Single, Celibate and Satisfied?

This concept is something I’ve been wrestling with this week – being single and/or celibate, and what exactly does that entail?

On the surface I suppose it’s rather straightforward, yet, am I thinking in terms of just abstinence for a bit? Or all out CELIBATE? Or, am I just choosing to be single, and celibacy plays no part?

These thoughts were sparked via a video I watched this week on the CBC website, entitled FLYING SOLO. They have a whole slew of free, full length episodes of various CBC programs available online {YIPPEEE!!!}. This particular documentary was from their show DOC ZONE.

To be honest, I’ve spent years desiring, and believing I needed, companionship. As I’ve said in a previous post, fairytales don’t end with “and she lived happily ever after, on her own”.

I’ve been on quite the rollercoaster ride the last few years – living with Tim at the best of times was not always such a picnic, than Tim’s struggle with Pancreatic Cancer, and his death, and of course the crud I’ve been through with men generally the last few months (heck, let’s be honest, YEARS). So now I’m wondering… why on earth do I bother? Is couplehood really all its’ cracked up to be? Is living alone something to celebrate? Or should we fear it?

In our technological, post-industrial society, the “cult of the individual” is more alive and well than at any other time. There are more than 100 million single Americans, and this program illustrated how almost 60% of Swedes are single, and many of that number choose to live a single lifestyle. Leave it to the Swedes to once again be ahead of the pack when it comes to advanced social constructs.

This documentary left me wondering… “is this part of the new me”?

AND… does single for me also mean celibate?

No one on the program featured were professing celibacy, but instead confirmed bachelorhood. These people were choosing to live alone. That I guess is the key – CHOOSING. That’s the concept I found so appealing.

MY CHOICE. Not from bitter disappointment, or for any other purpose or intent, but instead because one has made a conscious lifestyle choice.

I have spent so many years of my life believing that to be happy, atleast for myself, meant being in a couple. Society tells us that this should be everyone’s ideal. Being alone is often not viewed as a choice, but rather an aberration and we are encouraged (especially women) to couple up and go forth and multiply. The idea being that I guess two can share the burdens, bills and companionship is an essential element to being happy.

For thousands of years women have had no choice, and being dragged off to marry was part of the rights the men in your life had over you. Under the weak guise of protection, women were pawns in the male dominated society. Of course, women were felt to be weak and vulnerable, even stupid, and not capable of caring for themselves.

The reality is that women are, by and large, much better equipped then men to live on their own. We don’t require their protection and security, and we are capable of feeding and housing ourselves much more efficiently then men.

So, why do I want to waste my power on some man who may or may not be worthy of me? AND, do I even really know what my own worth is? Perhaps in one sense, making that choice is a right I SHOULD honour, as so many women have not had the opportunity, or choice.

Since I began dating when I was 16 years of age, I have yet to be in a relationship with a man who challenged me intellectually. Oh, certainly many have been intrigued and attracted to my erudite vocabulary and intelligence, but few if any have been my equal. It’s all well and good to be admired, however it becomes rather boring after a while to feel as though I have to compromise my intelligent meanderings. I don’t just spend hours upon hours watching TIME TEAM and other historical documentaries just because it’s all I have to do… rather I LOVE watching them. I love learning new things about the past, and I am intrigued by ancient societies and philosophies.

As I was riding back and forth this week to work, I kept coming back to the question of… when am I happiest? What images come to mind? I kept coming back to all the solitary activities that I love, and that do not require someone elses companionship to enjoy. It struck me that in the last few months that I’ve been here on my own, in my little bachelor pad, I’ve been happier then I’ve been in a long, long time. It hasn’t all been cake and roses mind, but I realize that for the first time I’m alone, and I haven’t felt like there was something missing. Actually, for the brief times I’ve been with someone, I’ve felt rather confined. WOW… now that is a revelation.

Self worth, and fulfillment is not determined any longer by the same factors. The rights and empowerment of the individual is a reality within our culture. With many marriages ending in divorce and overpopulation being such a huge factor in our society, what motivation, other than tradition, is there to feel compelled to couple up? I don’t require protection or security. I have no desire for children. I enjoy being on my own, and savour quiet walks alone, listening to music I love, and dancing like a fool… what reason do I have to believe that in order to be happy I need to be in a relationship?

Now, all that is well and good, but where does celibacy come into play? I suppose I find that attractive since, as we all know, one thing leads to another. All this singular focus is fine and dandy, but one can fall off the wagon rather quickly once there’s been a little wrestling within the sheets.

KNOW THY SELF those prophetess’ of ancient Delphi advised, and with that in mind I admit that I am weak. Therefore in order to be successful in my singlehood, I must abstain. To allow someone too close to me right now will just upset this apple cart.

In her book The New Celibacy, Gabrielle Brown states that “abstinence is a response on the outside to what’s going on, and celibacy is a response from the inside.” According to this definition, celibacy (even short-term celibacy that is pursued for non-religious reasons) is much more than not having sex. It is more intentional than abstinence, and its goal is personal growth and empowerment. This perspective on celibacy is echoed by several authors. [Wikipedia]

My self-worth can not be determined by another. With that in mind, how can I truly nurture and embrace that worth? By what means do I determine my own “state of grace”? Our sense of self can often be overshadowed by the value someone else places on us, and when that someone is no longer present, so goes our value? Hardly. If a tree falls in the forest, does anybody hear? That is the self-deprecating viewpoint many give to their own worth… that if they are not being admired, that there is nothing to admire about them. As if our own opinion of ourselves has no value what so ever. I completely and whole-heartedly disagree.

That is one thing I can say with honesty, that I have never questioned my own value. I thank my Mom for that, as she loved unconditionally and therefore I’ve always felt I was special…if only in my own mind. Now, years later, I think it may be time for me to explore what that gift means to me. For the first time I want to experience the satisfaction of ME, opposed to WE.

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