Saturday, February 14, 2015

Hallmark Holidays

I am working hard these days to not define my present in contrast to the past with my wife. It is frustrating that some days that is easier to accomplish than others. I am a planner by nature and so I have thought ahead to all of the things that are potential emotional pitfalls. I have to admit Valentine’s Day is a big one.
I have written about this before, but maybe it is worth going into again. I still believe I am inspired write and say words at times so that the right people will read or hear them. I will do my level best to not make this a terribly whiny or emotional trip down memory lane. I am getting better. My writing should be reflecting that.
I had a hard time with Valentine’s Day as a kid. Middle school was probably the hardest time for me. I felt pretty ostracized, and it wasn’t until years later that I realized most people felt exactly the same way. Maybe I was a selfish kid and only thought about how much I wanted to be liked. Maybe I was too inwardly focused (a problem I still have.) Perhaps I was Beaver Cleaver normal, and I was just too stupid to realize that everyone at school felt lonely, unloved, and weird.
Most of the kids I knew got a few Valentine’s Day cards. Most years I got a couple. I gave a ton out every year. One year I didn’t get any back. That was a super hard year. I think I probably came home crying and hurting. I remember the overwhelming depression of it. (To savor that flavor I would have to seen teen/preteen angst might be as painful as adult level heartache. Maybe it is more so since I have developed a thicker skin and more coping skills in my early middle years) I remember sitting in my room and mentally berating myself and calling myself a Loser.
We are always meaner to ourselves than anyone else can manage to be, or so I believe.
My Mom (Saint that she is) somehow knew how horrible a day I was having and she brought me a stack of comic books. That was the day that I realized that the thought really does mean more. There were probably a dozen books. Maybe one or two of them was something I was actually interested in on a normal trip to the comic store, but I damn near worshiped those comics. I still have them, and they are still special to me.
That marked a low point in my Valentine’s day life for a few years. I got callous about the holiday as a whole. I started to say things like,” It is a made-up holiday anyway.” or,” The Greeting Card companies made this whole thing up to sell cards, flowers, and candy.” It was all really jealous and bitter shit. I was being a hater. I was sad. I was lonely. I wanted someone to think I was amazing and special enough to want to spend the day with me.
Man, thinking back on those feelings brings them right back to life. I am sure that is true of everyone, but for a second there I was 13 again and just UNHAPPY. Note to self, that is a head space to avoid. I didn’t even know unhappy teenager David was still in there.
Anyway, the years passed and I had girlfriends that spent the big day with me. I have had two wives to spend them with. The truth is, the most recent wife struck out for every birthday and every Valentine’s Day but one. She never really cared enough to put any effort into me. It was pretty crappy of her and looking back it was pretty stupid of me to accept it and not object to it sooner.
So, what does soon to be 35-year old David do about feeling blue about Valentine’s Day? Nothing really. I’m not alone. I have some good plans. My best friends and I are getting together to play Dungeons and Dragons like we do most every Saturday night. I don’t think there is anything I would rather be doing now that the wife is a thing of the past.
Now that might lead you to believe that I sucked at Valentine’s Day. Nothing could be further from the truth. I put a ton of time and effort into every holiday and occasion with her. Valentine’s Day started with White Chocolate Covered Strawberries (normally about 2 dozen), a piece of jewelry (normally a Jane Seymour Open Hearts collection ring or pendant), flowers (roses, duh, but occasionally done in GOLD), a nice quiet dinner somewhere special, and anything else she wanted to do. Oh and a bear. I loved buying teddy bears. I still do. I admit that is because I also like Teddy Bears (don’t judge me).
I have done that for the last 7 Valentine’s Days. What do I really have to show for it? Well, one year she got me a Teddy Bear that I like. I still have it. I still like it. I don’t know why, but that is true.
Mostly though all that time really doing for someone else set me free of the sadness I had always felt about Valentine’s Day. I didn’t think of February this year with any kind of out of the ordinary dread. I still haven’t had a really sweet and awesome Valentine’s Day where I could tell someone really gave a damn about me, but that is alright somehow. I did my part, and I did it very, very right. It broke that horrible spell that the holiday had for me for so long.
Now, I can relax. Valentine’s Day shouldn’t make anyone lonely. (It does and I know it does. I have been there.) It shouldn’t make any of us think about failures of days gone by or how much we don’t want to be alone. It shouldn’t be something to suffer through.
I think for me Valentine’s Day is going to start being about letting go. I really have put as much effort as any human could into making other people happy. I still try to bring light and love to the people around me. I DO love my people very much. Hopefully, they all know it.
I invite all of you to embrace a new idea for Valentine’s Day. We all can celebrate the love we give and the things we have done right, and we can take a minute to forgive and forget the things that have been done wrong to us.
Plus, if nothing else you can all laugh at the idea that I plan to sit around with my friends (most of the geeks like me), roll dice, talk, role play, and I will be very happy doing it. I will probably try to bring cupcakes to celebrate. Honestly, can I really ask for more?

I hope that everyone has a lighter heart tomorrow and every day going forward. None of you reading this needs to ever be alone. You all always have me. Oh, Did I just make some of you sad?

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