Valentine’s Day. The day we celebrate “love” with things like candy, flowers, and heart-shaped things. ❤️🌹🍫

For some of us, Valentine’s Day is a fun celebration of love, albeit cliché. Some people are neutral. Some are lonely. And some of us find Valentine’s Day to be full of painful memories. I fit into a couple of these categories.

I’ve written before about my experience as someone who was in an emotionally abusive relationship, and one particularly bad argument around Valentine’s Day. For years, Valentine’s Day was a painful reminder of an argument with my ex that caused a lot of pain and struggles. Years after that event, even when he would send flowers to my work, or buy chocolates, it felt forced. I would praise him on social media and put on a veil of a happy marriage, like my Instagram post below (which were anniversary flowers, not Valentine’s flowers). Valentine’s never felt like a celebration, though. It felt like a reminder that I was stuck in a “death do us part” contract to someone I could no longer connect with. I thought if I kept telling myself I was in a happy marriage, I would eventually BE happy. I realized that is not how it works. Honestly, Valentine’s Day, and the thought of love in general was this reminder that I was unhappy in my life. At the time I thought that is where I would stay emotionally.

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I had always loved the idea of Valentine’s Day. A day to show someone you love what they mean to you. Not to mention I love chocolate and flowers, and if someone who loved me bought me some I’d gladly accept them as a token of their love. It’s expensive, though. And when you’ve combined finances, it’s hard to keep these things a surprise. So eventually I gave up on it after I got married. I tried a couple times to plan something sweet but it usually blew up on me.

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As you can see in the above Facebook post from 2012, I used to struggle to be happy for couples in love because I couldn’t help but consider the bad relationship I was in for over 11 years. When the divorce was over, I finally started to learn how to love myself again and I was truly happy for people getting married, because I knew not all relationships end the way mine did. Some couples really fit well together and are a good partnership. But it took steps for me to get there. First I had to be happy with myself.

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I had convinced myself that romantic love was completely off the table for me. I was perfectly happy being a single mom. Here I am now. For over a year I’ve been in a relationship with someone who often shows me he how much he cares about me, and that it’s not necessary to wait until Valentine’s to show someone love. While he and I were not able to spend today together, we both know how much we’re valued. We show it whenever we spend time together.  As someone who has been in a really bad spot and was convinced romantic love wasn’t in the cards for me, I am still frequently surprised by how incredible it feels to be loved and valued, and to return the feelings.

Knowing today wasn’t going to work, we have plans to celebrate Valentine’s together down the road. I did, however, celebrate with my kids by buying them big heart shaped boxes filled with chocolate and cards so they know how much I love them. To me, Valentine’s isn’t just about romance. Instead we can use it to share love with all the people in our lives. I am now able to enjoy the super cliché holiday of Valentine’s Day. The pain of the past is a distant memory

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So, why am I writing this?

I’m writing this because I know some of you have stories like mine. Or maybe you’re still living the story. Disappointment. Sadness. Loneliness. I want to take a moment to let you know, you are not alone. Even in a relationship, Valentine’s Day can be a struggle for many of us. I also want to give you hope. It is possible that the negative emotions surrounding Valentine’s Day can change over time. Even if you don’t think it’s possible, I will testify that I have never in my life been as happy as I am now.

Whether or not you got flowers, a card, or chocolate, make sure to take time to show yourself love today. You’re worth it!

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Love,

~Bettering Bonnie