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Posts Tagged ‘society’

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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I guess it comes as no surprise to some and a big surprise to others that in a few days, I will be officially single…again, after nearly eighteen years of marriage. I’ve made a point to tell only a few people, those that I have a bond with or those I have felt comfortable sharing such intimate news — the words are sometimes difficult to form. They sometimes don’t want to leave my lips. They sometimes get stuck in my throat. Not because I’m unsure of this particular path down which my journey through life is leading me — I came to grips with this a while ago, but more because of the way it is perceived by others.

My best friend had been separated from her husband and on the verge of divorce for months before she told me of their marital problems. She was embarrassed to admit that “she failed”. That’s what divorce is in our society, a failure. So when my turn came around to disclose information to her  — I was less than forthcoming as well. I held off on some important details until after our initial exchange on the subject…I sent her a text message that said, “I’m getting divorced and need to talk to my best friend”. She called within minutes and we talked of marriage and divorce and friends and life — and there were no questions I didn’t want to answer and there were no judgements I didn’t need to hear.

I don’t view my divorce as a failure or as a mistake or as a mid-life crisis or as an act against God (more on that later) — it is a choice to continue, to grow, to leap. I think some things in life come to us without offering a choice — they just are. Those are the things that really shape us by forcing us to make decisions about ourselves — we can’t really decide to change certain things, but we can decide to change ourselves. Somethings aren’t always about changing — somethings are meant to stay the same and we are meant to change… to avoid, to circumvent, to move past.

I don’t necessarily think the things or the people that we encounter in our lives are wrong in their steadfastness — we each are responsible for our own outcome. They simply choose to remain stuck and we choose to move forward. Sometimes we move forward in huge bounds and sometimes… sometimes much more frequently, we move forward by living daily in the small victories. Small victories that have meaning to us… and that’s the way it should be.

I think, for me, I’ve been stuck in the “big picture” and not realizing that the small daily victories have been leading me on and comforting me. Small daily victories like seeing a familiar face or hearing a comforting voice or reading carefully chosen words or writing… sometimes, just sometimes, the small victories add up and make the huge leaps seem much easier to navigate. Life isn’t always about the “big picture” or the enormous leaps. I’m beginning to take the small victories and embrace them, I’m beginning to take the small victories and cherish them — I’m beginning to notice the small victories. Small victories, the greatest wish of all.

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