So, it’s your first single and sober Valentine.
On a normal day, being single and sober can be difficult. On this day, however, you are reminded over and over that people everywhere are celebrating love. Coworkers get flowers and talk about dinner plans. You see Valentine’s cards at every stop you make, including the gas station. And at home late at night when you think everything is safe, you turn on the television, and there you see it again. Another reminder you are alone and…
Okay, that’s not true, but it certainly feels that way.
Valentines Day seems to magnify feelings of loneliness. For some, this day can trigger the need to drink more than any other. It’s a reminder of those early days in grade school when your heart-decorated brown paper bag of Valentine’s cards from classmates felt nearly empty or when that one crush you had in middle school sent the balloon bouquet to someone else.
Single and Sober Valentine Loneliness
Back during my active drinking, I hated this day. I endured what I had to of public spaces to go to work. Then I ran directly home to hide with my vodka and marijuana until I fell asleep on the couch. I couldn’t wait for that day to be over.
The only thing that changed those first few years after I got sober was that I could no longer soothe my pain with substances, and that made my single and sober Valentine even worse.
Though you may feel pain and a desire to drink, the day doesn’t have to end with relapse. If you are not sure what you can do to lift your spirits on Valentine, so you aren’t tempted to drink the day away, these suggestions might help.
Don’t Spend a Single and Sober Valentine Alone
I made this mistake. I did it alone always. I assumed that this was a day of love and, everyone else had someone they loved to spend the day with, so I sat alone in my apartment in self-pity because no one loved me. After all, who was I to call?
This assumption was far from the truth. There were thousands of people all over the world hating Valentines just as much as I did, and many of them lived within my circle of friends. Rather than isolating, adding to the temptation to drink, make arrangements to spend time with those people.
You can plan a party, go to dinner, or get your nails done. You can even enjoy virtual time with others by gathering with them on Zoom for a watch party or to play games. Whatever you decide to do, know that you don’t have to do it alone.
Volunteer to Babysit for Another Couple
When my children were little, my husband and I often skipped Valentine’s dinner out because we didn’t have anyone to watch the kids or we couldn’t afford to pay a babysitter. We would have loved to have a friend step in and take the kids, so we could enjoy the evening together.
Of course, this might not have been the single and sober Valentine you hoped for, but it doesn’t have to be painful either. In fact, it could end up being a lot of fun and a great bonding opportunity with nieces, nephews, and grandchildren if you make it a celebration for the kids.
Prepare for the evening by finding an age-appropriate movie to watch. Show up with gifts for the children and materials for them to create Valentine’s gifts for their parents or each other. This could be as simple as paper, glue, and glitter to make cards, the ingredients for homemade cookies, or a children’s crafts kit from your local hobby shop.
Don’t know anyone with kids that could use a break? How about spending time with someone older? A grandparent who has lost a loved one not only might not have anyone to share that day with, often they are shut-in and unable to make new friends, especially now with the threat of Covid.
Sharing your single and sober Valentine Day with someone else who is alone could be just as good for you as for them. It will keep you from feeling lonely and improve your mood.
Self-love is the greatest gift you can give yourself. Early in recovery, I realized that I didn’t love the most important person in my life.
Learning self-love won’t happen in a day. It took me a long time and a lot of trial and error to figure this one out. You can make a declaration to devote your single and sober Valentine Day and every Valentine’s Day one after to learning to love yourself.
Start by buying yourself something special. Why not? Other people get gifts on this day. Why shouldn’t you? Send yourself flowers at work. When people ask who sent them, proudly announce, “the one person who loves me most. Me.” Instead of you wishing you had someone sending you gifts, they will be wishing that they had your self-esteem.
Remember, loving yourself takes a lot of work, so don’t isolate that work to one day a year. Keep your self-love going long after Valentine is over.
Turn Off Your Social Media
I promise. Your social media feeds will be filled with one of two reminders. The posts will either say something like, “look what my valentines bought me,” or “Here’s why I hate Valentines.” Pictures of deliciously arranged dinner plates, happy couples, and flowers will remind you that you have nothing of the sort to post.
Yep, that’s me. I wouldn’t post them, but I was still sad because I didn’t have them to post.
And then there’s the ex. If you are still social media friends with your ex or his or her new love interest, seeing photos of how he or she is trying to impress each other in early infatuation can be difficult.
Don’t torture yourself that way. Instead, stay away from your social media for the day.
Give Valentines a Completely New Meaning
Most of us think of Valentine as the day of love, but years ago I was introduced to a new meaning for the day. V-Day as a day to promote the end of violence against women. My first experience of Valentine as V-Day was purely accidental. I had won a poetry contest and was scheduled to read my poem at a V-Day event. I had also agreed to be a panel member discussing the play, “The Vagina Monologues.”
I didn’t realize there that these two little things were part of a larger day. At the event, however, I discovered staged discussions, live music, and performances all promoting women’s freedom from violence.
Involvement in the day’s events kept me so distracted that I forgot it was Valentine. Furthermore, I have since come to prefer V-Day over Valentine’s Day because it doesn’t glorify relationships or the lack of. Instead, it’s a day to help empower women and their right to choose what happens to their bodies.
That’s a great focus for women, but what about single and sober Valentine Day for men? I say get involved anyway. You have women in your life, and I’m sure you don’t want to see them harmed in any way. They include your mother, grandmother, sisters, past and future wives, and girlfriends. Your support in a victory against violence to women is much needed and greatly appreciated by all.
A Single and Sober Valentine Doesn’t Have to Hurt.
It’s real. A Single and Sober Valentine Day can be painful, and it can lead to triggers, but it doesn’t have to lead to relapse. Plan for the day with some of these suggestions, but if you still find yourself struggling with loneliness and the desire to drink, please contact Now Sober.
We can help ease the pain.