For some, this is a day to celebrate love.

Maybe we finally found a partner once we cleaned up our act. But for others, it feels like doomsday. For those in relationships (new or old), there is often pressure to get it right. But for those sober and single, it can be a painful reminder of what’s missing.

For me, it started back in grade school.

On Valentine’s Day, we passed out little paper cards in class. It was a bit of a popularity contest. I think the teacher gave us all one, so nobody ended up empty-handed. But it was crazy-making nonetheless. High school was much of the same, but by then, I had a boyfriend who would bring me flowers. It felt like the holy grail. I was the envy of all my girlfriends.

Cut to college.

New boyfriend. New Valentine’s Day traditions. His mother had died on Valentine’s Day, so naturally, he didn’t like celebrating. And for the nine years I was with him, I didn’t celebrate either. I let go of all my wants and needs and focused on him. It was in many ways symbolic of our entire relationship. Secretly, I was sad. I felt sorry for myself. I was the envy of no one, ever, on Valentine’s Day. So I smoked another joint, did a line, took a pill, whatever I had to do to make it ok.

When that relationship ended I was painfully, desperately, totally single for the next 12 years. That’s twelve Valentine’s Days. But now I was sober, which meant I could feel every last feeling that came up. I couldn’t even go out and get drunk! I had gotten the message that to be single, and especially after I turned 40, was to be on the outside. Incomplete. To be pitied. Add to that the stigma of being sober, and Valentine’s Day becomes a nightmare.

But I am resilient.

I am creative. And I wanted to stay in the solution. I would make Valentine’s Day cards for my family. Or send cards to my single girlfriends. I would bake pink cupcakes and hand them out at work. I sent emails out telling those I loved why they were special to me. One year, I bought myself a new mirrored dresser at Pier 1 Imports. This did make me feel better. But it didn’t make me partnerable.

In recovery, we begin to develop mature ways of relating to others and to ourselves. Our self esteem has most likely taken a beating, and recovery is at least partly about repairing that. Over the years, I watched so many friends relapse over relationships. It was clear to me that if I wanted to stay sober, I was going to have to do the work. So I did. I read all the books, went to all the workshops, did all the therapy, and after 12 years single, I finally was in good enough shape that I was able to choose someone who also chose me back.

Funny thing is, this year he’ll be spending Valentine’s Day with his mother. Which bothers me not one bit. Because I have his heart every single day of the year and I know it.

They say, “your adversity is your advice.”

And that’s true for me. I ended up becoming a Relationship & Recovery Coach. It is my passion to pass on what I’ve learned about how to do relationships in recovery. I would love to spend Valentine’s Day with you, and share HOW TO USE THE 4A’S TO FIND YOUR PARTNER BY NEXT VALENTINE’S DAY. This workshop is especially for the ladies! (sorry guys)

In this free interactive workshop, we will laugh, share stories, empower one another, and gain a clear idea of exactly how to start the process to find your perfect partner. This workshop is the culmination of what I’ve learned about how to lay a solid foundation for Healthy Empowering Relationships. You can register here. Because the best way to stay sober if you’re single on Valentine’s Day is to spend it showing YOURSELF a little love!

Author

Dufflyn Lammers (CPC, CAI, CRS) is an international Relationship & Recovery Coach, Writer, and Speaker. In her international coaching practice, she specializes in women’s intimacy issues (including She Recovers). She presents workshops at treatment centers and conferences, both in-person and online. Her workshops use improv games and creative writing to teach resilience, emotional intelligence, communication skills, and recovery skills through the power of play. Originally from Palo Alto, California, she now lives in Paris and works remotely with people all over the world.

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