I am writing this on Valentine's Day 2021, and this is the first one for many years that have passed uneventfully. Not all were traumatic experiences, but the latter years did become decidedly difficult times. I have worked very hard to maintain my love for red roses, and luckily for me, the ones in my little Spanish garden are my favourite shade of scarlet rather than the bloody shade mostly seen on Valentine's Day.
This helps me not associate them in quite the same way and helps me not relive any horrible memories.
Christmas had long become a difficult time to have my daughters and family round. So I often moved our Christmas dinner to either my birthday in January or to around 14th February. As my ex wasn't interested in celebrating either of these dates with me, I tried to create new happy memories on these dates with my son and daughters.
I loved cooking and baking a showstopper dessert for Valentine's. It was much more relaxed than the inforced 30 guests we had for our New Year's meal. Instead, my small celebration with my children bought much more fun and laughter and something I really looked forward to.
Made even brighter when I was lucky enough not to have him there because he was 'busy' somewhere else, which I realised latterly was likely to be with some other poor unsuspecting female.
On those occasions when he was absent, our days were so much more relaxed, not having to deal with his constant sarcasm and scorn that he usually poured on with the gravy.
My first husband used to arrange beautiful surprises to go with the flowers and cards he gave me; he would find a little jewellery or perfume item that made me feel special. Sadly the second husband, William, did no such thing; there were no nice surprises or soft words of love or joy.
At the time, I didn't recognise the narcissist or understand that he doesn't know love as I know it.
If on the rare occasion he bought me gifts, it was always with an undertone of nastiness.
One year, he did buy me some flowers, I was shocked! Some of the flowers had headless stalks; when I commented that it was a bit naughty for them to be sold like that, he told me he had bought them from a local petrol station as they were going cheap and he had cut off the deadheads.
On another occasion, he bought me face moisturiser and inside the card was a message to let me know how much I have aged and maybe I could use a moisturiser to do something about the state of myself.
I was so low and decided that if he ever presented me with another card or gift, I vowed never to open them from that day onwards.
It still hurts when I think about it. Slowly I am recovering and can look at red hearts and roses at this time of year and hope around me and hope that others are being kinder and more romantic on Valentine's Day.