To Be a Valentine, You Must Have the Courage to Be Vulnerable

SWAK: Happy Valentine's Day, one and all!
Valentine's day is often shrugged off as a Hallmark holiday, used to fund the Godivas and 1800Flowers of the world. But behind any holiday there is the potential for connection and community. Why else would we observe such traditions if not to honor something that is essential to the human spirit?
True to it's title, last year's post on Valentine's Day focused on "Dating Advice for Singles with ADHD." Upon rereading this entry, I found myself absorbing principles that I had let fade into the back of my memory. I remembered how important it is to pay attention to how you respond physically, mentally, and emotionally to the person beside you, be he/she a friend, partner, or lover. We ADHD'rs are fickle creatures. We think, move, and feel at a second's notice. But sometimes, we must sit, breathe, and acknowledge ourselves in the present. Only with that inner calm can we feel if a relationship nurtures or limits us.
While last year's tips are still relevant us today (...or to those dating or married to such monkey minded individuals), let's shift our focus to zero in on the capacity to love and be loved. In your emails to me, many of you speak of the fear of finding and keeping a partner. You worry, as we all do in our ways, about your capacity to be loved. Sometimes ADHD contributes to this. Sometimes, along the way, your circumstances or those you've met make you feel unloveable. Let's turn that around...
Much of this blog is dedicated to bolstering your strengths. To discovering the tools that you already possess. Learning to love, both yourself and another person is something you are not only capable of, but something that you can do brilliantly. After all, we are each super heroes in our own right.
But enough of the sweet sentimentality that sweeps me over during this week. As much as I am optimistic about love, I am also rigorous about understanding it. I often turn to TedTalks for inspiration and to learn more about human psychology--why we are the way we are and why we do the things we do. On this week dedicated to St. Valentine, Brene Brown's "The Power of Vulnerability" struck me as particularly insightful:
"This is what it boils down to...[there are] people who have a sense of worthiness, they have a strong sense of love and belonging, and people who struggle for it, wondering if they're good enough. There was only one variable that separated the people who had a strong sense of love and belonging, and the people who really struggle for it, and that was that the people who have a strong sense of love and belonging believe they're worthy of love and belonging. That's it."
Brown speaks of "whole-hearted" individuals, and the power of feeling content with yourself, and who you are. As the daughter of two psychotherapists, I've learned that seeing yourself, with all of your strengths and shortcomings, is essential to finding and keeping your core. Such self-analysis is why writing, story-telling, journaling, and sharing experiences with others is so essential to who I've become. Such oral or written self-assessment helps me to see through clear eyes, and maintain the capacity to appreciate myself and others.
A dear friend of mine and I often fall into psychological dialogues about ourselves. Last Sunday, we admitted that these discussions and verbal mirroring often leave us with a better understanding of ourselves and our various relationships. Long after we've parted ways, we often recall what was said and privately expand upon our discoveries. The emotional fullness that we achieve together is fostered by our bare honesty, and a willingness see the best in each other.
Whether with a friend, partner, family member, therapist or journal, such open dialogues will help you excavate your core and uncover the parts of yourself and your relationships you're currently struggling with. So on this week of hearts, flowers, and of course, chocolates, begin your own self-assessment. And if you haven't yet, be sure to check out Brown's full lecture below. I promise it will leave you feeling inspired.
How do you nurture your relationships? When have you felt the most "full" or the most incapable of love?