Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. Holidays often provide us with an opportunity to celebrate with our families and friends, as well as practice our much-loved traditions. This year, I have been reflecting on those who struggle with a myriad of challenges that make enjoying the presence of Cupid, hearts and chocolates virtually impossible. Following are some likely “firsts” that you may endure, and basic tips that will not only help you survive Valentine’s Day, but thrive as well.
The First Valentine’s Day…Alone
Whether from a breakup, death, or other separation, being “alone” does not have to mean being lonely. Let’s start with taking the pressure off of you to appear that your life is perfect. Why not take a hiatus from social media? Imagine Valentine’s Day without looking at the Snapchat or Instagram photos of couples that always appear to be having the most amazing time. Follow that with the realization that no one has the “perfect” life – work hard not to compare yourself with others. I also like the gift of a rainy-day letter to self. This is simply an affirming letter that you write when feeling grateful and positive. Tuck it away and read it on Valentine’s Day. Remember, you are loveable, and being loveable begins with self-love.
The First Valentine’s Day…in Recovery
How about getting real with the impact that drugs, alcohol, food, or other substances have had on your relationships – including the relationship to self? It’s much easier to idealize the romance with substances than remember the hangovers, fights, and lost days due to excess use or obsessive thoughts and behaviors. It is also a blessing to embrace relationships in an authentic way, rather than being numb or in a fog. Finally, how about going on a hike, enjoying a play, or watching a movie rather than an activity that revolves around Champagne and chocolate?
The First Valentine’s Day…with a Recovering Loved One
Let’s start with embracing the gift of recovery and that your loved one is “back.” This gift can look differently for everyone so I recommend keeping realistic expectations. It is a process, not an event; a journey, not a destination. The best way to stay in gratitude is to be mindful of the present. Looking into the past can fuel resentments, while looking into the future can produce anxiety. Peace and contentment live in today, where new traditions can be created. I often suggest that individuals start a daily gratitude journal, and then share their gratitude with one another as a family or couple.
At Sierra Tucson, we ask our residents and their families to “Expect a Miracle” when they arrive at our gates, and we ask them to remember that “You are a Miracle” when they leave. In keeping with Valentine’s Day, I would like to share a quote from Marianne Williamson:
“Miracles occur naturally as expressions of love. The real miracle is the love that inspires them. In this sense everything that comes from love is a miracle.”
This Valentine’s Day, may your lives be filled with love, inspiration, and miracles.