A Year of Celibacy

I was accidentally celibate for a year, more than a year. Very nearly celibate. No orgasms, at least. Not alone and not in the sole act of shared sex that I permitted in a moment of longing for human contact. I wasn’t celibate on purpose. I didn’t set out with a theory or philosophy or steal belt with key in hand. It wasn’t an experiment or intention; I just didn’t feel like using my only personal space in the world to entertain passing fancies, or my only moments of uninterrupted thought on the sexiness of others. In the past, wanking, lusting, fantasy, and lavishing sexy attention on others has been a staple and preferred use of my free time. But this year, I needed more solitude, fortification, and gristle than shared touches or daydreams involved. I kept mine for me.

My internalized Queerness is largely based on my sexuality, gender, and wildness. What happened to my Queerness in the absence of sex, with a lack of throwing my gender happily against the naked belly of real or imagined trysts? Shockingly, it became more mine. There are endless ways to reclaim one’s identity and self hood; I never expected to approach mine via celibacy. Chastity has never been my strong suit – not in humor, not in thought, not in practice – but this year, it has been such a comfort to control something so fully, to deny any claim or access between my legs. It can be such a thrill to say, “No.” “No thanks.” “No way.” To say “suck it,” as a taunt in the face of anyone, anything, or any idea that would demand of my resources at a time and place when and where I have nothing left to give. “No, this energy, this meat, is all mine.”

It can be utterly valid and empowering for any human to find themselves through acts of sex, casual flesh, and true intimacy – beautiful things. But I have had enough of those for a short while. I have enjoyed so many kisses, so many embraces. So many blushing flirtations, so many jokes about your mom. So many women whose names I kind of remembered for a little while, and even a few men. Ribald on-line chats, secret glances, and shared beers with hot knees jostling before the make-out. Delights all of them. But they take time, and energy, and freedom.

My heart is not cold, my crotch is not dry, I am not living the life of a bitter old hermit, scorned and scorning at the world of heartbreak. I am just expending my energies where I please and where is most important to me. For a moment. I have built my castle walls and ramparts where I alone please, taking into account the pleasures of few others, sparing only my nearest and dearest. I have cuddle my children, pinched their chubby legs and drank in their faces, denying few activities or attentions that would make their hearts content. I have reveled in baking and cooking for my loved ones, pouring myself into dishes that can nourish them as well as me. I have kept old friends and made new ones, floating my happy emotions into a shared pool where they multiply at barbecues and toddllers’ birthday parties. I send notes and cards and share conversations with my neighbors freely. I try to hand out heartfelt thanks to all those who have handed me support during this time of my necessary selfishness.

But on the other side of my moat, currently locked out by spikes and wildfire, are all others who would like to share my bed, even for sleeping. I am tending my wounds with low-risk, high-reward snuggles, rather than with ravenous bodies that sometimes take more than they give. I reserve the right to refuse service to anyone in these times of dire energy budgets. As I navigate parenting, partnership, employment, identity, family, and friendship, it is an utter relief to completely dash the requests of at least one category of expenditures. I will give and give and give, but there is a line in the sand where I will stand to keep something for myself. This time, this year, I am keeping my pants on. As it turns out.

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One Response to A Year of Celibacy

  1. liz says:

    Wow! You are a fantastic writer and I love good writing so thank you (in my least snobby voice possible) for contributing to the cosmic wellspring of tales told well. I especially love “low-risk high-reward snuggles”….yes. You captured it perfectly. Bravo for honoring your needs unashamedly. Hooray for articulating and claiming this (perhaps unexpected) time in your Queer life journeying. I was reminded as I read your post of the book Willful Virgin by Marilyn Frye. Old school lesbian feminism ( from the viewpoint of 2014) but perhaps echoes and resonances with your experience? Glad to find your work and excited to hear more from you as the Muse visits.

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