Happy Valentine’s Day.
Not feelin’ it? It get it.
If you’re in a relationship, there can be a lot of pressure to make sure you’ve made the day special enough.
I’ve been raised in a family who, thankfully, doesn’t place a lot of emphasis on celebrating on specific days. Why can’t we show our love all of the time? And why would it need to be shown through how much money you spend?
My mom has never wanted to go out on Mother’s Day. “Take me out when it’s less crowded,” she’d tell me.
A misery of capitalism is that it preys on insecurities and exploits them to sell products. If you are uncertain you’ve done a good enough job loving someone then maybe you can purchase that love.
Of course, the people hit heaviest on this day are those who are alone and have believed the myth that romance and love and intimacy are reserved for someone we call “boyfriend,” “girlfriend,” “husband,” “wife,” or any term related to that type of dynamic such as “significant other.”
I have no boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, wife, or significant other. Yet, I have love. I have romance. I have sensuality. I have intimacy.
How can this be?
The term “romance” has never been limited to the one most associated with Cupid. I have been in love (of that kind) and I know the feeling it can give. There is, at first, an otherworldly quality about it as though one is in a dream. I can find that same feeling when I stare at the sky, moon, and stars, and in any beauty I can see, hear, or witness.
I remember taking a walk in the woods a few winters back. It had been a hard winter and we were experiencing a warm day in the midst of it. I was so inspired by the beauty of the land that, out of nowhere I yelled, “I’m in love!!” If anyone was close enough to hear me they probably thought I was making an exclamation in the way that Mitzi Gaynor does in “South Pacific.” That is what most people think when they hear those words. However, my exclamation was inspired by an overwhelming appreciation for the beauty around me, and the serenity it provided. I was in love with the world, the land, the trees, and the feeling was filling my heart so much that it could not be contained.
In that same way I experience sensuality. I used the term to refer to living in my senses. I actively appreciate that my eyes can work to see beauty and my taste buds function to experience flavor. If I can be like a child as I touch things, appreciating how different each surface is, there can still be joy in such a small activity. It’s about being intentional with the act of touch. It seems too many adults can only activate such fascination with the assistance of drugs but, I assure you, it is possible to engage without.
If there are loved ones around me- family or friends- I can take the time to hug them and appreciate them in this way, also. Cuddling may also be an option, though each person has a level of comfort we should all respect in this regard.
Touch has been proven vital. Babies can’t thrive without it and we all receive oxytocin from it. It seems our puritanical roots still default to a sexual association with touch once a person is no longer a child.
We don’t say to a ten year old, “You’re growing up now, you should toughen up and stop needing food.” Essentially, that is the message we’re given regarding touch. While we will not immediately die without touch, science is only finding more evidence that our health is compromised without it. I wonder how often people connect sexually simply because they need touch of some kind. I hope we will learn to respect this need; I’ve been excited to see the increase of cuddle parties and professional cuddlers.
Intimacy is available at all times. This is also about a conscious intention to be present but, in this case, the focus is on the other person. If I can be open and share, I allow room for others to do the same. I experience the joy of this intimacy often in my life with close friends, or with strangers with whom I will only share a vignette of experience and time.
I’ve also taken to speaking “I love you” to myself. I regularly say, “I love you, Susan.” I began this practice a couple of years ago. When I first started, it would make me cry, sometimes. Then it became routine. Eventually, I was surprised one day when during a time I would normally berate myself with accusation “why were you so stupid” instead I found myself saying, “I love you, Susan.”
I am now a firm believer that we should speak these words as often as possible. Of course, we should also realize that the words mean nothing if the action does not follow. Many of us speak things to ourselves that we would never say to others. Replacing that inner dialog can allow us to move toward goals in life; as we believe we are worth more, we can take greater risk. Failure is needed as a path to success but can be unbearable if we don’t already believe we are loved and loveable.
I realize that those who have been fully immersed in the myth that the highest quality of love and intimacy is the one we most associate with this holiday will not be consoled by this and will think I’m a fraud. They will probably assume I can’t be happy and content. There cannot be joy without “the one.”
I can do nothing for those who are thoroughly convinced.
However, I encourage all to find love, romance, sensuality, and intimacy with each moment of each day. None of us can remember this all of the time, of course. Life gets in the way. But if we can remember it even some of the time, we will have much more joy.