Today I Married Myself
by jess salgueiro
Yes. It's a thing, and I did it.
I had already proposed back in Portugal, but today we tied the knot. It was a beautiful ceremony. Quiet, clean, a lil Palo Santo, sunlight streaming across my bedroom's hardwood floor. I wore a black satin robe, no make up, au natural - I woke up like this.
It was completely spontaneous (I'm really romantic like that). If you had told me, that I would have got married today I would've scoffed and said yeah, umm I'm in no rush. But over the past few days, I've realized....shit....I am in a rush...in a good way, in a I-wanna-get-on-with-the-rest-of-my-life-way. I came to the realization this morning, I can't continue to plan for the future or live whole-heartedly in the present unless I make this lasting commitment...to myself. Trying to make a vision board or write out weekly, monthly goals seemed directionless and erratic: a complete waste of time. I couldn't pledge to anything in the future without acknowledging the role of a certain kindred spirit that I'd stubbornly kept at my wayside.
Since a breakup with another human, I have been heartbroken and in mourning for several months, nearly a year. There were days where I dragged myself out of bed, constantly on the verge of weeping in front of anyone who managed to look me in the eye. One day, I ran into a friend at the gym who was in a new relationship (I was reluctant to hear about her flourishing romance but am always happy to interrupt a workout), and she said, "I'm so grateful for the days I was single, cause I fell more deeply in love with myself."
Several weeks later I went on a solo trip to Europe. Spent the majority of my time in Lisbon (my favourite city), with mornings full of Portuguese studies, and my afternoons and evenings spent wandering around the city's streets. Nothing is more enchanting to me than climbing up those cobblestone steps up into the medieval alleyways of Alfama, and along the medieval moorish walls of St. George's Castle *sigh.* As beautiful as it all was, the first week was lonely. I had a lot of memories in that city, many with ex lovers. I found myself painfully nostalgic for a travel companion, someone to share moments with, reflect on the crushing beauty of my favourite city, the charming idiosyncrasies of the people and the haunting energy that roams the urine-scented streets. One evening, while I watched the sun descend from the best mirodouro (look-out point), I sat on an engraved iron bench laden with flowers while the drums and lightly strummed laments of an exquisite Angolan band played behind me and I indulged...in a feast of pitiful solitude. I looked around enviously at all the people and their companions, making up stories in my head about them and myself. They're probably happily in love. I bet they're having a sexy, passionate fling. It's ridiculous that I'm alone right now, I should have asked so-and-so to come. I wonder if I'll always be alone...like for the rest of my life. After a spiral of jealousy and anguish, I took a deep breath, tried to clear my mind and when I was quiet enough to actually listen to the piercingly perfect music behind me...I heard a weak voice tentatively whisper out of the shadows of my heart. In a hushed voice she said, I'm great company. And as I listened closer and gave her some space, she grew more enthusiastic, I'm great company, actually what better company do you need?! Eventually as the last rays of red flashed over the roofs of the houses, the voice chanted, who is more inquisitive than you? Who comes up with more fascinating things to say than you? You're constantly challenging and inquiring me, you're great company! I paused, Shit, I am great company. My loneliness diminished tenfold. It was as cliched as getting struck by lightning; and the ironic thing? The weeks that followed were full of new friends and people accompanying me on my no-longer-solo journeys.
I had no destination during my caminos and would never look at a map, or my phone. Therefore, I commonly walked in circles, triangles, and often passed the same places several times a day. The evening after my eureka bench moment, I noticed that I had been by the same artisan, jewellery, craft shop, with the hairiest, longest bearded guy I'd ever seen in Portugal (that's a feat) about three times in one hour: so I decided to stop (I'm partial to beards). When you walk into the store the back wall is all glass, the shop itself is positioned on the edge of a mountain cliff, the vista of the port is stunning and sunset was upon us. I swear sunsets in Lisbon are the magical witching hour, no matter where you are in the city it is a special moment. The orange/pinkish light streamed in, and reflected off all the handmade copper bracelets and blown glass earrings; it felt warm and welcoming. As I moseyed around, inspecting all the pieces with different, abstract shapes and bold colours, the guy in the store told me that each piece was made by a teen enrolled in an after school program for underprivileged kids in the neighbourhood. I pondered as to whether I should buy some earrings for my roommates or a necklace for my niece and as I gazed over the selection my eyes kept landing on a ring. It was a deep royal blue with hints of brass, it reminded me of a solar eclipse. I was having a hard time justifying buying something for myself (I'd been livin' a little too baller), but this ring...
I imagined a 15 year old girl in deep focus while simultaneously laughing with her friends as she designed it. Then I pictured myself at 15 designing the ring with the thought of giving it to my 28 year old self. I put the ring on my wedding finger and imagined that teen Jess had infused it with hope, adventure and a courageousness to explore the wildest reaches of my heart and soul. This ring wasn't coming off, and I knew it should stay on my left hand as a promise to myself. In that moment, I was entering into a new, deeper relationship with who I was and who I was blossoming into. I walked the streets that evening in one of the world's most romantic cities and proudly gazed at my finger like a newly-wed.
The following weeks were the most grounded I had felt...maybe ever. Seeing an ex lover was wonderful but also had me coming home completely knocked off balance. I don't regret it, it's life and passion and risk and I've never felt more alive. Being back home though, I spent a good month feeling episodes of emotional vertigo. Moments of being completely disoriented and kicked on my ass with nothing to do but crawl into bed.
I knew I had to move on. Move on from my memories, my attachment to anything from my past relationship because it was stifling a new love. I needed some other kind of connection, a love affair that would last my entire life.
I had problems moving on in the "conventional" way, for instance, compartmentalize and don't "think" about him, distract yourself, hop back on the horse, or turn him into a villain. None of those felt true to me or did justice to our relationship. He's wonderful and I still have a great deal of love for him and hope to always have it. Something true feels like it shouldn't disappear...transform- yes.
When I explore the pain, (and pretty much any pain I have) the roots are made of fear and the fibres are toughly wound knots of unworthiness. So the only way to truly work through this pain, for real real, was to feed those roots something that would change their cells. As I started to envision a healthier me, I began talking to myself and my body as a lover and I really began to fall deeper in love and have continued to do so. I have compassion for myself and real worship of my body. The major thing I battled with during my break up was not knowing where to place my love, I felt that I had so much of it and no object of my affection. Thank goddess, I had friends to remind to "give some of that love back to yo'self grrrrl."
So today we tied the knot. The commitment was already there and I wanted to say the vows. To step into our future together. I promised to love myself unconditionally. Minimize shame, self-harm and always respect, celebrate and kiss my wounds.
Cheers to the rest of our lives together. I encourage you to write some vows to yourself, this is a relationship, (possibly the only one) that you'll have the rest of your life.
"Lovers don't finally meet somewhere. They're in each other all along." - Rumi