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Rediscovering Love And Self-Acceptance In This Month Of Love

Rediscovering Love Self-Acceptance

Midlife Myths & Realities: Andrea M. Slominski, Ph.D.

As we wrap up February, the month when our minds turn to thoughts of love, let’s talk about rediscovering love and self-acceptance.

Whether we love it or hate it, Valentine’s Day comes around every year, bringing with it mixed emotions that started for many of us in grade school.

Valentine’s Day:

I’ll never forget filling out the little Valentine’s cards that we would give to our classmates in grammar school. I would sit at the kitchen table and carefully write the names of the people to whom I was going to give the Valentine on the back side. Then, it would be folded in half, and there would be a little sticker that held it closed. You could sign the Valentine, or you could send it anonymously. Ooh! Such mystery!

In addition, these small pink and red cards would often be accompanied by little cellophane baggies filled with little candy hearts with stamped sayings like, “Be Mine.”. If you were really liked, you might get a red heart-shaped lollipop that said “Valentine.”  I remember the large envelopes of colored construction paper made by my teacher. She would write our names on them, and they would be stapled to the wall. When the Valentine’s Day party commenced, we put all the Valentines that we had prepared at home in the appropriate envelopes.

“In the mid-1960s, little thought was given to inclusivity around Valentine’s Day, or any day for that matter.”

Or even more stressful, another year, we walked around the classroom and delivered them to whoever we wanted to, placing them on the desks. Many children, anxiously awaiting a special delivery got few or none.

Dread And Anticipation:

In the mid-1960s, little thought was given to inclusivity around Valentine’s Day, or any day for that matter. No imposed inclusion was enforced when choosing teams on the playground, sports trophies, or birthday party invitations. You knew if you were part of the “in crowd” or not.

Thus began my ambivalence with Valentine’s Day at a very young age. The dread and anticipation continued throughout my teens and young adulthood. 

“Valentine’s Day? Oh, it’s not important, but it would be nice to be gifted . . .” fill in the blank.

Little did I know how much I would learn about love as I grew up. 

There are so many kinds of love. The love that we are programmed to think about, idealized romantic love, as we see it on television and in movies, is only one kind of love. It usually burns out quickly. In other words, love can change and grow over time, and we can fall out of love. We may have the love we feel for our family (hopefully, though not always) and for good friends. If we have children, the love we have for them, is another kind of love. I experienced this love as the deepest and most expansive experience of my life, the first time I held my children. 

We love our pets; animals hold a very special place in many people’s hearts. We also might love nature and the wild places that bring us peace. And yes, sometimes we need help rediscovering love and self-acceptance.

Romantic Love:

Originally, and still in some parts of the world, marriage had nothing to do with love. It was a business contract that bonded families together. Moreover, these marriages were sanctified and performed by the church, and young girls had no say in the matter.

“The Love of god, the church, and family, and one’s duty to all three were considered to be the only loves that mattered.”

Moreover, it wasn’t until the twelfth century, the time of knights, ladies, chivalry, and the troubadours, that romantic love as we know it, one person choosing another person because they have fallen in love, was acknowledged. It was considered dangerous; it was adultery and a threat to the church and society. The Love of god, the church, and family, and one’s duty to all three were considered to be the only loves that mattered.

Rediscovering Love & Self-Acceptance:

As we grow and mature, the way we love others changes; it transforms and deepens, or it fades away and ends. Romantic love can transform into a deep partnership and life-sharing love. On the opposite side of the love spectrum, we may grow apart from one whom we were passionate about years before. If you are going to grow and learn as you age, your perspective and experience of love will change.

As a woman in midlife, I encourage you to save some of that love for yourself. Women are raised and taught that we must be all things to all people; during our busy householder years, we tend everyone’s garden except our own. Now is the time to fall in love with who you are becoming and all the possibilities that lie ahead for you in your Regency years. Take a love inventory of your life and be grateful for all the kinds of love that you have in your life now and all that you have experienced on your journey. Be your own valentine, always.

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Andrea Slominski

About the Author:

Andrea M. Slominski, Ph.D., is an author, speaker, and women’s midlife coach. During her dissertation research and study, she explored the new life stage for women that has emerged over the past 100 years.

Naming this new life stage, from ages 45-70, Regency, Dr. A. has spoken at conferences, published articles, and coached women to make the most of their emerging power years. Dr. A. guides women 45+ through the often-tumultuous transformations during perimenopause, midlife, and menopause. She uses tools that include creativity, story, mythology, imagination, ceremony, and ritual. If you need support for your Regency years, including all the changes of midlife and menopause, I’m here for you. Email me at [email protected]