On the first Valentine’s Day after my divorce I was not prepared for what I saw and how awful I felt when I went into my ex-husband’s house to pick up our daughter. The dining room table was covered with flowers, two Valentine’s Day cards, and candy wrappers from chocolates that my ex and his new girlfriend had exchanged earlier in the day. It was my first Valentine’s Day alone in over 20 years. The tears welled up, my stomach hurt, and I could hardly swallow. I felt so alone and sad as I tried desperately to hide my tears from my daughter. I vowed this would never happen to me again.
Now, nearly eleven years later, here’s what I have learned about surviving and thriving alone on Valentine’s Day.
# 1) Plan ahead. Notice that Valentine’s Day is coming up and prepare ahead of time how you will spend the day. Make plans with other single friends or with family to avoid being alone. Or, embrace this precious time in your life when you are alone and spend some quiet time contemplating where you are in your life and where you want to be. But avoid being blindsided.
# 2) Love yourself. Loving yourself is the first step towards being loved by others. Mail yourself a card. Send some flowers to yourself at work. Plan a spa day. Pamper yourself. Make a list of all the great things you bring to a relationship and what makes you a great catch. Take a warm bath. Get a babysitter if you are a single parent and go to a movie that you have been wanting to see.
# 3) Notice and pay attention to how you feel. Stop for a moment. Take a deep breath and let it out slowly. Quiet your mind. Notice what comes up for you in your thoughts and your feelings. Learn more about how to do this.
What buttons get pushed inside you when you think about being alone on this day for lovers? Do you feel lonely? Sad? Afraid? Angry? Anxious? Think about where these feelings came from. When I got divorced I felt very alone and often lonely. I worried that I would never find another great guy and feel loved and accepted again. I wished I was in a relationship with someone I was crazy about who was crazy about me. Then I beat myself up with the false belief that there must be something wrong with me if everyone else had a relationship on Valentine’s Day and I didn’t. And so on and so on. Sound familiar?