Try a Little Tenderness
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December 27, 2017
In March of this year, on my 50th birthday, I quietly got married. In a church in Austria no less. I had one physical witness present (my best friend Gabi), although my African ancestors were drumming and strutting their stuff behind me. It was such a beautiful and special day, just as I had dreamt it would be. It included champagne and cake, walking, cycling and belly laughing, rivers and mountains, and taking powerful vows with declarations of undying love to complete the experience. It truly was a magical day. So who was this mystery love I hear you ask?! Myself.
Now some of you who who really know me will understand and be delighted for me and wish me well. Thank you. Others may judge and make jokes at my expense. You’re welcome 😉
I too have swung between these two positions… from wishing myself well and being so happy about this huge commitment to myself… then onto self-judgement and teasing myself for this ‘craziness’. But ultimately what I do know is that neither your, nor my own, opinions and judgements matter. Because at the core of my being I know this feels right. And that’s all that really matters to me.
For too many years I spent so much time and energy negatively judging and berating myself. ‘Too slow, too fat, too stupid, not good enough… blah blah blah’ went Thought.
And then for many years, I tried to undo this by only focusing on what I considered good and acceptable in myself and to reject the rest. Warrior style. ‘I am strong and powerful, I can do anything!’ Yawn.
Then, of course, there were the years and years of desperate yearning for a man (daddy) to see (save) me. Cue tumbleweed…
So it has indeed been a long and necessarily painful journey back to loving myself. And this to me seemed worth honouring and celebrating, hence the wedding ritual. In the words of the great Spiritual Guru, Queen Bey, ‘if you like it then you shoulda put a ring on it’. I do and so I did.
So what does this self-marriage actually mean for me? It means that I have taken vows to love, cherish, and accept all of myself. That I commit to stay with myself in sickness and health; for richer, for poorer; in darkness and in light. It means that I have committed to dedicate my life to love in all its abundance.
Not just the romantic fantasy nor only to love those close to me, or those that I know and like. But to embody, live, breathe and spread love. Towards all beings. Even spiders.
It means that I am finally able to ‘love again the stranger that was myself’ (Derek Walcott). And this feels amazing. Such a relief. Every single day I place those rings on my finger I am reminded of my commitments. And I find the result is that I speak more kindly and gently to my love. I respect her decisions and allow her to be free to make mistakes without harsh judgement. I treat her body with respect and embrace all that it is. I am more playful, more tender, more sweet with her. She is after all the love of my life.
Donna Lancaster, Co-Founder and facilitator of The Bridge Retreat
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