I fell in love with a boy.
It was two years ago at Burning Man. I was out in deep playa on Burn night when I met him. We rode our bikes to the trash fence and sat together in the cold and the darkness as I listened to him speak, sharing his feelings and reflecting on his life, really raw stuff, for hours.
Eventually we headed back to the city. As we neared the temple he stopped, got off his bike. He said he had something to write in there, and that he needed help. He was weeping as I guided him into the temple and he made his way to the large stone in the center. As he knelt and wrote on the stone with a sharpie he began wailing and crying out. When he was done writing he lay back and collapsed on the ground.
The morning after burn night.
Sharing that experience with him changed my life. We started dating that night, and since then we’ve been inseparable. We’ve lived all over the world together and I’ve been with him during his triumphs and low moments, when meeting new friends, trying new things, and giving birth to new ideas. The experiences we’ve shared have strengthened our connection and brought us closer. I know him better than anyone else and I learn something new about him every day.
Last weekend I realized: “I want to marry this boy. Today.” So we got married.
The boy I love is me. I married myself.
Why I Married Myself
Credit goes to Tracy McMillan for introducing me to the concept of marrying oneself. She did a TED talk in which she discusses this concept. The main idea of marrying yourself is that you commit to yourself, fully. That you’re saying “I’ll never leave you.” to yourself.
It’s a great talk and I encourage you to watch it.
After having forgotten about this idea for about a month, I remembered it last Sunday while returning to Victoria from Salt Spring Island, and I knew I was going to do it that afternoon.
All of the conditions were perfect: the weather was beautiful, I was feeling so in love with myself, I realized I’d loved, and been in love, with myself since that night at Burning Man, and the date was November 1, 2015, which was exactly two weeks after my 30th birthday and is a great wedding / anniversary date.
What do I think it means to marry myself? What do I want it to mean? What kind of marriage do I want to have? Those are the questions I thought about as I drove to Vic, and these are some of my answers:
Marrying myself means I will always be by my side. I’ll always be my own partner, loving and supporting myself. I’ll love myself for who I am now, as I am now, with no conditions placed on giving that love to myself. Marrying myself means I will take care of myself. It means I will love myself as I would like my lovers to love me. It means I will be honest and true to myself. And it means I will give myself the freedom and the blessing to grow and change in whatever ways I want and however much I want.
Change is the only constant.
That last one is especially important. The way I see it, many relationship problems stem from opposition to change. As people, we tend to form an image and an understanding of each other and then lock that into place, failing to acknowledge that everyone is growing and changing all the time. Who we were yesterday is not who we will be tomorrow.
In many relationships, it’s not just the people but the relationship itself – the relating – that becomes patterned and stagnant. People settle into comfortably relating to each other on autopilot, and the relationship becomes brittle. When a relationship doesn’t support growth and change, and when one or both partners want to change, the relating becomes painful. Many relationships are too inflexible to allow the partners or the relationship to change, and when these changes insist on happening, the relationship breaks and ends.
I want my marriage with myself to be a practice in embracing change. The only partner I can count on to be with me for my whole life is me. I cannot escape this partnership, so I better make it a good one. Being my own life-long partner is the one thing that won’t change.
I will allow, encourage, and support myself in changing. Relating with myself in this way will create a standard of flexibility and change-embracing that will be a part of my relationships with others. In fact, all of the ways in which I relate with myself form the basis for how I relate with others, which is what makes the self-marriage idea so powerful. By marrying myself I am saying that I am going to work on all of my relationships, starting with me. As Tracy says in her talk, “when you marry yourself this huge thing happens: you become able to love in this whole new way” and that you can love people “right where they are, for who they are, the same way you’re able to love yourself.”
The temple burns at Burning Man 2013.
How I Married Myself
The more I thought about this the more excited and confident in the idea I became. As I drove I was listening to Death Cab for Cutie and The Killers and crying. I had my hand on my leg just like how I’d want a lover to touch me. I was also a little scared. Scared! Seems silly, eh?
The great thing about marrying yourself is that you can do it however you want. It’s all about you! There are no established traditions or expectations to conform to or to fight, so it’s much easier to make your own! Here’s what I did.
First I stopped at home to collect a bunch of beautiful objects to decorate my wedding site. My stuffies, Moo Cow and Riku, were chosen to be witnesses. I also brought blankets, stones, and other sacred objects. Then I went shopping.
I knew I wanted a wedding ring, so I bought a simple silver wedding band. I wanted to give myself a gift that would remind me of the ceremony and how I care for myself, so I bought a wedding shawl. I also spontaneously decided to buy a wedding meditation cushion.
I wanted a wedding stone, something that would be a symbolic reminder that this marriage is based on a foundation of unconditional love, so I bought a piece of raw rose quartz.
I knew I’d want to share some nice things with myself to celebrate my union, so I bought fresh pipe tobacco and some really nice beer to drink after the wedding. Because Joshy loves beer!
The site of my wedding ceremony.
After shopping I drove to the waterfront park in Victoria and picked a bench overlooking the water and the sunset. I arranged my ceremonial objects and sat down. I wrote my vows on paper from my notebook and tore out the pages. I read the vows out loud to myself, then I cut my finger with a knife and signed each page with my own blood. I folded the pages and placed them in a special vase I selected to keep them.
Then I put the ring on my finger and smiled. I was married.
I wear my wedding ring on my right hand ring finger.
I poured myself a shot of scotch and packed my pipe. I toasted my union and drank and smoke to those sentiments. Since it was getting cold, windy, and wet I packed up and went to dinner. I had delicious butter chicken for my wedding dinner. Then I drove home.
The house was empty. I was preparing to enjoy beers by myself, but then my buddies Anton, Spencer, and Steeve returned. I decided they should be my wedding party, and they agreed, so we sat together in the kitchen, drank beers, and enjoyed each other’s company at my wedding reception.
It’s important to me that my marriage isn’t in the background, something that I did and am now done with. I want it to be part of my daily life. So I wear my wedding band on the ring finger of my right hand. A band on that finger isn’t as strongly associated with traditional marriage to another person as is a band on the left hand, so I minimize that confusion while still wearing the ring. Since I’m in an open marriage with myself and I’m open to partnerships and marriage with other people, the ring finger on my left hand remains unoccupied.
This marriage is important to me, and I want to acknowledge it, instead of being quiet about it because it’s unusual. So I marked my wedding date on Facebook. One concern I had in doing that is “what if I meet a person I really like, who sees that I am married on Facebook, and then decides not to pursue a relationship with me because of that?” My response to that concern is that if a relationship or partnership opportunity dies because of the perception that I am not available for it, without the other person checking with me to confirm my interest and availability, then that’s probably not a person I want to be in a relationship with anyway.
I’m stoked to be married to myself. It feels great. I feel great. I feel like my perception of myself has changed. I am more caring towards myself, more tender, more appreciative. I hope that by sharing my experience with self-marriage other people may be inspired to enter into loving relationships with themselves that will improve their relationships with everyone.
My wedding site after sunset.