When Valentine’s Day SUCKS – 4 Ways to Deal
I was going to begin this article by reminiscing about my very painful, very first Valentine’s Day post-divorce. That is, until the fog in my brain cleared and I remembered that my marriage actually ended on February 23rd 2015 – more than a week after Valentine’s.
Yet I still remember the day vividly. It was a sunny, summery Saturday here in Australia and I had never felt as bone crushingly lonely as I did then. My husband had not yet left me but he was on the brink of it. I knew it, even if I didn’t want to believe it.
I also knew about the other much younger woman, and my brain was having a field day torturing me with images of her, and of her and my husband together.
The funny thing is that until this particular Valentine’s, I’d never been overly concerned with it as a day. Maybe it was the security I felt having a husband by my side (I married at twenty-two), or my pragmatic nature, or a combination of the two.
Whatever the reason, Valentine’s Day had just never bothered me too much. Some years my husband bought me flowers and some years – most years – he did not. Whatever.
This day was different. My marriage was imploding before my eyes and I had already, unwittingly, began grieving it. And grief, I now know, has a kinda cruel way of highlighting all that is wrong or missing in our lives and making them a bazillion times worse.
I spent the day agonising over what my husband’s next move would be, convincing myself that he would buy her flowers (or worse) and obsessing about what – if anything – he would buy me. I was already feeling shitty and Valentine’s Day just compounded the shittiness I was feeling.
I’m pleased to report that by the time Valentine’s Day 2016 rolled around I was in much better shape. I had come a long way in my journey of acceptance and healing and had learned a LOT about what was – and was not – important in life.
If you’re currently having a difficult time dealing with the fact that it’s Valentine’s Day again, take heart. There absolutely are ways you can make the day easier. Check out my list below.
4 ways to deal with Valentine’s Day when it truly sucks:
1. Change your PERCEPTION of it
Acknowledge the fact that as with Christmas, Valentine's Day is just another day. Excruciating as it may seem at the time, it won't last forever.
Think of it like this: it is just another Hallmark day. And there is nothing wrong with this, as long as you keep your expectations in check. I used to cringe at the people I saw walking down the street cradling huge bouquets of flowers on Valentine’s Day, now I think it’s kind of cute.
Of course, lovey dovey shop displays and people on the street are one thing – social media can be another altogether. If you’re finding yourself struggling with the endless displays of love and affection, SWITCH YOUR PHONE OFF. Put it firmly away and out of your mind. Remind yourself, again and again, that the things you see on social media are not always indicative of reality!
2. Make it a day of SELF-LOVE
Who says Valentine’s Day needs to be exclusively about loving a significant other? Why not make it a day of loving YOU?
This is an especially important (and lovely) idea if you’ve recently endured a breakup, separation or divorce. Why? Because being alone and grieving the end of a partnership teaches us – if we’re willing to learn – that self-love is infinitely more valuable than any form of external love.
It teaches us that ultimately one’s relationship status is irrelevant when it comes to dealing with one’s own self-love or abandonment issues. Truth is, until we learn – truly learn – how to love ourselves, we can’t fully love another.
Partnered or not, it is never a bad idea to spend time on you. I didn’t realise this fact when I was married; I realise it now. I learned the very hard way, but it is a lesson that I know will never leave me.
Self-love can start with simply looking after yourself. With doing the things that make you feel good, and teaching yourself in the process that you are worth every minute of this love and care.
3. Make it a day for loving FRIENDS
Again, who says Valentine’s Day needs to be exclusively about loving a significant other? Love can take MANY forms – another valuable lesson my divorce gifted me was the importance of maintaining friendships. Of regularly letting my friends know that they were important to me. Of taking the time to randomly contact them, just because. I wasn’t always great at this when I was married.
If you’re feeling particularly sad or lonely this Valentine’s Day – call or text someone close to you. Chances are, they’re feeling the same as you.
4. Do something USEFUL or CREATIVE
To this day, I find this one of the best ways to get myself out of a depressed and anxious funk. Laying on my bed willing my thoughts and the world to go away is never terribly effective (strange that). Getting up and sorting my wardrobe, or pulling weeds, or writing an article, or cleaning the bathroom or cooking, is. Even though it sometimes takes a LOT of willpower to commence.
The feeling that comes with having completed something that I originally had no intention of starting does wonders for my state of mind when I’m feeling down and out. Needless to say, it’s a MUCH nicer feeling than merely giving in to the spiral of despair and sadness. Give it a go. You may be pleasantly surprised.
Are you dreading Valentine's Day? What do you plan to do with the day? Please, share in the comments!
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