How Intimacy Changes When You’re Sober

Intimacy can really change when someone is in recovery.  Most people in my opinion think of intimacy meaning one thing, but in fact, intimacy can mean many things.  Webster’s dictionary defines it as “the state of being intimate” or “something of a personal or private nature.”  I think the latter definition really fits the mold of how I feel intimacy has changed in my own life since I got sober.

The Old Way Of Thinking

Before recovery, intimacy typically just meant anything that had to do with a physical or sexual aspect of a relationship that I was in at the time.  I think you get it.  After some time in recovery though, intimacy really turned into something else and the value of intimacy changed even more for me.

My Definition

In my opinion, intimacy is more about being able to communicate and express myself in a vulnerable way that can contribute to the growth of myself and my relationships.  What I mean is that in recovery we can get intimate with not only our partners, but our sponsors, network of recovering friends, families and the list can really go on and on.

In recovery, I have learned that I have to get intimate with people by my own definition in order to be able to grow and change.  In my opinion, that is what recovery is all about, growth and change.  With my partner, intimacy can mean I have to be able to express what I need, how I am feeling and a whole lot more.  With my sponsor and network, intimacy can mean I have to be able to express what is going on around me or in my life and how I feel about it.

There have been times in my life where I had to be able to be intimate with my parents or other close relatives.  For example, when I sat my parents down to do a formal ninth step with them.  That time in my life was probably the most intimate that I had ever become with them.

The Journey

Intimacy in recovery really turns into a personal journey in my opinion.  I think that many times in my own life I have found myself feeling like writing or journaling is a very intimate act all on it’s own.  The time it takes to sit down and really push through to get to the heart of why I wanted to write about something in the first place is an example of the work that it takes to get vulnerable enough to be in a place of intimacy.

All of this can obviously look different for each individual and nobody has to be in recovery to experience intimacy the way that I am describing it.  I am just expressing that I feel like recovery taught me how to be intimate in a very different way than how I perceived the definition before recovery.  Being able to talk or listen to someone and have it bring about a personal connection that is much deeper than most other conversations is an amazing byproduct of recovery and that is what intimacy really feels like to me.