Valentine’s Day is in the review mirror.
For some, this may have been your first V-Day without your person and you are simply celebrating that you made it through without torching the pink and red section in your nearby CVS. For others, you are ready or dabbling in the possibility of meeting someone or starting a new relationship.
Dear One, wherever you are on this spectrum, I urge you to be honest with yourself.
BEING HONEST WITH YOU
Honest about being in a relationship because you just don’t want to be alone. Honest about making concessions for behaviors you would not want to watch your closest friend make for herself. Honest in admitting that your deceased beloved would be hurt to know you chose less than the best for you.
I ended up in a second marriage pretty quickly after my first husband died, at least it was quick for me. I had pulled myself together on the outside (wearing matching earrings and socks, completing all of the make-up on my face, showering every day) but was still a gooey, very hot mess on the inside (couldn’t return to my full-time job, felt guilty after laughing and cried almost every other day at the same time over what, I can no longer recall).
It was difficult to admit it at the time, but I was not healthy (notice I did not say “healed”). My mind, body, spirit, and soul were weary and uncertain. I was jumpy, not sleeping well, not eating well and had no clear vision about why I was continuing to put one foot in front of the other each day. I did not really know which way was up and my greatest achievements at that time were keeping my house clean, bills paid on time, most of the time and ensuring that our child was alive, fed and properly dressed for the unpredictable weather.
My expectations for myself were so low, that had I been honest, it would have been clear that I would only be attracting someone who would not be at their best and certainly not their best for me.
And that’s what I did.
In my desire to smother the pain with activity, distraction, and new love, I launched myself into a new relationship, and eventually marriage, with a man who was also not healthy…for eight years.
I lost the respect of my son (he told me so at 11 years old) and I could not for the life of me, no matter how well I cared for the four children, attempted to make my marriage into what it would never be and hustled at my demanding job, I could not find me. I could not see it. I could not hear me. I could not speak or advocate for me. I was disappearing into what I had created on my own strength – which was quite feeble – all because I was not honest with myself.
It took a long time and a lot of being intentional, but eventually, I began to prioritize time away to interview myself, to look into my own heart and really sit with what I discovered. It was often messy and painful, I’d put up so many walls (often to protect myself, but it turned into isolation and eventually depression).
THE GIFT(S) OF BEING HONEST WITH YOURSELF
My newfound honesty muscle was liberating and powerful. I was turning up the volume on my voice again and I could hear myself being real and honest about so many things I’d silenced, twisted and lied to myself about so many times before. It helped me to begin reading my Bible every day, I especially spent a lot of time reading the book of Job. I started to try new things – cooking new recipes, trying new restaurants, watching different kinds of movies, saying hello to strangers, renewing my library card and checking out piles of books I would normally never select.
Along the way, I became more honest in telling myself what I liked, what I preferred and developing a firm response as to why (or why not). And my honesty muscle is stronger because of it. Not to mention how much more grateful I’ve become.
Take breaks. Cut your inner circle by half. Start a journal. Set goals. Evaluate your habits. Develop new habits. Do something fun. Take a sick day when you’re not physically ill. Get a deep tissue massage. Eat that favorite dish that other people don’t like, but you really enjoy. As you experience these things, spot check your heart. You may be doing things because you’ve always done it that way, are fearful of trying something new or just don’t recall what you really like anymore since your world got turned upside down.
Be honest with yourself dear one because you are worthy of honest love, care, and concern, all year ’round.