow, a score settled, before we can move onward to a more healthy place. You’re holding onto a lot of anger and sadness – and that hurts you, not her. She doesn’t feel it. 

A lot of times people get stuck on the idea of “closure” – an apology, an explanation, something to act as a catalyst to start healing. Something to really end it, with a note of finality and addressing issues by asking the other person for something. 

Honestly? I don’t really buy that. 

The pursuit of this all hallowed “closure” is a myth, because we can give ourselves closure. Not moving on is only holding yourself back. She’s not doing that to you: you are. We don’t need to wait to be released from pain and resentment by someone else. We can do it ourselves. 

How? By accepting we can’t change the past. We can’t change how someone else feels. We can’t change what’s already happened. We can’t make someone else agree with how we perceived the relationship and the break-up go down. We can’t make someone atone if they don’t want to or think they should. 

What would an apology from her do for you? Why would it help you move on? Do you need to hear that everything was her fault? Do you need her to accept blame? Whatever it is she did that you feel she must atone for, you need to accept that she may not see the situation that way. And even if she did, an apology is not a magic key that will unlock a door you’ll suddenly find easy to walk through.

(Plus, having to request it from her would render it null and void. An apology that had to be demanded is pretty hollow.)

Our view of the past is mostly based in how we perceived certain situations. Your ex didn’t perceive things in the same way as you. She experienced the relationship and the break-up differently to you. You might be waiting around for an apology that she doesn’t even know she “needs” to give you. 

Don’t give someone else’s perception of what happened hold this power over you. Her apology doesn’t matter. It’s just words. You can move on yourself by understanding what happened and learning from it. You don’t need her help here.

In the past few months, I’ve developed an interest in some of the philosophies associated with Zen Buddhism. Why am I boring you with this? Because I think this quote from Shohaku Okumura sums it up nicely: 

Screen Shot 2018-09-09 at 14.22.29 Source: instagram via rruubboott

Life is all about the plurality of experience. In her version of your story together, she doesn’t need to apologise. Or maybe she does, but is too scared. Or too hurt herself still. Or has moved on and doesn’t consider it much. You can never know, because you can’t get inside her mind. So concentrate on making things better in your own instead.

Namaste! Fuck ‘em. 

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  Want to talk?

Confess a story, ask for help or just shout into the void for a bit and see if that helps. All welcome. Anonymity totally guaranteed always. 

Last week’s column – I cheated on my husband and honestly? I’m not sorry 

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