Ever since I moved to the US 18 years ago, Valentine’s Day has fascinated me. I think I immediately started using the day as an opportunity to hope that my crush would reveal their undying like (not love…guys I was 8) for me.
It’s easy to see where I always set myself up for disappointment. And I can’t say too much has changed. I mean, I’m older now. A few guys have actually told me that they like me (even loved me! I’m 26 now so that’s more acceptable). And sometimes I was even in a relationship on Valentine’s Day. But I don’t think I’ve ever not been disappointed.
After years of absolutely hating this day, this year, after by far my saddest separation ever, I’m finding a lot of peace with it. Don’t get me wrong, the week leading up to this day has been HELL. And now that the day is finally here, I’m a little sad, and I can feel some low grade anxiety just chilling in my throat, but I’m also not catatonic, I’m not angry at the universe, or scared that I’ll be alone forever.
One reason for my sadness is that it took me until yesterday to realize that for all the pressure and stress I put on February 14th, all I ever wanted was for the guy I liked/loved to give me something cheesy/cliché/romantic. Just some chocolates and a rose (or a red carnation in high school). A teddy bear maybe. Just something.
I think I started feeling ashamed that I bought into this holiday. Ashamed that I wanted something so silly and cliché. But as Pete is wont to say “Clichés, as banal and superficial as they might seem, always express a great unbearable truth.” (and yes, I texted him on Valentine’s Day so I could quote him. So sue me).
I’m just sad that a year ago, when I was with a man I loved who loved me too, I didn’t have the knowledge to say “I don’t want anything big, but I would feel so special and loved if you bought me something cheesy for Valentine’s Day.” Or even the strength to just go and buy them for myself. Because that’s what I ended up doing yesterday. And it didn’t feel sad or desperate like I worried it would. It felt good. And kind. And loving.
Instead, I tried to hint about Valentine’s Day. I asked if we would do something. And when I didn’t know what I wanted, what to ask for, and therefore didn’t get it, I planted a tiny seed of resentment in me.
So much of a relationship is learning to ask for what you need and want.
So much of self-love and self-care is learning that you are capable of providing most all of those things for yourself. That’s not to say it’s not nice if someone else also provides them for you, but it’s not necessary.
So if you love Valentine’s Day, that’s amazing. Be open about it. Shout it out for the world to hear. Ask your loved one(s) to celebrate it with you. If Valentine’s Day is just another day for you, that’s great too! But don’t bash on someone who does love Valentine’s Day and finds this day hard. Don’t stomp on their truth just because it isn’t yours.
Please find love and empathy for each other, every day, but today of all days. And never feel bad about using a cliché or two!