Single on Valentine’s Day during Lockdown
February is a month riddled with triggers for me. Aside from being reminded that one of my best friends would have celebrated his 49th birthday this year had he not been taken from this world 5 years ago, I am forced to behold the sappiness and awful memories that Valentine’s Day brings. I’ve always detested the Hallmark hearts and roses day – ever since primary school. Valentine’s Day is a reminder of rejection and leaves me thinking why I have never been good enough to be on the receiving end of an anonymous bunch of flowers, or even a teenage love letter.
Two years ago, I suspected that the man I had fallen in love with was seeing someone else and I asked him, only to be told, we’re cool. He came clean at the end of February which, along with other stressors landed me in hospital for treatment of a major depressive episode that could have lost me my job. Later I found out that there is such a thing as broken heart syndrome. While I never had a formal diagnosis, I wonder if that isn’t what I had. Three years before that, someone I’d been seeing for eight months got engaged to someone else, on Valentine’s Day, after knowing her for only two weeks. Suffice to say, the only good thing about Valentine’s Day is that it comes once a year, so the negative emotions I associate with it are thankfully short lived.
Last year on Valentine’s Day, South Africans were still living a great life, free of masks, social distancing, and the never ending santising of their hands. I committed a sin and anonymously sent myself a bouquet, a bottle of wine, and a small teddy bear for Valentine’s Day. It was delivered to my office, but it didn’t make me feel any better about the day. Nobody took much notice, which sent me into a spiral of overthinking why nobody cared to ask about the surprise gift with its cryptic message.
Being locked down this year, I made a conscious decision not to get too depressed about Valentine’s Day and the past sadnesses it always rakes up. I think because the day fell on a Sunday, it helped a bit. I spent the previous evening with my parents, so my dad woke my mom and I up with coffee and a box of chocolates for each of us. For a moment I found myself thinking it’s lame that at 41 my dad was the one giving me a gift on Valentine’s Day, but immediately I changed that thought into I’m grateful that my dad is still around to be able to make my day special, even though I am 41. I went back to my flat later that morning.
I spoke to a friend that works in retail and she said that this year the sales of stereotypical Valentine’s Day gifts were down. Lockdowns have made people become more aware of wasteful expenditure on frivolous items, opting to rather save their money and spend time with their partner or spouse. Even though I didn’t have a special someone to spend the day with, I made myself a special treat in a mug from my collection and got to reflect on how far I have come; that, while the heartache is still there, it doesn’t cut as hard as it used to. The wounds are finally healing.
I think another positive contributor to me not spiralling down completely was being locked down; It most certainly limited my exposure to the constant onslaught of red and white store decorations or the sappy love songs on the radio, making me feel less rejected by the world, and more open to loving myself. After all, there is only one of me, and the world would be worse for not having me in it.
Admittedly, not having the freedoms of pre-covid life makes things difficult, but I think to a point, many people have begun to accept the ‘new normal’, or at least some aspects of it. Who knows, maybe next year I will be the organiser of some kind of Valentine’s Day celebration. I guess I’ll just have to wait and see – time, and the lockdown level, will tell…