I used to look forward to Valentine’s Day. That all changed the day I found out I wasn’t my Valentine’s only Valentine. Sure, if we were in grade school and it was brought to my attention that my crush had given every girl in our class a Ziploc bag full of Hershey Kisses, it would’ve broken my heart! However we weren’t kids, we were adults in an exclusive relationship…or so I thought, and his betrayal did more than hurt my feelings…it shattered my heart.
I wonder when he decided I wasn’t enough. When holding me left his arms empty and looking at me made his eyes wander. I wonder when my kisses began to make him want to kiss another. What had I done to make my only Valentine no longer want to be only mine? I was deeply in love, fully committed and fiercely loyal. I was his loudest cheerleader. He said he loved me and I believed him and why wouldn’t I? We were an item that had been together for some time. Maybe he meant he used to love only me but things had changed. Maybe he had said it and given me warning on the days he would pick fights or grudgingly allowed me to lean on his shoulder that had grown uncharacteristically cold. When did he stop loving me and why?
I remember the day I found out that I wasn’t his only Valentine and he vehemently denied it. I remember being livid and losing it. When I had calmed down some days later and we talked, I asked every question I could think of. He answered every question and begged me to stay but it wasn’t until much later that I discovered that he had lied during the interrogation and I had taken him back under false pretenses. So the cycle began to repeat itself…
I remember the day I found out that he had lied and he vehemently denied it. I remember being livid and losing it. Except this time I never calmed down and I never stopped losing it and worst of all…something broke in me. I never knew what broke or recognized the sound that it made.
You ever notice a bruise on your body and ask yourself, “When did that happen? How did that get there?”. What about the times when others see bruises on you that you didn’t realize you had? What about bruises you think your smile hides as though they were H.S. hickeys under a turtleneck? Obvious to onlookers but withholding details that cannot be shared. So it is with the bruising of the heart.
Enduring lie after lie coupled with constant rejection feeds insecurity while causing deep bruising that breaks the pericardium, making it susceptible to infection. I didn’t know I was infected until another man noticed my bruises and indirectly offered to gently nurse me back to health…and I let him.
I remember the day I reached out to him. We had know each other casually but he had come through for me in an unrelated pinch. He had ran across my mind and I had the purest of motives in thanking him for being an unexpected source of strength. Somewhere in between my saying “Good” and my saying “Morning” he detected a void that he was willing to fill…and I let him.
Later that night he began to prep me for “heart surgery” by responding to my statement of purpose with welcoming words of affirmation. I had no idea I was so badly damaged until he began to dress my wounds by undressing me without our ever being face to face…and I let him.
I don’t remember when I began wanting him. Seeing his face in dreams and visions with my atmosphere responding to just the thought of his voice. Though he claimed I was also his only extra-curricular activity, his swag was next level. As a novice who didn’t know how to swim, I found myself drowning in the unchartered waters of his charm. I even accused him of being an expert in these matters to which he responded, “I’m not a pro, I’m just not scared”. That made me want him even more…and he let me.
It didn’t take long however, to notice that he responded way more than he initiated. He being the gentleman that he was, even apologized and assured me the feelings were mutual (which was music to my ears) but that he was just really busy. I then realized that I’d gone from guarding my heart to letting my guard down as my attraction to him intensified. I began to feel silly, embarrassed and exposed. It was though the scales had fallen from my eyes and I had awoken from an intoxicating stupor. I realized I had it real bad but could no longer deny that he made me feel so good. He had pinned me to the mat and although I confessed that I was too weak to tap out, his effortless appeal inadvertently muffled my faint half hearted whimper to get up. I had started a cycle of my own…and I let me.
When conviction began to rear its inevitable head, I remember trying to negotiate with God as to why I should be allowed to keep this new “heart doctor”. I mean the man was working wonders without even trying. We hadn’t even seen each other in person in months, so there was no physical interaction at all. I mean could we at least have an exit interview and a goodbye kiss?! My Valentine had gotten away with that and so much more Lord…and You let him.
I eventually reluctantly came out of that short-lived fantasy but not without making it clear when he asked, “So you’re leaving me?”, that it was because I had to, NOT because I wanted to. I then scheduled a long overdue appointment with the Great Physician. I had ignored Him, His invitations and warnings for so long. Although I kept most of our appointments, I showed up mad, hurt, crying, kicking, screaming and cursing quite a bit…and He let me.
As a result of my baring it all and undergoing intense stress testing, my heart has since regained new strength at its core. I learned that the “something that broke inside of me” was the foreign sound of my heart shattering and unbeknownst to me, it also marked the day I checked out of the relationship. Repeated injuries had weakened my immune system. I had no clue that I was only going through the motions by meeting the minimum requirements to make it work.
Fast forward to this impending Valentine’s Day, I admit its unwelcome arrival is easier to bear these days! Though now married, I still choose not to celebrate Valentine’s Day and I don’t cringe nearly as much when I can’t help but see reminders everywhere! From the most irritating decorations at work which consist of (no lie) at least 100 red heart shaped balloons floating in midair; to our children coming home from school excited to share their stories and Ziploc bags filled with Hershey Kisses. I’ve accepted the fact that Valentine’s Day and the people who celebrate it (no matter their motive) are going nowhere! LOL!
Maybe you dread Valentine’s Day for other reasons. I know of someone who as a newlywed lost their Dad, only to hear their spouse callously blurt out, “Great! Now our Valentine Days will be ruined forever!” Perhaps you have a love/hate relationship because you were born on Valentines Day or another holiday. You hate it but love that people never forget your birthday!
Maybe you don’t have a Valentine and really want one. Maybe instead of being with the one you love, you’re loving the one you’re with. Maybe you’re staying with someone out of obligation or convenience. Maybe you’re the other woman or the other man in a relationship and though you hate being the side piece, it works for you. Maybe your status is “Its Complicated” because though you want out, in an attempt to honor your vows or commitment, you’ve opted not to step out. Maybe you’re hanging on by a thread for the sake of the children or because you’re partners in a thriving business or ministry. Maybe you can’t afford to leave because living together has cut your living expenses in half. Maybe the thought of being alone frightens the hell out of you, so you settle…again and again.
Hey…to each his own, but I found keeping my appointments with the Great Physician worked for me. He has a proven track record and offers custom remedies based on each unique case. He reminded me that no matter what day it was on the calendar, it was a brand new day! A new day to forgive myself and even extend that forgiveness to others along the way. Rediscovering brand new days gifted within the dawning of each new day still helps me. Though still fragile on some days more than others, I’m able to love again. I love unashamedly, lavishly and deeply, without restraint, regret or apology.
Afterall, I’m not a pro…I’m just not scared.
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