On Valentine’s Days past I have written about loving oneself, one’s friends, one’s family, one’s pets. I have written – convincingly, if I do say so myself – about how love is all around. That we don’t need flowers, hearts, champagne, and chocolates from a spouse/boyfriend/girlfriend/partner to make us happy. I wrote these things so well that I believed them year-round – for a decade or more.
Until this year.
For some reason this year, I expected well wishes to come pouring in. I thought I’d have some flowers. A champagne toast. At least an overpriced Hallmark greeting. Nope. Didn’t happen.
Perhaps it was the 50th birthday induced hangover? Lots of well wishes there, so the same would surely continue? Well, that’s not what happened. Dad and Mom sent a chocolate treat. Nothing from the sons. Nothing – not even a text – from a couple of friends who I thought would send a greeting at the very least. And, for the first time in recent memory there was a person from whom I really hoped for a greeting. Nothing doing.
I fell into a funk. A pretty deep funk. My disappointment was aided by the fact that I have had a terrible cold that has morphed into what seems to be the flu. My discouragement was enlarged by the fact that being sick has prevented me from going to the gym, so endorphins are nowhere to be found. This whole bummer of a holiday was compounded by the fact that youngest son decided to be a full-on teenager today.
So, what happened? Why, after a decade of preaching the virtues of treating myself and loving my friends, have I found myself in tearful disappointment at the end of the day on Valentine’s Day?
I had a friend in college who spent every Valentine’s Day – classes or not; frat party or no – in bed all day in her sweats, crying. I don’t clearly remember why. A broken heart, a returned ring, and general abandonment all played roles in her yearly depression. I don’t know what she thought was going to happen. Did she have a Gatsbyesque hope that the past would repeat itself and all would be set right? Was she waiting for a fairy godmother to wave a wand and cure whatever ailed her mid-February heart?
It was all – for her back then, as it was for me today – a matter of expectations. And, if you are finding yourself in a Netflix and no champagne Valentine’s evening, perhaps it is the same for you. Did you expect something that didn’t happen? Was someone supposed to treat you and failed? If we expect things that we can’t make happen or if we are unable communicate those needs to someone else who wants to make things happen, we set ourselves up for disappointment.
America has a thing with holidays – especially those that mean consumer indulgence. America has a way of making sure that we all know that someone else is having a better, bigger, happier holiday than we are. Most of us tow that line, buy into the commercials and the competition. I feel like that’s what I did this year.
For whatever off-kilter reasons, I expected things from the world on this February 14; I made up scenarios rather than living life. I constructed a way it was supposed to be, and that was my recipe for disaster. Now, as soon as I get over this cold, I will get to the gym, adjust my outlook, and go – as my mom used to say – onward and upward.
Until then, remember that I have been right in the past: Love yourself. Love your friends, family, pets, and neighbors. Tell them you care. Show them you are there for them. Make every day one filled with more accepting and less expecting.