“Where there is love there is life! ~~Mahatma Gandhi
Canada has a comic genius named Rick Mercer. For Christmas this year my daughter Michele gave me one of his books called “Canada, A Country worth Ranting About!” On his weekly TV show he does a one minute rant on some aspect of life and in the case of this book, it was politics.
What Mercer seems to be doing is discovering “new lands of thought” about the everyday events around him. Since he hails from Newfoundland, Canada’s most Eastern province, he comes by his perspectives naturally, and his insights are not just humorous but equally wise.
Recently, a high school student committed suicide and it was attributed to him being a bullied gay kid. Rick did a rant on his show about youth needing public models of successful gay people so they could see it was possible and common. He then challenged gay people in public life, including himself, to be more open about their sexuality to inspire youth. He challenged people like cops, solders, politicians and athletes to step up to the plate.
This rant RMR Rick’s Rant on Teen Suicide, got a wide response on YouTube and went viral.
Mercer argues that when young people see successful people appreciating themselves for who they are, as they are, sexually or otherwise, they will then grow in self-appreciation. This can prevent the three signs of suicide: helplessness, hopelessness or uselessness.
And this is what Valentine’s Day is really about. It’s intent is to remind us we are loved and valued. Valentine’s Day is really not about other people at all.
You and I only engage in relationships to enhance our survival chances. We are really trying to take care of ourselves and our future. This means we must really value ourselves to put up with the demands of a relationship.
So relationships help us to value ourselves. Relationships help us learn to raise our self worth, self-esteem and self-confidence. This means then your significant others real purpose is to help you grow in self-love.
Half the time it sure doesn’t feel that way however. Remember all the frustration, anger and loneliness of your special relationship? That is the other half of everyone’s special relationship. This other half maximizes your learning and growth by helping you learn things like independence, creativity and self-confidence.
Valentine’s Day is really about loving the person in the mirror…you. The reason you take the time to have a relationship with another person is so you can learn to love yourself in new ways you didn’t before you met that person.
I remember Marion and Ron, a couple with three teenage kids. She was a 45 year-old administrative assistant while he ran a vegetable farm. Marion had decided to divorce Ron, after 20 years of marriage. She was angry and he was confused. Ron sat quietly across from Marion while she listed off why she knew he did not love her.
Marion said, “You forget my birthday and our anniversary regularly; you never buy me a card or flowers on Valentine’s Day; you get one of our kids to buy my Christmas gifts, you don’t even call me during work like my friends husbands; and there is lots more…”
Ron was thoughtful for a few minutes staring off perhaps recalling his version of their time together. Then he said,
“Marion we have lived in the same house, slept in the same bed and eaten in the same kitchen… you have made my meals everyday and I even make you a coffee most mornings… for the last 20 years. I thought I was loving you every one of those days by being there every one of those days.”
Marion responded angrily, “That’s not enough for me Ron! I want more, I expect more and… I deserve more!”
At this point I interjected, “Do you two remember courting each other, your honeymoon and the early years of your marriage when the kids were young?”
They both said they did! I then added, “Do you remember all the ups and downs of those times, the pride in your children, the fear for their future, paying the bills, providing for your growing family?”
Again they both nodded with a sort of half smile, each in their own thoughts and their own memories.
“Would each of you tell me your greatest single challenge as you started out in your marriage?” I said.
There were a few moments of silence and then Ron said, “For me, it was if I could be a good provider for her. I was so scared I would screw up. Farming is a tough business and we only had 100 acres at that point. And farming is not a job, it is a way of life… long hours and big risks. I wasn’t sure I could do it!”
“What about for you Marion?” I asked.
Marion looked at Ron then over at me before she spoke, “I didn’t know if I could be a good mom. My dad worked all the time and my mother was a drunk when I was a kid. So I didn’t really think I would know how to do it. I had no models, no guidance and there was Ron saying he wants kids right away. I was terrified.”
“So here it is 20 years later and you both have apparently survived quite well so far. You described earlier how you were okay financially and your children were doing fine. So let me ask each of you, what is the most important thing you have learned about yourself from your 20 years together?”
Marion jumped in right away, “That is easy for me… when I look at our kids, see them around the supper table talking and teasing each other I realize we did it. It tells me I learned how to be a mom and so I can learn to do anything… that is why I finished my education and went out to work.”
“So Marion, is it fair to say over the last 20 years you have discovered you can do anything you put your mind to like being a successful mom, a successful student and a successful employee?”
“Yes, that’s true!” she
“How about you Ron?”
Ron had been listening carefully and was in deep thought and my question kind of startled him a bit.
“Well I haven’t taken the time to think about that much before now, but you know, I grew up on a farm and we were poor. What I remember most clearly was how my parents stuck it out, how they worked together as a team never giving up… like a team of horses hauling that damn farm across time to ensure us kids would be okay. I didn’t know if I could do that, if I could persist like they did, I just knew I had to for Marion and the kids. So I guess I learned I could do it… I’m still doing it!”
By now there were three sets of wet eyes in the room.
“Is it fair to say you each have increased your sense of self esteem and self-confidence from this marriage, this relationship and this journey you have been on with each other?” I asked.
They both nodded, not to me, rather to each other.
I added, “If you are both committed to your relationship and both open to learning new ways to enhance its’ stability, then we can explore how you can stay on this journey of self-appreciation you refer to as your marriage. Does that interest each of you?”
Again they both nodded but again… looking at each other.
They went on to rebuild their relationship by finding new ways to remind each other of their importance to each other. They each realized they were married, not to make each other happy, but rather to grow their own self-appreciation with the help of their partner. Realizing this enabled them to appreciate each other.
So Valentine’s Day is the occasion when you thank your loved one(s) for helping you learn to love yourself more and, it is always a two way street with each of us helping the other gain more self-appreciation by being part of that special relationship.
One of the Beatles had it all figured out a while back. “Love is all you need!” Paul McCartney
POINTS TO PONDER AND REMEMBER are:
- Suicide can be the result of an attitude of helplessness, hopelessness or uselessness.
- The best way to prevent suicide is to regularly find ways to value yourself.
- Growing in self-appreciation is the true purpose of every relationship.
- Your significant other reminds you that you are loved.
- Valentine’s Day is about thanking others for helping you love yourself.
Namaste, Ken Pierce