If you'd asked me five years ago what I thought my hen-do would have been like I would have said champagne, Ibiza, new bikinis and a weekend of debauchery. Instead I'm going to be in the middle of Stonehenge, banging drums, dancing like a wild woman and honouring my inner goddess with a ceremony led by a Shamanic practitioner and pagan priestess. It's on Friday and I can't wait!
I'm getting married in 2 weeks and when we first got engaged I promised myself I wouldn't get wrapped up in the wedding planning hype, but it's caught me in the way it does everyone. The past few months have been full of wedding dress fittings and hair appointments. We've argued about money and guest lists. My fiancé and I have spent hours choosing the right wine, the right shoes. I'd wanted to give myself some time to really consider what that transition into married life meant to me, but it hadn't happened. So when I forced myself to take a break from the marriage mayhem and think about it, I knew my hen do was going to play a big part in preparing myself.
I see this preparation time in the same way as I see getting ready for motherhood. My commitment has always been that before I become a mother, I want to be as stable and comfortable in my own skin as possible so I can be strong for my children. Two years ago, I made a promise to myself that I would recover from a lifelong eating disorder. Now I'm coming up to two years free of the downward spiral of bingeing and dieting. And in the same way, I want to be strong as a woman for my husband-to-be. This isn't about just being physically strong, I'm referring to emotional and mental strength of character -to be true to myself and commit to me before I commit to him.
This is new territory for me. In the past I have always committed to the man first, getting lost in his needs pushing my own needs down the queue. He is first, I am second. I made keeping him happy my mission in life. I tried to be and look perfect at all times and living in fear of not being good enough for a man took its toll. I was full of anxiety. I spent my time judging and comparing myself to other women, constantly needing others to approve of me. I call this need for approval the 'little girl persona in my coaching practice.
This isn't the me of today, and it's certainly not the woman my husband-to-be wants to marry. In recent years, working as a coach and in the personal development and healing industry, I've found my own voice and know who I am. I've learned to speak my mind and to seek my own approval, not anyone else's. At times of stress, it's all too easy to slip back into this negative insecurity that I know many women relate to but I'm using my hen-do as one step to ensure this doesn't happen. The "me" getting married is not the "little girl" I used to be but the wiser, "goddess" me.
My "goddess" self is really the most secure version of me. She knows who she is and is comfortable in herself. Being my goddess self is about connecting with a deeper sense of who you are and what you can bring to a relationship. For me, it's about knowing what I'm going to be bringing to our married life to make it the best it could possibly be, and give my husband the same level of support and care that he gives me. To tap into this I've gathered a group of close friends and we're heading off to Stonehenge for a "goddess ceremony".
We will be led in ritual by Annabel Du Boulay, drumming and chanting in honour of the Divine Mother, calling to the wisdom of the women thousands of years gone before us, at the sacred site of Stonehenge where, Annabel explained, "the most recent research suggests that the Hieros Gamos, or Sacred Marriage, was held by our ancestors, in celebration of the union of female and male energies - the Earth Goddess and the Sun God."
It may sound strange to some, but to me it's the perfect way to prepare for marriage. I'll be standing in a sacred circle with 13 of my female friends helping me to consciously choose to let go of single life and embrace the next phase of my life, as a wife.