When my first love and I broke up when I was 22, a mutual decision, I flippantly wished he’d be hit by bus, break a leg, or something else awful.
To quote Samantha Jones, “There’s always a contest with an ex, it’s called ‘who will die miserable,’” – and that wasn’t just my thinking then, but a thought process I’ve carried with me ever since when it comes to men who have broken my heart.
While I didn’t continue to actively wish horrible things to happen to this first love, his life did end up being ‘miserable’ – to use Samantha’s word – in many ways.
Because it’s his life and not my story to tell, the short version is that he ended up in jail for drugs and his fiancée died in her early 30s.
These two things happened within a year of each other and 12 years after we broke up.
In the years in between, we became friendly again, as he worked at a bar around the corner from my apartment in the East Village in New York City and I no longer had ill will toward him. I wanted nothing but the best for him.
I was heartbroken when I heard the news from his sister and reached out to him in jail.
We exchanged a few letters, writing about the past, the new albums we were listening to and I even told him I hoped he’d again pursue his art – he’s a phenomenally talented painter – when he was released.
Although I felt guilty in some ways for the wish I’d made over a decade ago, I rationalized it with why we broke up: He was heading in a direction that I wouldn’t follow in; I may love to drink, but drugs are a different story.
So it wasn’t me who had done this to him — he had done it to himself.
The same day my first love was released from jail I married my French fiancé Olivier in Paris. As I’ve written before, it was not an ideal situation. We were not suited for each other for the long-term and our love, as cliché as it sounds, should have ended shortly after it began.
I ran into Olivier’s arms trying to outrun an unrequited love (we’ll get to him in a second) and I’d convinced myself that if I could love Olivier so much as to marry him, then it would be proof that I was capable of moving past S — that I had survived S and the evidence was in my new love and my new life with Olivier.
But my marriage to Olivier was short-lived. At the time, in my pain and humiliation, I was unable to see both sides of where things went wrong.