gAy A: A LGBT+ Podcast About Sobriety

Listen to Yourself ft. Charlie Gray

May 23, 2022 Steve Bennet-Martin Season 1 Episode 80
gAy A: A LGBT+ Podcast About Sobriety
Listen to Yourself ft. Charlie Gray
Show Notes Transcript

Steve welcomes back best-selling author Charlie Gray to talk on the topic of Discovering Your Identity in sobriety.

Follow Charlie on Instagram @hismajestycharles3rd and follow us while you are at it @gAyApodcast.
 
He's also on TikTok @atleastimnotthefrog , and you can buy his book "At Least I'm Not the Frog" on Amazon

Thank you for listening. Please rate and review if you have found this information helpful.

If you are interested in sharing your story, getting involved with the show, or just saying hi, please e-mail me at gayapodcast@gmail.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
Steve:

Hi everyone. And welcome to a podcast about sobriety for the LGBT plus community and our allies. I'm your host, Steve Bennet-Martin. I am an alcoholic and I'm grateful for the wisdom. My past guests have shared with us as of this recording. I am three, three hundred and forty four days sober. And today we're welcoming back Charlie, to talk about the topic of identity. Welcome back to this.

Charlie:

Hi, Steve. Thank you for having me back. How are you?

Steve:

I'm doing well. Oh, what's been new in your license. Our last episode back in. Wow. It was October, 2020.

Charlie:

It, you know, it doesn't sound that long when you say it, but the amount of things that have happened since then it feels a little bit longer. So a lot really has changed. I believe the last time I had spoken with you. Yeah, it was just a couple months out of publishing. You know, I was still kind of feeling my way around. Like, what do you do after you write a book? Like how do you get people to know about it? So I figured a lot more of that out. I have had a lot of really amazing opportunities to speak with people and have people speak with me and the engagement from my book just. It was, I don't know if the new year had anything to do with it, with people, you know, making the resolution of I'm going to quit drinking, or I know there was dry. January was a really big thing on social media. So I saw at the turn of the year, everything for me just kind of increase. And I was like, oh wow. Now there's all these people that are asking me things and wanting my advice and. It changes you in a good way, you know, because it, it made me stop and think like, whoa, okay, now I'm getting asked some really hard questions and like, I don't think I've ever thought about that before. So it helped me grow in, in helping these other people grow. So it's, it's just been amazing. I've continued to write on this second book as well. That will be coming out. I don't Lord, I don't even know when it will be coming out. You know, literary agent that's that wants to pick me up.

Steve:

Maybe who knows, right?

Charlie:

Yeah. If you're listening. Oh, And then I started writing a gay, romantic comedy that has been so much fun. So that's been my life since the last time we talked, Steve what's, what's your spin. Like

Steve:

it's been podcasting and work and life, but you know, almost nearing one year sober. Now, it is just amazing how much it changed back from when we first had our interview. And I was pretty much still like day camp.

Charlie:

Yes. And I remember, I remember listening to your very early episodes when you were just, you know, freshly sober, just like right off the press there. And you are getting super close to one year, dude. Yeah. That's a big deal. Yes, I am so proud of you. That's oh, wow. So are you going to do anything fun? I

Steve:

will be in pod Fest, a podcasting convention while I turn one year sober and then a year or a one month after that, I'll be going to the gay, sober men's conference up in New York.

Charlie:

Well, yes, you will fancy AAF. Okay.

Steve:

Yes. And out of all the topics that you could have chosen, when I invited you back on you chose discovering your identity, why did you, why did that one resonate with you?

Charlie:

Well, I it's like, it's like, you'd read my book or something and knew that this was a big thing that I went through. No, I, I saw that on your. I had one on what you had sent me. And I was just like, oh, I have to talk about that. Because aside from getting sober, that's what my journey has been, is discovering who I am and what I love and what I'm passionate about. You know, I went through so many different variations of myself and none of them were authentic or true. Until I got to where I'm at now. And, and for the first time in my life, really this last year, I feel like I know who I am. I know what I'm meant to do. And I had never had that before. So this topic is, is really extraordinary to me because I've lived

Steve:

it. Yeah, for sure. I feel like, you know, many of us, especially when we're in our active addictions, like part of that, it's like the addiction itself could even be excited. It's a by-product of like the fact that we're struggling. Who we are and what we want to do. And we're alive setting. I mean, tell us a little bit about how you struggled with your identity.

Charlie:

I can remember. It's so interesting because I started really thinking about this. And I was like, I remember in third grade, this girl named Rachel, she had the coolest mechanical pencil and she always got A's on her homework. And she always was just so fresh and neat and clean. And I remember. Going to my mom and being like, we need to go to the store because I have to get a new pencil and I have to get these folders that Rachel has, and I have to get all this stuff that Rachel has. So I can essentially be racial. I be Rachel, I suppose. And when I think about it, Really where it started for me, this idea of looking out into the world and finding what I perceived to be a successful individual and then latching on to a lot of their mannerisms, a lot of their styles, a lot of their personality traits and. I didn't know it of course for years, but that's what I was doing. I would kind of shift from one person to the next, I can look at my time in high school. And my best friend in high school was very much a motivation on who I was as a person. What I did, what I thought we went to the same college. And when we got to college, we kind of grew apart and I became friends with all my fraternity brothers and I very much. Became immeshed in the fraternity culture and what it meant to be an open gay man in a house of straight man. And I kind of, you know, wore that as a, a badge of pride, I guess, in some kind of twisted sense of like, well, look it to me, gay boys. I have all these strings. Oh, so like, I'm my thinking was clearly fucked up, but it was my thinking, so I'll own it. And then I got out of college and my identity very quickly came to be that of an alcoholic. And I embraced it. I accepted. And then I became the struggling rehab boy, you know, that went to all these facilities and couldn't get his life together. And, oh, woe is me. That is my identity. I'm so afflicted and tormented and tortured, and everyone should just feel so sorry for me. Thank the Lord. I moved out of that and finally became sober and started to understand that I was a little bit of each of those boys. Because I was a little bit of each of those boys. I was so much more, you know, I wasn't just at one facet that I was trying to latch on to at the time I was this whole amalgamation of, of characteristics and starting to embrace, that really helped me with feeling comfortable in my own skin and proud of who I was. Yeah. Yeah.

Steve:

Lots of different things there. Yeah. Well, I mean, and that's the thing is like, as we go through our lives, like even now that you're sober, your identity today might be different than the identity that you feel a year from now, or five years from now, or 10 years from now.

Charlie:

Exactly how life will mold and shape me and how I will adapt to life as I go. I'll always be influencing my my identity, but I think I'm much more solid in my identity now than I ever was

Steve:

before. Yeah. And w with that kind of coinciding with the time that you got sober, how would you say your sobriety has changed the way that you identify with yourself and the world around you?

Charlie:

Well, I stopped feeling like a victim. I stopped feeling sorry for myself. I stopped feeling like. You know, I used to, for many years I would be so angry because I would be like, why whatever is greater than me. Whether you call it God or whatever you call it, this, this greater force. Why did it give me this drive to do something that's so like, why couldn't it have just made me a very simple person, someone that was able to just be happy. W with not striving to be an actor or something, you know, like what, what is that piece? And coming to terms with that is really what helped me shed all that victim mentality, all of that. Why is all this happening to me? And just realizing that I'm just another human on the journey of life and I'm, I'm making decisions best I can. Wrapping my head around all of that helped me embrace this identity of a man who's who's on this journey of life, but wants to be joyful and excited about it, wants to engage with it in a beautiful way, rather than this dark sinister way. And that it's like an open the door for me. And I was like, oh, I can be this person to. It feels more of who I am then than what I have. So letting all of that fall away, coincided with my sobriety and it just because I didn't have that bottle holding me down anymore, I was able to flourish so much easier. It was easier for me to, to, to work with what I was fighting.

Steve:

Yeah, certainly. And you know, as of may of 2022, who would you say, who is Charlie gray?

Charlie:

Charlie gray is this little gay boy that now I've grown into a man that I can be proud of a man that understands. There's a reason that I went through everything that I went through and it's to help others so that, you know, and it's just, it's amazing the conversations that I will have with people and the similarities that our lives will have, and they will say things like I've never been able to really speak about this with anyone else. And I'm just so thankful that I can, I can speak about it with you now that I am that man it's helped me see. I'm I'm just a person that wants to do good and wants to receive good in my life. I'm no longer too caught up with labels. I mean, of course I think of myself as a writer, but I'm more concerned with the experience of it all. I guess I've become more of a humanist. Maybe I can identify. Yeah. Yeah, definitely a lock cyst. I've read a lot of John law, so I just feel more enlightened. I feel more ready to engage with life and enjoy it because I know it's, it's going to be gone so quickly. So I'm just not caught up in the feeble mentality as much anymore. Yeah, that's

Steve:

beautiful. And in order to help us prepare for this conversation, I found, you know, a couple of different articles and one had questions designed to help someone discover their identity. So I figured we can go through a couple of the questions together and we can answer them while the listeners who are also struggling with their identity has something to kind of think on. Yeah. So to get started, what would you say is your biggest strength?

Charlie:

My biggest strength. Is my resilience for whatever reason. I don't know if it's a, it's a genetic trait that has been passed down, but. If I look back at my life and everything that I've gone through, I can very clearly see that I always kept trying. I thought I had given up a lot of times, but I really hadn't. I had just hit a wall and didn't know how to go forward, but I hadn't given up. And so that's what I'm most proud of. That's what I think is my strongest asset is my resiliency. My ability to adapt Yeah. I mean, maybe communication. I'm a really good communicator, but I would go with resiliency. That's my strength.

Steve:

Yep. Yeah. That's an important one to have. I know that with me, you know, working with seniors during the day and then helping sober folk at night, it definitely, I would say my biggest strength has always been like my capacity to care for others. And help others. That's something that passion really drives me. Yeah, for sure.

Charlie:

Yeah. Yeah. And that's a, I mean, that's an important one to have that's mine too. We'll say that's

Steve:

nine too. Okay. We can share, we can share on the flip side of that coin though, what would you say is your biggest weakness?

Charlie:

My biggest weakness is the, my mind then the negative self-talk that I can conjure in an instant, the absolute absurdity that I can go to. And less than a heartbeat of this self-sabotaging shameful. Guilt that I want to inflict on myself. That's, that's my greatest weakness. And I think it's a lot of our weaknesses is that we say and think things about ourselves that we would never say and think about another individual that was going through our same situation. I would give another person so much grace, if they were struggling with something or, you know, here recently. So let me just get real and talk about a real life thing. I am going to Europe in a couple of months and I've been working on getting my passport and, you know, it's, it's all taken care of, but I missed an appointment one day and I, the vitriol that I gave myself, like. I had never been that angry at an individual in my life, but the anger that was radiating and in that was inflicting upon myself. That's not good. It's not helpful. It's not wise. It's the, it's a great recipe for relapse. So that that's my, my weakness that I still have to work on on the daily is just, let's not have that negative monologue going through.

Steve:

Yeah. I mean, that's something that I can default to in my weaker moments. And I would say like another one that I, that I personally struggle with, it's just, it's similar to when I was in my active addiction. Like my default is more and it's great that now so much of the more that I want is like good things. Like I want to do like more podcast interviews with more guests and more work for more sales so I can help more seniors. But if, if. Well, you know, it's still never enough, whatever it is that I'm going after, like I always want more and more and more, and I have to like remind myself that like sometimes what I have, or what I'm doing is enough because I always feel like I need to be doing more.

Charlie:

Oh, that is so. That is so good. Yes, that's so true too. And it's, and that just goes to speak about perspective and struggling to maintain this, this attitude of gratitude, you know, for standing in the moment and saying, wow, I am so pleased and thankful for everything I've accomplished rather than being like, oh, I've got to do more. I've got to do more. What others that's all crap. That doesn't matter. You know? That's

Steve:

that was why Steve. Oh, thank you. What would you say your biggest accomplishment?

Charlie:

That's you know, like four things just immediately jump up to you, but then they're superficial. So my greatest accomplishments amending the relationships with my family and friends. That is the greatest accomplishment, you know, and it's not the one that immediately sprung up to me. Oh. But that's all right. But. Especially in light of my family situation right now, which is so beautiful and so amazing, you know, had I not done the work that I did to build these relationships back? I wouldn't be a part of this wonderful situation. I would be on the outside bitter and drunk, probably. So I'm so proud of that. And, and what an accomplishment to, to just humble yourself and seek, you know, forgive.

Steve:

Yeah, I know that your yours is nice and personal. I mean, I lucked out where, like, I didn't have too many bridges to rebuild when getting sober. It was mostly just telling, convincing people like, no I'm going to be okay. I would say like my biggest accomplishment probably is like this podcast. I just find so much pride in what I'm doing with it. Having podcasts two years prior about like movies and TV shows, it's fun that I still get to do that with my husband each week. And we have a lot of fun doing a lifetime of happiness. But I also know that it's like never really like changed someone's life or the way that they think about something or something that's helped them. And I mean, this podcast has not only helped keep me sober during some of my weaker moments. I'm like, no, I need to stay sober because that'd be really bad sober podcast hosted if I did it. But also just the amount of people that have reached out to me since then. It's just something that I'm very proud of and it makes me happy.

Charlie:

Yes. And rightly so. And I mean, Providing. That's why my book really jumped into my head first, but it's, it's because of the feedback that you receive of it, that it becomes the thing that jumps into your mind, because it's like there, I have clear evidence of people being like, thank you so very much, but yes, that's, that's the truth too. And that's the work that's so important that we are able to help someone that we don't know that we can't see that we never will probably know where see, and that's amazing.

Steve:

Yeah. And what has been your greatest failure?

Charlie:

My greatest failure. I'm trying not to have dead air space. So my greatest, you know it's just, it makes me feel silly to say it, but really not making it as an actor. And it's not, for me. It's just more of a. It's not the actual that you didn't make it. It's more that you treated yourself so badly because you didn't make it that you never took the time to stop and say, well, yeah, Tri all that hard, you started drinking pretty early on into it, and you kind of expected it to be handed to you, you know? And so just, just how, again, I, it circles back to just how cruel and abusive I was to myself for so long for something that was really out of my control and, and that's, yeah, that's, that's a failure there and I wish, and I have, and I will continue to carry.

Steve:

Yeah, I understand. I, I can, I continue to kind of make amends and become at peace with my failed adoption that happened right before I kind of hit my rock bottom or what was a big part of it. But just, it's not even that it didn't work out, but it was like not knowing myself in that time and like knowing what I could handle and what I can't handle and biting off more than I can chew. Like everyone was like, are you sure you really want to like, try and adopt a very emotionally disturbed 17 year old? And my husband and I were like, we're invincible. We can do anything. Everything will be perfect. Meanwhile, I was drinking like a fish, like and hiding bottles around the house and smoking pot. And so like, just, you know, at that time we completely thought we were ready for it, but we definitely were not. And you know, in the end, you know, she even was like honest. Like we gave her some of the best months of her life, but still, ultimately it didn't work out. And that was the goal at the time. So I would say that that's my greatest failure, but. The fact that we didn't ultimately end up with a daughter. It's the fact of like the, the whole process that we went through and the trauma that we all inflicted upon one another in the process that I wish it had been differently, or I had been more self-aware before we started.

Charlie:

Right. And, and failure. It's, it's such, it's a heavy word, man, especially in this journey of life. So it's like, yeah, maybe we failed at things. Look at the intent that was there though. So, yeah.

Steve:

And I also know I'd never, would've gotten sober. Had I not gone through all that and then like hit my rock bottom afterwards. So it all worked out in the end. It was all meant to be. Yes, exactly. Now, what would you say you are worried about.

Charlie:

I worry a lot about the future and I know that's not, and I almost didn't want to say it, but I was like, well, don't you sit here and lie. So it's I worry about the future? I do. I worry so much about it. I worry because I. You know, for as, as, as far as I've come and as, as much as I've done, I still have such limited exposure being a, just one little gay boy and the Midwest and what I'm trying to achieve. I know that there's so many people out there hurting and. I just, I, I worry that, like, how are you going to reach them? How are you going to keep everything moving in the future? So that you're able, I just hate to think of people right now on the street living and feeling the way that I did for so long, but I try really hard not to let that. Capture too much of my thoughts or my time, because it's just, it's so out of my hands and the future is such a bad thing to trip on. And like, you help them by doing the work right here in this moment.

Steve:

Yeah. I mean, I agree the, the phrasing I had in mind, but it very much has like the future is like the, whatever. Like what if this happens, what if that happens? And I can see why that's like, why like one day at a time, like resonates so much with, you know our people, but you know, it definitely, if I'm not focusing on my one day at a time entre, it's very much like, well, what if this happens tomorrow? What if that happens next week? What if I do this, then that will happen. But if I don't do that, then this might happen. And just like all the scenarios of how things could play out, I can oftentimes find myself getting stuck.

Charlie:

Yeah. Or what if this doesn't happen, but if you're just slew that, oh gosh. But anyways,

Steve:

well on a more fun topic, what do you do for fun?

Charlie:

I do so many things for fun and, and I never thought that I would. I, it was so hard for me. I remember I used to ride around and travel and be like, oh, I wanna smoke and drink there. And, oh, that'd be a great place to get drunk. And I never thought like of living life outside of drugs and alcohol. So now. S walks, walks in nature still are the most fun to me because it just, it brings me such a sense of peace. It humbles me hanging with my friends and family and just laughing genuinely laughing. Not because there's a chemical reaction happening. That's making me feel silly is, is fun. I am still at, I don't think I'm on a pink cloud, but. I think I'm still at the place. And I hope I always stay here of where I'm just amazed by life. And I just enjoy the little things I used to. I used to think I couldn't do anything without being. Just so fucked up. Like if I am gonna go get my oil changed, I need to drink a fifth and smoke a blunt. I can't sit up there for 20 and play. Just what? So just experiencing life as like a, a newborn is it continues to thrill me. So everything is fun. But writing, writing this gay romantic comedy has been the most fun I've had just because. That was spicy scenes or like, I'm like, what am I doing? I am, this is in serene. I'm writing. So yeah, my life has a lot of fun right now, but it's a lot of it's

Steve:

in my head, so, well, I count it certainly helps answer the next question of, are you making enough time for fun? And it sounds like you are. Yes. Yes.

Charlie:

I make all the time for fun.

Steve:

Yeah. And I, I feel like it helps when you make things that you. Like that can be part of your everyday life and your routine. If you find them fun, it helps make it better. Like, I never would have thought when I was drinking that like going to these professional networking events that I have to go through for work would be fun. I would use to like, drink, to numb it for the social anxiety. And now I'm like, Mr. Like, well, where's your nearest non-alcoholic drink. And like, I'll just go around. And I enjoy the networking now in a way that I didn't even before when I was drinking or I enjoy my podcasting in a way I didn't before when I was drinking. So just. You know, I don't always make enough time for like fun, random, like activities. Like, you know, I live in Florida, but, or like I live 10 minutes from the beach and I don't remember the last time I was at the beach. So there's certainly things that I could do better, but I mean, in general I've I find fun in my everyday moment.

Charlie:

I love that. That's exactly what I was thinking. It's like, yeah. It's just the everyday just living in the moment. Fun. Yes. Yes.

Steve:

And back to our discussion. And what kind of advice would you give someone who is struggling with their identity?

Charlie:

Try, just try and listen. We inherently, at our core, I do believe we know who we are. What guides us, what. Brings us joy. What, what good. What causes compassion from us? What it lifts. It's compassion. I do believe we know ourselves. I just believe we let a lot of chatter drown out our own voice. We begin listening to the chatter and putting all of our stock and all of our attention to that chatter, whether it be cultural media, what you are consuming, whatever it may be. We, we are listening to that and not to, to ourselves. At least that's what I did. I was looking out and never looking in. And so I would say, look in and brace what you know, to be true, own it, explore it. And in doing that there you find yourself.

Steve:

Yeah, for sure. And looking ahead, what's in store for Charlie.

Charlie:

Well, just the same old, same old, just right. And books and, you know, doing the thing. I've, I've recently got on Tik TOK and that has been the most amazing journey. I don't have a substantial following, but it's growing and it's just the most amazing way for me to get these little snippets of. I do these little things where it's like sober tips, sober love, or relapse. Isn't the end. And I just talk about some tips for sobriety, or I talk about my experience with relapse, or I just give some love to sobriety. And the engagement that I've received from there has been. Much different than, than what I've experienced on other platforms. So that's, that's what I'm working on a lot too. I'm writing my stories and I'm doing my tick talks. And other than that, That's all I really do. And it's, it fills me up. It's great. So it's all I need a man maybe would be nice, but maybe one day

Steve:

in the meantime, you can write them into your next book. I'm

Charlie:

actually in love with this character that I've written Ivan. I'm like, I'm never going to find an Ivan. I've written him too good.

Steve:

I'm sure Ivan will manifest itself for you one of these days. So anything you'd like to promote, do you want to give us your ad for your Tik TOK channel or mention your, the name of your book?

Charlie:

Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. I'll throw out a couple of things for you guys. So very simple. If you want to read my book, it's at least I'm not the frog it's on Amazon. You can just type in, at least I'm not the frog to Google. It'll give you so much of my stuff. And then my tech talk is just at, at least I'm not the frog, so you can buy my book, follow me there. If you like gay, romantic comedies, just type in, it happened one EDC and Amazon you'll find me there.

Steve:

Alright. Excellent. I'll have to check that out myself and I'll put those in the show notes. Everyone can find you right on. Thank you so much for coming back, Charlie. It was great catching up.

Charlie:

Oh my gosh. Thank you, Steve. I really enjoyed it.

Steve:

Yes. And thank you listeners for tuning into another episode of gay podcast. Please rate and review. If you found this information helpful, if you're interested in sharing your story, getting involved with the show or just saying hi, you can email me@gayapodcastatgmail.com. And be sure to follow us wherever you're listening. So you can get these new episodes when they come out every Monday and Thursday until next time stay sober friends.