Friday, February 14, 2014

Valentine's Day in Five Stages (of Grief)

I have never liked Valentine's day.

Okay, maybe that's a lie. When I was a kid, I loved that there was a day on which every other kid in my class was required to love me and give me a small token proving it. I put all my creativity and effort into creating an adorable "mail" box into which all my tokens of love would enter.

Okay, so mine were never this good, but they were still pretty good.

I remember in second grade when Matt*, the only boy in class who was taller than me, gave me a valentine. I thought I would die of happiness then and there (never mind that this token of his affections was essentially an assignment). He had included a chocolate Hershey's Kiss, and I knew then and there that it was meant to be. He never actually spoke to me, but, really, I knew his affection for me ran just so deep that he just couldn't bring himself to talk to me for fear of dying of pure elation. I would go out during recess knowing that despite his outgoing, bubbly personality with everyone else in the school, he was just being coy with me, trying to heighten my excitement.

Alas, when the end of the school year rolled around and I asked him to sign my yearbook (yes, they gave us little yearbooks in elementary school), all he wrote was something along the lines of "Have a good summer." Have a good summer? How could I?! He didn't even leave me his phone number. I was heartbroken. Sure, there was next year, but at the rate I was growing, there was no chance he'd still be taller than me come fall. So, for the second time in my young life, I accepted that the boy I adored did not adore me and moved on.

Other heartbreaks came and went. Usually they followed a similar path; I noticed a boy, he never noticed me, school year ended.

In high school, it suddenly became apparent that the all-inclusive Valentine's days of elementary school were long gone. I would carry a bag of Hershey's Hugs to school and hand them out to my friends, few of which ever had something to give me in return.

And so, I entered the first stage of grief: Denial and Isolation. I realized that not everyone appreciated me the way I thought they did or should and instead, I started to wear all black and, once I got to college, skip school on the dreaded V-day. I often made myself an entire cake and admired it all day before demolishing it, occasionally sharing only with my other, Singles Awareness Day (SAD) celebrating friends.

Enter Anger.

2006 and 2007 were particularly bad years. In 2006, my perfect red velvet cake complete with sprinkles was whisked away by a roommate who claimed she desperately needed it for a dinner, and swore she would save me a piece or two. She did not. In 2007, I received one nice text message from a boy I had gone on a few dates with before returning to college for the winter semester. The rest of the day was shattered by the only migraine headache I have had in my life, the worst person in the world dragging me to what I thought was a hang-out but was a double date (who tricks a girl into going on a date? On Valentine's Day while she is dressed in all black?), and a few other mishaps.

The years 2008-2009 were spent in a foreign country that does not celebrate Valentine's. Usually I call this period of time  my mission, but today, we can call it a nice break from grieving my loss of childhood romantic hope.

After I returned from my mission, Bargaining began. I begged God to make future Valentine's days less terrible, but 2010 was the year of Depression. I found out the day before Valentine's day that my boyfriend had been lying to me about some very large problems, and even worse, I found out via facebook chat. I spent that day in my blackest blacks, pondering my terrible dark romance-free future.

Late in 2010 I married Casey (the fantastic creator of this blog) and I started to have hope again. As we approached the dreaded day in 2011, I realized that Valentine's was not the big, romantic holiday I had built it up to be. I finally moved into Acceptance. I came to terms with the fact that he would not know my whole, dirty Valentine's history telepathically and would need some direction. I wrote a post detailing ideas for the day, and was only slightly disappointed compared to previous years**.

Perhaps I have not entirely gotten over my childhood loss, but I have at least moved on to enjoy a day on which I can make a nice dinner, write a sweet note to my husband, and expect nothing. At least if I have no expectations, there's no room for disappointment**. I moved from an all black wardrobe to black with some deep red, and hopefully this holiday will mean less and less to me every year.

*Names have not been changed due to their extremely common occurrence.
**I'm exaggerating the disappointment for the purpose of humor, which is likely falling flat. My only true disappointment today is the fact that this holiday still exists.