Do you remember that scene in the movie Valentine’s Day where Jennifer Garner beats the shit out of a heart piñata at Jessica Biel’s Anti-Valentine’s party? I loved that scene and it’s definitely the one that sticks out to me the most. In college one year my friend Liv and I decorated my dorm room for the holiday and invited two of our girlfriends to come over to watch a movie and eat junk food. We even got all dressed up just for the hell of it. That short scene was what inspired me to do it, but I didn’t have the hatred for the holiday that Jessica’s character does. I knew that the day made my friends feel down though, especially being on campus surrounded by a ton of couples. It did not help that we attended a Christian university that was a notorious mating ground for girls in purity rings and boys with old fashioned views on women to get married way before they are ready. It seemed like everywhere you turned someone was planning a wedding or going apple picking with their “person”. Even as someone who was planning on remaining single, I lost my patience with it all, so I knew my friends were even more frustrated. It was always my goal to cheer them up on the 14th, and maybe I did somewhat, but it didn’t change the fact that dating was a prime topic of conversation on the dorms. Everyone wanted a partner and knew that college was the most convenient place to meet someone. I’ve secretly always thought it was for the best though, because I was worried about who my friends would end up with on a conservative campus that churned out misogynistic, racist men like butter. However, I digress.
What I didn’t realize when it came to all of this was that I was carrying more bitterness than any of my friends. I held an air of indifference toward dating because I felt it was easier to pretend I didn’t care instead of admitting the truth to myself. I carried a different sort of jealousy inside. What I truly envied wasn’t just the relationships that people had, but the hope that the single students around me held of one day finding love themselves. Years before I had survived a trauma that led me to shut the door to my life and my heart to almost everyone. That pain combined with a dysfunctional childhood and some friendships gone sour led me to call it quits on relationships by the time I started my freshman year of college. I had two friends from childhood that I still hold dear, but rarely saw back then, and I was happy to leave it at that. When I moved into my first dorm room in 2015 I was nice to my roommate, Paige, but avoided opening up to anyone if I could help it. The few exceptions were my RA’s, who helped me through a massive panic attack that had put me on the floor of the bathroom one night (throwing up and hyperventilating…fun). Even with them I was only willing to share so much, and I continued to shut people out for months. Even when I made a few friends on the hall, I never shared the whole truth of what I had been through, and wouldn’t for several years. You can imagine that since I wasn’t even open to making friends that I definitely was not about to consider dating. I had already decided that I was too broken to be loved. It was as simple as that. I had been through too much, messed up too many times, and I didn’t trust anyone, particularly not men. *shivers*
I was very lucky to meet three of my best friends in college, and several other close buddies I still keep in contact with. My first roommate Paige and I became really close despite being complete opposites and she is one of my dearest friends to this day. I also hit the jackpot with great RA’s and spiritual leaders on my hall, which I thank God every day for, because I’ve heard all kinds of horror stories about shitty leaders on campus. (If you’re a Christian and bothered by my cussing, I understand. I do. I’m not going to stop though, so please understand this is my blog where I post my thoughts and feelings, and it’s my right to do so. Please spare me the lecture, because from the bottom of my heart: I do not care). The mentors and friends I found and the distance I got from my hometown helped me grow in ways I never imagined, but I still had a long way to go. It wasn’t even until last year that I considered any sort of future for myself that included a romantic relationship. I was so terrified by the prospect of being vulnerable and getting my heart broken-or hurting someone else-that I wouldn’t even consider it. At 25, I was still telling myself I was perfectly content to be single for the rest of my life and focus my attention on making the world a better place, nurturing my friendships, traveling the world, and being the coolest aunt in existence. (I don’t have any nieces or nephews yet, but when I do I am going to love babysitting them and come up with the coolest bedtime stories to tell them). However, why was I so set on that? Was I really being truthful with myself about what I wanted? Being single, living child free, traveling-all these things are amazing and perfectly valid life goals! I love hearing that women are choosing what’s best for them and it bothers me that people have a hard time accepting that that may not include marriage or kids (the church *cough cough*). However, I wasn’t one of those people who actually wanted those things. Deep down I knew I had romantic and maternal love in me that I wanted to give to a partner and children. Due to my childhood and traumatic experience I had convinced myself that I could not be a good partner or mother.
So, this is why every year on Valentine’s day I focused on buying candy and distracting my single friends from feeling lonely. I knew that if I spent the night alone that I would start to admit to myself that I was selling myself short and denying myself the love I deserved. Because I do deserve love. Could I live a happy, fulfilling life single? Absolutely. I just don’t have to because of something that happened to me years ago. The great irony of all of this is that one of those best friends I mentioned who I met in college? He is also the man who fucked up all of my plans by making me fall in love with him. I was in denial for literally years about my feelings for him, and when we found out we had feelings for each other in 2021 I ended up living a whole ass romcom. This week we’ll have been together for 5 months, and this Spring will mark 4 years of being best friends. My, how the turn tables. Sadly due to some visa stuff he had to move back home to The Bahamas in 2019, so we’re doing long distance at the moment. He has come to visit me twice since we got together and I was able to travel to him in December, which was my first time leaving the country! As soon as he can be sure he has access to the covid tests he needs for both coming and going from the states he will come visit me again. I suppose it’s a good thing I’m already used to celebrating Valentine’s day alone 😂 Looks like I’ll be spending the night doing Korean face masks, eating pizza, and watching anime!
There’s so much more I could say about all of this, but for now I’ll leave it at this. If you’ve been abused, live with mental illness, or have poor self-image like me (or just don’t like Valentine’s day) I hope that you can take this holiday and turn it into an opportunity to treat yourself to a nice night. Your feelings are 100% valid, and you deserve to be loved and treated like the King, Queen, or Monarch that you are, even if that means spoiling yourself. Because honestly, who knows you and your desires better? Celebrate the fact that you have survived so much, and give yourself some grace. And if you need to beat up a heart shaped piñata because you know it’ll make you feel better-then go for it! Just don’t forget to send me a picture.
Do you relate to my experience at all? How do you feel about Valentine’s day? What’s your favorite way to practice self-care? Let me know in the comments or reach out to me on Twitter or Tumblr! You can also find me on Goodreads.