I was one of those kids in grade school and junior high for whom Valentine’s Day was a torture. You know, getting the “pity Valentine”, or one from the teacher but none from the students. Almost always the new kid who’d just come in to the class, socially and physically awkward, mouthy, too smart and not wise enough to hide it. So this is a holiday that’s never pleased me much, because it always seemed to be as much about exclusion as inclusion.
That being said, as an adult, I’m glad there’s a celebration of romance for those people who have romance in their lives. Hooray for love, right?
But romantic love isn’t binary, and romantic love isn’t exclusive, and romantic love isn’t as simple or enduring or fulfilling as almost all our cultural reinforcement would have us believe. Even at its best, romantic love is complicated stuff, and it is hard work. All the more so if you don’t fit the mold.
In truth, who does fit the mold?
I know the desperation of fading hope, and I know the fulfillment of a well cared-for heart. Especially these days, thanks to Lisa Costello, who stands by me in the face of overwhelming adversity.
But really? Love yourself today. Remind yourself that in taking care of you, first, you make yourself available to any partners, current or prospective, to your kids and pets if you have them in your life, to the world as a whole. We all ought to send ourselves hearts and flowers first. Then we’ll be ready to love one another.
From the kid in the corner being giggled at behind the hands of the rest of the class, you are not alone. And it can be better.
Happy Valentine’s Day, whatever that means to you.