When I saw that this week’s Wicked Wednesday prompt was celibacy, I thought that I had nothing to write. It wasn’t until I read May More’s post, Being Celibate, Love and Sex, that I realised that I had, like her, been celibate for a large chunk of time during my previous marriage. I had not seen this as celibacy until now. I had seen celibacy as a choice, and had not made the connection with it also being about the repeated rejection of me on a sexual level. It seems short-sighted of me not to see that connection but I suppose I was shrouded in what experiencing that did to me.
I realise that life has its ups and downs and that there will always be periods in many relationships where things are not as physically intimate for whatever reason. Work, family, health, so many things can get in the way of where you really want to be. Fortunately now those periods are relatively short-lived and they are also something which we try not to let last too long. We have both learnt from what happened to us before, and, coming from quite similar situations, have a shared vision of how things will not be. I think that now, although we know life does not always give us a choice, we try to choose a shared approach to dealing with it together.
I am not saying for one moment that we never experience our dry spells and have never pretended that it is fuck a minute kink at every turn, but for the most part we endeavour to work at making sure that the intimacy between us is maintained by keeping the closeness in a variety of ways. The good thing about a relationship where you are attracted on a number of levels is that there are a number of levels where you can connect and when one of those is down, we try to compensate in other areas until we can get things back on track. I think that for many couples health can be the big block. If you are unwell, it can sometimes be impossible to connect in the way that you usually might.
So having veered off on an explanation of what I feel celibacy is not, I will get back to the topic at hand. That time in my life when I should have been able to be sexually active but was not. I don’t know exactly how long it lasted. There was a period of approximately three years, followed by a period of around about five years. At first I hoped for a way back, but by the end, it had become my choice I suppse. I was no longer allowing it to control me and had chosen instead to control it. I meantlly tried to reclaim my body, but in reality, I don’t think I wanted it any more than he did at that point.
It pains me to look back on that time, not just because of the lack of sexual connection. It was a bad time for so many more and much bigger reasons that I think I felt the sex, or lack of it, was the least of my worries. That is probably why I didn’t recognise it until I read May’s post and connected with it, remembering how that time was for me and how it felt. Essentially it broke me. Handing myself over on a plate each night, only to put the pieces away untouched took me apart bit by bit. Or it would have had I let it. But I am a fighter. I tried harder. I tried different things. I talked, I acted, I tried my magic. So I did fight, and in the end when it still didn’t work, I took myself back off the plate. A dish no longer served.
I suppose what happened was the slow disengaging from him and from my want and need for him. I think that I also disengaged from myself. I pulled back from most of my sexual feelings and from seeing myself as having any physical needs at all. The emotional effect of the withdrawing of the physical was huge. With each rejected attempt, a little of my heart closed over in defence. While I still offered myself physically for a long time, there was not the love that should have gone alongside it. At the point where he realised finally what he was losing, there was not the way back that either of us had hoped.
That form of celibacy hardened me because it was cruel. It was not born of circumstance. It was not due to health or work or family. There was no way for me to reassure myself. There was not the communication, nor the tenderness, nor the love to sit inside the space it left until things were better. We grew apart, the gulf of the wound stretching between us far into the distance, becoming a valley that we could no longer cross. I can’t say that there was no love, because there was, but it was not the love that I have now. It was a love that came from guilt, and familiarity, and a sense of shared past. It was about duty; I was needed and not wanted.
The result of the celibate period we went through, was at first a loss of connection, and then a loss of tenderness and in the end, the loss of a shared life together and the loss of a marriage. It is not something I think about often and I have never really thought about this particular part of it in isolation before. What I do know is that it changed me. And at the end of the day it brought me here but it is not something I would endure again. It is not something that I would allow to casually overtake me in the defensive way that I did back then.
Truthfully, I still see celibacy as more about abstinence through choice. Perhaps not through choosing the circumstance but through agreeing to abstain because of those circumstances. I appreciate that there may be times as we grow older together when that happens and I trust that in making that choice, we make it together, for the sake of each other. I don’t think that will be the negative that I experienced in the past and I don’t see why that would have the same destructive effect. While sex is an important part of what we do, it is only a part, and as long as we use the others to remain together, there is no reason why it should break us apart.
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