Panic and terror would best describe the nervous anticipation I was feeling before the start of this experiment. (I’ve been writing this post in my mind for nearly a week now, but have yet to have the time to sit at the computer to write it, so it is now in the past tense as the experiment has started – sorry, I was caught off guard with how quickly time was moving).
Originally, this experiment was supposed to start on my birthday in June, but due to variety of circumstances... well, one particular circumstance, I chose to postpone until July 29, 2013. That circumstance was the fact that I had begun a “friends with benefits” type relationship with a friend that had recently become single after many years. It was great, though he (obviously) was completely emotionally unavailable (Hey! That sounds like every guy I ever date!). Used to being in a relationship, much of his behaviour was very boyfriend-y (and he is very good at being a boyfriend), which, from the “girlfriend-stand-in” perspective, can be very misleading and throughout the... oh, let’s call it a fling... throughout the fling, I needed a number of check-ins to keep my head on straight about where we were going.
Early into the fling, I had told... let’s call him Kryptonite (because I seem to lose all my power of self-control around him)... about this experiment and he was very supportive but suggested that I perhaps change my start date until after the week-long vacation we had planned. Well, that happened to be only a couple weeks before I left town for a month for work, so I decided being out of stalking range might be the best time to make a clean break, hence the July 29 start date.
This was a great idea, though if you had talked to me on July 28, it was a terrible idea. On July 28, I woke in the arms of Kryptonite (hey, if I wasn’t going to have sex for a year, I was going to make sure that I took advantage of every last moment). We had a beautiful evening the night before and it was now time to bid farewell. I gave him a quick kiss, said “it’s been a slice” and bolted for the door before he could see me break down in tears. Never let them see you cry! I then had to return home to pack my bags and say goodbye to my kitten for a month. Equally hard, if not harder! My cat is the shining light of joy in my life that can always cheer me when I’m feeling down. By noon, I had determined that the day was going to be the sucky start to a equally sucky year. But, at that point there was nothing I could do about it, so I may as well press on.
The song Angel of the Morning by Merilee Rush & The Turnabouts had been my theme song for the entire fling with Kryptonite and I was sure to have it on repeat as I drove home. I was also “old enough to face the dawn”. Breaking Down by Florence & The Machine soothed me on my drive to my summer residence. Nothing like cranking music to full blast and screaming along at the top of your lungs while winding down country roads to calm the soul.
Things did happen to get better. The drive to the place I would be living was stress free and beautiful and I was happy to return. It was good to just get away from it all. New surroundings, new perspective.
The anxiety had not fully subsided. As I faced the clock counting down the minutes until I began, the reality of the next year without sex began to set in. The panicked desire to spread my legs for the first man I saw took over. Thus far, I’ve been able to resist that urge (that is what this year is about, right?!) It did make me realize how terrifying I find the idea of being alone and how important this year is to my future relationships. I’m currently fighting this constant desire for someone to want me. As I said in “The Subject” description, I have a well-established fear of abandonment that basically rules all my life decisions (mainly in the area of relationships), but also plays out in staying in negative work environments as well (because they are familiar). It’s “the devil you know” syndrome: the fear that even though this situation may be bad, what if the new one is even worse. This is a fear that plagued me growing up. I often thought about seeking help while growing up or talking to someone about the my mother’s mental health, but I feared that they might take me away and I would be bounced from one unstable home to another. At least with my mother, I knew how to deal with her episodes and I had built up my survival techniques. At least she never beat me or sexually assaulted me. Who knows what I would find elsewhere?!
Now, this fear manifests itself in various ways in my life. Whenever something ends, I feel the desperate need to find something to fill that void instead of acknowledging what that void means. I don’t want to live through it; experience those emotions. Let’s just fill the hole with something else. I don’t take the time to figure out what it is that I need to make me happy, so patterns of unsuccessful relationships develop. It is like putting a square peg in a round hole. It may fit, but not perfectly and instead of looking for the round peg, I keep trying to make the square one fit. This is the habit I’m trying to break. It’s difficult.
On the flip side, I find a great freedom in the idea of not having to worry about guys thinking I’m coming on to them (I also have a problem of constantly worrying about what other people are thinking), so I’m much more relaxed (especially around guys I find attractive – which is probably not the best thing to keep me on this horse). Though, it does leave no other option than to start putting yourself first. With sex off the table, I can take a broader look at what I want from a partner. Turns out I have a fairly clear idea of what I want.