Valentine’s Day Madness
Here I am, at 11:00 AM on a Saturday in a grocery store, trying to find hot sauce in an aisle bursting with glittering, plastic hearts and pink-and-white streamers. When I finally push aside the dangling cupid cutout to grab the sriracha, I make a beeline for the checkout. The cashier offers me discounted assorted chocolates as I pull out my debit card.
It’s tiresome, to say the least. Valentine’s Day begins creeping into every corner of our lives starting in January, and even if you’re not bitter about love and romance, the fuss over February 14th can get intense. The cards, the candy, the teddy bears, and the general message of the holiday place a lot of importance on the more shallow side of what it means to love someone.
If you’re struggling with a relationship or feeling discouraged about being single, Valentine’s Day can amp up your levels of stress and depression. If you’re either of the above and also in recovery from addiction, a holiday like this can derail you.
A Little History to Help
According to an NPR article, Valentine’s Day may have its early roots in the festival of Lupercalia, celebrated in ancient Rome in a way that involved drunkenness, nudity, and men hitting women with animal skins before coupling with them for the night. The more well-known history of Valentine’s Day involves the executions of two men named Valentine who were then honored by the Catholic Church as martyrs.
Then, sometime in the last century, advertising companies realized they could market the holiday to make a ton of money. The result is that anyone who is not in a romantic relationship feels left out, and anyone who is in a relationship feels pressured to buy expensive products to prove their love.
So…drunkenness, debauchery, murder, and marketing. Maybe skipping the Valentine’s Day celebrations this year is not such a big loss.
So What’s the Takeaway?
Don’t confuse Valentine’s Day activities for love. Love exists in many, many forms in our lives, and a holiday like Valentine’s Day tries to squeeze love into a tiny little box. Love, like addiction recovery, requires both surrender and autonomy.
If you’re single and in recovery, let Valentine’s Day this year be a chance to celebrate your relationship with yourself and with family and friends who support your journey. Continue to practice surrendering what you cannot control and dedicating your energy to the ways you can make a difference in your own happiness and health.
If you’re experiencing relationship strain this time of year, don’t rush to “fix” it just so you can be part of Valentine’s Day. Instead, use this time to motivate a change: maybe you and your partner decide to see a couples’ therapist. Maybe you decide to set some relationship goals for yourselves that show a commitment to change.
Five Concrete Steps to Reclaim Valentine’s Day in Recovery this Year
1. Have a safety net
If you know Valentine’s Day will be a relapse trigger for you, anticipate your cravings and do what you can to quench them before they appear. Arrange a meal or a party with friends, do yoga or take a hike with a group–anything to take your mind off old habits and keep you busy for the day.
2. Counter the culture
Make Valentine’s Day yours. Create your own traditions with children, parents, friends, or family members. Use the day as an opportunity to celebrate other forms of love.
3. Ixnay on stressful situations
If there’s a particular situation or a group of people that really puts you on edge, rest assured that you have every right to avoid it or them. Set boundaries without shame!
4. Dial your therapist or attend a support group meeting
Scheduling an appointment with your therapist on Valentine’s Day can be a great way to stay focused on what you really want and how to get there. Attending a meeting with others in recovery will remind you that you’re not alone.
5. Reach out to us here at St. Gregory’s
We’re a team dedicated to making you feel at home in recovery and beyond this Valentine’s Day.