Oh, what I would have given to have a valentine.
I’d have given anything for flowers, or teddy bears, or romance, or just to have someone (maybe anyone) by my side.
All those years ago, when I was single and drowning in loneliness and self-doubt, I tried to ignore February altogether, because I didn’t have a valentine, and the in-your-face commercialism of the first two weeks of February served as a constant reminder. It made me wonder what I was doing wrong. Or even how *being me* was wrong.
Then, in my late twenties, I finally discovered how to enjoy being on my own. Yes, indeedy-do, I was happily self-partnered. This was after I’d hit rock-bottom, in terms of how I saw and treated myself…which was just no way to live. (And believe me, I float back to this negative mindset every now and then.) It took time and effort, but I demanded that I would love myself better than I’d ever been loved by a partner to that point.
I made plans that were only mine.
I recognized my value.
I made sure my friendships lifted me up.
I sought out genuine goodness.
I decided I was WHOLE on my own. That I had a grand life to live, even if it was alone.
That’s when love turned the tables on my plans.
A new guy came out of nowhere, and he was naturally loving and kind. To this day, he isn’t the type who usually remembers flowers. And those teddy bears? Forget it. And classic romance just isn’t his style.
But he does take care of my heart. It was an unexpected kind of love in the beginning.
It was the first time I’d ever felt like someone else was HOME for me. But I know I couldn’t have recognized how truly good he was, or how genuinely wonderful a “real valentine” can be, if I hadn’t started at ME.
And as cliche as it may sound, the honest-to-goodness truth is that we invite the kind of love we give ourselves. We invite the kind of love we think we deserve.
So love yourself well, my friend. Not just on a hearts-and-flowers holiday, but every day.
Don’t dismiss it as sentimental tripe. You’re worth more than that. Instead, be diligent. Be purposeful and proactive.
Speak kindly to yourself. Out loud.
Overdo the affirmations. Do some in the mirror! It gets less weird over time.
Leave yourself little love notes and reminders.
Let yourself laugh. Like, uncontrollably, from the belly.
Give yourself a chance to indulge in something you love, guilt-free. Practice that feeling, over and over and over again, because guilt and shame don’t belong in love’s sphere.
Let Jesus hold you tightly.
Insist on goodness, both from yourself and from others. Insist on kindness, compassion, empathy, integrity. Character.
Learn to genuinely enjoy your own company, which will serve you well all your life. Go see a movie by yourself. Take a walk, cook a beautiful dinner, write a story, dance in the kitchen. Alone. Just for you.
And if your heart desires a partner, you’ll find that kind of love in its own time. Until then, you set that bar for GOOD LOVE as high as it can go. Love yourself better than you’ve ever been loved before.
Oh! And if you’d still like flowers, just know that there’s an unparalleled beauty in making an effort for yourself. So buy them. Find the best flowers, in your favorite color. Stop to gaze at them daily. Breathe them in. Feel their joy. Love them well.
You’re so worth it, sweet valentine.