Today is the first time in twelve years I do not have a Valentine. Well, my mom did send me a super sweet card from across the country. Okay, correction. Today is the first time in twelve years I do not have a Valentine other than my awesome loving mom.
When I think of other solo Valentine Days, my mind kicks me back to grade school. Ah, grade school. I remember that my enlightened school cleverly designed an anonymous Valentine’s Day carnation ceremony, with the obvious goal of traumatizing grade school girls. The way it worked is that guys would go and secretly buy $1 carnations in the cafeteria. They could attach a secret message professing their love and giving clues about their identity. Giggle giggle. Later that day, the people in charge would deliver the carnations to the lucky girls. Super-squealy fun if you got a carnation. Apparently, painful memories that last until your thirties if you did not. Rejection sucks.
The whole Carnation Ceremony thing might sound juvenile, but I just got done watching The Bachelor, which is basically a grown-up version of this same ritual. Come to think of it, it is exactly the same thing–they actually have Rose Ceremonies, for god sake. And just like the little girls in my middle school, the women on the Bachelor really, really want the magic and wonderfulness of love. More than anything, they want to BE loved. When rejection looms, even the strongest, cattiest woman among them breaks down into gut-wrenching tears and sobs about how she is heartbroken.
Let’s be real here. The majority of these women are not crying because they are not going to be with this specific guy. Lots of guys could look pretty hot diving for sharks and routinely picking you up in a helicopter. The guy is just a placeholder symbolizing the possibility of love. When the guy turns them away, but not the other women, the women interpret this as a message saying: “Love is not possible for you, in particular.” These women are crying because they are secretly worried–just like my sixth grade self–that they are unlovable.
What a crappy story to tell ourselves. Seriously, to believe that just because someone else–for whatever reason–does not want to be with us, that we are cut off from love? And wow, what a lot of power to give someone else. How crazy to think that if a person does not want to be with you, your inner spirit is lacking. When we tell ourselves this story, we literally deliver our self-worth into someone else’s hands.
Today, I am working on consciously changing my story (sixth-grade old Nicole, you better listen good sweetie). The truth is that no one can ever cut me off from love. Call it Basic Goodness, call it Buddha Nature, call it God, call it Spirit. My fundamental, uncluttered awareness is alive (as I wrote at the beginning of this month)! It is full. It is vibrant. It is all inclusive. It is joyful. I am not “loveable.” I AM love.
So I am going to stop worrying about whether or not I get a carnation. I officially choose to opt out of the Bachelor game. To put it bluntly, it seems ass-backwards to beg other people to give me something that is already part of me–that is me. Instead of waiting around for someone to tell me I am special, I am going to fall into my own wide-open heart. I am going to focus on tuning into the free and abundant and ever-present love inside of me. Rejection and loneliness will probably always hurt, but I am going to stop believing that they say anything about who I am.
And you know what else? I am also going to practice loving others, regardless of whether they love me. Guy in sixth grade who I secretly pined for but didn’t send me a stupid $1 Carnation? I love you. Friend who has not called me back in a while? I love you. Guy who I told that we should just be friends after one date? I love you too. Not the romantic, messy, I-want-something-from-you kind of love. The I-sincerely-wish-you-the-best-as-another-person-on-this-path-of-life-no-matter-what kind of love. There is no loss of dignity in loving someone when you do not need anything from them. There is also no danger in becoming blind to the current state of someone’s character when your love has no strings. Practicing unconditional love is entirely consistent with healthy boundaries and skillful discernment.
So happy Valentine’s Day to me and you. Carnations and roses for all. It’s pretty amazing to realize I do not have to wait for anyone to love me to (a) be connected to love, or (b) love them back. I can just open my heart. It is just that simple.