Selfmarriage: letting go of exes

11096_868755353172332_8616407902183525552_nToday Facebook came with this memory of two years ago. The post got 78 likes and 15 positive comments. This is probably the most SAD picture of my life!  Seriously! It was taken on Blue Monday, on a ski-holiday with a group of friends, including my (now Ex-) boyfriend and father of our daughter. Behind my broad and seemingly happy smile, there is huge Confusion, Panic and Sadness. It was taken a few days after M told me he was unhappy in our relationship and had thoughts about ending it. What amazes me most is that I’m able to put on this happy (together) face, while at nights I totally panicked and cried my eyes out. Nobody noticed. Two months later, we broke up.

What makes me SAD now is not so much the brake-up itself. Like anything in life, there is always positive in negative. But the way how I neglected my own feelings and needs in that moment. Hiding like a shot animal in my cave, while my outer me played happy surface. That feels like a break up with myself, a self-betrayal. Definately not a loving thing. I totally onderstand now why I have difficulty in saying a wholehearted YES to myself. Deep down I don’t trust myself  for not leaving me again.

I have become and am still learning to be more open and welcoming to my emotions, either good or bad. This is slowly building trust in my heart that I will be there for me in the future. And being honest about them with others is still very scary. Taking one babystep at a time.

I’m very grateful for having a good relationship with my Ex. Last week he even brought me flowers (for buying his half of the house) and selfmade chocolates. He’s a great father to our daughter and co-parenting has brought me more freedom and personal growth. Sounds almost like the ideal Ex…;-)

Lots of Love,

Annemarie

 

 

Selfmarriage – Who’s marrying whom?

In my last post about the proposal, I stumbled upon the question: Who’s marrying whom in a selfmarriage? In my case there are several options;

zelfliefde-spiegelIs Hanneke getting married to Annemarie?

At birth, my parents gave me two names, Hanneke and Annemarie, with the intention of using the first Hanneke as my callingname. However, my mother thought a few days after I was born, that Annemarie suited me better and started naming me Annemarie. My father, not very good at adaptability, stayed with naming me Hanneke. And so I grew up having two callingnames. Annemarie for my mothers side of the family and at school and sports that she subscribed me to. Hanneke for my fathers side of the family and at tennis, which was my fathers favorite sports. Whenever we had visitors to our house, I introduced myself either as Hanneke, if they were acquintances from my father, or as Annemarie, if I sensed a link to my mother. If it was unclear to me who these new people were and how they were connected to my parents, I said “my name is Hanneke Annemarie, you may choose.” Since more people knew me by the name of Annemarie, I would pick up the phone with “Annemarie” and sometimes it happened that I was asked if “Hanneke” was there? I waited a few seconds and responded with “Hello, it’s Hanneke”. So marrying myself and integrating these two personalities might be a good choice. Maybe even with a new name.

Is my Adult Self marrying my Inner Child?

I’m 45 years old, a mother of a 7 year old daughter, owner of a house, a car, a camper and many memories, having created great work as a selfemployed speaker and trainer and being financially independent, so you could say I’m a grown-up woman. Like anyone else, I carry a little inner child in me. This little one communicates with emotion, but has learned that these emotions were not always appreciated, validated or understood in early childhood. So my little one is very shy and doesn’t feel safe to express emotions openly. What I have learned is that by suppressing what we call negative emotions, like anger, sadness, lonelyness, etc. you also suppress the good ones like love, joy and connectedness.

When I reconnected with my inner child about 14 years ago, I rediscovered my playful side and the power of play in this process. What I didn’t realize back then is that I only invited the fun and playful little one, but didn’t know how to deal with the sad one. Since I’m a mother myself, I got better at that. I’m taking time and space to feel more and to welcome all emotions, however painful. I learned that they come and go like waves when you sit with them. But when you turn your back and try to ignore, suppress or to belittle them, they eventually come back as a tsunami. So me and my little me are definately an important duo for the rest of my life. Marrying a child however doesn’t feel ok. A child doesn’t need a spouse, but a safe and loving space to grow.

feminin-masculinIs my Feminin side marrying my Masculin side?

Somehow I always felt a bit more in touch with my masculin side than my feminin side. Choosing jeans over dresses and monkeys over dolls and sports over make-up. I’m a very practical, goal and solutionfocussed person. I feel more comfortable talking with men (as long as they don’t show any sexual interest) than with women. Also here, a lot has changed for me since becoming a mother. I’ve become more relaxed and allowing for things to emerge, rather than pushing and working hard to achieve my goals. I think all humans have both sides in them and it’s good to develop and know both. Marrying (integrating) these two sides into a loving relationship of growth could be interesting. It makes me curious about the (brain-)childs it will bring forward…

Is my Ego-self marrying my Higher-self?

My ego-self doesn’t believe in unconditional love. It is calculating where I am on the emotional bankaccount with others and makes sure I keep the balance ok. My ego-self likes to be liked by others, so it checks my facebookposts for likes on a regular basis. Also my ego-self is very good at adapting my behaviour to any kind of environment, like a chameleon, to fit in easily. My ego-self doesn’t like pain, conflict and vulnerability, so it tries to distract me by looking for short shots of feelgood emotions. My ego-self is a high achiever and not easy to satisfy. There is no good enough, because there is always room for improvement. My ego-self doesn’t like the idea of self-marriage because it fears I make a total fool out of myself. On the other side, my ego-self loves it when my actions bring me positive attention and the idea of having some sort of impact on the lives of others. My higher-self doesn’t really care about what I do and what others might think of it. It is patient and loving and without judgement. I do believe my higher-self has some sort of intention of what it would like to experience (in this life). When I’m taking actions in allignment with this intention they feel good and exciting and often weird coincidental opportunities (synchronicities) knock on my door. People often describe this as being in flow. I don’t think the ego-self would like to get married to the higher-self, because the moment I’ll start listening to my higher-self in an equal way, I feel the ego-self will eventually dissolve and ofcourse it doesn’t like that.

Is my positive self marrying my negative self?

It is easy to accept my positive sides and when I think of those I truly can say that I like myself and even sometimes that I’m proud of myself. The other negative side however is more difficult to accept. My whole life I tried to hide this other side. I told myself I have nothing to be ashamed of, nothing to regret, nothing to hate, and I fooled myself into believing this to be true. Self-marriage would be about getting to know and accepting all my sides, good and bad, and still feeling that I deserve a happy and good life. Saying YES to my whole being.

self-illusionWhat if there is no Self?

When I was sixteen I loved to lie on the deck of my parents’ sailingboat with my head over the edge, looking at the splashing water. I saw the little drops of water being released from the ocean, flying through the air and falling back into the ocean. I thought, we are exactly like that, little drops of ocean, flying through the air during our lives, before returning to the same big ocean where we came from. This means that our idea of a separate Self is an illusion. We are separate, yet at the same time we are still the ocean. So if there is no Self…it’s not possible to marry My Self. I believe this quest has something to do with wanting to see, feel and be the whole. So selfmarriage in this context is saying “I DO” to everything and everyone…

Lots of Love,

Annemarie

Selfmarriage – The proposal

One of the comments on my previous post on the idea of selfmarriage and the reactions I got from friends and family after coming out with this idea, was: Congratulations on your engagement! I replied back: “Thanks, but I’m not engaged yet, because I haven’t proposed to myself officially.” So I thought that would be a good next step: the proposal.

img_1594I went for a walk (as I often do from my home) and at a very nice and quiet place with trees and a little stream of water I popped the question, after puzzling a little with the wordings; “Do you want to marry me?” or “Do I want to marry me?”

The answer was not a happy and wholehearted YES! It didn’t feel 100% right at that moment. When would you ask someone to marry you and wish to spend the rest of your lives together? I guess a strong feeling of love for this person and trust that you will grow together and excitement about the adventure. From the asking point of perspective I like myself, but unconditionally loving myself feels a bridge too far. From the receiving point of perspective,  I felt pressured and fear came in. Apparently I don’t trust myself completely on this. Also the question came in: Who’s marrying whom? So who’s asking?

I decided to be ok for now with an arranged marriage status, because there is definately a part of me that is really excited about this journey and what it will bring.

Lots of Love,

Annemarie

 

Selfmarriage – ‘the coming out’

selfdoubtA few days ago I wrote a blogpost sharing the idea of Getting married to myself. The reactions so far from the people that know me, have been surprisingly enthusiastic. It’s exactly a week ago, that just after this idea popped up, I called my parents. I wanted to know whether they would come to a ‘wedding’ ceremony with myself. They had to laugh and thought it was a bit crazy, but told me that if this is important to me, they would support me. My father even joked about walking me down the aisle and giving me away. The second person I told was my current boyfriend. He reacted very open. That he doesn’t quite understand it, but that he feels this is clearly moving me, and if this is my way towards more love (how can you oppose to that) that he supports me. Ofcourse he also had the thought: “What about me?” and feeling left out of a very personal process that is mine. Yet, I feel that his openness and acceptance have brought us closer together already.

Then, on friday, I had a Christmas Dinner at THNK (where I work as a facilitator). A few colleagues that I know well, reacted so enthusiastically to this idea, that I decided to share the idea with the whole group of people there, making it something ‘out there’ and real. It moved from being just an idea to being a plan with a deadline. AAAAARHG! (that’s my fear of commitment kicking in). At dinner, I was sitting next to a girl I didn’t know and we had a very open and personal conversation. It seems the idea opens up people around me and I feel grateful for that. For instance, yesterday I called my father for his birthday and for the first time in my life we had a meaningful conversation on the phone (he hates phonecalls) that lasted more than 15 min.

Both of my long term ex-boyfriends have reacted in their own playful way’s. The first sending me a textmessage saying that I have to divorce him first, because we got kind of married in a fake weddingceremony by our friends in Spain in 2003. The second, by saying that he already bought a suit for my wedding, showing a picture of him in a flashy red suit.
barbie-ken

I also asked my 7 year old daughter (who’s asking a Barbie Bride and Ken Groom for Christmas) what she thought of the idea of getting married to myself. She thought it is funny and a little bit weird and also sweet for yourself. On my question if she would ever consider getting married to herself her answer was very straightforward: “Ik hoef niet met mezelf te trouwen, want mijn lijf weet gewoon dat ik lief ben.” English: “I don’t need to get married to myself because my body already knows that I’m loveable.”

WOW! I’m feeling happy and proud that she can say this with such confidence, like it is the most normal thing on earth (and so it should be!). And I’m feeling sad that I can’t. At least not yet. And it makes me question my motives. What do I need to prove to myself and to the rest of the world with this idea…?

Time for a walk…

Lots of Love,

Annemarie

 

Getting married to myself – the idea

hands-making-a-heart-in-the-sunsetI decided to reframe a quiet time in my usual busy workschedule as a mini-sabbatical of three months and asking myself the question; How might I use these three months in a meaningful way?

“OMG! Are you serious?!” were my first thoughts, after an idea came to my mind in a moment of inspiration. The idea was: “I would like to get married to myself”. It gave me goosebumbs all over. I felt frightened and excited at the same time. When my body gives me this kind of reactions to an idea…I know there is something interesting to discover.

I Googled “marry myself” and found out I’m not the only one with this idea. In 2003 there was a dutch woman, Jennifer Hoes, who married herself in a real weddingdress with an official (although not legally binding) ceremony. I also found a woman in the US, Dominique, that conducted self-wedding ceremonies at Burning Man Festival in 2011. And since 2012 more individual stories of self-marriage occur, mostly by women, incidental by men.

The reason why people get married to themselves varies, from celebrating being a happy independent single to a broader vision of making a statement about selflove for a better world.

So what is my WHY? When I think of it, there are several reasons;

  • I love learning and strongly believe in experiential (playful) learning. I feel that the journey towards this selfmarriage is going to be a powerful learningexperience, because it feels weird and out of comfortzone and that’s where the magic happens…(at least that’s what I usually tell my students).
  • I’ve always had a fear of commitment (or abandonment). This would be the ultimate commitment to myself to stay true and close to myself.
  • I’m actually in the startingphase of a new relationship with a very lovable guy and I don’t want to make the same ‘mistake’ of becoming emotionally dependent on a partner and losing (parts of) myself in a relationship.
  • I’ve always been very good at neglecting bad news and focussing on my own little world of positivity and success. I feel more and more impacted by the harsh worldly reality. I believe in the need of being the change you wish to see in this world (Ghandi), so therefore self-love and self-compassion would be a good start.
  • I think a lot of people (like me) have difficulties feeling and saying that they love themselves, and that’s sad. Hopefully I will fall madly in love with myself and sharing that experience will possibly encourage and inspire others.

Lots of love,

Annemarie X

Moving this blog to another wordpress site

This blog and new posts have been moved to this wordpress site.

Hope to see you there!

With playful greetings,
Annemarie Steen

How I got to speak at TEDx

For 3 years I had a dream of speaking at TED or a TEDx event. Last month I got my 15 minutes of stage at TEDxTallaght in Dublin. Some people ask me how I got in…and here’s my answer. More and more TEDx events invite speakers to send in their idea, either in text or in a short video. So did TEDxTallaght. Here’s the little video that I made that got me in 🙂

I can highly recommend using Imaginative Play for whatever goal you have in your life. It may take 3 years before it becomes reality…in the end you can say; I did it anyway 😉

Annemarie Steen

PS Having a good friend (thank you Padraig) close to the organizing committee also had a positive influence on the decision.

You’re more than welcome to join my Licence to Play community for inspiration and resources on playfulness & playful learning.

Click on “What happens when you press Play” to see the actual TEDx talk