This is the first Valentines Day that I've ever properly celebrated. That I have celebrated truly with someone else. That I have ever celebrated in the commercial, cheesy, romantic way that Hallmark intended. My boy is taking me away to a five star hotel at a surprise destination for the weekend. We have bought each other presents. He's so proud to have organised this - two months ago now. We'll eat seafood and hold hands and wander down the local shopping strips.
I'd like to think I don't buy into this commercial day of love, but how can I not when my boy is making me feel like a princess? And it seems like Valentines Day is far more fun when the love is mutual.
I have sent many cards and presents to unrequited loves over the years. Most were met with polite smiles and awkward but genuine thankyous. But no valentine recipients ever returned the love I was so desperately looking for. In hindsight, reciprocated love would be a sign I was 'normal'. It would be a validation of my worth.
Then I realised it's more validating to love yourself instead of needing to be on the constant lookout for love.
And while I have had relationships in the past, this one feels most real, the most stable, the most accepting. This is the one that I'm not left wondering or fearing the end. The one where I rarely worry about whether my skin is a hinderance (and believe me, I do, I still do). It's the most loving. I finally know what it's like to make love in the true sense, as opposed to having sex. I laugh with him unashamedly. And I cook for him because food is love.
I seem to have written about this many times before. And I'm not playing the victim card, honestly. But it's my experience. It is very hard for someone who looks different or has a disability to find someone to love them.
And so now it's happened, I am so proud/relieved/in love. A few of my friends with disabilities have talked about how they felt they had to sing it loud when they'd finally found love, they'd finally had sex - like it was something to prove. Because the world doubted the idea that they deserved and would find love. I even catch myself now hesitating when I say "my boyfriend", as I still worry I might come across someone who can't believe it - even with my strong sense of self worth. Crazy hey?!
A few people I know want love. They don't have visible differences or disabilities. There's nothing outwardly 'wrong' with them. They're tired of being alone, feel like they're ageing, and lonely, I guess. And there often seems to be a lack of self love. I know what that was like. I'd always joke I'd be a spinster, but deep down I worried I'd never find unconditional love beyond my parents.
So many platitudes were said to me when I was single. They're said to people I know too.
"Someone will come along one day."
"The right person is out there."
"You are a great girl, why wouldn't you find love?"
"The right one comes when you stop looking." (To an extent that one was true for me.)
"You don't need a man in your life."
I believe love came when I felt good about myself, and also when I stopped worrying when I'd find it. I met my boy when I had no time for love, when I wasn't interested in the very few messages I'd receive from the online dating site I registered with but never participated actively in, and also when I was at my most confident in myself. I can't say that you will find love but I do know that putting positivity out there brought love back for me.
I took a chance on a man who wasn't my 'type' (my type seemed to be the bad, unemployed, drug using type...though my ideal was different). By taking this chance, I've found a man who doesn't have much in common with me but he's got the biggest heart and warmest hug I could wish for. He looks after me so, so well. Everyday I thank him for finding me.
I sent virtual kisses to a lot of toads. I spent time loving unrequitedly and loving those who did love me but didn't make me feel good about myself. Then I opened my heart up and found my prince.