A New Paradigm for a Self-Marriage Contract from an Old Paradigm Template
Two years ago, I was in the middle of a tumultuous breakup and a friend told me she had made a marriage contract with herself (a Ketubah in the Jewish tradition), and it had changed her life. After hearing about the hard time I was having with this break up, she hinted it might be something I would want to do for myself.
A marriage contract with myself, I thought. Hmmm, I wonder if that might support me to stop looking outside myself for “the One” and find exactly what I’ve been seeking right here, inside of me.
I decided it was worth a shot, and asked to be connected with the person who could support me in creating my own Ketubah.
Together we embarked on a 4-month journey of clarifying who I am, why I am here, what’s mine to do, my relationship to my community, my relationship to myself, my vows to myself and the practices that would support me in honoring these vows.
The ketubah was then framed, and I embarked on the question of when I would sign it, what sort of ceremony I would have, who would be there and how it would all happen.
Creating my ketubah gave me the opportunity to enter into a deep process of discovery around what I really love about myself and what my relationships would be with all the connections in my life; with myself, my blood family, my chosen family, my friends, my business family, my fans…it all had to be clearly outlined and the parameters defined so I could build safety for myself instead of seeking it an unsafe world.
I like my danger in a container of safety.
I like to live out loud, take risks, put myself out there … and without a container of safety, it’s too scary, so I either look for others to create safety for me, or I get to create it for myself.
You see, I had spent most of my life looking outside myself for safety, wishing that the people in my life would provide for me what I didn’t seem to know how to provide.
In my earlier years, I looked for safety in fame and fortune.
If I just got wealthy enough and famous enough, I thought, then I’ll be safe.
But, when I created fame and fortune it was the exact opposite experience.
In 2009, I began appearing regularly on TV, getting coverage from major news outlets, and leaning into the public view. I was getting a lot of attention, but I quickly realized that fame does not create safety.
In fact, it was the exact opposite, it seemed. Suddenly, there were so many people who wanted to be around me, and I couldn’t tell who I could trust, whose reflections were worth listening to, and who was truly a friend versus who just wanted something from me that they perceived I had.
And, the hate, the projections, the judgments, the comments! I took every single comment seriously, and didn’t know how to separate out what to listen to and what to dismiss.
By now, we’ve all heard Brene Brown’s advice on how to deal with comments when you’re in the limelight, “Don’t grab that hurtful stuff from the cheap seats and pull it close. Don’t pull it anywhere near your heart. Just let it fall to the ground. You don’t have to stomp it or kick it. You just gotta step over it and keep going. You can’t take criticism and feedback from people who are not being brave with their lives.”
But back then, I didn’t have Brene’s guidance.
I let the wrong people into my inner circle. I didn’t know how to relate to the people in my life. In my naivete, I treated everyone as equal. At the time, I thought trusting so much was novel and revolutionary, but the results were painful and the lessons learned came at a great cost.
I withdrew. The story of that period is for another day and time, but for now what I can say is that the process of creating my Ketubah gave me an opportunity to look at my relationship to fame and fortune, and how I could step back into the public eye and create my own safety.
The Ketubah begins with an acknowledgement of the parts of myself I love, honor and respect, as a reminder to myself when I forget who I am.
Willing, brave, honest, fluid, integrated, incorruptible, smart, purposeful, persistent, resilient, integrous, sensitive, creative, truth-teller, permission-giver, teacher, lifelong learner, leader, courter of fear, forgiver, valuer of myself, resolver, experiencer of equanimity, and finder of clarity.
These are the things I love about myself.
The next section of my Ketubah clarifies my relationship to the various rings of people in my life – my relationship to my blood family, my chosen family, my purpose family, my business family, and even my fans family.
By clarifying my commitments and boundaries with each of these rings of relationship, I can relax into knowing who to listen to, for what, and what I am willing to give and receive.
This delineation creates safety for myself as I step back out into my next level of public thought leadership. I no longer have to wonder how to relate to each of these rings of relationships, I intentionally create clarity, and I get to trust myself.
Once my rings of relationships were defined in my Ketubah, I created commitments to myself, as well as a reminder of how I will meet the moments when these commitments are challenged.
I created a set of weekly, monthly, and annual practices to keep me in consistent relationship with practicing these vows.
This is a lifelong engagement with the things that I love about myself, navigating my relationships with wellbeing held first and foremost, committing to my vows, honoring those vows, and honoring myself.
This is a marriage contract to life, all of life, and the people in my life.
Now, the Ketubah does not just hang on the wall. It’s been printed, and will be shared with those at the ceremony today.
You can read my Ketubah in full here. And massive thanks to designer Christy Sharafinski who worked with me late Saturday night and through the weekend, to design this gorgeous piece so I could take it off my wall, and share it with you.
Next week, I’ll share the process of getting from marriage contract to wedding ceremony, plus share pictures of the dress I ultimately chose to wear, and why even that was so meaningful.
Thank you for being here with me on this journey. As you’ll read in the Ketubah, I don’t take you for granted and I expect nothing from you in return. I hold you with reverence, and care, and deep gratitude for your desire to learn, grow and evolve through my experience.
Watching others share their lives via their books, blogs, newsletters, podcasts and social media has impacted me greatly on my own journey, and I look forward to stepping back into my thought leadership and the public eye in a way that feels safe and good to me, so I can continue to model that which I want to see more of in the world.
Here’s to a new chapter.
With all the Love for your eyes (and heart) wide open life,
Ali’s Ketubah Doula, Skippy Leigh Upton Mesirow
Ali’s Ring – Katherine Sans – Moon Spun Jewelry
Brene Brown – The Call to Courage on Netflix
To get caught up on what you’ve missed:
Ali’s Wedding Journey: