V is for vodka. V is for vagina. V is for Venice. V is not my valentine! Remember in grade school, how you would sit with your Mom or Dad, and write out 26 cards to your classmates? Even that horrible brat kid who pulled your hair got one. Flash forward a few years, ok, like 38 and bam, shit, fuck...Valentines Day sucks ass. Flashback to 2005...my first year without my love. I ate a whole chocolate cake to myself, mostly because I told my kids it had nuts in it. so basically I saved lives that day too.
When I remember anyone saying the word "widow", I would see an old lady, white hair, wrinkled skin, flat loafers, hunched slightly over and wearing a dark dress. I became a widow at the ripe old age of 36, and believe me, I was not wearing a dark dress. A widow was an older woman, contemplating the end of her life, she was preparing for her last performance. I had two young kids who needed me to be in the early production type of mood, not the final act.
I am a widow. I am not finished. I am not ready to wear loafers and shuffle around my home watching The Price is Right until my number comes up. I do get very sad, a simple and quiet type of sadness. I have had happiness and deep love in my life, and I have lost it. I now know life's worth. I want to make mine meaningful and I am full of the desire to live life. When Kevin died, I needed to find something positive in everything that we had gone through. I realized that I developed an amazing level of compassion, even more so than I had before his death. I knew loss before, but having my heart ripped out and my soul shattered, I could almost feel someone else's heartbreak. My empathy has always been strong, my mother always told me too strong, but now I knew. I knew deep down in the depths of my soul, I could feel how "they" felt. I always tried to stay positive for my kids as life is hard enough when you have lost a parent, you don't need the surviving parent to be a big downer. I decided to start writing a blog which I knew would at least keep me busy and accountable for my feelings. I am happy to know that I have helped a few people who fight the beast as well. Being a widow with severe anxiety is hard enough, so let's make it easier on Valentine's Day.
1. Preparation is key.
I know most would like to forget about the existence of V-Day, but our sweet consumer-driven society will not let you. Ignorance is bliss but you have to hide in a cave with no wifi or electricity, and ain't nobody gonna do that! If you really want to survive, you are going to look deep inside your own soul, to determine what makes this day less painful. I have no secret scientific formula to offer you as we are all different but I try to remember that it is only one day.
2. Stay occupied.
I know you have heard, get out, live life, "he" would not want you to wither away. I wish I had a dime for every time someone said that to me, I would be extremely rich! If you really are dreading the 14th of the month, do something that will keep your mind off it. Make plans with family and friends. Focus on your to-do list, redecorate your bedroom, clean out your cupboards, etc. Go for a long walk, get in touch with nature. Breathe fresh air.
3. Avoidance is even more bliss.
As with my anxiety, I have taught myself to avoid places or situations that will trigger any painful memories. Not every day, but on holidays, where it seems to cut deeper. If my kids are not home for dinner, I won't sit at the table alone. Too hard to sit across from an empty chair. I know not to watch P.S. I Love You, even though Gerard Butler is hot as hell, on hard days. Watch a funny ass movie that gives you tears from laughing so hard, no lumps in your throat as tears stream down your face until they burn like lava.
4. Give permission to your self to feel emotions.
There is not a handbook on grief nor is there no agenda for time. It is really unhealthy to pretend that all is okay when it is clearly not. It does not matter how you think you are prepared. It does not matter if you have rebuilt your life. When you have suffered a devasting loss, your emotions can steamroll you into the depression lane in seconds. Valentine's Day is always tougher as the need to deal with memories can be overwhelming. Your senses are persistently being assaulted as well. If you are comfortable, in your surroundings, allow those emotions to come without being consumed by them. My Mama always said a good cry can wash away the sadness and help heal the wounds of the heart. If you want, write a letter or a poem to the one you lost. It is natural to remember those whom you have lost and cherished.
5. Remember all your relationships.
Valentine's is not solely marketed at couples and romance. It is about LOVE. If you have kids, spend time with them. Watch their favourite movie while eating their favourite meal with them. You are most likely not the only single in your tribe of friends, so hang out with one of them. Screw tradition and have a girls night! I will be spending my night with my fur babies most likely reading or watching the Olympics. perhaps drinking some vino.
7. Remember you.
Do something just for you. Eat that whole damn cake or have a two-hour bubble bath. Sing in the shower at the top of your lungs even if your neighbour's dog starts to howl. Go buy that freaking dress you want but think your money is better spent on the kids. Paint your room pink if that will make you happy, just be happy!
Make your self happy. The best advice that I may ever give. You need to remember you can't be loved or love if you don't love yourself first. That lesson was a hard one to learn for me. Regardless of that little prick cupid who like to send arrows, many who pierce a heart does be happy. You are not alone in this universe and you are not the only one going through this. There really is a tribe you belong to. If all else fails, remember that February 15th is 50% off chocolate day~