For the last three years, I have been noticeably single on Valentine’s Day. Dating on and off, no real commitment to speak of. Casual “Happy Valentine’s Day!’ texts littered my inbox, an occasional chocolate or two. But nothing real.
And let me tell you, nothing echoes the silence of your heart like being alone on Valentine’s Day. I grew to hate the “Hallmark holiday,” as I coined it. A day completely fabricated by the money-making mongers who wanted to capitalize on and monetize our love.
When I divorced in 2019 on January 14th, I didn’t realize I’d be setting the tone for the next few years. See, I put an offer
in on a house the same day we finalized our split in court, and it was accepted. I officially closed on my new home and took the keys on February 14th, just a month later. I was single, newly divorced, not attached to anyone in particular, and for the first time in nearly a decade, alone on V-Day. I mentally re-branded the holiday - “It’s all about showing myself a healthy dose of self-love,” I argued. There were no flowers, no chocolates, no love notes waiting for me. But I was content and in love with my children, my new house, my new life, me.
Because while no man stood beside me to prop me up, congratulate me or encourage me, my two children danced on the front steps of the new house, as I stood in the yard taking a Boomerang. They were giddy at dinner later that night, talking about how they were going to design their new rooms, hanging all over me. They were proud of me, they were happy. Hell, I was happy.
The next night, two of my best friends met me at our new abode, cleaning supplies in hand. They helped me unload the U-Haul I had packed up on my own and cleaned the entire place until it sparkled like an engagement ring surely being placed on some lucky woman’s hand that night. Valentine’s Day weekend and here they were, elbow deep in cobwebs and Scrubbing Bubbles, instead of feasting on four-course meals at five-star locations. Instead of leaving me to drown in a puddle of my own tears and hang myself from the rope in the back of the U-Haul, they rallied around me, showing me support I’d certainly never felt and wasn’t quite sure I deserved. I hadn’t been single since I was 18, and they knew this one would be hard - the first single anything after a divorce always is. But then add to it the idea of buying a fucking house and moving out of your marital home while your ex spends it doting on his new girlfriend… Let’s just say that weekend could have ended 1,000 different ways.
For too long, I had relied on a man to fill the holes in my heart - the holes He had created. But that weekend, I began to patch them, with some help from my friends.
The next two Valentines’ Days weren’t anything to envy. In 2020, I was seeing someone who had more love for Tequila and other girls’ beds than he did for me. So when I showed up for dinner with a small gift in tow, he expressed gratitude but was clear that he “didn’t really celebrate Valentine’s Day” and exclaimed “I didn’t think we were at a place where we were doing this sort of thing.” Lesson learned: read the signs and stop pouring yourself into a bottomless shot glass of a human who will give you nothing but a hangover, bad sex, a sense of regret, and a series of mixed emotions.
Fast forward to 2021. Thought I was onto something with the cop I’d been cozying up to for two months. Dinner in at his place, chocolate-covered strawberries, and adult festivities. But then came the let-down. Cuddles included existential questions like “Do you ever wonder where your life went wrong? Like, this just isn’t where I thought I’d be at this point. Ya know?”
No, officer. I’m a 34-year-old single mother of two who just abandoned her entire sense of security and all that she’s ever known to try to raise two kids and hold down a household and a career all by her lonesome. But no, keep whining. No freaking clue what you’re referring to. And this sense of “settling” you’re going on about is totally turning me on. I can just feel my lady bits tingling at the notion that I’m the second choice here.
Cue the music. Exit stage right. Onto the next.
Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t devoid of love for these last three years. I had lots of it - just not in the form I’d hoped for and expected. My tribe has shown up in a BIG way. And one lesson they’ve cemented in me, repeatedly, is that my girlfriends will always be there to catch me, to love me, to hold and heal me through it, in a way a man never could. Because while the man of the moment has changed more frequently than my underwear these last few years, my girlfriends have shown up, day after day. They call, text, ring my doorbell, take my children and love on them, send gifts, DM memes, grab the tissues, and slap me back into reality when I need it. They are my forever Valentines.
This is the first year since I’ve divorced that I’ve had a man to call all my own. Anthony arrived in our lives last summer and despite my best efforts to chase him out, he’s stuck around. Poor, sick bastard. I begged, pleaded, and flat-out demanded that we would not be celebrating Valentine’s Day this year. We are headed to D.C. at the end of the week and didn’t need to be spending money on “stupid gifts” or frivolous flowers when we’d be shelling out some serious cash in a few short days.
Did he listen? Nope.
In a loophole, he sent roses on Friday (“Technically, we said we wouldn’t be celebrating Valentine’s Day.”). He arrived Friday night with a card and chocolates. He and I spent Sunday showering our children with love - from chocolates and gifts in the morning to the day spent as a family at The Garden watching the Celtics play (a first for my two). He forced his “big love” on me in a way I wasn’t used to. I’m not going to lie, it was nice to be spoiled. And even though I sit here tonight alone with only Sadie to keep me company, I feel loved. Genuinely, authentically, unconditionally loved.
My views on Valentine’s Day have changed over the years. I used to be so caught up in it when I was a younging - thinking that flowers, gifts, and a night out was necessary to affirm my feelings and those of my partner’s. Then I got married and realized life was too hectic and demanding and it wasn’t necessarily practical to expect the extravagant show of affection. Who had time to plan a luxurious night out when one baby had an ear infection and the other wouldn’t go to sleep unless you tucked him in? Then, as my marriage started to crumble, I grasped tightly onto things like Valentine’s Day, hoping that we could find it in us to set aside ONE day, ONE night, ONE occasion to actually connect, share time together, and express our true feelings for each other. The fact we couldn’t merely emphasized how far we were drifting apart.
Now, post-divorce and in a stable relationship, I think I finally have this V-Day thing figured out. Love comes in all forms, whether you’re celebrating the fabulous females in your life on Galentine’s Day, doting on your children and making sure they feel extra loved, or making time to really see your partner. Valentine’s Day isn’t a solitary day made for lovers. It’s a reminder - to cherish those we love whenever we can.
With that being said, I hope you love on your people tonight. And tomorrow. And next week, too. This world is bleak enough, pay attention to your loves. And know, that wherever you are, I love you, too. And am grateful for whatever part you’ve played in this crazy life of mine. Happy Valentine’s/Galantine’s Day friends!
Feel free to leave a shout-out to yours in the comments below or let me know how you’re celebrating. Let love fill the air!