black woman looking in the distance
Dating

To All the Men I’ve Loved and Lost

To all the men I’ve loved and lost,

Thank you. Thank you for the memories both good and bad. Thank you for the laughs we shared and the tender moments. Thank you for the trips we’ve taken, and the dates we’ve gone on; they were fun. Thank you for the gifts; I really appreciated them at the time. Thank you making me feel wanted. But most importantly thank you for the lessons. As you are all my exes, you’ve taught me more about myself than a successful relationship would have.

You taught me that I deserve to be treated with respect and dignity. I learned what doesn’t work for me and I learned what I need. I need support. I need honesty. I need patience. I need communication. By not giving me these things, you helped me to see that my needs were not being met.

You taught me that I can’t expect someone to value me if I don’t value myself. I’m still learning this lesson and what strengths that I bring to the table. I’m sorry for the pressure of making you see these things in myself when I didn’t see them.

You taught me that love shouldn’t be painful.  The moments that I felt more alone with you than by myself. The nights that I cried myself to sleep. The times spent analyzing why I wasn’t good enough. It’s taken a long time for me to see and accept that you can’t pour from a broken vessel. I’m sorry that you’ve been broken, but I now know that it’s not my job to fix you. That’s a personal job that only you can complete.

I learned that I am stronger than I could ever realize. I’ve gone through serious heartache and though it was never pleasant, it was always useful. Discovering that I was strong enough to withstand this pain, is empowering. It’s the kind of strength that once you find you never let it go. I consider it one of my greatest assets and I have you to thank in part for that.  I’ve learned to love all the things about myself that you told me to hate.

I learned that I will love again. After every single one of you, there was always another. That might make you feel less special, but you were all equally special to me. This is the greatest lesson you’ve taught me: to be hopeful. Hopeful that all the lessons you’ve taught me will lead me to the person who will see everything that you never could. The person who will see my strengths for what they are and who will ignore my flaws not because they’re not there but because they love me that much. Hopeful that this love will be the love that I was looking for, but you could not give me.

Thank you for helping me to see that I am enough by myself. I don’t need anyone to complete me, and that being alone is better than being with someone and miserable. I hope that you find what you were looking for. I hope that you look at our time together with memories both good and bad. I’m grateful for what you’ve taught me, and I hope that you feel the same.

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