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.

It was supposed to be a single on my second album but somehow didn’t make the cut. 

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.  

Showing 24 comments
  • Anonymous

    love it and the sharing of elementary school scars-thanks for sharing your vulnerablities

    • Anonymous

      Nice song , sounds good 👍

    • Joan

      This speaks volumes to me, thank you Colette for being you and sharing your gift to the world. ❤️

  • Shiva

    Love this!!!

    • Vaiata

      I love your song.
      Thank you for this message. I choose me. 💜

    • Patricia

      Just loved everything !!! The experience, the pain, the journey, the song, the Love and where it brings us too!! I chose ME!!!
      Thank you so much 😘😘

  • Diane in SC

    Colette – How lovely to read your story about your life and the song you wrote to yourself. Sharing your life with me helps me to understand that loving myself should always come first, no matter that life decides to present itself in cruel ways – mine being having Chronic Pain for 36 years – every day hoping it will be a day without pain. I enjoy the connection with you and find your newsletters uplifting. Thank you for being you!! Love always…………..

  • Heather

    Ok, this made me cry in a happy way! Thank you for sharing this beautiful story and I can’t wait to listen to this song. <3

    • Anonymous

      No words..a heart full of gratitude…thank you for sharing 💜

  • Anonymous

    What a Amazing story,
    Thank you for sharing.


  • Colette

    Beautiful song & beautiful reminder! Thanks for sharing ❤️

    • Anonymous

      I love this Colette! Thank you for sharing and inspiring 💕 I always look forward to your emails as they are very uplifting- Happy Valentine’s Day !

  • Susan Steele

    Love you sharing such raw heartfelt emotionally stories

  • Elba

    Are you kidding me? This was AWESOME!!! Love your voice and the song of course!!! So appropriate for me right now. This is how I felt about a man that seems to have ghosted me. But, I love myself so much that he disappearing act has allowed me to just love myself even more. Thanks for sharing.

  • Virginia

    Just what I needed today. Thanks for speaking to my heart one more time.

  • Wendy Wheeler

    I’m so glad you realized you deserve to be the Dream Girl. And thank the Goddesses he woke up! You have a beautiful voice Colette.

  • Judith MacKay

    I love your story and it made me stop and think seriously about my life. I am 80yrs no not old young, following my divorce in 1995 I have been on my own bringing up my 2 children, who are now 45 and 40 and living their own lives. I always hoped that one day I would meet that special someone and finally realised it was me and I need to nurture myself .
    Thank you for helping me and I wish you and Marc a long and happy life together. Happy Valentines Day to you both with love Judith x❤️

  • Ria

    Thank you, thank you, Colette, for sharing this. Perfect timing. When you said about making the choice and choosing me, I went back and listened to the song once again. So perfect for me at this very moment, as this is exactly where I’m at. I have decided to chose me and not wait for validation from others. And yes that I am worthy 💕

  • Elyse Jacobs

    I love how you chose yourself, Colette. The image of you and Mark in a car, song blasting, was funny and poignant all rolled up together. The many different versions of you both must have filled the car.
    Happy he woke up in time.
    Great song, beautiful voice. Happy Valentine’s Day to you both.

  • Anna recy

    I so love you Colette, for being genuine, sharing yourself, learnings and love, in entertaining and lovely ways. Thank you😍

    • Bonnie Lea Townsend

      Thank you so much for sharing all your stories. I can certainly relate to a lot of them. I can relate your childhood story to my seriously shy and challenging childhood where I needed the teacher’s help to choose who to give cards to, because of so much fear of rejection. I never got very many cards. I was married, had kids and divorced, but still struggle with the idea of waiting for another romantic partner to choose me. I’d love to have someone like Marc! In the meantime, I’m allowing myself to love myself.

  • Beth

    My grand-daughter’s school does not recognize nor celebrate Valentine’s Day. And I can understand why. Because I was also that little girl that received only a few Valentine’s Day cards in my decorated shoe box, and when we opened our boxes at our desks, I saw who were the popular girls because they received a lot of Valentine’s Day cards. That was decades ago, but it still is a painful memory.

    Now schools make it a rule that students must provide a Valentine’s Day card for every child in the classroom. But that gets expensive for the parents and if a parent forgets or can’t afford 25-30 Valentine’s Day cards or a family doesn’t have time to handcraft all those cards… So, I understand why my 7 year old grand-daughter’s school opted out of Valentine’s Day.

    But, as a family, we are celebrating and I bought her a heart balloon and a stuffed toy with a heart to make sure she never is that little girl like I was, on Valentine’s Day, in that classroom so many years ago. My grand-daughter has already experienced disappointments and heartaches, as my husband and I, (her grandparents) are raising her, but I hope she will always know she is LOVED.

    • Anonymous

      So sweet Beth 💕

  • Joanie Batten

    Colette, really loved the song. I could relate to the story as well. I too would make 100 valentines and be lucky if I got one or two in return. Now at Christmas we send out 50 cards and we are lucky to receive maybe 15 in return. I look at it this way. We are spreading light and love physically to those that need it. We are light and love and don’t require physically as much in return. Blessings!

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