Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Celebrating Graduations and Long Recovery

It is the season of commencement speeches. High schools and colleges near and far are celebrating their graduates by hosting celebrity speechmakers. We listen for sound bites from CEO’s and novelists, college presidents and politicians. Most of their talks inspire, but there has come to be an underlying message linking education, graduation and material

For people in recovery—there is another experience. The degree is wonderful, the greater earning power is important, but watching a new life blossom is incredible. And there is also the experience of doing another hard thing one-day-at-a-time.

College graduations along with job promotions and weddings and baby blessings are a joy to all of us in recovery.  Certainly we love our own accomplishments, but watching our fellows grow and change and reach public milestones is equally a delight. The recovery experience is one of the rising tide raising all boats.

But there is something about a college graduation. We’re Americans after all, and a college degree is a marker of so much. For many of us it’s the thing we couldn’t get through in our using days.

So many recovery stories include making a mess of education, or of studying some subject to please family or because it sounded good when we were under the influence.

But then, after a period of recovery—when the mental fog clears there is a deeper clarity that comes. 

Often we get that clarity from people around us in the rooms: “Hey,” someone tells us, “you are good with people (or numbers, or cars or languages or music).”  Then we might tearfully tell our sponsor in a whispery voice that, “When I was younger I wanted to be a nurse (or a vet, or a teacher, or a writer or designer.) 

And a wise sponsor will remind us that we already have started our life over so why not take an accounting class or get a part-time job with animals, or go talk to someone about the pre-requisites for nursing.

And then the true barometer measures both our head and our heart: Do I really like this thing? Could I do more, take another class, maybe get a degree?

And does it take a long time? Yes, it does, but so does long-term recovery and we want that just as much and recovery takes a long time and has a certain amount of drudgery too.

So when someone in your home group meeting announces that they have completed their Associates degree or their GED or invites everyone to the open house at their new boutique, you will want to be there. 

The best commencement speech will come later on, and it will be in a church basement with folding chairs and bad coffee, but the cheering will be loud and strong.

For more on long-term recovery take a look at my book, "Out of the Woods" published by Central Recovery Press. 

Wednesday, April 04, 2018

A Frenchwoman's Guide to Sex After Sixty

One of the reason’s women in recovery say that they like to have at least one women’s meeting in their schedule is so that “we can talk about sex and relationships.” And it’s true—a women-only meeting is a place to feel somewhat more comfortable talking about past relationships, current relationships, bring up dating issues, admit to struggles with partners with less fear.

But it’s also true that there is still some trepidation, but maybe we take baby steps or talk in code or euphemism a little bit. 

Over time, we learn that the first place we’ll talk about sex and physical intimacy in detail is either in the parking lot of the coffee shop. Mostly we have questions. “I’m not attracted anymore.” “I don’t know how to tell him/her what I want in bed.” “Have you ever done…?”

And then, for women in long-term recovery we have the combo issue of sex and aging. Maybe someone makes a joke in the meeting or at the diner, and we tentatively follow up, “Did you mean?”

As women we have questions about our bodies, as recovering women we have more questions and as we age it adds in yet more and more layers.

 And then we have our pats to factor in. In you have any history of abuse, or let’s call it, sexual behavior that has some shame attached to it, what do you do with that.

Those questions are not generally answered in books like, “Our Bodies Our Selves” where we can get a lot of mechanical
questions answered.

So, I was thrilled to get a copy of the book, “A Frenchwoman’s Guide to Sex After 60” by Marie de Hennezel. Yes, a Frenchwoman and a psychologist and therapist in Paris. Her earlier book is, “The Art of Growing Old.” So here is her perfect next step. (I just keep thinking, “Wow a therapist I could talk to about relationships, sex and clothes!”

But you’ll love this brilliant paperback and her entre nous voice. Here’s a sex and aging sponsor in a book. And maybe this is a book to read with your sponsor or with a few recovering women friends. 

De Hennezel gives advice, tells stories and recounts the advice of other experts—and she is fun and funny. Great sex tip number one: Keep it fun! And she does in this book.

Happy, joyous and free are our goals in recovery—and one of the implied promises—and here is a way to find that happy, joyous and free in our bodies and our relationships.

And, don’t wait for 60 to read this book. Start now, be ready. Enjoy!