If this Valentine’s Day is your first after your separation or divorce, then perhaps you may not be looking forward to it as much other couples may be. Shop windows displaying their Valentine’s day gifts, restaurants promoting romantic dinners and hotels advertising dreamy getaways do not exactly help to be distracted from this day dedicated to love.
No matter how much we try to avoid what is going on around us, we cannot escape the hype. The heart is the very symbol of Valentine’s day, and if our emotions about the break-up are still raw or still being processed, the atmosphere around us may make those emotions feel a million times worse, forcing our struggle to mend our broken heart even harder, if not futile.
So, if vanishing into thin air for 24 hours is not an option, how can we deal with this reality?
- If you have kids, and if the kids are with you on this day, make Valentine’s day a family day. Remember that Valentine’s day is not only about romantic love, but also about familial love. So, take advantage and celebrate your family. It may be the first time you are doing so without your spouse – show your kids that not having your spouse there does not mean that you are not family anymore. Remember that kids do more as we do than as we say. If the kids are not with you on the day, take some time off for yourself: meet a friend, go for a spa treatment or simply indulge yourself in your favourite meal.
- Know that your emotions of hurt, pain, anger, loneliness, confusion may be highlighted on this day. So, do things or find ways that normally help to alleviate such pain. If you truly believe that being alone helps, then do so, but if you feel the need for company, reach out and make plans with a trusted friend or a family member. Choose people whom you know can handle your pain.
- Resist the urge to act on certain emotions, particularly anger. Although you may be tempted to send that text message you have been composing in your head to your ex-spouse, don’t. Acting on impulse, especially if that impulse is fueled by negative emotions, may not always lead to the wisest decisions. Instead, if there are emotions which are yearning to be expressed, get a pen and paper and write them down, without judgement and inhibition. Then find a way to discard that note, by burning it or shredding it to pieces – you may find that is a more effective and constructive way to vent pent up emotions.
Finally, remember that Valentine’s Day is just a day. It will be over in 24 hours. Your heart, as broken as it has been, has survived in the past weeks and months. One more day is not going to damage it any further. On the contrary, waking up on the 15th of February, you may feel that little bit stronger and prouder of yourself for having survived it.
Stephanie Caruana is a counsellor at Willingness. She offers counselling services to adolescents and adults experiencing some form of distress. She can be contacted on email@example.com or call us on 79291817.