About the Author – Mike Reed is the founder and owner of Single and Sober, a dating website tailored specifically for people in long-term recovery. We believe dating in recovery is possible and sober dating is our specialty.
Valentine’s Day is a holiday pitched as the excessively pink day for romantic love.
But sometimes we do not always end up with the right person, and we must embrace heartbreak. In those moments of loneliness, we depend on our inner strength, support systems, or good friends and family.
I remember the first day after one of my recent girlfriends and I split. We had spent all of our time together. We watched each other play video games, cooked together, played with our cat, talked late into the night together.
After some time, it became apparent that we just managed our problems differently.
And so the morning after we broke up, I woke up wanting to forget. I was in denial.
The sun was shining in through my bedroom window, the pine trees outside were swaying in the wind. I had papers on my desk. Clothes on my floor. Everything in my room was in its place, but there was one thing missing. She was missing.
Everything became a little greyer, a little less vibrant. The room, despite the spring morning, was cold. I didn’t like any of it.
She decided to dump me at a particularly difficult time for me at work. Multiple projects were coming to a close. The work seemed to pile up. And I wanted to be anywhere but there. I wanted to be home, I wanted to be warm, I wanted to be comfortable again.
I found myself turning to alcohol to cope, and it’s a regret I have to this day. There wasn’t a day that I wasn’t sober for a few weeks.
It wasn’t healthy. It wasn’t right. It was wrong.
After a while I found myself doing, saying, and acting in a lot of ways that only made the breakup harder. I let my anger take control of my personality, and it made me into a negative person, someone not fun to be around.
I set myself back with anger. I set myself back with unrealistic expectations of myself – wanting to be better without working to get better.
It reminds me of one thing my geometry teacher, basketball coach, and classroom-comedian Mr. Ward would say: “Breaking up is hard to do.”
He would say it all the time. When it didn’t pertain to a relationship when someone didn’t want to get up to throw away a piece of trash, when a student was angry at another student in class, just whenever he felt like it.
And it always struck a chord with us as students, because we all knew it. He was right.
Breaking up is hard to do.
And really, during a breakup, one of the hardest things to do is to try to be happy for ourselves. And Valentine’s Day almost demands you be happy. All of that pink and red and heart-shaped everything can be nauseating.
But just because it’s hard, doesn’t mean that you should turn to your vice. And just because it’s hard, doesn’t mean you have to go it alone.
As Valentine’s Day approaches, plan to do something for yourself. One of the unfortunate facts about being in a relationship is that there are often many things that you end up compromising your significant other.
Take advantage of this moment, of your freedom! Go treat yourself like your Valentine’s Day date. Go buy yourself a dress you’ve always wanted, a new video game, a nice dinner at your favorite restaurant, a movie, a book. Go buy yourself some chocolates, or whatever you want.
Plan to clean your yard, clean your room. Better yet, plan to help someone else out with chores around their house! Nothing feels better than helping someone out in their life.
Reach out to your support system, to the people who want to see you stay sober. Tell them what you’re going through and how you don’t want to turn away from sobriety. They’ll be there for you.
Don’t allow yourself to fall back into the mindset, the environment, or the mood that leads to your addiction.
Because I can tell you that as the man in the sober shoes — who has been in your shoes — I don’t want you to turn away from sobriety either.
The most important thing to remember is to stay busy. Plan your Valentine’s Day several days before if you know it will be hard. Keep yourself distracted and on track for sober success. Breaking up can be hard to do, but it doesn’t have to be.
Don’t allow yourself to wallow. Every day is new, and with that, you have the chance to succeed. The fact that you’re reading this proves that you want to make it through.
So focus on what you do have: a life that only you are in control of.