Is celibacy in recovery good advice?
In recovery we are working to accept and define our identity. We are trying to be comfortable with who we are and what we do no matter what happens. We are trying to live a full human experience. Early recovery is a season of our lives where we face everything we tried to avoid. Insecurities and issues abound. We are dealing with a list of problems in a world of overwhelming details. In the absence of drugs and alcohol we often search for a meaningful, and worthy substitute that helps us cope with everything. We look for ways to escape reality.
Sex is a frequent substitute that carries a lot of risk for relapse. Many people wonder if avoiding sex in your first year of recovery is still good advice. This blog will seek to address some of the issues involved with sex and recovery. Married couples have a different environment with much of the same issues and insecurities to navigate.
Sex as a Substitute
Using drugs, alcohol, or sex as a way to avoid the human condition is problematic. Coping with life by getting drunk, high, or orgasmic is a problem. One of the major risks to relapse is using sex as a substitute for getting high. Its a short cut to feeling good and it has complications all its own. With addiction we seek to feel good right now even if that is inappropriate to the situation and circumstances of our life. Early to middle recovery has plenty of its own issues and it is wise to avoid complicating things. Don’t make life more difficult than it already is. There is no free sex. It is always costly and complicated. There is always an attachment that forms. Ask yourself, will complicating my life advance my recovery?
We Want to Feel Secure
When our world is topsy turvy we have a desire to put on the air brake and stop all the spinning. We want to feel solid ground under our feet. We need to feel secure. The idea that sex makes us feel secure is linked to feel good hormones but the downside is that once these hormones wash over us we have established a link with someone. This link is a relationship that requires maintenance, upkeep, and investment. A relationship formed under these conditions will lead to insecurity rather than security. Insecurity may sound like the following questions; Do they really like me? Do I measure up? Am I good enough? Will they be loyal? Do I like them? Am I lovable? Where is this going?.
We Want to Trust Others
When things are spinning out of control we want to have trusted people to help us. They can offer us temporary stability until we get our feet under us. Sex is a poor way to find trustworthy people. Notice that after sex our need to trust increases dramatically. We have the potential for making babies, risk for std’s, and a fear of betrayal. The fear of betrayal leads to a protective jealousy. Mistrust about locker room talk, snap chat, or other types of “sharing” play to our fears. We want to protect the connection we just made and trust that the intimacy shared will be honored and respected. We become desperate for a trust worthy person. We will begin to act in ways to form and establish a relationship we don’t even want or need at this time in our lives.
We Want to Share
When we are overwhelmed, out of control, and disoriented we want to share our experience with others. It feels good when someone else knows what we are going through. This makes us vulnerable to using sex to meet our need for intimacy. When sex is used this way, it is analogous to using heroin to meet our needs. It is a cover up and a counterfeit. Sharing too much, too soon is the definition of poor boundaries. Without boundaries you have a weak sense of values, identity, and you put your recovery at risk. Sharing your struggle should happen with people you trust not people who just want to feel good.
Work on Your Needs
It is part of the human experience to want to feel secure, trusting, and intimate with another. Recovery is about the growth and maturity we need. We need to think our own thoughts, feel our own feelings, and experience life as it is. By focusing on the emergence of your identity and growth in sobriety you will create a strong recovery. Stick to the fundamentals of recovery. Feelings of insecurity, mistrust, fear, jealousy, inappropriate attachment, and betrayal are all stirred up with sex. Complicating early recovery increases risk for relapse. Recovery is difficult enough without making it more so. Do you need these additional emotional, spiritual, and psychological struggles on top of all the other issues?
Sex is Sacred
When something is sacred it is set apart for special purposes and is done under special conditions. Sex is the natural expression of one identity merging with another. Sex has special meaning. Sex is a sacred activity. Keep who you are set apart and distinct until marriage. Celibacy in recovery can accelerate understanding who you are and what your purpose is. It is still good advice to avoid intimate relationships and the complications of sex in early recovery.
For more help with recovery contact Todd Davis at Leadershop Ministries.