Lessons from a Recovering Doormat

Tomorrow is the day that creates stress for many folks–Valentine’s Day. We see men walking down the street carrying the often-obligatory flowers. Every year after 5 when work lets out, drug stores in NYC are full of men lining up to pay for something they grabbed off of a shelf to appease the romantic nature of their ladies. I always laugh when I see them, not putting much thought into the candy, card, stuffed animal, etc. to give to a woman who’ll probably oooo and ahhh over it. And it’s called romance.

One day dedicated to love. A day to force people to express their love. But it’s also a tradition that doesn’t put enough emphasis on loving each other every day.

I’m not bah humbugging Valentine’s Day. It can be lots of fun and an excuse to have great sex. But it’s given too much importance. Women expect a lot from their guys, who often don’t know what gifts to buy. Flowers are easy. They take no thought except to go buy them. Yet we love getting them. I do. In the long run, a gift, or just a token of caring, is much more special for those smart enough to give them, or to appreciate receiving them.

But what happens if you have no one to bring you flowers or chocolates or someone who gives you love on this day designated to celebrate love?

Valentine’s Day can hurt. You can’t avoid knowing that there’s a day made for love while you’re flying solo. Unless you hide in a closet for weeks before, there are blatant reminders of V Day all over. TV shows gives tips for making it special for your partner. Stores are doused in red hearts. Advertisements for flowers, jewelry, candy, etc. are everywhere. How’s a single person supposed to be happy amidst all the hype about this day for love?

I used to get depressed even before the holiday in the years before I had strong self-love. I remember walking down the street with tears flowing as I saw man after man walking with flowers but none were for me. I’d spend V Day with a friend who felt like I did. We pointed out all the flowers and gifts walking down the street and fed each other’s misery.

But I learned that we always have love if we let it in.

When I had my record label I went to London several times a year and stayed at the Luna House B & B, run by a family I got close to—parents, twin brothers and a sister. They were very good to me. One year I was there by myself during V Day. I was out the whole day and saw flowers come and go. I got sad with no one there to love me. I was very down until I returned to my room and saw a bouquet of roses and a stuffed bear holding a heart waiting for me. And a card from one of the brothers, that said, “I may not be your boyfriend but you’re loved. From your friend, Bernard.” He knew I felt bad and wanted to make me happy. I’ll never forget that sweet act of love!

Appreciating a real show of love instead of yearning for what might be obligatory creates a phenomenal boost in spirit.

My turning point for V Day came when I broke up with someone right before the BIG red-letter day. Since he had a big romantic streak, I’d been looking forward to spending V Day with him and getting roses. I buy myself flowers most weeks but roses always seemed appropriate from a guy. I began to mope when I went out and saw the parade of flowers. I wanted roses too! Then I thought about self-love. It was still fairly new for me but I felt it deeply.

I accepted that loving myself was the most important love of all. Why wait for a guy to get me what I desired?

I craved one perfect rose. It began with a thought and built up to a strong yearning. So I decided to get one. After all, I love me! I knew exactly what I wanted—yellowish orange with darker tinged edges. I pictured it and went on a mission to find the most perfect rose. It took a while as I began later in the day and many florists didn’t have much left. But I finally found the one I loved and spent ten bucks—for ONE rose! That’s love! I smiled every time I saw it on my nightstand and smelled it all week. Now I buy a single rose occasionally. It taught me how complete I really am!

ONE rose reinforced self-love. Small loving acts add up to a love affair with YOU.

Exercise: List every splurge you can think of that might make you smile–what you’d love but hesitate to spend time or money on. Figure out how to get them, or at least one for now.

One rose is inexpensive but loving! Splurges needn’t cost much. I love taking magazines to a café or park for a reading fest. What would you like?

* Ask someone to watch your kids, even if you hate asking.
* Spend a day walking/biking around town.
* Indulge in a $5 slice of cake.
* Get the optional accessory for your car or computer.
* Buy a pillow for your bath.
* Get your nails done.
* Surf the Internet guilt-free.
* Go to the nearest body of water and relax.
* Run away one weekend and just be – no obligations.
* Eat, sleep, and play how YOU want. Bring books or stuff you haven’t had time for.

Catch up on yourself. Having a relationship with YOU brings so much contentment. Pamper and treat yourself well.

Whether you have a partner or are doing Valentine’s Day solo, find small ways to say, “I love me!” Self-love is the most satisfying love you can develop. You must have a relationship and understanding of yourself before you can share your life with anyone else in a healthy way. So go ahead, buy yourself flowers or something you’ve wanted. Whether you have a romantic partner or not, plan to do something to honor YOU on the day that’s dedicated to love.

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