The Secret Trauma of Valentine’s Day – A Story!
Updated: February 12, 2024
I have a secret to share…shhh don’t tell anyone but Valentine’s Day was a symbol of big trauma for most of my life. Here is why.
I’m 7 years old sitting in school at my desk with great anticipation. In front of me is my magical pile of red, pink and purple construction paper. I am holding my little scissors, readying my special brand-new bottle of school glue with the rubber top that tends to get tacky so I pick at it with my little fingers to make sure it works.
I’m making Valentine’s Day love notes!!
I look around the room and spot the little girl my first note is for. (FYI I went to an all-girl school) She’s so pretty and smart and popular and I want to make friends.
Our instructions are to give two special love notes to two friends in the room, then we are to hand in the last one that gets passed around so everybody would have a special Valentine’s card.
I make what I think are masterpieces of love and friendship. We are told to go around the room and hand out our cards. I give one to the teacher, not for strategy, but just because I totally love her.
Then, my heart full of joy and possibility, I walk over to my classmate’s desk and smile. I give her the very special card I made just for her and go back to my seat very pleased with myself.
I come back to my seat and my desk is empty.
I quickly see I have no Valentine’s cards, while other girls have many.
I don’t see that I am not the only one because the shame that bubbles up through every fiber of my being and weaves my neural networks into a giant hairball only knows one thing…
I am not a chosen one.
Worse, the potential friend is laughing with her friends who share a “fort” outside at recess. She gets up with them and leaves my card on her chair. My teacher hands me a card. I see it’s from a little girl I don’t particularly like.
I am numb. I eat a whole bag of cinnamon hearts with that now banned red dye that gets all over my tongue, mouth, and lips, likely killing many of my important mitochondria and brain cells.
Sigh. Yup scarred for life.
As the years went by I never thought about this much. All I knew was that a few days before Valentine’s Day I could barely go to the pharmacy or grocery store because of the taunting of the ad signs that really said Colette – THIS IS YOUR DAY TO BE CHOSEN BY LOVE…NOT.
So this day became a day when I’d likely be binging on chocolate and pretending that I was tough, and that none of it meant anything. Not chosen = cheezies, ice cream, chocolate, and whatever else I could stuff my face with, and when I was older.. booze was added to the recipe. Obviously, I had an eating disorder, from which I am well recovered and am now clean and sober 38 years!
But what the heck…still…a stupid holiday ran the month of February for me for a very long time.
But, after my first marriage, I got on track to heal with therapy, the twelve steps, and a lot of self-love and compassion and lo and behold Valentines Day finally became a neutral nuisance and nothing more. Meh.
Why I am telling you this?
In 2002 I met Marc, now my wonderful loving husband and companion I’ve journeyed with for 21 years.
A few months in I had my first Valentine’s test. No longer wondering if my salami sandwiches and foreign boxed lunches and last name that wasn’t Canadian enough would keep me away from the cool kids at recess, I realized I was actually stirred up this time for other potentially more adult reasons.
I fell in love.
So Valentine’s Day 2003 was totally awkward as I couldn’t tell if he was all in or not. It was the very best relationship I had ever had, the best dates, the best kiss, the best other unmentionable things, he made me laugh, he was creative, he was brilliant, he was a musician plus he loved my dog and he was very respectful of me. For me, he was a total package.
Yet, a fence sitter. (in my humble estimation)
So as I was recording my second album of music (another long and juicy story- I was a recording artist for a hot minute) I decided to write a song to tell him how I felt. (as one does, no pressure)
If he couldn’t see that I was a catch I would break up with him so I could meet a man who’d get it right. In every fiber of my being, I knew he was The One, but I had kissed so many frogs to get to the prince I wasn’t sure if it was because he was partial to the color green or me.
I hope you like the song. It’s called Dream Girl.
So resurrected this month, after finding it in the archives of lost music I listened with new ears.
(I also made Marc relive it listening in the car at full blast while I smiled at him like a cat that swallowed a mouse)
While it meant one thing 21 years ago, I realized this song speaks to me so differently today. I’m sure you’ll interpret it in your own way but today I think It’s asking me and anyone who listens…to choose ourselves, to not wait for anyone else to validate us, thereby making us worthy of love.
We are all born worthy.
I had an epiphany. Dream Girl, in all its angst and yearning written on Valentine’s Day is a call to us from our Higher Selves to dream about who we could be, who we’re meant to be and to recognize that the journey to Love is in service to a Higher Love and that is the way of all Love.
I realize I am capable of a genuine big fabulous messy painful juicy deep rich committed adventure of love NOT because I was finally chosen by a romantic partner but because I finally made the ultimate choice to choose me.
So this Valentine’s Day, and every day after that…I hope you choose you too.