20141005_PN_SELFMARRY_01

I divorced myself

20141005_PN_SELFMARRY_01

‘The day was obviously centred on me,’ says Grace Gelder, ‘Just like every other day of my life.’

When I told my family and friends that I was planning to divorce myself, my sister said: “Wait, does this mean we have to come to another ceremony in Dorset, Grace?”

I’d got married to myself in April, after a joyous journey of self-discovery and personal development that included a Shakti Tantra programme. But after the honeymoon period, doubts began to creep in.

I found myself asking, why had I done this? I knew this was serious for me but had I ultimately just viewed it as some vainglorious stunt? I worried that the person I’d married was not the person I’d fallen in love with. I just couldn’t believe who I had become. I was so hopeful and full of promise on my big day but I had since retreated into myself.

My journey of self-discovery had been a disaster. I hadn’t known the true depths of deception to which I was capable of sinking. I found myself secretly drinking and flirting with other people. Had I so quickly forgotten the promises I had made?

I realised that I had to divorce myself, crazy as it sounded, when I saw the vintage dress I’d bought from a local market for my wedding day hanging in my wardrobe. Suddenly I was gripped with a deep sadness – I’d got married, but ultimately I felt more alone than ever.

“You’re so narcissistic!” I remember shouting into a mirror. “What sort of a person would marry themselves?”

So I instructed two sets of lawyers.  The court case was a nightmare – how did my interlocutor always seem to know what I was thinking?  But eventually I reached a settlement that was agreeable to myself, and I set about dividing my collection of Björk records in two.

I called the bank to cancel my joint account.  The man on the telephone started to say something about needing to see the other signatory, but I was so distraught I hung up there and then.  Fortunately, this doesn’t seem to have caused any problems.

The ceremony was beautiful, with Tiu (who’d advised me on my wedding day) guiding me through the difficult process of separation in a way that was still special for the assembled friends who attended. I threw my ring into a drain before going home and drinking two bottles of Shiraz on the sofa. I had one friend in her 50s who said it was one of the best divorces she’d ever been to. I got an immense sense of satisfaction from that. It told me that we had somehow pulled it off, that we’d made sense of it all.

Some female acquaintances have told me that I’m an example to women, but I say: “Why not an example to men too?” I really don’t see it as any kind of feminist statement, but divorcing myself on my own terms has been incredibly empowering.

My new divorcee status – meaningless though it may remain in the eyes of the law and everyone else – has also given me this great sense of clarity. I seem to sense much more clearly than before whether something is worth pursuing or best left alone.

And just because I divorced myself, it doesn’t mean that I’m not open to the idea of sharing a divorce with someone else one day.

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