Most years, each day, I update my Facebook status every day during the month of November to give thanks. I generally name all of the usual things that everyone else does. I'm thankful for healthy, happy kids. I'm thankful for my job, and my parents, and the roof over my head. In no way do I want to devalue those things with this post.
This month, though, this year, I am thankful for a whole host of new things that deserve an entire post. Hell, in my opinion, they deserve a parade and a twitter account. But this will have to suffice.
First of all - I am thankful to me.
I am thankful that I never settled. I am thankful for every single time I ended a relationship with a guy because my gut told me to do so. I am thankful for my instincts - the ones I trusted even when my mom or my friends said, "But he's so great for you! Give him a chance! Stop being so picky!" I knew that if I just waited long enough and stood my ground that something magical would happen. I just KNEW.
I am thankful to the exes who broke my heart.
At the time, I am sure - because I remember - I was devastated. Confused. Angry with myself and terrified that those instincts I just thanked were all off. Turns out that they weren't because even then I knew on some level that the relationship wasn't meant to be. I just couldn't see past my own ego to recognize that. Even when I was miserable, and damn but wasn't I miserable? Even then, I knew that things were NOT RIGHT. So I thank my exes for realizing it before I did. It's all very clear now.
I am thankful for every single time I was belittled, or criticized, because it made me appreciate it so very much when I finally met someone who builds me up and never lets me get away with kicking my own ass.
I am thankful for every night I spent alone, reflecting on my past and considering how to shape my future. Analyzing my actions and knowing how to do it better next time. Like homework, I studied each relationship after it ended so that I could really learn the lessons. They all had lessons - some big and some small, but I took something each time.
I am thankful for every sappy love song and romantic movie that made me cry. They reminded me that I am not, in fact, dead inside, and that on some level - even after all of the breakups and crying and lamenting and studying - that I still believed enough in true love to keep putting myself out there.
I'm thankful for the handful - and I do mean, it is a SELECT FEW - of men in my life who have shown me that it is possible for a man to remain faithful. My grandad. My uncle Skitch. My cousin Jason. My friend Jeff. My own son, Brendan. I will never complain about being an attractive person - not to toot my own horn, because you guys know I'm not that girl. But being attractive - and especially being attractive and single - will open doors for you that are truly best left closed. I never realized how few people - men AND women - apparently struggle with fidelity. It is appalling to me, the number of propositions I have received from married, or otherwise coupled-up, men. APPALLING. Some think that because we are friends that I will take it as a compliment, I guess. Maybe they think that I will be so flattered by the attention that I will overlook the fact that they are offering me absolutely nothing in exchange for something. Perhaps they think that because of my age and singlehood that I am just desperate enough to partake. In any case, I am thankful for those few who have upheld that oh-so-high standard of fidelity because without them, I would never trust ANYONE. I don't trust many. But at least I know that I can trust some. One. And at the end of the day, he's the only one that matters anyway.
I am thankful for the firsts that I still have left. For someone who has been married....let's just say more than once....there are still some things that have never happened for me. Marriage was always about convenience, and logical deductions, and expectations. Six years later, I have learned some things. I don't know if I'll get married again or not. I like to think so. But I do know that if and when I do, that it will be for the right reasons, in the right way, at the right time. It won't be because I need a breadwinner. It won't be because the stick was blue. It damn sure won't be because there's nothing else left to do.
If there's anything I've learned about love it's that it has nothing to do with me. True love isn't about what I'm getting. It's about how much I want to give. It's not about finding someone who can fulfill me or meet my needs. It's about finding someone whose smile makes the world make sense, and knowing that I will do anything and everything to keep that smile in place. Happily. Selflessly. I wasn't sure that sort of thing existed. Truthfully, I just wasn't convinced that it would ever exist for me. I'd been too hurt and was way too jaded, I worried. But still I hoped anyway. Mostly I am thankful that I never gave up hope, when my situational cynicism tried to trump my natural optimism. I am thankful that loving someone does come naturally to me after all, when it's given so freely to me in return.
It's much too soon to reveal more than that. I could write pages about this. About all the new feelings, and firsts and lasts. I'm pretty sure I could write a novella just about his music. And maybe I will write about it all one day.