Book review – Sex in Recovery: A Meeting Between the Covers

9895zoomI’m taking some time off for the holidays and using it as an opportunity to catch up on a long neglected item on my to-do list. (It was a busy semester.) I’ve just now had a chance to seriously dig in to Jennifer Matesa’s most recent book, Sex in Recovery: A Meeting Between the Covers.

Sex can be such a complicated topic. Fortunately, Matesa seems fearless.

She declares the truth (often unspoken but self-evident) that sex and intimacy are fundamental to the human experience and reassuringly grabs us by the hand to lead us into an exploration and conversation about our experience, strength and hope as they relate to sex and intimacy in recovery.

Matesa says her goal is to convene “a special meeting to help us begin to talk about sex” and she is successful. It feels a little like the AA Grapevine (AA’s “meeting in print”) but skillfully facilitated to go beyond the boundaries of what’s discussed in 12 step meetings.

The book is structured with chapters that contain personal stories followed by chapters exploring topics like the one year rule, virginity, trauma and shame, touch (including non-sexual touch), pleasure, honesty and vulnerability, privacy and secrecy, the sexual consequences of addiction, experiencing sexuality, and amends as they relate to sex. Each of these chapters is followed by a collection of questions for further consideration and discussion.

These “Queries for Discussion” sections get at the strength and value of the book. Matesa’s only agenda seems to be honest exploration and discussion that will allow each reader to sort through what is best for them as an individual.

There’s a real humility to this book, which is especially impressive given Matesa’s passion for the topic. She uses her own story as a point of entry into various sub-topics, but she doesn’t project her experience onto others. She takes us on an exploration of various people’s experiences, shares what she’s learned, and she leaves the reader with something that take the them much further than self-help answers—questions.

This book his highly recommended for people in recovery and professional helpers.