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The Decision to Have an Abortion in Sobriety

The consequences of compulsive behavior after sobering up—in my case, sex—can feel worse than when you're drinking. They also bring back that urge to check out.

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"Even after the abortion, I slept around." Photo via

By Charlotte Grey

06/27/13

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Some recovering addicts replace their drug of choice with shopping, gambling or food. I chose sex. Dating. Flirting. Relationships. Men and women. In my four and a half years of sobriety, I've been single and sexually abstinent for a total of seven months. Why? When you sober up a drunken horse thief, he's still a horse thief.

My need to seek approval through romantic attachments began in childhood, in one of the deepest layers of the onion that, until recently, hadn't been peeled.

I'm the oldest of four. We're all two years apart. At two years old, I stopped getting attention from my parents. They were busy taking care of the newborn, my mom usually pregnant with the next one. Above all else, I craved emotional intimacy. I didn't find it in my family of origin, but I did discover it in alcohol when I was seven.

So choosing to get sober did get me sober, but the unresolved defects I wanted to hide were still boiling below the surface.

In high school, drink turned into drugs: pills, cocaine, weed, heroin, hallucinogens. Anything. If you put it in front of me, I took it. To soothe feelings of rejection, drugs and alcohol quickly became my family. I sought isolation as I cultivated my relationship with intoxication. I came to fear intimacy with others because of the looming threat of abandonment. I had few casual friendships throughout school, only pursuing their company if they liked escaping, too. My philosophy became that distance meant I could never be hurt; no one could disappoint me if I didn't emotionally invest. This percolated into how I romantically related to men.

At 15, I started dating. I gave my virginity to the third boy I ever kissed. I fell in love with sex, an intoxicating rush followed by a high that acted like another drug. I loved the way a man could make me feel. I loved that someone wanted me. I hit my bottom with drugs and alcohol in something that resembled a crack house.

One night, after months of daily desperate attempts to stop, I moved back home and resolved to go to Alcoholics Anonymous. Drugs and alcohol had stopped working; I still felt the hopelessness, anxiety, guilt, depression and anger that plagued me in my more lucid moments.

I had drank to drown my feelings, but the little bastards learned to swim. So choosing to get sober did get me sober, but the unresolved defects I wanted to hide were still boiling below the surface. I started counting days. I had just turned 20. And I had nothing to numb my insecurities with—or so I thought.

The conscious contact I had with my emotions—the reality of my past—was too much for me to live with. The high of sex—the adrenaline rush of a good row with a boyfriend, and knowing someone else wanted me—brought the same relief as heroin once had. Not using my program to tame my behavior, I acted as recklessly with sex as I had when I was drinking.

Just after celebrating my 90 days, I noticed my physical craving for drugs hadn't subsided. My sponsor told me that burning desires were normal, but my body acting as if I was still dope sick was not.

My carelessness finally led to a tangible consequence. I was pregnant. Again. Just like when I was 17, when a heavy dose of wine, weed, PCP and cocaine brought on a miscarriage. I hadn't even known I was pregnant. I drowned the pain of having killed my child with more using.

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