So, I am single again this year for Valentine’s Day. Rather than the standard victim nonsense that has begun to spread across my social media feeds, I thought I’d express my thoughts on the holiday in a slightly different way.
First off, here’s a little back-story on the holiday. In Catholicism, there’s a fun practice of honoring saints by having a feast day in their name. St Francis’ feast day, for example, is October 4th. St Peter, the saint for whom my current city of residence is named, has his feast day on June 29th. Valentine was either one or more priests that was associated with marrying Roman soldiers. This was an illegal practice at the time, and punishable by death. Doubtless, the Romans were aware of the stupid things young single men will do for glory. I’d imagine Claudius didn’t want the more reasoned perspective of husbands and fathers in their military. One of the Valentines apparently performed the miracle of healing his jailers blind daughter, Julia. This kicked off the Valentine card tradition by his leaving her a note signed, “Your Valentine.” The holiday gained romantic traction in the Middle Ages after Chaucer wrote “Parlement of Foules” (1382) and referred to birds mating on Valentine’s day. However, the tradition of note cards didn’t really get going in force until the 1800s. It was not, as many allege, invented by Hallmark to sell cards, though they certainly have capitalized on the holiday. I am not Catholic, but I do like the practice of remembering these men and women who stood for something at a very dangerous time to buck secular authority. Valentine in particular appeals to me, as I’m a pretty big fan of love and romance.
So for those of you who have a significant other, by all means use this as an excuse for extravagant shows of romantic affection. Though, as Dan Savage says, “Fuck first, then go to dinner!” From experience, I can tell you, it’ll be easier to get a table, and you won’t be trying to get frisky with a belly full of rich food and wine. You’ll be sitting pretty in a post-ravishing glow, while everyone else goes home and passes out early, or has mediocre over-stuffed sex. Besides, getting one in early opens up the possibility of a double-header if you take it easy on the eats.
For the rest of us, what do we do? Is this a tragedy of biblical proportions? Are we doomed for all time to loneliness and misery? Well, certainly if that bakes your biscuit, by all means continue. Most single people I know tend to put their heads down, try to ignore it and get quickly through the day. Some rail against the holiday and gripe about how obnoxiously people in love behave. I once dressed like a robot and protested love and other emotions with a group of friends at the local mall, though that was more for fun and amusement than angst. At minimum, there tends to be a faintly sad lowness to the day, a period of reflection on love gone wrong and dreams surrendered.
Here’s my suggestion for this and really every other day of the year: Take all of that love that you want to give to someone else, and give it to yourself. If you would spend a sum of money and time, treating your loved one to intimate delights and culinary joys, give that to yourself. If you’d buy them a present, buy it for yourself. If you’d give them a massage, book one for you. You’re worth it! Find ways to reaffirm your own worth to yourself. Besides, if you don’t love you, no amount of someone else pouring love and affirmation into you will fill you up. It’s a bit like a bucket with a hole in the bottom. However many times you take it to the well, it’ll be empty by the time you get home. So love yourself, and let it all in!
Then, take it out of your personal sphere. Reach out to people that have been there for you in the past year. Reach out to people you love and care for, whether you are attracted to them or not, reaffirm your love and gratitude for them. Reach out to someone you are crushing on, not with any need for return, but just to put out that they are appreciated. Reach out to someone you just met, reach out to a stranger! It doesn’t even have to be romantic, we have a shortage of people getting their value and worth in this world. You can be the person that reinforces and supports them when they’re in a dark spot. A human’s worth is not measured by being pair-bonded. It is so very much more. Whether you are single, monogamous, poly or kinky, or asexual, your worth is in the goodness of your own being, not someone else’s ability to see it. On a fundamental level, I don’t believe in the idea of bad people, just that some get too wrapped up in their shit to see the big picture.
If you have successfully exited a relationship recently, rejoice! A friend commented not long ago that a break up is a microcosm of the entire relationship. I have found that to be so very true in my personal life! If you stay with someone who is bad for you and keep hanging on because it’s safe or comfortable, you will not be free to be with someone who is right for you! Remember that feeling of love that you had? That joy and happiness? That is yours! On a scientific level it’s simply a flood of oxytocin, serontonin and other endorphins filling your brain. It’s your thoughts and feelings, no one else’s. It’s all you, baby! Your ex didn’t get that in the break up! Your ability to love and feel love is entirely your own.
Love hard, Love strong, and Love deep!
But most of all, love you!