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Everything I Learned About Love

December 18, 2015

Who taught you about love? Did you discover all there was to know about love from your first grade-school crush? Perhaps you learned from having your heart broken for the first time?

I can honestly say I learned all that I know about love and sacrifice from my father. My mother once told me that my father was the love of her life, which always struck me as odd considering the Greek tragedy that was their relationship.

My mother met my father after a divorce and thought she had met her soulmate. A single mother with several kids meets a single man her age and decide that they were perfect for each other. They lived happily ever after until my mother discovered that not only was my father not single, he had three kids and a wife!

My mother discovered the truth about my father after she was pregnant with his child! This dynamic explained not only why my father was an inconsistent presence in my life, but why I endured a series of traumatic events that shaped my childhood.

One event involved my father’s estranged wife trying to burn our house down when I was a baby. A few years later she shot at my mother and I when we went out for ice cream when I was six years old.

Despite all the negative history my mother had of my father she told me after his death that he was “the love of her life!”

Anger issues and coping with trauma aside, I spent my life trying to overcome the circumstances that were my childhood years. I made some promises as a child, and although they were initially made in anger, as an adult I’ve strived to keep every single promise.

He may not have been the best husband or father for that matter, but I managed to construct the man I am today simply by dealing with the circumstances of my life.

My father was not a perfect man by any shape of the imagination nor do I claim to be perfect myself. Growing up with my circumstance did, however, teach me a few valuable lessons in life. The first thing it taught me was that regardless of where you come from you have the ability to choose who and what you become.

I also learned that we can live a lifetime blaming people who are no longer with us for the choices that we make as adults. When I found myself seeking a career in psychology, I once again reflected on my childhood and determined that there are no coincidences in life.

Every unfortunate circumstance pushed me to do better; every setback made me strive to become better. Although I may have had a valid reason for settling the memory of where I came from caused me to want more.

Every promise that I currently try to keep to my wife and kids all stem from having grown up as a kid who was all too familiar with broken promises. As a kid who grew up watching his mother reminisce about an imperfect man as the love of her life, I knew the type of man I was going to become.

The circumstances and statistics all suggest that I would turn out to be for better or worse exactly like my father, but I believe that we make our own choices, we determine our future.

At an early age, I learned to value our connection to people and the importance of keeping your word. I learned the importance of making and keeping a vow. I learned the value of integrity and how much we are willing to endure all because of love.

It’s ironic that in being a prototypical bad example of what a husband and father should be my father inspired me to be the man I am today. Everything I learned about being a man, loving my wife, caring for my kids is linked back to my childhood.

Everything I learned about loving my kids came from being a neglected kid. Everything I learned about loving my wife came from the circumstances of being the product of adultery. Everything I learned about keeping my promises and honoring my vows, I learned from my father.

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