To all the men I’ve loved before. A note of gratitude.

Reflecting upon the males who have passed through my life, I feel a sense of gratitude and appreciation. 

A woman flying solo over the age of 50 can sometimes spiral into the depths of self-pity and despair because she has loved and lost – so many times. Often the questions posed to one’s self are – even if never vocalized – what am I doing wrong? Why do I always end up alone? Am I not lovable? Am I difficult? And the onslaught of personal incriminations ensue. We’ve rendered ourselves unworthy witches who don’t deserve love. We’ve looked at all the ways we could have changed or have behaved differently so that he – the many he’s – would have stayed.

Then there’s the polar opposite.  The questions posed to one’s self are – even if never vocalized – am I commitment phobic? Do I get close to that next level of commitment then flee? Am I avoidant of attachment for some reason that must be deeply hidden within my childhood?  Do I destroy relationships? 

Please take note that I was not reflecting on the men – or the boys – who have passed through my life, but the males, because the diversity has been plentiful.  I chose the description of males because so many were boys who thought they were men and the others were men as defined by genitalia, but certainly not by character or action. 

And I am here to thank every one of them. 

When I embarked on my last relationship, it was at a time in my life when I couldn’t have been more content or at peace with the woman I’d become. It took years of solitude and introspection to become the best version of myself – alone.  I was ready to open my heart because I’d worked tirelessly to learn from my past, to know who I was and what I wanted.  I was honest – with myself, and others – and with a heart wide open, decided it was time to let someone else in.  It was time to grow in relation to another, versus continuous growth as an individual. 

So I opened the door to a three year climb uphill with someone who I thought earned my trust, with my heart – with my soul.  I recall the day I grew skittish and afraid.  Alcohol had also become a thing of my past – as had eating and a plethora of other self-destructive escapes – so I expressed my feelings in the most unrestrained of ways.  “I’m not good at this. I’m afraid.  I’m going to need you to hold my hand through these feelings and emotions. I’ve been through so much and feel fragile – I don’t know what to do with this.” Thus came the confident, assured reply: “I’m great with fragile things. I’ve got you.”  BULLSHIT. 

I’d like to believe that he bought into his own promise at the time.  I’d like to believe that he did love me – in the only way that he knew how, which I’ve come to realize wasn’t much.  But the more time I spend away from the relationship I had to end, the more time I spend reflecting back on my past – I’ve learned this.

I am highly skilled – rank me expert – at attracting available, single males who are not capable of love (or love in the way that I need) and not capable of giving of themselves. I attract angry, selfish and manipulative males. I attract men who dislike their mothers. I attract those who must see the light in me – then slowly drain my energy and positivity, thus turning off my light. However, they never win. And for this, I am thankful.

Being true to myself is the only gift I can bestow– on me. Some assume that there’s something wrong with the person who repeatedly fails in love. Let them judge. Let them assume. Let them ridicule. Because so many of those who do, are suffering a life of roads not taken or hard decisions not made. Being alone beckons criticism, assumptions and judgment. And that also beckons one hell of a strong person.

To all those men I’ve loved before – thank you.  There is nothing wrong with me – though I am severely flawed.  I am lovable – my family and friends prove that true.  And I welcome commitment – from those who are willing to put forth the same.

But in the meantime – or maybe always – my gratitude remains.  Thank you for the lessons learned and thank you for ringing true these lyrics from one of my favorite groups, The Moody Blues: “And when you stop and think about it, you won’t believe it’s true, that all the love you’ve been giving, has all been meant for you.”

Amen.

Author: E.M. Murphy

A freelance writer, coach, eternal seeker and Renaissance soul who aims to open minds and hearts. Armed with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and a NASM Certified Behavior Change Specialist, humanity and humor is at the heart of my writing, reminding us that the key to success will always start with a genuine concern for others while making sure to be true to our authentic selves.

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