As I was going toward divorce in 1986, I found myself contemplating, “What is a marriage in which there is no divorce?”And I immediately knew — I must marry myself! I spent that entire year focused on the mission.
The mission to intentionally become the partner to myself that I had been seeking.
The mission that became the foundation for the rest of my life.
I took myself out on dates. I wooed myself. I bought flowers every week. I wrote love letters to myself. I greeted myself every morning in the way I had longed for with others and my last words to myself each night were tender and honoring. I actually grew in love with myself, which led to engagement. And as I did the inner work that comes with being engaged, I became my own inner beloved, with great conviction, commitment and care.
My engagement was a fertile time for growth as I explored my shadow self and coping strategies that I learned as a child but which no longer served me. I utilized the dynamics from my soon-to-be divorce to uncover my codependency and to retrieve myself from the ways I had unknowingly abandoned and betrayed myself in attempts to make my marriage work.
I learned to bring love and compassion to the more tender, vulnerable aspects of myself, I developed my ability to parent myself, nurture myself, protect myself, feel my feelings, honor my feelings, clarify my needs, articulate my desires, set limits, and make the relationship with myself a priority.
This journey led me to know and embrace different aspects of myself that I had previously neglected while I had focused my attention and love on healing my partner.
As I learned to nurture myself, claim myself and advocate for myself, my engagement to myself became this powerful, rich, transformational journey toward self-marriage that brought me into a sense of integration and wholeness that I had never known before.
Marrying myself led to knowing that I have what I need within myself. My primary relationship is always with myself.
Everything in between these two points is filtered through my relationship with myself. This understanding leads to the realization that I am “responsible” for my own experience in life. The word “responsible” translates to “able to respond.”
In order to respond, as in any good relationship, this calls upon deep listening — to my insides — and the desire and commitment to be with whatever arises and to show up for myself in the ways that matter.
Being in a conscious primary relationship with myself is the grounding I always longed for. During the nine months I was engaged to myself, I contemplated my vows and intentions that I wanted to commit to for the rest of my life. I spent a lot of time working on these vows and refining them so that they resounded with truth, making sure the wording was something I could actually enact — something practical, real and authentic.
Some of my commitments are stated as intentions versus vows. I discovered that some things I could not actually “vow” to. For example, I can’t really “vow” to accept and love myself at all times. I can have the intention to grow toward accepting and loving myself each and every day — or, said in another way, I can vow to return to remembering to bring acceptance and love as soon as possible to myself and to ask for help when I need to in order to do so.
I hold them as my “grounding” and “rising” of myself. As my “grounding,” they are clear guidelines that help me to remain true to myself. As my “rising” they continually engage, uplift and invite me to grow into my “higher” self.
Since my marriage to myself, everything that occurs in life, without exception, is experienced through the vows that I have taken with myself.
My marriage to myself is the antidote to the codependency that I played out in my marriage to my husband. Instead of focusing on him and trying to help him heal so that he could be a better partner to me, I re-directed this intense and passionate focus to myself. As I shifted my attention away from him to me, I had a tinge of excitement! I knew how much love and attention I brought to him — and now I was about to receive all of that love!
The engagement process that led to marrying myself brought me to truly knowing myself, trusting myself, and loving myself. I became very comfortable in my own skin, and I grew to feel truly full and whole with myself. The experience of marrying myself birthed me into a richness in my relationship with myself that I never felt before — and a trust that my life choices are, and will continue to be, in true alignment with my core.
No one can diminish me or my experiences — because, in my commitment to myself, I won’t give anyone that kind of power.
In my commitment to marry myself, I learned how to bring love and compassion to myself. I referred to my engagement to myself as my “baking” time. And that is exactly what being engaged is about — not only wedding preparations but also during engagement, we “up the ante” on uncovering sabotaging patterns, ironing out the kinks, and furthering healthy ways of communing so that the love can flow more fully and deeply.
That was in 1986 — a long time ago. Yet, this marriage to myself continues to be my anchor and guide for how to be true to myself, how to set boundaries with others, how to be clear and articulate what I really need and want, how to honor myself, give to myself, prioritize myself and love my experience of life — as me.
Through marrying myself, I grew confident that I would not betray or abandon myself again. My marriage to myself reminds me that the most important relationship is with myself — and if that is not in its right place, then all else is also off. And I must add that life is so much sweeter when I am awake to myself and fully engaged with growing in love with myself and being me.
After I married myself in India, I gave a weekend workshop with women which led them through the process of marrying themselves. They loved it, but I knew it missed the “baking” process because it took place over three days instead of a year.
In 2017, I led another group of women in the “journey of marrying yourself.” We met monthly for over a year, which included getting engaged to oneself and participating in guided powerful inner work that eventually led to the wedding day in which we were all privileged to be present for one another’s intimate and sacred experience of making vows to oneself.
It was “beyond words” beautiful and powerful to witness women marrying themselves following the thorough “baking” process that authentically leads to knowing, trusting, loving and beholding oneself.
What would it be like for you to embark on the deep and transformative process of marrying yourself?
To embrace and marry all parts of yourself — your fear, your tender, vulnerable aspects, your defenses, your brokenness, your strengths, your wounds, your resiliency, your intuition, your wisdom, your sensitivity, your sensuality, your gut, your core, your heart, your laugh, your tears, your anger, your resistance, your sexuality, and every part of you that syntheses into your exceptional unique self that is now and always your true primary beloved partner — and divorce is not an option.