The 5 Things That Led to the End

Here is the set up

The last argument started because I approached him at a quiet time to ask when would be a good time to have our talk. I had been there 12 days and we still had to work things out

He agreed we had a lot to talk about and said whenever I wanted and he followed up with “this is your thing” indicating that “couples therapy” or fixing the relationship was really my bag of tricks. He threw an insult in as well saying “I don’t read vogue” and I replied with “please don’t insult my intelligence, you’ve said that multiple times now, do I look stupid and like I read cosmo/vogue for my communication skills?” I knew this wasn’t going well already but I also felt I wasn’t going to crumble as much as I had for him in the past.

In hindsight I should have just picked a time and moved forward but instead I tried to negotiate the right time with him and that’s when the conversation deteriorated beyond my control.

The major issue originated around the fact that he smoked while I was there and smoking is a full deal breaker/boundary for me. I can manage a cigar once in a while but it’s really hard for me as I am allergic to smoke. I gag, my eyes water, my throat closes and I literally want to vomit. Then the psychological piece of repulsion kicks in because I thinks it’s just gross. We already managed a couple of instances where I had, in fact, managed him smoking a cigar (and he tried really hard to clean it up for me, but it was still pretty bad and he knew it – he really doubted my reaction to it). I wasn’t happy, but I dealt with it and didn’t want to make it the end of the world. However, nothing was as blatant at this example.

(Saturday) While I was napping he went to the porch to smoke a cigar. I can’t even imagine how he thought this was ok or acceptable. When I woke and saw this I immediately burst into tears and walked back inside. I tried to wait but couldn’t and I knew walking back out there while he was on the phone and enjoying his cigar was wrong. I knew it and couldn’t stop myself. As tears were running down my face I opened the door and he pulled out his earbud and said “why are you crying” and I replied with “why are you smoking when you know that’s my dealbreaker?” And went back inside. He said some shitty machismo things to his sister which I could hear through the window and I waited for him to come inside.

When he came inside he asked again, not very nicely, why I was crying, and I asked him to come sit and face me on the couch. I acknowledged I should not have come outside the second time and interrupted when I was upset (I was calm but I was crying and his sister could hear what we both said which embarrassed him, but there was no drama). However, when I saw him smoking I couldn’t control my reaction and I felt diminished and unimportant and devalued. Almost immediately he launched into a thousand reasons why he should be able to smoke if he’s stressed including “you take a bucket of pills for your anxiety.” At that point I said he was insulting me and if he couldn’t stay on topic, which was his smoking, then I was going to go upstairs and shower. He kept going after me at that point and I said I wasn’t going to be spoken to that way and walked upstairs to shower. I called down to him when I was done.

While he was in the shower he said “no rush to get ready I cancelled dinner and you can figure out what we are going to do now”.

He didn’t bother to try and get rid of the tobacco smell from his face/breath/hands which he normally does a pretty good job of so I wouldn’t touch him or kiss him the entire evening. I know this bothered him but he didn’t say a word about it. Friends met us out and he drank heavily. I was not sulking and we had a good time until my son had a terrible car accident and we became distracted with that. Scott was so drunk and I was so distracted that we just passed out upon arriving home.

(Sunday) The next day we didn’t speak very much but had a lovely day walking, hitting golf balls and making dinner together.

That’s the gist of the backstory. I was there a week when the smoking incident happened. It seemed to lie down a bit that Sunday. And by Wednesday we seemed to be in a better place which is why I approached the conversation again. It was the entire point of my trip: repair the relationship. I was supposed to leave in a day or two and was wanting to have the conversation.


Instead of agreeing on a time to talk, the conversation somehow disintegrated quickly into a debate. I believe I may have said I wanted feedback and that’s where it went sideways.

I had been working hard to incorporate his requests into my behavior while I was there. I was conscious of telling him my schedule of when I was working, eating, working out etc. I was more aware of being clear of what I wanted and when as he seemed to prefer me being directive. When I said this he looked at me with disgust and said “you really think you’re doing better?! What about that roadshow on my porch?” When I genuinely had no idea what he meant (about “roadshow”) and asked twice he then said “I’m going to go back to scrolling on my phone if you are going to play dumb because we’ve had this conversation about your behavior already.” Then it kicked in that my “roadshow” were the tears when he was smoking. The final nail in the coffin (or the point of no return) was when I put my foot down and said “so, you have no accountability in this equation? You were out there smoking when you promised not to smoke around me and I am not able to feel some sort of way about that and you are calling it a roadshow like it was a dramatic outburst.” He said it was. Everything was going to revolve around this one incident of mine, I knew there was going to be no accountability on his part. I have lived this episode for months, I knew my part and his part. I wasn’t willing to play that assigned role any longer. I had to stand up for myself. Smoking is a deal breaker.

At this point he stood up (we were facing one another in the couch) and walked behind me (because he was angry – but if you recall his letter he doesn’t like to be told he is angry) where I could not see him and he kept talking – here is what came next – a series of sideways barbs that I knew nothing about until this very moment because Scott has no idea how to have an adult conversation:

1. When we were out drinking with his daughter and her bf (day 4)I suggested to the bf to buy Scott a bottle of scotch because Scott is so extraordinarily generous. The bf lives there at least 4 nights a week and the kitchen snd main living room are in Scotts main home. So while the daughter pays rent, the boy still encroaches on Scott’s area and when Scott spends weeks with me, he lives there full time (rent free). The boy was super insulted I suggested it and I’m sure I got a look on my face but all I said was “he’s very good and very generous to you”. The next day I told Scott the entire story. I said I understood why his daughter was dating the boy because his reaction was much like I expect Scott’s would be at that age, too much bravado – like I’m not doing shit for some old man. Scott said the kid was like him and thought he was a little shit and we moved on. We may have referenced it up once or twice more in the week.

The day of the argument (a week after the event) he said (behind me where I could not see him) “and Shane won’t come here anymore because you yelled at him”. When I said I didn’t yell at anyone (which is very true, it was a conversation only), Scott said “it’s his perception! It’s not your place to get involved. Stay out of my kids life”.


2. We are walking around the street and see a home for sale. He takes the paper and gets excited when he sees the price. When he gets home he immediately starts telling his daughter how much the house is going for and they start discussing how much they could sell their home for. He is super excited. He also has no intention of selling his home. When his daughter leaves the house to start asking questions to understand where he is coming from. The other home is much larger and more updated and on a bigger lot. I am ALWAYS asking questions, it’s my personality. He knows this about me. I was trying to understand why he was saying he would get the same price for his home. I am also going to sell my own home soon and I am trying to understand how the market works and what he might understand/know differently than what I do.

During the argument (4 days after the house conversation) he threw at me “and you told me right in front of my daughter that our house was a piece of crap”.


3. During the argument he said “and the next time you text your therapist about me you might want to cover your phone because now I’ve lost all trust in you”.

He refused to clarify this comment, when it happened or what he read. I asked multiple times and he stated he refused to tell. I stated that I do not text my therapist except to confirm an appt, so he must have a read a text to a friend while in the car, and it was pretty interesting he was saying he lost trust in me when he was the one who read my text, wouldn’t tell me when or what it said, and lost trust in me. He still refused to state what he saw but said “these things happen when you leave your phone on your lap.” I suggested he tell me what he saw or show him my phone as I have nothing to hide from him but he refused to even speak at this point.

This comment also came from behind me and not face to face.


4. At this point he came around to face me, but on the opposite side of the couch and standing, so not at eye level as I was sitting. He called my walking out on the back porch a roadshow again. I told him to stop insulting me. There was no tantrum, I was not a child, and all I did was walk out on the porch and make a statement calmly at an inappropriate time – but it was hardly worthy of being called a roadshow when he was the one who crossed the line in the first place.

5. He then started spouting words I had used out of context and said I was “repulsed by him” (I said I was repulsed by his smoking – I asked him to go lick his ashtray and see if he felt repulsed and get back to me) . That he was an “alcoholic” There were more but for the life of me, they didn’t stick.

He stopped moving at that moment and said “I’m not the guy. I’m not the guy to change for anyone. It’s my house. If I want to smoke a cigar and drink on my porch on a Saturday I’m going to do it and no one is going to tell me not to”. His face was blank and his eyes were dead. There was no emotion there at all. I had seen this look before and it has confused me. I don’t think he knows how to feel love, he looks at me like he hates that he loves me.



The ending –

At that – I replied “well there’s our answer”

I got up and went upstairs and cried. I felt sick. This man just chose smoking as being more important than our relationship and while I realize its not quite that black and white, that is how it feels. And what’s worse, when he said it to me I looked at him with pause and thought to myself “can I accept him for who he is and accept the smoking?” I actually thought about compromising my own standards for a man who is not worthy of me. I knew he was right about one thing, he had every right to smoke and drink in his own home. I also knew I didn’t have to be there for it, that was my choice.

Later that night when he came up he went into the guest room and actually locked the door. I went over and knocked to ask why he would lock the door (we sleep with an open door in his home) and he made up some weird thing about not being surprised in the middle of the night. At that point I said I pitied him for not understanding what love really was because I would have slept with him in the same bed on our last night together and we could have said goodbye peacefully.

I am certain the entire 13 days I spent with Scott neither of us said I love you to the other.

The next day he never said a word to me but I went and sat next to him on the couch and let the tears roll. He asked why I was sitting there and I replied I was sad for all the things we wouldn’t have. I asked him if he wanted one last walk together which we did. He took my hand and held it as we walked the neighborhood though we didn’t speak.

He hugged me goodbye while I sobbed and told me not to cry. He said we just don’t work together. I said we were breaking up over smoking because he’s so stubborn. I saw that look on his face again as he stepped away. No goodbye. Just stepped away.

I sat in the car and cried a good 10 minutes before I could compose myself for the long drive home.

Scott has insulted me in so many ways. As I write them, even if there are places I am at fault, his abuse is pretty heavy. The list has really become too long. For him to lock a door against me as if I could harm him somehow is psychologically painful to me. The stonewalling about the text. His inability to even reach across and touch my hand when I cry is almost inhuman. The look in his face when I’m emotional will haunt me – its empty.

Somewhere in there he kept telling me I was playing games. It makes me think that only someone who plays games actually says something like that. If anything I was working really, really hard to make sure I didn’t pull any triggers of his. But in order not to pull his, I can’t give up myself. He is telling me I need to accept him as he is but he does not want to accept me as I am.

I am certain, and I really mean certain, my behavior has been the same. I am nothing if not consistent. He fell in love with an idea of me and presented the best version of who he WANTED to be, but not who he really was. I can be critical but I am not cold or cruel. I am not unkind. I no longer yell. Yet somehow all of these words were used by Scott and they tapped right into every one of insecurities because that’s who I USED to be. And I’m afraid of her. I don’t. Want to be her anymore. You haven’t even met her she’s been gone so long. She grew up when she was raising kids and losing a momma and building a team at work. My worst traits haven’t disappeared entirely but the way Scott describes me is someone who existed in my 20s or early 30s and behavior I had with my x and it frightened me and I responded to it by believing it to be true because it USED to be true. That modicum of truth has distorted my vision for months now.

What I believe has happened is that I acknowledged where I need to change and grow and I am more than willing to work on those things, and Scott exploited those insecurities. I can be critical, but there is a huge difference between being direct and being critical and somehow his filter began interpreting my directness as criticism post Thanksgiving. As I mentioned, I do not think that has eve been any different with me, I am very direct and inquisitive, and he acknowledges this in his letter that I ask questions and push him to a place to be a better man….but that must be lip service.

I want to tear all of this relationship apart. I want to hear all your thoughts over and over. Where I went wrong. Where I didn’t. Why I feel like such crap and went back time and time again after such obvious abuse.

Author: Madeline Harper

My journey through divorce and an emotional and sexual reawakening. Love, laughter, friendships, family and heartbreak included. And there is sex, lots of it, so close your eyes and turn the page if that's not for you! While I started this blog as an endeavor to journal my thoughts and feelings in an attempt to better understand myself, it has become an amazing platform from which I have met some of the most interesting and wonderful people in my life. My path is often crooked, but I hope you will share in the journey with me.

4 thoughts on “The 5 Things That Led to the End”

  1. If you ever listen to abuse survivors, you hear familiar themes. Hurt. Guilt. Shame. Regret. If only I had done this, he would love me or treat me better or not hurt me or not hurt me as much. Why did I (1) let this happen, (2) put up with it, (3) keep going back, (4) feel as if I ending is worse than staying and enduring. Healing and recovery take time, patience, a lot of work. I used to ponder if I felt primed and programmed to abuse myself, and when I did not do a good enough job of it, I went out and found someone else to improve upon my efforts.

    Scott is abusive. He definitely has issues that require some sort of intervention, but not from you. He is dangerous to you and your mental/emotional stability.

    As for what you did wrong, there is no scoring rubric for this sort of thing. But I think you have known in your gut that there was something “off” about him and the relationship. Yes, you worked at self-improvement, at being a better person, and I applaud and cheer your efforts. Was there any acknowledgement or appreciation from Scott? Did he have any idea how difficult expanding and improving self-awareness and changing behaviors is for a person? You also have to acknowledge a difference in core values, of Scott’s disinterest in roots or family or traditions and how little attention or respect beyond lip service he paid your desire for those things. The drinking, the smoking, the blatant disrespect and disregard for your hard limits – these are events you should have heeded and acknowledged as a poor relationship fit. You chose to ignore those neon signs of incompatibility, and in times of loneliness and strong desire for a loving, reliable partner, believing the illusion is better than listening to your instincts. There is no shame in fighting for a relationship you want, but if that person is unreal, the only way to win is to recognize and accept the reality of who he is, who you are, and why the relationship does not work.

    I always wish you peace when these heartbreaks happen. I wish your belief in men you have loved so fiercely and your spirit to fight for their continued affections could be directed inwardly, at championing Madeline for her value and her strength and all the kindness and goodness she brings to the table. I wish you loved her as much as you have loved the men you have sobbed over through the years.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Janelle! I missed this comment – I don’t know what has happened – but I guess I didn’t renew so I am missing some comments or something. So sorry. Just so happy to see you here. It makes me so happy and warms my heart. I love your thoughts and feedback here – I really need to question with my therapist if I feel like I do that to myself – not do a good enough job of abusing myself, so I look to someone else to do a better job (and he sure did). He was a poor relationship fit in so many ways and I was willing to adjust in almost all of them to just have a friend in a relationship that worked for a little while (it worked less time that it didn’t work in hindsight). My best friend said to me more than once now “if he only knew, could understand, how far you have come and how much you have already grown and keep growing, he would only see the light in you and not keep trying to dim it.” I said to him many, many times that there was so much more to me than he understood, but he never seemed curious or asked those questions – and towards the end he threw back at me that he asked once and I told him “not now” (he asked about Mexico while he was drunk, so it was not the time). You also just reminded me of another ting he said to me which was “how sick are you?” because he has zero experience with illness in his life – and was worried that he would be dealing with a sick person. At that very moment, it registered that was a problem as the likelihood of me being sick again is probable, and having a man who wouldn’t have the compassion to care for me would be heartbreaking. I did ignore the red flags because I have been lonely for relationship and he was fun and funny and I miss partnership and laughter. I wish I knew how to love myself better, this has never been something I am have been successful with.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. 1. He was your bf and your business. You didn’t tell the kid to do anything, just shared your opinion and when you knew you insulted him you let Scott know right away. Scott could have remained neutral but his poor boundaries with his daughter made that impossible. His daughter being one of the most important people in his life is awesome but their relationship is more like a close friendship than father daughter. There is no reason he shouldn’t have told his daughter that you met no harm and if her bf does t want to come around and stay for free that’s his problem.

    2. May have been a misunderstanding. He has the right to feel hurt and take offense and take what you said wrong or maybe you said something wrong. He should have let his feelings heal and the chose to address you about it but he didn’t. He let’s the hurt fester. I think he feels you were too good for him and this was you hurting his pride but not meaning to. It doesn’t help that if he did try to talk about this with anyone else his friends are immature kids.

    3. If you were talking to your therapist as he said IDC wth you said, even if it were the worst lies ever. That is private. I don’t know what was said to friends but I am weird on this if you were expecting your friends to like him then I think you need to be careful talking about stuff with them. Either way if he is that insecure and you are saying you had nothing to hide that’s his problem. Trust me here I am the snoop in the relationship, I am the insecure one. I got to a point where I stopped because I learned to trust him and know I am good enough. I am worthy.

    4+5 He was trying to be hurtful at this point. Hurt people hurt people. He has to justify his actions by making you out to be the bad guy. Happy people don’t drink like that. He has issues and you cannot fix them and let yourself be abused by him. I feel bad for his daughter because she is going to start playing wife/mom. Of course your not perfect but you don’t deserve this. And He Knows It.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for all the great insight!

      1. Yes if he had spoken to me or his daughter differently and at the right time it would have been a totally different outcome. But because he has unclear boundaries with his kid, this was the net result.
      2. I will accept that because in hindsight I know how house proud he is and as he should be. He could have told me this. I was asking because I’m selling my house so I was trying to understand where he was coming from and it was unclear to me. But I definitely did not speak a word in front of his child.
      3. I never text with my therapist and I also didn’t tell my friends the truth about Scott because I was hiding most of his behaviors. I did say I was there, things were shaky, but we were working on it but I wasn’t sure if we could make it. That could have been the worst text he read to my sister-in-law or a friend. Otherwise, I had nothing in any text I wouldn’t hand over to him snd show him. He could have asked at that moment even if it upset him and I would have been honest. He knew things were tough.
      4. By the end he was resolved to be cruel the more I play it back. I’m ok with that now because that was his choice. I said nothing negative in return. My old self would have shot back many negative comments snd I didn’t because I didn’t feel the need to “take him down a notch”
      The way he was doing to me.


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