To All the Men I’ve Loved and Lost…

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Thank you. Thank you for the memories both good and bad, and the laughs we shared and the tender moments. Thank you for the trips we’ve taken, and the dates we’ve shared; they were fun each in their own way. Thank you for the gifts; I really appreciated everyone for a time. Thank you for making me feel special, wanted, desired, in passing and occasionally longer. But most importantly thank you for the lessons.

As you are all my exes, you’ve taught me much more about myself than any successful relationship could have ever offered.

You taught me that I deserve to be treated with respect and proper dignity. I learned what doesn’t work for me and I learned what I truly need. What I need is support, a sense of backing and foundation. I need honesty the kind that settles my heart. I need patience, the confidence of assurance in waiting. I need communication, spoken and delivered, the right words and expressions that comfort and clarify. By not giving me these things, you helped me to value these unmet needs. To understand what was missing in our relationship and why it seemed to matter.

You taught me that I can’t expect someone to know my worth if I don’t promote my value myself. I’m still learning this lesson and the strengths that I bring to the table. This is one of those lessons perfected in continuous education. Layers unfolded and peeled away in precious revelations. I’m only sorry for the pressure of making you see these things in me, in phases as I came to recognize them within myself.

You taught me that love shouldn’t be painful. The moments that I felt more alone with you than by myself were confusing at first. The nights that I cried myself to sleep. The times I spent in your embrace, captured by considerations of why I wasn’t good enough. It took me a moment to figure out and ultimately accept that a broken vessel leaks whatever it attempts to hold. I’m sorry for your cracks and fissures wounds of battle, but I now know that it’s not my job to mend you, to heal you. That’s a personal job that I must leave to you for recovery.

I learned that I am so much stronger than I could ever have realized without your help. I’ve gone through serious heartache and though it was never pleasant, it was always worthwhile. Discovering that I have the resilience and strength to withstand those painful episodes is empowering. It’s the kind of strength that once found, continues to grow, and find broader relevance day by day. I consider it one of my greatest assets and to some extent, have you to thank for that. It’s almost funny to consider how I have learned to love all the things about myself that you encouraged me to hate.

I learned that I will love again. After every single one of you, without fail, in no time, there was always another. Please, don’t let that make you feel less special, for you were all, in your own way equally special to me. This truth may be the greatest lesson you’ve taught me: to be hopeful, confident and willing to love. Hopeful that all the lessons you’ve taught me will guide me to the person who can see everything that you never could. The love of a person who will see my strengths for what they are and see past my flaws not because they’re irrelevant, but because they love me that much. The love that I was looking for from you, which you could not give.

Elizabeth DeHaan is the creator of, passionate about social change she uses her platform to inspire change and provide news that is not readily available. She has been a guest contributor for Black + Well, Wit & Grace Magazine, Travel Under the Radar, and several other online publications. She currently resides in Brooklyn, NY and loves to travel as much as possible in her spare time. Follow her @enovaturient.

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