What Broken Looks Like


I could not tell you how many hours I spent saying that I was wrong. Saying that all of my shit was just that. It was bullshit because I had been indulged and spoiled and none of it mattered. I wanted us. It wasn’t David, it was me. I’d go to therapy. I’d do anything.

I was so wrong. Please, please. Please, do not go. Please do not leave me. I cannot live without you. I was wrong. I was awful what was I thinking I was horrible I won’t be like that anymore I promise. I didn’t think of you and I was so selfish and I’m sorry I love you so much. Please do not leave me. She is going to leave me. Please do not go, too. I will have nothing.

He did not listen. He ignored it all. He believed none of it.

I had never been repentant before. I had never been on my knees asking – begging – for forgiveness before. Ever. And here I was meaning every word I said.

Didn’t matter. Too late. No more.

* * * * * *

For months I had tortured him with my woes. He’d try and change and he was never enough. Everything he did was still wrong. I was unhappy at every turn.

I made him feel like a failure. I made him feel like he wasn’t doing a good job at being him.

He loved me a lot. I did not know it then but think I know now that he was more in love with me than I was with him. I think that will always be true of any couple – that you can’t have complete balance – but I don’t think it should be so obviously disproportionate.

I didn’t know it was, mind you. Not then.

I loved him, but I loved that he loved me more. I could throw tantrums and hate and scream and have fits and sound completely rational about the whole thing and he’d let me. He’d side with me. He’d work to change. He’d do whatever I’d bid.

I had no idea, none at all, that he had it in him to leave. Leaving me was the strongest thing I’d ever see him do.

I mean, I'd almost say it was sexy...if it weren't for the whole LEAVING ME thing.

* * * * * *

I was always upset that anything that we deemed “his responsibility” never got done, or got done poorly.

It was his job to pay the bills. Did you pay the bills? No, not yet. Will you pay them today? Yes. And then it would be later and he wouldn’t have and I’d come home to find the power had been shut off. Not because we couldn’t afford it but just because he’d just forgotten.

I’ll tell you, that’s what a broken relationship looks like. If he was so horrible at paying the bills, then why didn’t I just take over? They would’ve gotten done to my liking and the problem would’ve been solved.

But, right, the problem was bigger than that. It was bigger than us. He didn’t want to go to the party. I wanted him to be the kind of guy who wanted to be the head of the household, financially speaking. And he didn’t. He’d say okay, and then it wouldn’t get done.

What is that?

That’s what broken looks like. Want another taste? Here –

Before he was out of work, he clocked 60- to 100-hour weeks at the office.

Our “quality time” together was, understandably, diminished.

I tried to accept that that’s how it was going to be until we could afford differently. And mostly I did.


David liked to take these group weekend camping trips. They were organized trips he’d been taking for years, and involved two weekends in fall and two weekends in the spring and a whole lot of running around the woods mock-killing things. (Role players. Whatever.)

He would plan them and look forward to them all season. A man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do.

Except you know? I do not begrudge anyone doing something they love. I thought it was awesome that he had a hobby.

But how was it that he could spend months planning a weekend away with his friends, and not manage to voluntarily plan a single dinner out with me?

He never proactively planned anything for the two of us. I’d ask. We would discuss. It would never happen.

Blah blah blah. Broken broken blah blah.

Does it seem stupid? Shallow? Maybe, but these are only snippets.

Plus here: There is a difference between “making it work” and “forcing it to work” and I am grateful to now know the difference.

And I swear I will never subject myself to that shit again.

* * * * * *


Fellas, I give you something to consider:

That shit you call a woman’s “baggage”? I would call it “knowing better.” And let me say, I would not want to have been the guy dating me before.

The after version is so much better.

* * * * * *

I will never know completely why he left me. But I have a pretty damn good idea, based on what he said then and what I’ve since figured out.

And here is what I think it comes down to, five years later. The thing he said to which I never had a good answer.

He said: “I do not want to stay with you and help you through this thing with your mom, only to have you leave me once it’s over.”

I think I made a lot of noise when he said it. But a tiny, barely audible voice from deep within the dark reaches of my collapsing mind thought, “Oh, I see. Fair enough.”

Still, in the real time of then, it was too much. I was still saying no, and it was easy not to listen to that tiny voice because a louder one was screaming and crying in pain.

So I begged and pleaded for David not to leave me all the same.


  1. Glad I checked back one last obsessive time before I went to bed...

  2. K, I am SO not defending David, OR his actions. Because then I’d be making excuses for MYSELF, because I’ve been the one that left. So while what I’m about to say won’t EXCUSE his actions... it might explain them a little. If it makes you feel any better, I didn’t even tell him over the PHONE. That’s right, not so much as a “Hey, by the way...” He came home, went to throw his keys on the dining room table, and was puzzled when they hit the floor.

    You see, I left mere months before the wedding. I wouldn’t say that he was the STRONGER of the two of us, but he was decidedly the more belligerent. I’d only bother to get my back up for fights that REALLY need to be fought (still the case). He wanted to paint the living room green. A hideous, awful mint-green that made the room look as dinghy as a fucking prison cell. In case I was ambiguous there, I didn’t like the green very much. I’d have liked something a little warmer, because I like my home space to be a little zen. But when I came home to find the living room painted in that goddamn fucking nauseating green, I decided it wasn’t worth fighting about.

    When he sold OUR CAR (and by “OUR” car, I mean the one I paid for, but we both drove) and bought something that was completely impractical, I thought “Well, a least he bought another car, rather than some magic pot seeds with the proceeds...” I didn’t push back on about 100,00 occasions. That is not to say that there were no fights. There was A LOT of fights. Oh my, were they fights. The cops were called on our fights at least a dozen times. They were LEGENDARY! You can’t have two fiery Irish tempers clashing over an issue that matters and not expect fireworks. When I cared enough about an issue to fight about it, it was a Clash of the Titans.

    And then something inside me just broke. Our wedding date was going to be August 22nd, 1999. In April 1999, I missed a period. I didn't tell him about it because, quite frankly, I had no idea what I was going to do. It was a false alarm, thank GOD, but a wake up call. I was picturing the wedding, not the marriage, and I realized I didn't want him to be the father of my children. I had to get out right then and there. I was suffocating. I couldn’t make him happy. I couldn’t make me happy. Everything was a disaster.

    The next day, when he left for work, I called in sick. Then I picked up the phone and called my nearest and dearest friends and family, and threw the wheels in motion. They know me, and they know I'm not the "cry wolf" kind, so they dropped everything to help, and I was packed and moved before he got home. I couldn't tell him I was leaving because I knew I was strong enough to do it RIGHT NOW. If had talked to him about it, he would have talked me out of it. You know that they say about that “boiling a frog” thing? That the frog will stay in the water as the temperature steadily rises until they boil to death? If I had met him at the end of things, seen how fundamentally incompatible we were, I would have run like hell. But, Jesus! We were SO young. We were dating in high school, and then I went to University and he did his own thing, and then we moved in together, and then we were getting married. It was just what we were SUPPOSED to do. Sure, we had totally different goals and objectives, but we were still SUPPOSED to do it. And I can say now, with all the wisdom that hindsight provides, that if I hadn’t left when I did, I would have been beyond salvation. I might have survived physically, but the me that is ME would be dead now. I would have boiled to death as the temperature was rising.

    So I’m not making excuses for ANYONE who has to RUN because they’re strong enough to do it then and there. I’m really not. I KNOW it’s an awful way to treat someone you love. And with the experience and maturity I have NOW, I would deal with it in different way. But you do what you have to do with the resources you have available to you at the time. I don’t know if you’ll find any solace in knowing how someone who is, for the most part a very good person, could do that do ANYONE they loved, but I hope that you do.

  3. Leaving someone can often be a brave thing to do. You said you didn't think he was strong enough to do it. You were wrong. Considering how unhappy you were with him (for what seem like valid reasons) and how you were having an emotional internet affair, I would say that he did the right thing for himself, and in the long run, for you as well.

  4. i agree ... leaving someone takes bravery... so here, it was david's bravery (action)that made something really happen... (not to mention bravery needed in death process) if you kristy were wrong about not seeing he could be brave and leave you, could you be wrong about anything else? what does it mean to you to be wrong? what does it look like when you've made a mistake? what happens when you make mistakes? dave sounds like he'd simply had enough Scarlett. why go thru the begging and pleading when it was what you wanted? and are men suppose to be only bread winners? what role do women play - any gratitude any team work? what is it you want? what was really going on?

  5. Okay, I'm Scarlett and trying to figure out who thinks we are the same person??? I hope they meant Scarlet (one T) as in Gone With the Wind.

    Anyway, Kiki, your relationship with Dave reminds me of one or two of my relationships. I do agree about hating to be the boyfriend "before". My before would be the poor boyfriends and one husband before "Dick". He was my mirror to see exactly how bad things were inside me. I did a lot of changing after him.
    I love reading this; I only wish I could write as well as you, as well as have the patience for writing more significant details about the emotional turmoil.

  6. I have my own thoughts on my own life too, but I have not reached that place that I can write it down. for now, much love from this IIF.

  7. anon 5:04 (lisa?), (and a little to anon 4:24),

    you ask -- i was wrong about not seeing he could be brave and leave me, could i be wrong about anything else?

    please understand that i am piecing this together and telling the story from my perspective five years later. and that it is hard and scary and that i have done my best to not portray david in any negative light. i have come to terms with who i was and who he was and why he left, but...

    ...again, please know that the ENTIRE story you're getting is from my telling of it, and i am going to great pains to be even. i did not have to write it in such a way that you would say, "oh, hey, that was a brave thing he did." i could have left out a lot, or positioned this whole thing in a light that would have dozens of IIF frothing and ready to beat the shit out of my ex.

    you ask -- "why go through the begging and pleading when it was what you wanted?"

    because i did NOT want it. or if i did, i didn't want it enough to make it happen for myself. he wanted to be away from me more than i wanted to be away from him. i had no clarity then. learning that my mother was going to die ripped the rug right from under me and i was not sure of a single thing anymore.

    the rest of your questions, about breadwinners and teamwork -- i don't know why you ask that. i was at home so that i could have a baby AND still work, and the ultimate goal was for me to write; theoretically we would have both been breadwinners. there were joint decisions all over the place. we had been a team.

    anyway, i will sum up again: david and i had a lot of good times but in hindsight, i understand why he left. i have allowed you to see why he left, too, as much as i can figure.

    and if after...what? 16, 17 entries you can't figure out what was going on, then i can't either. this shit isn't black and white.

    but remember, i could have written it that way.

    * * * * * *

    to all the IIFs who have been in Dave's shoes, i hear you. i get it. i know. you're not bad people.

    dave, on the other hand...

    (more entries coming)

  8. i hear you kristy. I remember that arguement. What was going on? I was your age when i witnessed the visit. And your mom was nearly my age now and you were just a little older than E...

    Kristy, who were our mothers? To me, they were very similar, and while my mom didn't leave the state of minnesota when she was 18 like your mom, she did leave behind a certain state of mind, and never went back to it. My mom was the older sister who paid rent when she lived at home, who bought her family its first washer and dryer and who always with her paycheck bought gifts for her siblings. My mom was very careful about the money she spent because she'd say it took her so long to earn a dollar so she didn't want to spend it unwisely. i think in some ways that's where our moms were different. M and my dad had a plan. L and your dad had a plan. they were all four pretty dynamic. both our fathers could roll eyes at grandpa (and i don't mean old granddad, i mean art).. but there was a difference in how respect was given to the father in law. that's what i watched. ... I talked with your mom out on the steps the evening you all got in. She was angry you all had to fly together. I think she was scared of flying and scared of other things, but it came out angry. I tried to reassure her with the statistics of flying in one plane but she was not going to hear of it and she went in side leaving me out there in the cold. and so started the visit. .... you know what i remember about visiting you in nh? you and i were walking and i said kristy, i know your mom and if the shoe were on the other foot, your mom would be at my mom's side. and you said no she wouldn't. our moms and jane found some understanding and forgiveness. family stuff. we always visited you in CT.. my mom always came out to visit your mom every year and they were friends. weren't we all? with that arguement of arguements, my mom hadn't been at the house. she and my dad picked you up as shuttle to airport. she walked in to chaos. 85 year old parents were crying. m wasn't even part of it she just said none of this would be happening if people weren't drinking. the great agrument was about booze. that's the big fat ugly elephant.

  9. My heart breaks for both of you. Oh Kristy. You should be so proud of yourself for all of this - for coming through it the way you did, for writing it so wonderfully, and for having such enviable grace.

  10. to the anon,

    there are a few things you seem to have missed about the story:

    -- she had not yet consciously decided she wanted to leave her marriage. she knew she was unhappy but the only actual move she had made to fix her unhappiness included her husband: they were selling the house and going to change their lives TOGETHER. in retrospect it may seem clear that she needed to leave the marriage, but that is hindsight.

    -- kristy's mother was dying. her mother. and she was dying in a horrible, excruciating way. kristy loved her mother. not only did she not want to lose her, but watching her suffer and decline was torture.

    -- at that same time, her husband, whom she had believed was her rock, stunned her by deciding to leave her right when she needed a rock more than ever.

    -- she was in her early 20s and, like most middle-class people at that age in this country, she was just starting to try to figure out what she wanted to do for the rest of her life.

    -- and, in case you missed it, her mother was dying.

    -- oh, and also, her husband was leaving her at that same moment.

    what she is describing here is a moment of crisis in her life that she was totally unprepared to deal with, but had to deal with anyway. so if her responses to that situation seem unreasonable or illogical to you, then i think that means you haven't been faced with similarly shattering situations. and you are fortunate for that.

    in times of emotional crisis, especially the kind that drags on for months and gets continually worse, people are rarely able to handle things in the same way they would if there were no crisis.

    as for how kristy handles mistakes, well, i think she's written that. she realized she had made a mistake in how she treated her husband and she was trying to fix it -- offering to go to therapy, assuming all the blame, and acknowledging and validating his experience of her.

    keep in mind that you are reading kristy's words. so if you think david was brave and did the right thing, that's partly because kristy has written him that way. and also keep in mind that this story is not over. we don't now how the rest will play out. so be patient and maybe some of your questions will be answered.

  11. anon,
    thank you so much.

    i left it vague on purpose. that's not what this story is about and i'm not getting into it here.

  12. Sorry, Kristy.

  13. omigod, i emailed your blog details to a friend of mine....your's sounds so much like her story (add 5 yrs to age), it sent shivers. right down to the unpaid bill and things being shut down, only add renovation of house and him away on bsn on a tropical island.

  14. Leaving someone is a very difficult decision to make specially when you really love that person. On the other hand, being left behind by the one you love is the most painful experience you can hardly imagine. As what they say you can only appreciate the importance of that person when he/she is already gone. Sounds funny but that's reality. I know how it feels to be a broken-hearted person because I myself experienced that kind of painful thing. I think when I was 16 years old wherein my first boyfriend is my 6 years crush. I am so happy because he is my dream come true. At first we seems to be the happiest couple but later on sudden changes came wherein he is no longer sweet with me and he will no longer go our favorite place because he's busy with his life. I feel so mad and hurt of what has happening between the two of us. Until the most frightening event happen wherein he broke up with me for the reason that he is busy and he can't give me enough time anymore, though he loves me that much but there are some unexpected things that needs to let go for the benefit of others. He give up on me and I don't know how to deal with it. I don't want to let him leave me but it seems that he's really serious with his decision that is why though it really hurts I need to accept that our love story is already over! Life is full of mysteries. For now, I'm still single and I'm not yet ready for any commitment. Wishing you a happy weekend K!


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