The only time I ever received a cheesy, heart-shaped box of chocolates for Valentine’s Day was 15 years ago. I was a patient on a locked psychiatric unit located in Beverly, Massachusetts. I had turned 23 two weeks earlier and my relationship with my very first love was imploding in the ugliest and most disastrous of ways. My ex brought the box of chocolates during visiting hours. It was crushed on one side and surely purchased from a clearance bin. I remember so vividly how forlorn she looked when she came to visit that evening; touting that our breakup had been a mutual agreement. Sure it’s mutual, I thought as I sat across from her in a hospital johnny on suicide watch. She went on to compare me to a Boston creme donut, noting that when you go into the donut shop you know you want the Boston creme but all the other donuts look so pretty + good, so you have to try them all, even though you know you really want the Boston creme. It took a few years but I can now giggle at the “donut shoppe” analogy, which is why I think I can write about it today.
I did not think I wanted to live because I thought my worth came from being loved by another person. There are many reasons why I believed that and over the last few years I’ve been doing the tough work to identify them but that’s for another post, or two. It has been 15 years since the worst Valentine’s Day of my life. I honor myself today by remembering where and who I was back then. This experience was the first on a path for me to find my own worth and while the next few years were still very harrowing & tumultuous in the ways of self & love, my growth was exponential. That hard work primed me to be the woman I am and today I am loved and loved well by my wife of 10 and a half years. We balance intimacy and autonomy and support each others personal growth while working (hard!) on our journey as partners and lovers and on occasion you can find us in a donut shop, sharing a Boston creme.