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Hi everyone. And welcome to gay. A podcast about sobriety for the LGBTQ plus community and our allies. I'm your host, Steve Bennet-Martin. I am an alcoholic. I am grateful for the success. I'm finding in my new position at work. As of this recording, I am 331 days sober. And today we're welcoming a guest to share their experience, wisdom and hope with you. Welcome to the show.John:
I Steve. Thanks for having me.Steve:
Thank you for joining us. And why don't you start by introducing yourself to the listeners about who you are?John:
Yeah. So my name is John Lewis. I grew up in London, England and I'm coming up to a thousand days. Alcohol free. It's actually 998 days today. So I'll be celebrating a thousand days on Tuesday. I was just looking at my tracker and that meant that I haven't drank four and a half thousand points of logo.Steve:
Congratulations. That's huge though. Coming up on a thousand days for a thousand. Yeah. Yeah. And tell us a little bit about what your journey with alcohol and addiction was like.John:
So I CA I started drinking quite a young age. My I've got a big Irish family. I'm half Irish. So you Scouts wildland is a child. And our Kohl's kind of a big part of, you know, the culture in Ireland. And I was brought up in bars and clubs and stuff like that. So our call was Louise around and it was always something I put. When I was about 14, 15, it's like teenage discos in Ireland. And something, I didn't really do a lot of when I was back in the UK. So it was kind of one of those kinds of summer holiday things. Try to be a drinking. And kind of, I got to, you know, legal aid around this 18 over here, you can start drinking again. I, I drank a bit, but I didn't drink much. I came out though when I was about 20 and 2021 and my drink and then kind of escalated quite a lot. Going on the gay scene, I was pretty much, I was out every night of the week and then I got introduced to ecstasy and speed and stuff like that as well. And I, I, I drank quite a bit, but I found at that phase as well, I was still kind of, you know, I was popping pills at the party and drink of water and, you know, not drink really heavily. And it probably kind of gradually started to creep up on me as I was kind of getting into my late twenties, thirties. I always had a good job, so I had money. I could buy out calls. So, you know, it's not a problem if you can buy it. Right. And tell them. 20 15, 16. I got made redundant from my job. I was drinking quite heavily, but I could afford it. And I was still kind of coping and work. I was still kind of getting by, I was still functioning, but I, I knew that alcohol was taken its toll on. And through being made redundant, I ended up I couldn't afford my debts. So built up a lot of debt. I couldn't afford those. I ended up having a mental breakdown and I spent a year basically off work with anxiety, depression and just sort of really low point in my life. The thing is, even though I didn't have any money and I couldn't afford my debts and I had to go to charities to help me, I still manage to find money for drink. I still managed to pull money from somewhere to go to the pub. And I, I would literally like drink my last pounds. You know, my last, the last money I had in my pocket, I been drinking and go home without any money. And I managed to get through that year. I got, I got over it. I went back to work. I took a lesser job than I have before I rebuilt my life. But drink was still there. It was still in the background and I got a better job. I started to earn more money again, and then my drinking just increased again. So a drinking start becoming more, the more money I earn, the more I drank. I like my position with cash just never changed. It was. The same thing, but now I had a better job and more monies. So in around 2019, I, I had an argument with my partner. I was drunk. It was the 31st of July and the 1st of August was my first sober day. So we had that argument. I got up in the morning and I thought I can't drink anymore. And that was my first day sober, like I said, I'm 998 days from that day now.Steve:
Congratulations. And what are some of the positive changes in your life been since finding sobriety?John:
Well, like everything's changed like completely EV like my whole life is so. One of the best things and and she is just the best thing in the world is my dog. Like, I was barely looking after myself. Right. I was barely like making sure I was eating and stuff like that. And I always said, I'll never have a dog unless I can properly look after it. And. Probably bought about six, eight months after I gave up drink and I got a dog me and my partner, we moved to the countryside. So we moved out of London. We moved to the countryside and about two years after I stopped drinking, I managed to clear all of my debt. And now my, unfortunately my Nan passed away last year. But it did mean she left me a little bit of money and that's going to go towards a spine and a house. So in less than a thousand days, my life has completely changed. It's completely altered and turned on its head. And it just shows you like. Just shows you like how much you waste drinking. Like you, you just think you're like having a great life and you're enjoying yourself laughing and joking and getting drunk and you just don't realize what you're missing. And one of my, one of my favorite things at the moment is I get up early and I go out with the dog, especially if it's like a Saturday morning or a Sunday morning. Cause you know, everybody else is hung over and that's why they're not in the park. And it's just me and her in the park. And it's just quiet. And the sense of peace, just a sense of peace that being able to get up in the morning at like 6:00 AM and just think, I feel okay. I feel fine, you know, get up peacefully and start the day. That's the best thing about being alcohol-freeSteve:
excellent. Yeah. I agree. Finding that sense of peace is really rewarding.John:
They do, right? It was there.Steve:
Yeah. And you touched a little bit about it, but can you go more into how you feel your sexuality played a role in your drinking in your addiction?John:
So when I was younger, I had an uncle who was gay. So I. I grew up with that kind of, I knew, I knew that he was gay in the, in the family were kind of keeping it quiet and I knew that I was gay and it was all a bit difficult to for me to actually come to terms with my own sexuality, you know, because I seen the way that he was treated in the family. And then it was like, there's no way that I could, I could actually I could come out. So I struggled for a long time about even coming out and it wasn't until I was like 21 that somebody, somebody I worked with that she said, oh yeah, but you're gay. Right. And I was like, no. And then by the end of the day I was in, I was like in Soho, like checking out every gay bar and And it, you know, it's the scene, it's the whole scene. It's just like, if you want to be gay and you want to be out, you need to go on the gay scene. Like you would, you need to be in Soho. You need to be out in the clubs, not in the bars. And what'd you do, you drink, you know, you drink, you take drugs and that's, it's part of the culture to do that, you know? And that, that's what I know. It kind of, you know, really escalated from, you know, going out for a few beers to going out every single night and drinking. So I just got used to drinking all the time. So yeah, that, that was the main, main thing I think around my sexuality. I mean, like over the years, I, I moved away from the gay scene, but I carried on drinking, you know, like in my local bars and pubs, because everywhere is so spread out. Like there's there, isn't a gay. And there's a case in London as a gay scene in Manchester, but that's it right then, you know, like other major cities, but when you're just like in the suburbs of London, there isn't anywhere to go. So you end up in the local bars and you just, you just drink, you know, and I think in a sense there's part of me that always want me to just fit in with other people as well, you know, just fit in with the local community. And you did that by doing what everybody else does and joining them in the pub and, you know, like just being another guy that's. You know, part of the community. And I always kind of prided myself on the fact that I, you know, I had a lot of really straight guy friends, you know, like we used to hang out together and drink together all the time. So I was like one of the boys, as well, as, you know, as well as somebody who was gay,Steve:
that's nice and inter and getting sober. How do you feel your place in the LGBT plus community has kind of.John:
Well I'm because I'm, I'm looking now to actually be I'm training with this. They could find to be a certified, this thinking mind coach and it, and I do want to bring that back to the community. So I'm going to be specifically working with the LGBT community around alcohol and. The different side can make. Cause I think, like I said to you, right, we've all got different routes to getting sober, but it's like when you are sober, it's how many people you're going to bring with you. So I think that's kind of like the really important thing to remember. It's not just about us getting sober. It's about you get sober and then actually you need to shout and tell other people how to do it and help them along and get, and bring them on your journey. Yeah, forSteve:
sure. I mean, I found my journey in a 12 step program, but you mentioned that you've gone another route with this naked mind. Can you tell us more about that?John:
Yeah, so this night it was a book that was written by an author called Annie grace. And it's just a different take on how alcohol addiction works. And it was really kind of like taking the pressure off of you as an interview. To start to understand that alcohol is an addictive substance. If you drink alcohol and if you drink enough of it over time, then you will become addicted to it. Right? So the traditional view has always been that there's, it's almost like there's something wrong with you. If you can't handle alcohol, this tips that on its head and it says alcohol is the problem. And you're just a human being, living a human experience. And. The way society works and the way society tells us that outcome is okay. It kind of reinforces that are really young age that, you know, you drink to have a party. You drink to go to a funeral. You drink. If you're upset, you drink. If you're happy, you drink, if you party and you just drink light all the time for whatever reason. Right. But no, one's going to come up to you and say like, why don't you take cocaine? You know, or why don't you smoke weed for that? Or, but the whole of society will agree. It's okay for you to drink alcohol. And you know, it's known that alcohol is the cost of the generic. It's been known for years, but people who drink don't want to listen to that. It's a little bit like cigarettes where, you know, like 20 years ago, like everyone's smoked, but no one believed it was bad for you. And this state of mind goes into the science behind. You know, like, what is it that's going on in your body when you actually drink? So when you drink alcohol, the first thing that happens is the dopamine in your brain increases. And that's like the happy molecule in your brain. So you get, you get a dopamine high and that lasts for about 20 minutes and then you start coming down and then you think I better have another drink because the dope means coming. Like it's not a conscious cigarette, but you end up in this spiral where you end up below your base. And then as a drinker, you're constantly trying to bring yourself back above your baseline all the time. But if you drink like me all the time, then your blood you're below that constantly. So drinking just kind of perks you up a bit, but it doesn't do a lot for you. So kind of understanding the brain chemistry and how that's working understanding that willpower alone could be quite limiting, you know, willpower. It's like a muscle in your body, right? So willpower is good if you're laying in bed and you can't get out of bed, you use willpower. So I've got to get out of bed and go to work. Or when I'm, you know, my dog wants to go out for a walk and I can't be bothered. It's willpower. That gets me to stand up and walk out the door. But if you try to stop drinking and your subconscious has learned, you know, dopamine is going to make me feel bad. It's really hard to use your willpower to stop drinking. It just gets exhausted and it gets tired. So it's just about learning all of those things. And, and like, one of my things is you can't change what it is until you know, what is, right. So when she fully understand what's going on in your mind and your body, how you've come to all the decisions that you've come to round out cold, then you're at a point where you can see. Because you really got like you got new balance it up. You can say, well, this is what drinking does, and this is why do I want to continue? And you can choose powerfully what you want to do next. Yeah. So it's all about, it's all about choice, you know, like choosing what you want to do and choosing the thoughts and beliefs that you want to hold because you, you thought them up in the first place. So you can go back and you can rethink and reframe and put them into any format you want. Really. So that's what the whole kind of coaching is about.Steve:
And speaking of coaching, I found you on Instagram where you share your experiences and recovery as the T total coach, can you tell us more about.John:
Yeah. So with this stake in mind and this and the certification to become a, this, they could mind coach. We are all of us on this journey. Our setting, them setting ourselves up in our own business to be coaches. So the Tito coaches, my business that I will be launching probably fully kind of in the end in summertime. Probably around August, some hoping that it's going to coincide with my three-year anniversary, but it will all do with, you know, like dates and if I'm certified by then but the coach who really is like taking people on that journey. So the first thing, when we take someone through the journey to stop drinking, the first thing that we say to people is stop trying to say. So we go through this cycle constantly of like beating ourselves up. So, you know, we get up in the morning, we feel really crap. We we got the hangover going on. We've got to go to work, using all our willpower to try and get ourselves out of bed and do all of that stuff. And we're saying we're never going to drink again. And then by the evening there we are with drinking again. Right. So then we're beating ourselves up constantly. And for someone to come along and say, you know, you just got to stop doing. That that will solve your problem. Just stop drinking. You'll be fine. It's it? It's hard for us. Right? You can't just stop drinking that, you know? So the first thing we do is we say, stop trying to stop. And we have a period where we look all the reasons that you drink. So the beliefs that you've got from a child and going to like parties, where you seen your family drink the thoughts that you have around drinking And try to understand where, where somebody's coming from before they actually tried to stop, give them all the information about the brain science that's going on and all of that other stuff. And then once you feel like you, you've got all the information to make an informed choice, then we do like a 30 day 30 day. Let's do 30 days. And we coach you through that. To support you in that 30 day period to get you through your first 30 days. So you can see what life can be like without alcohol. So it's for anyone really who, who just wants to look at their relationship with alcohol. And like for me, I'd never, I hadn't gone 30 days without alcohol for. I dunno since I was like in my twenties. And the difference just experiencing 30 days without alcohol, the difference you feel in your body and your mind is remarkable. But the other thing that's different is that when we put someone on the 30 day challenge, if you drink a data. Like you haven't failed. Like there's no failure in this, right. It's not a right or wrong. It's not a, you have to do this. It's okay, cool. You drank it day 10. So we call that a data point. So let's look at it. What happened like the day before you drank what happened leading up to it? What happened an hour before. How did you feel when you actually drank, how did you feel an hour later? How did you feel the next day? Like, like really get into the detail of what was going on and coaching people through that to understand what was going on in their minds and in their thoughts and their. And taking the stigma out of, you know, you haven't done anything wrong, you haven't fallen off the wagon. You haven't had a relapse, you're a drinker. You've been drinking for X amount of time. You've just done 10 days. Well done. You like, come on, like be proud, you know, be proud. You've done 10 days, you drank one day. So let's get let's carry on now. Like what did we learn? And let's move forward. So it's to encourage people and to take. Take the blame and to take the shame away from, from all of it. We're just humans being human. And we started drinking an addictive substance that is going to make you addicted if you keep drinking it. So,Steve:
yeah, for sure. And in addition to, you know, kind of looking at it analytically as to like, what happened, like now that you're sober, what are some things that you do in your sobriety to help keep yourself.John:
So see, here's the key thing, right? When you start to change your mindset around and you start to change your beliefs and your thoughts about alcohol it starts to become really insignificant in your life. So I don't I don't do anything really that I, you know, the I'm, I'm keeping myself sober. I don't want to do. I can go to the pub at the end of the road, anytime I want and have a drink and I've got alcohol in my fridge, I don't drink it. So I choose all the time not to drink, but one thing that I've started doing recently, and it really does help is meditation. So just trying to bring yourself to be present in the moment and to. You know, like I said earlier, those small things of going out early in the morning, being on your own, just being present, all of those kinds of things being present, all the stuff that you weren't present to before con is just so powerful, you know, like who to thought I'd be like, have a smile on my face, just for some standing in the park at seven in the morning, it was a dog. Right. But I would never have been able to do that as a drinker. I would never have been able to experience. So yeah, being present, being mindful and being grateful for the fact that I've, I've got out of that trap.Steve:
Yeah. Those are all great things. And if you could give one piece of advice to someone who is sober, curious, or newly sober, what would it be?John:
I would say like have your goal, but realize like your goal is not Australia. To, to reach your girl, you might have to go zigzagging all over the place and in all different directions, but just keep that goal in mind, because even though you're going zigzag, you're still moving forward. And just keep, keep on going where you're going. Like you're in the perfect place for you. And if you decide that that's what you want, just hold it in your mind and keep going.Steve:
Excellent. And in recovery, we generally love our steps, traditions, or sayings. Do you have a favorite mantra or quote that you like to live by?John:
So it's one that I've found quite recently and it's actually by Mahatma Gandhi and he said the future depends on what you do today. And I think that's really true. It's not about like, sort of like trying to look too far in the future. It's not about looking into next year or the rest of your life it's today. Look at today and what you're doing in today.Steve:
I like that. Yeah. So oftentimes in my drinking, I was drinking over what might happen, you know, days or weeks from now. You know, it's just a matter of what I can do today. So I like that a lot. Well, thank you so much, John, for being on it was a pleasure getting to know you better. Can you tell the listeners about how they can find.John:
Yes, I'm on Instagram and Facebook at the teetotal coach. That's spelled capital T total coach. And you can go to a website which is www.theteetotalcoach.com.Steve:
Excellent. Thank you so much. And thank you listeners for listening to another episode of gay, please make sure you rate and review. If you found this information helpful. You can always reach out to me directly on Instagram at podcast, or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org and be sure to follow us wherever you're listening so you can get new episodes when they come out every Monday and Thursday until next time stay sober friends.