I’ve recently started re-watching Sex and the City just to feel something, ya know? And every time I watch the show, I can’t help but think about the faint encouraging piece of advice given to me by a friend before I moved to New York City, “Meet fine ass n*ggas and have a lot of sex for me, girl!”. Advice is not only 100% possible but, in a way, also unavoidable. Here I was, fresh in a new city, three years shy of turning thirty–which meant I still had a little more time for those “I knew better but didn’t do better” moments–running off the momentum of being young, vibrant, and focused.
So, trying to replicate the lifestyle of women who (aside from accomplishing personal goals, i.e., career and new experiences) were either on the search for love, fabulous dates, great sex, commitment, or all of the above while navigating their thirties didn’t seem far-fetched.
However, as of late, I’m afraid I have not been living up to the expectations set by my friend and living the SATC lifestyle.
For perspective, I’ve been single for a while. Of course, I’ve dated here and there while having a semi-active sex life during my tenure. But when the pandemic disrupted everyone’s reality, everything was put on pause. The budding romantic relationship that I was developing with someone–and actually began to like for real– was no longer, understandably so, and my ex for sex was no longer an option after our last hook-up. Dating was put on hold, and getting that particular itch scratched was now entirely out of the picture. Being unattached in a pandemic, felt responsible. After all, my only priority was to maintain good health while maneuvering through something we knew very little about.
As the infamous drought to celibacy pipeline evolved unbeknownst to me, so did much more. Not being my first rodeo at the drought show, I took the time away from sex as a way “out. ” I finally had the space and opportunity, to be honest about everything that ailed me somehow. My sexual relationships and views around sex were some of them.
And with last year feeling like the lowest I had ever been, it wasn’t hard to step away from sex for a while. Everything BUT that was on my mind, even when it was–ovulation is relentless, ain’t she? Even still, I had nothing but an idle stillness to explore during that time, and I took advantage of it.
Entering my thirties, everything I needed to outgrow or wanted to change about myself I treated like a top priority. Setting out on my umpteenth self-love journey, this time, it would be aligned with the person I am today. Which meant getting down to the core of who I am and whether I liked that person or not. Was I proud of myself, and most importantly, was I really taking care of myself? The goal was to break down regressive and redundant habits and realize that the empty holes that I convinced myself were about full hadn’t even reached the brim.
For a long time, my views around sex were fickle, which I now know was a way to deflect from the deeper truths, I’d chosen to bury for so long. But it was also the one thing that I felt like I had control over, not recognizing how surface level that “control” actually was.
Convincing myself that whoever I was sleeping with at the time had no effect on me or my deeply stained insecurities was my recipe for making me believe that I was in total control. Lies. I could persuade myself into thinking that sex could be a baseless act if I wanted it to be, which for so long it was. I viewed sex as a safety blanket, shielding my insecurities by choosing to release them through the sex, developing a co-dependency to feel desired, a mere replacement for what I needed to face.
I like to say that I didn’t choose celibacy; celibacy chose me because it’s the only way to make sense of this time in my life. And although abstaining from sex wasn’t something that I saw myself adopting for this long, I know exactly why I needed this time away from it. Unlocking routes to confidence and rediscovering esteem that’s always been there, developing a bond with my body, and tapping into my sensuality has been most rewarding.
I don’t know how long I’ll embark on this sexless journey that I’m on, but I know that so far, it’s paid off for me in a way I never expected it to. Now, don’t get me wrong, ya girl ain’t nobody’s nun, and I am looking forward to opening up that part of my life again, but I’m at a pivotal role of womanhood that requires discipline for a fulfilling outcome. It just so happens that that outcome is determined by me and my actions. My self-worth and value aren’t based on my sexuality and have never been. And because of that, it’s easier for me to remain loyal to myself. Ain’t no sex in this city.
Jenelle Parrish is a Midwest-born and bred, Brooklyn-based creative and writer. She views her pieces as "love letters to Black women," hoping to be a progressive tool by sharing personal stories and opinions on what we face as Black Women. When she isn't writing, she's trying out new restaurants with friends, gallivanting through Brooklyn, or pouring into her photo series titled "What's ya Freedom like?