Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day. Which means that for many, like myself, I will be filled with love and reflection about my life. It’s a good day. I know I’ve said before that Valentine’s Day is not a good day, but it’s the anxiety leading up to the ONE BIG DAY that drives me crazy, not the day itself. I also think that sometimes when people are the recipients of such overwhelming (and sometimes obnoxious) displays of love, it may can them uncomfortable and they slight the efforts of the giver. Such stress.
Valentine’s Day for most of us started when we were only a few years old. Pre-K or Kindergarden mostly. What i remember most are the Snoopy Valentines…a picture of Charlie Brown holding a wilting red heart. But mostly, Valentine’s Day is is very pink and red and is still geared towards those eager children in primary school when they handed out many different cards with the everlasting question, “Will you be mine?” emblazoned on them.
Will you be mine?
Such simple words which can convey so much.
Ownership? Obsessive? Controlling? Singular?
Protection? Unconditional Love? Commitment? Responsibility? Forever?
Is it simply a statement of togetherness? A way of saying that you are hers and she is yours? Shouldn’t that cover it though?
Mine. Yours. Ours.
I have always felt like someone was going to leave me. Whether it was my Mom and Stepfather adoring on their daughter and not really noticing me growing up, or my Dad and Stepmother sailing away to the Mediterranean with my brother and sister and not being invited. I truly never felt included into either family growing up. I always felt like people were going to leave. I had to be “on” with my friends and amenable and funny to feel included. I so desperately wanted to be included. Most nights in middle school, I cried myself to sleep hoping to just have a few friends. I never really did find them during those two horrible years.
Once I got to High School though, I met some good people, but I was always so scared of losing them that I never had a fight with any of my friends because I always thought they would leave me behind. The FOMO (fear of missing out) far outweighed the FOLS (fear of losing self) so I never took a stand on anything and tried to blend everywhere I could.
So I floated.
I became resourceful, not having firm boundaries and guidelines at home or life lessons taught about do’s and don’ts, I floated through my teenage years dodging trouble and charming people as best I could.
I became a bit of a chameleon.
The problem with that strategy (or lack thereof) is that as I floated around, I landed where the most gratification and acceptance was easy and where my skills of resourcefulness and charm came in handy. I had a false sense of security in who I was and, at the same time, was terrified of the simplest things.
When I was sixteen, I jumped into a car with some friends and drove three states away to see a concert with no tickets, no place to stay and very little money. “It’ll all work out” was a popular expression during my teenage years. Mostly it did. Sometimes it didn’t. However it worked out, I justified my actions and consequences as a part of “normal” adolescence. What terrified me most though was silence and honesty. I couldn’t sit still. I had to be constantly moving and shuffling between friends, parties, drugs, alcohol, whatever it was that fueled my forward momentum. I was terrified of slowing down long enough for someone to call me out. But I learned. You can’t run from yourself.
No matter where you go, there you are.
What I wanted was to be someone’s mine. I wanted to be someone’s damn eternal Valentine. I wanted someone to take care of me. So badly. But I was a teenager and what do they know anyway.
What I realize now, even if it’s only for the moment that I am sitting here at this desk writing this letter, is that I have to be MINE first before I can be anyone else’s. And I certainly can’t be someone else’s MINE if I don’t have myself as my own first.
So the silly saying applies. I have to love myself before I can love someone else. So for Valentine’s Day, I choose to surround myself with LOVE in spite of the fact that sometimes I hurt myself, I doubt myself, I hate myself, I am ashamed of myself, I am scared of myself, I have disappointed myself, I have lied to myself, and I have turned my back on myself. Today I choose to LOVE myself. Today.
Once I have done that, I can ALSO (not instead of) choose to love my wife, my family, and my friends AND accept love from others.
Only then can I be someone’s mine.
Here’s to being my very own Valentine!!