I never thought I would feel sad on Valentine’s Day.
I was always strongly convinced that it’s a commercialized holiday, like the rest of them, and that love can be celebrated on any day of the year, and it doesn’t have to be exclusively guarded for this one day, where shops are filled with chocolates and roses, hopes for profits, and people scrambling to get last-minute gifts.
And, of course, this was my opinion in the past few years while I was married. And even though in an unenthusiastic marriage, a warm embrace and a quick kiss in the morning were sufficient to feel secure that love was still alive. Now, going through a divorce, struggling to make it as a single parent, these ideals did not quite fit the picture anymore.
Sadness and self-pity had other plans for me today.
I woke up with a parched throat and bleeding nose as I was still recovering from a cold. My father wished me good morning as he passed me by in the corridor, and in response, I opened my mouth and a mute “good morning” breathed out of my dry lips. I had lost my voice from all the coughing. I certainly hope he didn’t think I was ignoring him.
To add to the grogginess of the morning, my daughter was not as enthusiastic about her breakfast as she usually is, and when she finally decided on toast, butter, jam, and honey, the jar of honey slipped from my hand and broke unceremoniously on the floor.
“Opa!” I exclaimed mutely in my head.
Quickly, what does this mean in the book of superstitions? Another seven years of being single and unmarried? Or does this superstition apply to breaking mirrors only? How can a jar of honey slip from one’s hand anyway?
Jars of honey are sticky!
Somehow, some long minutes later and with a lot of whining internally within me and externally from my daughter, we made it to the car on our way to school. Approaching a red light, that’s when I decided to get off the whining train and save Valentine’s Day.
In a quick wheel maneuver, worthy of a Hollywood movie scene, I changed lanes, turned left, and stopped at Shoppers Drug Mart. You see, we had forgotten to make valentine’s cards for my daughter’s classmates. We couldn’t find anything worthy of buying (chocolates were not allowed this year due to COVID-19), but I quickly spotted a bag of balloons and suggested she each of her classmates one. She seemed pleased, and she also took the opportunity to get me to buy her a surprise toy.
We live in a material world and love needs to be shown in material ways, especially on days when the spirit is low. We admired and smelled the pink, white, and red bouquets of roses at the cash register, and I was wondering with joy who would receive them and if they would be happy.
Something shifted there and then, and I felt a warm glow within me, which started to mirror the sunny day and blue skies outside. There’s nothing more effective in raising one’s vibrations than when you feel gratitude for someone else having what you don’t have.
After dropping a slightly happier child at school, I turned on my Spotify and chose a love song compilation on my drive home. I want to feel the sadness fully, I thought. Love songs will certainly rub the salt deeper into my wound, and I will probably cry the sadness out of me and feel liberated and healed afterward.
As if the angels of music had heard my plea, “Crazy” by Patsy Cline started drifting in the air, heavily, lightly, and slowly. All that it was missing was for me to light a cigarette as I was contemplating each word and sound through the tissues of my chest. Of course, no cigarette was lit, as I can’t stand those damn things, but the image of it, of depressive surrender, fit the picture perfectly.
“Crazy, I’m crazy for feeling so lonely…so blue”—the self-criticism we slather on ourselves when we’re feeling low is quite a cunning skill we have. It comes to the scene more often that we think, and mostly unnoticed, it causes a tremendous amount of damage to our self-esteem.
This time, I caught this cunning defamator in the act and kindly but firmly pushed him away from the stage. He left reluctantly and gave me a self-satisfactory look of “You know I’ll be back soon when you least expect me, darling. You’re weak, and being weak is shameful. I’ll be back to remind of you that.”
“I knew you’d love me as long as you’d wanted, and then someday, you’d leave me for somebody new”—so true, I thought.
I had ended a brief romance a few weeks ago because we didn’t want the same things. He was kind, loving, giving, passionate, humble, responsive, and focused. Unplanned, he had helped me heal a lot of trauma. I needed to list out his good qualities because how else would I justify falling in love with him after only meeting him a mere four times? He had now moved on to a new relationship, and I was left baffled at the intensity of my unrequited feelings and, of course, at the mercy of my inner defamator for not understanding what the big deal was.
Why was I so weak and desperate? Why couldn’t I get over this as easily as I had fallen into it?
“Wondering what in the world did I do”—why didn’t he want me enough to stay with me? Am I unlovable?
“Crazy, for thinking that my love could hold you”—I’m the Leo, the king of the zodiac. I lead with my heart and love proudly and unabashedly. Why couldn’t the sunrays of my love hold him in my embrace?
“Crazy for loving you”—as I’m singing the words in my head since I was still quite mute, I realize that no tears are coming. I’m leaning comfortably on my car seat, and the song and the shaking of the car make me feel like a baby being rocked in the crib and being sung a lullaby.
A self-contented smile, mixed with the realization of self-pity, had been plastered on my face this whole time. There were no tears because I had already shed many tears in the past few days. Combined with being ill and the struggles of single parenting, no matter how resistant I was, the tears had come and had washed away most of the pain. I had also made a choice minutes ago to shift my story for today into one of gratitude, the moment I turned my car wheel and smashed my face and nose into the roses.
As I kept rocking in my car crib, listening to this lullaby and many more that followed, feeling loved from within, from the bright sun outside, the blue sky, and the extended arms of the trees, I realized that this was my valentine’s gift to myself: unconditional acceptance of who I am right now.
And from this acceptance came love—that simple, all encompassing, eternal love that can only come from within, which soothes and heals all wounds like a jar full of honey.