What I learned in a year of being selfish, sober, and celibate.

I must preface this with the fact that I am still sober as of August 2015, and that is something I will choose to remain for the rest of my life. It was just within this period of sobriety that made me see I should take a break from other behaviors I had discovered a problem with, including my incessant need to please everyone I know, and meet.

I have always been what they call a “people pleaser.” Putting others before my own needs, and over the years, allowing this to become an unhealthy way to form the foundation to all of my relationships; especially anyone I was romantically involved with. Common past behaviors of mine, I now see as destructive, are as followed: I would cancel prior plans to cater to the schedule of the person I was seeing at the time. I created excuses for why I could not be in attendance to something I was invited to if I had yet to hear back from whomever I was pursuing. Before deciding what I would do that day, I would first wait to hear what THEIR schedule was to see if they planned to fit time in for me. To put it simply: I was not my own person. I had learned to define myself through other people and what kind of attention they were willing to give me.

I guess the biggest thing I learned in a year of being selfish, sober, and celibate, was how to say NO! I learned how to say no to unwanted attention, that I would have usually given into just because they were giving me any in the first place. I learned how to say no to temptations that I was used to partaking in because it was easier for me to give in. I learned how to say no to sharing my time so willingly, because I learned that it is okay to not give everyone what they want. Please know that when I say the word “selfish,” I don’t mean to use it in a negative way. I believe that there is a healthy balance of selfishness that we all need to truly know who we are as people. Selfish could mean the same thing as having “me time,” and that is the way I am trying to portray it. As someone who went out of their way to make others happy, I have learned that it is crucial that we do that for ourselves as well. That is so important.

Up Next: Celibate. Oh what a loaded word this can be. When most people see this word, they will typically categorize it as a religious thing, and I want to go on record saying that this was strictly a personal choice. For those of you that may not know what this word is, it means that I chose to withstand from having any sexual relations. My reasons for wanting to complete a year of celibacy were simple: I wanted to regain control over my ability to choose who I would be sleeping with. Not that I regret anything I have done in my past, I just wanted to find my worth in other things than the ability to get people to have sex with me. When you drink as much as I did, it becomes easy to make lapses in judgment, and I will be the first one to tell you that my self-destructive lifestyle needed to change. I needed to learn how to say no to people who were only temporary, and in my life for one thing, and one thing only.

I think it is necessary for me to talk about this because women can get such a bad reputation for choosing to live their life in the same regard that men will get away with, and we will get judged for. First, and foremost, we are all human beings, and we all have certain needs and desires. How you choose to fulfill those is up to you, and as long as you are not hurting anyone in the process, I do not think either gender should be reprimanded for how they choose to live THEIR life. This is the twenty first century after all, and if you are stuck in the belief that women must be a certain way, or act a certain way, you are going to be disappointed. I, for one, have lived a very “free-spirited” lifestyle, and never once has the opinion of someone else made me want to live any differently. This brings me back to the original topic of celibacy, and putting emphasis on the fact that it was my own prerogative to discover my worth in other ways besides sex.

Throughout this process, I have learned so much about myself, and for the first time in my life, I was able to see just how destructive I had been. Imagine living a life that was only validated through the acceptance of other people. That is so exhausting. Keeping up with the wants and needs of other people, yet never allowing yourself anything in return. After awhile, that is going to have some seriously damaging effects to who you are as a person, because you won’t know who you are without someone else there to tell you. This can be a dangerous habit to fall into because there are people out there who take advantage of this, and use your weaknesses against you. Stand up for yourself, and don’t be afraid to defend who you are, because if you feel like you can’t speak up about being treated unfairly, then you are already not being treated the way you deserve. You should never feel silenced by anyone, or anything. Your voice is important, and who you are is always up to you.

My year of being selfish, sober, and celibate was an eye opening one, and something I would never trade for the world. I am not telling you that you need to do what I did, I am just asking you to take a look at your life, and ask yourself the question, “Am I treating myself fairly?” If your answer to that is yes, then awesome! Send me an email and tell me your secrets! But if your answer to that is no, then I hope you will start making the steps towards addressing the areas that came to mind. We are all a work in progress, and I don’t think that ever truly ends, but at some point, it’s important that we all start to work towards the best versions of who we are, and who we can be!

-Megan Lawrence