Tomorrow is the day we all hope to celebrate love. Valentine’s Day for the divorcee, however, turns into another “bah-humbug”. I’ve heard grumbling that the holiday is probably one developed by Hallmark in order to sell more gifts. In truth, the celebration day of Saint Valentine is older than any U.S. trademark. Celebrated since 496, the Romans came up with the holiday in mid-February.
Any time we celebrate love, it should be good right? I know that as a romantic person, I’ve always wanted Valentine’s Day to be special for my beloved even if I was broke. The day isn’t always a good one because life doesn’t stop just because we want to celebrate love. Star-crossed lovers and mismatched couples can find the day frustrating as well.
Though I begin to move out of the depression caused by my divorce, I am extremely suspicious about romance now. In the weeks leading up to Valentine’s Day, I found myself wanting to skip over the date completely or delete all social media accounts for that day, so I didn’t have to look at other sappy proclamations of love. What is wrong with this picture? The truth is, I believe in the power of love.
As a result, I decided last week that somehow, I was going to “reclaim” the day of love in a way that is meaningful to me. I’m not the only person to have been divorced recently? I know I can’t be the only person who dreads the holiday either. How could I reclaim the day? I started with the kid’s Valentine’s Day cards available at Dollar General.
I found some with a message I could stomach that hopefully wouldn’t scare the recipients of those I wanted to share with. Where the card had the “To and From” I simply added To: you, From: me. Creativity gave me an idea to write a positive note on a few. On others, I like the message of the card itself say what needed to be said. My hope was that as I share them, at the very least they will give the inner child of each human a smile.
Going to church this past Sunday I meant to take my cards with me. The wonderful people at Holy Cross Episcopal have brought much healing into my life after the divorce. My dog, Birdie, always rides with me to church though she stays in the Fiat. I was so busy making sure she would be warm enough that I forgot the cards. Didn’t remember them in fact until a friend at church, Bruce, stepped up to hand me a frame wrapped up in a baggie. He knows I’m a lesbian, so I knew that he wasn’t giving me a valentine in the sense that men often do for women. When I arrived home, I opened to read this wonderful message as a powerful reminder:
Love doesn’t make the world go round, it makes the ride worthwhile.
It was as though Bruce had listened to my prayer. Or perhaps God put a bug in Bruce’s ears that I needed to be reminded of the value of love. Love has been the most important aspect of all my life, vocation, and music. After all these years of a beautiful life, why would I give up totally on love now?
There’s no reason, of course, other than grief. The stages of grief take however long they take. The longer a person has been in a relationship, the longer the grief may take. In my case, I thought we were happily married so it’s taking longer to get to a point of being interested in others. That doesn’t mean I need to harden my heart to love, however. Love at its very best is working for the well-being of another and I can do that even while I grieve.
Another way to celebrate Valentine’s Day after a divorce, separation, or death is to be gentle with yourself. Don’t expect great joy. Spend the day with your favorite book, person, or dog (or cat or bird). Take yourself out for dinner to a place you always wanted to go but your ex didn’t want to go and try. Treat yourself gently and kindly because grief is a strange process and though there are many ways of looking at the stages of grief, no one knows what you need but you.
If the day still fills you with dread or misery, I encourage you to talk to a priest, pastor, or counselor who will listen to you and be kind. Many are caught up in difficult relationships. Some may be abusive and if so, a support system needs to be built. Life’s tragedies and trials can also throw kinks into otherwise good and healthy relationships. With love and gentleness, you can find your way back to a love that reminds you of the goodness of life.