I’m going through divorce. Again. The “again” part is the main reason why I’m taking a break from relationships—and sex—for a while. For a year.
Either I haven’t been making good decisions about my partners, or there is something inherently flawed in my character. Judging from how my intimate relationships have gone over the past decade (starting out with raging, fiery passion and gradually petering out to a dying ember), the latter is most likely the case: There’s something in me that’s gone awry, and I’m the only one who can fix it. I suppose it’s about time I try to fix myself, before it’s too late.
I’m not mentally handicapped, and no professional has declared me to be mentally ill. Even so, I admit that I have my issues, as I suppose we all do. For one, I admit that I’ve been somewhat confused in the arena of relationships: how to make relationships work; how to have healthy relationships; how to avoid the most common pitfalls; et cetera, et cetera…. It appears I keep falling face first into the deepest ditches, in spite of being reasonably intelligent and accomplished in other aspects of my life.
Over the years, when it comes to relationships, I’ve gotten some good advice from friends and some not-so-good advice from so-called friends. All the advice has been pretty much useless. Because humans do what they want to do, no matter what. We always seem to find a way to fulfill our appetites for whatever it is we think we need: food, sex, money, cars, … faster, bigger, better … more, more, more…. While this formula might provide some instant gratification or at least some short-term satisfaction, look where it’s gotten us, hmmm?
I once attended a sacred ceremony led by an indigenous Mayan elder I met in the mountains of southern Mexico. He held the bowl of copal incense in his hands and gazed thoughtfully at the smoke as it curled up toward the sky, carrying our prayers. “The best things in life are free,” he said, and then he told a story about how his ancestors lived—and thrived—before we started slapping price tags and bar codes on everything.
One thing I’ve learned is that people are stupid. That includes me. We only believe what we want to believe. We only see what we want to see. We only hear what we want to hear. Et cetera, et cetera. I suppose that’s why we benefit from attempting to refine our intellect by reading books, writing poetry and doing crossword puzzles. Humans without lofty pursuits default to behaving like monkeys. I repeat: That includes me.
For what it’s worth, I’ve made a commitment to myself to practice celibacy for one year. This means I’m currently in a “state of abstaining from marriage and sexual relations”… for one year. I think I need at least that much time just to get used to the idea.
Every experience enriches me, builds my character, teaches me something and changes me. That’s why I travel and work in different places with different people. That’s why I change my environment frequently. I seek experiences, and these have included experimentation with sex and drugs. Wait… sex is a drug. For me, it has been somewhat of an addiction.
Recently, I’ve summoned the inner strength to be honest enough with myself to recognize my addiction and to make a more concerted effort to slay the dragon, lest it kill me first.
I’m multi-talented, multi-variegated and multi-layered, somewhat like Neapolitan ice cream. When you take a bite, you can never be sure what flavor you’ll get. I would like to blend my flavors into something more … consistent. When it comes to food, consistency matters. When it comes to partners, consistency matters. It makes for better relationships. Less complicated ones, anyway.
Why I’m Practicing Celibacy
I like challenges. Throughout my life, I’ve enjoyed taking on more than I thought I could. I graduated valedictorian of my class in both high school and college. I like to challenge myself to improve, to excel, and to grow in ways that matter.
I’m practicing celibacy for one year, because so far, I’ve never been able to remain celibate for more than a few months. I’ve tried it before, but as I mentioned in a previous blog post, I was too swayed by my thirty-something-year-old hormones and too dismayed by loneliness.
I think I’ve reached a point in my life when I’m ready for this challenge. It’s a realistic one for me to take on, so I’m willing to make the commitment to myself.
A skilled astrologer once analyzed my natal chart (a visual display of how the planets aligned on the day and hour of my birth). He placed the chart on the table, removed his spectacles and looked quizzically at me until I felt uncomfortable.
“What?” I asked him.
He cleared his throat. He was a gray-haired, somewhat gruff man. “I feel sorry for you,” he said.
“Why?” I asked him.
He proceeded to explain that I am a “quintuple Scorpio”, which apparently means that there are five planets in the sign of Scorpio on my chart.
“What’s that mean?” I asked him.
Again, he said, “I feel sorry for you.”
He continued with his explanation. I listened carefully and took scrupulous notes on the subject. At the time, I didn’t really believe in astrology, nor did I know much about it, but since that day, I’ve done some research to see if other sources corroborate with what the astrologer told me.
Indeed, I agree with the no-nonsense astrologer. I feel sorry for myself and anybody else who’s a quintuple Scorpio. Life is cursed with an incessant drive to dig oneself as deeply into as many caves and holes and ditches as possible, just to find what’s buried underneath the layers. And just for the thrill of it. My five planets in Scorpio compel me to seek thrills and to therefore experience the passion and cascade of emotions that come along with thrill-seeking.
A person with five planets in Scorpio is likely to be intensely passionate and inclined toward excessive sexual activity due to a raging libido, a high degree of creativity and intuition, and a desire and ability to connect deeply on many levels with self and others. Along with all of this comes a tremendous capacity for healing. Because we go deep.
Yep. That describes me.
I think it’s worthwhile to at least try to transcend astrology and, for that matter, any other “-ism” or “-ology” that would otherwise limit myself to behaving a certain way.
I’m practicing celibacy because it challenges me to go against what my biological tendency would have me do (namely, f*ck like a bonobo). I’m attempting to do the opposite (namely, sublimate my biological urges). To use a monkey-like analogy, it’s kind of like ignoring an itch instead of scratching.
I believe a geeky scientist friend of mine whose research has convinced me that the human species doesn’t have very long left to enjoy living on this planet, because we’ve screwed it up enough for Mother Earth to start shaking us off like parasitic fleas. Whether or not my scientist friend’s hypothesis is correct, I could realistically die any day, at any moment. I don’t want to die full of regrets. Now is the time to start making amends, forgiving myself and others, and generally trying to be the best person I can possibly be.
I regret some of the choices I’ve made in the arena of my sexual relationship with life. My choices haven’t all been the most empowering or wise. Taking a break from sex will give me time to reflect and forgive myself for being stupid. I’ve hurt some people in ways I regret.
I hereby dedicate my year of celibacy to making amends with the people I’ve hurt, with a solemn wish for healing and empowerment on all levels (physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual) for all of us.
Why I’m Not Practicing Celibacy
I’m not choosing celibacy because anyone is telling me to do it, or because I’m following some kind of religious dogma. I’m practicing celibacy because my spirit is calling me to do it, because I know it is good for me.
I’m not practicing a one-year vow of celibacy because it will please my Momma or because it will “please God”: I don’t even know what that means….
Although I consider myself a Christian, I don’t believe in the dogma. I believe in Jesus Christ as my guru, my teacher, someone whose life and teachings are worth aspiring to (what we know of Jesus’ life, anyway).
I believe that Jesus mastered the art of yoga and as a fully self-realized individual, he was imbued with miraculous healing powers and fully empowered by the universe (“God”) to do what the bible says he did, which probably should include a lot of stuff that has since been cast aside and/or adulterated by religious authorities whose vested interests were more sociopolitical than spiritual.
Suffice it to say that I don’t give a damn about religion. I’m interested in living an authentic life in alignment with my highest potential as a spiritual being temporarily stuck in a human body.
Why I Think Celibacy is a Worth My Effort
Since I’ve moved to Central America and traveled extensively in Mexico, Guatemala, and most recently, Belize, I’ve had the privilege of learning a thing or two from indigenous people who’ve studied traditional healing for their entire lives.
A friend of mine who carries the wisdom of healing with plants is a Mayan elder whose native tongue is Kek’chi. We often sit together in my riverside bungalow in the tropical jungle and talk about a lot of things, because we are both interested in spirituality (whatever that means).
Exactly one year ago, we had a conversation that has impacted me deeply but it wasn’t until now that I could take his advice seriously.
“If you want to learn how to use prayers for healing,” he said, “You will really have to concentrate. You will have to be celibate, at least for a while,” he told me.
At first, I resisted the idea. Something in me rebelled. “Why?” I asked him.
“You will need to gather all your inner power. Your strength. It will take a lot of concentration. You need all the strength you can get.”
I listened carefully.
“Once you start learning, if you engage in sexual relations with another person, you could hurt yourself. You could hurt that person. You don’t want to do that.”
Yet, that’s precisely what I went ahead and did, regrettably. More than once. I didn’t listen to my teacher. Like a monkey, I only heard what I wanted to hear.
I rebelled. I defaulted to my shadow self (my quintuple Scorpio nature?) and did what I thought was okay at the time. Inevitably, there were consequences. Unpleasant ones. I’ve since healed, but I can’t say the same for the other people involved. I can only hope and pray that they learned something too.
Some people say there are no mistakes, only learning opportunities. If that’s true, then over the past year, I’ve learned a lot. At least, I’ve had the opportunity to learn a lot.
At this time in my life, living alone as a single woman in a third world country, the benefits of celibacy appear to far outweigh the benefits of playing the field. Consider my list of pros and cons:
|PRO sex||CON celibacy||CON sex|
|health||feels good||loneliness||risk of STDs|
|increased energy||fear of being alone||risk of pregnancy|
|safety||risk of rape|
|better relationships||negative reputation|
From a purely logical perspective, it appears most wise for me to be celibate, at least for now. I figure one year will give me enough time to not only get used to the idea, but maybe to learn to like it. At first, medicine might taste bitter, but over time, it might start to taste sweet. Who knows? I might be dead by the end of my one-year vow of celibacy. In that case, hopefully I will have died with a clear conscience and a more integrated sense of self. All in all, I think it’s worth my effort.
If I live beyond my one-year vow, hopefully I will have learned something about myself. I think I’m ready to learn something new, but first, I have to be willing to try something new.