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So my abusive ex emailed me out of the clear blue sky.

I haven’t spoken to him in two years. The last time he contacted me was November of 2012, after which he was hospitalized for a lengthy period of time.

He was horribly emotionally abusive during our relationship and after we broke up, he upped the abuse even more and began harassing and threatening me. During this time, I created a burner email account to filter all his messages to. I still needed to keep them on file, as he was uttering some pretty scary and explicit threats and I needed the documentation. I just checked the burner account when I could prepare myself emotionally, instead of getting blindsided by hateful and threatening missives every time I opened my inbox.

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After he stopped contacting me, I forgot about the account. A couple days ago, a good mutual friend texted me to tell me that my ex had messaged her on Facebook out of nowhere with an apology, saying he was sorry for everything he had done. They haven’t spoken in probably two years. So that prompted me to log in to the burner account for the first time in over a year.

Sure enough, there was an apology email. From June 2014. Actually, it was more of an “apology” email. It started off as an apology and then devolved into a completely incoherent rant. I won’t bore you with the details, but it definitely seemed like he was still struggling with mental illness (he is bipolar and suffered a psychotic break after we broke up that involved some very bizarre and disturbing delusions).

It was...weird. And disappointing to see that he doesn’t appear to be doing well mentally - or at least he wasn’t a year ago. Even after all he’s done to me, I still wish to redeem him somehow. Does that make sense? Part of me does not even care at all how he’s doing or what is going on in his life. In one respect, he’s dead to me. But in another respect, I do wish that he would find, if not happiness, at least mental health. At the very least, I don’t want him to continue to perpetuate hurt on other people.

I know, not my circus, not my monkeys. For years after we broke up, he would control me emotionally by doing things like threatening suicide every time I tried to cut him out of my life. He cruelly manipulated me and destroyed my self-esteem. I owe him nothing. But seeing him crop up again after all this time with an apology has made me think about forgiveness and what it means to forgive your abuser. I don’t think he’s truly asking for forgiveness. I think he’s still unwell, judging by how bizarre the rest of the email was. But I wonder...have I forgiven him? Or did I just push all the awful shit he said and did to me to the back of my mind and tell myself he was dead to me? I’ve only recently realized how traumatic some of those experiences were and how deeply they harmed me, years later. I still think I have a lot of work to do to heal from this experience. I was so focused for a long time on how to get out, how to survive, that when he finally stopped harassing me, I was just...done. I didn’t do any processing. I just moved on. Now I’m wondering...what does it mean to “forgive” someone who abused you? Do you do it for them? Do it do it for yourself? What good does it do for you to forgive someone? Does it help you heal from the harm they caused you, or just perpetuate that cycle of feeling responsible for the well-being of someone who hurt you deeply?

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