Valentine’s Day during separation and divorce is often agony and heartbreak. You can change that.  

My first Valentine’s Day after I found out about my ex-husband’s girlfriend was full of agony and despair. Valentine’s Day that year was a weekday that I was scheduled to meet with my personal trainer at a gym I had joined to get my body back in shape. As I was driving to the gym that morning, I saw florists’ vans full of red and pink balloons on their way to some woman’s office or home.

I arrived at the gym, and on the front counter, there were two vases of roses with red and pink glitter sparkling at the base for two different employees. By the time I got to my trainer’s office, I was in tears. I could barely get the words out as I said, “I’m sorry, I just can’t do this today.”  

I knew I should have just channeled my “BadAss Warrior Woman” persona as we’ve all been told to do, but I was exhausted and overwhelmed with trying to keep myself together during this catastrophe, and I was overcome with sadness that day. I had, had the same Valentine for more than 30 years. And now he loved someone else.  

We had our first date when we were in high school. We got married in January of my Junior year in college and made it through college, medical school, internship, residency, and three years in the Air Force.  He had a thriving practice, I had my own little business from home. We had four amazing children, and the thought of my Valentine buying candy and flowers and gifts for another woman was more than I could bear.  

Our life had been almost too good to be true. We were very different people, but I thought we made a great team, each of us balancing out the other.  Our kids were all making their way to their own productive lives, when suddenly my wasband (I don’t like the word ex-husband) decided he wanted someone else.  

My mission and my passion now is helping other women get through the swamp of divorce more gracefully than I did.  (In looking back, that won’t be hard, because I made every mistake in the book.)  

I begged. I pleaded. I sobbed. I screamed. Nothing I did to try to win my husband back had any effect except to make me look weak and embarrassing. But because I was stubborn and a Christian, I was determined to hold on until he came to his senses, and we could fix our life.

That of course never happened. Yet, I not only survived what I thought I couldn’t, I am now dedicated to helping other women facing divorce in the middle of their life.

Since that first Valentine’s Day after I found out about the girlfriend, I have rebuilt my life, brick by brick. At the beginning I didn’t know if that was going to be possible.  It was not only possible, but my life is again full and fun and adventurous. After four years of figuring myself out,  I married an amazing, fun, smart guy who is really much more attuned to who I am than my first husband ever was.  (Plus he sings to me, and we both love to fish!)  

Here’s what I want to tell you about Valentine’s Day during separation and divorce, when you think all is lost and you will never be happy again.

1. Love Yourself First  

Until you learn to love yourself and are confident in who you are, you can’t really love anyone else. As long as we depend on someone else giving us our value, we will never have a life as good as it could be. A strong, empowered woman is the best kind of partner or companion or spouse. You deserve to be respected and loved and cherished as you respect and love and cherish others. Don’t accept anything less.

2. Create Your Own Happiness

Regardless if whether you are in a great relationship or are in the middle of divorce, you are responsible for your own happiness. No one else can make you happy. We must find happiness within ourselves or we cannot find it at all. In my 10-Week RADiCAL Divorce Recovery Classes on Week Two, we sign and date a piece of paper that says, “I accept the truth that I am responsible for my own happiness.” You need to accept that truth, too.  Remember it especially on Valentine’s Day.

3. Treat Yourself With Kindness And Understanding

Women are so hard on ourselves. When something goes wrong we ask, “What’s wrong with me?” “What could I have done to fix this?” “Why doesn’t he love me anymore?” I’m all for taking responsibility for our mistakes and failures, but don’t stay in a place of self-incrimination when you were probably doing the best you could in spite of the circumstances. Instead of continuing to blame yourself, make an honest evaluation of how you can do better, but don’t pitch your tent in Camp Not Good Enough.  

4. Decide What You Want And Make It Happen

Times of intense pain often lead us (maybe for the first time) to figure out “Who am I and what am I supposed to be doing on this earth?” In the rockin’ and rollin’ of a busy life, we often just do what’s expected of us. Good daughters. Successful students and employees. We tried to be good wives. And the best mothers we could be. I loved doing all those things. But in the midst of life, I forgot to ask,”Hey, really, what am I doing here? What are my gifts? What are my goals? What can I do to make my life and the lives of others as good and full as I possibly can? This Valentine’s Day is a good day to ask that question. And then do things every day to be that person you want to be.

5. Go Buy Yourself Some Sexy Red Lingerie Or Some Red Shoes

Get a red push up bra and some racy red panties! Appreciate your body as it is right now! Look at yourself in front of a full-length mirror and be thankful for what you see. We can always improve, but the assignment this Valentine’s Day is to appreciate our body that is the vessel that holds the very Spirit of God within it. Be proud of your talents, your accomplishments and your good heart. Spend some time thinking about the Big Picture of your one precious life and figure out how best to live it in the right here and right now!

We  can each have the life we desire. We can have the life we deserve. It’s up to us to make that happen. We can make decisions every day to get us closer to the life we were created for.

And, remember, every woman deserves to have a hot pair of red shoes. They can be the inspiration to become the person you were meant to be. Get some for yourself this Valentine’s Day and wear them with confidence!