(The Hardest) Lesson Learned

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I ran across your picture today
As I was cleaning out my things
And for a second I paused to remember
My, now meaningless, wedding ring.

It still hangs around my dog tags,
It's still strung around my neck,
Because for all the pain it brings,
I can't seem to get rid of it just yet.

I don't know what purpose it serves now, per se;
If it's to remind me of what I've done wrong
Or to remind me of what I've done right,
Or maybe just to reiterate what I've known all along…

When you rush into things in the heat of the moment,
When you love without pause to consider the cost,
When you're young and you don't know any better,
You associate forever to come with the innocence lost.

Cold metal suddenly means he loves you,
Around your left ring finger it means you belong
To the person you gave your body to while
Your heart screams, oh-so-knowingly, that you're wrong.

But you're young and you're stupid and weren't thinking
When you gave your body so blindly away,
Because you read all those love stories and naively
Thought that because he was your first, he would stay.

But now the sad reality looms before me,
Now with truth-knowing, tired eyes, I can see,
That all those damn romance novels are full of lies;
That love's a bit more complicated, in all reality.

Now I concede resignedly that I was young and foolish
As I stare at my old ring with tearful, misty eyes.
And I'll admit to having readily, without question, accepted
All those fairytale clichés and white lies.

Love has nothing to do with the innocence you lost.
Just because he says he'll stay doesn't make it true.
And when he says 'I love you' listen carefully, because
Your heart, more than anything, will know what to do.

And as I ponder these harsh truths in my mind
I realize with a pang what purpose that ring now will serve:
As a reminder of the mistakes I made by not following my heart
And as a reminder of the love in life that I really deserve.

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L. Sherman
1-17-2011