That’s right folks, it’s a Valentines Day blog – CRINGE! But not a cliched one…I hope.
These days I look for specific reasons and excuses to write, such is the demon ‘Writer’s Block’ and such are the demands of life, etc, etc, bla, bla, bla…
But enough of that rubbish. Today I write on behalf of the lonely. Because, believe it or not, despite being incredibly blessed in my marriage, I know what that is like.
I am reminded of how poorly I dealt with my romantic escapades over the years by that lovely mobile application, Timehop. For those of you who aren’t familiar with this, it is an app which tracks all of your social media activity (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc) since the day you joined and reminds you of what you shared with the World Wide Web a year, 2 years, 3 years and counting from the date you posted. The up side of this is you get to relive some lovely memories. For example, seeing pictures of my nephews in their early infancy makes me melt all over again. The downside is you are hit right between the eyeballs with how foolish, ignorant and achingly stupid you once were.
For some reason my past boyfriends (sincere apologies to my husband for writing about this) all seemed to break up with me around this time of year. Since January I have been shown 3 social media updates from my past, about 3 different incidents of heartbreak. I am in part mortified to admit that I oh so unwisely and unreservedly shared my pain with the world, more often than not in a disgustingly passive-aggressive manner. I could of course delete this application from my phone and choose not to persecute myself with the mistakes of my past. But the other part of me, once I have recovered from the mortification, feels enormously thankful for where I am today.
By way of example, let me share with you today’s offerings:
And an example of why I still keep this app on my phone:
I can sense what many of you will be thinking by now; “Yeah but it’s alright for you! You got your Happily Ever After, so don’t nauseate us with the whole ‘it’ll happen for you someday’ tripe!” . I wouldn’t blame you. However, without demeaning how extraordinarily blessed I am, the truth is that often I am still very lonely. My husband knows this, so is cool with me sharing it. It is not through any fault of his own, nor anyone else. He also has had to live with the battle scars of my past, day in and day out for nearly five years.
Sometimes loneliness is the consequence of our choices, but other times, I find, loneliness occurs completely inexplicably.
Now I don’t think it would especially helpful to anyone for me to elaborate on my own loneliness, particularly as I would hate for this to undermine any of my most significant relationships, or upset those who selflessly give their time and care to me. What I mean to make clear is that loneliness still exists for those who are in relationships, those who have children, those who have success, those who have a large family, those surrounded by scores of friends… But what I become aware of on this day over every other day is that ‘Valentines Day’, whatever you may think of it, is like a sword to the stomach for so many, salt in the wound, a dagger twisted deep into the heart.
Saying that, I also don’t want nor mean to be morbid! Undoubtedly this is also a great day; the celebration of Love, in all its forms. This is a chance not necessarily to give chocolates to your sweetheart, but to tell your mates you love them, to re-encounter estranged relationships, to reflect on attempting to change the world with the one thing that we all have in common.
But then we get into an even greater, philosophical debate about what IS Love. I’m not even going to attempt to be so arrogant as to attempt to answer that one. I immediately got bored trying to read The Guardian’s attempt this morning – ‘What Is Love? – can it really be defined and explained?’
But I do wish more people would seek to find this OUTSIDE of romantic love. Not even necessarily in friendships. Goodness only knows that when I wasn’t pinning all my hopes of love on a man I was utterly dependant on my friends or my family. It’s a revolting cliche, but I did indeed look for Love in all the wrong places, over and over and over again and completely missed exploring how to love myself.
I am still largely uncomfortable with loving myself. I say “largely” as these days I wholeheartedly understand and believe in it. But executing it is a whole other ball game. This, I believe, is why so many of us remain lonely – because we find no solace in our own company. It’s a challenge I believe we all must contend with and possibly give most of our attention to.
At the risk of sounding ‘preachy’, this Valentine’s Day we could try and ignore the whole facade altogether. OR we could, maybe, perhaps look at what it means to truly, love ourselves. OR we could be compassionate to someone who is lonely, in whatever form that comes.
Love is a sword, one that can inflict great pain and loss, but also victory and glory.
I close with a picture from an incredible duo I came across recently who call themselves Bear Fox Chalk. For the sake of sparing any painful loneliness lets ignore for a second that they are husband and wife and instead just appreciate their work. Bear Fox Chalk are artists who create large scale installations with important messages. This is one of my favourites. If you want to look at something beautiful and inspirational today check out their website – Bear Fox Chalk