As the Dharma Wheel Turns:
A Monastic Tale of Intrigue, Sex and Celibacy in Three Parts1
Part II – Heartbreak
To catch up on Part I – Infatuation, click here.
Last I wrote, the heartbreak was setting in. But that type of pain was too uncomfortable to feel most of the time, so I tempered it with some restorative and uplifting rage. Yes, it was an angry summer, referred to affectionately (in my mind only) as the “Summer of Rage.”
It was that summer that I started hiking out into the wilderness to get away from the very public unfolding of SeñorCrush’s new relationship. Since the monastery is nestled in a small valley, it’s a steep couple of miles just to get to the mountain’s ridge and thus to its sprawling mountain trails. I’d set off fuming many a day up the trail with irresponsibly few provisions, relying heavily on burning resentment to fuel my wilderness excursions. I listened to the Rolling Stones and scream-sang when I was in a more up-beat “I’ll-show-you-all” type of mood, and cried to Nina Simone when my heart was aching and I felt beset by hopeless despair.
My anger only compounded when SeñorCrush started dating another, much younger woman the next year. There I was, day after day, month after month, stuck with myself and my feelings. The hiking, it turned out, wasn’t really showing anyone anything.
By the end of that summer, I had had just about enough and made a plan to take some healthy and spiritually constructive action. I was tired of all the emotional pain and reasoned that a little pleasure could be just the thing. Pleasure, after all, is the opposite of pain, right? “It would be a compassionate measure,” I told myself, “to seduce Mister HotBod2 ,” a male friend of mine who was highly desired that summer. I took a certain feeble satisfaction in his status as the summer’s hottest monk, chasing desperately after that flimsy self-worth-by-association feeling and hoping it would be enough to fill the yawning chasm of futility and self-hatred that stretched endlessly inside me. What could go wrong? The plan was foolproof.
Without going into too much detail, I can let you know that, yes, I succeeded in bedding Mister HotBod and, no, the disappointing sex we had (which I didn’t even get to be physically present for) did nothing to diminish my feelings of heartbreak and emotional distress. Instead, I woke up the next morning craving a drink, something I hadn’t experienced for a while. If you recall, I have shared elsewhere about having used up my lifetime substance ration; I’m leaving the rest of the drugs and booze for you guys. You’re welcome.
So, I awoke that morning craving relief in the most facile and self-destructive way and it shook me up. I knew I didn’t want to get loaded. But I also knew that if I continued to act without integrity or regard for myself emotionally and sexually, that eventually I was going to feel so uncomfortable in my own skin that I’d find it necessary to check out with chemicals. So, like any committed extremist, I made an enthusiastic decision that morning: I would be celibate from now on.