Originally published February 10, 2018.
I must admit that St. Valentine's Day (yes, the day that many consider a red menace with its profusion of hearts, flowers, and candy) is my absolute favorite holiday. Not just because it represents romantic love. Thanks to yoga, I also see February 14th as a reminder to practice self-acceptance and self-love; the greatest love of all. Being married almost three decades to a recovering alcoholic, I enjoy delving into books about complicated, co-dependent husband/wife relationships (like my own). I recently read "Love Warrior", the memoir of best-selling author and Momastery blogger, Glennon Doyle Melton. In the book, Melton demystifies the concept of love and marriage for women by writing; "I am a child of Disney, so I learned early on that a wedding is a woman's finish line. I thought all I needed to do was cross that wedding day finish line and I'd finally be whole and content. I could sit down, brush my hair, plan my outfit for the ball, and live happily ever after." Reading Melton's words while looking at this photo of my husband and myself from almost 30 years ago, I realize I too bought into that same line of fairytale bullshit. At the time we found each other, my husband and I were young but already broken and flawed. He was four years sober and three years divorced from a marriage where escapism was found in the world of drugs and alcohol. I was struggling with my own demons. I left an abusive childhood home at the age of 19, put myself through college and tried to forge a better path for myself. When I got engaged at just 22 years old, I was foolish and naive enough to believe that marriage was the solution for everything that ailed my wounded soul. It was 1990, mind you. There were no yoga classes being offered in town, yet. No workshops on self-love or self-study. No way to determine that my own happiness had nothing to do with my spouse. You can make plans (my husband says) but you can't plan the outcome ... and little did I know then how hard being married is if you don't practice self-love first. A marriage is a relationship like no other because it requires work (from TWO healthy individuals) to be sustainable for the long run. You work at it when all is going well, but more importantly, you work on it on major "letdown days.” Maybe your spouse loses a job. Or you discover an email thread that suggests infidelity. Or the latest round of IVF didn't work.
27 years of marriage and seven years of yoga have taught me that the most important relationship I have is the one with MYSELF, because it affects all the relationships around me, especially the one with my husband. It wasn't until the age of 43 that I found yoga and started working on a deeper connection with myself and my Divine. Shortly thereafter, a shift happened and I discovered that other relationships in my life started improving, as well. Funny how that works!
John Lennon said it best about relationships; "Love is like a precious plant. You can't just accept it and leave it in the cupboard or just think it's going to get on by itself. You've got to keep on watering it. You've got to really look after it and nurture it." I believe John's quote also applies to the nurturing of ourselves. Because WE, dear hearts — as much as anybody in the entire universe — deserve our own love, care and affection.
Happy Valentine's Day and remember to Love the One You Is!