Celebrating Liberation Day on February 15

heartBy an accident of court scheduling, my divorce was finalized on February 15, five years ago. The five-year mark feels like a transition from current events to recent history.

I’m glad that the divorce happened. It was necessary for a lot of reasons, but I wasn’t the victim in that relationship. I got myself into it, I stayed in it, I volunteered every day to stay in it, and in the end I needed to get myself out. While I was in it, I wanted to make it work because I believed in the vows I took, and I believed in commitment itself. I believed that when I started something, I should finish it. I wasn’t a quitter, I told myself.

In the months leading up to the divorce, I felt a mixture of shame, extreme relief, regret, and fear for the future. I was so overwhelmed after going through the ritual in front of the judge that I went back to my office and tried to work but ended up falling asleep on the floor for two hours. I was exhausted. That first Liberation Day was one among many ground zeros.

I have loved being in love. I am in love now, in a good and healthy relationship with a good man. But Valentine’s Day has always seemed to me a little choking, cloying, and too sweet.

Yesterday I had to go into the drugstore to pick up a prescription, which meant running a gauntlet down an aisle brimming with shiny red hearts, red streamers, boxes of chocolates, and stuffed animals. When I’ve been in troubled relationship, I looked to Valentine’s Day for a sentimental gesture, a grand sign to sweep away whatever hurt had been accumulated during the previous year. It took a long time to realize that a good relationship shouldn’t do that only on an annual basis.

I don’t want to destroy Valentine’s Day, because I’m sure many people enjoy it. I will be celebrating the day after V-Day on February 15. I celebrate every person who has decided to be alone for their own well-being. I’m making a holiday that celebrates the way in which ending a relationship can be the beginning of a new life. I’m not sure what the decorations would look like, or what the color scheme might be, but it’s not about dead flowers or screaming fights. I like the idea of it being on my calendar. It’s my Liberation Day, mostly my liberation from my own expectations about what I “should” be doing if I “really loved” someone or how hard I should work on a relationship.

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