It was bound to happen -- you are facing Valentine's Day as a newly separated adult and you don't quite know what to do with yourself. The good thing is that you no longer have to stand in front of the display of Valentine cards and try to find one expressing how you really feel, like you did last year and the year before. That's always a sign the relationship is winding down -- when you can no longer find a card expressing your true feelings.
It's amazing how much focus we give to commemorate a celebration created in the Middle Ages. English writer Geoffrey Chaucer first mentioned Valentine's Day in a poem written to celebrate the engagement of two royals who were just fifteen years old. From this simple beginning has emerged a multi-million dollar industry that encourages us to buy cards, candy, flowers, restaurant dinners and red clothing.
Now that you are transitioning into your newly separated life, maybe it's time to rethink Valentine's Day. Find an alternative for the twenty-four hours approaching on February 14. Here are some ideas to get you started:
Throw a small, intimate dinner party for adults. Invite only close friends who know about the changes in your life and ask each of them to bring their specialty dish. You can keep the Valentine's theme of red or, like Alice in Wonderland's UnBirthday celebration, you can make it an Un-Valentine's Day celebration. Be creative and start your own, new tradition.
Go to or rent a movie you have been dying to see. One caveat: you might want to avoid those with romantic themes. The movie options now are terrific as the Oscar race heats up and there must be one on your list you haven't seen.
If your children are home, plan to do something nice together for a neighbor or elderly person. Research shows that helping others or volunteering your time and energy protects you against stress and depression when you're going through challenging times. Focusing on others may help you avoid feeling sorry for yourself.
Take a long weekend. Since Valentine's Day falls on a Thursday this year, maybe you want to plan a small getaway or even a staycation at home. Spend the money you're saving on cards, candy and flowers on a mini vacation. Use this time to write in your journal and memorialize how you are easing through this time of transition. Meditate and imagine what your life will be like in 2014. Chart your life course for this year. Write down your goals in small increments so you can track your achievement.
Turn off and tune out by taking a vacation from electronics. You might be pleasantly surprised at the thoughts and ideas you create free from external stimulation.
Celebrate what you love. There must be something you love to do that your former partner didn't appreciate. Whether it's watching silent movies, cooking with garlic, watching on-demand reruns of your favorite television show or planning a dream vacation, set aside time on February 14 to do it and validate your own interests.
Make no mistake, getting through this holiday early in a split can be challenging. If you are a newly separated parent, how you conduct yourself during challenging times will be remembered and modeled by your children. These suggestions may seem like common sense and easy, but when your emotions are charged and you are upset, using common sense suggestions as an anchor can be a comfort.
It's a new life, a new you and a new beginning. Seize it!