Is Valentine's Day Christian a holiday based on the story St. Valentine and his love letters from prison? Is it a Pagan holiday celebrating fertility and the impending arrival of spring? Is it a made-up holiday by Hallmark to get us to buy cards and chocolate? Or is it the most depressing day of the year because you're now, or on your way to be, single?
However this red and pink day came to be, it can be divine filled love and romance, or a day you really want to avoid because... ugh. Or it's the most depressing day of the year because you don't have a special one to share it with even if you think it's a stupid holiday.
So, let's talk about the depressing angle. If you're thinking about divorcing or actually in the process of divorcing right now, you probably want to stick your head in the sand until it's over or send a dozen black roses to your soon-to-be ex. Having seen the impact of hurtful actions on the divorce process, let me caution you from Googling "Black Roses" right now.
I encourage you to try very hard not to do anything that even slightly smells like revenge on this one day of the year that happens to fall during your divorce. It will only make things worse, I promise. So what should you do instead? There are a lot ideas out there including:
- spend time with other single friends
- relax into a spa day for yourself
- give gifts (in lieu of receiving any)
- do something you don't normally do, like horse back riding or roller skating
- stay home and bury yourself in books or movies (not depressing ones!)
- invite your favorite people over for a casual party or fancy meal
If your brain is swimming with "what if's" and "I wish's" then this might be a day you spend some time doing some internal work on yourself - Reflection. So you don't become swamped in sadness, create boundaries for thinking and set a timer for 30 minutes on any of these ideas:
- Sit quietly for a few minutes and think of the romantic disappointments from your marriage and other relationships. When the timer goes off, stop. Cut the paper into strips and then burn them. That's right, in a fire. Either your fire place, or sink, metal trash can. Somewhere safe, obviously. As you watch the flames, think "I'm letting them go. Buh bye, disappointments!" (Breathe!) Then, take another 30 minutes to write down your romantic desires. Do you like surprises? Flowers? Public adoration (like on Facebook?), hand holding? Coffee brought to you in the morning? Write it all down and keep the list somewhere safe, like a journal, so you can remember your needs and wants in your next relationship.
- Sit quietly for a few minutes and think about what other qualities you want in your next relationship. Honesty, tenderness, spontaneity, consistency, support. If that last one (support) comes up for you, take some extra time think about what exactly support looks like for you. Is it fair financial support? Or emotional support? Or professional support? What specifically would your partner do to express it?
- Sit quietly for a few minutes and think about your positive qualities. What are you good at when showing love and support or romance? What do you enjoy doing for other people, romantic or otherwise? How does your nice side show? Make a list and congratulate yourself for being a decent human being. Even if these behaviors are few and far between these days because of the stress of the divorce, I'm sure there are at least two in you. Sit and think about those two for while. Ask yourself to try and do those things more often for people you care about. I swear it's contagious and it will catch on.
Overall, try not to be too hard on yourself on this day or any other. In the very least, get through this season of love as best you can without doing harm to yourself or others. Then, on February 15, Carry On!