First Love

Many years ago, when I was 18 I married the man who saved my life. I loved him desperately at the time, thought I couldn’t draw breath without his smile. Because we were good together but we were also really bad together. He was ready to settle down and be a husband, be a man, but not really. I was still spinning, from all the pain that had been inflicted on me and that I had inflicted on myself. I didn’t know how to love with my whole heart and didn’t know how to trust anyone to love me. Then again, perhaps I knew enough not to trust.

Although we were married for five years, we did not spend the entire time living together, in fact spent less than two years under the same roof. When I was 23 we came together for a brief time because I wanted to see him, to know what I was walking away from, what I was giving away. My heart hurt then, I knew I still loved him but we couldn’t be together because I was ready to heal and grow up and he couldn’t be part of it. The baggage we had didn’t belong together and the life I wanted didn’t have a place for our history.

I had shared all my secrets with him; he knew the darkest parts of me. He let me cry them out in fury and fear. He never told me it would be ‘okay’, only that he wouldn’t let anyone else hurt me, ever. I believed him. Sometimes he told me I was strong, but he also told me I could be stronger that I could be more. He hated my weakness and my fear of the world, when I was 18 I was afraid sometimes even of him, mostly I was afraid he would fail me, or worse still that I would fail him.

We failed each other.

I have married since then of course, badly and well. I have loved since then, also badly and well. Each time I near a milestone, a birthday or an anniversary I wonder though what would have been had we been different, or in different places in our life. Was his love for me conditional on his need to save me? I often think this might have been a part of it, I was broken and he set about to fix me. Within our marriage, during our time together I didn’t grow stronger but dependent on his approval. My heart beat for him, his anger would send me in a tailspin. We had a normal marriage with normal arguments that couples have, but looking back I wonder now if this is true given how truly dysfunctional I was.

I was blind to his faults, seeing only his care for his extended family and me as the measure of the man he was. His care was strange though, did not make sense to anyone but him. I am grateful today but then I only wondered why he put his future, his wife and his life in danger. He sent me away, telling me nothing but that I must go that I was a risk he couldn’t afford. I left broken hearted with an uncertain future, rejected by the man who promised to love me and to save me.

My husband was an armed robber.

I had returned finally to my father’s house. I was across country when a phone call came from my sister-in-law, she told me my husband had been convicted of armed robbery along with two of his cousins. This was how he had been paying the bills, no one knew. Not for months, but he knew that soon they would be caught and this is why he sent his daughter and me away. He was sent to prison, I wrote him while he was there but he said he wanted me to file for divorce, to end our marriage that it would be best for me.

I didn’t do it. I would not do it until he was released.

Three years later, he was released from prison on parole. I had saved my money to return to Texas to see my now convict husband. I didn’t know what I thought of the situation. I still loved him in my heart but I had gotten stronger, I had started to dream of a new life. In our letters, we had shared our dreams and they weren’t the same.

I took the bus from Seattle to Austin; it gave me time to think. He met me at the bus station in Austin. He looked the same, his smile was still the same but his eyes were clouded with pain. It was a sad reconciliation; we stood in the middle of the station and held each other. We had both changed; we were different people with hopes and dreams that flowed in different directions. I didn’t have money back then for hotels, I stayed at his sister’s house and he was staying with his mother.

We sat up late that first night we talked until morning. I asked the question I never asked in my letters.


He couldn’t answer; maybe he just wouldn’t answer. We talked about hopes, dreams and the future. We talked about love. In the end, we talked about ending our marriage. We both cried. For three days, we talked and we cried. We hugged and we cried some more.

At the end of those three days, he took me back to the bus station and put me back on the bus to Seattle. He stood and watched me leave, he waved as the bus left the station; he didn’t smile just a small wave of his hand. We knew it was the end and I think we were both sad.

He knew me better than any person in my life ever had. I think he disappointed me worse than any person ever had. Now and then, I search for him, just to know that he is still on the earth. I think I would be sad to find out he was no longer alive. He was my first real love.


  1. WordsFallFromMyEyes says:

    WOW, what a story. Oh, my gosh…
    You said he saved you, & I’m still wondering how – like, literally saved your life?

    I married at 19. He wasn’t even a first love. Some people amaze me how they marry again. I think it’s great they can let loose on love so easily. I was very stung.

    I think it is amazing you wouldn’t divorce while he was in prison. This was enormous of you – says a lot about you.

    • He saved my soul, taught me that not all men were terrible and would only hurt me. Though of course he did. Taught me to begin to love myself and taught me to dream for myself. Showed me I was worth loving.

      I guess, yes in a very real sense he did save my life.

      Why divorce? Our marriage did me no harm and I owed him more than that.

  2. Hi Val, a belated Happy Birthday my friend, and sorry I missed the Big day.. and Hey Im 3 yrs older so your not so old.. LOL..But shush to that also LOL.. 🙂
    Sorry that I have been absent a while but got taken ill with a flu time bug which had a mind of its own….
    have a good rest of the day…
    best wishes Sue x

  3. What a lovely memory. Your fondness, sadness, appreciation and regret all come through.

    As we get older, I think we’re better able to appreciate how ALL the parts of our lives combined to create who we are, even the stuff that wasn’t so good.

    • It is the getting older that is difficult. I wonder you know, why is this wasted on the older? To bad we can’t have compassion, empathy, wisdom and a healthy appreciation for life when we are young enough to do something about it and with it.


  4. It is a warmth in your heart pouring through this one. For all its tears, there is still the fondness for the first touch of love.

    A Texas-sized heart you have, my sweet sister. I love you.

    • It is a strange memory that surfaced. Mostly it was the memory of leaving, maybe the dream of that last hand wave. The road has been so long since then.

      As always I love you too


  5. Val, you are one amazing woman.

  6. Oh Val, Happy birthday. You are still younger than me.
    I think your heart, your compassion prove that the scars from breaks only make the heart stronger.

  7. Sometimes in our lives love is just not enough and no matter how painful and truly disconcerting this is for both concerned the bubble that housed this once loving and most incredible relationship bursts, the feelings cascade from one thought to another, the inner magnetism stretches its limits, first pulling together and then fracturing leaving emotions of helplessness.

    It is so hard to choose in which direction to travel with the journey being uncertain and those heartfelt emotions forever running deep within one’s mind, the sensitivity of the moment clouds one’s judgement, inner feelings overflow into a multifaceted stream of indecisiveness, second guessing the reality that is before us and the knowing that a love that was once so strong is now at an end.

    The good memories of the past are forever with you, they are treasured and yet are a fleeting sense of loving that can sometimes feel vague, I guess that one never forgets their first love and that is something rather nice even if there are certain elements of a relationship that one wishes to forget.

    Thank you for offering such a private part of your life Val, you are a much stronger person than you think and time has a way of healing one’s emotions, giving one a new outlook on the past to bridge the present, and to look ahead for a fruitful future, be very well Val my good friend…

    Andro XXx

    • Andro you are very wise. There were good memories in there, fond memories along with some strange ones. He saved me from a world I didn’t understand and from myself as well. I don’t think I really knew it at the time, maybe not until years later. He was truly the first person that believed in me. I often wonder why he didn’t believe in himself.

      Thank you Andro


      • You are very welcome, you know our lives are full of mysteries but we shouldn’t try to fathom everything as sometimes the reasons for these things are just too complex…

        Perhaps he too thinks about the past, and where once there was a lack of understanding, maybe now he has clarity, you just need to concentrate on yourself and how you have overcome these thoughts of yesteryear. You are an amazing young woman with a whole life in front of you and I wish you very well my lovely friend 🙂

        Androgoth XXx

  8. AirportsMadeSimple says:

    Hi, Val~great article. I think it was an experience that was a building block to who you are today: a strong, independent and caring woman.

    • I am certain it was. Sometimes though you just have to wonder, did I need this one?

      • AirportsMadeSimple says:

        Yes, especially when they mentally *haunt* you for your life. Is there a lesson or is it just…something that is? Are we here to help their karma or does it always work both ways? I wonder.

  9. Beautiful post, Val, thanks for sharing this with me.

    • The world spins, my memories shout to be released so I can rest. I am glad you enjoyed this one. Somehow as my birthday draws near, I felt this one needed to be let go.

      XX Val

  10. b e a u t i f u l .

    My heart tightened and released reading this, Val.


  11. Beautiful post, Valentine. It really made my heart ache. Thank you for sharing your story.

    • The stories in my heart come out now. When I am ready to tell them, they flow. Not all of them are terrible. As strange as this one is, it isn’t really terrible. As strange as it sounds he wasn’t really a bad man.

  12. That must have been quite a shock!

  13. my heart goes out to the 18 year old you val. It must have been such a difficult place to be. And her you are now so much stronger from all the trials life’s put you through! Hats off to you 🙂

  14. “My husband was an armed robber.”—I must admit, that took me completely by surprise, but I’m sure nowhere near what it did for you. What a thing to discover about one’s spouse.

  15. I enjoyed this story too, Valentine but to my mind, setting you free was after all a kind of love, don’t you think? By telling you to get the divorce and three years later, still sticking to his guns I believe was for your own good–in his mind. He still loved you but wanted you out of harm’s way.

    First love is always special no matter how good or bad it turned out.

    • Funny, you know it didn’t turn out badly. It just turned out differently. Yes, he loved me enough to set me truly free and he loved me enough to say I love you now love yourself. I think that is what I remember most about him. That he had dreams for himself but that he had them for me also and they didn’t in the end include him. It was bittersweet.

  16. Thank you for sharing. I enjoy your personal stories, they make me think about love, all it must go through to survive.

  17. You know Val, you have suffered so much in this life time, and yet through it all your Spirit emerges Stronger than ever..
    ( Ive Missed not being over here reading your posts, and hope to be able to be here more often now Im back home )

    We meet people in our lives for many reasons, some we may only know for a short time, but they leave part of themselves behind when they go..
    I would like to think that you also left part of your own Spirit with your first love. that he too could think of that 18 yr old girl with love and gratitude for being able to share part of that time together..
    I dont think you ‘Failed Each Other’ at all… You took something from each other and it has left its residue upon your memories that holds no other place in your hearts..
    Our teachers come in the most different disguises we never knew that they were perhaps the most important lessons of all… Often our greatest teachers can be our worst enemies..

    Thank you Val for sharing such sensitive memories with the world..
    You are indeed well on the path of inner healing as I see you shedding those long held onto memories…
    Blessings My friend..
    Sue xxx

  18. charmedbylove says:

    i too, build my heart around my ex and eventually when we broke up, crushing my self-esteem. overtime its about realizing i have to love myself before i can love others, even more than ever =)

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