February 14, 2007

Happy Gratitude Day: My Work on Valentines

Report on this afternoon's gratitude lapse after a five-day stretch of swimming in an ocean of grace: (You'd think I'd never read I Need Your Love—Is That True?)

I don't especially "do" Valentine's Day; not that I am against it, but I don't normally send or receive cards. I see it as a couples' holiday. Since I haven't been coupled in years, V-Day is a non-issue. Or so I thought.

This year I received an astonishing number of Valentines in the email and the snail mail, including a lovingly home-made pair of dangly red heart earrings. You would think I'd have tearfully reflected on how kind my friends are and how blessed I am. Instead I focused on the gender of the Valentine-senders...all women. Largely straight women at that.

I wrote to one of them, thanked her and told her what I was experiencing. I asked Wendy, "What the heck do you think that's about?!!" She wisely replied, "It means your female friends love and appreciate you."

I got an email earlier today from my current crush object. There was no mention of V-Day, only that he's excited about our upcoming concert tickets to Taj Mahal and Los Lobos. Which, I believe, has absolutely nothing to do with attending the concert with me. I think.

Men should send me Valentines.

Is it true?
Uh-huh. Especially that man!

Can I absolutely know that it's true? What's the reality of it?

No Valentines from men this year. In fact, none in many years.

How do I react when I believe this thought? What happens?
I do not appreciate the abundance of love in my life; it needs to come from the places it's not coming from and in a different form (the way I used to be about "mother's love;" I believed I didn't have her love and no other kind of love counted). I put qualifiers on love, which cannot be qualified. It is a hopeless struggle.

As a child, I was especially hard on my father on Valentine's Day. By the time I was eight or nine years old I had him trained to bring me a heart-shaped box of chocolates as large as the one he got my mother. This was the proof of love I demanded of him. (Never mind that he ate most of the contents of both boxes...and that I was not convinced anyhow.)

When I believe this thought I reinforce an old idea that men aren't attracted to me. I don't feel beautiful or sexy in those moments. I don't know how loved I am. I deflect all efforts at outreach that aren't romantic overtures. (Let's not talk about any romantic overtures I've recently deflected from the "wrong" men. They don't count. The ones I want should want me!)

When I believe men should send me Valentines and they don't, I "lonely" myself. I am in men's business.

Why do I hold such a stressful belief? It's that Carol persona trying to stay alive...the woman whose life very closely parallels the Cathy comic strip, at least in the years before she married Irving. If I believe men aren't interested in me I get an "I," an identity, the woman without a love life, a story of the past that was never true then and certainly isn't now.

Who would I be without this thought?
Loving my dear dangly heart earrings. Loving my incredible female friends. Loving that an undemonstrative guy is my good friend, my activity buddy and not my life partner now. Buying myself flowers and chocolate if I want it (and I notice I don't!).

Turn it around:

Men should not send me Valentines. Absolutely they shouldn't if they don't. I can't know I'd be happier, feel more loved, that it would be for my highest good. I don't need another precious tree sacrificed to make cards for me, or for a bouquet of lovely live flowers to die for my sake ("Love kills." —Byron Katie). I don't need flowers in order to be happy. I don't need chocolate, either. (Not even Green & Black organic dark chocolate, although I wouldn't refuse it!) I don't need a man; I am so good alone and I can have men in my life too. (I do, actually, lots of them, really great ones; they just don't send me Valentines.)

I should send men Valentines (if I think it's so important). And...um, I don't, she says sheepishly.

I should send me Valentines. I should remind myself every day that I am loved, lovable, worthy and good...I should be ever so kind to myself, take great care of me, celebrate "me" in the world. I should keep company with me, hold me, promise to love me forever...because I am SO in love with myself when I do that!

Men do send me Valentines. My Daddy did. The male friends in my life express love to me in so many ways I can't even count them. One, who is ailing, wrote today to say he needs his "Carol vitamin" and asked that we have a phone call soon. So much love...and it even arrived on Valentine's Day.

Women should send me Valentines. And so, they do. Thank you, sweet friends. Your gifts are (at last) so gratefully received, as are you, in my heart...and not just on February 14.

©2007 by Carol L. Skolnick. All rights reserved.

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