Warning: possibly a controversial post.
Valentines Day irritates me. I have no issue with the celebration of love, but Valentines Day is just so commercialised and materialistic, that I feel the real powerful message is lost somehow. If I see one more violently pink card with a cartoon of a bare backside on it or a cartoonised ‘duck face’, I think I might vomit. Just call me the Valentines scrooge. There is also an unnecessary amount of pressure placed on singletons, and I daresay many more people will be under a duvet today, eating their body weight in Ben and Jerry’s and watching Bridget Jones. This is of course not a problem, it’s just sad that some singletons don’t feel able to go out on Valentines Day for fear of seeing sickly-sweet loved up couples eating each other. I’m going to the cinema tonight and I might throw popcorn at any eating-each-other’s-tonsils people who disturb the film with the snogging sounds. You’ve been warned.
Okay maybe I’m exaggerating a bit. I’m in a bad mood.
But my point is, okay Valentines Day is about romantic love etc blah blah blah, but I think we should be celebrating love in all of its forms. Last night I had a tremendously difficult memory surface and I’m frankly staggered that I’m still managing to find the energy to breathe today. I feel like a part of my soul has been ripped out. The pain, the grief, is raw and deep…a deep physical wound cut inside me by the knife called ‘Mother’s Grief.’ I feel like I’ve been killed. And yet I haven’t. Part of me has though. Part of me has died. I’ll never be the same person again.
So why am I getting wound up about Valentines Day? Well…because I just wish the world would wake up and celebrate the right stuff. I wish the world just loved freely. So much pain could be prevented, and soothed, and rescued from.
In particular right now, I am thinking of those in Russia. Who are beaten and oppressed simply based on who they love. Perhaps I’ll be in trouble for posting this. I seriously hope not, not for my sake but for the sake of freedom. I am free to speak. Apparently. People are scared to speak up. It’s just hideous. Madonna, for Pete’s sake, faced jail threats whilst in Russia, (http://metro.co.uk/2014/02/06/madonna-declares-herself-a-freedom-fighter-in-russian-gay-rights-row-4293965/) I’m grateful she stood her ground. I’m grateful she spoke up. I’m grateful people care enough to fight for people’s right to love. People are being hunted down and tortured. Now the Russian government are banning adoption from countries that allow gay marriage. (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/russia/10635821/Russia-bans-adoptions-from-countries-that-allow-gay-marriage.html) In other words, no UK resident could adopt a Russian child, for example. It makes me sick. Absolutely sick.
The #signoflove campaign happening here seems to be successful in that people are taking part, and it’s a gentle, happy way of standing up for people. What’s really so special is looking at the photos and seeing how genuinely happy everyone is. We’re supporting you, Russia. Hang in there. Nobody has a right to dictate who you can and cannot love. Nobody has a right to torture you. The bravery of the people who fight back, who are public about their identity and their beliefs, astounds me. I just pray that bravery is not lost. I pray for the day Russia (and everywhere!) is free to love, their children free to grow up in a society where love is not oppressed, or worthy of punishment.
Meanwhile across the globe, children are being tortured and killed. Or are homeless, abused, starved, or having to grow up far too fast whilst they struggle to survive. Innocent people everywhere are brought to harm, often over someone else’s battle. Practically nobody flinches when you say the word ‘war.’ Including me. Why is that? Why should the word be so common in our vocabulary that the horror of it has been lost, and we don’t bat an eyelid when we hear the word? Meantime, women die in childbirth, people with mental health illnesses are put on ridiculously long waiting lists, people are lost to suicide, tragic accidents take families, partners, children, friends away from us in half a second. Illnesses come from nowhere and can kill. Natural disasters literally sweep whole societies away. Survivors struggle through extreme situations. Women, like myself, grieve for their children…for their lost chance…for the echoes of their laughter, which I can never hear properly again, for the feeling of our children curled against us whilst they sleep. There is a lot of pain in this world. A lot unbearable, seemingly unsurvivable, pain. And whilst we are crippled and drown, I am left outraged that anyone – world leader or not – feels they have any right to dictate love. There is so much pain in the world and love is our strongest chance and lifeline, and even that is used against some people. It’s beyond outrageous.
And yet, the world is not all black. Even slightly. Everywhere you look, there’s horror and heartbreak…but simultaneously, everywhere you look there is love and laughter. Strength. Even in Russia, people are strong. Scared, but strong. In disaster zones, people are scared but strong. In abuse rings, the children are scared but strong. Perhaps none of us/them ever recognised/recognise our strength. But we keep a hold over our love, over our rightful ownership of our love, of our right to make our own decisions as to who we form attachments with, rather than have that attachment so forcibly made, or even moreso forcibly destroyed.
Wherever you look there is love, even in a place where there might seem only pain. A woman screams through childbirth then sobs with love just moments later. A tsunami wipes out a town and yet the pictures show survivors holding each other so tightly close….yes they’re all crying, yes there’s so much pain and trauma, but my god there is also so much love. The people who smile at the homeless people, and treat them as equals…in that they are displaying love. In that they may give that person a tiny bit more of a glimmer of hope, a flicker of fire to keep going. The other day I saw one student fighting with her (dead) umbrella on campus, in this hideous weather. A student nearby ran to her aid, offering her umbrella for them both to huddle under. Just simple things like that, offer a little light in a world that can be seen as so dark. We all walk past so many strangers everyday. We couldn’t ever know their story, or what they’re thinking. I once read somewhere from someone who’d contemplated suicide, that he was saved by a stranger who – whilst knowing nothing – simply smiled at him as he walked past. That act of kindness helped him feel some hope, and of some worth.
Friends laugh and hug. Partners laugh and hug. Children laugh and hug. Mothers laugh and hug. Strangers laugh, and sometimes, hug. Love is love. It would be impossible to control it – it’s natural, it’s everywhere…every second of the day, it’s there. You won’t conquer love with torture and hate and oppression. You just won’t. Even if the person becomes so traumatised that they have to shut off all emotions in order to survive, somewhere deep within them is still the capacity to love…because it was there before the trauma. You just have to be brave enough to search that deep, to find what was so cruelly robbed from you. Love.
So yes, it’s Valentines Day today and everyone’s walking around in some fluffy romantic daze. Very cute, granted, but please think about this deeper. Next time you’re irritated with someone for one tiny little thing that they did, please think – is this actually worth me being so wound up? Could I use this energy for something better? Life is so short. You never know when someone you love so deeply will be ripped away from you. Don’t live life waiting for the next annoyance or stress, live life trying to conquer those moments with compassion, kindness and love. If you look around, you’ll see it. If you see two people smile at each other, than you’ve just witnessed kindness. If you see someone kiss, you’ve just witnessed love. If you see someone holding their friend, you’ve just witnessed compassion. If you see children playing, you’ve witnessed innocent care-free love. Is there anything more beautiful and precious, that we can all witness these acts of love, kindness and compassion so freely and so constantly? Love in all its forms should be celebrated. It saves lives, it empowers people, it provides hope, it provides reason, it provides security and it provides happiness.
To everyone who is in a very dark place at the moment, I hear you. I really do. I just can’t even put into words how I’m feeling today. I hurt. I just really really really hurt, so much, and I want my little girl back in my arms and safe. But please don’t drown in the darkness. I know it’s hard. I’m fighting to keep afloat too. I don’t know if I’ll drown but I’m determined to keep trying. But there is so much light in the world, and when there are people trying to dictate to us who and how we can love, I think it is more important than ever that people consciously notice moments of light, because if we all did…we’d be a beautiful society, powerful only through love and goodness…not greed, money, competition, oppression or dictatorship. Light is everywhere, so if we open our eyes and see it, where could we be? There’s a thought.
Happy valentines day. And for any who are lost in a hole of self-pity because it’s St Valentine’s Day and you’re single, firstly, there’s no problem with being single. You can do what you want, and have the whole bed to yourself, and eat what you like, and not put up with snoring partners etc etc. Secondly, try and get out of bed, try and see a different form of love, and maybe you’ll realise that really, you’re not so alone at all.
To all innocent people in Russia, hang in there. There’s a fair few of us rooting for you, and determined to keep shouting with you, for your right to love freely. I hope that day comes soon.