Top 5 Ways to Survive Valentine’s Day

6 part Blog Series The Supporter’s Gap: Why Domestic Violence is your Problem part 3

Top 5 Ways to Survive Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s day. A day for love, for weddings, for dates, for romance, or for broken promises, broken hearts, and broken bones. Valentine’s day can evoke the idolized notion of love, and for many couples, it is the day to celebrate, to enjoy, to feel, to connect.

To feel that you are loved and that you are worthy of love is power. It is that sense of belonging and many relationships are built on trusting and loving each other. It is the beauty of the day. But for many of us who are survivors of abuse, it is a hollow, lonely, and empty day.

Ice Cream Pity

After 8 years of living in an abusive marriage, I was newly separated from my husband. The mental, physical, and financial abuse had taken a toll on me. After his arrest and charge of DUI and possession of drug paraphernalia, I finally had the courage to separate from him. I moved me and my children into a basement apartment and tried to pick up the pieces of my shattered life. I had 4 children and was pregnant with my fifth child.

On February 14, 2005, a night for romance, for renewal of vows, for a recommitment of relationships all of which had been shattered in my own life, there was a ray of hope with this night. I had saved $1.25 in pennies and nickels to get myself a real ice cream. My son’s school wanted to give parents a night off on that Valentine’s day. If we had done all of our volunteering, then they would offer 2 hours of free babysitting!

My neighbor had been kind enough to give me $10 to put some gas in my van so that I could get down the canyon to enjoy this night and I took full advantage of this. I remember coasting down the canyon as much as possible to save gas. I needed this two-hour break from life so badly.

The abuse from my husband was at its height. For 8 years my brain was so full of trauma from the twisted sick words and now my belly was full of the result of the latest assault. I rubbed my baby bump and thought about raising all 5 children alone, but did not allow myself to go into that hollow place and instead drove to the Ice cream shop.

The windows of the shop had around the edges freshly decorated icy patterns by Jack-Frost. Even as fat snowflakes fell, I could see through the windows that It was packed with customers, dates, sweethearts, and senior couples. They were all connected to each other through conversations and love. This tugged at the wish and the pain that I had deep in my heart. I wished that were me: happy, in love, remembering that small window of love I was shown...and now was replaced with fear, shame, and pain.

As I stepped out of the van I looked down at my clothing. And I think for the first time I really looked at what I was wearing. These maternity clothes had been worn for 5 straight pregnancies over the past 8 years. They were “showing their age.”

Suddenly I felt like all the couples in the ice cream shop were going to judge me. I felt like they could see my worn clothing and that they had the look of poverty to me. But I felt the jingle of the coins in my pocket and wanted that ice cream, so I took the chance to treat myself on Valentine’s day.

As I grabbed hold of the icy metal and pulled there was a single chime of a bell, but no one seemed to notice. The gentle song “My Girl” was playing overhead. Everyone in that shop was so into their own lives that I could just like a ghost enter in, grab my ice cream, and float out before anyone really noticed me. That was my hope!

My feet carried me towards the counter. There before me was the sweet smell of sugar and a rainbow of flavors pinks, greens, colorful sprinkles, deep rich brown gooey, oranges, and purples. I could not believe the yummy goodness that was spread out before me and this time I was going to be able to order a cone: one scoop of strawberry on a sugar cone. “What can I get you, Miss?” I answered in a quiet voice, “One strawberry scoop on a sugar cone.”

I watched the soda jerk’s hand hold the silver-scoop and slice into the soft pink cream and make a curl of pink to sit nicely on top of the toasted cone. This rich pink and chunky goodness was going to hit my lips and I could feel my mouth water. In the excitement of the moment, I reached for my change in my worn jeans.There in my hand only laid 3 quarters and a whole in the bottom of the pocket.

As my finger slid across that frayed edges of the cotton fabric my hand went int