84: One Year of Celibacy

84: One Year of Celibacy

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Reboot Your Life

One Year of Celibacy

You are important, valuable and unique. Don’t let any one tell you otherwise. Live your truth and be amazing.

~Ricardo Housham

After walking away from a secure corporate job, leaving depression, drug addiction and eating disorders behind, I was ready to step into my new life. And yet, I found my romantic relationships were still chaotic and loaded with insecurity and pain. No matter how hard I tried, my love life was still a battlefield.

For the majority of my life, I had been dependent on the attention of men. My relationships were transitory, and my self-esteem was based on the person I was with.

In past relationships, I was desperate to feel loved and therefore ignored every red flag. I was the girl who sacrificed everything in an effort to please my man.

No matter which man I was involved with, the patterns were always the same — a roller coaster of drama fueled by misunderstandings, anger and regretful words.

Every once in a while, a loving moment would peek through, but those moments were fleeting and always followed by defensive accusations. I wanted love so much that I convinced myself this was how relationships were supposed to work.

Finally, I saw the pattern and realized I would need to quit bad relationships for good. What I wanted was a healthy relationship. What I needed was inner peace. What I tried was celibacy.

My intention for starting a one-year romance detox was to be able to feel beautiful without a man having to prove it to me. My rules: No dating, no kissing, and no sex!

The first few months of singlehood were excruciatingly painful. A euphoric high was quickly followed by a sad loneliness. At times the loneliness took over and hindered my ability to function.

Even though I was doing the work and showing up for myself, I still held onto resentment. On some level I felt like a failure that I couldn’t even keep a relationship working right.

But now, almost a year into my dating sabbatical, I’ve gained tremendous insight into who I am and what I really need in life.

Before my experiment, I would fill my world with inappropriate relationships in an effort to feel loved and worthwhile. I would stay in relationships way past their expiration dates, and I would fall in love with men who were really unhealthy for me.

Taking a year off from the distraction of looking for love has allowed me to find true unconditional love, the kind of love that I could only find within myself. Self-love is the greatest gift my celibacy has given me.

Maya Angelou said, “You alone are enough. You have nothing to prove to anybody.” When I was in a relationship, I worked so hard to prove my love. I would overextend myself because I feared losing the love of the person I was with.

Through my love sabbatical, I have recognized that I am enough just as I am. I don’t have to try to be someone else to get people to like me, or to keep someone in love with me.

A year ago, this girl was angry, afraid, insecure and stuck. Today my life is fueled with compassion, purpose, love and joy. I am in the best relationship of my life, and I am single. Just me, my heart, and my higher power.

~Shannon Kaiser

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