Some Brief Thoughts on Love, Addiction and Dealing with Alcoholism

When I was in my late teens and early twenties, I was in love with a guy who I now understand was an addict. When we got together he was open about his past struggles with alcoholism and drugs, but he assured me that those days were well behind him and that he “no longer had a problem” because he “knew his limits.” Spoiler alert: he didn’t.

Over the next few years, I got a front row seat to his struggles with drug and alcohol addiction. The all night coke binges. His angry tirades when he was drunk or high. Getting kicked out of places because my boyfriend was drunk and belligerent. I was only nineteen when I met him and thought (like most people on the cusp of adulthood) that I could handle anything — including “fixing” him. I was wrong. I was young, naive and living alone in a new, big city with almost no support system. In the end, I turned to self-medicating as a way of dealing with the things that were happening in my life.

I’ll never forget the day my roommate told me she thought I might need help. Earlier that day she’d come home from an early morning class to find me passed out drunk on the kitchen floor. Although I never sought formal addiction treatment, I did eventually seek out a therapist who helped me better understand and deal with the reasons I was drinking in the first place. The truth is, I didn’t really start to work through a lot of my issues until I was in my 30’s. While my life is good now, I often wonder how different things would have been if I’d gotten help right then and there.

What I’ve learned from both of these experiences is that you should never be ashamed to get the help you need. With that said, there’s a lot of mystery and misconceptions surrounding what drug and alcohol treatment actually looks like. (I mean, I’ve seen the episode of Californication where Hank Moody does a stint in a rehab, but I’m smart enough to know that the process probably involves less hot celebrities and witty quips around the group therapy circle than what’s shown on screen). This is a cause that’s important to me, so today I’m sharing some info about addiction recovery on behalf of Recovery Village Rehab.

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, here’s a few things you should know:

What is drug rehab and treatment?

Drug rehabilitation, commonly referred to as “rehab,” is the process of treatment for dependency on drugs. The purpose of drug rehab is to release a person from the grips of substance abuse. These individuals often seek treatment when their substance use has become compulsive and out of control, and the negative side effects aren’t enough to deter their decisions. There are hundreds of drug rehabilitation centers all over the country designed to help men, women and adolescents struggling with an addiction to drugs, alcohol or both.

Whether you’ve been struggling with addiction for months or years, rehab can be a source of strength for people. Drug rehab centers typically employ a variety of methods to overcome substance use disorder, including programs that range from medical detox to inpatient and outpatient programs. Understanding the process can help you choose the right process for you or the person you love.

The rehab process is typically divided into 4 steps:

  • Assessment: The person seeking treatment meets with a team of counselors and doctors to identify the right treatment plan.
  • Detoxification (detox): In order to begin the rehab process, abused drugs need to be removed from the body. This process can be dangerous, which is why it’s overseen by doctors. Detoxification also involves taking medication to manage withdrawal symptoms.
  • Rehabilitation: getting drugs and alcohol out of the system is just the beginning. This part of the process involves working with therapists to get at the core reasons the person is using in the first place.
  • Aftercare: The main purpose of aftercare is to ensure the transformation that happened during the rehabilitation process endures. This involves taking steps to ensure that the skills learned during rehabilitation become a part of everyday life.

Kinds of Treatment Programs

Everyone needs something slightly different which is why treatment programs should be tailored to individual needs. Programs for treatment of alcoholism include:

  • Inpatient/residential programs: Residential inpatient treatment is the next step for clients who have completed or are near completion of their detox program. For those in residential inpatient treatment, a medical and non-medical option exists based on the client’s needs.
    Recovery Village Rehab is a type of inpatient rehabilitation center that is designed for specific patient’s needs. It offers various treatment options, wellness programs and support to clients to enhance healing.
  • Partial hospitalization: This is for people who have stable situation but are in need of continuous medical monitoring. The program is conducted between 3 and 5 days a week for up to 6 hours a day. Treatment is done during the day and the client can go home in evening.
  • Outpatient rehabilitation: An option for individuals whose addiction is less severe and doesn’t require inpatient treatment. Clients in this phase of rehab drug treatment visit the facility regularly, but do not stay overnight. This approach allows the individual to receive drug treatment while maintaining family and job responsibilities.
  • Individual, group or family therapy. Aftercare is so important. Therapy helps in identifying the root cause of addiction while building relationships and helping patients learn coping skills.

In conclusion, I wish I’d known more about these options when I was younger — or at the very least sought counseling to talk through the reasons why I felt I needed to self-medicate. This is all to say that there’s help available and that there’s absolutely no shame in getting it.

Gorgeous photo by Stephanie Dimiskovski and found via Pinterest.

Thanks for tuning in for this very special episode of Skinny Dip! This post was brought to you by Recovery Village Rehab. Thanks for supporting the posts that support Skinny Dip. xx

A Good Mattress Can Help Your Sex Life

 

This post was brought to you by ChooseMattress.com. Thanks for supporting the posts that support Skinny Dip.

I found a sex related topic I haven’t written about yet: mattresses! I never considered the impact mattress comfort had on my sex life until I moved in with my ex-partner. I went from sleeping on a reasonably comfortable spring mattress to spending my nights atop of an Ikea foam mattress that I’m pretty sure was designed by Satan himself. Every morning I’d wake up with a sore back and achy muscles. I have a back injury and when my back doesn’t feel good, my libido suffers. When we finally made the switch and invested in a super comfy mattress, it had a positive impact on our sex life. (It’s amazing how much sexier you feel when you’re no longer living in a real-life version of the sofa bed episode of Seinfeld.)

So, without further adieu, here are a few pointers on how to choose the right mattress so your sex life never has to suffer.

Comfort

When choosing a mattress for sex, comfort is one of the things you don’t want to mess around with. Anyone who’s ever had the unfortunate experience of having sex on a futon only to wake up the next day feeling like their body was put through a trash compactor, knows exactly what I’m talking about. The last thing you want is to strain your body while making love (this is especially true if you already have an injury like I do.) Some mattresses will strain your knees, buttocks, or hands, and other areas of your body that offer support during sex. When these are strained, you will get tired out more quickly and may even wake up to body pain. Look for a mattress that’s comfortable and supportive so that sex can be as pleasurable as possiblesomething that’s more difficult to achieve when you’re worried about your mattress giving you shin splints.

Noise

While most people have differing preferences when it comes to noise during sex, I think most of us can agree that there’s nothing sexy about a creaky, squeaky mattress. This is especially true if you live with other people and want to keep things, um, discreet. Instead, aim to create an environment that allows you to focus on your partner with minimal distractions. By providing comfort and discretion, a quiet mattress will help increase performance and pleasure for both of you.

Bounce effect

To maintain rhythm and endurance you’ll want to make sure your mattress offers sufficient bounce. A rigid base may not offer this. When you don’t have enough bounce, your partner will feel like they’re being pressed into the mattress — and not in a good way. So, make sure you find a mattress with sufficient bounce for maximum pleasure.

Copy of how to take betterfamly vacationpHow a Good Mattress Can Help Your Sex Lifeictures(2)

Edge support

When choosing a mattress to bolster your sex life, you also need to think about edge support — the encasement around the frame that spring mattresses require to support the springs. A good mattress will offer sufficient edge support to ensure safety and comfort, and will be designed to accommodate weight and pressure, without collapsing (I’m not sure what that would look like, but it doesn’t sound fun). Instead of worrying about stuff, a  good mattress allows you to focus on what’s important: great sleep and satisfaction from sex.

So, there you have it. If you’re shopping for a mattress with sex in mind, these tips should help. Think about it: the average person sleeps for one third of their life (if you sleep approx 8 hours a night and live for 75 years, that’s 25 years or 9,125 days that you spend asleep). You owe it to yourself to create the perfect refuge and playground for you and your partner(s) with a good mattress.

Things I’d Tell My 20-Something Self – Part 3

I don’t know about you guys, but birthdays always trigger a lot of self-reflection for me. I turned 36 a few weeks ago. If someone were to ask me what I like best about being in my mid-thirties I’d say the clarity. It’s nice to look back and be able to identify everything you’ve grown out of. So, in honour of birthdays and hindsight, I thought it was time to share some more things I’d tell my 20-year old self (you can check out the full series here.)

It’s never too soon to learn about good alcohol

Fifteen years from now you’ll be sharing some Pinot Grigio with a ridiculously handsome man. You’ll hold up the bottle of Masi (a wine which was introduced to you by another man that you once found charming circa 2001and tell him, “this is the only good decision that came out of my years of drinking as a 20-something.” You’ll be 180% right. I know the urge to try things just for the sake of trying things is strong this decade, so I’ll just cut to the chase:

The pink bottle of $4.99 “strawberry wine” you keep passing at the liquor store on the way to the cooler aisle tastes exactly as terrible as it’s neon packaging suggests. That non-FDA approved liquor your friend brought back from Israel will make you black out. And throw-up. Then black out again. It will also make your friends simultaneously black out and throw up. Any drink with Red Bull as an ingredient is sure to make you jump up on furniture (which sounds kind of fun now, but it’s something you’ll grow out of. Trust me.) Drinking on the subway is hilarious, but it’s not classy. Southern Comfort is awful. Stop treating your Friday nights like you’re Janis Joplin on an epic bender. Instead, drink the Masi. Always drink the Masi.

The “one that got away” is a myth.

They didn’t “get away” – they left you. It sucks and it hurts and you’re going to cry over these people, but it’s for the best. I promise. Have the feelings you need to have and then move the fuck on. Don’t waste time obsessing over or longing for people who simply didn’t choose you. They. Didn’t. Choose. You. (Keep this in mind when these people resurface requesting a second chance.) Spend your time loving the people who have chosen to be in your life. Start with yourself.

Expect more from the people you date.

As a 20-something you joke that your dating motto is, “have low expectations and you’ll always be pleasantly surprised.” You adopt this line of thinking after a series of breakups and disappointing sexual encounters – both wanted and unwanted – leave you heartbroken and confused. You start asking for less, when really you should ask for more. Don’t do this. You should expect things from the people you date – like, respect, honesty and integrity. Be picky. Ask for what you want out of relationships. It might mean that you spend more time alone, but it won’t matter in the grand scheme of things.

Learn to be still.

I know it’s hard. You live in a city of 5 million people and around every corner there’s something or someone new & shiny to distract you, but please try. Stop focusing on things and people that don’t serve you, just so that you won’t have to be alone with your own thoughts. The only way you’re ever going to feel at peace with yourself is if you face your problems head-on and deal with your personal shit. Don’t wait until the end of the decade. Begin early.

What would you tell your 20-something self?

Here’s 10 Guys That I’d Like To Meet

Hi, it’s me. Still single. Still 35 (at least for another 12 days.) A few weeks ago, authors Blythe Roberson and Jason Adam Katzenstein posted in the New Yorker an illustrated article titled Types of Guys I Would Like To Date, If Someone Could Please Introduce Me to Them. I couldn’t help but giggle. I mean, what 30-something woman hasn’t yearned to date a guy that owns a rug? (“a huge achievement, as rugs cost millions of dollars and require vacuuming“). The piece also made me ponder the kinds of guys I would like to be introduced to. (Because, let’s face it — the singles in Victoria leave quite a bit to be desired.)

Because I don’t have the artistic skills of a New Yorker cartoonist, Joe the Intern and his friends have stepped in to help with this post.

So, gather around my friends while I cue up Michael Buble’s “I Still Haven’t Met You Yet” and press the repeat button. Here’s some men I’m interested in getting to know.

Online Dating in Victoria BC: 10 Guys That I'd Like To Meet

40-something Musical Yogis with 20-something rockstar dreams, need not apply. Whether it’s a full time job or a side-hustle, this guy likes making things and he wants to make things with you (websites! music! photos! smoked meat! pickles! A new fence! Stop animation with Joe the Intern!) I know you’re out there. If your idea of a great Saturday is brunch, followed by creating something together, I want to be your Ride and #DIY. (photo credit)

Online Dating in Victoria BC: 10 Guys That I'd Like To Meet

Sure, he mainlines kale juice and eats sandwiches that are made with thinly cut organic tempeh steaks instead of bread, but he doesn’t need to talk about it. He’ll never shame you for not drinking as many vegetables as he does, because he totally gets the concept of balance. I.e. there’s a time for kale chips and a time for diving face first into a stack of chicken and waffles.

Online Dating in Victoria BC: 10 Guys That I'd Like To Meet

When I was in university, it wasn’t uncommon to meet guys who’d say stuff like, “oh, you like 2Pac? I only listen to conscious hip-hop or stuff from the 80’s.” These guys are still around. They read Pitchfork and the only Kendrick Lamar song they think is relevant is the one you’ve never heard of because “it’s so obscure.”  The Guy Who Isn’t Afraid to Shamelessly Rock out to Lil’ Wayne is the opposite of that guy. He’s politically aware and understands why something might be offensive but isn’t opposed to dancing around the living room with you as Weezy chants “a milli a milli a milli.”

Online Dating in Victoria BC: 10 Guys That I'd Like To Meet

The stack of Prince LPs and his turntable are the only church he needs. He thinks “Call My Name” is one of the sexiest, most romantic, panty-dropping songs of all time and to your delight, insists that you go as The Kid and Apollonia for Halloween. When you fidget in your costume, he says, “I don’t care that you’re not an ingenue of indeterminate ethnic origin, you look amazing in that leather bustier.”

Online Dating in Victoria BC: 10 Guys That I'd Like To Meet

No, I’m not talking about one of those greaseballs on Millionaire Matchmaker that owns a yacht. I’m thinking of something more organic, like you meet at a record store in Silverlake and you catch each other’s eye because you’re both wearing the same Prince pin on the lapel of your matching leather jackets. Flash forward to the future where you’re sitting out by your backyard pool perched high in the Elysian Hills, eating tacos and writing dialogue for Joe the Intern.

Online Dating in Victoria BC: 10 Guys That I'd Like To Meet

He’s like Feminist Ryan Gosling, but he’s Idris Elba. He would never use the hashtag #NotAllMen seriously and often says stuff like, “Hey, girl, you’ve worked really hard today. Let me do the dishes while you kick back and photograph your collection of weird Ken Dolls.”  

Online Dating in Victoria BC: 10 Guys That I'd Like To Meet

He’s like Colin Miller meets Jesse Williams. He’s tough, but kind & empathetic, and he’s unafraid to stand up for what he believes in. He’s not the guy who “doesn’t give a fuck,” he’s the guy who gives all the fucks. You catch each other’s eyes across a crowded movie theatre after a documentary about a depressing social issue has just let out. When you walk towards him, you realize he’s wearing a t-shirt that says #FreeEdwardAtes. (photo credit)

“I thought you only existed on the internet” you say to him.

He smiles and replies, “I thought you only existed on the internet.”

You spend lots of time listening to wrongful conviction podcasts together and admiring how he looks good in hats that aren’t fedoras.

Online Dating in Victoria BC: 10 Guys That I'd Like To Meet

Recently I texted my friend, “So, if a man is in his late 30’s and he’s still sleeping on a mattress on the floor, that’s a deal breaker, right?” She responded, “please tell me that’s a rhetorical question.” A few years ago I went on a couple of dates with a smart, very successful 30-something man who kept all of this non-perishable food in a small heap next to his bed (which was also just a mattress on the floor) so he’d never have to get up while watching Netflix to grab snacks. I know there are lots of men out there who have mastered the art of #adulting, but clearly there aren’t enough to go around. If you own a dresser that isn’t covered in stickers and you don’t use a upside down laundry basket as a nightstand, let’s talk.

Online Dating in Victoria BC: 10 Guys That I'd Like To Meet

Here’s a gentleman who is no stranger to having his hand all up inside some green felt. On Sunday mornings you like to create elaborate puppet shows that include lots of original songs and are heavy on  character development (“I mean, Barry the Sloth is basically a decent guy. He only drinks and bites people because he’s misunderstood – and that thing that happened when he was in the circus.”) 

Online Dating in Victoria BC: 10 Guys That I'd Like To Meet

It’s easy to find men who love dogs, but I’d like to meet someone who is crazy about felines just to see what he’d be like. I know he’s out there somewhere, happily whistling away as he meticulously cleans his couch cushions with a dust buster. Call me. 

When a Whisper Turns To a Yell

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Whether it’s going to your first music festival or finally writing your first book, one of the things I’ve learned over the past year is that good things happen when you push past your comfort zone. When I started this blog in 2009 I chose the name “Skinny Dip” because I thought “skinny dipping” was a good metaphor for writing about your life online – it’s naked, it’s scary but also a hell of a lot of fun.

While writing about pretty things & sexy goodies is definitely enjoyable, lately I’ve been feeling a little too comfortable around here – and not in a good “hey I’m wearing silk pyjamas” kind of way. It’s more like, “hey, I’ve been sitting around in these silk pyjamas so long that now there’s a bum shaped imprint on the couch.” It’s time for a change.

I want to use this space for it’s original intention: to tell the truth – about dating, about sex, about bodies, about the challenges of being a (now) 30-something woman & writer. I want to talk about it all, in the most honest way possible.

So, in an effort to strip things down, I’ve decided that every week I will write and post one short personal essay about something that is currently ‘true’ in my life. There’s a very good chance I’ll still post things in-between these mini-essays, but in the meantime I’m really looking forward to more writing and real talk. I hope you are too.

Here’s the first of those “truth-bombs” if you will.

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When I was in college, I was an avid “recycler” of relationships (Al Gore would have been proud!) My love life mostly consisted of a rotating cast of 3-4 different guys that I’d keep getting back together with even though all the signs were there that none of these relationships would ever work out, no matter how many times I revisited them.

This has always been one of my favourite quotes from Maya Angelou (she has so many.)

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At the time, I understood on an intellectual level what Angelou was getting at, but I just couldn’t put it into practice – not really. So, I continued to recycle my hookups and date my exes even though we’d “broken up.” I justified my behaviour in two ways:

“If I’m recycling relationships then it means I’m not adding any more notches on my bedpost.” (I was very concerned back then at being perceived as a slut. Now, as a 30-something, I couldn’t care less.)

&

“If we keep coming back to each other, it must mean there’s something there.” (What I know now: there’s always something there. That doesn’t mean it needs to be revisited.)

I’d keep up this pattern until something would happen that was so hurtful and ridiculous that it would be impossible for me not to walk away (i.e. discovering the person I was dating had a secret family stashed on the other side of the city.)

The whispers were always there, quietly guiding me towards the knowledge that these people were wrong for me. But, I needed that whisper to turn into a yell before I’d pay attention. I can’t help but wonder how much pain I could have spared myself if only I’d really listened to what the people I dated were telling me.

(For example, “I don’t want a relationship right now” doesn’t translate to “I just need the right woman to change my mind.” Trust me.)

I’m much better now. I’m becoming better at listening to those whispers and I don’t let things linger like I used to. I favour clean breaks and moving forward. Yet, in order for that clean break to happen, I still need definitive answers. I need to know that a situation is unequivocally wrong for me so I can eliminate it once and for all from my psyche – or, as my Mom likes to say, “Simone, you can’t just leave well enough alone.”

Since I broke up with The Secret Agent, I’ve been turning over stones looking for answers. This is how I ended up on a date with someone I hadn’t seen in 14 years.

I fully, 100% blame Adele’s Hello for everything that happens next (only kind of sort of kidding.)

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I met C. in 2001 through a friend. He was everything that the guys I had dated previously weren’t:

Big hearted. Sweet. Cheerful. Devoted. Tall. (Although he’s made it clear that he wants to be played by Idris Elba in the movie of my life, I envision him as more of a approachable, Pooch Hall type.) He’d do nice things like make me tapes with remixes of all of my favourite Prince songs – just because. He was the kind of guy I should have been dating all along – that I’d be super excited to date now. However, unfortunately,  at the time I was still attached to the immature and misguided notion that a relationship needed lots of hot and cold drama to be “real.” I thought C. was “too nice.” So, a month or two into dating I broke things off (something I’ve always felt bad about.)

Now, flash-forward fourteen years. I’m browsing through my OkCupid matches when low and behold, I’m matched with C.

As it turns out, he’d recently moved to the West Coast from Toronto. Messages were exchanged, texts were sent, but it didn’t go anywhere. A few months later, I met & fell in like with The Secret Agent.

Flashforward 8 months and I’m single again. I reached out to C. to say “hello” (cue Adele.) A few weeks later, I found myself sitting across from him at a sushi restaurant in Vancouver, laughing and having a really great time. This lead to a second date, a third date and a four day weekend spent together.

I like myself a whole lot more than I did when I was 21. Consequently, I like the 2015-2016 version of C. better too. He’s the same friendly, affable, cheeky guy that I initially got to know – but better. He also still does sweet things that I like (ie. records the Soul Train Awards and doesn’t “cheat” & watch them until we’re together.)

But, here’s the thing about those whispers. Once you become attune to them, they become impossible to ignore. Although C. and I connected in ways that were new and pleasantly surprising, there were a handful of little things that pointed towards the fact that long term, we’re probably not a good match. I spent years thinking that the reason that we didn’t work out the first time was largely due to my own immaturity, but really, the whispers had been there all along. Once I noticed these things, I couldn’t un-notice them. Before I knew it, the whisper had turned to a yell.

I called things off. Again.

We talked and agreed that neither of us regret reconnecting. And I truly don’t – regret it that is. In this case, I’m glad that I revisited the past but I’m also glad that I listened to my gut.

This is all to say that sometimes we need to turn over those stones. You might not always get the answer you were hoping for, but if you pay attention, you’ll always get the answer you need to move forward.

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