By Daryn Kagan EBS Contributor

She wasn’t the gift I was expecting. Not from my boyfriend. A very long ago boyfriend, I should clarify.

This is a story about where we get our people. About how ugly can sometimes, sometimes, leave behind a treasure.

There was so much wrong with this particular relationship-red flags from the beginning. And yet I stayed-for years. I, the columnist who writes about a healthy marriage, raising kids, you know, normal-ish stuff.

I’m so disappointed when I look at that much younger me. I cringe at all that I put up with; I’m ashamed, really. I think I was hoping the joy I felt hanging around the super fun guy would transform him into a stand-up man. It never happened.

His ex-girlfriend was one of the first red flags. They were still friends. “Oh, heck, no!” I insisted, seeing things in a 22-year-old’s black and white way.

Boyfriend looked unfazed. “No one gives up Lois,” he explained. “To meet her is to love her. You’ll see.”

Of all the crazy stunts he pulled over the years, I have to say, Lois turned out not to be one of them.

I met her and instantly knew he was right. You can’t not like Lois. She’s like a fairy godmother, a sugary pixy stick, and giggly delight wrapped up into one person. Boyfriend and I kept Lois. Even long after we let go of each other, which was way too long after we should have.

He and I stayed friends, in a way, too. We’d check in from time to time over the years, until his bad choices, the things he insisted he could handle, got the best of him and he died.

It’s been years now. In the unexpected way life can twist, Lois was recently in the city where I live for a work thing.

“Dinner?” she texted, pointing out it was the anniversary of the day he passed.

“Absolutely,” I replied.

She pranced into the restaurant, as sparkly as if I’d seen her yesterday. We toasted him, briefly bemoaned his demons, and then had our own night.

He was wrong about just about everything-except Lois. He couldn’t give himself fully to either one of us, but somehow, he gave us each other.

In that, he was right, so very right. No one gives up Lois.

I suspect I’m not alone in having a special person walk through an unexpected door. You too, Dear Reader? You, who survived too long in a bad relationship, and came out with scars, regrets, and possibly shame.

And, hopefully, some treasure that broken person left behind-a friend, a former in-law, your kid.

There’s no them without him. A different kind of clarity all these years later. For that, I’m thankful. For the lessons. For the love. For the gift I wasn’t expecting.

Daryn Kagan was a featured speaker at TEDxBigSky 2018. She is author of “Hope Possible: A Network News Anchor’s Thoughts on Losing her Job, Finding Love, a New Career, and my Dog, Always my Dog,” and the founder of darynkagan.com, a resource for uplifting and positive news.