To All The Men I Have Loved Before



Now before you get all wide-eyed and judgmental on me; hear me out.

Willie Nelson sang a song called “To All The Girls I’ve Loved Before”. I actually thought he had written it until I googled the song for the exact lyrics. He did not write it, but he did record it with Julio Iglesias in 1984. I would like to borrow some of those lyrics for today’s post.

Today is Valentine’s Day. It is a day we celebrate our loves, partners, spouses.  It may have fallen into the same commercialism trap as many other holidays, but I still think its ‘heart’ is in the right place. It is wonderful to stop and appreciate that special someone in our lives; whether it is a decades long marriage or a new budding romance. And while I do not currently have a Valentine, I have actually been blessed with one or two in my lifetime. And they have each taught me something.  I’d like to share those lessons with you.

 “For helping me to grow, I owe a lot, I know
To all the men I've loved before”

To my first love at age 16… I remember watching you, as the new boy at school, walk across the gym floor during an assembly. It’s funny how so many things in the 36 years since I have forgotten, but I see you in my mind as clear as if it were yesterday. Yes, I was young, but I fell hard. A fall that lingered for a very long time and still today is a bittersweet memory. From you, I learned the hard lessons of what not to do. I was insecure, jealous, and needy. Absolutely everything that would drive a boy (or a man) away. And eventually it did; a fact that I still regret to this day.  Of course, it took me a long time to realize exactly what I had done wrong. (There weren’t relationship advice memes on Facebook every day back then.) But eventually, I did understand how I was the one who sabotaged this young and precious love. Those early lessons can be quite hard, but they usually make a lasting impression.

To the cowboy from Oklahoma… You swept me away and gave me my very own red-headed fireball. From you I learned other important lessons.  Like never giving control of your life over to anyone else. I like to think of myself now as independent and self-sufficient. But I haven’t always been that way.  I had to lose a lot, including my pride; hit the bottom and start over. I’m thankful for that lesson though. It gave me courage. Also that it is ok to admit when you’ve made a mistake. Occasionally we enter relationships for reasons other than just love; escape, loneliness, false sense of security. Those are shaky motivations and they rarely succeed. The key is to recognize it sooner rather than later and move on. And I did.

“They live within my heart
I'll always be a part
Of all the men I've loved before”

To my long blonde haired, blue eyed California beach boy…For a moment in time, you were the one. From you I learned acceptance and patience and how to truly give and receive love. Everybody loved you and you made time for them all. You were lively and fun and hands down the smartest person I’ve ever met. You loved me and my little fireball as your own. We had adventures and laughter and you gave me my raven-haired butterfly.  Then your demons showed up and took over. The lessons then got more difficult. I learned that some things are stronger than love. And I learned that love isn’t always enough to save someone and it really can’t conquer all. Rest in peace my love.

To the one that got away…. You came along when I needed you the most, but I didn’t understand that at the time. You were the most romantic and practical person all wrapped up in one. A tender heart always ready with a song. A great father who shared your family with mine. Those blended family dinners are some of my best memories. You taught me that truly good things can come from very bad experiences. And that friendship really is the basis for a lasting love affair. I also learned that being inflexible and short-sighted can cost you a great guy.

To the hardest lesson of all…Let’s just say for this one, I learned to believe my heart, my guts and my friends. Unfortunately, I didn’t learn it quickly enough. You were a long and devastating roller coaster ride.

Finally…To my musician……You made the world sound sweet again. I have never met anyone quite like you. You challenged my world views and ideas. You opened my eyes to other opinions and truths. You taught me perseverance and goal setting. And how someone can learn to truly appreciate what they have and live in the moment. You treated me kindly and softened my heart again. Our paths and goals were not the same, but you reminded me what love looks like.

There were others sprinkled along the way. Those who gave me a piece of their heart, or maybe stole a small piece of mine.  After reading through my experiences, I suppose it may sound as if I was frivolous with my affections. But I never thought of it that way. I truly gave all of them the best I had to offer at the time. I would have loved to carry on my parent’s example of a 60+ years marriage, but that is not the way my life unfolded. I’m ok with that. I have loved and I have hurt. But I have never regretted the gain or the loss. The adventures and memories live with me as well as the lessons and growth. Most importantly, I still believe in LOVE. I believe in the goodness it brings out in people. In the sunshine it spreads. In the hope it inspires. So…

“I’m glad they came along
I dedicate this blog
To all the men I’ve loved before”

Happy Valentine’s Day!!


Hope Out!

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