To All the Men I’ve Loved Before: Thank You, Next

Tom. Trevor. Kyle. David.

That feels so fucking good.

You see, I never expected to write a post in which I used your actual names. I envisioned a blog I’d title something vague—Letters to My Exes and Ohs, for example—and use specific memories or words I thought you’d recognize to indicate which ex I was referencing in that letter.

But then Ariana Grande came through with a song that empowered me to speak to you directly (I’ll pause for your laughter over the fact that a pop song influenced me to write today. Welcome to the mind of Kendall Fisher! Lol). And even better—this song is almost exactly the way I’ve written all those letters to you in my head time and time again.

Society has set this precedent that you’re supposed to hate your exes. But I’ve never agreed with that.

All I’ve ever wanted to say was…Thank you.

So grab a glass of wine or whiskey or tequila (you all differ in taste). Here’s a toast to you:

Tom: Thank you for my very first love.

That speaks a million words already, doesn’t it? You taught me what it means to love. How fucking incredible is that? I had never known anything like it. I remember you picking me up in the mornings before school in your white Toyota Tundra, starting my day with a smile like sunshine, even when it was gloomy and gray. We were typically late. I remember meeting you by my locker in between classes—you always had a root beer in your backpack and a big hug ready to embrace me and melt my heart all at the same time. I remember sneaking into the football stadium after the 3rd of July and running through the high school telling myself, “This is what love is. This is what all the movies and books and songs have told me about. I never want this feeling to go away.”

And I remember fighting.

I saw my parents fight growing up. So, as I got older, I just assumed fighting was a part of true love. And I fought with you, so hard. I never got to tell you sorry for that.

We broke up about a year into our relationship. I moved on pretty quickly. We got back together for a moment in time, and throughout the years, we’d see each other here and there, and I always wondered, what if….

You’re married now.

I didn’t call you to tell you congratulations. I didn’t want to be the ex-girlfriend who still came around when you finally found your happy ending. But I was so fucking happy for you.

So let me end it this way: I’m sorry for fighting with you like I did. I’m still trying to overcome that flaw. I’m so happy for you and your beautiful wife and the life you’re creating together. And thank you. Thank you for being the perfect boy—at the time—to teach me what love really is, to prove to me from the start that I would never accept anything less than that kind of relationship and to care for me through all those years. I am so grateful.

Thank you, Tom, for my very first love.

Next.

Trevor: Thank You for a love that was never easy.

This one is difficult for me.

I was 18. You were 25. And you were married.

At the time, I had no idea what was going on. I was so fucking young and so fucking naïve. But my God did I love you. It’s not hard to do.

You swept me off my feet and kept me elevated with flowers and gifts and letters of love and lies. I know you’re a romantic. We’re so similar in that way. So I believed you because I believed in love and I believed in us.

You gave me the mature relationship I was looking for at such a tender age. We shared bank accounts and discussed credit scores. We went alone on vacations together and drank expensive champagne when neither of us could afford it. You cared for my mom and my brother in a way I could never describe. You showed me what it meant to be spoiled in love, and you set the bar high for every man who came after you. I’ve never expected anything less, eight years later.

And we fought. A lot.

I broke up with you every Thursday so I could go out partying with my college friends. You were reaching out to your (beautiful, amazing, kind, intelligent) ex-wife throughout our entire relationship.

I broke up with you because we both finally had it. A few months later, I called my mom crying—you’d gotten back together with her. I wasn’t crying out of sadness. I was, admittedly, a little embarrassed. However, I was mostly breathing a deep and important sigh of selfish relief. You two could finally continue writing the chapter you needed to write (and eventually conclude it in the proper way, too). And I would have nothing to do with it.

You’re married again now with two beautiful daughters who my best friend loves so much.

My best friend.

I almost lost her because I chose to love you. So, thank you, Erin, for forgiving me and loving me and being one of the world’s greatest friends when I really didn’t deserve it. I could never do life without you.

Thank you, Jen, for forgiving and accepting me. You are the epitome of kindness, compassion, understanding and strength. You inspire me.

And thank you, Trevor, for testing my ability to love through a challenging chapter. My skin thickened, and I accepted my teenage naivety as a lesson learned, and something I’d never let happen again. In turn, you taught me what it meant to be in a mature relationship, and your generous love set the bar high for all the men who came after you. You’re the ultimate Prince Charming. I know you’ve only ever wanted your happy ending. I hope you have that, and I am so grateful.

Thank you, Trevor, for a love that was never easy.

Next.

Kyle: Thank you for a love that never happened.

I contemplated whether I should really write about you in this.

But here I am.

I loved you. I never told you at the time. You were the first person with whom I’ve ever experienced heartbreak from a different perspective.

You were intelligent and mysterious, goofy and handsome. You loved your family and cared for your friends. So many girls wanted you, and you were unattainable.

I hoped so badly to be your girlfriend. I did everything to make it happen—I dressed the way you liked. I acted the way you liked. I made myself available around your schedule. I was everything I’d promised I’d never be. When I loved you, I stopped loving myself. It’s no wonder you never loved me back.

Thank you for teaching me that lesson.

Never again would I change myself for a man. Never again would I prioritize a relationship over my self-worth. Never again would I stop loving me.

You showed up to my mom’s funeral a few months after we’d stopped hanging out. You were the first person there and the last person I’d ever tell my mom I loved. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

You taught me one of life’s most valuable lessons.

Thank you, Kyle, for never a love that never happened.

Next.

David: Thank you for a love that will last a lifetime.

You hate when I write about you.

But writing about you is one of my greatest gifts to this world.

I’ll start by saying thank you for that.

We dove headfirst and never looked back. We were exactly the right people we needed in our lives at exactly the right time. And we loved each other in a way that we never loved before, and we’ll never love again.

Yes, you read that correctly. I will never love another person the way I loved you.

We shared a once-in-a-lifetime kind of love that everyone should experience. A love that was deep and passionate and fiery and fearless, and yet I still feel like I could never piece together a string of words to properly describe it.

There’s a certain craziness that comes with this kind of love—a Bonnie and Clyde, ride-or-die, all-encompassing, up and down rollercoaster of dependence and support and comfort and jealousy and memories and constant questioning about whether it’s something you can really hold onto for the rest of time.

It’s my belief, now, that the answer to that question is no. You simply can’t sustain that kind of love in a lifelong relationship. But it’s a kind of love that lasts a lifetime.

I find so much comfort in knowing you will always be that person for me.

Thank you for giving me that.

Thank you loving me and all my curves and edges. Thank you for understanding me like no one else could. Thank you for holding my hand when I jumped and picking me up when I fell. Thank you for supporting my family through some incredibly trying times. Thank you for years of patience when we were living paycheck-to-paycheck, struggling to make ends meet. Thank you for nights of cheap pizza and cheap wine and for never giving up on your dreams or mine. Thank you for memories I’ll always cherish.

Thank you for being my friend. Thank you for having my back through it all.

I am so grateful.

Thank you, David, for a love that will last a lifetime.

Next.

Easton: Thank you for a love that accepts all of this.

The first thing I ever noticed about you was your eyes. You have the kindest eyes I’ve ever seen.

Now I know your eyes are a reflection of your soul.

You are the best person I’ve ever known. You’re kind and patient and understanding and loyal and compassionate and intelligent and funny and talented and supportive, and you have the biggest heart in the world—a heart with which you choose to love me.

ME.

It boggles my mind to this day—after everything we’ve been through, you continue to choose to love me.

It’s a love that I’ve always needed, and the love I never knew existed. As Frank Sinatra would say, it’s a love that makes me feel so young, and yet somehow, it’s the most mature love I’ve ever known. You’ve shown me how to let love in when it’s knocking at my door, and how to fight for love when it would be easier to just give up. You’ve loved me in my darkest days and in some of the best days of my life. You love my crazy family and my crazy friends and my crazy brain and my even crazier heart.

I believe that every love throughout my life has led me to you, and I love that you are the kind of man who acknowledges that. The kind of man who can read this and respect it and tell me you love me for all the things of my past, my present and my future.

You love me exactly for who I am.

Thank you, Easton, for a love that accepts all of this. I am so grateful.

There’s no next.

But there is one last person I’d like to thank.

Kendall: Thank you for loving as courageously as you do.

My whole life my dad told me I will never know who I am until I’m alone.

Well, I love you, Dad. But you and I both know that’s not entirely true.

I am my best self when I’m loving someone else. And I think that’s what makes me the woman I am today.

I know what it means to love and let go. I know what it means to feel shattered after breaking someone’s heart, to feel worthless after rejection and what it takes to get back up after all of it. I know what it means to have the courage to leave years of memories behind, and I know what it means to have the courage to start another chapter. I know what it means to have the strength and trust and faith and courage to feel and give the greatest gift life has to offer…

I know what it means to love.

Thank you, to all the men I’ve loved before.

Next.

PS: If you haven’t already, Listen to Ariana Grande’s song right now: https://arianagrande.lnk.to/thankunext

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