The Feast of St. Valentine is upon us yet again.
That time of year where offices are dangling paper hearts from ceilings, and storefronts are littered with desperate innuendo to try and move more product,
and lovers post their selfies online, celebrating their love — real or imagined — for the whole world to see.
And then there are us single people who begrudgingly make their way to the 14th with all the excitement and fervour of a paralytic slug. We grumble to ourselves about it being “a god damn sham set up by the chocolate and flower companies to move more of their nonsense”.
We put our heads down and barrel through the week trying not to be susceptible to the sway of popular opinion that if you’re not “with” somebody you are empirically alone (to borrow a turn from David Foster Wallace).
All the while we have our minds on that golden ring.
Sometimes we spend so much time thinking about it that we ignore ourselves.
I would hazard to guess that we often fixate on finding love so that we, in fact, we don’t have to focus on ourselves at all.
Because, and this may be controversial to say, it’s easier to love somebody else, than it is to love yourself.
I’m a hard person to get to know. Which is why this blog is such a departure for me.
I’ve walls on top of walls on top of walls to keep people out.
And because of all of that, very few people have actually been allowed in to see me — the real me. This blog has shifted that, somewhat.
I’m the kind of person that will do whatever I can for somebody else. As long as it means that I don’t have to think about my own insecurities or problems.
The ferocity with which I will give a hand, or try and “fix” a perceived issue in another person’s life stands in stark contrast to the effort I’ve put into helping myself over the years.
I could mask a million faults with compulsive altruism, but there were some things that can’t be masked.
Body image and shame was perhaps the hardest to cover up. Because it takes a direct hit on any relationship. Not wanting to be seen or touched is a tricky thing to navigate when you’re in love with somebody.
Years of contending with crippling low self-confidence, not only physically, but intellectually took its toll. The thought that I was never smart enough, or well read enough was always present in the background.
I remember the day I was hired as a writer at Memorial University of Newfoundland, and I said to myself “I’m not a good writer, why are they hiring me?” As if it were some sort of mistake on their part. As if, in a few months time they’ll check the books and say “wait, this dude’s illiterate.”
These opinions were built by years and years of bad electricians forcing currents to run in directions they never should have been asked run in.
“I” being the chief electrician on that particular job site.
So what does any of this rambling have to do with Valentine’s Day?
Well, for those of us who share a similar electrical schematic.
If you can — amongst the heart shaped boxes, and flower toting lovers — steal a moment (or maybe two), and think about how amazing it is that you’ve gotten this far. How hard it’s been, how you’ve persevered despite it all. How you’ve dragged yourself, at times, kicking and screaming, towards the very moment you’re in right now.
And just appreciate all of that effort. Because, that in and of itself, is an accomplishment.
Sit in that moment. Let the warmth of pride wash over you, even for a second, just allow it to happen.
I know, it sounds fucking hokey. But, do it. Because, you will feel something. And when you do, you should remember it. Not only remember it, but recall it whenever you need it.
And so, on this Feast of Saint Valentine, take the time to love yourself a little.
You’ve earned it.