Steve welcomes Alex to share their experience, strength, and hope with you, along with advice on getting and staying sober.
Follow Alex on Instagram @ads5202 and follow us while you are at it @gAyApodcast.
Also check NWPA Pride at https://nwpapride.org/
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If you are interested in sharing your story, getting involved with the show, or just saying hi, please e-mail me at email@example.com
Or Follow Us wherever you are listening so you can get new episodes when they come out every Monday and Thursday. Until that time, stay sober, friends!Support the show
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 and I am grateful for all my listeners and supporters. As of this recording, I am 332 days sober and say, we're welcoming a guest to share their experience, wisdom and hope with you. Welcome to the show, Alex.Alex:
Thanks for having me.Steve:
Thank you for agreeing to be on. Why don't you start by introducing yourself to the list.Alex:
Yeah. So my name is Alex spoon. I'm from Erie, Pennsylvania. I've been sober now. Today is actually 34 months on the.as of the recording. I use the pronouns, he him yeah, that's pretty much the basics.Steve:
Perfect. Well then let's jump right on into it then with a little bit about what your journey with alcohol and addiction was like.Alex:
Yeah. So growing up, I kind of always had the the typical parents. I come from a family of alcoholics Some have seek treatment. Others have unfortunately lost their lives due to it. So I kind of came out when I was 21. Immediately jumped into the bar scene that we kind of all tend to jump into in the early 20 teens. That was the big thing still now kind of, it's not as big now, but it was really big back then. I kind of struggled my way through. Everything got involved with people that I thought were doing the best for me. I got involved in the drag scene and in the drag scene, alcoholism is. And encouraged, quite frankly there, especially back then, there wasn't all the Ru Paul's drag race Queens out of now made a big deal out of being sober and their journey like Alaska who is actually from my hometown. So she was actually born and raised about 20 minutes from where I'm sitting now. So I kind of went through the drag scene for five or six years where I would be out more often than I wasn't. I would normally I might have one or two nights at home just cause I was running out of clothes to wear quite frankly. I was going out immediately after work. I went to school for finance and I got involved in the banking industry, which was a, another kind of. Industry that at the time was there was a lot of happy hour during two to three nights a week. So I would more often than not, I would kind of get out of work. I'd go home. I would eat dinner. I would get changed. Or I would sometimes just go right to a happy hour from work. And either way I would end up at one of our local gay bars. I would usually get there around like eight o'clock and usually not quit drinking until. One two o'clock in the morning, sometimes get up the next morning to be at my day job at eight o'clock like nothing kind of ever happened. And then go back again. And I did that pretty solidly for about five to six years. And then on top of that, I kind of, I started to get involved with the local pride Alliance and that got to more and more. Happy hours going out to meet with everybody. If we were meeting somewhere, we always meant either over dinner where I would have drinks or we would meet at the bar where I would have more drinks. So it just kind of led on it. It seemed like everything was kind of piling on at the time where I was, I was getting more involved. I was starting to not realize how much I was drinking and. Kind of got to the point that I was like, you know, when I was home one night this week and I didn't drink one night this week because I never really kept alcohol at home. I, I always thought I was a social drinker and kinda went through four or five years of that. And then just about three years ago, I started to experience some health issues and it ended up being my gallbladder, quit working. Part of that was alcohol made the issues that I was having even worse. So we had just hosted our local drag pageant and we had, I remember we got together the last night I had any alcohol, we got together and we were discussing like, what went right? What went wrong? And I took a drink and five minutes after having. My gallbladder said, Nope, that's not staying in you. And there was nothing I could do. So I kind of went through a medical situation. Like I know I've listened to a lot of the podcasts. Everyone that's went through all the different steps, but my body just didn't even, it was like, no, you've got to quit now. And looking back on it, like my health issues were flaring up a lot worse when I was drinking. So I ended up quitting cold Turkey. And kind of went through the stage of, oh, I'm just doing this as long as I, until I can get my surgery. Cause I ended up having to have my gallbladder taken out. And then like, I remember asking the doctor like two weeks before surgery, I'm like, so. How long after surgery, do I have to wait until I can have a drink? And he's like, well, it's two months was what we would recommend. So I kind of use that in my head. And at this point I had been sober for about, probably about 90 days or so before I got my surgery and I kind of started to just get this sense of clear. What I didn't feel like I had to have that drink as the crutch to be out in the social situations and kind of went on and on next thing I know it was five months, then it was six months. And I finally did get myself back into going out to the bars to see the drag shows. Cause I was still a huge part of that community. And I was with my vice president of the board and she was there. She goes, are you good? You haven't drank in a while. Is it something that you think you want one? And I looked at her, I'm like, no, I don't think I do, because I really spent those couple of months prepping for the surgery, really kind of diving into what was pushing me towards alcohol and resourcing. Like some of the stuff that was going on with my family. And I was able to just, I was like, Nope, I'm done. And now we're going on. It'll be three years in June. So. Congratulations on that.Steve:
And what are some of the positive changes in your life been since findingAlex:
sobriety? I'm not spending a hundred dollars a night drinking, so that's always a nice change. But other than that, I just I've really focused on myself. So since I got sober, I had just started a new job prior to getting sober. And I really dedicated myself to that. And I can say it now. Three promotions since I've been at that job. So certainly that aspect and I've found a lot more time to do other stuff. I've gotten really involved with like photography. That's I've, I'm, I've always been an addictive person. So I, I feel like I have to have some sort of an addiction or else I'm just. Going to struggle. Like I remember a few years ago, Funko pops for all the craze and I probably have about four or 500 sitting around here. So it's like, I've always been when I get into a hobby, I don't just. Casually get into it. I'm like full bore. So I've really just kind of channeled that energy that I used to put into drinking. Because I found I've now got all this time because I'm not spending six hours a night at the bar. And I got into photography. I got into kayaking. So like I just got into a lot more activities that is keeping myself busy and I just have this sense of. Kind of this clarity, like I don't need the alcohol and now I'm to the point that I can be around it and I'm not tempted like every now and again, I used to be a huge wine drinker every now and again, I'd be like, Ooh, because in Pennsylvania where I'm at, we're a huge wine producer. Like we have vineyards everywhere and I'm like, I could really go for a glass of wine and. Now that's probably not the best idea. And then it's like, if, cause I know deep down in my head now, if I have one, I'm just, I don't know when to stop. And I never did when it came to drinking, like I stopped when I ran out of money, which didn't happen very often in our bar because it was super cheap drinking around here or when I just physically wasn't able to order another one, like, and being involved in the drags. All the bartenders knew me and they were all like, yeah, sure. We'll give you another one, whatever we don't care. And it was just, I was kind of, I was well-known so it was just a situation where I never really had a limit when I was out. And now that I don't drink, I just have this sense of like, very, like, I know what I'm doing. I'm in total control, which is, it's weird that I turned to drinking beer. I mean, it's in my family, but. I'm such a control freak on everything around me. And I don't know why I always went to alcohol and gave up that control. Like I, I've got a couple of nights I can think of it's two o'clock in the morning. I just left the bar and I'm pretty blocks away. I only live about five blocks away and they get pulled over and I'm like, okay, now what am I going to do? And I remember the last time it happened, the cop came up to the window and he. Do you have weed in the car? I'm like, no, in a total panic. And he goes, okay. We thought we smelled weed coming from your car. You can drive away. And I remember once I got home, I'm like, what just happened? That should have been a DUI. How do they not smell all of the vodka that I had just drank? So it was kind of like, that was kinda my. Okay, maybe you have a problem. And then I still want another year before I had my other health issues that forced me to get sober really?Steve:
Yeah. And being so ingrained in the club and the drag community. I mean, how do you feel your sexuality played a role in your addiction?Alex:
I, so my family is I come from a family of alcoholics, so I think it accelerated, it, it didn't, I don't know that it added the extra pounds. It made it easier to really go through with all the drinking that I did. My, I don't know that like my sexuality, I, it really came down to more of the culture that I found myself in the old, like Erie had a really big, like older scene where we did not go out to the straight bars. We just congregate in our own places. So it was kind of. I felt safe because of where I was at. Then when you feel safe, you then kind of, oh, I'm just going to have a one or two and let loose. And one or two turned it into a dozen or more. So I don't know how my sexuality really like played into it. Other than, as I got more ingrained. The barriers that you typically sometimes see at a gay bar, like a little bit of gatekeeping, like they go to the certain people that are always there. Those went down and down and down. And just made it easier and easier and easier for me to get drinking.Steve:
Yeah. And then, I mean, flipping that around now that you're sober, how has your relationship with the LGBT plus community and how has that maybe changed since getting sober?Alex:
So I've, I went through a really, like, I got sober and then the pandemic happened. So like I got sober in June of 2019 and. I kind of hid getting sober for the first, really until my surgery. Cause I'm like, I didn't think like that was going to be my, I didn't think I was going to end up not going back to drinking eventually. So I kind of hit it for a solid six months and then I was actually, I just started going back to performing because that's as somebody that enjoys the art of drag, the only place that we have around here are bar shows or at the time were bar shows and. It really, I really struggled the first night I went back cause like, I thought the character needed it to help me loosen up and I made it through that show. And it really like since then I remember a couple of the Queens made a snide comment, like, oh, don't give her a drink. Cause she doesn't drink anymore. It was kind of like a backhanded, like, oh, doesn't drink. And it was, doesn't like questioning why I belong there. And I will say since I got sober, I don't go out to the drag shows as much. That crowd was very much their life circled around drinking. So I kind of, I lost a lot of those friends. And even to this day, one of the people that I considered, my closest drag sister that I used to talk to every other day, if not every day, I don't, I haven't spoke with her and really like a meaningful conversation in probably six months to a year. So I lost a lot of the people that I thought were my friends that in reality, or just my drinking buddies that I got along with, and if I saw them at a dry. We would probably still be just fine, but if I'm in the bar, it, for some reason, it's just feels like it's an issue and it may be the awkwardness on both my part and on their part. So I feel like that aspect has really cut back. And there's still times I'm like, I feel like I used to have more friends when I was drinking and then I really get to looking back on it and I'm like, did I have more friends when I was drinking? Or was I just. In the place where everybody was drinking. So like where those might true friends and looking back when I'm like, you know what, I don't think they were. So I I feel like that aspect, the, the bar crowd, I've certainly lost a lot of connections there, but when I went public with getting sober, I gained a lot more people that were kind of on my side and that really embraced everything. Cause we don't really have anybody. In our little area that has publicly talked about their sobriety. You have a few people that you might see an occasional post on Facebook, but nobody that's been consistent with it. So I feel like in that aspect, I am now I'm more of a role model within our community that I've had conversations with other people. That wished they could get sober that just haven't found the right help. They went through all the local groups and they're still struggling with that. So I, I feel like that that part is may more than made up for everything that I lost. So to speak as far as the social scene goes,Steve:
no, I can imagine how rewarding it is. Like being a role model like it. I do my best with the podcast to try and help others who need to hear the message. Speaking of sexuality and being part of a community, you are an LGBT plus advocate and president of the WPA. Can you tell us a little bit more about your work with that?Alex:
Yeah. So I have been on the pride board now for, this is my 10th year on the board and I've served as the president for the last, this is my seventh year. So Board and I are the group that we host the prize. We also pride festival, a pride picnic. We now have a pandemic pride parade that even though we're coming out of it, we've had so much people say, well, I really like this. So we have a beautiful peninsula here in Erie that we. Our car is decorated and all the rainbow stuff. And then we just take a lap around the peninsula, just a slow lap with all of our pride stuff. So we were keeping that on. And then we have the picnic, we have a amusement park day, so we do a lot of work here in the community. And I've really, since I've got sober, made an effort to switch away from the traditional happy hour to coming up with some other events. Although drinking may be an option. It doesn't feel as a requirement as it used to.Steve:
Yeah. And that's certainly huge helping to build your own community. And if you can give one piece of advice to someone who's sober, curious, or newly sober, what would it be?Alex:
My piece of advice is to really kind of do some soul searching inside of you. If you're able to like, what is for me, I found that I had some. Internal doubt and some internal issues that I really had to address to be ready to get sober. And I remember when I was drinking, I would ride the emotional roller coaster. And after looking back on that and thinking about why was I riding it? I really went, I'm like, you know what, let's address those. And I kind of worked on that aspect to get it away to where I didn't know. Upset and then start drinking more and more and more. So I really kind of do some soul searching and from there, determine what what's truly making you unhappy. And as, as I did it, I found that it was the social scene being around all the liquor. That was just, it was putting me if I thought I was on stable ground mentally. It was like, not as like sitting on a chair and having a leg knocked out of you and now you have to try to balance it. And as you kept drinking and other leg got knocked out, and then at the end of the night, you're on the ground metaphorically. And sometimes physically, because you've just drank too much.Steve:
Yeah. And you know, in recovery, no matter how we get sober, we generally love our steps, traditions or sayings. Do you have a favorite quote or mantra that you like to learn?Alex:
My biggest mantra is that if you're struggling with something you're deaf, the odds are, you're not struggling alone. Statistically speaking, if you're dealing with some sort of an issue, you're not the only one doing it alone. And so one thing that always runs through my head when I'm going through. Some sort of issue some sort of just obstacle in anywhere in my life or when it comes to potentially my sobriety is if I can't vocalize it with others, I can never find the support that I may need. So I've found that within a circle of trusted people, it's I prefer to almost overshare to see if I can find support that way. And then really. Go from there, like I'm super blessed to have a great support system. From my parents, I have a group of best friends that is basically a second family that they've supported me. I think that's kinda, my big thing is don't be afraid to reach out to just anybody.Steve:
Yeah. And if someone was interested in reaching out to you how would they find you?Alex:
Yeah, so. The best way to reach me would be Instagram. My initials are ads 5, 2 0 2 is how you would find me. That's kind of going to be my best way. Also you can find me on. Facebook the last name Al or first name Alex, last name spoon, S P H O N. And if you want to art interested in what's going on in Erie checkout and WPA pride.org.Steve:
Excellent. I'll be sure to link over to all those in the show notes. Thank you so much for joining us, Alex, as a pleasure, getting to know you and hear more about your.Alex:
Absolutely. Thanks for having me.Steve:
Thank you. And thank you listeners for tuning into another episode of Gaye, please rate and review. If you found this information helpful leaving five-star reviews on apple podcasts helps other people find this, that need to hear it the most. And if you're interested in sharing your story like Alex, you can reach out to me on Instagram at gay podcast, or email me 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. And until that time stay sober friends.