The first year of divorce presents many painful milestones: Christmas, birthdays, anniversaries. And even if you never celebrated it much when you were married, you'd be surprised at how sharp a thorn Valentine's Day can be in the side, especially if you aren't dating someone at the moment.
So how do you navigate all of those complex emotions? While the idea of running around town armed with a giant pin to pop all of those heart-sharped balloons sounds like fun, there is a better way to handle it.
"Not every new divorcee will have difficulties on Valentine’s Day," says Karin. "For some, however, 14 February can be a private or public marker of the new official status of being single.
"If that is you, then you may have mixed emotions. You may cherish the opportunity of starting out again - alone or looking for a new relationship. You may be reminded of what you have lost and what has come to an end."
It can make things even harder if your ex has already moved on.
"Your partner may already be in a new relationship, and you catch yourself wondering whether s/he will mark Valentine’s Day with the other. You may feel angry, sad, sorry for yourself, hopeless, unsure of what to do.
"If it is all that and it hurts, then it is important for you to acknowledge that this is normal. Accept it as reality. This is not to say you should passively accept your lot, but to keep your situation in general and Valentine’s Day in particular in perspective.
SHERI'S TIPS FOR GETTING THROUGH THE DAY:
Be wary of the wine. While it can be nice to unwind with a glass after a hard day, if you know that when you are feeling challenged by life that often leads to a few glasses that then leave you morose or doing things you regret, like sending off a missive to the ex via email, then maybe make it one night you choose to abstain entirely.
Make it about the kids. Like Christmas, Valentine's Day is more fun when it's about the children. Instead of making it about your unresolved feelings or loneliness make it about homemade heart-shaped cookies, or watching a frivolous film together. The added bonus of this is that as soon as we focus on others instead of ourselves we immediately feel better.
Or make it about someone else entirely. Feeling sorry for ourselves can be like a pit of quick sand that can suck us right down to doom and gloom. One of the fastest ways out is to put our focus on someone else instead of ourselves. Why not use this day as a celebration of human love and kindness over romance? Maybe do something nice for someone who has always been there for you. Send flowers to a friend who helped you through the divorce or offer to run errands for a stressed neighbour who has helped you out in the past.
Celebrate yourself. See it as a day to care for yourself. A divorce can leave us worrying about anything but ourselves – money, other people's opinions, the future. Be your own true love just for a day. Indulge in some pampering if possible. If relevant, ask someone to look after the children so you can go to a gallery, take a long walk or get a spa treatment.
Join forces. It's the perfect day to have a get together with other divorcees you know and their kids. Private moans can lead us into depression, group moans can often lead to a laughter, support and catharsis. There's no need to be alone if you don't want to be, reach out to others and aim to enjoy yourself.