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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 and I am grateful for my favorite show of all time. Buffy the vampire Slayer. As of this recording, I am 339 days sober. And today we're welcoming a guest to share their experience, wisdom and hope with you. Welcome to the show.Brian:
Hey, how you doing?Steve:
Good. Thank you for joining us. Why don't you start by introducing yourself to the listeners?Brian:
All right. Well, my name is Brian. I am an alcoholic. I've been sober. I'll have 12 years on May 16th. Identify as he, they, andSteve:
Excellent. And so let's jump into it then with a thick of what your journey with alcohol and addiction was like, if you can tell us what it was like, what happened and what it's like now.Brian:
Yeah, I sure will. Let's see. Well, I, I am, I'm trying to explain my sobriety. So I was sober for 17 years. I was out for six and now I'm back for 12. So. I never know how to tell my story. So I'll do like the first chunk sort of first tech sort of was I came into the program when I was 18. I I was definitely, definitely needed it. I basically, my parents were like, you can't come back home and I didn't have anywhere to go. And somehow I ended up in this rehab, which I remember I didn't want to go to. So. I didn't. I went in, I signed up, I left that night. I was like, there's no way. And then I went back the next day really only because I had no choice. And then I I got sober. And I think at the time I was like the youngest person in like, The area. And I really loved that. It made me feel super special. And I think I got right into gay too when I was, when I was new. And then basically those 17 years where I really didn't do the steps. I had a sponsor who. I basically just didn't do anything except Hungary had the fellowship. So, but what my, what those 17 years gave me was I I was able to go to college. I graduate. It did come a commodity. I went to the number one film school in the world. I graduated and made a movie that I wrote a movie and directed a movie that gotten into Sundance. Like it was, it gave me a lot. But what happened was when I made, when I, when I, when I graduated from grad school and I'd done this movie, I thought, okay, my life looks like. Now, like if people looked at me not super close, it would feel like a normal person. Like some of the grad school did have some success and I was obsessed with that. So I was out with an actor and they said, what are you most afraid of? And I said, drinking, and they said, you should have a drink. And. I did. I was like, okay, that made sense to me. I remember I didn't have it right away. I remember we were like planned it. We went out to dinner at this restaurant in Los Angeles and I had two glasses of wine, nothing happened. And I felt like, oh fuck. Okay, thank God. I'm not, not like so then I but I remember on the drive home, I thought. Oh, I'm going to get drunk and I can't be weird about it because people get drunk. And so, you know, you're not alcoholic. I don't know what I thought. What happened when I took a drink? I think I probably like a lot of people just thought I'd be instantly homeless and like strung out, running around naked or something. So, so the six years I was out, I want to say the first three years were, you know, they say fun, fun with problems, problems. Like it was like fun, fun, and a half then problems. So the first few years were like, okay. And then I think what happened for me was I had the full adventure of alcoholism And those six years, like when I came in at 18, you know, I could only have gotten into so much trouble. But then when I, when I came back, I mean, when I was in, when I went back out drinking, I was, I had the whole experience. So I went from being one of Outfest one about magazines 100 people to like living in my this this loft downtown LA being it was trashed. I was completely isolated of scared. And I couldn't stop drinking and I couldn't go to AA either. I couldn't go back. Like I tried, but I couldn't. And I thought like if I, I thought because I knew about AA, I'd be able to go. You know, like, oh, things got bad. I'll go back. That does not, that does not, does not how it worked for me. It was like, oh shit, I'm just stuck in this and I can't get out. So why is this person calling me? Let me just cancel this. I want to do a pause. So anyway, so finally I had just like one more minute. So I went from like, Being having speed, super successful, doing the pilot for this major show or another pilot and other TV to only working once or twice a year to not being able to get a job, a job for three years. And I was living off residuals and basically I burned everything down, everything that I had. Created or accomplished destroyed in the biggest way you could possibly destroy out. And so I came back. So, but I still could, not none of that mattered. I remember sitting in my house and drinking and going like, oh shit, you are living your dream. And that is not enough to stop you from doing this. Like, you're going to ruin this and you can't. And it, for me, it wasn't about like reaching out and getting help. It was, I would reach out, I would go to meetings probably once or twice a year and I couldn't do it. It just was not happening. So that was a huge lesson for me. So how I stopped was I on the, I'll never forget. I had had had, I had had a half bottle of vodka and I had drank half of it and I wasn't drunk. Oh, fuck. I didn't. That scared me more than anything. So I I had like one second, they say in the program, like you have window, like a window opens and you go through and you never know when that window is going to open again. So I had like one second where I was like, I'm ready to do this. And I went to a meeting I lived in downtown Los Angeles, so I went to a meeting downtown Los Angeles I was still getting high on the weekends because I couldn't, I was like, I'm not doing all of it. I'll do a lot. And I was too scared to be honest with you. I just was too scared to like look at my life sober. I could guess stay sober that week as the meeting was every noon Monday through Friday, but I didn't go to me. I was so skinny. I was so scared. So when w would see, I would see run into someone who knew I was sober outside of that community. So I only went to that one meeting. So, I dunno, three months in whatever a month in, I don't remember. Someone said, Hey, my life got better when I stopped getting high too. And in that split second, I wanted better. And so I stopped getting high and I remember like, I think, I don't think I slept for like 16 days. It was terrible. In fact, I called my dealer. I was like, I'm going to, I can't do this. But then what I did. Is I couldn't call people. I couldn't call people, but what I could do is I knew New York inner group inner office integrated was open three hours earlier than LA. So I could call them, like I talked to some anonymous person and kind of get through the night. That's how I did it. Like I'm super sneaky and like, I'll, I'll figure out a way to do it, but So then I remember when I got my sponsor, I thought I told him, I remember saying like, oh, I'm going to be easy because. I've been sober before. So I kinda know this is not going to be that big of a deal. Don't worry about me. And what I didn't realize was like, I was bat shit crazy. Like I literally locked myself in my law for three years. I remember when I went to a mall, the fashions had changed. I was like, I couldn't, I was like, Fuck you are out of it. You do not know what's going on. And then also I was like really gung ho and I would like force people to go to meetings. I drive everybody to a meeting and if they hated the meeting, I'd be presented full and I would run through stoplights and it was pretty bad. All right. So and then in sobriety, I could not get a job for three years. Which was just so it's been, it was like six years now of not being able to work. And what happened was I had to surrender a second surrender where I was like, okay, I'll give up. I'll do whatever. You know, I'll just do whatever. And part of a big thing for me was I had done the steps. Now I've done all the way up to four or 5, 6, 7, which I didn't know what that meant, but I kind of did them. And then it was time to do eight, nine, which they're sea lions behind me. I don't know if them. So eight and nine. And then, so I surrendered and I started, I did my eight, nine and started making phone calls and started going to have those meetings. And I want to say very shortly after that, I got a call out of nowhere. The TV show in Vancouver where they didn't ask me where I'd been. They didn't ask me what I've been up to. I was scared to death. I forgot, like I live in, I lived in such like I mean, so poor and so broken that I remember, like, I forget that they fly first class. They put you in a five-star hotel and people would pick you up and it's like a whole thing. And I remember walking into holdout tower and just breaking down and crying because I just couldn't believe that I was there. And so what happened was like, sort of simultaneously with my work. I did a great job. I was serviced. I got people's advice in the program about how do I stay sober on directing a TV show because. You would people, I don't always think, realize, like you're working 12 to 14 hours a day, 16 hours a day. So there's not going to be a meeting. And someone said, if someone who was a director said you're not gonna be able to go to meetings. You just need to like fucking calm down. It's like, oh, okay. He's like, but what you can do is you can work a program why you're working. And so what that meant for me was I did a. I did a gratitude list every night. I still do. I did I do a nightly inventory. I talked to my sponsor and now actually I talked to my sponsees and stuff when I'm working. But so, you know, I sort of did a good job in my, my work life and it did a good job in my creative life. And I did, I'm sorry, in my sobriety sober life. And And I guess what I can say now. So I've finished the steps I've sponsees. I, I think what happened to me probably in the past three years was for me, I was like doing all this work and I still wasn't feeling like enough or good enough, or I still felt like. I do all this stuff and it's not enough. And I do all this work in the program, but I'm not quite getting there. I'm defective is what it felt like. And so I started going to another program called ACA, which is adult children of alcoholics, which is, it doesn't mean your parents are alcoholic. It just means if your feminist is functional. And for me, that kind of gave me like the. Kind of key to where it all started. So I feel like I have my recovery and then I have this thing where essentially for me ACA, it was basically the voice inside your head. Isn't your fault. This is the voice your parents gave me. And I thought that voice inside my head was me. I, and so, you know, this judgmental self critical I'm afraid. Person was this all information someone else gave me. And so I almost had instant relief once I went to that program. So I worked that program really hard and then another program, you know, so I do the best I can. I lucky to say I got my I dunno if I'm lucky to say, I feel very grateful. I got my career back. And I, I think the, the other thing that has always been kind of surprising to me is. It's an adventure. Like it doesn't get boring. Like I'm, I still feel like I'm a new human to the world. Like my experience as a human that I am today is different than it was, you know, a year ago, two years ago, two weeks ago. And. I think that's really interesting. Cause I, I think my first, I remember my first sobriety, like those first 10 years slog, like it was like really slow. I mean, yes, I did a bunch of stuff, but I felt like a really long time. And then this 10 years was like, I don't even know what happened. It's so I think, I think when you're actively participating or when I'm actively participating in my sobriety and what all that means feel into it, whatever that means to me it's an adventure and it's pretty good. And sometimes it's bad and sometimes it can be good and bad simultaneously, which is what I'm learning this year. Like, you can feel this way, but you can also feel this way and it can be simultan. Like I thought things had to be mutually exclusive for some reason. So that's basically my life and sobriety.Steve:
Thank you. Cool. Thank you for sharing that with us. And during your share, you did touch on some of the success and the new found adventures you've found in sobriety. What, what would you say are some of the most surprising, positive changes you've had?Brian:
Well, it's interesting. My changes are more like, I'm not afraid of everybody. I'm. I can say no, I, I mean like the big stuff is like, I was just thinking if I had told people I worked with, I had, my big thing is I just was executive producer producing director on the new queer as folk for Showtime, which is coming out June 9th, I think, which is totally sobriety, you know, just, just to be able to. Somehow go from this person who was, you know, I got evicted, evicted and lost everything and blah, blah, blah, to having this like close second chest. So like, like on the on the outside, that is something that probably looks good, but really it's, it's mostly about like, oh, I went to visit my parents and You know, I let them have their life and I didn't have to like, feel like everything they said affected me, even though sometimes it did, but not really a lot. I'm adopted. And I met my whole entire birth family and I was able to kind of meet them as I am not who I was trying to present myself to be, or you know, I, I. You know, like the fact that I got up this morning and work with my writing partner, and then I went to the beach and then I go running and biking and I can have like a very beautiful life. But I also know that it could go like that just because I think I'm never going to drink again. Does not mean anything. I have really close friend who was the first person that I saw when I came back, who I knew in my old school. And they were super cool about it. They were just like, great. They're awesome. And then they pulled me out of the downtown meetings and they took me to all these meetings all around you know where I lived and they would slip me a hundred bucks, you know, tucked into my pocket. They when I was. My old sobriety, they gave me while I was waiting for my movie to get made, they gave me a job as a house painter, like someone was super special and they went back out and they burnt alive in a, in their trailer, in the middle of the desert. Cause they went back out again and that is like, fuck this disease. Like, and I can't tell you, I mean, I know so many people that have died and people said that to me early on. And it just seems so abstract. And it shocks me and I, and it's all, it's a minute. I don't wanna say it's all, but it's a lot of people that you think thought were doing fine, you know? And, and I'm sure that didn't answer your question, but yeah,Steve:
it certainly helped and it was good to hear. I know like early on in my sobriety someone from, with. Passed away. They passed away sober, but it also just remember just the, it was like shattering for me being like, oh, even, even if we're sober, it doesn't mean like every problem is fixed in that life won't still happen or throw you curve ballsBrian:
Yeah. Now, how do you feel your, your sexuality played a role in your addiction?Brian:
No, I have a couple of thoughts about this. I feel like I'm an alcoholic because my body processes alcohol differently. Like that's why I'm an alcoholic, but why it turned to alcohol to money, sex fame. All of that stuff was because I was trying to feel something inside of me. I was trying to get validation from everything I was trying to choose myself. I think that if I wasn't an alcoholic, I would've turned out call no matter what, I just don't think I would have become an alcoholic. I don't know if that's true. That's just what my theory. But I think, you know, I went to, I went to a Catholic elementary school and evangelical high school, like high had issues about sex, you know, I was Oh, very confusing to me. So I think all my, my early experiences were sex. I was drunk. And then when I got sober, I don't know. I mean, the first time I got sober, I mean, I think I basically just dated like every single person in the program that was remotely appropriate. And then the second time coming back, I didn't date at all. So I think that. I don't think, I think either all that good. I think the I think the good news is in this sobriety. It's like, I know that I'm okay by myself. Like I don't need to have someone there, which is something I always did. But nowSteve:
yeah. And do you, do you have any struggles or do you find like finding your place in the community now?Brian:
Yeah, definitely. I was very scared to do this job because I'm, you know, I kind of, I got sober when I came back to sobriety, it was sort of straight AA and I sort of hit out there. I In terms of food, I'd gained 150 pounds. So I was not interested in eating dating. So yeah, I kind of kept everything at every, everyone I didn't have to, I didn't want to put my I didn't want to put myself emotionally at risk. So I did, I kept a lot of walls up and so. Oh, the pen debit. I started going to oh eight and lost 150 pounds. And then this job came up and say, fuck, my I'm so scared to go. I I'm so scared to go and be on a show. That's you know, that's, I, I, you know, I'm used to being on a show where I'm like the only gay person or there's like one other person. So yeah. And then And it was great. I was like, oh fuck. This is, these are my people. Like I can, this is, oh shit, this feels good. I'm like not scared. And it was like, it felt, it felt, it felt almost this was weird. It felt almost like when you first, when I first came to AA and I felt like I was. I felt the same thing and I was not expecting that. So it was fantastic. And then I think with coming back to Los Angeles after the job I go to this meeting in the beach and I remember when I first started going, I was like, no fucking straight people again, you know, like I'm still, and then all of a sudden I realized like, yeah, like there half the people were gay. So I don't know, I want to say sobriety seems like a process of being who you are becoming, who you are, but I don't know if that's entirely true. I feel like it's more like going back to who you are and not becoming who you are. It's like, it's something about me going back to where I started. Not where I think I should be. I don't, I don't know. It's very, you know, I'm very slow. Very slow.Steve:
Yes. Well if you could give one piece of advice to someone who is sober, curious, or freshly sober, what would it be?Brian:
Well, it's such a weird, I mean, it's, it's everyone has their own journey. I guess it would be to be okay with your sobriety, especially your first year and your curiosity about. Be okay with it being messy and not like it's going to be a messy, like I was a messy, fucking human being. And I think what gave me comfort when I came back was I don't know how to do this. So just for this year, I'm going to trust that I'm going to be taken care of. I don't think I believe that. But I know in trying to go to sleep tonight, I'm going to trust. Believe it. I'm going to pretend like I believe this because because it was messy. I had a lot of, I had a lot of mess to clean up and I didn't know who, I didn't know anything I was out of my mind. So I would say be okay with the message. And I also don't listen to anyone who tells you step that that's not in the big book. Like it always drives me crazy when people say things like don't take your first year. I think it's a really, really, really good idea not to date your first year, but it's not in the big book. It's not, in fact there was a story in the big book I love this guy was like super drunk and he was off alcoholic. And then his girlfriend was like the bartender and then she got sober and then they were like these messes who went on to live this amazing life. Right. Like if they had someone that said don't pick your first a year to these two people. I mean, it's just so that's stuff makes me that's stuff. I think I would be really careful about. And it gave me a good reason to read the big book and to be like, wait a second. Is this like just a good idea or something that somebody says, or is this like something that it's in the book, they helped me help me to be able to like To have something that I could turn to and say, this is in here. I'm not sure even that's right anymore. But when I was new, it was, it was verySteve:
important. Oh, for sure. I've even found it very helpful during my first year going through it. And now I'm going through it like chapter by chapter with my sponsor. Yeah. And in recovery, speaking of the book, we typically love finding the steps, traditions, or sayings that we kind of fall in love with. Do you have a favorite mantra or quote that you like to try and live by?Brian:
Yeah, I think it's probably they're all good. Really, honestly, like I think what I was thinking of this question, I was thinking one day to time, because. What it's come to. What I love about the program is it just changes, right? So when I was newly sober, it meant like, just don't drink today. And now it means, oh, you know what? Today is not going to be a good day. I just don't know why I can't get out of it. I can't pray myself out of it. I can't make a phone call. I can't my sponsor. Can't get me on. Doesn't have shit mood and. And it's going to pass one. It'd be over usually by the next day. I'm fine. So that was really helpful. Living lit, lit, lit is so something I really love to, you know, especially at work. Those probably probably. Keep it simple as probably a good one. Yeah. They're all good. I mean, honestly, you can't really argue with any of them.Steve:
Yeah. And tell the listeners more, if they want to, to find you or support you, how to get in touch.Brian:
Oh you can find me on Instagram at BP Denali, D a N N E L L Y. I think you've sent me on my other one is me trying to be sexy one, but I'm not going to get that. Okay.Steve:
Sounds good. I'll keep that a secret then I'll put the public one in the show notes and thank you listeners for listening. Please make sure you rate and review. If you found this information helpful. If you're interested in sharing your story, like Brian here, getting involved with the show or just saying hi, you can always email firstname.lastname@example.org or find me on Instagram at gay podcast 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 next time stay sober friends.