Why is it that when you are divorced or separated, everything seems to conspire to make you believe that the whole world is in love, in a couple and living in a blissful idyll. The hurdle of Christmas and all it represents – happy families, two parents under one roof, cosy evenings in front of the fire unwrapping presents – is now behind us and we are faced with yet more heavily commercialised propaganda to make us feel more alone and in touch with what we don’t have, rather than what we do.
I am of course, talking about Valentines Day. There is not a High Street in the land which has shops that don’t peddle hearts and flower. There is not a TV ad that doesn’t do the same. Why though, do we buy it? When we are separated and feeling bereft, we cling to an idea that being with someone is an ideal. We cling to the idea that someone is an idealised person. I have seen countless people in the course of my therapy practice who are going through divorce and separation. Of course, all are feeling the loss of not only that person, but the loss of so much else – perhaps friends, lifestyle, holidays, weekends, future, retirement, children, I could go on for pages. What becomes evident though is that the marriage or partnership was not ideal, and they had been unhappy for quite a while which is more the real situation. That doesn’t mean it’s not a loss, but it does mean, you are looking at something more realistically.
Why is it though that the hearts and flowers almost rammed down our throat make the loss even more poignant. We all know that when together, most of the time, we choose to ignore the commercial cynicism of valentine cards or flowers that are triple the price on the 14th February. We all know that valentines day is really for young new couples in the first flush of love, not for people who have been married for a while. It is, just like Christmas, one day. It is a way of enhancing sales for the card, flower and chocolate industry. It is really important as a separated person, to keep it in perspective. So many people say that when they are separated, almost the whole world feels like they are holding hands with someone. That is the very essence of it. The loss is so painful, that it makes you feel that you are the only person in the world feeling like this. It is just not so. Our workshops and groups are evidence of that. Being separated needs to be mourned and processed but it is not a moment in time that you need to feel stuck in for ever. It is a moment in time that will move like all other moments. Instead of feeling on the outside of something, it is better to begin to let that go (sometimes with professional help) and then to work on being on the inside of something else, something new that is a more accurate reflection of where you are in your life right now. By being outside something and looking in, you are doing yourself a huge disservice. It is not where you need or deserve to be. You deserve to be inside, not the old discarded relationship, but inside a new type of life. If Valentine’s Day matters to you in your separated state, then there is more work for you to do to disentangle yourself from your past and look towards something new.