DEAR ABBY: I was pleased that you advised "Remorseful in Georgia" (Jan. 27) to find another outlet for her guilt and "leave the scab alone." I was recently contacted by my fiance's former girlfriend, a woman who had made several attempts to break us up when we first became a couple. Although she apologized for the problems she tried so hard to cause between us, all it did was dredge the feelings of anger and anxiety up again. She was calling for purely selfish reasons — not to give me the chance to confront her, but under the guise of "wanting to be friends." Whatever made her think I would want her friendship?!
If "Remorseful" needs a way to rid herself of her guilt, I recommend she get therapy. She may be trying to escape her karma. In my experience, she can run, but she can't hide.
— UNTOUCHABLE IN N.Y.
DEAR UNTOUCHABLE: Some readers felt I should have preached forgiveness, and they referenced AA and the Bible — both of which advocate making amends to those we have harmed in the past. They may or may not be right, but I saw no reason for "Remorseful" to transfer her burden of guilt to the shoulders of the person she wronged — just in case that woman didn't have the inner strength to be forgiving. However, read on:
DEAR ABBY: Sorry, but I don't agree with your reply to "Remorseful." It's never too late to say "I'm sorry," no matter what the offense. The words don't benefit only the person carrying the guilt. Someone who has been hurt in such a traumatic fashion needs to know that his or her pain has finally been acknowledged, even 20 years later.
Those women will never be friends. But "Remorseful" admitting her part in the betrayal, albeit without comparing it to her own past pain, could start both women on a journey to emotional healing. I am sure that's why AA and similar support groups stress the need to seek forgiveness for past wrongs as one of the steps to keeping it together.
— DIANE IN NEW HAMPSHIRE
DEAR ABBY: I was in the same situation as "Remorseful." Although my husband and I had been divorced for years, I still felt I needed to apologize to his former wife. I finally summoned up the nerve to place the call. I told her who I was, how sorry I was for the pain I had caused her and asked for forgiveness.
She was gracious. She laughed and said, "Honey, you did me the biggest favor anyone has ever done for me. You took him off my hands!" We laughed, we cried and had a wonderful conversation. I'm so glad I made that call.
— RELIEVED IN TEXAS
DEAR ABBY: This is for "Remorseful" — the gal who feels guilt from 20 years ago for an affair she had. Why do women always feel the need to apologize for things that MEN do? The man was the adult here. The gal was 20 and living in a fantasyland of happily ever after. If the ex-wife feels anger, she should direct it where it is needed — at the HUSBAND, not the young girl lured in with fake promises.
Get over it! If the ex-wife is so stupid as to be bitter over a failed marriage from 20 years ago — that she herself probably had a hand in the demise of — then it's HER problem and not "Remorseful's." Stop letting the men off the hook. The husband didn't care, so why should she?
— SUE FROM MESA, ARIZ.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.