i do / i do
a ritual process for meeting yourself as primary partner / a place for returning to a promise
i spent most of my life in debilitating codependency. i was in and out of long-term, monogam-ish relationships from ages 16 - 31. that’s fifteen years of self-abandonment. my entire nervous system was shot. anxiety in my body was a daily baseline.
my path home to myself was not glamorous, but it was a path home. eventually, i was so lost that i had to make a conscious decision to be there for myself. to hold myself through the dark night.
i consciously chose self-partnership as a foundational next step. seeing myself as my primary partner has given me access to an internal well of permission and belonging that is more eternal and sustainable than any external source could provide. there’s a deep and growing capacity for self-love that simply did not have space to exist before.
i am sharing some of my ritual process around entering into self-partnership, if you might feel called to do the same:
step 1: inner courtship
in the first phase of preparing for the ritual, you are asked to court yourself, creating an internal gaze of adoration.
courtship is the art of reciprocating love. this inner courtship is an invitation for your own soul to express itself more fully, and for your own soul to witness that fuller expression and meet it with joy and acceptance.
the timeline is different for everyone. no need to rush. the goal is to arrive at seeing yourself as good and worthy of your own love- where you are truly excited to choose and be chosen by yourself. or maybe you’ve hit a rock bottom (like i did). you’re burnt out, empty, and terrified. allow more time here for grief. get the body back to homeostasis. this is in itself an act of self witnessing and loving.
courting the self can be accomplished through acts of tenderness, protection, compassion, justice, affection, and pleasure. this may look like walks in the park, a fancy dinner, slow mornings in bed, making room for endings, saying goodbye to draining relationships, sharing inside jokes with yourself, forgiving yourself for past mistakes, having conversations about your values and desires.
get to know the you within you and take it slowly.
listen. make space. listen.
witness. adore. witness.
fall in love.
let it build over time.
step 2: decide how you want to be in partnership with yourself
before you commit to yourself as partner, define what self-partnership means to you.
you can do this by making a list of the vows you plan to take.
vows are promises such as…
i will see myself as a home
i will trust myself to do what is best
i will not betray myself in times of sickness or need
i will check in with my wants and desires
i will love myself through times of change
i will allow these vows to change as I evolve over time
i will prioritize my safety
with your vows in your heart, you can begin to enter into an inner-dialogue where you ponder this commitment. sit with your list for however long it takes. add to it, revise it, sink into it.
when you are ready, (and this can be as formal or as informal as you like), ask yourself out loud. you can gaze into a mirror, or nature, or sit with eyes closed, but physically speak your proposal out loud. you might say “will you be mine?”, or “will you marry me?”, or just “will you?”.
and then, shift into being the one being asked. sit with the question as the recipient. hear it as a witness. then you can respond, “i will.” or “YES!” or “absolutely.” or “i want to soon, but i’m not quite ready.. let’s work on x,y,z first.” (allow room for negotiations).
step 3: create your ceremony
now you get to plan your big day! choose a place and time of day where you feel close to yourself. you can take yourself away on a trip, or block off a few days on your calendar. you can do this alone or you can invite family and friends.
there is no right or wrong way to design this moment- only that it should feel entirely authentic to you and should give you the tools to be completely in the moment with yourself and your vows.
for my ceremony, i chose to be alone in the woods. i booked a cabin, made a playlist, i created a small altar of candles, flowers, and heirlooms. i spoke my vows aloud to myself for no witness but my own. and it was enough.
afterwards, i felt closer to myself than i had ever felt. i celebrated by taking myself out for a very noice dinner. after dinner, i wandered around the town. i heard music playing and followed the sounds to an outdoor concert. i danced to Ratboys.
i took myself home that night feeling like i belonged in this world in a new way somehow. it felt like a passage, not only into self-partnership but into adulthood. i was a person who belonged at the world’s front door, at dinner, at concerts, without an escort- parent, partner, or otherwise.
all to say~ celebrate in the ways that feel good for you! be ridiculous! be lavish! be yours.
step 4: embodiment
in the days following your ceremony, you will feel incredibly close to yourself. plan space and time to bask in this moment. protect this time for yourself.
you are creating a physical and emotional memory around loving yourself. this will be important later, whenever you feel far away from yourself again (which you will, because self-partnership is a process of remembering and returning).
these memories are places you can return to that will guide you back to the romance you have within yourself.
(tokens from your ceremony will be ways of returning and remembering. the playlist i made and listened to that weekend is often played on slow Saturday mornings in my own company- it centers me in a way that is so powerful, a muscle memory of that deep belonging.)
step 5: anniversaries
just like any partnered person has an anniversary, you do too!
returning to and remembering your commitment is a sacred way to embody the on-going dance of self-partnership (keeping the spark alive, so to speak).
each year on this date, remember to take a moment with yourself to acknowledge the commitment you’ve made. i use my birthday to keep the date- and i have a habit of planning a solo trip so i can totally bask. whenever your date is, you can revisit the place where you had your ceremony, re-read the vows you wrote, or take yourself on a date- do something to honor your choice.
on five, ten, or larger interval anniversaries, consider having a special renewal of vows. you can edit, revisit, and re-commit yourself as your wants, needs, and desires have changed and evolved over time.
i hope this idea brings you comfort and excites you toward the possibilities of self-belonging. please reach out with any feedback, inspiration, or stories of your own self-partnership ceremony! i’d love to hear them.
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the playlist i made for my ceremony weekend!