When I started this blog seven months ago, I told myself I would never write about what I now find myself writing about.
I decided this topic was just too personal and I would save it for my diary. Lucky for you people, I don’t keep a diary.
What’s the “it” I’m referring to? Well, it. Doing it. Getting frisky. Making whoopie. S-E-X.
Editor’s Note: I realize that a majority of my readers knew me when I was in diapers. If my talking about sex makes you uncomfortable, now is the time to hit the back button and return to your Facebook newsfeed for more appropriate entertainment.
I’m choosing to write about this particular subject now because, well, it’s come up a lot, and it’s come up a lot because there has been an undeniable and surprising change in this particular department for me.
It all started with a harmless and hysterical text message.
I was partaking in some witty text banter with one of my gal pals a few weeks ago. This lady has been around me a lot during my sobriety and knew me fairly well before my sobriety, and one of her favorite past times is busting my balls (no pun intended). We went through our usual back and forth, and then, somehow, my sex life entered the conversation. My clever friend summed up this particular topic perfectly by sending me a GIF of a tumbleweed rolling through the desert.
It’s funny because it’s true.
My sobriety has dramatically changed my sex life, and that really, really surprised me.
Now, to clarify (mainly because I’m 98% sure my mother did not take the editor’s advice above), I would consider my sexual history to be pretty average for a 20-something living in Los Angeles for the past nine years. I’ve fallen in love and made mistakes and tried different things, all on the journey to figuring out what I want for myself and a partner.
That being said, I couldn’t shake the feeling that maybe I have been doing something wrong. Why else would I be experiencing the longest dry spell I’ve ever had during my year of sobriety? That seemed like too much of a coincidence to ignore.
So, I put my one semester as a journalism major at UMASS, Amherst to use, and I did some investigating. I started asking my close friends some questions.
Editor’s Note: Thank you friends for humoring me and being so honest with me. I really appreciate all of the conversations I had and I promise to never pry into your personal business ever again.
I was hoping these friends would give me consistent answers. I was hoping to discover some direct relationship between alcohol and sex. I didn’t get what I was hoping for, but I got so much more. Not being able to develop a clear and proven correlation, I knew the answers I wanted weren’t going to come from my friends or anyone else for that matter. The answers I was looking for had to come from me.
I asked myself some pretty tough questions, and gave myself some even tougher answers.
“Why do you think you’re having less sex now that you are sober?”
– Well, I was using sex the way I was using alcohol. Not always, but definitely in the last year or two, since I got out of my last serious relationship.
“Can you clarify that?”
– Um, yeah. My dad told me once that, when I was baby, the only time I would really cry, I mean wail, was when I wanted to be held. That need translated into my adult life in different ways. I think I’ve always been afraid to be alone, and when my last relationship ended, I was the most alone I had ever been in my life. I was living alone for the first time ever, single for the first time in years, and I hated that feeling.
“So, how did you cope?”
– Not very well. I became more social. I surrounded myself with friends and guys as much as possible. And I started drinking a lot more.
“And what would happen when you drank?”
– It was a lot easier for me to send a guy that 2am “what are you doing?” text. I was more apt to say yes to the guy at the bar asking me if I “needed a ride home”. I made some choices that I probably wouldn’t have made sober.
“How did that effect you emotionally?”
– Honestly, it didn’t. I wouldn’t let it. That’s what I mean when I say I was using sex and alcohol the same way. I was using both of these things to numb myself from a reality I didn’t want to feel. I didn’t want to feel alone, so sex became a bandaid. Alcohol made it all easier. If I texted a guy or asked someone out while under the influence, I wasn’t afraid of being rejected. When the guy answered my text or said yes to my proposition, I wasn’t worried about the consequences of my actions because my inhibitions were lowered.
“And now? How has this year been so different?”
– In every way. I experienced sober intimacy this year for the first time, probably ever in my adult life, and it was terrifying, in the best way possible. There was a lot of anxiety that came with that, but also so many positives. I’m so aware of myself, my emotions, my sexuality now, and I think I’m starting to understand sex the way it’s meant to be understood. It’s not a crutch or a bandaid or a temporary fix. It’s something really, really awesome that I need to respect. Of course, it can be fun and exciting, and it should be, but it should never be reckless.
And, well, that’s what I was being, reckless.
I want to close this by stating that no matter how reckless I was or how many mornings I woke up thinking “Oh no, what’d I do last night” (don’t worry, Mom, there weren’t too many of those), I don’t regret a single thing.
I don’t believe in regret. I think everything happens for a reason. I think every intimate moment I’ve had, both under the influence and sober, has led me to the very place I find myself now; 12a.m. on day 201 of my sobriety, falling asleep alone, and feeling pretty good about it.