I've Got My Sex Drive Back, Now What?

By Kiki Baxter 11/20/15

How meditation, masturbation, and meetings saved my life.

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I've Got My Sex Drive Back, Now What?
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In early sobriety, you may hear about "The Three M’s": Meetings, meditation and masturbation—particularly if you’re taking the suggestion of no dating/sexing for the first year which poses the quandary of saving your life versus getting laid. (Another one of those crazy life puzzles!)

 How do I know how I’ll feel after you spank me and call me names without the buffer of liquid love?

We all know that getting off of drugs and alcohol affects the feel-good hormones in your brain. It’s called withdrawal. The third “M” (aka sexy-time with yourself), is one way to jack that shiza up. Dopamine is the AWESOME reward hormone of orgasms (and at least one researcher equated it with heroin), and oxytocin is the lower-case awesome hormone you get from cuddling. Get it on with some fine thing besides yourself and say hello to a double dose of withdrawal if and when it doesn’t work out. I read recently that it takes two years to completely withdraw from oxytocin, and many addicts are already deficient in the D and the O (not to mention the S - serotonin), that’s why we’re always trying to feel better. It’s not so much that we think “more is better” as it is “where the hell is the starting line everyone else is coming from?” Fortunately, there are other ways to boost the "mones du hor" and research shows that socializing does (i.e., meetings, group, fellowship), as well as meditation and sexy-time with yourself.

If you are one of the questionably lucky folks who can have sex without attachment, I say, fuck you, (Oh, how I tried) and then I’ll make an amends, and say welcome to the new you as a sober person. Speaking from the “I” perspective, I didn’t really know who I was as a sober person. Alcohol was my true love and we started loving on each other at the age of 16; it was my friend and confidant, and helped me function more than I knew (until it didn’t), so without it as a newly sober person, I wasn’t really in the position to forecast my behavior. How do I know how I’ll feel after you spank me and call me names without the buffer of liquid love?  

Say you get moody, dump me, and act like a jerk; or what if I get moody, dump you and act like a jerk? I decided not to play Russian roulette with my new found sobriety and took the suggestion of not dating in the first year. Instead, I bought a vibrator (broke it), binge-watched television, ate cookies and milk, tried not to get fired (unsuccessfully), went to meetings, ate at bad diners, made friends, lost friends, and collected some days. And then promptly dated on day 366.

Apparently men’s brains don’t pump out as much dopytocin (my word) during and post-coitus so that’s why they’re not prone to bond to their female partners as much as the femmes do to their men. But—and this is a big but—for dopytocin-deprived men (aka addicts), the need for this fix may be greater and the subsequent crash more significant, so the cravings set in motion can be enormous. Unless you want to pick up again, sexy-time with yourself may be a safer substitute until you and your support system get stronger. Another interesting fact is that men over 50 experience hormonal changes called andropause where their testosterone declines, making their estrogen more prominent (yes, men have estrogen). This can be unsettling and cause men to feel prematurely bonded with “What’s your name again?” so take care of your newly sensitive (yet strong) self.

So let’s say you made it through your first year without hurting yourself or your privates. My sex drive/masturbation situation didn’t become a problem until my “I-don’t-like-the-word-boyfriend” boyfriend and I broke up in year five. He had a thing about words—words like “relationship” and “commitment,”—but in the beginning, that was A-OK with me because “I don’t want anything,” and “I just want to love (aka have sex with) you,”—the mantra of many well-meaning and unknowing potential sex and love addicts, along with “I want to heal you,“ “I read your horoscope,” and “I want to break up/get back together/break up/get back together/break up/ get back together with you.” Breakup/get back together sex is some good quality dopytocin.

So after two and a half years of mind-altering sex, good times and bad times, I found myself seriously fucked up. Let me put that in a nicer way: I was powerless. We had broken up and gotten back together again multiple times, until finally my therapist and a good friend suggested that I stop doing that. They said I needed to stay until I knew it was time to leave. That opened the door for me to learn a little something about my own unavailability and fear of intimacy/commitment issues (so much easier pointing out yours).

I started going to Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous (SLAA) meetings where I found myself obsessing about the relationship, having mood swings, and unable to concentrate. If my bf-of-the-non-bf-varietal became uncommunicative or moody, I would feel great physical and emotional pain that I could not seem to control. Going to SLAA sucked worse than getting sober. I grew up in the '70s with images of strong and sexy women who could have a man but didn’t need one. I had decided at the ripe old age of six that needing people was downright stupid. And that I was going to grow up, have boobs, flowing hair and be super awesome. And powerful. And powerful was particularly tantalizing because everything scared the shit out of me. 

So whoa-is-you that lives by the creed of a six-year old, and a jilted one at that. It was around six that my dad left and I started masturbating. I think it was anxiety response syndrome, or ARS, or I may have just made that name up—but it fits. The next spike in too-much-sexy-time-with-self was around 16, when I started drinking, doing drugs, and couldn’t take enough showers. Another spike occurred around the time leading up to my alcohol bottom, along with an “interest” in porn, (“aka writing research”) and sex with a couple of FWQBs: “friends with questionable benefits.” The next spike happened after six-months in SLAA, when I put my boyfriend down. Not down like a put-down, but down like a substance. Being a grown up with boobs and flowing hair did not feel awesome and I knew not much about being powerful—especially without a crutch.  

I was a little scared when I heard about the withdrawal that comes with sex and love addiction. When I first read about it in the SLAA big book, I threw it across the room. Then went over and picked it up. I prayed a lot and, on the advice of my therapist, bought a teddy bear (year one: vibrator; year five: teddy bear.) A vibrator and a teddy bear were poor substitutes for the man I tentatively called my boyfriend, except that I didn’t cry the next day. Instead, I cried before, during, and after, and a lot during the first month and second and third.

Hello “sober” dopytocin withdrawal and hello again to the three M’s of meetings, meditation, and masturbation (and by meditation I mean sleep). The Three Musketeers saved my life then, and it’s saving my life now. It’s providing me with the strength to become emotionally sober. I thought I was sober before but now I see I was living in fantasy, fear and willfulness, and it made my life unmanageable. I never got into a car accident drunk or high, but I got into many accidents in a black-out of a different sort. It’s been six months since then and I’m not dating for another six months. Or more accurately, I’m dating myself, and even though the tough chick in me threw up a little as I wrote that, it was just a little, which is an improvement.

Kiki Baxter is the pseudonym for a freelance writer and playwright based in New York. She last wrote I've Got My Brain Back, Now What?

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