A few years a friend sent me this TED talk (it has now been viewed over 10million times) about self marriage and it resonated so deeply with me. I decided there and then to write vows to myself, a list of commitments to myself that I would strive to keep daily. One of them was to always be kind to myself, to see the best in myself and never again abandon myself to please another or the outside world.
I was already married to Guy when I wrote those vows to myself, but it struck me what a better wife I would be if I could keep loving myself too. Afterall, I can’t give to Guy what I can’t give to myself.
When I wrote my 3 month ‘Reconnect to you’ programme, I thought long and hard about the tools I’d used in my own recovery that had the biggest impact on me. This was one of them. At the end of the 3 months with me, I suggest clients do this in their own time, when the time feels right, if it feels right.
A few months after graduating the programme, my beautiful client Becky sent me an email with her experience of the ceremony and it moved me to tears. So I asked her whether she’d consider sharing her experience, and here are those words.
I always try and see the sea today. It helps me feel more connected, grounded. Encompassed by the never-ending stretch of possible beauties in the horizon.
You see, five years ago today I married a man I thought I’d share the rest of my life with, but as it turns out the universe had other (better) plans. And so, if we fast forward some 1825 days through challenging, painful, soul shaking terrain you’ll find me here on a beach about to get married again – but not to someone else, to myself.
When my marriage ended, I thought I’d lost everything, including and most especially myself. But what I’ve come to realise is that what I was given was infinitely more valuable, a golden opportunity to re-learn and re-build, recognise and acknowledge not a new me – but the me that was there all along. On this path I met myself for the first time with compassion and kindness, and even more extraordinarily I learnt to love this me.
This love is far from perfect and it’s ever changing. But it’s led me to the shore, my hair done, wearing a skirt, ring in hand, vows in another, ready to commit to forever.
When I arrive at the beach, it’s not as quiet as I would have hoped. I had hoped for empty. But there are families and dog walkers aplenty. I suddenly feel self-conscious and a little foolish. I plonk myself down as close to the water as possible to try and drown out the distraction of others and my own internal chatter. The sky is overcast, the water’s rhythm helps to calm my nerves. I spend some time sitting quietly, attempting to find some peace and connectivity. There is a little voice worrying what if I can’t? What if it all feels forced and false?
I tell myself to breath and trust – that I’ll know what to do when. I notice the clouds start to shift. Literally like a great curtain of darkness being pulled back to reveal the light behind. It’s like the sky is showing me the way, reminding me of what I’ve achieved over the last few years in one great atmospheric metaphor. As the sun breaks through, I smile and know its time.
I recite my vows to myself, slowly and clearly, repeating when necessary to make sure they are heard in all the corners of my heart. There are 15 in total and by the time I’m finished the clouds have completely gone and I’m left only with the bright winter sun warming my face.
I don’t cry, but the depth of what I’ve promised swirls around my chest and makes me swell with love, pride and happiness. I place the ring I bought specially on my finger – it’s engraved with my children’s names alongside one word ‘BECOME’ – and I breathe a sigh of relief. Some actions are so simple, yet inexplicably complex. They are nothing and everything all at once.
I make myself take some photos before I leave – I’m on my own and feel more than a little self-conscious, but I’m so glad I did. To some it may be seen as a simple trip to the beach or an excuse to buy a new ring. To me it was a massive step away from the pain of separation, an unfurling of my body to stand tall, a renewed promise to allow this life in and my light to shine out. This wedding day was a beautiful marker for how I want to treat myself and how I want others to treat me too. And I’m glad that I have the images to show this.
Self-marriage may seem a bit ‘out there’ but really what it boils down to is self-love. A deep and meaningful commitment to love yourself. And when I look at it, if you’d make this commitment to someone else, it actually seems more bonkers that you wouldn’t give it to yourself too.
I think it’s important to say I haven’t waited until I’m the perfect version of myself before doing this. There have been no prerequisites to this relationship. I have just committed based on everything I know about myself and everything I am yet to learn.
And what an extraordinary, beautiful relief this is. Knowing that I’m all in. That my love is here for the duration of this terrifying, joyous rollercoaster ride through life. That I’ll love better having committed to fiercely loving myself first. That I will never leave me.
“I took myself to the top of a mountain, or maybe the bottom of the ocean, and I got down on one knee, and I said I’ll never leave you.” Tracy McMillan
You can read Becky’s blog here https://therearegiantsinthesky.wordpress.com