In reading this book for our “virtual” book club meeting, I was struck by a few concepts that I am personally struggling with. How do I live my life and still date? How do I be the person I am meant to be without compromising myself? How do I still feel sexy and beautiful without having to engage in that manner? In particular, how do I shut off sex without shutting down as a woman (154)? Specifically, the author says the following:
“We can shut down inside, clamp off the pain of unmet desire and live in a small place where we feel almost nothing…plenty of women make this choice, often subconsciously…it feels safer than taking the risks that “having a life” entails, but it is really a form of dying on the vine” (162).
And that is my fear: If I leave this part dormant in my life for longer than I anticipate, that I will die on the vine, like a rotting grape who had the potential to be turned into fine wine. Right now, I am not ripe for “plucking” (no pun intended), but I do not want to waste away, my feminine essence just spoiling in the sun. There is a lot of goodness inside me, ready to be shared with others. But the "sweet nectar" of who I am, that part isn't available anymore.
I spoke about my aunt once, who now hasn’t had a date or been with a man in ANY intimate way (not just sexually), in almost 13 years. No dates. No calls. Nothing. She declares this with no shape as if it doesn't matter. But I see now how that has affected her. She’s nice as can be, but often times I see the depression. I see herself filling her life with things that can’t do what a man would. I don’t want to use church as a substitute for a man, or useless home décor, or anything else for that matter. She’s snappy and defensive. She uses so many things as a substitute. That frightens me.
The author said it herself: “All the therapy in the world can’t do what the arms of a man can”. And it’s absolutely true. So where is the balance? How do I retain a sense of the feminine without feeling like I’m dying? And the feminist in me would say that my feminine aura is not tied into male hegemonic definitions of my sexuality. However, I’ve always felt sex and sexuality are two sides to the coin. They work in tandem, the male and female of it all.
A man saying “Women aren’t isht...Imma do me and bang a lot of broads” is just as bad as a woman saying “I’m swearing off all men. I’m going to stay to myself”. Women and men usually have different reactions to the same problem. And that problem is simply pain. It is the pain of not knowing if this next person will break your heart. It is the pain of having an already damaged heart leaking and oozing hurt and shame. It is the pain of knowing that if you get back out there, you may be faced with the same thing, the same rejection and the same uncertainty. It’s all a crap shoot. Will my heart and feminine essence become corroded and I start to die? How can I get back out there, dating, not losing a sense of the feminine yet not withering away?
Since declaring celibacy, I’ve been tempted more than once. I know that fear of me dying on the vine still is in the back of my head. And perhaps it is my own fault in some ways. I was all gung-ho, ready to give in then all of a sudden, it is like turning off the faucet. But as my friend Tee said “If you have a leaky faucet, turn it off, and call the ultimate Maintenance Man (The Father) to fix it”. And she’s right.
But nevertheless, as I wait to be fixed, as I wait to be healed and repaired, will I start to rust?