My biggest heart break | 1 Jan 1999

For this post to make the most sense, you should probably read the ones that precede it – my journal entries about meeting and falling in love with Will, my ex-husband, in late 1998:

I never wrote about what happened literally days after those entries. I was away with my family on a vacation. New Years Eve or Day, I can’t remember, I called Will to say hi. He was just weird on the phone; distant and not himself. He didn’t say anything was wrong, and I when I inquired about it, he said everything was fine.

But my gut told me something different. Sure enough, when I got home, he told me he didn’t want to be in a relationshipย  anymore.

[Yeah, I guess I could call this “Ann St. Vincent Breakup Week!” Like shark week, just a lot sadder and less scary.]

I was completely stunned. I had given him my entire heart and soul and like that – poof – it was over. I no longer remember the details but I wrote a bit about my reaction in a post called I’m Being Tested.

I had never before been so heartbroken. I have never, ever, been the same.

The details are foggy now but I know I was destroyed. He’s not particularly comfortable with emotion. I showed a lot of it. We got back together. Many years later, he made a comment that blew me away – that had I not cried so much we would have stayed broken up. I wrote about it briefly here.

Here’s the thing. Ultimately, when I look back on our relationship, I should have walked away then. This isn’t about regret; I have an amazing son out of the union and wouldn’t change that for anything. But if I look at things completely dispassionately, I know that it was at that moment that my red flag radar should have been off the charts. Because here’s what I never allowed myself to see clearly:

He didn’t mean what he said

My ex rarely said what he meant, if he thought it would cause conflict. He would take a path of least resistance. However, it didn’t last, and he would later get angry when I acted on what he said / agreed etc. For example, he would say he would come with me to a family event. Then a week before we would say, seemingly out of the blue, “you know I don’t want to go to your family event. I can’t believe you are making me go.”

This happened with little things and big things. It was constant. It was so bad that I felt everything with him had to be translated, triangulated, to see what the truth was. It was exhausting. His whole family was like that.

So when I think back to our courtship, I’m pretty sure now that much of what he said, he didn’t mean. You are supposed to say that your place is their place. You are supposed to take things to the next level. Supposed to say you are in love with someone.

And isn’t that the worst thing of all…that now, in hindsight, I have no idea what was fiction, truth, or what he wanted to believe was true?

All the other shit

I started of writing big sections here and the reality is, there was a lot of stuff I saw but didn’t let myself really see it. Here’s a sampling:

He was anti-social. He had a few close friends but that was it. No interest in meeting new people and socializing – he once told me “I’m not taking any new friend applications”. It was always a challenge and we were not well matched at all in this regard. I let go of a lot of friendships which is one of my regrets.

Will would sometimes, in the middle of a night with friends at our house, get up and say “well, I’m going to bed” and just disappear. Dinner parties, which I love, were rare and only with a couple close friend couples. He could fake it if needed – we had an annual party and he was just fine – but it was the rare exception.

He was vicious when he was angry. I would be thinking everything was fine – mostly because he wouldn’t deal with the little stuff – and then all of a sudden he would explode with anger. Yelling, saying I was a total fucking selfish bitch. He called me a c*nt. He called me all sorts of things that honestly, I’ve just blocked out of my memory.

I would be stunned into submission and then he would be better – saying later “are you still mad at me?” – it would always take me a few days to move past what I had just experienced. I would shut down…and like a rechargeable battery, each time I came back up, I lost a little bit of my juice.

He was exceedingly controlling. “I’m not having this conversation” was an oft-used line. Although he didn’t shy away from conflict when he was angry, he had no mechanism for rational sorting through of issues, in advance, before they came huge problems. He got better at that over time, but it took ages.


Every red flag I saw, I rationalised away. I told myself that the “nice” guys I had met before were boring, and I wanted someone who would challenge me. I liked that he was intelligent. He had varied interests – in theory. While he said he liked everything from baseball to opera, whenever I would suggest we go out, he wouldn’t want to go. I shudder to think how many event and concert tickets I purchased over the years, only to go unused or passed off to friends or family in the last minute.

Two weeks before I got married, I sat at my mother’s kitchen table crying that I wasn’t sure he was the right man for me. I got married anyway.

I refuse to ignore my gut anymore. It’s a lesson that took a while to learn, but my gut hasn’t been wrong about any guy I’ve met in the last year. I also know that a portion of my heart is locked away, nice and safe. It got shattered once and I’d really like to avoid having history repeat itself. The trick is figuring out how…

0 thoughts on “My biggest heart break | 1 Jan 1999

  1. I didn’t marry this man, but I spent far too long with his brother/cousin/uncle/father. whatever. I’m glad that you got out of this relationship even though heart ache always hurts.

  2. It can be so difficult to pick up the pieces of a broken heart…been there/got the t-shirt! At first he was amazing and our relationship flourished from a great friendship. It took just over a year for his true colours to begin to show through. At first, I shrugged it off as pressures from work and then, for a very long time, I was consistently wooed back by that old familiar, “But, I can change”. It can take forever to realise that the only possible change would be if to kick his butt out the door. Unfortunately, I left it too late. He dumped me and I was completely destroyed by the rejection. Even though I knew it was probably for the best, being rejected can stir up all sorts of warped emotions.
    By all accounts, your ex does sound a bit of a bore, or maybe he was suffering some sort of hidden mental health problem. Whatever, you do deserve to meet someone who is fun and will treat you well.

    • Thanks for your comment…I’m sorry to hear about your heartbreak.

      The mental issue wasn’t so hidden – depression and anxiety. It got better with some medical intervention, but before that happened it was very difficult to deal with.

      • I’ve sought treatment for my depression, been more mindful of how my words can affect people, and try to get multiple opinions before making a decision.

        The fact that I’m really an introvert can’t be changed, I think. I mean, I do like hanging around people I like, but I am a bit uncomfortable hanging out with people I don’t know because I am not confident enough to be myself around people until I get to know them.

  3. I believe that if one opens them self up to love, then they at the same time open them self up to heartbreak. I truly think they go hand in hand, but if you find a work around I’d be interested in knowing what it is. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Hugs! xo

  4. I almost nodded my head off in agreement as I read this! It echoes so much that happened in both of my marriages. My goal for the future is also to trust my gut and to not acquiesce just to get along with a man. However โ€“ and here is the rub โ€“ I think my heart has also been locked away to keep it from being destroyed. But I know that to love fully and to be loved fully in return, we have to be willing to put our hearts out there โ€“ to be vulnerable and honest. That terrifies me. Then again โ€“ look how well it worked for me trying to keep my heart safe โ€“ my marriage was unsuccessful (in part, due to me not ever putting myself out there) and my heart was damaged again anyway.

    • Jana – YES!!! I couldn’t agree with you more. It’s quite the quandary, isn’t it?

      This recent dust up with Johnny has got me thinking a lot about relationship damage and how to move past it. I’m not really sure how.

  5. So sad reading this post, and I’m relieved that you’re out of this relationship. He sounded like a toxic personality with his controlling ways, explosions of anger, and not meaning what he said. I’m sorry you endured this. But what you said about listening to your gut sounds like a great way to go.

    • Thanks… and yes, there was a LOT that wasn’t good about the relationship and how he treated me.

      I think we only truly realize the stress we are in when we are out of it. We just get used to it…it becomes normal…when it’s anything but.

      Thank you ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Yes, that sort of describes my marriage too ๐Ÿ™
        Part of staying in such a marriage is rationalising their actions.
        I did it too many times. Even when I would tell my friends or family about the latest trick he’d pulled on me, or how miserable I felt, I would always rationalise it by saying that I was not always fun to live with either… Sigh!
        I’m glad that, like you, I’m out of that relationship now.
        But as you say, there is a lot to relearn!
        We’ll make it though, having survived through so many years of abusive marriages, we’re tough women!

  6. I have definitely dated this guy. More than once. In many variations. I started having to secretly tape record my last ex to prove to him that he said the things he said. He was quite the gaslighter. I hope I am smarter now, but things keep happening that make me doubt I actually am,

    • OMG I kept telling myself I should record some of our conversations, especially when he was really vicious. Or confusing…he would change his mind, his words, how he spoke about stuff. It left me reeling every single time.

      Well, let’s try to figure out how to both be smarter when it comes to this.

      • If by smarter you mean emotionally unavailable and abruptly cutting people off at the slightest provocation; I am right there with you already. My new attitude is: I am so fucking done having ‘misunderstandings’ with grown men. Just… done.

          • I don’t get why women are expected to be so forgiving anyway. How about you just don’t fuck up so badly that I need to forgive you in the first place? How about you think about the consequences of your actions before you do them?

What do you think?