Question: Hi Luise: Help, I’ve been horrible. I did an idiotic, careless, and enormously selfish thing. In the midst of a separation with my husband, I became emotionally involved with another man. Nothing sexually occurred until later. However, 15 years in a previous relationship, I was careless not to notify my partner that I have herpes. I don’t know what got into me—why I wasn’t more —less selfish. I think I was only thinking of me. He is very near and dear to me as a person and colleague. I told him later and he was understandably and extremely upset but I think more so to the point that I had disrespected him and why would I do that to him when he had never disrespected me. I totally understand him. He told me that had I told him, we could have talked about it and he could’ve asked me more questions and then make a decision from there. I clearly understand his stance. I have “beat” myself up over this. I have apologized several times–although I know this fixes nothing. I’m at a loss as of what to do. We had another separate discussion where I asked him what I could do to make the situation better, to get past it. Earlier I told him that I was sorry and what more can I do. I can’t think of anything else. He states that he will not accept the fact that there isn’t anything I can do and that he is tired of finding solutions for others and that I need to figure out how to make this better. I’m really at a total loss. He figures that I will simply toss the issue aside and say I tried and blame the end of the relationship on him because he wouldn’t give me the answer to help with the relationship. I know what he wants me to do. He wants to see more effort of putting myself out there but at this point in the situation I’m not sure what I could do that would not seem lame. I really need some ideas that I can implement. Can you please help me out? Cristin
Answer: Dear Cristin: This kind of a guessing game never works. How are you to know what he has in mind? I certainly have no idea. My take on it is that he doesn’t know any more than you do, what might put things back into balance and that in his anger, he is putting you in an even more uncomfortable position.
Forgiveness is very seldom about the person needing to be forgiven. It is all about the forgiver. Some people forgive very easily, some can never forgive and there are many shades of gray in between those two polar-opposites.
It boils down to the fact that you were extremely and perhaps even dangerously thoughtless. We don’t know if your actions were unforgivable or not. That’s his decision and that’s what’s required here. Forgiveness. You are human and fallible. You can’t deny that or the recent glaring evidence of it. None of us have a magic eraser. When we pull a big one like you did, we’re at the mercy of those we thoughtlessly walked all over. The ball is in their court.
That’s the action I’d take. Own up to your stupidity one more time and then admit that there is nothing you can do to change the past, after-the-fact. No excuses…no remedies. Let him know that if his future includes you, you will give him your best. You haven’t in the past but you are capable of raising the bar and expecting more of yourself if given the opportunity. Blessings, Luise