Not So Sexy: Tales From a Relapser’s Bed

By Theresa Richardson 10/29/14

In darker periods, I would sleep with some guy in the hopes of making him love me. It would work for a couple of months here and there, but I could only keep ‘sloppy drunk girl’ at bay for so long.


Losing my virginity was not such a memorable occasion. Literally, thank God. I was a shit-faced, 16-year-old who had thought earlier in the night I should just get it over with like the rest of my friends. I was the last in my group and what the hell was I waiting for? So, having my cherry popped by the cute neighborhood drug dealer five years older than me seemed like an okay idea. Okay, that’s kind of bullshit. I wasn’t actually thinking at the time, and I’m pretty grateful I don’t remember much of it except when he said I was “so tight.” I woke up ashamed, thinking that was a bad thing, but relieved it was over and that I would never see him again.

 I didn’t know how I went from a happy, sexually confident woman, to a shell of girl who thanked her rapist for getting her home in such a short period of time. 

That became my theme song for the next few sexual encounters: shame and denial. I had developed this tendency to get drunk and get sexually aggressive. Guys thought it was hot, including my 18-year-old boyfriend. He was thrilled to show me the cat scratches I left on his back in a blackout. I was mortified, and mentally put him in a little boat and let him drift off to sea, never to be heard from again. My mom couldn’t understand why I never returned his calls, but she wasn’t too concerned because she always thought he was kind of a loser.

This is where things make a surprising change for the better. I was one of those young crazy kids that actually got sober— seventeen years old and I was in rehab, surrendering. Pretty soon, I was going out to meetings, sober dances, conventions, going on sober dates, developing sober crushes, having sober sex - it was like being a virgin, again. I mean, I really barely remembered any of the shit that happened before; I was practically given a clean slate. So, at 18, I met my first love and I was ready to try it the right way. I bought a cheap peach-colored teddy and kicked my college roommate out for the evening. He showed up at my dorm with a dozen roses. There, on a single bed, in awkward poses, I started again, remembered it all and I wasn’t ashamed.

Funny things happen when you’re sober and learning to have sex. You also have to learn to be honest and vulnerable and open, and scary shit like that. But along with that, you actually become intimate, have connections and learn what you like and don’t like and maybe even have fun. You learn to look someone in the eyes, say "I love you" and mean it. You learn you can survive a shattered heart.

In the 18 years I was sober, I had been in four significant relationships. I had learned to stop listening to my head and just feel. I became confident with my body and felt sexy. I loved the practice of seduction and finding news ways of turning my boyfriend on. Whether it was a strip tease or sex toys, something was always on the table. I became adventurous and communicative. I found something that had eluded me in my drunken teenage years - the belief that I deserved to be happy.

Then it happened. Not all at once. No one really relapses all at once. It happens over time, the drink is just the last part. I started drinking again. This time with my new alcoholic boyfriend. The first morning I woke up hungover, with flashbacks of fucking and fighting. I went straight back to my survival mode: shame and denial.

Seriously, it’s amazing how my brain just compartmentalized the little “drinking thing” into a box in the "brain attic" and once it’s been put away in storage, no one’s safe.

Our sex life became accessorized by alcohol and drugs. Animalistic. Primal. Selfish. But then, always that morning after - barely able to look each other in the eye. I knew I couldn’t really remember what I did, just more of those little flash card scenes of the night before… but he could always remember. Gradually, I became the “bad” one.

One morning, I came out of the bedroom and he was looking at me with such disgust. I didn’t know what I did, but I knew it was bad. I felt like a dog that had peed in the house and was about to get his nose rubbed in it.

He went on to describe to me how he had come home from work and I was already completely fucked up, pretending to be sober. He said, I tried to do a sexy strip tease for him and wanted him to fuck me, but that I was just so drunk and sloppy, it wasn’t sexy at all, it was just pathetic and sad. He tried to get me to go to bed, and I had a meltdown.

That was a day I was grateful for blackouts, because I’m glad I don’t have that memory. But hearing it reported back to me was enough.

After our inevitable split, nothing changed, except instead of shameful sex with someone I loved, it was with men I didn’t.

Get enough drinks in me and that same old sexual aggression would come out, and I wanted to conquer you, fuck you, then be done with you.

Or in darker periods, I would sleep with some guy in the hopes of making him love me. Like I was some twisted sad teenager again. It would work for a couple of months here and there, but I could only keep "sloppy drunk girl" at bay for so long. She always seemed to scare off the good ones.

The darkest point was coming to one night, to find a stranger fucking me in my bed. I had no idea who he was or how he got there. He seemed to think he had been doing me a favor by getting me home from a liquor store. I felt so disgusted with myself that I thanked him for getting me home. I didn’t leave the house for a week. I didn’t know how I went from a happy, sexually confident woman, to a shell of girl who thanked her rapist for getting her home in such a short period of time. 

I got sober again and took 10 months off from dating. Not because anyone told me to, just because I didn’t have it in me to give, and I certainly didn’t have it in me to receive.

When I finally did start seeing someone, it was such a gradual courtship, it took about four months before we slept together. By that time, we had already discussed likes, dislikes, fantasies, hopes, being tested for STDs, birth control and any other uncomfortable shit I just wouldn’t do if I weren’t sober - or, if I didn’t give a shit about myself.

When we had sex for the first time, it was awkward, and sexy, and sweet, and intimate. And I remembered it all. Two years later, the awkwardness has gone away. The sweetness has been switched to a lot of laughter (not sure what that means). We’re rarely serious in bed. Silliness is our foreplay. It works for us. But sexy, and the intimate are still there. The only things that are not there are shame and denial, and I don’t miss them a damn bit.

Theresa Richardson is a pseudonym.

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