Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Listening to My Heart: Rethinking Celibacy

lovers embracing sex and the beach
I think the universe is trying to tell me something.

First of all, this whole Kim Kardashian divorce crap, which is an insult to humanity and a prime example of why you should never follow celebrity lives as a role model. Here I am potentially avoiding marriage and others are making a mockery of this institution.

And then, I have a very refreshing personal conversation with Laura Doyle, a best-selling author and relationship coach, whom I will be interviewing twice next week, once during my co-hosted radio show Social Chats and the other in person at the Women's Success Summit, where I will also be a panelist on the first day. Laura is the author of two books, Surrendered Wife and Surrendered Single; she also creates workshops for single women who find dating a challenge.

In her most recent Surrendered Single e-newsletter, Laura says that love is our birthright and that we really shouldn't put off or delay on dating. In general, she basically believes in good old fashion courtship, love, honor and respect. Women need to act like ladies and men need to act like, well, men.

I first learned of Laura's work when I was a tango aficionado many years ago, dancing several days a week in the local Miami milonga scene. A woman on a tango bulletin board introduced me to Laura's concepts in the book Surrendered Wife, the tips from which she was following meticulously in her marriage to a man who also happened to be her dance partner.

Tango is a beautiful metaphor for relationships.

It's all about give and take, energy exchange, understanding masculine and feminine and the dynamic involved between the two. For a woman, it's all about letting go, without being a doormat. It's about having power without having to wear the pants all the time. Opening yourself up to receive is very powerful on the dance floor, but also in life.

It intrigued me.

There is a part of me that wants to fly off the planet and scoff at Laura's advice -- the independent, happy part of me. My life is rich without a man or intimacy.

But there is that other part, the one that is missing some goodness that we all deserve. Love is part of life's bounty. Want to get to me? Make me listen to a cello score or talk to me about planning a beach wedding. I am the hardest cynic and yet still the softest romantic.

Walking alone at dusk in the rain today, with the easterly wind blasting my face and the herons flying by on Biscayne Bay, I really, truly seriously had to ask myself: "What the hell are you waiting for, you idiot? Why are you delaying love? You are about to turn 44! For Christ's sake, woman!"

Laura is absolutely right. Why the hell am I postponing love? Heartbeats are on borrowed time for all of us. We are only leasing our bodies. Days are getting shorter this time of year but life is slipping away even if I should have many years ahead of me.

Her advice also terrifies me, because honestly, in spite of the dozens of networking and social events I attend practically every day, I am not meeting *the* man.

Even though I go out and have no issue experiencing things or need a lover to enjoy them -- I seriously take childish wild grateful pleasure in every breath I inhale -- that man hasn't manifested himself.

Is it a Miami thing? A *me* thing? Every fucking interesting guy on the planet seems to be attached or has been attached and is wearing some sofa king size baggage; I just keep chalking it up to "well, this just means some better chap is wending his way to me."

But I also have to be honest with myself. What message am I sending out? I must be wearing some incredibly supersonic shield to be keeping so many would-be lovers away from this devoted affection I could offer. I guess if I don't publish a fucking ad on the proverbial Craiglist of life, no one is going to answer.

Obviously, if I say the shop is closed, no one is going to want my incredible mind-blowing services.

So maybe I need to rethink this whole celibacy thing. Maybe there's something inside of me that's afraid or resisting and I wouldn't be surprised. Previous relationships involved a person who had a serious mental condition and the other one had me subject to physical violation.

Laura made me think of a place I'm not comfortable visiting, even though I am a travel writer. There are continents, rifts, deep oceans and airy caverns in my heart that would require a passport and a major TSA x-ray. I simply shouldn't hesitate to visit me, be in me and live me all the time, right?

Why don't I go there?

Because it hurts.

And in my mid-40s, I'm fucking exhausted. Just tired of it all. Can't a guy just show up and be real?

And that's what it has been like for me this last week, contemplating all of this. I'm thinking Laura and the tropical deluge that kept me from my long walks outdoors were in 'angel' cahoots to provide me with some insight. And when I finally stepped outside, I could see things through a glass darkly.

I have to deal with that inside part of me that is easy to ignore when you practice yoga poses. This is controversial: can contentment lead to ignorance? Being happy in your body but ignoring your soul? Yoga is about connecting mind, body and spirit. Can you be too happy for your own good?

Sometimes you have to dig deeper, forget about having the tight ass and look at what you're doing emotionally. Sometimes this involves going to happy hour and drinking a couple of martinis instead of doing asana. You just have to say 'fuck it' -- my soul is calling me. Yes, even physical 'yoga' can be a distraction from your ultimate spiritual purpose, if it keeps you from connecting to that part of yourself that still needs nurturing, development and evolving. Bramacharya is perhaps holding me back. All that 'feel good' granola stuff might be sugar-coating ugly shit I need to face.

I need to take a good look in the mirror.

What does a woman have to do to make herself open to love without risking all her dignity and sanity?

I think this is a question I'm still asking ...

Oh, let me repeat the question:

What does a woman have to do to make herself open to love without risking all her dignity and sanity IN SOUTH FLORIDA?

And I know this isn't just a single woman thing. Divorcées out there know what I'm talking about, too.

Don't get me wrong. My life is rich in deeply spiritual, meaningful connections. My heart bursts with agape love all the time like it's baby lemurs playing in romper room for sheer joy. (And you know I've gone there.) But I'm longing for a deeper intimacy that doesn't come from such connections. I'm listening to my heart.

What else can I say? Even though I'm questioning my heart's current method and being perfectly honest with you here, I know I'm still following my heart. Dear readers, get in touch with that. It's the only thing you can truly hold on to, no matter what phase of life you happen to be experiencing. Be true to yourself, even if that truth is raw and uncomfortable.

We'll see what happens ...


Sze said...

Another great post, Maria! This can’t come at a better time! Beautifully & honestly written... it should touch every woman’s heart whether you’re single, married, divorced, etc.

Yoli said...

In South Florida, nearly impossible. Yo me case con el ultimo viejo educado. It is a youth and party culture like LA. I think you are right in your caution and I believe you are living a truer, more content life than you give yourself credit for, lemurs included. Enjoy, it will happen and it is not the holy grail, you already posseses that, it is simply learning to live with a partner through the journey of life.

South Florida Guy said...

Quite the revealing look at your life me thinks. Seems like a good portion of South Florida can relate. At least the ones I have come across. The nice thing about living here is you can get anything you want when you want it no matter how many times you change your mind about it. It's only the finding part that's hard.

Michelle Marcos said...

Eloquently said. I think celibacy is an excellent thing, especially when it keeps you from diluting yourself with the wrong people. I believe that people become imprinted by others when we share our bodies with them. Who wants to carry the wrong imprint around with them?