Valentine’s Day is almost upon us. This time of year brings back childhood memories of preparing my Valentine box for school and addressing cards for each of my classmates. It also reminds me of celebrating Valentine’s Day with my first sweetheart and my first, heartbroken, Valentine’s Day after my divorce. This year I expect I’ll be celebrating the day at home with my partner and son ~ maybe a take-out meal and movie on the couch – pandemic style.
Valentine’s Day can be a beautiful day to celebrate love. It can also be a difficult day for those who find themselves alone. There are a lot of expectations around Valentine’s Day. Even if one is happily single and not looking for love, this day can bring up feelings of not measuring up. For those in unhealthy or abusive relationships, it becomes just another day of pretending. In our culture (especially at Valentine’s Day) our worth is often measured by whether or not we are happily coupled.
I love this brutally honest quote from Cheryl Strayed in Tiny Beautiful Things:
Love is the feeling we have for those we care deeply about and hold in high regard. It can be light as the hug we give a friend or heavy as the sacrifices we make for our children. It can be romantic, platonic, familial, fleeting, everlasting, conditional, unconditional, imbued with sorrow, stoked by sex, sullied by abuse, amplified by kindness, twisted by betrayal, deepened by time, darkened by difficulty, leavened by generosity, nourished by humor and “loaded with promises and commitments” that we may or may not want or keep.
Love is complicated. Don’t feel like you have to simplify it or explain it for the sake of Valentine’s Day. If you feel like making a grand romantic gesture, go ahead. Just know that your grand romantic gesture may or may not be reciprocated. And that’s okay. Most of all, love yourself enough to know that your worth doesn’t have anything to do whether you are coupled or uncoupled. Celebrate friendship! Celebrate family! Celebrate you!
Love is beautiful. Love is challenging. It can all be true. It is all true.