Dear February 14th,
You are the day where we throw little hearts in the air and pressure us to express our love all at once. You ask us to perform perfection with an emotion. You give us one day to express all the little and big things we feel. You tell us to buy roses by the dozen, reserve dinners, present chocolates — all to express our love. You are a day dreaded by those of us who are single. You are dreaded by those of us in relationships. You are an excuse for other days to not be full of joyous celebrations of love. You are a weight. You expect too much.
In all honesty, it’s not really you. It’s us. We can’t go on this way. We need to start seeing other days for love.
When we choose to be connected to other humans through friendship, romance, and/or sex we often forget that it is a job. We have to show up, put energy in, communicate, and often create something — a life together, memories, a child, shared values, maybe even a legacy. This doesn’t mean that a single celebratory day doesn’t have value but I support small, daily celebrations. Acts of simple kindness, fully listening, small gestures or words to let the ones we love know that every day we celebrate our connection.
Love is often mistaken with symbols of affection or painted stories that promise ease of living if we just have that perfect day, perfect ceremony, perfect perfection. Truthfully, love is vulnerability. Love is stripping down and sharing every flaw of ourselves with others and not expecting anything in return. To be truly vulnerable we have to accept responsibility for our moral failings and work every day to be a human that values other humans. The mess of love is my favorite part. It is embracing the imperfections and still feeling deeply for other humans. Love is not the great days or the best memories. Love is the hard shit. Love is the broken dreams, the grief in loss, the mistakes, the struggle for forgiveness.
LXXI - Pablo NerudaLove crosses its islands, from grief to grief,
it sets its roots, watered with tears,
and no one—no one—can escape the heart’s progress
as it runs, silent and carnivorous.
You and I searched for a wide valley, for another planet
where the salt wouldn’t touch your hair,
where sorrows couldn’t grow because of anything I did,
where bread could live and not grow old.
A planet entwined with vistas and foliage,
a plain, a rock, hard and unoccupied:
we wanted to build a strong nest.
with our own hands, without hurt or harm or speech,
but love was not like that: love was a lunatic city
with crowds of people blanching on their porches.
To truly and deeply love others, the first person we should wake loving is ourselves. Every day we should love ourselves deeply, intently, and gracefully. A ritual that feeds our souls. A practice of self celebration. A series of goals that promote us, the individual. The world we live in tells us in thousands of ways that we are imperfect and undeserving of love unless we tweak this, change that, be this other better version of ourselves. When we love ourselves and fill ourselves with this love, we become the ambassadors of love. We find it easier to be kind, patient, and understanding of others.
So on this one day stop and ask yourself if you are vulnerable in your love. Do you show up in your relationships with more than roses? Do you love yourself first? Do you embrace love in the dark moments of living?
Erin Brandt (she/her/hers) has been a sexologist for 15 years. When she’s not spreading sexual knowledge, Erin can be found learning from her child, hiking with her partner, cuddling with her pitbull, knitting with her cat, dancing with friends, and searching for the nearest hammock and ocean breeze. Want more? Visit www.positivesexed.com