What becomes of the broken-hearted

Submitted into Contest #28 in response to: Write about a time when a broken heart led to something you’d never have expected.... view prompt


Creative Nonfiction

Fate has a funny way of leading you down a myriad of paths to get you to where you need to be. Sometimes this means taking the hard road, until you finally figure out that you have the choice to change things. "You" have always been in charge of how your story unfolds. There is so much truth in the words “everything happens for a reason".

I met you through a guy I used to have a crush on from high school. The year being 1986. I was such a shy and awkward 16 year old at the time. My self-esteem was at an all-time low and through negative conditioning and experiences throughout my childhood, I believed that I was too ugly and too damaged to be loved. You took one look at me, and your eyes lit up like the night skies. I couldn’t believe my luck!

I should have known from the start when you lied to me about your age (you told me you were 16 too! but in fact you were only 14!), that our relationship would always be based on lies. I was so terrified of being alone that I forgave you for your dishonesty countless times over the years we were together. I was definitely wearing my “rose-coloured glasses” with you!

Your family welcomed me into their folds with open arms. As you were the “baby” of the family, I knew all eyes would be on me! My caring and compassionate qualities won them over in an instance. And the fact that I was an excellent baby-sitter for your nephew from time to time! But my desire to fit in, to be a part of a loving family cost me soo much more!

I couldn’t see it happening, bit by bit, my sense of self-worth and my identity became lost in my need to please other people, to please you! My friends tried to tell me that you were controlling me. But I just didn’t want to know. I was in love and you loved me. I was happy. Or so I thought.

 Several years into our relationship, it became apparent that you had a gambling issue. But of course you assured me that you could stop at any time. Often when you would take me out to dinner I would be left sitting by myself while you parked up at the pokie machines for most of the night! Convinced you were going to have a win. And sometimes you did go away with more than when you started. Often you would lose too! Trust issues began to cause cracks in our relationship as you took money that was allocated to pay bills, to feed your addiction.

Somehow you always managed to convince me that I would be lost without you, that you could change. Of course you didn’t. But at this stage in our relationship, I had become isolated from friends and my own family. Spending more time with you and yours. So I felt I had nowhere to go and no one to turn to. I had become completely dependent on you.

When our precious daughter was born in 1992, my whole world changed. I was completely in love with this beautiful and perfect little being we had created together. Motherhood was something that I had always dreamed of! And never thought I would be lucky enough to experience. Being diagnosed with endometriosis, I was given the impression that I would most likely never have children. It was a miracle!

I thought that your new role of being a dad would bring us closer together. But you often expressed how I spent way too much time with our baby girl! And when I tried to encourage you to bond with her, you would fall asleep leaving her to fend for herself! I tried so hard to make things work. To keep our wee family together. But you continued to live your life the way you wanted to. Partying with your friends, gambling and struggling to keep down a job because it meant you didn’t have a life! It was looking like the beginning of the end for us.

When my beautiful girl turned 16 months old, I began to experience flash-backs of past abuse from my childhood. I had real fears that the same thing could happen to my little girl. I needed your support more than ever! Especially as it was affecting my libido too! But you just told me to go to counselling and I could feel you pulling away from me even further.

After 6 months of counselling, I still couldn’t shake the feelings of guilt, shame and fears for my own daughter being abused. In fact, things felt a lot worse! I was already prone to anxiety because of my feelings of unworthiness. Now it seemed that any little thing would trigger full-blown panic attacks! Of course you dealt with it in your usual way by telling me it was all in my head. That I needed to get over it.

I tried so hard! I really did. But in the end, it was inevitable that you would leave me. To test the waters before you made your final decision to walk away, you went out one night with “friends” (or so you told me). Not expecting me to be awake when you stumbled home in the early hours, you seemed surprised to see me standing at the front door tears streaming down my face at what I had witnessed. It seems your “friend” was in fact a female you had met when night-clubbing with mates one night. Phone numbers had been exchanged. And when I really think about it, there were several times you told me to leave the room while you had a private conversation with your mate.

You managed to convince me that there was nothing going on between you and this girl. Yes I had seen you both kiss just before you headed up the path to the front door. But you assured me that there was nothing to it. I chose to believe you. And you did start to make more of an effort with your daughter and with me.

I should have known it wouldn’t last. You left me standing on the front porch, holding our beautiful girl, confused and in tears, yet again! But this time you walked away for good. Our daughter was 4 years old. We had weathered the ups and downs of our relationship for 11 years. I was 26 years old, and now a single mum with a broken heart.

Life became “dark” for me after you left. I couldn’t sleep and my appetite was next to none. I looked like a “bag of bones!” with all of the weight falling off me! Getting out of bed each morning was becoming a huge effort too! I was severely depressed. A kind friend decided to intervene and told me “for the sake of your daughter, you need to get help!” That was all that I needed to hear. I booked an appointment with my doctor the very next day.

Being prescribed anti-depressants felt like an all-time low for me. I didn’t even like taking aspirin unless I really needed too! But I knew that I had to get myself back on track, for my daughter and for me. I agreed to go to counselling in conjunction with taking anti-depressants. Although I had my doubts about therapy after my last experience!

It seems someone was looking after me as my new counsellor was amazing! She could see how much I blamed myself for almost everything that went wrong in my relationship and in my life. Not once did I blame you or anyone else for how my life had become such a mess. My therapist also helped me to make sense of why I struggled with letting you go. I had become completely dependent on you, allowing you to take control of my life to the point where I couldn’t make any decisions without you.

At last I could see the light at the end of a very dark and winding road! After a little over 6 months of therapy, I felt like I no longer needed my anti-depressants. My counsellor was in awe of how far I had come and at how I went from client to being my own therapist. I certainly surprised myself!

You no longer had a hold over me. And that is when your true colours came to light. I could see you, the real you. And I realised that the person I had thought you were, was just a mirage. Like you had never existed. Because I was no longer that person I had become when I was with you, I was seeing with so much more clarity! I felt so free! Of course you tried to gain control again by using our daughter to get to me. But what you didn’t expect was the strong and determined woman that emerged ready to take on whatever you threw my way!

Friends that had been waiting patiently for me to reach out, started coming around to visit more often. It felt so good to be surrounded by people who loved and supported me no matter what I was going through. I felt so grateful that they hadn’t given up on me when I was “mia” for all of those years. Laughter soon filled my life bringing back the joy I had almost forgotten.

You moved in with one of the woman you had met while you were still living with me. Of course she had no idea that you were still in a relationship as you would meet her at your mother’s so I wouldn’t find out about your sneaking around. This new woman had 2 kids so you saw it as a perfect opportunity to use your daughter to find common ground. It broke my heart to see my little girl ride off with you every second weekend. But I knew how much she loved you so I couldn’t take that from her.

Something wonderful happened around 6 months after you left me. My gal pals talked me into going out clubbing for my 27th birthday. I was also meant to meet up with a blind date, to get myself “out there” again. So you can imagine how nervous I felt returning to the dating game. It had been a while! I didn’t tell you about my date when you came to pick your daughter up that night. It really was none of your business. You tried to make small talk, asking me how I was doing. You also confided in me that your new relationship was struggling. You also had the gall to ask me if I wanted to try again, for our daughter’s sake! Of course I didn’t bite. I just said “maybe you should talk to her about how you are feeling, she is “your” girlfriend after all”.

My girlfriends and I checked out our appearances for the umpteenth time before the taxi arrived to take us on our mission to paint the town red. We all looked amazing! Just before we raced out the door, I remembered to put on my grandmothers pendant that my grandfather had brought her from Holland many years ago. To me this simple yet beautiful necklace, represented love that spanned for many years. I was kind of hoping their “love vibes” would rub off on me.

My blind date was a disaster! He spent the entire time flirting with the bar maid with me sitting at the bar right next to him! His friend who came along for support, was not impressed either! But my spirits were soon lifted when I won a bottle of champagne which I shared with my friends as we continued celebrating without my date elsewhere. One of my gal pals decided she was too tired to keep on partying, so we walked her to the taxi stand to see her off safely before heading back into the “Grumpy Mole”(a popular nightclub), to continue our celebrations for a while longer.

Then something incredible happened. Here I was by the bar, surrounded by loads of people, and yet I found myself drawn to two figures that had just walked into the room. One in particular stood out to me, with his tall lean frame and his dark shoulder length hair. It was then I discovered that I knew him and his friend by his side. He was the brother of my sister in-law, and I had gone to the same high school as his mate! There was no denying that there was a spark between us when he walked towards me to say “Hi!”

Everything happened so fast after that! I danced for a while longer, actually finding myself flirting quite comfortably with him. And it was fairly obvious he was enjoying flirting with me! My last remaining friend could see the chemistry brewing between us, so she decided to head home and leave us to it.

We headed back to his place which happened to be within a close proximity to the night clubs. Around a fifteen minute walk. Although the steep incline to get to his place felt like it took longer! I didn’t have time to be nervous, and I think the effects of the alcohol helped immensely! While his friend headed towards the couch in the lounge room to crash for the night, we headed into the bedroom closing the door behind us. We barely made it onto the bed before we were kissing and grabbing at each other’s clothes!

We spent the rest of the night in the throes of wild and passionate love-making. And for the first time in a long time, I slept soundly with a lighter heart and a smile plastered on my face. Of course it was a different story upon waking! I felt a little embarrassed over practically throwing myself at him! I even remember saying out loud in response to his greeting, “Hi Kelvin, I am single now!”

I found myself peering into his beautiful brown eyes as I turned over to look for my discarded clothes from last night romp. Once again he made me feel calm and at ease when he smiled at me. My heart also skipped a beat or two! As I felt the electricity between us was still very strong indeed! Not wanting to feel awkward again, I spoke to him about how I have never done anything like this before. And it was as though he read my mind as he reassured me that this was not a “one night stand”. He wanted very much to see me again!

My Ex was furious when he arrived to drop off our daughter later on that day. He had tried calling me several times in the morning to say he was coming over early as he had things to do (back when we had landline telephones!). I knew he just wanted to know how my night went and if I had ended up with anyone. Of course I had to tell him that I had met someone amazing and it was somebody we both knew. He left in a huff soon after.

Jealousy can be quite an ugly mask to wear. And my ex was doing a great job in wearing it! Because of my new relationship he couldn’t cope with another man in my daughter’s life. Thus began a 2 and a half year custody battle. I am happy to say that the truth always comes through, and your lack of interest and inconsistency with your daughter, was revealed through the child psychologist appointed on behalf of our little girl. I won full custody and the right to choose wherever I wanted to live with our daughter as long as you got to see her on the days and holidays stipulated in the court rulings made by the judge. Because in the years leading up to the conclusion of the custody case, I had become engaged to my wonderful, loving and supportive partner. We had also made the joint decision to move to Australia to take advantage of new opportunities and a better lifestyle for us, my daughter and the new baby that was growing inside my womb. Another miracle!

Of course you lost interest in your daughter a few years after we headed across the ditch, despite us offering to cover most of the cost to fly her to see you. You did make an effort to visit only once when your big sister moved to Australia soon after our arrival.

Heartache can follow you wherever you go. It can even last a life time if you let it. I chose to let go, and let new love in. The best choice I could ever make for myself. It took time for me to heal of course. But I now know that I am worth it. 22 years on and I am still madly in love with the man who stole my heart across the dancefloor of the “grumpy mole” all of those years ago. We went on to marry and added one more child to our beautiful wee clan despite the doctor’s diagnosis of probable infertility. Miracles truly do happen and I for one am a believer having experienced many miraculous events in my lifetime. Never give up on love, and please, don’t ever give up on you because you are worth it! I know I am!

February 11, 2020 00:35

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Cyan Villanueva
00:39 Feb 21, 2020

Hooked me with the first line alone! You write beautifully, it flows well. Thank you for sharing.


Cindy Bennett
23:47 Feb 21, 2020

Thankyou for your kind words of encouragement 😁✨


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Jessica Xie
23:14 Feb 19, 2020

This is amazing! I wish you good luck for the rest of your life!


Cindy Bennett
23:47 Feb 21, 2020

Bless your heart and thankyou 😁✨


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