Here, Linda Doktar, 33, tells the story in her own words.
F￼or a beach wedding, it couldn’t have been more perfect. The sun was shining and the sand felt soft beneath my bare toes.
Flower petals were scattered either side of a bright orange carpet and my flowing dress rippled in the soft breeze. ‘I’m nervous,’ I said. ‘Well it is your big day,’ my friend laughed.
As In The Arms Of An Angel, by Sarah McLachlan began to play, I made my way down the aisle. But there was no-one waiting for me at the other end – and that’s just how I’d planned it. You see, I was marrying myself!
Throughout my twenties, I’d been in a bad place. A violent relationship left me feeling worthless, and even when I was free of my abusive partner, I continued to abuse myself.
I drank too much, binged on food and developed an unhealthy obsession with exercise to try and numb what I’d been through. A people pleaser, I always agreed to everything asked of me, even to the detriment of my health.
When I started working as a fitness instructor, I’d cover other people’s classes when they couldn’t make it. Eventually, I ended up in hospital with exhaustion.
Then, when I was 32, another relationship broke down. Heartbroken, I barely liked the person I was, let alone loved myself. I need to focus on me, I realised.
Slowly, I started to heal. Then last January I was telling my friend Emma-Jane, known as EJ, how I’d started to feel better, when she broke some news of her own.
‘I’m going to marry myself!’ she declared. EJ was a relationship counsellor and had helped thousands of people. But in her personal life, she’d always put everyone else first.
‘I’m going to make some promises to myself,’ she said. She was planning the ceremony for Valentine’s Day – just a month away.
‘Would you be interested in doing the same?’ she grinned. I’d heard of same-self marriage – or sologamy as it’s called.
And it sounded perfect! After all, I was the only person I had to continuously live with forever. Of course I should love myself unconditionally.
‘What do I need to do?’ I asked my friend. EJ said she had all the plans under control. ‘Just write some vows about what you love about yourself,’ she said.
‘Then make some commitments for the future.’ So over the next few weeks, I made a list. I love how you are so fun, loving and kind, I wrote. You always see the good in every situation. You’re adventurous and live life to the fullest every day.
Then I made some promises to myself. I commit to treating my body with kindness daily, I wrote. When things didn’t go right, I was always so hard on myself.
I commit to showing myself compassion, I added. And I also decided I’d only say yes to things I wanted to. By the day of the wedding, I’d written down 50 things from me – to me!
On a beautiful beach in the Gold Coast, I finally walked down the aisle. Reaching EJ, who was conducting the ceremony, I handed her my bouquet.
Then she gave me a mirror and I stared into my own eyes. ‘Repeat after me…’ EJ began. Beaming, I recited my 50 vows to my reflection.
Afterwards, instead of walking into the sunset with a husband, I went home and spent my wedding night alone. When I posted about my big day on Facebook, I got mixed reviews.
Some people said it was a beautiful idea. Others thought it was ridiculous and egotistical. 'If you get a boyfriend will you be cheating on yourself?' one asked sarcastically.
It wasn’t about never having another relationship though. I’d love to meet someone. It was about respecting myself.
After my wedding, I got to thinking about how much effort I’d put into dating in the past. When was the last time I made that much effort for myself? I thought.
So I started dating myself – taking the time to do things I enjoyed and even dressing up for the occasion. Then, six months after I got married, I checked my diary.
I’d scheduled in 15 catch-ups with friends in one week, and absolutely no time for myself. I’ve broken a vow! I realised.
From then on, I made sure to schedule ‘me time’. ‘Are you free on Saturday?’ my friend asked one day. Looking at the blank space in my diary for that day, I didn’t feel guilty.
‘No, I’m busy,’ I said. Busy doing something for me.
Now, I’m a completely different person. I’m kinder to myself and I’m happier. And I know this relationship is forever.
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