At best, Valentine’s Day is a mushy, capitalistic day to tell the people we love how we feel by using stolen sentiments we buy with our hard-earned cash. But for those with aching hearts, the day becomes all the more insufferable.
Heartache! Heartbreak! As I’m writing this now, I’m laughing at myself the whole way through. At 21 years old, what could I possibly know of a broken heart? I’ve spent these two decades loving and losing with as much grace as a frustrated elephant. But alas.
Here are some tips for those who are coping with a broken heart this Valentine’s Day:
Recognize how you feel
This has been something that I have always struggled the most with. One of the by-products of a lifetime’s diet of cheesy movies and young-adult novels is that I always thought of heartbreak as something that would be immediately noticeable.
Augustus Waters says something like, “pain demands to be felt” in “The Fault in Our Stars,” and believe me, reader, I took that a little too seriously.
Heartbreak doesn’t have a universal face, and it most definitely may be difficult to address. In fact, it doesn’t even have to be heartache brought on by a romantic partner. For me, best friend break-ups that I’ve had to mourn have always hurt the most, but have been the feelings that I’m the quickest to suppress.
Feel your feelings! Recognize when you’re hurting! It’s more than okay to admit that someone hurt you. Even baddies cry (“Don’t Rock Me to Sleep” by Megan Thee Stallion is a prime example, she was in her bag).
Get it out
Bottling in any feeling will surely result in some sort of explosion down the line — to the babes reading this, you’re just going to have to take my word for it.
How do you choose to express yourself? Use that medium to get the feelings out of your system.
I write letters I’ll never send, in the messiest handwriting I can imagine, to make myself feel better. When my best friend is going through something she dresses like Blair Waldorf to remind herself to be confident. Whatever you need to do to get the feelings out, do it.
Every rose really does have its thorns
It’s okay to be heavy on the “bitter” of bittersweet. Like, it really, really is. Who says you have to forgive every person that’s wronged you, especially right after they have? Who says you have to be all light and cheery on Valentine's Day?
If being upset and angry is something that you’re feeling, don’t force yourself to be happy. If accountability needs to happen, bide your time and strategize how you’ll make that happen — or don’t. You are complete with or without anyone’s text message apologies.
But there’s a balance. Try not to be toxic — scream into your pillows, hold a strict meeting with your stuffed animals where you tell them off, go for a run, smoke out of your window — there’s no reason to let your anger manifest into hurting someone else. Feel and release it in a healthy way.
Distract, distract, distract!
There is such a thing as too much reflection. At some point, memory lane leads out to an unrelenting sea of tormenting thoughts. Those “could I have done something differently?” intrusions will only make you nauseous as you ride out the current. Come back to the shore. Watch your favorite show, put on a ridiculous podcast, distract yourself from the harmful and painful thoughts that would only hurt you more.
When you feel yourself starting to drown in the memories, call your besties and have a little FaceTime date. Get your quarantine gang and order a pizza. Don’t force yourself to spiral — nothing good will come out of it.
Come back to yourself
If it were up to me, I would start every day with a fresh cry to accompany my creamless, sugarless coffee — bitter tears in my bitter cup.
Nostalgia and reflection have been my consistent companions over the years, but as long as I’m living in a capitalist hellscape, I’m going to have to be productive. And unfortunately for me and fortunately for capitalism, I do indeed determine my worth based on my productivity.
Take your time to get back into your routine, but nudge yourself to get back into it eventually.
Sometimes you’re driving and someone cuts you off while you're having the most stressful day, and you flip them off, but you keep on driving.
Persevere. Drive home to you, and find yourself again, unattached to who or what you used to love and who you used to be. Acquaint yourself with who you’re becoming.
Love yourself, dammit!
I scribble words in the margins of my lecture notes during classes. One jarring truth that glared at me as I was reviewing information for a test was, “Love yourself, dammit!" Three words that stopped me in the tracks of my cramming session — a poised message from my subconscious, in the medium I understood best.
After each heartbreak, there will always be you, and you will come out stronger from whatever it is that hurt you. Growth is beautiful.
I suggest listening to some music that makes you feel good about yourself (stream Dounia) and doing daily affirmations. Cook yourself your favorite meal, and be the things to yourself you may have been for someone else. You deserve the ferocity of your own love.
Nobody can love me more than I love myself. That sounds so cheesy and narcissistic but it’s true. I think of the funniest jokes and laugh, I write out my insides and read them back to myself, smiling. It’s really, really hard to love yourself. I’m still learning.
But once you come to the realization that you're amazing, faults and all, you’ll be on that age-old path of self-actualization that the best of humanity has taken before you.
Remember, lovelies: Everything you need is inside of you. Read that again. Say it aloud. Everything you need is inside of you, and you will weather this storm. Happy Valentine’s Day, you can survive anything!