I once asked a high-school student of mine what her passion was. Without missing a beat she replied, ‘Which one? I have two.’
Before that moment, it had never occurred to me that I could enjoy more than one thing. Before that moment, I had never said to myself ‘My passions are writing and teaching’. Before that moment, I had never considered that actually, I wouldn’t have to choose between the two things that make me feel most like myself.
Sidenote: On astrological reflection, possibly before that moment I had never felt more like a Gemini, either- a sign framed by Mercury, the planet of communication. We make great writers and teachers, apparently. WELL HI THERE, CLICHED FEMALE RELIANCE ON ASTROLOGY.COM! LET’S GET COSY AND MAKE MADE-UP BABIES!
The thing is, though, what started out as a dirty sex memoir- a 50 Shades-esque chronicle of the men I slept with to get over a broken heart- has evolved, and now is so much more than that.
Once upon time, I prided myself on knowing that the best way to execute sleeping with a bloke was simple: ask. But when I pledged to myself to make 2012 the year of fulfilling my potential, I also decided that part of that pledge meant giving up the promiscuous sex. It wasn’t fun any more.
In this sex memoir that I’m trying to sell, I explain in the prologue that when I got dumped by my six-year-long love, and he got engaged to someone who was once my best friend, I knew it would take me a long time to grieve properly. In fact, if it takes half the length of a relationship to subsequently get over it, I knew I’d have to be single for at least three years.
I knew I couldn’t go three years without getting laid.
But. What became a refusal to take my heartache lying down became quite the opposite. PUN TOTALLY INTENDED. I couldn’t go to a party, or the pub, or most of the time even work, without saying, THAT ONE. I’M GOING HOME WITH THAT ONE. In my imagination, I was saying, SEE, BOY WHO BROKE ME! I WON’T EVER LET ANYBODY DO THAT AGAIN! I’M AN EMOTIONALLY DETACHED LIBERATED WOMAN AND SO I WIN AT LIFE. HA.
Every time I threw a boy out of my bed at 4 a.m., I strengthened something inside of myself that promised never to get hurt again, to never invest in somebody again. If I could fuck ‘em and leave ‘em, I was in control of something. That bastard who broke my heart would never get the best of me.
Thing is, he was long gone, and it was evident to everybody but me that I was having a conversation in an empty room.
Last week I sat in a bar and listened to a friend sing a song she had scribed herself about needing to heal. I cried. The crying turned into sobbing. The sobbing didn’t stop, and I found myself literally wrapped around my girlfriends, mascara gone and snot-galore, foetally positioned. And it started because I had a moment.
As I listened to her words, let her sentiment wash over me, I knew that this teaching-on-the-Riviera-thing- the thing that started out as a way to run away from the hurt and the pain and the not knowing, three years and two months ago- had come full circle. I was, I knew as she sang, fixed.
I’ve learned how to write about my experiences, and how to teach, and how to say yes to life and it’s a banana in a hat and how to eat all the things and conquer my kingdom. Over and over again in my mind, as they wiped away at my tears, I said to myself, I’m fixed. I did it.
I let my girlfriends look after me that night- the biggest vulnerability of them all. Accepting help, being loved, showing your scars. I wasn’t ever going to let myself be loved again, and yet for these special people, I was nobody but myself- I gave them every part of me.
They told me I was different this summer- calmer. More interesting. Aware of myself.
I had to stop proving to the world I was okay in order to finally be okay.
Giving up sex is the best decision I ever made. It has changed me. And in the process I have written a book about having sex, and travelling, and learning, and teaching, and not having sex.
It took many months, many trips, and many lovers to say: I have two passions.
I wrote to teach myself, I think. Now I’m a writer, and a teacher, and I live on purpose.
This summer they get married...
... I wish them well.
It’s because of him that I was able to discover all of this inside me.
Well. Him and the eleventy hundred other boys.