Valentine’s Day looms and I am single. I am not only single – I am VERY single. A failed marriage which has left me needy and insecure, with trust issues, self-esteem issues and body-image issues; a single mother to young twins one of whom has special needs; middle-aged, overweight and struggling to make ends meet … it’s fair to say the eligible bachelors are not forming a queue at my front door. So I’m very single.
The thought of 14th February coming and going without a card or rose reaching me shouldn’t be worrying me. It really shouldn’t. I received a card every year of my marriage. Some years I received flowers (which I love). Some years I received teddy bears (which I hate). These annual tokens didn’t mean I was happy or loved. They didn’t mean I was actually appreciated and adored. They didn’t even temporarily mask the growing misery and sadness that I was living with. They were simply obligatory for both parties, and with each year it grew harder to think of words to write in the cards I bought.
This will by no means be my first Valentine’s Day as a singleton and I have been mystified as to why I have felt so apprehensive at its impending arrival this year. Yet over the past few weeks I have felt that every shop I’ve entered has taunted me with its red-and-white displays of cards and chocolates and cutesy teddies. “To the one I love” declared one card I noticed this afternoon. “For my husband on Valentine’s Day” read another. “To the World’s Best Wife”.
The World’s Best Wife. Hmmmm. Quite a claim. Of course I had to wonder what attributes such a wife would possess? The World’s BEST Wife must surely run her own business from home whilst raising four children on wholesome healthy meals cooked from scratch every day, often using the fresh ingredients she lovingly grows in the garden. She keeps her home showroom-perfect and spotlessly clean; is never in a bad mood but instead alternately sings cheerfully as she manages her home, and intelligently discusses world events with her family. When her husband comes home from work the children are bathed and ready for bed; his four-course dinner is ready to be served after his half-hour of quiet time in his study (a room his wife insisted he needed when they bought their beautiful house). After he has eaten his delicious meal and enjoyed some witty banter with his slim, attractive, classily-dressed wife, she takes him upstairs where she displays her proficient and enthusiastic skills in the bedroom. Not that she had ever slept with anyone else before her husband. Yes, I think that MUST be pretty close to the World’s Best Wife, right?
Maybe Valentine’s cards need to be more realistic. “To my wife on Valentine’s Day, whom I love even when you are grumpy because the children have been bickering all day, and I come home to find you in baggy sweatpants and with a ready-meal in the microwave.” After years of receiving cards filled with meaningless, insincere words which in no way reflected my real relationship, I think I’d have preferred this. “To my wife on Valentine’s Day, who doesn’t deserve the way I have treated her”. Now we’re getting somewhere.
You’d really think I would be cynical to the whole concept of love and marriage. And yet. I still want it. Not my marriage (heaven forbid) but the tangible evidence that I am a valued and treasured part of someone’s life. Despite the way I was treated during my marriage; despite the plethora of “issues” I have been left dealing with; I still fundamentally believe in love. I believe in soulmates and true, deep, can’t-live-without-you love. I believe in finding someone who is the centre of your being – someone who occupies your first and last thoughts of the day and who makes you feel whole. I believe that this Valentine’s Day, all over the Western world, girlfriends and wives, boyfriends and husbands, will receive the validation that they are all of this to their beloved someone. And I believe I deserve that too.
So this Valentine’s Day I will be writing a different kind of card:
To the World’s Best Husband,
I know you are out there somewhere. And I know some day, somehow, I will meet you. I know that sometimes we will argue, and sometimes things will be difficult. But I also know that you will make me feel happier than I knew I could feel. I know you will be my strength when I feel weak, and you will allow me to support you when you are in need. I know that you will make me laugh until I cry. I know that you will be honest and genuine, and will always treat me with respect. I know that you will say what you mean and mean what you say. I know that you will understand the impact of my past relationships, and that you will deal with my issues and insecurities patiently, until they fade and disappear with the strength of your unwavering love. I know you are out there, and I know I will find you.
Happy Valentine’s Day my love.