CELIBATE: 1 year and counting

Relationships aren’t what they used to be.  Having conversations with people who feel the same has started to feel like those conversations we heard our parents have about the difference in their music and ours.  I don’t know if it has always been as bad as it is now or if it’s just one more thing social media highlighted for us.  Either way, exclusivity, loyalty, communication, all these terms have become indicative of nagging or arguing and if those are the things we feel about the concepts that should be the keys to healthy relationships, what are we even trying to do anymore?

We all go into relationships looking for what we want for ourselves in others but how often do we try to see if we have what they need in us?  It seems like a given but with communication on the fritz, how can we even know the things about each other that we need to know in order to be all that we need to be for our partners.  I found myself in a relationship at one point that I knew I had no business being in simply for the fact that we weren’t able to communicate our issues effectively with each other because communication itself was stressful.  The more I got to know him, the more I knew I wanted nothing more than to undo everything but I didn’t want to be shallow and nagging so I pushed through.  It got to the point where I’d find myself hanging up on him mid story, mid argument, mid “why I love you” because the way he spoke gave me anxiety.  I know, it’s awful to hang up on someone and pretend you got cut off hoping when they called back they’d forget what they were talking about.  I was wrong for that but when I say anxiety, I mean literal anxiety attacks.  It was depressing, being with someone who I could barely talk to because the way he spoke, the things he said all made me want to poof out of existence.  No shade, we just weren’t compatible.

Since then, I have been celibate for 1 year and 2 months, to date. 

It was during that relationship that I decided I wanted to be celibate.  We discussed it and he agreed.  Seems like a messed up thing to want in the middle of a relationship, I know, but I honestly, I had no unreasonable expectations. If he wanted out, I wouldn’t have blamed him.  I didn’t expect him to agree to it, he was free to go but he decided to stay.  That’s when things got messy.

There were some things about that situation that played a major role in my decision to be celibate.  I came to realize that taking sex out of the equation will show you each and every place where there is a disconnect.   Those disconnections are the places that get pacified because “at least the sex is good” or “atleast I’m having sex on the regular”.   For me, the sex wasn’t good.  Definitely not good enough to fill in the many gaps that were present and that’s when I realized that the way I’ve been going about things was backwards.  As far as progress goes, I can’t regret something that has helped me grow as much as that failed relationship did but I got to the point where I no longer wished to go out on emotional limbs for anyone.

One important lesson I learned during those trials and error relationships was that men are no more sure (in general) than women are about any given thing.   It was a “DUH!” moment for me, admittedly but I had to cut myself a lot of slack.  A lot of men do come across like they know who they are, what they want, how to get it and what to do with it, though that obviously isn’t always the case.  I don’t hold it against them though because a lot of pressure has been placed on them to know and be sure of all these things, to be leaders, to be providers and there is little room for error.  This doesn’t excuse everything, just a lot by way of expectations. I’ve grown to learn that men are just as susceptible to uncertainty as women are.  They are just as liable to be fickle.  They have insecurities, just like women and they aren’t automatically suited to lead just because they are men.  None of those realizations made me hate men and none of those realizations made me want to bash men.  Realizing those things made me want to take control of who I found myself entertaining and the amount of energy I put into vetting that person.  There’s a big difference between choosing and “being chose”.  Although there was a screening process involved, I decided that it wasn’t enough.  I no longer felt flattered to catch anyone’s eye, no matter how much potential they had.  It no longer suited me to passively be dragged into and through relationships.  It became necessary to raise my standards a little more.  

A few reasons that pushed my decision to abstain…

1)      YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH YOURSELF SETS THE TONE FOR EVERY OTHER RELATIONSHIP YOU’LL HAVE.

Sounds simple enough, but it took some time to realize that my relationship with myself needed work.  I embraced some changes in the early years of my adult life and with those changes came a deeper understanding of myself and thus a deeper appreciation for myself but I didn’t know that back in 2010 when these changes began that I barely even scratched my own surface.  Trial and error relationships forcibly taught me a lot about myself - things that were important for me to know, but after a while, I had to realize that there was a lot left for me to embrace about myself and instead of employing my heart as a crash test dummy for the wild rides I’d find myself on, I decided that it would be best to not do any further damage to it and the remaining hope I had that longevity in love was possible.  Also, the time I have been investing in myself and my art has yielded so many amazing results. 

2)      I WANTED A BETTER RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD THAN THE ONE I TOLD MYSELF WAS ALREADY THERE.

I know it’s unpopular opinion that sex should be saved for marriage and based on the way our hormones are set up, I can easily see why.  I don’t have those “I wish I waited” regrets simply because spilling tears over spilled milk doesn’t get it back into the box (I didn’t intend that pun at all, to be honest).  Am I saying that I won’t have sex again until I’m married?  I hope that’s possible but to be 100% honest with myself – I can’t plan that, my self control is phenomenal but I’m still human.  I can however say that I don’t plan to have any flings, any relationships with anyone that doesn’t fully suit me as I’ve come to learn and love myself.  I don’t plan to have any relationship with anyone who does not believe as I believe and who is not willing to have God at the center of whatever is being built as I have made Him the center of all that I am and all that I do.  That’s non-negotiable. 

3)       BAD SEX, MEANINGLESS CONNECTIONS AND RAISING BOYS TO BE MEN FOR OTHER WOMEN

No shade.  I’m not insinuating that my exes weren’t good enough for me.  Despite how those relationships ended, I found that I was a perfect fit for each relationship I was in at the time I was in them, as I was.  That was the problem.  I didn’t want to be who I was, I wanted to be better and so I aimed to be better.  There were relationships that my wanting to grow became problematic for.  I wanted to try new things, I wanted to figure out who I could be.  Instead of seeing that as ambitious, there were those whose insecurities pushed them to mock my ambition as pretention.   Those were the guys who would either encourage me to not do too much or guilt me into not doing things that involved interacting with other men.   There were relationships I just couldn’t juggle; attempting to domesticate myself in order to “play my position” while aiming to level up in my own spaces left little energy for what was important to me and essentially wasn’t good for me.  I didn’t want to believe that I was fated to be unfulfilled conversationally, sexually and emotionally and it came to the point where I would rather no sex than bad sex and miscommunication with anyone for the rest of my life.  Also, there were cases of the boys who I tried to force to grow up, they fought back.  After a certain amount of arguing and tense interactions, we’d write it off as irreconcilable but then he’d grow up for whoever came next.  While there was a little satisfaction in having it acknowledged that I wasn’t just nagging but had a legitimate cause for concern, I was tired of being the test subject.

4)      I NEEDED TO KNOW WHAT I WANTED.

I knew enough about myself to know what I did and didn’t want on the surface but the more I leveled up in my personal growth the more things changed and the more standards I had.  Realizing this let me know that I needed to either set my standards to what would fit the person I was growing into or just wait until I got there to go back to “dating”.

5)      SEX LOST ITS MEANING

Prior to actually losing my virginity (in college) I thought sex was special.  I thought it was supposed to be an intense connection between two people who already had an intense connection.  Growing up I realized that not everyone felt this way.  That didn’t change what I thought it should be or what I wanted it to be but those trials and errors did manage to snuff my fire out significantly.  I got to a point where even in relationships, I had to be under some kind of influence to connect sexually and if I wasn’t, my mind would roam and I’d have to fake interest in what was happening.  Those kinds of interactions made for great materials to write about and for a while, I accepted it solely for the purpose of feeling just enough to keep my poems flowing but I grew up.  That’s no longer sufficient and I’d rather quit art altogether than to put myself through anything just to feel something.

MIX IT ALL TOGETHER…

I’ve outgrown the influence of my peers, film, television, music and such that expresses this socially acceptable expression of “live your life” as it pertains to love and sex.  What relationships have come to represent is unappealing and disheartening to me but I don’t intend to allow it to deter me from what I want for myself or my belief that I can have it.  I do intend to wait as long as I need to to assure that what I bring to the table is nothing short of sincere and that my faith, my intentions, my ambitions, my loyalty and my desires are matched.  Celibacy has cleared that “this might be able to work” filter from the bigger picture for me.  I give myself time, now, to read people’s intentions and having no expectations for them rules out making excuses for who they show me that they are.

Since deciding to abstain, I’ve been in a couple situations where I had the opportunity to observe men’s behavior objectively.  There’s so much more that is communicated in these interactions than what is actually said.   Being celibate doesn’t give you superpowers that allow you to see who is sincere and who isn’t but when you stand on your decision to be removed from doing things the way you have always done them, you give yourself the time you need to locate your best interests in a situation before physically putting yourself there.  

It hasn’t been the easiest journey by a long shot.  There are bouts of loneliness, I must admit.  They don't tempt me to fold as much as I thought they would, though.  I fill them with conversations with friends and setting new goals for myself.  It's still not easy, though.  In the beginning, I felt a little aimless and thus more susceptible to crashing.  I knew why I was doing what I was doing but thoughts of “what’s the point? No one respects relationships as much as you do so you’ll be waiting forever” definitely came through to shake my foundation.  I can honestly say prior to the 8 month mark, I was ready to start making bad decisions again.  The frustration was real.  I don’t know if I would have gotten as far as I did if someone didn’t come along to give me a little hope.  I had a couple conversations with a friend who I had feelings for at one time.  The conversations reminded me of why those feelings where there to begin with and although being in that space to have those conversations with him at that point made me a lot more tempted to say “screw this journey”, it also inspired me to press through.  I know, it does seem ass backwards.  Finding someone with potential that matched my recently upped standards should have made me want to jump in because what are the odds that he’ll be available when I feel ready.  Except, seeing that potential made me want to wait even more because “do something you’ve never done to get something you’ve never had.”  I was 10 ½ pushing 11 months when this all happened.

Now that I’m here, well past a whole year, I am thankful that I stuck it out for several reasons. 

1) If I allowed myself to rush in for what I wanted, I’m sure we would have expired by now and our friendship would have gone bad with it.

2) I chose me.  I needed to choose me.  Showing myself the love that I needed was a step in the direction of being ready for all the things I want with someone else eventually.

3) Making a decision against your habits is a necessary step in changing those habits.

Overall, I’m still growing, I’m still learning and I’m still hopeful that at the end of this journey I’ll be an even more refined version of myself.  Also, that whoever I find myself with will be the last one.  I know this all seems a bit much but the lengths you’re willing to go for what you want says a lot about how badly you want it.    

 

 

Confessions of a CT Creative

Being a creative has been one of the most tumultuous journeys of my life.  There is little by way of certainty and then comes the realization that it will always be this way.  Deciding to be an artist is a step you take when you know that there is no other way to live (for you).  It isn't something that anyone should jump blindly into.  You have to know the risks and decide that though it will presumably be a maddening journey, it's what makes your soul feel at peace.

I've come to learn myself as a creator.  I'd get ideas of concepts that I wanted to bring to life that didn't always fit into poems, although I tried settling with the titles "poet" and "writer".  I never only wanted to write and perform, I wanted to try everything that caught my attention.  I was attracted to the messiness of painting along with the vibrant colors that always seemed to transcend any mood it was manipulated to fit.  I was drawn to the way film could capture and magnify regular life in beautiful cuts.  I fell in love with the way certain songs could hijack my heartbeat and make me feel things I would never voluntarily permit myself to feel.  I became intrigued with the thought that my hands, although attached to the body in control of my meager life, could possibly create things that were so far beyond who I had come to know myself as.  I never dreamed that merely acting on those small moments of inspiration would bring me here.

In a much needed pep talk after deciding that I wanted to create for a living, I told myself that "sometimes, self proclaimed is all you need to get started".  Although, in the moment, it felt like something I was telling myself to pacify my debilitating fears of failure, it would be the smile inducing afterthought of every new self taught venture I'd find myself dabbling in.

 

" Sometimes, self proclaimed is all you need to get started."

Living creatively...

It really has your emotions all over the place sometimes and it's important to be in tune with yourself enough so that you can differentiate your moods and traits from those caused by your creative frustrations.  I spent this entire past week trying to lift myself out of an exhausted funk and while I tried to create through the feelings, I wasn't satisfied.  It was important to not accredit the lows I was feeling to my art although I was tempted to.  Internalizing things will drive you over edges that you never even knew you were close to.   But I'm learning that it is also important to feel these things as they come, for a couple reasons: 

1) Denying them brings more pain than they bring themselves. 
2) They're the dark places that show you how brightly your light can shine.  

I think the problem a lot of artists face pertaining to inspiration is that they try to separate their creative side from their real lives and the space they put between the two is evident in their art.  You can sometimes see and feel the detachment in the music, the visuals, the lifestyle.  I've done it - still do, occasionally.  While I don't think there is a right or wrong way to create, I do think that we often try to protect ourselves from the very things sent to set us free.  

 

I admire raw skill. It's not something I think I have in any of my crafts - maybe with the exception of writing but I've been doing that since about 2002 so it's hard to tell what's raw and what is a result of practice.  The rawest thing about my art is my passion and the way I'm inspired.  It's hard to explain it but the way my mind overworks plays a huge role in the way I perceive the things I see/ hear/ feel and while it works for my art from time to time, it's painful in my regular life.  Those overthinking, over-analytical tendencies that drives me to sabotage friendships and relationships are my greatest allies, creatively. 

 

 

I'm sincerely "sensitive about my shit".  Saying that always gets a few chuckles in response for any creative but for so many of us, it's the realest shit we'll ever quote.  It's not just sensitivity by way of criticism but in everything.

In the middle of my last project (TBYC), I saw a couple creatives in my area take bits and pieces from my promotional material and copy it (verbatim) for their own projects.  I won't lie, it did make me feel a way.  Not as far as competition goes as I don't compete with my fellow creatives. I will always believe that there is enough success and inspiration and opportunities to go around several times.  I also am a firm believer in that "what is for me will always be for me".  It made me feel a way because what they were taking a few days to replicate took me 9 months to plan and execute.  It didn't take me 9 months to come up with a good idea, it took me 9 months to sit with my concept, to plan it out, to involve other creatives who helped make it happen, to sync schedules with busy individuals, to revamp parts of it and allow it to evolve.  It took me 9 months to decide that the direction I was taking this idea would satisfy my vision for it and to see it all through while fighting discouragement from all sides.  What I took 9 months to birth, others took 3 seconds to see and decide that they liked it enough to redo it exactly as it had already been done.

I kept hearing "nothing is original" and while I know that to be true, in essence, I only ever hear it from those creatives who don't take enough time to allow their inspiration to evolve past what they saw/ heard another creative do.  It took me some time to accept and move past this enough to not allow it to make me dislike these individuals but it still taints their creative integrity in my eyes and it does make me not want to work too closely with them.  Forgive me for being human enough to feel that way.  I don't knock anyone's art.  I know the kind of faith it takes to put yourself out there for the world to see and potentially rip to shreds.  I know what lacking inspiration feels like (even while having several projects in my queue).  I've also grown to learn to not knock the most "unoriginal" art, even if it was "inspired" by me in whatever way because: 

1) What is for me (won't stop being for me because of those who potentially try to intercept it) will always be for me.
2) I know what it's like to be lacking inspiration/ direction. 
3) It inspires me to level up.  


 

I've consistently tried to emphasize my humility so those who don't know me personally won't think I'm full of myself but it no longer pleases me to do so.  You will know a tree by the fruit it yields so I'll allow my work to speak for me.  

I'm honored to be an artist.  As cliche as it sounds, I feel like it's something that chose me, as it has so many others that I've been blessed to meet, know and learn from.  Through the frustration, the moments of uncertainty, the times when I wish I would have gotten my degree and gone to law school instead; I'm still learning who I am, what I'm capable of and that there is little outside of my reach.  

This process isn't a polished one.  In everything I do I aim to be true to my passion, not let the money dictate my direction and protect my creative integrity at all costs. I hope it's enough to take me to my top.