Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. Not welcome news if you lack a romantic partner, yet burn for one. While the world obsesses over coupleship, Valentine's Day magnifies feelings of loneliness for those mourning loss, smarting from a relationship's demise, and those who have been too darn lonely, for too darn long.
The flood of Valentine's Day advertisements is unending. Ads featuring ghastly jewelry, molded into ridiculous, unidentifiable shapes, supposedly representing hearts entwined, hearts aligned, hearts resigned, or brains over-wined, are enough to make the forlorn opine. Far worse are the cantaloupe bouquets, which are code for Honey, I love you so much, I made the executive decision that you have enough chocolate on those thighs to last a lifetime. Or the weirdest gift: a stuffed teddy bear and flannel pajamas from a Vermont company via Fed Ex. What does a grown woman do with a stuffed bear and grammie jammies on Valentine's Day?
Hmmm... chop off its head and toss it to the curb with the soon-to-be-ex's toothbrush? And from December 1st through February 15th, what single person doesn't prefer nails on a chalkboard to the jingle, "Every kiss begins with Kay?"
In the past I've dreaded Valentine's Day because it reminds me of my failed marriage and magnifies my deepest fear: I may live my entire life without being truly cherished by a life partner. I don't need another husband, but it would feel great to know someone always has my back. Besides the cherishing part, who the hell will drive me to chemo someday? Open the pickle jar when my boys are gone? And tell me the lines on my face are a beautiful sign of inner strength? My dog doesn't drive, doesn't have thumbs and has never uttered a word in my presence.
I admit I suffer from dramatic tendencies and Valentine's Day can unleash feelings of loneliness that even a gold foil box of Godiva chocolates can't cure. During my divorce years, I had pity parties in my pink fuzzy robe. I'd imagine happy couples, holding hands, running through fields of wildflowers, embracing as they met in the middle. Of course once my imaginary couple embraced, one would say, "Hey, did you pick up the poster board for Johnny's science fair project?" And the other would answer, "What? No! Oh, my God! You said you were getting it."
And how about the awkward commercial played during football games - the one with the senior couple sitting in bathtubs? I can convince myself these moments of coupleship bliss actually occur. But in my twisted imagination, the relaxed senior couple, sit side by side (albeit in separate bathtubs,) hold hands and enjoy the view from a hilltop, while casually waiting for the right moment... the moment she needs him to open her jar of pickles. It's a better scenario, don't you think? Rather than visualizing the old guy stand up, soaking wet with an erection, and clumsily attempt to climb into the woman's tub....yeah, that's just nasty.
This year I'm feeling different as Valentine's Day approaches. I'm working to forgive myself for my divorce and the pain it's caused my children - weekly upheaval, anxiety, the ridiculous label of being from a broken home, and enduring social consequences they don't deserve. I'm striving not to compare myself to life situations of others-- even those damn happy couples. I'm focused on the future; learning to love myself enough to believe I deserve a bright one. I don't need to spend another year punishing myself. It's time to move forward.
Yep, the white picket fence blew up in my face and I've mourned the loss of that dream for two years. In those years of grief and despair, self-care went out the window. I was alive, but I wasn't living. I'd lay in my bed, as if playing dead, drained of emotional and physical energy; waiting for the day to pass and darkness to descend. Although pathetic, on certain days, it was the only way for me to survive another day. I was paralyzed with fear of an unknown future. Looking back, I realize how far I've come.
So this Valentine's Day, I won't stay home in my robe, even if a date doesn't pan out. I won't watch Lifetime movies. I won't wish for a mangled heart necklace, an edible bouquet...and I think we all know how I feel about stuffed animals. I don't need any of that crap to know I'm worthy of love. I have everything I need within me: faith, hope and strength. So do you!