About a year ago, I felt compelled to do something totally different in my life. I was coming out of what some people might call a “quarter-life” crisis, and I was feeling a little more grounded.
After walking away from a secure corporate job, leaving depression, drug addictions and eating disorders behind, I was ready to step into my new life. And yet, I found my romantic relationships were still holding me back. No matter how hard I tried, my love life was still a battlefield.
I noticed this pattern and realized that in order to get to a good romantic relationship; I would need to quit bad romance for good. What I wanted was a healthy relationship. What I needed was inner peace. What I tried was celibacy.
My rules: No dating, no kissing, and no — gulp — sex!
The thought of it pushed my buttons in a way that left me feeling liberated. I knew I needed to do this for my spiritual health. And now, almost a year into my dating sabbatical, I've gained tremendous insight into who I am and what I really need in life.
Before my experiment, I would fill my world with inappropriate relationships in an effort to feel love and worthiness. I would stay in relationships way past their expiration dates, and I would fall in love with men who were really unhealthy for me.
Taking a year off from the distraction of "looking for love" has allowed me to find true unconditional love, the kind of love that I could only find within myself. Self-love is the greatest gift my celibacy has given me.
For the majority of my life, I had been dependent on the attention of men. My relationships were transitory, and my self-esteem was attached to the person I was with.
My intention for starting my one-year romance detox was to be able to feel beautiful without a man having to prove it to me.
Aside from learning how to love myself and being comfortable with the person I am, I also gained some valuable life lessons.
1. Be your own hero.
You don't need another person to come and rescue you. You don't need a job title, a new place, a new career or a relationship to define you or make you feel worthy. You are the only one who can pronounce yourself worthy or unworthy, so don't give your power away to someone else. You are perfect just the way you are; own that and be your own hero.
2. Know what you need, not what you want.
Before my dating detox, I thought I wanted to be in a committed relationship, but I what I needed was self-love and self-acceptance. If I only focused on what I wanted, I thought I'd be happy when I got it, but I neglected my true needs and got hurt time and time again. It wasn't until I took time off from dating that I realized what I needed in every situation was to feel self-love and compassion. If we focus on our needs, our desires fall naturally into place.
3. You alone are enough.
Maya Angelou said, "You alone are enough. You have nothing to prove to anybody." When I was in a relationship, I worked so hard to prove my love. I would overextend myself because I feared losing the love of the person I was with. Through my love sabbatical, I recognized that I am enough just as I am. I don't have to try to be someone else to get people to like me, or to keep someone in love with me.
If you feel uncomfortable around a loved one, ask yourself if you are allowing him to make you feel unworthy. Be yourself fully, and you'll find the love you so desire.