For many of us being in recovery means learning how to live lives from the beginning. It is a rebirth process, where we learn to live sober, learn to live with our feelings, desires, pains, and experiences as they are.
How does sobriety impact our sexuality?
Many can relate that during our time of using alcohol and drugs we were trying to numb pain and feelings. Be it either emotional pain of traumas feeling that were present, at the same time killing feminine essence inside of us (qualities of feminine energy not related to gender).
Some of us were using sex as escape, some as form of “connection” and “love”, some of us to express our anger. Living sober life, requires us to be mindful about what are we “using” sex for. And instead of “using” it to run from or in search of something, mindfully create experience that is in alignment with our true soul.
As we begin or step deeper into our recovery journeys many of us realize that we have been disconnected from our sexuality, and have a strong desire to reconnect with this part of selves.
Going through sexual awakening inside or outside of sobriety gives us new wave of life. It is especially important in recovery because the whole journey requires full awareness in all aspects of life and sexuality cannot be forgotten inside of it.
When we detox our bodies and mind, we also detox our sexuality. We let go of toxic habits, we let go of sexual disconnect, we let go of unwanted sexual behavior, and we wake up for a new fresh start.
For some of us it takes more work, because we never had sober sex life, and we never chose out of our real desires, or we never even connected what those true desires are.
However, sexuality is part of who we are as human beings. We are sexual beings and came from sexual energy. Even asexuality is sexuality. Sexual energy is our life energy and therefore cannot be ignored. Being wholistic beings we know that everything in our lives is interconnected. As Patrick Carnes PhD. in his book “Sexual Anorexia” says “Whatever problems we face in life sooner or later impact our sexuality”.
I am a strong believer of that statement. Our sexuality gets impacted by external and internal factors daily. Therefore, such a huge shift in life as sobriety certainly puts marks on our sexuality. Dr. Stephanie S.Covington is a pioneer in the field of addiction and recovery for many years she is also an author of Awakening Your Sexuality: A Guide for Recovering Women in her book “A Woman’s Way through The Twelve Steps” in her chapter about sexuality shares that
“Being in recovery changes the way we experience our sexuality just as it changes the way we experience our self and our relationships. So during recovery it is important that we take the time to explore our sexuality. We can’t be whole and complete as women until we heal our sexual selves.” - “A Woman’s Way through The Twelve Steps” by Stephanie S. Covington
Many of us are starting only now to ask ourselves, what is sexuality? What does this term means to me?
Myself working with women in groups and one-on-one I always start by asking to define what sexuality and sex is to them, at this point in their life. And most of the time majority of my clients find out that they never asked this question before. We proceed in discussions that sexuality is not only sex or sexual behavior, but it is our physical, emotional, and spiritual aspects of our life.
Either you are in recovery or not, it is alway helpful to write down your definitions as they are right now:
What sexuality is?
How do I define sex?
According to Dr. Covington “during recovery we begin to reconnect to our sexuality by becoming aware of who we are as women, as sexual women and as sexual women in relationship”.
That leads us to living our authentic sexual lives. Living under substances, most of women will share having sex mostly under influence, avoiding to relate to own bodies and covering that relationship with drugs or alcohol, not knowing own desires, hiding orientation, being afraid of intimacy and vulnerability. Therefore, starting to connect to own sexuality in sober life is connecting to that authentic, real, raw, wild sexuality that you have. Can it be scary? For most people yes.
All that raw staff requires you to be naked not only physically but also with your soul. Getting deeper into your emotional and physical needs. But the prize on the other end is freedom. Freedom living in authentic sexuality with feelings of getting your sexual power back, that always belonged to you.
How can you start your sexual awakening and healing?
1. RELATIONSHIP WITH YOUR BODY
What relationship do you have with your body? Your own comfort level of your body drives your sexual life. If you know you do not feel comfortable, ask self what is missing. Believes that you have about your own body, runs your behavior too. Do you see your body as worthy of pleasure, clean and beautiful?
Start forming that relationship by spending more time naked, surround yourself with body positive people, practice conscious body movement (yoga, dance, Qi gong…), mindful masturbation.
2. EXTERNAL IDEOLOGIES
What external ideologies impacted your belief system?Have you updated your sexual belief system lately? Or is still running what 7 years old you learned? Do some work on what your parents/guardians/any authority figure told ro showed you about sexuality while you were growing up. What have you learned from media that impacted you? WHat your spiritual or religious philosophies had to say? What you still find to be shameful, dirty, inappropriate today? Does your sexual vocabulary contains positive and celebratory words, or only shameful and secret ones?
3. SEXUAL WOUNDS
Have you healed your sexual wounds. We all have sexual wounds, and some takes faster to heal than others. If you have traumas that are still in a way of your spiritual peace, reach out to professionals. Heal not only on emotional but also on somatic and spiritual levels.
Touch can be a magic pill, to your healing and recovery. Professor of anthropology at Penn State Nina Jablonski, PhD, in her interview with Jennifer Matesa (Sex in Recovery: A Meeting Between the Covers) sais: “Touch has to be part of the comprehensive treatment of addiction. Because you can change neurochemicals by taking drugs, but you can also alter brain chemicals through affecting systems that in turn affect the brain”. In other words touch can help you to boost oxytocin “bonding hormone” and release endorphins, creating positive psychoactive effects. Creating a safe environment, boundaries and having caring and trustworthy touch can create magic.