My Daddy, naturally the first man I ever loved, taught me more about betrayal than I wanted to know, everything I needed to know about restoration, and more than I have a right to know about the unconditional love of a father.
My sweet, little Grandfather taught me that fidelity does exist and that loyalty helps us co-exist. It was the example of my grandfather that gave me reason to believe that my hope of one day being loved was not the foolish dream of a young girl but the attainable expectation of a whole woman.
My old high school boyfriends—yes, even they taught me something. As a whole, they taught me to never consider myself special because I could stir desire in them. That’s what boys do—they want girls. I later found out that lesson can be applied to full grown men, too.
My ex-husband taught me that the mind is fragile and should be protected fiercely, that the life one wants can override the reality of the life one is living, and that pride really does go before a fall.
The couple of men that I dated after my “marriage” taught me to never settle for less than I want just because it’s more than I had.
The man I am blessed to have in my life now is teaching me that I can be accepted as I am—idiosyncrasies and imperfections included. He is teaching me what it means to find a safe haven in another person and what it feels like to be loved and cared for by a man that I love and care for.
And then there are my 3 sons who collectively have taught me and are still teaching me what resiliency and perseverance look like in the face of seemingly insurmountable circumstances.
My 20-year-old son has taught me about sacrificial love. He has taught me about truly being true to yourself, your ideas, and your truths without apology, but to never stop seeking knowledge and understanding because we know and understand so little about the world and everything in it. He has also taught me to never accept or assign labels.
My 14-year-old son has taught me that sensitivity and strength can partner each other without one weakening the other. He has taught me that work ethic can be learned in spite of a primary negative model and that a sense of humor can go a long way in the recovery process. He has also taught me about being a friend to those who would otherwise be friendless.
My 11-year-old son has taught me about having courage in the face of uncertainty, compassion for the hurting, and putting your own feelings aside to help someone else navigate his or her own.
Some lessons were hard-earned while others were freebies. And I am grateful for them all.