Four years ago, I found myself in a “friends with benefits” situation with someone who in the end wasn’t that friendly to me. Deep into this toxic relationship, I read a short poem by Rupi Kaur “How you love yourself is how you teach others to love you” And it hit me. Even though that guy was acting as a complete asshole. I was acting as an asshole too, by letting him treat me this way. Reflecting on my life, I saw myself slowly losing my way. Growing up I was lucky to be a kid and a teen who loved herself, but due to many moments of sorrow, rejection and bullying I lost it. I decided I had to work on loving myself again so I could teach others how to love me. Being Your Own Mother It started with being a mother to myself. Taking good care of myself as a loving mom would do, nurturing my body, mind and soul. I started to travel and attend workshops wherein I could feel my power again. Body wise, I´m a tiny girl, and a lot of people told me I am weak. I needed to change that story. One of those travels was walking the Camino to Santiago de Compostela. All. By. My. Self. Someone told me before walking the Camino that it would be a good idea, as a woman travelling alone, to wear a wedding ring. If I would feel unsafe in a situation or be harassed, then I could always say that I was traveling with my husband, and that he was nearby. Something about doing that felt a bit icky, that I could only be safe, if I had a man, imagined or not, by my side. But wandering around the city of Porto I came across a cute jewellery store where I saw a gorgeous wedding ring. And I thought: If I am going to wear a wedding ring, then I will do so by marrying myself! Choosing the location I bought the ring, put it in my wallet and started my walk the next day. After an hour I saw a beautiful white chapel on the rocks looking out over the sea. This was the place. For 1,5 year I was working on loving myself and I was there. I could truly say I loved myself with all my little quirks, talents, weirdness and awesomeness. I had a small ceremony where I promised to love myself for better, for worse, in sickness and in health. And of course, it is easier to love yourself when you feel glorious, but to me it had some power to it, to also promise to cherish and to love myself when I feel down. I put on the ring, played my favourite songs and took some pictures of me, the newlywed. And that’s how I married myself! The power in self marriage It was a powerful experience. And still, two years later I sometimes look at the ring and light up because I am so goddamn happy with this marriage! And when I feel down, I will cook myself a good meal, read a good book, take myself for a walk and just the act of helping myself out makes me feel better already. Cause that’s my duty, being a good spouse to myself. But most of all I recognise situations where I am not being respected or loved the way I should. I don’t put up with those situations anymore. Even though I am already married, I found a lovely man who stands beside me, who supports me in everything I do and who loves me unconditionally. I didn’t have to teach him to love me like this, but four years ago when I didn’t love myself as I do now, I don’t think I could believe and accept his love the way I do now. And if for whatever reason *knock on wood* this relationship would end, I wouldn’t be lost. I would always have myself to fall back to. We are together because I want him, not because I need him. And that’s a healthy foundation. This story isn’t about loving yourself, so you can find a man to love you. This is a story about loving yourself, so you don’t feel an emptiness inside yourself that needs to be filled. And looking outside yourself to fill that void by clinging onto the first one who comes along. In every relationship, on every journey, every job, every friendship, you will always take yourself with you. So, you might as well be kind to yourself and invest in that relationship to make sure you have a steady base to start from.