To the Lone Wolves on Valentine’s Day.

Via Stephanee Killen
on Feb 13, 2016
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It will be like any other day.

I will wake up and do the dishes, make breakfast, prepare for work even though it’s a Sunday because the best distraction is to keep busy with something that will eventually get me somewhere.


Just me.

And as much as I fight against feeling sadness over Valentine’s Day, as rational as I am about what the day signifies, and how we must practice self-love and all the strong, single-lady anthems we sing when yet another couple-centric holiday rolls around, the truth for this year is that I do feel sad.

I do feel enormous longing for what is absent in my life: true partnership, being seen and appreciated for the person I am right now, being intensely connected with someone through mutual admiration, joy, passion, respect—love.

These kinds of connections are rare. They aren’t the sort that are easily made or kept with ribbons and bows, red foil boxes filled with chocolates, or even diamonds. Such gifts are only symbols, and the giving or receiving of them never means anything if the feelings they are meant to represent aren’t acted out in the ways we treat each other every single day of the year.

I’ve never needed the symbols, but for a woman like me—career-focused, creative, unorthodox, undomesticated, hopeless romantic and cynic—what those symbols represent are hard to find.

I have the choice to settle down, to strive for normality, to give up the dream of finding someone who gets me without even trying for someone who gets parts of me occasionally and thinks that’s enough to offer a house complete with picket fence, material comfort, and the promise to take care of me. But to exchange my heart for security sounds like a sin, sounds like a sham, sounds like trickster coyote.

In the end, I’m being tricked by some imaginary idea of who I’m supposed to be as much as the person who is so eager to lure me behind that fence and keep me there without seeing enough in me to know that I will thrive in that place only if my heart and mind, body and soul, are fully engaged.

But it’s a common trade, a normal exchange in a woman’s life.

Regardless of how far we’ve come in this world, there are certain battles we continue to fight. Notions that have been passed down through generations of women. Many of our mothers, independent as they may be, still can’t rest easy until they see us happy—and happiness too often means, “with a man who can offer stability.”

And so we remain programmed to believe that this is what we need to survive. No matter how much we pay our own way, how much we build our own lives, have our own thoughts, take care of ourselves, we still somehow believe that we must have someone fold us up in their arms, sign contracts, and make us promises if we are ever going to feel truly safe and of value in this world. That we must be part of a pack.

Because lone wolves have a shorter life expectancy.

Because life is more dangerous when you are moving through territory that is not yours knowing you might die alone even while howling for someone.

When days like this come around, when the world at large is celebrating love and I am merely celebrating my ability to drag myself out of bed and put on something other than a bathrobe, I wonder what I would be willing to buy at the price of my freedom. And I don’t mean the freedom just to go about doing whatever I want because no one is telling me otherwise, but the freedom to be all of who I am without conforming to someone else’s view of me out of fear of loss or being alone.

I mean trading my wild spirit for one that is subdued, trading this complexity of emotion, the rawness I feel, for a demeanor more easily understood, for a version of self that is more pleasing and pliant.

I mean trading what I know my heart is capable of feeling for the inevitable numbness that settles in once I have allowed myself to give up on passion for reason; to give up the unknown for the known; to give up the fullness of love for half love, for safe love, for tepid love—which isn’t love at all.

Every day, in that life, I see myself waking up, writing my hopes on headstones and planting them on the path behind me, one by one. Those lost dreams stretch on far as the eye can see, miles and miles of a woman I don’t know anymore, filled with cemetery.

And I don’t want that.

I may eventually give up the dream that true partnership is in the cards for me, but I never want to give up true partnership with myself—not in exchange for security, or in the name of practicality, or for the chance to believe that whatever’s around the next bend in the road isn’t going to devour me.

I never want to give in to the notion that I have to be safe, that life can’t be raw and messy and scary. Because that’s nature—our nature. And nature isn’t something dirty we have to scrape off our bodies. It isn’t something we have to deny. We don’t have to vacate ourselves to get along in this world, or reject all the wild and riotous realities of life just because sometimes it can be gruesome business.

I’d rather grow into the wise woman archetype, wrinkled and weathered but with light still behind my eyes. I’d rather have tangled hair and be the strange one lying by herself in the grass under sunbeams—fleshy and rough and untamed—than to wake up sheltered—safe and secure, yet trying to remember what it was like to be connected to my own heart.

That is my wish for every woman who is like me, sad and lonely on days like this even though we might fight against it. There is no shame in that sadness, in the desire for that connection. There is no weakness in that longing. It is built in to me as much as the wildness, this desire to love and be loved. It’s simply that, in the end, I will always long for myself more.

I will always want to protect the beauty that is the fullness of me more than I want the protections of a partnership or an offer of love that would accept anything less.






Author: Stephanee Killen

Editor: Renée Picard

Image: Milada Vigerova at Unsplash 


About Stephanee Killen

Stephanee Killen is a poet, entrepreneur, and the author of Buddha Breaking Up: A Guide to Healing from Heartache and Liberating Your Awesomeness. In her spare time, she plays percussion, dances on her coffee table, and shares poems about the meaning of life with her very smart dog. Visit Stephanee online here, on Facebook or on Twitter.


21 Responses to “To the Lone Wolves on Valentine’s Day.”

  1. Cimarron says:

    I don’t know you — I just read you on Elephant. But I am very thankful for your words. I am, by all rights, an amazing woman. And yet I realize, at 52, I have made a whole lot of compromises to make sure I remained partnered. As I told my grown up daughter today — I am too old anymore — to be told “no” by anyone else. Stepping into my own life — finally…when most people retire comfortably — I fear, I’m getting ready to upset the apple cart. You have no idea how how fortunate it is that I am reading you right now. But please accept my thanks. Best, boldly — and with future tangled hair, rolls and folds of me, and so much more life to be lived. C

  2. Marianna says:

    Beautiful <3 I would like to add that we often think that we can not be free with someone else, and therefore avoid getting involved with someone. I found for myself that being in a very unconventional loving relationship is helping me find the greatest inner freedom. I think the fear of losing ourselves in a deep love with another is the reason that many of us free spirits avoid getting involved. But I found that with the right partner – one that doesn't need or even want me to be dependent on him in any way, I have found my fast track to inner freedom. And the fantasy of finding someone that always gets us is just a fantasy. For me the trick has been in accepting the love in the way that my partner knows to give it to me, learning to give it to myself, and understanding that there is no one out there (including myself) that will ever be able to always "get me" 🙂 Happy love day dear <3

  3. Thank you so much for your comment, Marianna. You are absolutely right.

  4. angela says:

    beautiful words…

  5. Chris says:

    Beautiful capture of my sentiments too. Thank you fellow Lone Wolf for your eloquent boldness.

  6. Deb says:

    You nailed this. Love it.

  7. lei says:

    Hi Stephanee. Thank you for your words. I'm a man but your words about being a woman have rung true with me. For the first time in my adult life (I’m now 53) i have not felt a burden (whether that feeling comes from within me or is imposed from without) to at least buy a partner a card for Valentine's Day. Or flowers or something. I am not a provider. I am not able to offer a conventional security. God knows, I’ve tried that twice and it is not who i am. As you say, yes, part of me is sad that i am single (and i can't help Valentine's Day reminding me of that) but i ask, "Where does this pressure to be 'with' somebody come from? Why is it there?" I admit that i have compromised over the years. I have tried hard to play the game. And by compromising i have not only let myself down but also the other person and alas even my two children. I don't quite agree with Marianne (above), in that I don't consider myself to be afraid to fall into a deep love. And meeting somebody who gets me is not a fantasy, because it happened recently. (Though it didn't work out due to circumstances beyond my control.) And i love your image, Stephanee, of growing old, weathered and wise, and being "the strange one lying by herself in the grass under sunbeams". I want the same thing. Thank you. 🙂

  8. Sarah says:

    Thank you, I particularly appreciate this today on Valentine’s Day. I like the encouragement to find space for “this AND that” self respect and honor for the power and possibility of biological and cultural drives.

  9. Jenn McKay says:

    Hey Stephanee, thank you for sharing your true heart. I really connected with these words today.

    My favourite: “I never want to give up true partnership with myself.”

    Beautifully written.

    Happy Love Day,


  10. Mel says:

    You said what I was thinking ever so eloquently.

  11. Anon says:

    Sing it! Preach!

  12. Lynda says:

    This message was much needed and appreciated , today especially. Today is the first Valentines Day without my Soul mate of 35 years… The anniversary of his death is just a few weeks away. We loved this holiday of love and basked in it. He always had 2 Valentines, one by the flowers, and one by the coffee pot….. both would always bring tears of love and happiness, as he took such care and time to select them. The words had to come from his heart, and touch mine as if he were speaking them to me… they did.

    I was born a free spirit. He knew and loved that about me, he knew he must always leave the bird cage door ajar. And he did. Cancer gave us 8 months, then took him from us.

    My life since has been in entombed in an invisible cacoon. Withdrawing, coming out, only to scurry back to my refuge. Why ?

    Today, this message gave me an answer.

    The door is still ajar. My wild spirit does not need to be secured and protected and should not have to be forced to live out the rest of it as others think I, a Widow, should live. I like my wild self, born of blood from Romanian Gypsies and American Native women who fought and died for the freedom I enjoy….or should be enjoying…. This cacoon that I’ve sheltered myself with, needs windows and sunshine! I had that love that will last a lifetime. It will… But, I need to come out, on my own, be the woman I already know I am. Stop concerning myself with what others think a Widow should do, like find someone to protect and secure them…. I am going to emerge as me. ME ! A free spirited woman of strength and independence. I am a ‘Free Spirited Widow’, who has lots of valentine’s!

  13. Jen says:

    This is perfect. Touching. Validating. Thank you.

  14. Sheri says:

    cant agree with you more. over the past 2 years I have completely turned my life upside down. left my husband and ultimately divorced him after 32 years and now at 52 I am ready to live without compromise to anyone. Just discovered elephant today and I just can't believe there will be enough hours in the day to read it all. 🙂

  15. elephantjournal says:

    <3 I felt the same way when I discovered elephant as a reader! Thanks for the love, and for reading. <3 Khara, eleditor.

  16. Mihir says:

    You have written Happiness with a man who offers stability. If it doesnt happen, then nothing will happen. Its better not to give up patnership of ourselves, there will be many who celebrate valentine day, but we are the ones who dont want to give up the righteousness and stay connected to heart.

  17. Poornima says:

    Dear Stephanee ,

    every single word you have written echoes with what i feel ..its a constant struggle between heart and mind.. the world says i should be practical but my heart is not ready to settle for anything less than love .. if sometimes i wonder does such love even exist anymore ?

  18. Thank you so much for sharing your personal story. It really touched me to hear about what you have been experiencing. I'm so glad we could make this connection. I wish you much joy on your adventure.

  19. Kristina says:

    I'm going to print this article and post it somewhere I can read it every day! My goodness, did it speak to me!

    After attending a frankly rather lame anti-Valentine's Day party on Sunday and feeling somewhat guilty on Monday for walking out on said party without a word, I started to get quite annoyed with myself. For most (okay, ALL) of my 20s, 30s and (sad to say) my 40s I compromised myself repeatedly to make someone else happy. I never spoke up about what bothered me, I never asked for what I wanted in a relationship, I never stood up for myself when someone else was unhappy. Repeatedly I had relationships with men who wanted me to be someone I'm not and who left when I couldn't or wouldn't change for them. Today some (most) people would probably call me selfish but I would rather be alone and happy than with someone who makes me feel inadequate. My life may not be perfect but I have good friends that I love and if I choose to change it will be for ME.

  20. Holly says:

    I'm 59, and am just starting over after a 5 year marriage that I thought would be the forever deal. He held me hostage, stripped my joy. Enjoy your new self! May it even be sweeter having known otherwise…
    Beautifully written.

  21. I tried to reply to this and realized my comment when to the wrong place! I just didn't want to pass this by without expressing my gratitude to you for sharing your feelings here. I am so glad that the door is still ajar. I think it's hard to keep it that way sometimes. But I believe that there are treasures to be found from doing so. At least, that is what I will continue to hold out hope for. May you find much treasure along your journey. And thank you.