Sex and the Sober Girl

By Vicki Abelson 04/10/18

As much as I relished the sexual freedom I felt with Michael, my hard-fought sobriety and recovery were too precious to even consider another visit.

A woman with chin resting on hand, in bed next to a partner's feet peaking out of the sheets.
Guilt and shame are a couple of wickedly destructive bedfellows to bring to the party.

Sex? What sex?

I started getting high when I was 14; it wasn’t much later that I lost my cherry. Maybe this has been a moratorium to catch me up to the number of years allowable to have fun in this lifetime. I started so long ago maybe I was about to exceed my limit. Doesn’t ten fuckless years of marriage factor in there somewhere?

Times were different then—just after the summer of love—everyone was having sex, everyone was getting stoned. Everybody must get stoned—it was an edict, Dylan proclaimed it so.

I was a child of divorce, a latch-key kid, and I was forced to care for myself, to grow up quickly. I lived with my single working mother, which meant I was alone, a lot.

We moved often. I was shy to begin with; having to constantly start anew was torture—as was leaving behind the few friends I’d connected with, and the inevitable unavailable boy who had my attention. It was like going through a divorce over and over again.

The first time I smoked pot I got so high I forgot I was lonely. I also forgot I was a kid. So did the object of my affection. Getting high loosened my inhibitions, and my legs. I went from being a rookie at first base to scoring an unearned home run without rounding second. But, having a boyfriend made me feel cared for and wanted.

I had no idea what I was doing. Fortunately, neither did he.

Drugs and sex were connectors, creating commonality, community, and family. Years later, when it was time to start my own family, I gave up the buzz. No one told me the sex would go with it. I’d heard the jokes, but who believes that shit? I do, now. It’s taken me a while to realize clichés become so for a reason.

The desire never abated. But the action sure did.

When my wasband and I split up, I was determined to have a reawakening, and, a metaphoric cherry re-breaking. I went nuts trying. It took a while for anything to actually happen. Turns out, desperation is not that attractive. Who knew?

Old school and app-resistant, I was fixed on meeting someone in the real world. There was a lot more wanting and waiting than there was dating.

It’s so much harder these days. Everyone’s home binging on Netflix and swiping; rarely talking, let alone meeting. When we are in the world, we’ve got our heads so far up our fucking phones, it's a miracle we’re all not slamming into each other at every turn. Although, that might work.

What happened to meeting in line at the grocery store, or stopped at a red light? Back in the day, you’d see a guy across a crowded bar, smile, have a drink, share a doobie, kiss, fuck… and exchange keys. So what if three years later you realized you hated each other? Pass the bong.

Regardless, a middle-aged, twice-divorced, single mom is not exactly catnip in any era.

Bring on the Bumble. Shiver me Tinder. Cupid me, stupid.

That’s when the shit got real. Matches matches everywhere. I felt like that teenage girl all over again, except this time I knew what I was doing; I had skills. I even had some mad skills, rusty though they might be. It's like riding a bike, right? Only I never knew how to ride a bike. How was I gonna do this straight? I’m old-er. Things have… shifted. They’re softer, bigger—and not in the good way.

Where once, pre-kids, a man’s fingers tracing my abs, titillated—that is such a hot word—now, as soon as fingers get anywhere near my tummy I’m screaming inside my head. I immediately do this involuntary wiggle, which usually freaks them out enough to stop, but on occasion, turns them on. Now what? I’m so busy worrying about what they must be thinking about my body I don’t have time to think about anything else. Forget about doing anything.

Plus, I didn’t exactly choose well.

Even though I was sober, the guys I was attracting were anything but.

I kept blaming sobriety for the noise in my head—maybe it was my ever-widening and softening body. Or maybe it was the drunk guy next to me, screaming.

“Is sober sex the new normal?” Asked Scott, a sexy 37-year-old stockbroker sucking on a vape.

NO, it’s abnormal. Pass the damn pipe.

I was okay being around pot, kind of. I quit so long ago, I never got to try that vape thing. Watching him inhale, I found myself sucking in long breaths of air and exhaling really slowly. Nothing. Then, the damn show-off started blowing vape rings. When he moved in for a kiss with that vape shit on his lips, I’m like…. really? I didn’t abstain for 17 goddamn years to blow it on a shitty second-mouth vape.

I saw Michael on Tinder. Recognized him and raced over to Facebook and found him. I decided I’d rather friend him than risk an unrequited swipe. A successful, working character actor, not my usual physical type. I was drawn like a magnet to a refrigerator.

He accepted my friend request right away. He was smart, charming, funny, and he read… books. We switched to text, and then phone, but somehow didn’t make a plan to actually meet. Weeks went by. Every few days I’d get a flirty text, and then, at night, he was like a different person. I’d kid, “What, are you drunk or something?” Nah, this guy has his shit together.

When, about a month later, we finally met at a trendy, atmospheric, Hollywood spot, it was on—from the first moment. His eyes were clear and clearly fixed right on me. I really liked this guy. And, it seemed like he really liked me. He did, right? When he went to the john he texted me, “When are we gonna kiss already?” I almost beat down the men’s room door. Instead, I sat there, played the girl, letting him lead. That’s a miracle right there.

Lunch turned into dinner, dinner into drinks. He only had a beer or two, I was counting. We ended up in his car, making out like carazee. For maybe the first time since I got straight, I totally let go and was completely present and in the moment.

I hadn’t been kissed like that in a long time. If not for the fact that we were parked in the restaurant’s lot, I mighta… right there. We couldn’t go back to his place for some weird, vague, reason, and my kids were home. He asked if he could see me the next morning.

I slept five minutes. When he arrived, huge 7-11 Big Gulp in hand, he was fidgety, pacing around my kitchen, chewing gum intensely. I chalked it up to nerves and the Mountain Dew. When he kissed me, he tasted like peppermint. But, oh that kiss. Within minutes we were in my bedroom. He said everything right.

”You’re the hottest woman on the planet, with the best body I’ve ever seen.”

I looked over my shoulder. Me?

Somehow, the way he was looking at me, kissing me, talking to me, I believed him. I not only undressed, I stripped, and pranced naked, proudly, with this body, and, felt good about it.

When we got into bed he couldn't focus or look at me. Resting my head on his shoulder, I smelled… alcohol? Nah, it was 11 o’clock in the morning. Must be hand sanitizer, my ex was compulsive with the stuff.

Michael kissed me again and said he wanted to wait for our third date to do it, assuring me we had all the time in the world. Why not prolong the pleasure.

Wait what? I finally get my clothes off and you’re not ready? And who the hell over 19 says do it? He cutely suggested we have our third date that night. Agreeing on his place at 8, he kissed me goodbye and left.

Making the bed, happy and humming, my gut nagged. Rummaging the Big Gulp from the kitchen trash, oh yes I did, a bit of liquid remained. I sniffed. Anyone who says vodka doesn’t smell has drunk too much of it.

Michael broke down my wall, but on the other side with him was Crazytown. I’d been there too many times already. As much as I relished the sexual freedom I felt with him, my hard-fought sobriety and recovery were too precious to even consider another visit.

But, the experience with Michael taught me my trouble wasn’t with my sobriety, it was with my body, or, rather, my perception of it.

A few months ago I fell for Julian, a sexy Parisian pilot, although sexy and Parisian seems redundant. Sensitive, spiritual, and in program, the maturity and alchemy of our connection were spellbinding. I was treated the way I want to be treated, with care, thoughtfulness, respect, romance, passion, and fun.

He’s younger, ridiculously fit and handsome. My old noise got into bed with us. I couldn’t stop it. Nor could he leave behind the presence of the woman he’d broken up with a few weeks prior. He brought guilt, I brought shame. Those are a couple of wickedly destructive bedfellows to bring to the party.

In spite of the awkward first attempt I was hopeful, and all in. Still suffering his last, he wasn’t. It was painful as fuck when it ended, but proved to me that the truth, and love, are out there.

If we’d shared a joint or a bottle of wine, might things have gone differently? Maybe we’d both have been able to leave our bags at the door. That’s not a choice I choose to make. I’m not going to give up my sober time, but I can work on my body.

I know with certainty that love’s the highest high, even if the right guy turns out to be the wrong guy. For me, everything’s better sober—creativity, food, fun, and sex—especially sex. Being present is so damn hot.

Acceptance (of my body) is the answer to a shit-ton of my problems today.

When I pull it off, maybe the next guy’ll be… the keeper.

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Vicki Abelson is the bestselling author of Don’t Jump: Sex Drugs, Rock ‘N Roll… And My Fucking Mother. Published by Carl Reiner’s Random Content, the fictionalized memoir chronicles her addiction and recovery. A featured contributor for The Huffington Post, Vicki’s the host of The Road Taken, Celebrity Maps to Success, and Vicki Abelson’s Women Who Write, Celebrity-Driven Literary Salon. Both can be seen Live on The Facebook. For more of the self-proclaimed whore of all media, follow her on Twitter and @vickiabelson on Instagram.