Ahh, Valentine’s Day. A day known for mushy romance, never-ending love, flowers and candy—and sometimes feeling left out, unloved, alone.
I always thought special things were supposed to happen on Valentine’s Day. I mean, they’ve made movies about it, for goodness’ sake. Unfortunately, that often led to me feeling left out as a singleton, or let down when my significant other didn’t quite hit the target.
I’ve spent Valentine’s Day in a variety of ways. I’ve been in a loving and committed relationship and spent the day eating delicious chocolates from my main squeeze. I’ve spent the day mourning a love who was taken from us too soon. I’ve been in a complicated relationship where we never agreed or got to see one another. I’ve been single and happy. I’ve been in a relationship and miserable. I’ve spent the day crying over a relationship that failed altogether.
But something strange happened when I began my recovery journey; I learned to love myself. I learned that I can be unapologetically me and I’m worth loving! It certainly wasn’t easy, and it definitely didn’t happen quickly. But one day at a time, I learned about myself a little bit more. I found an ounce of compassion for myself, and then I found another one. I saw a strength in myself for even beginning a recovery journey. I found that I was perfect at being me and no one else. I hadn’t before realized how hard I had been on myself (and the people around me). It was a relief to finally see how worthy of love I truly am!
Now, what does that mean for St. Valentine and his band of overblown romantics? It means that I get to spend the day loving myself—whether I’m in a relationship or not. Over the last several years, regardless of who I’m with (or without), I treat myself. I wake up in the morning and remind myself that I love me. And that’s what matters most! Then, I connect with my favorite people and let them know I’m thinking of them. I snuggle with my fur baby. I give myself permission to be sad if I’m feeling low. And if that’s the case, I get myself to a meeting.
This year, I’ll be attending a WEconnect all recovery meeting where I know I can hear shares from peers who are on similar journeys. And that’s me treating myself. Being able to feel a part of a community where my relationship status doesn’t matter is a gift I get to give myself. I believe that’s what I draw strength from: the love of myself and the love of an accepting community.
Valentine’s Day didn’t magically get easier for me, and goodness knows the cards, candies, and flowers are still floating around out there. That’s never going to change, and I accept it. But what did change was me, and the way that I see and accept myself. For that, I’m forever grateful.
Whatever you do (or don’t do!) this Valentine’s Day, I invite you to remember yourself, honor who you are at this moment, and reflect on all the reasons that you get to love yourself. Remember that you are always worthy of self-love… regardless of your relationship status.