A Hopeless Romantic Going Through Divorce On Valentine’s Day
Love. Romance, Weddings. Valentine’s Day. These joyous, heart-filling, happy-tear inducing things have always been my things. I’m the kind of woman who cries at rom-coms, who believes in happy endings.
When I met and fell in love with the man who was to become my husband, I was blissfully happy. I got married dressed in white, flowers in my hair, full of hope.
Life’s unexpected cruelty put a sudden stop to the dreams I had for our marriage. The painful reality of a disappearing husband, a man headed for the exit just seven months after we wed, has been excruciating. My notions of love have been put to the test.
My present reality – going through a divorce, living across the city from my soon to be ex-husband – is not one that a romantic soul like me could have ever envisioned.
Rom-coms with picture perfect white wedding endings now hurt more than they comfort. I recently turned down the opportunity to read a love poem at my cousin’s wedding; it was difficult to imagine reading it without crying. Weddings are hard right now, and self-care during this time of limbo between marriage and divorce is priority number one.
And now it’s Valentine’s Day, one of my favorite days of the year. Tending to the healing of my broken heart as I currently am is a full-time job. So what am I to do with Valentine’s Day, this day full of love? Well, one option is that I can stay home with my cat, ruminating on and reminiscing about last Valentine’s Day when I was on vacation with my husband and family, chocolate shaped hearts on our hotel pillows. This option doesn’t feel healthy to me.
The other choice is to remember who I am.
I’m a romantic. I believe in love! Valentine’s Day is a day -THE day – for people who believe in love.
It’s not such a difficult decision. I choose option two because Valentine’s Day was made for people like me – the poets and dreamers of this world.
I choose option two because, despite my grief, I know that love is not a one-shot deal. I’ve had not one but two powerful, life-changing loves in my life; I know the power and joy that love can bring. And of course, I also know the pain – I’m 40 and grappling with a divorce I didn’t want from a man I was very much in love with. I know that life changes with love – sometimes, sadly, for the worse, but usually for the better. So I have to remember this and I have to move forward. There’s no other choice.
I have to believe that this brand new decade will bring another big love to me, that surely there has to be more love for me down the road. I have to believe that being a divorcee will not be where my story ends, that life has several chapters; that I’m on a journey and this chapter is but one in a long book. Being a romantic, these beliefs are core to who I am. The sadness I feel about my short-lived marriage can’t preclude me from having hope for the future –optimism of spirit is an inescapable part of who I am as a person.
I’m not yet ready to look for someone new – I’m still in that difficult place of grief; I’m still dealing with emails from divorce lawyers and there are still a lot of tears because of the dreams that were abruptly taken from me. But even in this grief, I still choose option two – to use Valentine’s Day as a reminder to remember how much I love love.
When February 14th rolls around, I want to feel at least a little bit of the excitement I usually feel.
I’ve decided to use the day as a timely chance for some self-love. Maybe I’ll take a long bubble bath with a glossy magazine for company. Maybe I’ll get a manicure or get my hair blown out. And then I think I’ll take myself out to a movie or make myself a delicious dinner and Facetime a friend, a glass of red wine in my hand.
Giving love graciously – both to myself and to others –is emblematic of how I try to live my life on every day of the year. I see Valentine’s Day as a day when expressing and receiving effusive gestures of love is rampant, normalized and celebrated. Some may see Valentine’s Day as forcing love, and I certainly understand that perspective, but I like to see it as a celebration.
Love is in the little things, and during this time of limbo, my friends and family have been there for me with so many kind gestures. From the friend who helped watch the moving truck when I had to move out of my marital home, to the friend who texted me every night after my husband left, for months, to check in on me, I have felt love from so many during this surreal time.
I just made some Valentine’s cards for these friends and family members who have been there for me; it feels good to make the cards and even better to give them. Practicing gratitude is a form of self -love and Valentine’s Day is a fitting time for a little gratitude.
My cat, Golda, gives me love in abundance every day, so I’m going to treat her to a special gourmet meat meal on Valentine’s Day; maybe even some catnip for desert. I feel filled up when I give love, and pampering is my way of saying thank you to this affectionate little feline for being right by my side during the most difficult year.
To be left by your husband after less than a year of marriage is a deep betrayal and a trauma to heal from, and this will undoubtedly take a lot of time. But despite the hurt I feel, I still, somehow, believe in love, in commitment, in marriage. I hope for brighter days and I do believe they are possible.
And as much as I relish having a romantic partner by my side in life, I’m aware that I don’t actually need a man to make Valentine’s Day a memorable, loving day.
Valentine’s day is a timely opportunity to think about how much love I have within me and how much capacity I have to give it freely; to envision a future with more joy – a future with romance, with love, with commitment.
As I write this, Golda is purring loudly on my lap, looking up at me with her gorgeous green eyes. Love is all around me, even this year.