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Thursday, August 7, 2014

Sobriety, Celibacy, Self

Sunday night, while enjoying a bad outdoor movie with a few really lovely friends, the subject of celibacy arose. My friend, a Scorpio, said she said was enjoying it, and, being a Scorp, was able to turn it on and off. I was envious! I quipped "ha. Mine isn't really by choice. I would love to be getting laid!". And everyone laughed. Aside from a few words about my ex and getting over that breakup, that's all I really said on the subject.

After I said it, in between words and laughs, that inner voice started chirping. Really? If you want to get laid, get laid, girl. And I thought... this IS my choice. I could be having sex every night if I wanted to. Every day too. I decided last year (or was it two or three years ago?) that my casual sex days were over. Paid sex or sex in the context of a relationship (whatever form that relationship might take) was the only kind of sex I wanted to have. At the time, I was buying into myths about female sexuality and self-worth, and thought that if I did this, I would be more loveable, more dateable, and sought after by mass hoards of men. I was doing this for the perceived benefit at the time, not because I actually wanted to give up sex.

It didn't work out that way, however. Almost every guy I've dated or slept with in that time, and there were only a few (in fairness, "a few" to me generally means "a lot" to others), lost interest, either after we had sex, or because we weren't having sex. My plan to attract love by withholding access to my body failed. Eventually, I poured all of my sexual energy into my ex. And it was great for a while. Part of why I miss him so much is that sexually, things got really intense for us in the end.

But then he did something relatively minor, given our history, and I ended it. And so I went from someone who used to have sex with a few people per month, including, and sometimes in addition to, clients, to someone who had a lot of mostly monogamous sex, to someone who now goes months without sex. I do have the odd sexual experience with one of my very few regular clients (who aren't regular anymore), but it never involves fucking, intimacy, or anything nearing satisfaction, for reasons including: wants handjob only, is annoying and self-obsessed, and coke dick. Also, paid sex and free sex are very different things for me.

And as I lamented this to my friends on Sunday, it occurred to me. NO. I did this for a reason. I grew so tired of, and dissatisfied with, fleeting sexual encounters. I could have sex if I wanted to. Craigslist is full of men who would be at my door within 30 minutes, some of them even bringing all manner of drink, drug, and/or food, at my request. I've gone that route, numerous times. A few of them were shits and giggles fun. But they were never satisfying, even on the rare occasions someone figured out how to make me come (or bothered to even try). It's too easy. It's not exciting anymore. It leaves me feeling the way a drinking or coke binge leaves me feeling the next day: sad, empty, and immature. I want that high school feeling, where things progressed from awkward hand-holding, to kissing, to heavy petting, to tops off, etc. I want the sexual energy to build up. I want to capture the electricity of it all, with someone I like and respect and actually enjoy spending time with outside of bed.

Don't get me wrong: I don't regret most of those encounters. All of my experiences have shaped who I am, and will provide great fodder for when I finally get around to writing my memoirs. But NOT engaging in those types of encounters has had effects on me I didn't realize until recently. It's reminded me that I don't need empty sex to be happy. It's brought me in line with the sex lives of almost everyone I know. It's given me the desire to get closer to my friends, to the people who love me and want to be in my life. It's made the times I DO have sex much more exciting. It's forced me to question my identity, a big part of which was asserting my female freedom through promiscuous sex. It's made me love myself even more. While it's sometimes painful to abstain, until I find someone I consider worthy of sharing in my body/love/life, I'd just rather not. I've gone this long without it now.

Speaking of identities... This has been a transformative year for me. I've given up several addictions, the most difficult being weed. I've been a chronic pothead since I was 18. My weed addiction has, in minor and major ways, negatively affected my life since then. And in January of this year, I quit. It's been over 8 months now (with the exception of one joint during my friend's drunken birthday party), and I don't really miss it. Gabor Maté says to never take your sobriety for granted. And I don't. On the rare occasions when I find myself thinking about smoking, I gently guide my mind away to my art, writing, friends, cooking, or riding my bike. And I remind myself that it might not always be that easy. Avoiding triggering people, places, where I'll be encouraged to smoke, is essential for me now, and has been surprisingly easy to do.

While drinking has never been a problem for me, it's another substance I've drastically cut down on. Drinking is one activity that makes me crave pot, drugs, and casual sex, and I know myself well enough to know when I am strong enough to partake in it. I still have drinks on occasions, like my friend's birthday, but it, too, makes me feel like crap, and being drunk now requires two days of healing and sleep. My body just doesn't want it anymore.

My ex was an addiction. I was hooked on the highs and lows of his love/abuse. I was hooked on his beauty, his erection, his perceived exoticness. And I let him go. I've had a few weak moments, and asked him back to my bed. Luckily, he refused. I still miss him. I still cry at least twice a week. I still worry that my body will never tingle that way again. But ultimately, I give thanks that he is out of my life.

My dad died in May, and I was afraid that I would retreat to all of these addictions. But I haven't. Not one of them. It's been a few months now. It's become clear that any inheritance my dad wanted me to have isn't coming my way, thanks to my stepmom. I'm still not OK with that. I'm still not OK with my Dad being gone. I'm still messed up over a lot of verbal and emotional abuse I've endured in my lifetime. I'm still angry, sad, and afraid sometimes. But I am still sober.

I've had to deal with so much in the past few years, but this year in particular. Not being able to care for my dad was the hardest thing. Letting go of the fantasy of being with my ex forever broke my heart. It's slowly mending. I guess the point of this post is to be kind with myself, and to remind myself that I am strong enough get through really stressful times, can live a mostly sober life, and still have a great time. I'm still enthused about the occasional mushroom trip on the beach, or the occasional white line after a party, or getting drunk a few times per year, but these things no longer occupy prominent space in my mind.

I'm single, celibate, sober, and getting stronger every day. I prayed for this. I meditated on this. I fought for this. It's brought a lot of demons to the surface, ready to be slain. I'm proud of myself, and honestly, I never thought I'd get here.

(I might even try to give up coffee next. Then junk food. BABY STEPS.)

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