An Ode to Abstinence (5/9/09)

SIDEBAR: For some reason, I have been taking a walk down memory's lane today and I came across this piece. Funny thing is, I have only been abstinent for two years (consecutively) and I make it no secret that I will be (wha? wha?) the BIG 35 next month...but, I think that's kind of the point. When it comes to moving towards holistic healing, it's not an overnight event. It can sometimes be a long, and if you choose not to listen to life's lessons, grueling process. That said, on this side of healthy (and savin' it), I encourage you all to try it. No pregnancy tests to buy, no men to chase down, no soul ties to break...all in all, MUCH LESS DRAMA. Take it from me, the exhilaration that comes from knowing who and whose I am...and that a man should make a LIFE LONG investment into my goods (because I am a good thing) beats any fleeting carnal pleasure that sexual compromise can bring. Hope you can appreciate a part of my journey below. In hindsight, I certainly do (oh, the joy of being a writer!):

I love sex. I absolutely do. And, unlike many of the women I’ve spoken to, read about or personally know, I don’t do it just because those with unbelievable levels of testosterone expect me to. Shoot, if that were the case, I would’ve had a lot more notches on my belt than I actually do.

So, when I say that I am currently a huge supporter and advocate of abstinence, it’s not because I’m using it as an excuse to keep my boyfriend from pawing me. It’s actually because, at 31 years of age with multiple abortions, countless series of heartbreaks and disillusions (hello, good sex doesn’t make for a great relationship) and an autobiographical memoir all as a direct result of my sexual activity, I have come to the conclusion that you can’t really make love to someone else until you learn how to fully express it to yourself.

Now, I’m sure some of you are going to take that liberating resolve way left…into your bed and bathroom, but the “love showing” that I am referring to has nothing to do with the physical benefits that may come from “spending quality time alone”. No, I am referring to something much deeper and long-lasting: the emotional commitment that all women should have for self.

You see, I have come to a place where I am not using sex to get anything that it is not created to give me. I am not looking for sex to make me feel loved or desired. I am not using sex to keep a man interested in me. I am not relying on sex to keep me from learning how to properly convey my needs in a relationship. I am not abusing sex just because soap operas (including "Desperate Housewives"), music videos or cable television create the illusion that sex without consequences is a glamorous reality rather than a misinformed fantasy. I am not confusing “making love” with actually being in love. And I’m not relying on my sexuality to put a stamp of approval on my identity and self-worth.

Now remember, I enjoy sex, but it’s abstinence that has brought me to the conclusion that it’s not some magic potion that will make all things right and bright in my world. Sadly, I think that sex has gotten a bad rap because many of us rely on it to be and do more than it was ever meant to. What sex is meant to be is a physical act that brings holistic pleasure to the mind, body and spirit but if our knowledge of self is lacking, there is very little that sex can do for us. It is not until we know who we are and what we want out of this life, that we can even entertain bringing someone else (on any level) into the equation.

So how do you know if you are using sex to create rather than to celebrate a love for others and self? The next time you consider “setting it out”, ask yourself why. Is it because you are so happy, honest and fulfilled in the relationship that you’re in that you want to enjoy a physical representation of that commitment? Is it because you are expecting no more from the act than to experience the intense closeness than comes from being next to another human being? Is it because it’s an activity that you enjoy but don’t need to feel good about yourself? Is it because you have clear understanding of the purpose that it serves and a complete respect for the potential consequences that come along with partaking of its fruits? Is it because you are spiritually whole, first, emotionally stable, second and lastly, physically confident?

If the answer is “no” to any of these questions, then let this serve as my personal public service announcement to consider abstinence. Don’t let the misinformed hype of going without fool you. I am a living and breathing testament that when you give up sex on the quest of finding yourself, you gain more than you ever imagined.

Because after all, if you give a piece of yourself away when you only had a piece of yourself to begin with, when it’s all over, what do you really have left? Exactly.

©Shellie R. Warren/2005