Guinevere Gets Sober

Recovery news, reviews and stories, by Jennifer Matesa.

“Now about Sex”: Addiction, Recovery and Sexuality, Part 1

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Surfing over at Syd’s fine blog, I found exactly two posts tagged “sex,” and one of them, a lovely list of random observations, was about human sexuality.

Can’t tell you how many meetings I’ve sat in at which I’ve wanted to raise my hand and bring up the subject of sex. One of my sponsors warned me, “It’s the kiss of death for discussion meetings. People Just Will. Not. Talk. About It.”

Maybe, maybe not. I’ve gotten good response over at Opiate Detox Recovery whenever I’ve written about sex (for example here and here), which is to say it seems to help people when sex is brought out into the open. People in this culture don’t get to talk about sex enough.

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Gosh: where to start? Like standing at a smorgasbord.

Yesterday I was writing to someone trying to get sober about the benefits of sobriety. I wrote that I have less pain now that I’m off drugs; I sleep better; I actually eat; I work; I negotiate problems; and I have great sex. I was tempted to write, “Let’s be honest: any sex at all could be called ‘great’ in comparison to the sex I had while on drugs,” because the drugs I took—opiate painkillers—are well known for depressing the sex-drive. And so does alcohol.

But that wouldn’t be strictly true. Because like a true manipulator, here’s what I did: I’d figure out when I was likely to have sex (that’s the way I’d put it in my mind, “have sex,” not make love with my partner, get it on with him, but “have sex,” very clinical, very capitalistic) and I’d throw myself into a little bit of withdrawal so I could respond and look awesome for him. Also, maybe, enjoy myself a bit—but primarily, look OK.

I once read on a website somewhere that heroin addicts going cold-turkey experience spontaneous orgasms. What was I doing poking into stories of heroin junkies kicking dope and the effects of withdrawal on sexuality? Well, there you go.

This manipulation is what made the sex I had with my partner dishonest. I was having more of a relationship with my drugs than I was having with my partner.

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There’s an interesting silver lining to this story though. My first sponsor used to tell me that my “higher power” would use every single mistake I’d ever made and bring good from it, if I asked for that to happen. I totally thought she was bullshitting me, of course, mostly because I didn’t think any “higher power” would care about the mundane details of my life. Also, I believed that my screwups were Special, extraordinarily fucked up, unforgivable, and the deeply Catholic part of me (the part that my mother brought up) still believes this on some level.

But here’s the silver lining: I learned during those times when I went through withdrawal that I could have multiple orgasms.

Dude.

Multiple orgasms are seriously one of the most amazing gifts of the human race. To the female half, anyhow. Every woman can have more than one orgasm at a time—physiologically, it’s possible—but only 15-25 percent of us allow ourselves to, and the rest of us just figure we can’t, or don’t deserve to, or don’t know how.

I mean, I’ve always been a sexual person. Very strong sex-drive. It was one reason I drank and used drugs: I believed I didn’t deserve to be that sexual, to have that much pleasure and connection with another person, or with myself. I believed my desire to have it must mean I was Evil. It must have meant I was more like Eve (my grandmother’s name) than Mary (my mother’s name).

But once I got sober, and I could STILL have multiple orgasms, I thought to myself: If there is a god, and god cares about sex, then this must be OK.

I wish every woman could have the level of acceptance of her body that I’ve been given in my sobriety. I used to hate my body. I wrote about it in my first book. Now I live so comfortably in it… it’s almost like living in a different country altogether.

OK… so that’s part 1 of a continuing conversation about sexuality in recovery… expect some more where that came from.

3 Comments

  1. Good way to look at it – I’m interested to read your further installments!

  2. It is good to talk about sex. I had gone for many years without it because I didn’t feel drawn to my wife whe she was drinking. She was not a happy drunk. Now our lives are different in sobriety. And I am making up for lost time…

  3. Good, honest discussion of an under-discussed topic relating to recovery. Though I have been in recovery (many years ago), I found that — at the time — my problem was not so much addiction, but self-image (an unwillingness to explore the possibility of being comfortable in my own skin). Well, years go by, and guess what? I’m pretty much addicted to opioid painkillers (“necessary” for a spinal injury, and for years managed perfectly well). “Dependant” and “addicted” are two different matters, according to the medical establishment. For instance, I can say that I’m not addicted because I know that I would never break the law or sell my kids to support my habit; still, I dread ever going without my dose, even if the pain isn’t bad that day. I believe that I will return to recovery one day (and I hope that it’s voluntary), and it is a real help to read about people with similar challenges who have been successful. Thank you.

    Ted

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