Byron Katie, Mother Teresa live ego-free

Mother Teresa gives her life to sharing God's love free of ego

“Wake yourself up to how you live your life wanting credit. It’s exhausting. We use people to raise our own self-esteem but it only lowers it.” -Byron Katie

Spiritual leader Byron Katie spent years in a deep depression before waking up one morning and realizing that all her problems were in her head. She developed a simple system she calls The Work to help people understand and overcome the way their thinking creates all the things they don’t want in their lives. Change or eliminate the thinking and the problems disappear.

The quote at the top of the page reminds me of myself. On this journey of sexual abstinence I have begun to uncover things about myself like the fact that the less I feed my gigantic ego (especially with sex and male attention), the smaller it gets. I was using men to make me feel better about myself and, as Katie says, it only made me feel worse. That’s because you can never find what you need outside of yourself. You have to go within. Everything you need lives there.

The wanting credit part applies to me, too, because I have become known as a generous and giving person. What a lot of people don’t know–and what is shifting, thankfully, as my ego shrinks–is that my charity came not from a pure heart. I did things for others with the expectation of return, if not from them then from some divine source. I believed you get what you give and that’s why I gave.

That return could come in the form of recognition, applause, monetary gain, favours “owed” to me. When I gave, to me that was putting money in the bank to be withdrawn at a later date. And heaven help the person who didn’t return my good deed when called upon. They risked being cut off completely…and would probably never understand why. Or, in many cases, even care or notice!

Since I stopped feeding my ego with sex and male attention, many wonderful things are coming to light. I am feeling true love for myself for the first time and the pure desire to give just because it feels good. I want to help others achieve their goals and I am happy to do so anonymously.

In the recent past, the idea of giving without recognition seemed futile to me. I had disdain for people like Mother Teresa, if you can fathom that, because who but a crazy person would give of themselves and ask for nothing in return! I realize now that I was the insane one because the gift of giving exists in itself. It is an ego-free sharing love and connectedness to God and my fellow human beings that is the essence and source of true happiness.

I began this journey of sexual abstinence with the goal of finding a way to connect with a man on a level that is more than purely physical and that is not about feeding my ego. I am amazed at how quickly I am finding the joy that exists when you don’t give in to every impulse, when you practise patience and extend good will, and truly listen and connect with the person in front of you whomever that may be.

I am already looking at the girl who got texts from different guys at 2 o’clock in the morning and wondering how she could value herself so little that she thought that was okay. Because that girl doesn’t seem like me anymore. That girl was somebody else, someone who just needed to learn how to love herself. And not in the way we are taught–like looking in the mirror and saying you’re beautiful; I did all that. I’m talking about loving yourself the way God loves you: in spite of all your imperfections; quietly, gently, and unconditionally.

Lady Gaga inspires an a-ha moment

I’m feeling a little sad today as a result of this process. Some things are coming up for me that are outside of the usual feelings of physical deprivation resulting from my sexual abstinence. I am feeling a kind of mourning for the lack of connection with a man. I was listening to a song on the car radio–Bad Romance by Lady Gaga. When that song first came out I had just ended an ill-fated affair with an Englishman and I was amazed at the way it described my “relationship” that was all drama and sex and nothing real, no spiritual connection.

When I heard the song today, it reminded me of the latest “relationship” gone wrong and I thought to myself: I’ve NEVER had a good relationship! EVERY romance has been a bad one. I’ve always blamed the other person, but who’s the common denominator here? It’s me! Is it possible I could be the problem?

Maybe one of the benefits of this whole chastity experiment could be that I gain a little humility. This giant ego of mine might see that the reason I’ve never had a connection with a man might have something to do with me.

Published in: on September 29, 2010 at 2:20 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , , , ,

Jerry Maguire Complete Yourself

The film Jerry Maguire receives a lot of flack for the romantic declaration of its lead character: “You complete me.” Tom Cruise’s character is pleading with the love of his life Renee Zellweger to take him back on the basis that she makes him whole. The critics (mostly single women) say it’s a bad message, that you need to complete yourself before can you enter into a healthy and meaningful relationship with another person.

I get these daily meditiations sent to my inbox every day and today’s reading put it intelligently: “relationships are multiplicative not additive.” The author explained the term ‘better half’ is faulty because one-half times one-half is one-quarter–you end up with even less than you had in the beginning. If you begin as a whole person and add another, one times one is still one. You come together as two complete people to make an even greater whole. I had never heard it put that way and it made a lot of sense. Math usually does.

The author went on to advise that a partner should not be someone you need but someone you enjoy. He should not have the power to give or take away your happiness, but should be a partner in adventure. That’s one of the reasons I’m taking this year away from sex. I’m still at the point where men have the power to give or take away my happiness based on how frequently they contact me and the quality of that communication. My goal is to reach the point where being with a man only brings me joy and none of the silly drama that’s been part and parcel of every relationship regardless of how trivial.

I want to feel good. Not hurt. Or insecure. Or confused. Or needy. I just want to feel good. I do that just fine by myself. I’d like to find a way to feel that way with a man.

Published in: on September 27, 2010 at 3:00 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , ,

The Notebook Sex: Does It Exist?

Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams got romantic on the the set of The Notebook

Is this what it feels like to be a man? And, if so, how do they get anything done? I’m talking about the fact that I can’t stop thinking about sex. I heard somewhere that sex pops into a man’s head something like every 20 seconds. I”m doing much better than that today. It’s been a constant stream of flashbacks to sexual acts I’ve performed in the past, accompanied by the same rush of pleasure they gave me at the time. I think it’s what you call fantasizing. Except it’s about stuff I’ve actually done.

Someone challenged me the other day on my decision to stay celibate for a year. She said there is nothing wrong with casual sex and if it’s so difficult for me to abstain, why don’t I just do it and enjoy myself? I was a little angry with my so-called friend, I have to admit. If someone tells you they’re in AA, you don’t advise them to stop suffering and go have a drink! I’m not sure if I’m actually addicted to sex but the withdrawal symptoms I am going through must indicate some level of dependence.

Another friend, bless her, told me I was doing the right thing and that sex can and should be “sacred”. Sacred! Now that’s what I’m talking about. I want some holy sex. I want to have sex that goes beyond the limitations of the physical and represents a psychic and spiritual connection between two people. I want sex like they have in the movies. Like the bedroom scene in The Notebook between Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams. Is that unrealistic? I used to chide people for wanting that stuff, saying they watch too many movies. If not movie sex, I at least want something real.

I do find after only 5 sex-free weeks that I am valuing myself more. I now insist on being loved for my inside as well as my outside. So far men have really only been interested in my looks and I’ve encouraged that. To some extent I’ve been afraid they won’t like the inside so I keep it hidden and distract them with sex. I haven’t done this consciously, and looking back now I see how my ego did it to protect me from getting hurt.

I am excited about the dry months ahead of me and what they will uncover. If in only 5 weeks I’ve discovered that my sexual impulsiveness stems from insecurity, then imagine all the fascinating baggage I have yet to unpack in the future.

Published in: on September 26, 2010 at 3:35 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Waxing Poetic on Colin Farrell

I went for my monthly wax today. When I called the salon to make the appointment they asked me what services I required. I said a full leg wax, bikini and underarm.

“Regular bikini, full Brazilian, or French?”

“Brazil–” I stopped myself short because now that nobody else was going to see me naked did it matter whether I had hair down there? Kind of like the ‘if a tree falls in the forest’ philosophy. I know we’re supposed to do these grooming rituals for ourselves, self-love and all that, but the part of myself I did it for was my ego which loved the reaction my hairless pussy got from whatever guy I was with.

 I was also thinking of the change in approach to the waxing schedule as a good opportunity to save some cash. Full Brazilians are way more expensive than regular bikini waxes (in which they just take enough off the sides so it doesn’t poke out of your underwear). So, now for the first time in two years I don’t look like a porn star. I figure my unmown thatch of hair will keep me honest, too, because there’s no way I’m letting any man see me naked like this.

Driving home from my appointment I remembered a time I had sex with two different guys in one day. I’m not sure if I am proud or ashamed of that; more like bewildered. I had a one-night stand with A and in the morning we did it again. I rushed home in time to shower and be ready for a date with J who was picking me up at noon, and after our lunch date I had sex with him, too. I was very attracted to both of these guys, which is the reason I had sex with them. It’s not any more complicated than that.

Only problem is when you start out with sex there is really nowhere left to go. I’ve heard many people say it’s been done, that having sex right away can lead to some beautiful long-term relationships. For me, however, it has only led to more sex and less connection. For me, I’ve decided, if I’m going to have the relationship my heart desires and fall in love for the first time, I’m going to have to make the connection first and hold off on the sex until later.

I used to say I had to have two guys at once before I died. A threesome and Colin Farrell were both on my to-do list. Now, I feel as though I could just possibly live without those as well.

Eat Pray Love

I had a lot of tension in my head and face today. It may have been due to the weather system (high pressure or low, whichever it is when rain is threatening to arrive but never makes it); more likely it was because I have not had sex in over a month. I felt as though the top half of my face needed a good kneading and then acknowledged that if a man simply put his hands on my bare shoulders all that tension would probably disappear.

The physical craving for sex is a real thing. I have a friend who says if she’s not in a relationship, she doesn’t even think about sex. She doesn’t need a vibrator because she isn’t horny unless there’s a guy in the picture. I get the sense a lot of women are this way. They need a good number of sexless months before they start to gnash their teeth and for me it takes, oh, about two weeks.

Men do not have a monopoly on sexual desire. I actually had to do some deep breathing on the subway to overcome feelings of anxiety produced from my abstinence. When I think about the eleven months stretched ahead of me without the touch of a man, it can be overwhelming. I’m going to have to book a massage with a male masseuse (masseur). No, I’m not kidding.

In the book Eat Pray Love, Elizabeth Gilbert abstains from sex for 18 months because she wants to find out who she is without a man. When she finally meets someone worth giving in to, she describes how crazily lustful it felt being touched in that way after so much time. She made it sound so delicious, like it was worth going without for 18 months to reap the benefit of mindblowing sex after. When my year is up, though, I’m kind of afraid for the guy who breaks my fast. I hope I don’t hurt him.

Published in: on September 24, 2010 at 2:04 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , ,

Buddha and Revolutionary Road

I read a quote by Buddha today: “Peace comes from within; do not seek it without.” I guess it means everything you need is already with you, that you have to be at peace with yourself rather than trying to fill your needs externally. Of course, like everything else lately, the quote made me think of sex. I’m beginning to realize that my need for sex is not only physical, the satisfaction and pleasure I derive from the act has also been a way to feed my ego. It’s a turn on to turn someone on; to get a reaction out of your partner, well, there’s a power in that. There is also a rush that comes from meeting a new person, kissing them and undressing them for the first time, feeling an unfamiliar body.

Once it’s over, though, the rush is gone and there is a kind of crash that happens much like a hangover or the down that comes after a narcotic binge. I think that’s why I always went for the morning after the night before sex, too–I just wanted the high to last a little longer; I wasn’t ready to come down. Now that I’m abstaining altogether, I’m in this constant state of being down. Not that I feel depressed or anything, just like something is missing. I don’t even feel like using my vibrator which is what got me through dry spells before. I know I just need to sit here with my feelings and that the solution to any problems I may have doesn’t lie with another person, especially not their mere physical body.

One of my favourite books is Revolutionary Road and the movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet was a catalyst for my divorce. A line near the end of the novel goes something like this: “anything important in life has to be done by yourself”. When you run a marathon there may be thousands of people running alongside you, but in the end no one but you gets your ass across the finish line. When I gave birth, my husband and the nurses were excellent coaches but it was me and me alone who pushed that baby out.

So now, as I sit here alone with everything reminding me of sex, and tossing and turning last night because I couldn’t have it, I think maybe this adventure in abstinence could turn out to be a very spiritual exercise, one where I learn to do without, to seek my solace within, and to just be still for once rather than yearning yearning yearning.

Published in: on September 23, 2010 at 2:41 am  Leave a Comment  

Toy Story

Sex and the City's Samantha makes the most of fireman's suspenders

Before I began my journey of celibacy, I encountered an accidental dry spell last year that lasted three months. I simply couldn’t find anyone I wanted to shag. When my single and sexually active friend heard my dilemma, she came to my rescue:

“We’re getting you a vibrator,” she determined with a resolute nod of her head, a desperate times calls for desperate measures steeliness in her eyes. I had never used a vibrator (not by myself anyway–it had always been a sexual aid rather than a replacement) so I was a little scared but my friend was firm. She suggested something called the We-Vibe and regaled me with stories about how she spent the whole weekend in bed with her new toy and only emerged when she worried her livelihood might be compromised if she didn’t leave the house soon.

At the “toy store” the well-informed (and not very attractive, I might add) saleswoman made me blush on several occasions with her detailed accounts of how to use the various vibrators. The We-Vibe was no longer available due to issues unknown. Scary. So I went with the ever-popular since being featured on Sex and the City Rabbit. Oh my God, does this gadget ever leave masturbation in the dust. It’s not the same as having a man–nothing plastic ever is–but I felt the same relief of tension I felt after a real session! My head was clear! I was no longer cranky! I could work again.

“Well, at least it takes the edge off,” I thought to myself. And you know that baby will be getting a workout over the next year. Year! Oh, Lord, how will I manage?

Published in: on September 22, 2010 at 3:17 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , ,

A Year of Living Sexlessly

I have had a lot of empty sex in the past year. One night stands can be a lot of fun, yes, but they don’t exactly help you grow. And if a loving partner is what you’re after–you know, someone who gets you, with whom you can enjoy meandering walks, and travel for periods longer than a weekend–then you must exercise sexual restraint so you can get to know the person inside before mauling his outside.

Impulse control has never been my strong suit. I haven’t been one to hold off on sex to reap the the reward of a deeper connection with another that comes only with time and patience. In short, I have never combined sex and love. All of a sudden, I’ve decided I might like to know what that feels like.

So, on August 20 I began a fast, embarking on a journey not travelled since I lost my virginity at age 17. I decided I am going to go a year without having sex.

During my first “dry” month, I noticed that some men text me very late at night. Since I’ve been inactive, I get to bed a lot earlier and the sounds of these incoming texts now rouse me from my sleep.

Pre-celibacy it wouldn’t have seemed weird at all to receive messages at 1 or even 2 o’clock in the morning. Last week, however, I received one at 3 am which has to be a record. And because I had removed the guy’s contact info from my phone a month earlier, it took me a while to figure out his identity. Now that I’m celibate, I adopted a haughty “how dare he” attitude toward the offender when, in fact, I’m the one who invited this kind of communication by sleeping with him on the first date. Remember what I said about me and impulse control? I do appreciate that text for the chance it gave me to overcome my first real hurdle in the sexless Olympics. We’ll skip over the fact that I was out of town at the time and couldn’t meet up with him anyway.

Two nights later, I’m back home asleep in my bed and the familiar sound of an incoming text wakes me again. The clock says 2:15. “My God, was this ok with me before?” I wonder aloud as I stumble over to read the text. Another handsome man–this one wants me to come out and enjoy the remainder of the extended drinking service during TIFF. And another service after that, of course. Among my friends, the jury seems to be out on whether you can have sex on the first date and still develop a meaningful connection with another person. Some of them say it happens. Do you have to wait? For me, I believe the answer is yes.

Published in: on September 21, 2010 at 3:22 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , , , , ,