Over a year ago, I made the conscious decision to be celibate. This meant no physical anything with anyone, so no pashing and definitely nothing beyond that. When I first tell people this, the responses I get vary greatly. Some have looked at me incredulously with the question, “why?” Some have lectured me on how I am fighting natural human urges, and therefore not taking care of my needs, while others, mostly close friends, have been very supportive of the decision. In a world where more is always better, I made the decision to go with less.
Why am I doing it?
Well, in the last 10 years, I had had one four year relationship, followed two weeks after it ended with a one year fling, then a couple of years and flings in between, followed by a three year relationship. Having not had much time alone at all, I felt that in the midst of major life changes, it was right that I take some time alone. What’s physical intimacy got to do with it you say? Well, that’s the thing. Physical intimacy, without actual intimacy, to me, is pointless. In a casual encounter, most of the time, you’d be off your face anyway and would be less likely to remember the thing. It’s just mutual masturbation. And at least on your own, there’s none of the morning after (or just after) awkwardness.
As I delve deeper into my yoga studies, I have also come to believe that we are as much spiritual, intellectual, emotional and energetic beings as we are physical beings. And that sex or any sort of intimate physical activity is a sharing of energy. This act in part was to acknowledge the fact that yes, I had given away my energy to people who had left me in an emotional draught after, and also to show myself some respect. You know that feeling when you meet someone you’re attracted to in your beer goggles, and you make out in a club or wherever, but when you go home, there’s not only a hangover but an inexplicable emptiness as well? Worse still if it ends up becoming more than a quick pash. Well, I’d decided that the short term high was not worth it anymore.
Unfortunately, making a big decision like this, and being completely determined to keep it, does require some life changes. For one thing, drugs are a complete no-go now. Not even a puff of weed have I taken in at least 18 months. For another thing, no longer do my weekends consist of two nights in a pub, drinking myself silly, followed by spending the entire weekend in bed with a hangover. In fact, my whole social life has had a revamp. Strangely enough, giving up physical intimacy has fostered other types of intimacy. No longer being able to hide behind alcohol and loud music, my socializing options have evolved into long walks and beach outings, hours of brunch and coffee (well tea in my case), the occasional glass of wine and beautiful dinners, all of which require a substantial amount of conversation. If I am attracted to a guy now, I can’t go into default ‘get drunk and pash’ mode… I actually have to talk to him.
In a world where feminism and equality means that women can do anything men can do, including having random sex, this act of mine might go against the grain. However, what are feminism and equality if not giving me the freedom to make my own choices. I have been lucky to have the support of my very feminist mentor, Dr. Heather Moritz through this. Her pure shakti essence, humour and often unique outlook on the world has definitely had an impact of my life, and have helped me hold my own in this controversial decision of mine. Ironic how what I’m doing now is seen as different when as little as thirty years ago, someone who did the opposite was pretty much ostracized. Goes to prove that you should just do what feels right for you at any given time.
Looking around, I see a lot of sex, but not enough intimacy. To me, it is not intimacy unless there is vulnerability on a level that is other than physical. And for me personally, I have had long stretches of time where my physical self has been disconnected from my emotional, mental, spiritual and energetic self. This for me, has been an exercise in starting to align all the different layers of what makes me, me. It has been a chance to regroup and re-gather. My yoga practice has grown. And on days when I am so present, lying down in shavasana at complete peace, feeling sweat drip off my skin; the mental, emotional, physical and spiritual satisfaction has been greater than any I have had previously. In this place, I am complete.
It’s not that I’ve stopped shaving my legs. In fact, through this period, I have learned to take care of my body even more. It is this living, breathing being full of sensuous possibility. It comes with expressive spirit, intellect, and most of all, a heart. Now I know that sharing myself with someone who can’t appreciate all that, or is not in touch with all that in themselves would be a cop out on my end. And no, I’m not missing out on anything because on my own, I am complete anyway.
A year on, I am still on this journey. Although I had an online dating account for a bit once the year was up, but I rethought the whole thing and found it too contrived and forced. It’s gone now. Dear Michael (the number of times Michael is mentioned, you’d know I’d be lost without him. The man really is my Master Yoda) asked me how I would let the universe know that I am open to it, and my answer was, “the universe will know anyway. It’s only a matter of me being ready for it.”