Midlife: Give Yourself a Valentine

“Don’t look for Love …
look for the one looking for Love.”

Rumi ♥

 

 

When I was growing up in the fifties, I believed that being thin, marrying a man who would take care of me, going to the right college, and pleasing others was the ticket to my happiness. Valentine’s Day was important to me; receiving a valentine from the right man was crucial to my self-esteem.

Fifty years later, after the women’s movement, being a Mom and Grandmother, and supporting myself after my divorce, valentines no longer have a hold on me. What’s really important is the love I feel for family and friends.

Yet, there is small piece of me, a leftover from my childhood, that wants to be recognized by others by receiving a valentine. I have been a single woman for the last twenty years, with relationships that come and go, and I often wonder what my life would be like with a partner; a partner who would buy me roses and make a wonderful dinner. I’m surprised that I still hold onto the romantic notion that being a princess would make me happy. (I would be miserable.)

Instead of counting valentines, I make an effort to show my love to others. Showing love by sending the perfect valentine, helping someone who needs assistance, calling my Mom, celebrating with friends, smiling at people in the grocery store, are all simple examples of how I show love. And of course, in the process of doing things for others, I feel more open to the love that surrounds me.

I long for love and yet on my good days, I simply have to turn inward, pay attention to my body, and sense the love that lies within. Looking for outward confirmation that I am loveable causes unnecessary suffering, and dampens any self-esteem I’m working on cultivating. In the past, we were raised to believe that pleasing others was crucial to our own happiness. As we transition through midlife, we realize that working with others, rather that working to serve others, is where happiness truly lies.

When I can appreciate myself and open my heart to others, love seems to flow and no longer needs to be measured. I can just be in the moment and be grateful for the fullness of my life.

I hope you had  a wonderful Valentine’s Day, a day where you took the time to give to others, feel the love that surrounds you, and fully appreciate yourself.

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