The first winter I was “single again” I found I expected my family to fill up the hole left in my Valentine’s Day by sending cards and flowers. When nothing special arrived to mark the day for me I struggled with conflicted feelings. My feelings were hurt but I also felt ridiculous for having the expectation in the first place. Besides, if they thought about it, they may have thought that attempting to make up for an absent husband would be unkind. I had other single friends wearing all black that day, in a display of protest and mourning. Like every year before I’d sent out valentines to my closest relatives and friends. Those are the memories that stand out for me. I don’t recall how I actually spent the day. I probably went shopping for things I didn’t need trying to fill that hole.
Having experienced Valentine’s Day as both a single woman and as a married woman, one thing I know for sure: like Christmas, the day comes with high expectations. When those expectations are met – it’s great but there can be a let-down at the end of the day, just like the let-down that follows the last Christmas gift being opened. And when those expectations are not met, our inner child hurts with a woundedness that isn’t easily soothed.
This Valentine’s Day I am struck with this idea that Love is stronger than Valentine’s Day. In Song of Songs 8:6 the poet says “Love is as strong as Death.” I get that on a visceral level and it is part of what inspired the thought that Love is stronger than Valentine’s Day. For Love permeates all of life, not just marriage, not just the parent-child bond, not just romance. It’s more than a feeling; it is a will that is both intelligent and cellular.
I once heard it said that sex is more important than love because without sex there is no life. Certainly sex can happen without feelings of love and tenderness and create babies. But I think the speaker was referring to the feeling of love or infatuation because the Love that knits the universe together is present in the drive to express passion and desire, to copulate, and bring forth new life. There is Love on a grand scale that is not dependent on feelings or relationship status. There is Love that is not dependent on being coupled or romantically partnered (with the perfect person who can be counted on to consistently say and do just the right thing to make you feel whole and loved)!
There is genuine suffering that happens on Valentine’s Day because of the expectations that society and we ourselves set. But those expectations are of the ego – not the soul. As deep and as real as the hurt can be, there is so much more to Love than being part of a couple that experiences some kind of magic on February 14. Very much like how at Christmas there is more to the season than giving and receiving the perfect gifts.
Love is the energy of life. ~ Robert Browning
Love permeates all of life. It permeates all of you from your intellect and imagination to your soul and who really are to the cells in your body. That Love is ours for the experiencing if we allow ourselves to slow down, feel a little ungrounded, tune in, and receive. I say be willing to feel a little ungrounded because experiencing such Love requires a relaxing of, even setting aside of, (perhaps the death of) the ego. The ego is more comfortable with the feeling of love, infatuation, and expectations around the idea of love but is very much afraid of the real thing. The kind of Love I’m talking about is so accepting and inclusive that it reveals the illusory nature of the ego. If a person is willing to be in that state where the ego does not rule, allowing themselves to receive the Love that, in fact, already exists deep inside, they will feel ungrounded because the experience of this Love is so new and different.
This post may not ease the pain of Valentine’s Day. I don’t really offer it as a salve but, rather, suggest that this February 14 be used as an opportunity to experience even more Love. That it be a time to receive and give ever deepening currents of Love that fill the soul, becoming an expression of Love to those who fill your life. A Love that is so full it puts February 14 in perspective against a life lived with such purpose and meaning that the events of Valentine’s Day can be met with curiosity rather than suffering. Such that if you are single, you tap into a Love so intimate and real that you feel held in its embrace. And if you are coupled and if the day or your romantic partner don’t live up to your expectations, that you too tap into a Love so intimate and real that you feel held in its embrace and can let the other person off the hook for being human.
Love is stronger than Valentine’s Day. May you experience its depth and richness, and may it hold you in its warm embrace, reminding you that you are enough.