Ever since the dawn of Romanticism in Europe during the 18th century, romantic love has had a hell of a lot of airtime; dominating the worlds of art, music, film and literature. Not surprising really; who doesn’t enjoy reading about Rhett Butler sweeping Scarlett O’Hara into a steamy embrace in Gone With The Wind or watching breathlessly as Bridget Jones chases after Mr Darcy through the snow? Don’t get me wrong, I’m partial to a bit of romance – I’m not a monster – but I do think our culture has become a bit, well, obsessed with it. There seems to be a widely-accepted belief that a person can’t be truly happy until they find ‘the one’, or their ‘other half’ to complete them.
I think that perhaps the other types of love get neglected a bit, even though they can be just as emotionally fulfilling. For example, did you know that the ancient Greeks recognised six different varieties of love? Eros (sexual passion), Philia (deep friendship), Ludus (playful love), Agape (charity), Pragma (longstanding love) and Philautia (love of the self). Their approach was to nurture all these types of love, oh yes, they didn’t want to put all their love eggs in one poxy basket. The idea was that if you embraced the rich variety of relationships available, you would discover more happiness than ever imagined.
So, I have written this novel in an attempt to redress the balance a little, with the main focus on what it means to love yourself. I believe that if you truly feel secure you will have plenty of love to give others or, as Aristotle put it: ‘All friendly feelings for others are an extension of man’s feelings for himself.’
Because life is not one big romcom after all; shit happens – we fall in love, we fall out of love, we get betrayed, we get hurt, we lie to each other, we lie to ourselves. There is not always a ‘happily ever after’. For me, realising that I don’t need a soul mate in order to be truly happy has been one of my biggest life lessons so far. I have learned that treating myself with self-compassion and realising that I am enough, just as I am, is a great foundation on which to love.
This has been such an important revelation that I felt it needed a grand sweeping statement and what better way to celebrate love than in the traditional sense – with a wedding!
That’s right reader, to slightly adulterate the words of literary heroine Jane Eyre – I married me! In May 2015 I had a cultural ceremony in Brighton, complete with bridesmaids and my friend dressed up as the pope, during which I took vows promising to accept my failures and embrace my dreams. Committing to love myself in front of all my family and friends was one of the best things I’ve ever done.
In recent years sologamy, the act of marrying oneself, has become a bit of a global trend, with solo brides popping up in the US, Asia and Europe. Though some might dismiss it as ridiculous, it has certainly sparked many conversations and I’ve done lots of interviews on the subject. The challenging questions I’ve been asked have only served to strengthen my conviction that the world needs more self love. It is not a dirty word.
And so, this book, based loosely on some of my own experiences, follows its heroine, Chloe Usher’s bumpy journey to self-discovery; exploring the many ways in which we can learn to belong and to embrace the ‘happily ever NOW’- I hope you enjoy 🙂