Sex, Drugs, & Growth

This is how my sex life changed when I quit using hard drugs (excessively and negatively) and had to re-learn everything I thought I knew about intimacy.

My old sexual script doesn’t serve me anymore. Things are different now, with both old and new partners. For some time I drowned in shame regarding my past actions, and lost my sex drive completely. Only recently have I begun to fill up with strong and confident desire in my new identity.  

The natural first step was to abstain from sex, even though it lead to frustration and longing. It was strange to no longer spend so much time thinking about sex, who to fuck and how to make it happen. I would still have sex from time to time in the hope that things would change, but without the numbing effect of drugs, I couldn’t hide from myself.

The real challenge, I ended up figuring out, was in deciphering the rules and expectations in sexual matters when sober. For me this was everything from flirting to how the fuck do I act after the fact? I am still so unaccustomed to healthily managing the expectations of people, let alone intimate partners. Being high deleted all that created confusion and insecurity, and allowed me to have those “difficult” conversations easily and smoothly.
Self-esteem is usually enhanced when you’re high, creating (amongst other things) narcissistic tendencies, uninhibited feeling, and greater sexual agency. Over time my positive and adventurous broadening of sexual horizons gradually transformed into something repetitive, diminishing and mechanical. I began to figure out the pattern of party hookups, what’s expected and how to perform. After awhile it wasn’t exhilarating anymore - much like doing the drugs themselves.

For the most part, toning it down has been a welcome break, a time to heal and avoid the uncertainty in regards to how sex functions without drugs. But lately I’ve been asking myself what happened to that beautiful, lovely sexuality? How can I get it back, and be able to communicate in a healthier way?

Nowadays I worry about what a partner expects. I’m insecure about, well, everything. There were negative sexual experiences during the drug abuse and that complicates things even further. I never thought it was wrong at the time but looking back (as many people have begun to do lately), I see so many problematic situations that went unrecognized in the moment.

I am trying to look hard at those previous sexual experiences, however difficult it may be. I am trying to see how I can take a non-stigmatizing perspective on sexuality and drug use. To forgive oneself is the beginning. To process everything from the past is the goal.

The most helpful analogy I have come across is one about a wound, or a broken bone. When healing the physical body the first thing you do is seek information and guidance on your particular injury. Then, you clean and bandage it appropriately. It’s likely the cleaning process hurts, right? You can ask loved ones to help you if you need it. You will probably change your bandage every day, and keep the wound clean and safe so it doesn’t get worse. If you do these things, then you’ve done all you can. Gradually, the wound will heal - it’s what the body does.

Healing really hurts. If you break your arm it hurts, and it continues to hurt until it is healed. Putting a cast on it does not directly heal the bone, but it creates an environment of holding that allows what’s broken to heal safely. Would you go to the doctor and say, “I got the cast! Why does my arm still hurt?” Nah, you wouldn’t, because you know why already. Healing hurts. It’s a part of the process.

So how do we create that environment of holding for emotional wounds? I’m trying by turning my attention to another sensation, another domain of life, another activity. I practice, every day, the art of keeping my wound(s) protected from situations I know will steal my hope. I hope it can be possible in time to develop a new, healthy sex life.