Years ago, way before I had my kids, and before I moved to Los Angeles, I let my best friend’s mother set me up on Valentine’s Day. It’s already bad, right? Just right off the bat, it’s a bad idea, but she said he was funny and really smart and nice looking and she thought we’d hit it off. So I met my best friend and her then-husband for dinner, and after, we headed to this club where said guy was going to meet up with us.
So we’re dancing and having a good time when the dude shows up. I take my hat off to him (not that I’m wearing one), because that’s no easy gig, showing up on Valentine’s night to meet a girl for the first time, who’s flanked by her best friend, and her best friend’s then-husband. It’s loud, but we try to talk, or at least I’m trying to talk, but it’s kind of useless, so we hit the dance-floor. It’s like dancing with an octopus, his hands are everywhere, and he’s grinning at me, and I’m like, dude, back off. It’s not at the point where I want to knee him in the huevos rancheros, but it’s not cool, and he’s saying something to me, but I can’t hear it over the music, and he, apparently, can’t hear me telling him to “calm down”, while I remove his eight arms from my person. He’s determined to say this thing to me, whatever it is, so I lean in closer, and he yells in my ear, “You look hot! It must be hot in there! I think we should go somewhere so you can take off your dress!!!” At which point I told him to get lost in no uncertain terms.
I share this with you in case you’re depressed about Valentine’s Day, even though I hope you aren’t. Someday, maybe I’ll share my New Year’s Eve story with you, which is even worse. But my point is, you really can’t force these things. You fall in love when you’re good and ready, when the timing works out, when you cross paths with someone else who’s also ready. It could happen on a blind date on Valentine’s Day, but it could also happen on any random Tuesday for no reason. That’s probably more likely, because when we pressure ourselves to feel something we don’t, to force a situation to be “right” because we think we “should” be at a certain milestone by now, it doesn’t work.
I get emails from people who think they “should” be married by thirty because all their friends are doing it, and that’s a nice round number, right? I get emails from people who are in their fifties and sixties, still trying to find that thing that lights them up, and feeling like they’ve failed because they haven’t. It’s never too late; if you’re breathing, you still have a chance. It’s not easy to be patient, to allow yourself to open, to allow the future to unfold. We want what we want, and usually, we want it now. The yearning for connection, for someone to see us and understand us and cherish us can be so strong, and the lack of those things can be so disheartening, especially if you’ve been waiting and wanting for a long time. I’m not just talking about romantic love, I’m talking about real connection, of any nature, but everything can change in an instant. That’s really the truth, and in the meantime, you get to be you, figuring it out.
That’s a huge thing, getting to be you. Nobody else gets to do that. Maybe you want love, but you have healing to do, work to do. That’s something you can start right now; that’s something that doesn’t require waiting. You can start nurturing yourself today. You could sit and meditate for a few minutes. If you did that every day for awhile, I guarantee you’d start to feel love and peace and connection. That might sound incredible and improbable, and in that case I’d challenge you to give it a try. You could buy yourself some flowers and a little dark chocolate, and go home and watch, “Moonstruck” tonight, since it’s a full moon and a movie that has the guts to look at how complicated human beings and love can be. It’s not always pretty, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be beautiful.
Personally, if you are in a relationship, I hope every day is Valentine’s Day, every day is a day to celebrate the person you’re with, but whatever your situation, the key relationship in your life is the one you’re having with yourself. That’s a relationship that deserves your time, energy and attention, because if you aren’t being kind to yourself, I’d really start there. You have this gorgeous heart. Chances are, it’s been broken by now, at least once, and badly. Maybe you’ve been disappointed, betrayed, neglected, abandoned. Whatever it is, when your heart breaks you have a choice. You can allow that to harden you, or to soften you. I’ve tried both. I’ve never been good at being hard, but when I tried that, I can tell you it felt terrible–cold, lonely, depressing. In order to be hard, you have to close yourself off, you have to defend yourself against your own natural, inherent vulnerability. You might block out the chances of anyone breaking down your walls, but you also block the chances for joy, love, beauty, and all the other gifts this life has to offer. Softening feels so much better. It is what it is. It has been what it has been, but there’s no telling how it could be. Life has a way of surprising us again and again. Just when we give up and think, “I guess that’s it, then”, something happens to throw everything off course. Don’t lose faith in life’s ability to confound you, and maybe in incredible ways. Wishing you love and hugs and joy and laughter today and every day. Happy Valentine’s Day, sweet people. I love you. And by the way, I still love my best friend’s mother 😉