Dean Cain, who was once engaged to Mindy McCready, admits he struggled to remember loving memories about the country music singer. "I can't paint too pretty a picture. She would start arguments, start drama. Things weren't allowed to be good," he says.
Although it's widely known that she's battling drugs and alcohol addiction, Cain insists she didn't have problems with those while they're still together. "She was never abusive or addictive with me, but red flags were everywhere," he says. "I saw all the bad signs and told her to get out."
The former "Lois & Clark" actor says that it was her manipulative behavior that pushed him away and at one point caused him to leave his own home to stay in a hotel to avoid her. "Everything she did was a manipulation of sorts. She would just get combative," he explains to PEOPLE.
Cain, who later had a son with a girlfriend following his breakup with McCready, then cut all ties with the late singer. "When I did speak to her, truth didn't come out," he reasons. "She was kind of poisonous and not somebody I was going to have in my life anymore - or anywhere around my son."
Regardless, he expresses his remorse over her tragic death. "I'm saddened to hear of her passing, but I'm not surprised," he says. "My first thought was of the poor kids," he adds, referring to her children 6-year-old Zander from her relationship with Billy McKnight and 9-month-old Zayne from her relationship with David Wilson.
"To think about the legacy those boys have been left, it's just tragic. ... All her troubles were self-inflicted. She had everything. She was a tremendous talent but everything about it was a waste," he continues.
Like Cain, McKnight was also not surprised by McCready's suicide. "As sad as it is, it didn't come as a major shock, because she's just been battling demons for so long. I was around her when she attempted suicide twice, so I knew it was in her," he said in an interview.
In addition to fighting addictions, McCready battled suicide attempts multiple times. According to LA Times music writer Mikael Wood, she tried to take her own life at least four times in the past. Her first suicide attempt was in July 2005 when she overdosed on pills and alcohol two months after McKnight allegedly assaulted her.
In an interview with E! News, Wood said McCready and McKnight got back together, but in September the same year, she overdosed on antidepressants while pregnant with their child Zander. She repeated her attempt in 2008 by cutting her wrist in her Nashville home. She sparked health scare once again when she was hospitalized for an overdose in 2010.
Those incessant troubles led her to losing custody of Zander. She later won back the custody after proving to court that she had sobered up since living with Wilson. As things started to look better, Wilson was found dead with a gunshot wound in their home, causing her to shoot herself a month later.
After Wilson died, McCready was believed to fall into depression. His ex Billy McKnight expressed concern about her "mental and physical stability and condition" and requested a full custody of Zander. Per her father's request, court ordered her to check into rehab for mental-health and alcohol-abuse problems.
On February 6, Zander along with Zayne was removed from her care by the Department of Human Services. She then entered rehab but was released one day later to undergo outpatient treatment.
Just before she committed suicide, she worked on suicide awareness video with private investigator Danno Hanks. Featuring "I'll See You Yesterday", a song planned for her next album, the video was filled with a photo of a rural scene transitions to footage of the late couple during their happy time.
"I asked her if I could post it and Mindy's answer was, 'You'll know when it's right.' In hindsight she was having me produce her suicide video," Hanks said.