Valentine’s Day can stir up a multitude of emotions surrounding certain expectations and pressures about love and relationships, especially for those in early recovery. Many people have experienced strain on current or past relationships from their actions before receiving treatment. Individuals may feel the need to mend these or rush into something new so they do not feel alone on this holiday. Regardless of your actions in the past and your current relationship status, the most important thing to keep in mind on your first Valentine’s Day in recovery is to love who you are presently and who you are working on becoming.
First Single Valentine’s in Recovery
Often, Valentine’s Day focuses on expressions of love to others. However, it can also be a day to express self-love. It can be a day where you treat yourself for all of the hard work you have put in this far. Realize the tremendous amount of self-respect, love, and care you showed yourself by putting in the effort to heal and recover. Being single and sober on Valentine’s Day does not mean you can’t have fun and that you have to spend the day alone. Spend time working on self-care and make it a point to do activities you love to do with friends. It may be helpful to unplug from social media to avoid seeing those online posts about seemingly perfect days with romantic partners. While heavily idealized, no relationship is perfect, and this does not change just because it is Valentine’s Day.
For some people, the emotions around Valentine’s Day may be triggers to grab a drink to dull feelings. To fight this feeling of being alone, some may also feel the need to find a last-minute Valentine’s date or rush into a relationship. When these temptations arise, remember that you do not need a substance or another person to be complete. It may help you to think about your triggers and plan activities that allow you to cope with them in healthy ways. This can include exercising or spending time with a friend.
First Valentine’s With a Partner While in Recovery
If you haven’t already, talking with your partner about how you feel about this holiday and your sobriety can help keep you both on the same page. This way, you are not facing your triggers or difficult emotions alone. Your partner can also know what to avoid and what to encourage for your Valentine’s plans. Coming up with fun, sober activities together ahead of time can help ease some of the anxiety you may feel about the Day. This can also be an opportunity for you to open up and start mending any tensions that may exist. Embracing your relationship in an authentic, clear-minded way can be beneficial to your connection. Especially if, in the past, you were in a fog or numb from substance use. Planning on going for a hike, a picnic, to the beach, or grabbing take-out and having a movie marathon instead of a day surrounded by chocolates and champagne can help avoid triggers. From there, it’ll be easier to enjoy your evening focusing on non-alcoholic related activities.
First Valentine’s With a Recovering Loved One
If you are spending Valentine’s Day with your partner who is in early recovery, it is essential to realize that this may be a difficult day for them to cope with recovery. Things may feel incredibly fragile and uncertain for both of you. You may be unsure about how robust your loved one’s recovery is and may not know the best way to support him or her and still enjoy this Valentine’s Day together. Embrace the important gift your partner has not only given themselves but also to you — their recovery. Recovery is a process, and it can be challenging to navigate, especially on holidays that might be associated with drinking. Therefore, it is best to keep a positive attitude, listen to your partner, and keep your expectations realistic.
Although there may be tension from past aches, focusing on how best to rebuild the relationship can help you both move on and heal from the past. One way to do this is by avoiding misunderstandings and miscommunication by being open and honest. Verbalizing your support, love, or concerns can reinforce this essential two-way communication. Starting new, healthy traditions this Valentine’s Day can also be an excellent way to create a fresh start. This should be specific to you. However, some ideas may include writing a love letter to each other, going to a romantic spot with stunning views, watching your favorite films, or hiking outdoors. Planning for activities that steer clear of potential triggers can help lessen the stress and anxiety leading up to the day.
While the anxiety leading up to your first Valentine’s Day in recovery may seem daunting, there are some practical steps to keep in mind to relieve some of this stress. By planning, focusing on self-love and recovery, and communicating with your loved ones, you can help ensure that this holiday can be both fun and rewarding. While Valentine’s Day may seem all about chocolate, champagne, and gift-giving, it is essential to remember it is truly about love and affection. Whether love manifests this Valentine’s as self-love, romantic love, or love between friends, it is critical to remember that your recovery should come first. If you find yourself surrounded by triggers, it is crucial to leave and find another way to spend the day. At Alta Centers, we realize that recovery can be life-enhancing, and a sober lifestyle can be fulfilling. If you or a loved one is struggling with a substance use disorder, call us at (888) 202-2583.