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My youngest is having a Valentine’s Day card exchange tomorrow at her school. We’re busy addressing cards to all her classmates and decorating a shoe box, perfectly, with just the right amount of hearts.
I’ve never been one to celebrate Valentine’s Day. Even while I was married, we never did anything special, it was just another day. I remember in school getting a few cards from boys I thought were cute, that was nice. But, I cared more about decorating that shoe box and hoping I would win the prize for the best decorated box than I did hoping some boy would want me to be his Valentine. One year, my dad and I made the most fantastic box… it was shaped like a mail box and had Snoopy and Woodstock lying on the top. I remember spray painting it black and my dad carefully carving out a sleeping Snoopy for the top. That’s what I remember, not which boy I hoped wanted me to be his Valentine.

I recently had a conversation with a friend about me “dating”. I had been “dating” someone for a few months and my friend commented that he was glad to see I was “moving on”. My brain stopped focusing at that very moment. I lost track of anything else that was said. I remember fighting my voice to stay quiet when it so desperately wanted to spit out a slur of angry boisterous words. I’ve since stopped dating that person, and those words, “moving on”, have hung on to every active brain cell I have.

There is this belief in our world that to be complete as a person, we must be attached to another person. I believed it too, for a very long time. I was married but was far from happy. I had someone to spend 18 years of Valentine’s Days with, but I certainly was more splintered than whole. I believed so strongly that being with someone, even if you were unhappy, must be far better than being alone. That belief kept me in a situation that ripped tiny pieces of me out with each passing day. I wasn’t alone, I was lonely. I distinctly know the difference between the two.

Being alone and being lonely are two completely different situations.
I love being alone.
When I’m alone, I write and I paint and I read and I vacuum and I eat peanut butter off of a spoon for dinner.
I go camping and hiking and running.
I sit and I think.
I quiet my soul and I breathe.
I am not lonely.
I am alive with love, on Valentine’s Day and every day.

I am filled with enough love to know that if being in a relationship involves me giving up the wonderful pieces of myself that I am just beginning to uncover or hiding those pieces in fear that they won’t be accepted, it isn’t love. Being with someone who is less than what you deserve just so others can see a person hanging on your arm, isn’t love. Love is what we all deserve… what we all have, if we just open our eyes to see it.
Love for ourselves.
Love for others.
Love for someone special.
I won’t attach myself to someone because they seem “nice enough”, I won’t repeat the mistakes of the past because I’m scared of what you might think if I go to the movies alone.

A Valentine’s Day will arrive when I find myself attached to another person and I will welcome that day like a child welcoming the first snowfall of winter. But I’m not watching the clock tick, waiting. I’m not standing still and refusing to be alive awaiting the arrival of someone who may or may not exist. The world around me needs to know that, the world around us needs to know that being whole is who we are individually. I’m a whole person, alone.

I’m not attached to another person this Valentine’s Day and am looking forward to eating peanut butter off a spoon for dinner. I won’t play the role of an “attached person” just so the world around me will think I “moved on”.
I “moved on” the day I had the courage to be alone.

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