Guinevere Gets Sober

Recovery news, reviews and stories, by Jennifer Matesa.

Tag: recovery (page 1 of 16)

She Recovers in NYC: Healing Alongside Our Sisters

She Recovers in NYC

The She Recovers in NYC conference is the first-ever international meeting to pay attention to the particular needs of women in in all kinds of . Aside from being one of the happiest celebrations of recovery on the planet, She Recovers in NYC is built to help us heal from serious problems that compromise our recovery.

It’s just real that, as women, we face some challenges that are different from those of our male counterparts. One of the most prevalent and important is the level of trauma in our histories.

Whereas no more than 20 percent of men in recovery have experienced trauma, one reliable study found trauma in the histories of roughly three-quarters of women. About two-thirds of those have experienced physical trauma, and a significant fraction have experienced sexual trauma, including childhood sexual abuse.

Five hundred of us will cross state and international borders to gather in New York, and three out of four of us will be dealing with trauma in our pasts. And as the long-running Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study has pretty definitively shown, trauma is highly correlated with the ways we drank and used drugs.

We have to take care of this trauma. We can’t pretend it doesn’t exist, and we also can’t allow its fallout to tempt us back into that life.

When I heard that Dawn Nickel and Taryn Strong and their team were putting this conference on, I knew I had to go. I wanted to be with my sisters who are struggling with the same problems I and so many others grapple with.

I know what those problems are. I’ve heard about them firsthand. For my last book, Sex in Recovery: A Meeting between the Covers, I interviewed more than four dozen ordinary people in recovery about their sexual histories inside both addiction and recovery.

Men talked about physical abuse, usually from their fathers. But woman after woman—one of my sisters after another—talked about sexual trauma: rape, sexual assault, sexual harassment, performing sex-work to get drugs.

I also heard from women in recovery who have been celibate for up to 12 years, who desire relationships and sexual pleasure but have no idea how to go about getting there without drinking or using a drug.

Talking with so many women convinced me that substance abuse has roots in a lack of healthy touch in society and in our failure to talk in reasonable ways to our kids—or even with each other—about sex.

Recovery awakens desires for healthy and loving sexual relationships, but because we don’t talk about sex in the culture, we have no language to talk about any of this.

She Recovers NYC is not just a party—it’s also a balls-out effort to help women heal from serious problems that may compromise our ability to stay clean and sober. Interactive workshops are designed to help women begin to talk about sexuality, desire, trauma, numbing ourselves with sugar, and fear of abundance. Yoga sessions are designed to help us stay inside our bodies. No way could I resist going.

#SoberSex 3: Trauma And Recovery.

sexual-abuse

Amy on the ways sexual abuse, shame, and drug-use are intertwined.  

One teaser a day till Sex in Recovery releases 10/4.

For more stories and tools to help you tell your own story about pleasure, touch, sex and sobriety, preorder now.

The hashtag invites y’all to share a story. If you want to share without your name, comment anonymously here, or inbox me.

People want to talk about sex but don’t know how. This is the space <3

#SoberSex No. 2: “My Body Woke Up.”

Sex In Recovery meme 02

Elaine on having the first sober sex of her life at age 27.

One teaser a day till my book SEX IN RECOVERY releases 10/4.

For more stories and tools to think about pleasure, touch, sex and sobriety, preorder now.

The hashtag invites y’all to share your stories. If you want to share without your name, comment anonymously here, or inbox me.

People want to talk about sex but don’t know how. This is the space.

A Different Prince.

Prince-pinned

Prince, pupils pinned v.01. (When you’re addicted to opioids, you can hide a lot, but you can’t hide your pinned pupils.)

When they said Prince had been saved by a shot of naloxone on the plane home from a show, I knew he’d been using something stronger than Percocet, and I was right.

I didn’t say this out loud, or write it here, because some people who loved Prince were screaming on social media that anyone “standing by to call him ‘addict'” were “haters.”

I don’t want to be a hater. I just want to tell the truth. I knew he was on something stronger than Percocet. He must have been, for a long time. Otherwise, the Tylenol in Percocet would have shut his liver down long ago.

“The decedent self-administered fentanyl,” the medical examiner wrote.

By all rights, I should have gone the way of Prince. For three and a half years I was prescribed fentanyl for migraine and fibromyalgia, and, as he did, I took too much (aka, “overdosed”). Many times.

Fentanyl is the strongest painkiller known. It comes in lollipops and in patches that you’re supposed to stick on your skin, but people who abuse the drug often suck on the adhesives. I did.

Mixed with heroin, fentanyl has killed dozens in the Northeast and Midwest United States.

Fentanyl is not as commonly prescribed for chronic pain as Vicodin, Percocet or OxyContin, for the simple reason that it’s much more lethal. Fentanyl is about 80 times stronger than morphine or heroin. From the variety of estimates given in the press and in professional literature, it’s clear that scientists have not even determined the precise bioequivalencies.

It’s just fucking STRONG.

Fentanyl’s particular pharmacologic qualities allow it to zip into the brain like a high-speed train, flooding receptors and stopping autonomic functions, including breathing.

Prince was apparently saved at least once by a shot of naloxone, or Narcan, a drug that kicks any painkiller off the receptors and reboots respiration. To help save lives in the opioid addiction epidemic, Narcan must be made more widely available.

But when dealing with fentanyl, the federal Drug Abuse Warning Network notes that EMS staff generally don’t have enough time to use Narcan “because this highly potent opioid can quickly cause death.”

//

ct-prince-photos-20160421

Prince, pupils pinned v.02.

I know how Prince would have felt when he was overdosing. He would have felt as if someone were stacking a pallet of bricks on his chest. Brick by brick, he would have exhaled, maybe closing his eyes, and it would have been a long time before his body wanted to inhale again. He might have wondered whether his body would remember to breathe.

He died alone on the floor of an elevator. Just sit and hold that image for a minute.

If he were in excruciating or intractable pain, which by many accounts he was, respiratory depression might, sadly, have come as a relief. For 30 years Prince performed acrobatic stunts in high-heeled boots, and the hip surgery he had about 10 years ago reportedly did not resolve his pain.

As a serious performer, Prince wanted above all to show up as the sequined spectacular of Paisley Park, The Purple One, The Artist. American society is competitive, and it values only what we’ve done lately, and those of us who grow up inside it—as children, being bullied by its bullies—learn to identify ourselves primarily with what we can DO. If we can’t perform, if we cannot work construction, sit for hours in front of a computer, carry our children—or sing the songs we ourselves have written and do splits with a hardwood guitar strung across our chest—without debilitating pain, we may begin to feel there’s little reason to live.

Often, our solution is to find a way to control or numb our feelings about the pain so we can do whatever the hell we want.

No: it’s up to scientists and physicians to find ways to control pain. We ought to surrender that job to them. When we play around with doctors’ tools, we risk our very lives.

//

My detox from fentanyl in 2008 was a hard, year-long slog, and it taught me my job is to find ways to treat my body so I don’t hurt it in the first place. We all need to live inside our mortal bodies and learn to accept their earthly limitations.

Drugs—the doctors’ and pharma corporations’ solutions to problems—give us the ability to power through pain, but at what cost?

To be sure, no one really knows what crossed Prince’s mind when he put the extra patch on his skin, plastered it inside his cheek, or sucked the extra fentanyl lollipop.

Ostensibly being a devout Jehovah’s Witness, he may have wished he could quit the drugs. His staff apparently called in an addictions specialist shortly before he died—a California doctor who was sending his son to Minneapolis to conduct an addiction intervention—so it sounds as if Prince, and/or the people who surrounded him, might have known he had a serious drug problem.

Not many people have ever taken fentanyl. Having unfortunately been there, I can say it’s beyond hard to quit. Anyone using fentanyl to feed their addiction—or even to numb chronic pain—is in dire straits and will be slowly backed against a wall. Whether quitting the drug and getting sober or continuing to take the drug to control pain—either decision requires a transformation of one’s life, an acceptance of real limitations, physical and psychological. 

Prince might have been saved by Suboxone—the partial-agonist opioid drug used in detox and medication-assisted treatment, which the California doctor’s son was reportedly bringing to Prince the day he died. In fact, Suboxone helped me detox—but I’m glad I didn’t wind up taking it indefinitely.

Ironically, Suboxone or Subutex may also have controlled Prince’s pain. But never again would he have been able to leap off risers and cavort in high heels.

//

Prince

Prince, pupils pinned, v.03.

I remember dancing with my hazel-eyed college boyfriend to “Little Red Corvette.” (Ahhh.) That song is like a scent that forever hangs in the hallways of my brain, preserving my personal history. Little Red Corvette.

Those memories get filed away, and we move on. Right?

In order to live, Prince would have had to file those memories of landing in splits and accept his body’s demand that he transform his idea of himself—that he find a different way to be Prince. And we still would have loved him.

The Prince is dead. Long live the Prince..

The Prince is dead. Long live the Prince..

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Tina Fey’s Awesome Advice That May Save Your Life.

My husband gave me Tina Fey’s Bossypants for my birthday. Seriously behind the curve on this book, which was published in April and which both my sister and my friend P snagged within minutes of its release.

I should be rationing myself to like two pages per day, because the book has only 275 pages and I want the laughs to last longer than 2.5 days, but in classic addict-fashion (More Is Always Better) I’ve been steaming through it instead of doing other things I should be doing, such as grinding through every past-season episode of “Monk” on streaming Netflix with my kid (he likes “Monk”; also “Psych”; I’m OK with “Monk” because Adrian reminds me of me—I do crazy shit like straighten the pictures on the walls of other people’s houses—but “Psych” weirds me out ) or cleaning the toilets. Tina Fey’s payoff somehow provides more of an incentive.

Last night I read her rules for improv.

  • Rule No. 1: Always agree and say yes to everything that happens.
  • Rule No. 2: Add something to the conversation (say “yes, and”).
  • Rule No. 3: Make statements. Instead of speaking in questions all the time (which makes your partner do all the work in improv—if you ask the questions, they have to come up with all the answers), be responsible and make statements. Be part of the solution.
  • Rule No. 4: There are no mistakes. Only opportunities.

Rules No. 1 and 4 might save my life. (Along with her list of all the physical attributes a woman is now expected to possess, including “the abs of a lesbian gym owner” and “doll tits,” and her stories about the SNL writers who piss in cups) But the other two rules are good, too. Saying “yes, and” is important. It fosters conversation. It moves life along instead of allowing it to stay stuck. And making statements grows assertiveness.

Fey writes,

As an improviser, I always find it jarring when I meet someone in real life whose first answer is no. “No, we can’t do that.” “No, that’s not in the budget.” “No, I will not hold your hand for a dollar.” What kind of way is that to live?

If she were following her own advice, she’d make a statement and say That’s no frigging way to live. I’m familiar with that way of life. That way of life shuts down creativity and intuition and possibility and hope.

(Today’s experiment: Pick any one of these four qualities—creativity, intuition, possibility, hope—and you have today’s higher power.)

But saying “No, I can’t” right off the bat is the way I learned to live.

I’m unlearning it.

(If you like this, please share it on Twitter or FB. 🙂 )

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