People often say holidays are the hardest after breakups (or losing loved ones, but that’s a different blog). While together we establish traditions, and then everything changes. This past Memorial Day was my first in 11 or 12 years not going down the shore (that’s Philly-ese for the beach or Jersey shore) and I instead spent the days participating in the many lacrosse activities commemorating the end of the season. I found I didn’t really miss the former because I’d redirected my attention. What’s different about Valentine’s Day is the emotion tied to the day. This was also my first celebration in 12 years without a valentine. It wasn’t quite as easy to redirect my attention from the red and pink, the hearts, the candy…the love. This Valentine’s Day reminded me of what I was leaving behind.
Today I crouched in the card aisle of CVS for far longer than necessary while I tried not to be too overwhelmed picking valentines for my family. Most people smiled while they made their choices. I held back tears. The abundance of husband and wife cards on the shelves. The hearts and kisses and word “love”. I remembered the enjoyment of picking just the right card to let my man know how I felt. It never even really mattered if he cared about those words as much as I did. Somehow it was just important that I shared them. Now it isn’t.
There must not be that many (any?) people who send lovey-dovey thoughts to fathers, brothers, grandfathers. Maybe it’s simply too hard to make the ideas and color scheme feel manly. But here I am, making the grandest gestures for my family, my parents, and there’s no romance in that.
At some point today, I told myself it was ok to feel shitty about this. My birthday, Christmas, New Year’s were all tough, but this was the first actual expression of sadness. All of those other days are about moving forward and/or appreciating what you have. V-Day is all about love. And mine is gone.
Before you ever experience such feelings, rejection on this holiday is just longing. You see other people happy and moony-eyed and wish you could be there too. During is great. It’s you in love and you wonder why more people don’t do this. And then there’s the fall. The reminder that you’re not in that club anymore. The holiday instead becomes an attempt to avoid resentment towards who you used to be and what you used to have, not to mention those who still have it.
The optimist in me believes this tide will turn. I know deeply that one day it’ll get better. But right now, I think I need to let the bad inside. There’s no point in denying my own truth and no reason to pretend I don’t miss the fun of this silly holiday.