Nine years ago, I had the worst Valentine's Day ever.
There are a myriad of reasons for that over-dramatic designation. I was already deep in a dark place, and was finding it very hard to see light. I was pretty sure my boyfriend and I were going to break up (we naively hung on for another ten days). And my mom picked me up from work and told me my dad was probably going back to jail, after a detailed account of his double life over the past year. I was devastated.
Ever since then, Valentine's Day has been a dark day. There was a lot of eye rolling at a Hallmark created day, dedicated to love, when my dad couldn't even figure out how to do or show that. I felt a lot of residual 15 year old Hannah memories that made me cringe - like how I swung the pendulum of emotions every 15 minutes. And then I feel angry and bitter at my 15 year old self for not seeing it coming and letting herself be blindsided.
(I'm rarely kind to 15 year old Hannah. I'm working on it.)
Over the last year, I've wrestled loosely with this question: while the dark, twisty, terrible thing shape us, how do we make sure that they don't define us? Because it's easy for me to default into being the girl who's dad couldn't step up, instead of who I am and who I want to be - a professional weather complainer.
It's taken nine years of bitterness for me to say this: I'm no longer in the business of bitterness, in the habit of writing the dark days off as never holding joy again. I'm now in the business of reclaiming the dark days. That's what this is.
That doesn't mean I get to numb or avoid grieving. It also doesn't mean I forget or stop grieving. That doesn't mean sorrow never comes, or that choosing joy on these dark days gets easy. But it does mean that I no longer let one terrible day define that day for years to come. It just means I'm in the business of reclaiming the dark days.
I don't know how reclaiming starts for you - but for me, this is a small, right next step in that. It's just a list of 9 ways today was good. Maybe next year, I'll do something bigger, something more meaningful. But today, we reclaim with a list of 9 good things.
THE RECLAIMING - 9 THINGS THAT MADE THIS VALENTINE'S DAY WAS GREAT
- Seeing some afternoon sun, peeking through blue skies. Blue skies make me feel like anything is possible.
- Hitting my step goal for the day + using the gift of my legs.
- Realizing I need rest this week + carving out space and time for that.
- Cheering on love in all ways, shapes, + forms on my social medias.
- Stopping in at the library to visit with my one true love - books.
- Drinking coffee - even if it has to be black coffee.
- Eating delicious whole food with my fiancé, who's been eating Whole30 with when we eat together. Dave's done a lot of sweet and sacrificial things over the course of our relationship, but this takes the non-Whole30 compliant cake.
- Spending some quality time with my journal and this blog today - feels fitting to lean into my words of affirmation love language on Valentine's Day!
- Reflecting on the gifts God has filled my life with in the last 9 years - for the work He's given me, for the friends + family He's blessed me with, for the doors and windows He's opened, and for those He clearly closed. For the way He calls me back to Himself, even when I am stubborn, hard hearted, hurt, and unrelenting in my quest for control. For the gift of joy in the midst of pain.
Maybe you want to join me in this quest to find nine good things - comment below with 9 good things that happened to you today, or this week, or this month, or even in 2018. Let's do some reclaiming of the dark days. (And if you're not there yet, it took me nine years to get there with Valentine's Day, so if you just need some encouragement, prayers, or warm fuzzier, I can do that, too.)