Finding Freedom – Celebrating Celibacy

How a year passes so quickly! I find myself luxuriating in celibacy, as I have never felt more whole, more free, more lovingly myself. If you have been reading my articles over the years, you have witnessed the roller-coaster ride of life, much of which was self-inflicted. Recovering my mental health has been a full-time job since over the last year or two, with much contemplation and clarity of events past and present. The ayahuasca therapy that I did really revealed so much to me, and it’s taken a full year of processing what was revealed to really gain some insight into my patterns of behavior. Having both my parents, from the States, visit me (separately) in Panama to unearth some hard truths was very enlightening. Challenging, for sure, to finally put things on the table, the fruits of which were so rewarding I can only sing praise as a weight is lifted.

One can argue until the cows come home what condition is based on nature vs. nurture. As for nature, it is clear that I am genetically predispositioned to chronic depression. What the ayahuasca did was to make clear to me, and really make present how utterly bizarre some of the things, even as a child, were to a shaping mind/body. With the help of psychedelics, I finally had the courage to talk openly with both of my parents about some very peculiar events that occurred in my childhood, that they had no idea about. Did it break their heart? Yes, but what did it do to me? I lived it, buried it and want to jump for joy for finally healing.

This month I also celebrate four years of sobriety, being alcohol-free. So many people cop-out and blame alcohol for their behavior. I do not. I had thirteen years of sobriety, which I really do not give myself enough credit for. So, I had to ask myself, “Laura, what made you fall off the wagon after thirteen years of sobriety, what was it that triggered you over the edge?”, and the answer hit me like a slap in the face. It was circa 2003 and I was on a flight, from Tucson, Arizona to Rome Italy, to meet up with my lover from Zürich, Switzerland. Sounds all very romantic and glamourous, no? That’s what I thought too, at the time. Now I can see clearly it was anything but.  Falling off the wagon in 2003 led to a ten-year bender.  There is no grey area of me, when it comes to weapons of self-destruction and I see sex is no different.  It’s all or nothing.  I am better off without the complication and feel truly happy about it.  I finally realize that what I seek has been within me the whole time.  

What I have left is my love of teaching yoga (it is life-saving) and my love of my rescued animals.  That I have committed to adopting new kitten (after my 18-year old cat died), is an indicator that is see my life-span entailing an actual future, which is optimism at it’s highest for me.  Instead of crazy travels the world over for erotic adventures, I am at a point where I am really diving deep into getting to know my parents, especially the love, respect and honour I hold for my mother so that we can truly get to know each other before one of us dies.

Gratitude is what I feel most when I look back on my life. Not tragedy. My bipolar mind has led me on some truly wild, manic rides that no sane person would dare to enter – the thrill, the rush, the adrenaline, the dopamine flooding the brain’s pleasure centers to push my onward, onward….more, more. I was a junkie on life and only the most risky, the most unusual, the most surreal set of circumstances would get me off. This took me to amazing places, to be sure. When I lived in Tucson, I had the financial means to pursue hedonism the world-over.

One of the reasons I moved to such a remote island off the coast of a “third world” country is that I thought, in a way, I’d calm down – I would be cut off from temptation. No, an addict’s mind just finds more creative, surreptitious ways to get it’s reward-centers activated. That is what ultimately led to my downfall – my drowning, and I can look back at each time I O.D.’d there was a man involved. Whether it was the Swiss Engineer, or the German Pilot, or a secret lover here, the pattern of self-destruction was apparent! Since I was a teenager, I have always had weird love/sex triangles, the more complicated, the more challenging, the more of a success, somehow in my fucked-up head, it was considered. The thing is not only were other people hurt, I myself was hurt the most, as I would self-medicate to the point of overdosing on a mix of alcohol and pills, and damn it, someone was always there to save my life.  

It wasn’t until I took the deep dive of five ceremonies of ayahuasca, and have gone back on anti-depressants, and have successfully, finally found a balance of daily microdosing psilocybin that I’ve had the clarity to put all the pieces of the puzzle together. The puzzle has spoken and the the answer is I am better off being celibate. Pure and simple. That’s that. Better off for other people. Better off for myself. As I approach fifty-years old I am finally able to learn (still learning, it takes practice, after a life-time of self-loathing) to love myself. Thank goodness I had the forethought to have myself sterilised because I know I am not mentally equipped to be a mother. I also have no business being in a sexual or romantic relationship. I’m not equipped emotionally. For a romantic partner, I would invariably choose the most unattainable (emotionally, geographically, legally) partner. As for sex, the physical act – eh. I can get myself off if I desire it, but really I desire it less and less. It has always been the mind, the intellect that has inspired me, something that I find is rarer and rarer as people’s attention spans wane with technology. 

This is where art comes in. From an early age, I have been an art lover. As a deeply introverted child, my escape was into books, where the imagination is limitless in possibility and many worlds of wonder to explore! My respite from the doldrums of the suburbs, would lead me to take the Metro into Washington, D.C.’s in order to spends days on end visiting the Smithsonian museums. Yes, I would geek-out mostly at the Air & Space and the Natural History museums, but I would also wander into the art museums as well. It wasn’t until the highly controversial, banned Mapplethorpe exhibit hit the District that all hell really broke loose and showed me the true power of art as a form of expression, and how art is open to interpretation.  This was around the same time that 2 Live Crew’s music was being banned, which caused major headlines at the time.  I would was absolutely mesmerized by the photography portraiture of Richard Avedon, Annie Leibovitz, Helmut Newton, etc. Robert Mapplethorpe’s photos of flowers could transfix me just as much as his photos of fisting.

The way an artist captures light just blows my little mind, and this is what drives me to TRY to do my own humble version of it. Working ten years in the book-store industry, I would goof off by reading every magazine imaginable just to pass the time on the drudging corporate clock – studying photography magazines, learning about colour, contrast and composition. Then I would marvel at the photos in all magazines, whether is was the slick advertisements one sees in “Vanity Fair”, to the exploration of vastly different peoples in “National Geographic” or the pages of the hard-core pornography. The trick to creating captivating art – no matter what the genre – is capturing, mastering and playing with light. The light of countless stars that has traveled eons to reach us. This is the light that is manifested in the lustre of a human’s curve of hip, breast, buttock and it is simply an utter delight to make art with this form.

Back in Tucson, Arizona, where the desert sky is an unrelenting deep, clear blue and the sun is reliably golden daily, I was a professional photographer of women, specializing in nudes. I was surrounded by strippers, so I had an unlimited demographic of amazingly unabashed, open-minded customers.  I was puzzled as to the irony of husbands of dancers who objected to their wives doing a photo shoot with me.  They had no problem with their wives showing their naked bodies to strangers in order to pay the mortgage on the house, but they objected to their wives doing a photo-shoot, for the sake of self-fulfillment. We can’t be having too much liberation, now can we!?  *insert eye-roll here)

Now that I am in this tropical (read rainy), equatorial (read harsh) environment, it is much more challenging to capture light in a way that pleases me aesthetically, however as I stated above, an addict’s mind always find a way. This time the addiction is creativity and I use myself as a model. Do not confuse my artistic expression with my availability as a person. When it comes to art, each person’s aesthetic is unique. Each person’s interpretation of another’s aesthetic is unique. I am blissfully celibate – a complete woman, independent from the constraints of another person’s definition or expectations of me. I am electric. I am light. Whatever feeling is elicited when you view my images – are you aroused?  are you enraged?  do you feel inspiration?  do you feel shame? – is a mere reflection…of you.  That is yoga.

Laura Kay