Happy Valentine’s Day.
A day for lovers.
A day for expressing love.
Unless… Unless you are in an abusive relationship. Then, it’s a day to be reminded that you are not cherished, you are not valued, you are not important.
I was so excited about our first Valentine’s Day as a married couple. While we were dating and engaged, Valentine’s Day was always a special celebration, extravagant and planned with much thought. I was anticipating the same. We were both working that day, so we agreed to stay in for the evening. I shopped for a special meal and bought a special outfit. I replicated our wedding supper, down to decorating with white roses and lighting candles. I was ready when he came home from work to wow him. He walked in the door and handed me a bouquet of carnations, I cried that night.
What you must realize is that while we were wedding planning, I made it clear that I dislike carnations. If the florist discussed including carnations more than once after being told I did not want them at my wedding, I walked out of their store. Carnations, to me, are not a flower of love, we had many conversations about this. For my love to bring me carnations is to tell me that my pleasure, my enjoyment is not important to him. The man who had wooed me with bouquets of roses now brought me a flower I despised.
It didn’t change. Valentine’s Day became synonymous with disappointment. I stopped getting my hopes up that he would recognize it in a special way. My birthday was the same. It went ignored unless I planned something to celebrate it. Holidays were just an opportunity for him to complain about how much money it cost, or, alternatively (when we celebrated with others) to show off how extravagant he was. It was all about how he appeared to others, privately the day is destroyed with criticism and complaints.
Oh… they have plenty of excuses… roses are too expensive on Valentine’s Day, it’s become too commercialized, we’ll celebrate another day to make up for it (except you never do). It’s reasonable. It makes sense even … but it’s just another way for them to show you how little you matter.
Holidays with an abuser are days spent walking on eggshells. Days specifically set aside for lovers (anniversaries, Valentine’s Day, etc.) become days when the abuser has the opportunity to remind you how little you are valued, how little they care about you. It’s the perfect opportunity for them to be demeaning without having to do anything at all.