There’s always something in me that breaks around this time of year.
I’ve been actively expecting this day to roll around this year, as with every year, always resolving to be stoic and to put others before myself in order to achieve some worth from this day. I thought I’d do the same this year but I’ve decided against that.
Somewhere down the line, I convinced myself that I constantly have to keep it moving emotionally. And that has caused years of pent up frustration all because I felt no one had space to let me grieve. Grieve for the dreams that did die. Grieve for the life I planned for. Grieve for the life that I was the consummate good girl for and still didn’t get. Grieve for the plans that continue to be pushed back. No one held the space for me to grieve, but they held the space to coerce me back into a fake wholeness. And that’s what I didn’t want this year.
All I really want to say is that wherever you are in your thoughts of today, the best thing that you can do is be genuine about where you are and not allow people to brush over you with a broad stroke. It’s popular to call people bitter on this day (yes, in some cases, bitterness has taken root) but rarely do people stop to think of why people are hurting to the point that they refuse to speak good over themselves and of others on this day.
All my life I’ve been the smart friend, the responsible friend, the counselor friend…never the pretty friend. This message was reinforced over and over again – from the teasing, to the ways some guys only were comfortable with “talking” to me if we were the only ones who knew about it, to the years of feeling invisible. So I struggled through the years with Valentine’s Day, even with a loving family that showered me with affection and a village that tried to instill in me self love. But they couldn’t make me love myself.
I grew up being socialized to believe that marriage was an ultimate goal of sorts. “Save yourself for your husband”, “You have to learn how to do [whatever] so that when you have your own family, you can do it well”, “Take care of yourself; men don’t like [whatever]”, etc. So much of what I was taught to do or how to be was connected to the notion of me eventually getting married. How, then, can you fault people (me) for grieving something I’ve been consciously and subconsciously groomed for and can do very little honestly to attain it? How?
I’ve decided to not wait for anyone to answer that question for me anymore. I’m well aware of my age and am well aware of the possibilities of what could be ahead for me but in the right now, it hurts. If we can’t sit with people in those hurting spaces, we are not dedicated to their healing and well-being. I don’t need another person to usher me past the pain I feel with verses and empty clichés; I need room to grieve. And in that room to grieve, I’m convinced that I can eventually find hope, not a hope forced onto me by someone too in love with their comfort over my reality, but a realistic hope that allows me understand what has been lost yet see what can still be found.
So however you spend this day, I hope you make it a day to love yourself by being OK with acknowledging wherever you are. You don’t have to stay there (and I encourage you not to) but it is essential to confront and process in order to break the cycle.
May those who are happy, be happy and enjoy! May those who are grieving find the room to process, and may it begin within.