I honestly love me

Saturday, January 24, 2004


Written by Marty Williams

Janet Downes of Nebraska is planning to stand in front of a mirror and marry herself, says U.S. News & World Report. She will exchange vows with her reflection in front of 200 friends and relatives: "I Janet Downes, take myself with all my strengths and faults . . ."

Item in the Globe and Mail

You see, Your Honour, it happened this way.

I was happy, oh so very happy on my wedding day. It was pure bliss. After years of searching I had found myself, and I loved myself. Was I too young? Perhaps. Was I setting expectations that nobody, least of all I, could fulfill? Maybe. But for whatever reason, on that happy day I was blind to the fundamental truth that this union with this stranger I call myself was doomed to fail.

There I stood surrounded by family and friends --well wishers all, and not one in dissention -- at the centre of their loving attention as I cut the cake and drank the champagne. Only later did I (and suddenly everybody else) come to see what a horrible mistake I'd made: I'd fallen head-over-heels and married someone who even my analyst, Dr. Konigsberg, agrees is cold and immature and distant and emotionally unavailable.

I didn't start out that way. In the honeymoon phase I was kind and considerate to me, hanging on my every word, only ever completely happy when I was there. Oh how I long for the days when those simple signs of affection poured forth! Friends remember how often they'd see me hold my hand in public, showing all the world that I was mine. They remember those parties where I made sure that my drink was always fresh, and recall those drives in the country when I would lovingly caress myself not caring a whit who saw. I wanted all the world to know that I was with me.

How deeply loved I felt when I'd give my knee a squeeze in a darkened movie theatre. How happy it made me when flowers I sent to myself -- for no special reason, which is always the best reason -- were waiting for me when I got home.

In the salad days of the marriage my desire for myself knew no bounds. Oh those nights of passion, when after a perfect evening of conversation and cognac in front of a roaring fire I took myself to heights of pleasure I'd never know with anybody else. I became my dream lover: unhurriedly and unselfishly taking myself to a sexual nirvana, to a place where I'd call out my own name over and over as the waves of total erotic fulfillment crashed upon the shores of my soul.

Alas, it was not to last. About a year after the wedding I had my first fight and I ended up storming out on myself. What had begun with so much promise, with a vow to love and honour had somehow deteriorated to a newlywed cliché: I got drunk in a sleazy bar and ended up sleeping on the couch. The next morning there was a noticeable chill in the air. The bloom was off the rose; things would never be the same between me.

After that, it just got worse. Little things, like not calling if I was going to be working late, degenerated into stumbling home in the small hours with no explanation or apology. Not, at least, until the next morning when in a fit of remorse I vowed to change. But then I didn't. Still taking me for the fool, I'd promise to make myself a gourmet dinner even though I knew I'd end up chewing on a rather bland and uninspired pizza. Through it all I persevered, vowing to do whatever it took to make the marriage work.

I told myself that I couldn't be too sensitive about these things, that relationships are about compromise. Until . . . one evening when, eager for a night of romance, all set for some time alone with the one I love, the phone rang and instead of letting the machine get it, I picked it up. I sat there ignoring myself, ignoring my needs, chatting the erotic mood away. From that point on it was clear to me that I didn't care about me at all.

I started to wonder if it wasn't somehow my fault that I wasn't turned on by me anymore. After all, I'd recently gained weight, and everybody said that my new haircut made me look tough, so maybe it was a physical thing. I took a hard look at myself in the mirror and realized this truth: I was not the person I married; I no longer desired only me. I felt numbed by the shallowness of this discovery and that made me resent myself all the more. It also made me wonder just what I was doing hitching my wagon to someone I no longer respected. It may sound selfish, but on that fateful day I looked at me and realized that I deserved better.

The end came when, in one of my rare lovemaking sessions, I started fantasizing about other people. Well call me old fashion, but if I can't have sex with myself and think about myself and only myself, then what is the point of being married to myself in the first place?

Which is why I am here today filing for this divorce. I am citing mental cruelty, irreconcilable differences, alienation of affection, and adultery. Your Hounour, I can tell you that I may look like the perfect mate, but believe me I am not. I only hope that if I ever decide to get married again it will be to someone who will treat me better than the unbelievably shoddy and degrading way that I have treated myself.

I don't plan to contest my versions of the facts either. I'm not happy about what I've done to myself, and though it's not an easy thing to have to admit, it is all true. I'm sorry for what happened but I have learned at least one valuable lesson from this marriage: I know now that no matter how hard I tried I'm just not right for me.

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