I’m a big fan of my friend and Bedpost Confessions co-producer, Sadie Smythe. She’s not only got a great sense of humor, a brilliant writer, but she’s focused more on more on the absolute beauty of staying in the moment, connected, in every way. Here I interview her about her work around sexuality and sobriety.
1) Tell me about your new consulting and speaking practice? I know you’ve always had a passion for education around sexuality, but what’s different about this?
My consulting practice stems from my personal experiences with non-traditional relationships – specifically non-monogamy/polyamory/open relationships. As a writer on this subject for many years, I am often called upon to consult those who are experiencing turmoil within their own relationship structures (traditional or otherwise). I found that my perspective was deemed valuable by many people and so I decided to expand and offer it to whomever might be seeking guidance. I often find that it isn’t so much the relationship that needs re-setting or repairing, but the individuals themselves that just need a little insight on viewing situations differently.
My speaking practice came to fruition after I’d told my story at a couple of BedPost Confessions shows on my experiences with sex and how they were impacted by alcohol. I was approached by an alarming number of people afterward (men and women, young and not young) who told me that they had never had sex totally sober – that alcohol had always accompanied their sexual encounters. This, plus some further research, enlightened me that our drinking culture has created a massive disconnect between people. Alcohol not only acts as a barrier to intimacy, but it also can inhibit us from making rational decisions surrounding our sexual health that can have psychological, emotional or physiological implications. I speak from experience here.
2) What has surprised you the most as you’ve moved into this niche of human sexuality?
When I did my research, I discovered a study that indicated that 80% of first sexual experiences occur under the influence of drugs or alcohol. I am not sure why that surprised me as that was my own experience. But it scared me a little. Actually a lot. As a mother, I want my daughter to know the beauty of sex, and I want her first experiences to be authentic, engaging, and enjoyable. When alcohol impairment is factored in, so many things can go wrong. We actively preach and discourage teenage drunken driving, but there is a tacit acceptance of teen/young adult drunken fucking. This makes no sense to me. Our sexual selves are so vulnerable, especially in the beginning. I want everyone to understand that when those first sexual experiences are good, then the kids experiencing them are more likely to be set up to have fulfilling sexual lives. Whether or not we want to acknowledge this, it is important.
3) Will you tell me a little about how connection and intimacy are related to sober consciousness and how you address that in your work?
Our culture teaches us that having a drink together bonds people, and in some ways it does. The practice of sharing a drink with someone creates an intimacy that can indeed be the precursor to a relationship. The same phenomenon occurs over tea. Coffee too. However indulging in tea and coffee isn’t going to make an otherwise responsible adult choose not to use a condom with the person they just met at a bar. There is a domino effect that can occur when you are experiencing temporary brain damage (which is, technically, what being drunk is). You may be having fun, but you aren’t completely present. You might not be totally present with your environment, with your partner, or even with yourself.
4) What could someone expect from a session with you? Can you talk to us a little about the process?
I sit down with (in person, on the phone, or via Skype) with whomever I am consulting and I have them tell me a little bit of their story and what is it they want to work through. I listen actively and with empathy, and we essentially have a conversation much like one might have with an old friend. It’s rather casual in approach, and I often relate my own experiences if they are relevant (which they often are.) This is a very different style from traditional therapy, and is one I think necessary. If there is one thing I have learned it is that people want someone who truly understands exactly what it is they are going through to hear them. I can, and do, offer that perspective.
5) Finally, how do we get in touch with you and start exploring sober sexuality?
–Looking for one-on-one coaching on relationships, sexuality, life passages, or need support with personal or career goals? Seeking seeking a facilitator for your group or team to help promote healthy group dynamics and effective communication? Contact me here!