It’s Valentine’s Day and I’m in a weird place.
Matt, our Marketing Director here at the Link, asked me to write something Valentine-ish for this issue. It could be about anything, he said. It could be about your kids or romance or lack of romance. You know, anything. Something fun.
I gave it some thought. Maybe I could write about my 7 year-old daughter Olivia, and how she’s been getting the most adorable little love letters from a boy in her class. Or, maybe I should write about my friends Nancie and Ed, whose annual Valentine’s Day Bring-A-Poem dinner party is far more romantic than dinner at even the swankiest restaurant. Or about the 6th grade, when Michael Jenkins gave me the single most beautiful handmade Valentine I’ll probably ever receive.
The problem is, no matter what I choose to write about, it feels weird. Mostly because I’m just hesitant to be forthcoming about what’s happening in my life. My husband and I have been separated now for more than a year. Slowly, we’re both moving on. Anyone who’s been in this situation knows the challenges, knows how surreal it all can feel from one moment to the next. It’s almost like waking up one morning to discover that everything you once knew has to be entirely relearned. Whatever else it is, it’s not an easy time. It helps to have friends to talk to, to lean on, to ask, “Am I crazy?”
And that’s the part that gets weird for me. If I talk frankly about my separation – whether it’s the reasons why, or the logistics of raising the kids, dividing the stuff, whatever – I rob my ex of his privacy. There’s just no way around it. And worse, if I say the wrong thing, I risk hurting his feelings. No matter how angry or frustrated or miserable I may feel in the moment, I truly don’t want to be nasty. (I don’t always succeed at this, by the way, and I know it.)
A few sentences ago, I mentioned that we’re both moving on. Dating, after being in any long-term relationship, can be freaky. No matter who initiates the breakup, seeing your ex with someone new is, well, weird. It just is. It was true when we were 16, and it’s still true now that we’re all grown up. When my daughters talk about “Daddy’s friend Miss ___”, it’s a little bizarre. It is! I bet he feels the same way when they mention the man I’ve been seeing. It’s new terrain to navigate, and from what I can tell, it sure helps to have a sense of humor. Still, it’s tough.
Which brings me to Valentine’s Day. If you’re lucky and blessed enough to have real love in your life, celebrate that. I didn’t, and it was lonelier than being alone. That’s been a hard truth to come to grips with. But facing it has been a gift worth more than all the chocolates and flowers you can carry. Which is why this Valentine’s Day, for the first time in a long time, I have something real to celebrate. Hopefully, so do you.