I wasn’t sure what my photo a day was going to be today; probably a picture from a run because I’d planned on going for a long(ish) run because it was a beautiful day with the sun shining and birds singing. It certainly wasn’t going to be anything Valentine-related as I’m not into that and think it’s a crock of shit.
As it happens, circumstances took over and I ended up walking into a door, forehead first, pretty hard (the door jumped out at me, honest). Plans for a run went out the window as I didn’t think it would be the best idea, especially as my head started to feel a bit woozy. So I went to watch the rugby instead.
I’ve ended up with a bit of a big bump which will probably turn into a big bruise but no major damage done as far as I can tell.
But, it did remind me of that phrase “I walked into a door” that is often used as an excuse if someone’s been used as a punch bag. Which then made me think of domestic abuse. Which then made me think about how ironic that was on Valentines Day. Which made me think about Valentines Day.
It’s hard to say anything about V Day when you’re single without people thinking you’re just bitter and jealous that you’re not in a relationship. As many times as I (and other single people) would say that’s not the case, people still won’t believe you. Well, think what you think, but it’s really not the case.
The thing that really gets me about February 14th is that it’s sold as the most romantic day of the year and that if you don’t do anything if you have a partner then you are an unromantic twat that should be strung up by your small and curlies. Commercialism at it’s worst.
It demands that you should do something romantic, which is generally send someone flowers and chocolates. Buy things! All the things! So is there any thought in that? Is it really so thoughtful to follow the masses and give a generic gift only because there is a day in the year that stipulates that you should? Then social media is full of gift receivers posting proud pictures of the gifts they have been given, adding further fuel to the massive keeping-up-with-the-Joneses fire that is raging within society today, and slotting on the life-is-perfect filter. Because you know, we all know that there’s often the hidden underneath. Underneath the “look, I have such an amazing partner because they got me this massive bunch of flowers” there’s the little fact that everyone knows the rest of the year they’re an absolute twat.
And don’t have pity for me because I’m single on this day of the year (I’m happy being single). Don’t tell me that my perfect man is ‘out there for me somewhere’ (I don’t believe in ‘The One’ etc.). Don’t tell me to go and have a drink to feel better (it’s patronising and arrogant). I don’t feel sad that I’m single. Chances are I’d rather be single forever than swap it with some of the relationships that I see out there.
Because you know, the other 364 days of the year are the ones that count. The little things that mean something. The little thoughtful gestures that people do in relationships just because you are you, not because some calendar celebration tells them to. The cup of tea they bring you in the morning. The meal they cook because you’ve had a long day at work and can’t face cooking. The flowers they get you because they are your favourite and they’re in season. The notes they leave in your lunch box if they make you sandwiches. The surprise present they get you for your birthday. The playlist they make you of your favourite songs. The card they give you that says they love you, just because they can. The film or sports game they sit through with you because they know it means a lot. Not cheating on you. Not name calling and putting you down. Not embarrassing you in front of other people and belittling you. Not raising a hand in violence. Not telling you that it’s your fault, that you provoked them.
Because that’s what relationships should be about. Love. People being thoughtful and kind and generous with their time and spirit. Not necessarily money, and not just on one day of the year. If you’re in a shit relationship, one bunch of roses and a box of milk tray isn’t going to solve it. Don’t gloss over the cracks, don’t be misled.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I know as much as anyone that life can get in the way. Day to day life sometimes doesn’t make much time for a lot of that, and for a lot of people today is an excuse and a reminder to recognise what they have in a busy world, and isn’t just about buying a box of chocolates. I love seeing happy pictures and examples of love. But how about all year round? On that rainy Saturday in April or gloriously sunny day in July.
Everyone wants to love, and be loved. But that doesn’t have to always be by a partner. Family and friends do a good job you know. Most importantly though, start with yourself. How can you love someone else if you don’t love yourself?
Thinking about the whole reason I’m writing this post – the “walking into a door” analogy. Domestic abuse is a whole other ball game and a whole other blog post or two so I won’t write too much about it right now. But I wonder how much Valentines Day triggers instances of violence. Or a respite and period of remorse? How many people behave shockingly over the year but hope today will earn them points to save up and cash in.
Did you know 1 in 4 women in England and Wales will experience domestic violence in their lifetimes?* And on average about seven women and two men are killed by their current or former partner every month in England and Wales**. Pretty scary stuff – but sadly all too common. Don’t get caught up in the chocolates and roses. If the 364 are unhappy, don’t be swayed by the 1. Everyone deserves to be with someone that thinks they’re special and treats them with respect all year round, not a cold day in February once a year.
And if you’ve ever been used as a punch bag and had to use the “I walked into a door” excuse, then please, please, please get help and get out of that relationship. It’s not healthy. Please don’t make excuses – it’s not normal. You deserve better. Speak to someone. It can be done. Get help:
- Gloucestershire Domestic Abuse Support Service: https://www.gdass.org.uk/
- Womens Aid: https://www.womensaid.org.uk/
- Broken Rainbow: http://www.brokenrainbow.org.uk/
- Men’s Advice Line: http://www.mensadviceline.org.uk/
- National Domestic Violence Helpline: http://www.nationaldomesticviolencehelpline.org.uk/
- Refuge: http://www.refuge.org.uk/
- NHS: http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/abuse/Pages/domestic-violence-help.aspx
- The Hideout: http://www.thehideout.org.uk/
*(Crime Survey of England and Wales, 2013/14)
**bbc.co.uk article, 22.05.14