5 Steps to Surviving Valentine’s Day After Divorce
The post-divorce calendar is a potential minefield of emotional artillery, ready to blow at the slightest trigger. Some of these days surprise up with their sudden intensity and hidden significance. While others, like the over-hyped and expectation-laced Valentine’s Day, announce their imminent arrival long before the fact. And that notice gives us time to prepare.
1 – Change Your Mindset
We have been conditioned to believe that when February 14throlls around, it is desirable to be in a relationship and somehow unacceptable to be single. As though every partnered person will have a good day based solely upon their relationship status and every single person is assured a bad day simply because they’re unaccompanied.
I’ll bet you have had some horrible Valentine’s Days while in a relationship (Can you say “expectations?”) and some wonderful ones without a love interest.
The single most important thing you need to ensure a good Valentine’s Day is not a lover. It’s the decision to have a good day.
2 – Prune Your Newsfeed
Be proactive. If you’re feeling particularly sensitive to the overly saccharine messages being force fed to you by advertisers, strive to avoid them. Use DVR to bypass commercials trying to sell ugly charm bracelets. Use sticky notes to cover the advertisements for chocolate-covered strawberries and pink pajama sets that seem to make themselves permanently at home on the side of your computer screen.
Avoid the seasonal areas of retail stores and act quickly to change the station to avoid radio advertisements. Use Facebook and other social media with care. And for goodness sake, stay out of the floral department at the grocery store. You just don’t need that kind of negativity in your life.
3 – Summon Some Snark
Tamp down your tears and season your bitterness with some good-natured sarcasm. Try to find the funniest Valentine’s meme over your morning coffee. If you can’t (or decide not to) avoid the advertisements, get a giggle out of how silly (and fleeting) many of them are.
Think of the empty calories in the chocolates, the thorns on the roses and the nickel beneath the gold-plating.
Remember here that your goal is to dampen your pain, not extend it to others. It’s best to keep your snark subtle or to share with others in the same single boat.
4 – Give of Yourself
Volunteering is often associated with the big holidays, but why not make it a part of your Valentine’s Day? Visit an assisted living facility and while you provide attention, gain perspective by listening to stories of love won and lost throughout lifetimes. Help organize or distribute supplies in a food bank and remember what we really need to get through the day. Bring some old-school Valentine’s cards to the hospital and deliver them with a smile.
If all that is too much for you, consider something more physical and less social or emotional. Help a local park by collecting garbage collected on the trail. Offer to shovel an elderly neighbor’s driveway.
The particular action matters less than the motivation. When we give, it takes us outside of ourselves and reminds us that, even though we may be single, we still matter.
5 – Give Yourself a Valentine
You can make it literal if you want, but I’m more concerned about the spirit of the thing. A Valentine’s gift is a tangible sign of love. So give yourself something that makes you feel loved and honored.
Maybe you feel the most alive when you’re alone in the woods. Or surrounded by people at your favorite sports bar. Or when you allow yourself that indulgent purchase.
You know the best part about selecting your own Valentine’s gift? You always get exactly what you want.
So that’s it – decide to have a good day, limit your exposure to messages that bring you down, maintain your sense of humor, give back and show yourself some love.