When Laura Jane Williams was dumped by the man she thought she would marry, only to soon witness him marry her friend, she was heartbroken. Not knowing how to cope with her pain, Williams began drinking heavily and sleeping around in a desperate attempt to take control of her life.
Despite her best efforts, Williams soon found herself in an even worse place than before and knew that something needed to change. “I was using sex as a weapon, a way to keep distance between me and every bloke I kicked out of my bed at 4am,” wrote Williams on Buzzfeed. “It took me a while to realise it, but once I did – once it hit me that I was lonely, and a bit of a phoney – the reality was devastating.”
In a life-altering decision, Williams chose to go celibate for one year. “For 12 months I asked myself who I was, what I wanted, and how I could bridge the gap between those two things.”
So what did Williams learn during her months of celibacy? Here are four of her amazing, life-changing insights.
1. “It’s lonelier to be in bed beside a stranger than it is to be in bed alone”
“Once I was celibate, I saw that the sex had been a pseudo-surrender: I could pretend to be revealing parts of myself, but really was using my body to ensure I’d never have to. It’s the most isolating thing I could’ve done. No wonder I felt lonely.”
2. “Nobody can love you until you love yourself”
“It’s almost embarrassing to write that [nobody can love you until you love yourself], hackneyed phrase as it is, and yet it’s the truest thing I know. I reckon on some level I was after somebody to prove my own worth to me… I could never date a man actually interested in such a broken half-woman. It’s because I didn’t like myself that I couldn’t believe anybody else did. Nobody can love you until you do.”
3. “A sexless life isn’t a loveless life”
“As soon as I stopped making sex my focus for a night out, or for parties or work events or any other time I left the goddamn house, the love in my life increased exponentially. It was inversely proportional. When I wasn’t trying to sleep with men, men were suddenly more interested in me.”
4. “I will never be ashamed of my history”
“I’m still learning, but I have learned enough to understand that you have to own what you’re ashamed of or else it owns you. My one won’t be deterred by the dirt under my fingernails. My one will thank me for it. My one will understand. The blokes who don’t understand, who don’t get what it took, they aren’t my one. The ones who don’t understand are another lesson learned, all in the name of what will be.”
For more incredible lessons from Laura Jane Williams’ year of celibacy, check out her book.