Loneliness and Valentine's Day
Written by listed counsellor/psychotherapist: Toby Ingham MA UKCP BAPPS
5th March, 2008
A divorced man in his mid 40s, I’ll call him Lewis, finds Valentine’s Day rather depressing. Everywhere he goes from Windsor to Wycombe the shops are full of Valentine cards. Lewis does not intend to send a card and does not expect to receive one. It is a day he tries to ignore.
Lewis is quite a successful man and can lose himself in his work, but sometimes loneliness and self-doubt steal up on him. These are powerful feelings, and feelings are not really his thing – he perceives them as weakness and he is uncomfortable with them.
He does not think that an acknowledgement of his feelings and failings may lead to a greater awareness of himself, and importantly, that with a better awareness of himself and his feelings, it may become possible to develop better relationships with other people.
Losing yourself in work is fine as long as you know how to find yourself again. If you aren’t too sure how to find yourself you might begin by noticing your feelings. Feelings like loneliness and doubt can be very meaningful indicators of where and who we are. Roughly speaking, the clearer we are about ourselves, the simpler it is to get along with other people.
Valentine’s Day is more of a commercial entity than anything else. It is the time when marketing people get to sell us our wishes. We’d all prefer to have our wishes granted and perhaps some fortunate people get that, but really Valentine’s Day often distracts us from what might feel like a more meaningful and realistic sense of ourselves.
Like sailing alone in a small boat, Valentine’s Day can make you feel more in the doldrums and less like you are getting anywhere. But, loneliness is a real feeling, it has energy about it, and that energy has the potential to take us somewhere. If we knew a bit more about it, where might it take us? Who might it connect us with?
Beyond the red roses and sentimental cards Valentine’s Day might be a useful day not to shy away from our feelings and our circumstances but to take stock instead.
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