Happy Valentine's Day to Me: Building Myself Back Up After Heartbreak by Callie Byron Donnelly
Happy Valentine’s Day.
I want you to know that you are loved. It’s easy to forget this when life piles so much on your shoulders. I love you because you sound like a superstar in the car when you sing; because you rock your gray hair; you refuse to wear any makeup beyond red lipstick. I love you because you help your students see the humanity that unites us. I love you because you still care even though you’re exhausted. You are talented, you are worthy, you are valued. I hope you like the massage. By the way, you look amazing. You’re a total badass and I’m very proud of you.
It’s the day before Valentine’s Day so I booked myself a massage. To say my life has been stressful lately is a colossal understatement. In December my husband shared he thought he didn’t want to be married to me anymore. By January my world was shattered. I didn’t know I was living in a glass-bottom boat, but I was drowning. The boat, my husband of 23 years, was still surrounding me but the glass bottom was gone and I had nothing to hold on to. I felt worthless and utterly rejected. Many moments I just wanted to stop the struggle and sink into nothing. But I didn’t. I kept kicking.
Now it’s February. That dreaded month of constant reminders of couples in love. So, I scheduled the longest massage offered. On the table, I could feel the tears welling. Callie, what have you learned in therapy this month? I learned that I have to love myself. High self-esteem has never been my strength, but my husband was always supportive, and apparently, I was completely dependent on him for positive reinforcement.
So, I went home and I wrote myself a valentine. I said all the things I wanted to hear. And I cried while I wrote it, but it was the beginning of building a new boat. The days when all I can do is just keep breathing, they aren’t over. But treading water is better than sinking. And learning how to love myself is worth the effort.