September 21, 2017

Okay. I just need to write this post and be done with it. You might remember that last September, I vowed to devote myself to — well, to me. I promised to do this for 12 months. Now it’s time to share what I learned from a year of celibacy.

Oh, how I do NOT want to be blogging about this! LOL. As an oversharing blogger, even I feel emotionally naked on this screen you’re reading. But since I spent last September wailing about my life, it’s time to do the update.

Why I needed celibacy

Before diving in, here’s a quick recap of my story: I was married and with the same guy for nearly 25 years. Then, there were a dozen years of post-divorce dating. Then, a relationship that lasted three years. Then, the past year of recovery.

Celibacy saved me from dating (and non-dating) stress. I didn’t even want to think about being on the rebound. What would I get out of that, except to make the same mistakes again? So I opted out of male companionship. No looking for anyone — except myself.

And, I found me.

What I learned from a year of celibacy reset my goals. My top priority has become me. The notion of “me first” marks a complete, radical shift in my thinking and emotional canvas.

Breaking the cycle of the past

It still feels weird to put myself first because it goes against my past. I was raised to serve others. Since I was little, I took care of my younger sister. My parents expected me to help in the family business, too. I’ve been working since I was 10 years old. As a kid, I took my dad to his doctor’s appointments. Later, I gave my diabetic mom her insulin shots.

No wonder I grew up believing that caring for others was my ticket to fulfillment. But what I learned in a year of celibacy is very different.

It took me all winter to stop hurting and reorganize both my house and my life. Honey, there were days when I could barely put one foot in front of the other. Spring was better, bringing the excitement of my daughter’s last semester of college. Then, summer took off with glorious adventure — travel, new creative projects and new friends.

And now, I’m empty nesting. It’s just me and the two cats.

What I learned from a year of celibacy

Creating new daily routines is strange but interesting. I’ll be doing something and suddenly realize, hey, this is not what I’m used to. The freedom has me marveling and wondering: Is this really okay?

  • The weekly grocery bill is less than half what it was; I’m only feeding me.
  • I eat and cook and buy whatever I want, whenever I want.
  • I turn on the bedroom lights in the middle of the night or, whenever.
  • My women friends really know how to take care of me; ’til death do us part.
  • There’s nothing wrong with me. In fact, I’m worth more than I realized.
  • It feels good to sit still and be quiet — sometimes.
  • I don’t have to save the world or anybody.
  • People need to figure out their own problems.
  • Minding my own business gives everyone a break, including me.
  • I get more sleep, really deep stretches of peaceful sleep.
  • Decluttering physical space opens up emotional space to shed a lot of crap.
  • Little Betty (the inner child version of me) is playing more and exploring her creativity

Your thoughts? 

At this stage, I have no regrets about what I went through because I finally have me. That makes everything fine. Everything from my past only makes life richer.

I know a lot of you can relate to parts of this story. We put ourselves last for a lot of reasons. It’s a girl thing, a woman thing, a son-of-single-moms thing, an anybody-and-everybody thing. I’ve heard similar stories from friends, acquaintances and students of every race and nationality.

What about you? Are there ways you’re learning to put yourself first? And does it make a difference in your life?