Regardless of how I try not to, I always feel lonely on Valentine's day. I know I know - it's not what it's cracked up to be and most people in relationships don't especially enjoy the day either, but it's still a rough day for me as I see photos on facebook of the bouquets my friends have received, and all of the articles in CNN's living section relate to aphrodesiac smorgesborgs.
The Washington Post Magazine recently released an article entitled "The Single Life: some people never find the love of their lives. And live to tell about it." The article profiles one of my favorite bloggers, Wendy Braitman, author of First Person Singular. The article was a bit meloncholic and dreary, making it seem as if she spends most days longing for a partner, which does not seem to be the case from reading her blog, but it did touch on some of the difficulties of maintinging a single life. Braitman speaks of how she is pro-active in making sure not to fall into situations that would bring her down. She always sets up plans for holidays, has a solid set of supportive friends to help with rides to the airport or when her car is in the shop. In short, she knows "how to ask for help." These types of strategies have been so important in my own mental well-being...every long-term single should know their loneliness triggers and make plans for how to avoid the melancholy that can accompany such situations.....like how I should have set up a dinner with a friend for this Valentine's day evening so I would have something else to think about today instead of being lonely:(
It's obvious to everyone, but yes, movies, tv, novels...they've all given us a skewed view of what relationships are. The article describes the yearning for relationships to be linked with the idea that "marraige can add something fundamentally good to our lives" and that singles hope for "a constant companion who will bear intimate witness to our lives. Who will heighten our joy and ease our suffering. Who will be our designated collaborator and caretaker, sparing us the effort of constantly fending for ourselves." Bingo. Yup, that pretty much sums up what I hope for in a relationship. But does that ever really happen? Do people have those kinds of relationships? Is that just a pipe dream? Is it even more devastating to get your hopes up, then get into a relationship and realize it's not what it's cracked up to be and then deal with the process of divorce?
Sometimes I think that even if it didn't work out, at least I'd have the experience of being in a relationship for whatever time it lasted, and I might have children, and relationships with a new social group of marrieds and divorcees. But I recognize there's a whole lot of accompanying pain and turmoil.
However, there is such a stigma against single people. Everyone seems to assume there's something fundamentally wrong with you if you are single. It seems like a lot of people are able to build themselves up by getting married because somebody else then validates them. Those of us who are single don't get that type of validation and instead have to come to terms with ourselves..who we are, who we want to be, what we like and don't like about our character. I think single people tend to be more introspective and go on life journeys that make us stronger and more self-aware.
So, that's how I'm feeling this Valentine's Day. It's not the best day. I'd give it a 4/10. But, it's one day out of 365 (well, 366 since this is leap year) and I'd say my overall daily average is an 8.5/10. Not bad. I'll take a 4 now and then to better appreciate the rest of my days:)