Ohhhh Valentine’s Day – a day of love and appreciation of you and your partner. You have your chocolates, your flowers, maybe a sexy evening planned out. It’s a means to celebrate a relationship in its entirety. A day to acknowledge the hardships you have endured together, the difficult sacrifices you have made, as well as the faith and unconditional love you both share for each other.
And it is important to remember that Valentine’s Day isn’t exclusively for couples. It is an important day for everyone. Valentine’s Day, like many holidays and anniversaries, may not be experienced the same from person to person. As a psychologist, I’ve seen several clients that have struggled coping with the loss of a loved one. I’ve been through it myself. Multiple times. Either through breakups or unfortunate passings, holidays like Valentine’s Day can be a difficult reminder of a valued relationship that is no longer there.
Yes, Valentine’s Day is about the love you share with another, but it can also be a reminder of “the one that got away,” or an opportunity for you to reflect about feelings you haven’t fully processed yet. Wounds can reopen. You can have those really sad and angry thoughts and feelings like there’s some unfinished business that is leaving you unsatisfied – that you are still holding onto the hope of getting back together even if it’s not possible, or failing to find a way to move on. Or maybe it still hurts that your partner wronged you and you haven’t gotten the justice or closure you deserve. Relationship loss can be so challenging to move on from because it makes up so much of your identity. It can be a tough day, and it can be an opportunity for you to rewrite what Valentine’s Day means to you.
This might mean that you have to allow yourself to feel those feelings. A hard lesson in life is understanding that pain from loss is an unfortunate symptom of being a person. Sometimes adversity, at least initially, makes people meaner, not stronger. You’re tapped out for a little. Grief comes in phases not stages, and it will take as much time as it needs to process fully (if that’s even possible). Acceptance is hard. And you can find a way (or ways) to make today a little bit more enjoyable for yourself.
Today is not the day for you to dwell negatively on past relationships. It is not a day for you to mourn the possibilities of what could have been. It is not a day for you to punish yourself for the mistakes you believe you made that might have influenced the way your relationship ended. Today is about today. It’s a day for you to celebrate how you have decided to move forward, how you have endured those moments of stuckness, how you have opened your heart again and began to expand your world. If those negative thoughts and feelings come up – give them an arena, but give them a time limit. After you feel those feelings, give them a tip of the hat, acknowledge their presence, and remind yourself to work on doing something that will make today feel a little more satisfying than yesterday. Do something that is solely a celebration of you and your capacity to spread love. A great place to start is by showing yourself the love you deserve. You just have to go out there and “make a try”.
Valentine’s Day could be an opportunity for you to reconnect with others and expand your world of possibilities. Even if you feel alone, remind yourself that you are not a party of one. You are a member of multiple communities. You have other places in your world that you are loved or can be loved. That could be with your family and friends, with people at places you’ve worked at, or with people at places of worship. You have other places. Access them. Spend your time there and enhance those relationships. Go through that morning scroll and tag an extra few friends in some memes and see what happens. Send a text or a snap to an old colleague or friend and see what they’re up to. Reconnect with your faith or find someone to talk shop with.
Valentine’s Day is about celebrating a culmination of small victories, more or less. Remind yourself of how scrappy you are. Make the day about fulfilling an intention to do something great. Great can mean browsing Spotify to find a new song that lifts you up, hitting up the gym or going for a run, or challenging yourself to try something new. Gently push yourself out of your comfort zone and appreciate how courageous you are.
If you wanna swipe right, go ahead. See what’s out there on the dating scene. If not, it’s okay too. The perfect Valentine’s Day might be to squad up on Xbox with some friends and play Fortnite all night. Or it could be going out with friends at the bar. Maybe you’ve been holding back with the person you’ve been dating and now is the time to allow yourself to truly be intimate again. Or maybe it’s none of these ideas. It’s up to you to determine how you’re going to make today about you. But a good start is to have the intention to give yourself the love YOU deserve. Be creative in how you’re going to implement that.
Remember, you are special. There is no one out there like you. The remnants of the past can still hurt AND you can still be present and hopeful at the same time. Allow yourself to be you and be at ease about it. Today is about you. It’s about the love you share with others, and most importantly, the love you have and appreciate for yourself. And if you are in a relationship, try doing it anyway!
Happy Valentine’s Day.