“I decided I was safe. I was strong. I was brave. Nothing could vanquish me.”
Cheryl Strayed.

I used to absolutely hate Valentine’s Day. To most, it’s the day of demonstrating your love for someone special, and feeling loved and special to someone else.

But to me, it was rigged for let down, hurt and disappointment.

From the fairy tales we grew up with to the modern rom-coms of today, much of our culture fuels the story that true love is never without some kind of grand gesture.

Especially on Valentine’s Day.

For so long, I found Valentine’s Day was the perfect set up for a big dose of “I’m not worthy enough”, year in and year out. With unshakeable faith, I set myself up each and every year thinking that something wonderful would happen – that somehow he would want to acknowledge what I meant to him. That a big huge “you matter to me – more than life itself” gesture would somehow arrive on this day.

Each time it rolled around, I was sure that this year was going to be different. This year, he would do something different. He would want to surprise me and sweep me off my feet, and somehow, we would turn a new corner. We’d find passion and intimacy and connection. We’d find each other and everything would be okay.

But it didn’t happen. Ever.

So, in an attempt to protect my wounded and exhausted heart, I willed myself to expect nothing. But even my well-worn armor of ‘expecting nothing’ wasn’t capable of keeping the hurt out.

Those fairy tales long lead me astray with the belief that love laid waiting for me in the ‘gesture’. The grander the gesture, the greater my worth.

I now know that it wasn’t ever the gesture – it wasn’t the roses or chocolates or romantic dinners – it was how the gesture was going to make me feel, that I was chasing.

The ‘gesture’ was going to give me a sense that I mattered. That I was important and loved and adored.

But the truth is, there couldn’t have ever been a gesture grand enough to fill up the “tell me I’m enough” crater-sized hole in my heart.

When you don’t believe you are enough, there is no amount of roses or chocolates that can make you feel or believe you are. Roses or no roses, I was still left with this empty hole in my heart, and not even a grand Valentine’s Day gesture would fill up that hole.

I spent years allowing what my partner did or didn’t do on Valentine’s Day define me. It wasn’t just that he chose not to proclaim his love for me with a gesture, it was the meaning I attached to the absence of the gesture. It was a statement about whether I was worthy and deserving of love.

And so even when the odd gesture did come my way, it was never enough…because I simply didn’t believe I was enough. I had an unspoken expectation that this day, if done right, would make me feel good and worthy of love. But a day filled even the grandest gesture can’t give that to you, if you don’t know it and own it for yourself.

After years of heart-crushing Valentine’s Days, I eventually learned that another person’s actions have no bearing on my worth unless I allow them to. And someone’s behavior is always a statement about who they are and never a statement about who I am.

I had to decide to believe in my worth regardless of what anyone else did or didn’t do.

So today, I’m inviting you to remember that that your worthiness does not come from a card, a bouquet of roses, a romantic dinner, or a box of chocolates.

When you decide you will no longer let another person define you, you find your whole self and a deep inner knowing of your worth.

On this day of love, listen for the quiet voice gently asking you to show up for yourself. Whether you are on your own, or with a partner who disappoints you on this day, or with someone who made the grand gesture, your job is to proclaim to yourself and for yourself, that you are enough just the way you are.