gAy A: A LGBT+ Podcast About Sobriety

Relapse ft. Gabriel

June 06, 2022 Steve Bennet-Martin Season 1 Episode 84
gAy A: A LGBT+ Podcast About Sobriety
Relapse ft. Gabriel
Show Notes Transcript

Steve welcomes back Gabriel to talk about relapse in recovery.

Follow Gabriel on Instagram @the.archangelgabriel and follow us while you are at it @gAyApodcast. He's also on Tik-Tok @the.archangelgabriel too!
 
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'm an alcoholic and I am grateful for my upcoming trip to the gay and sober men's conference. In June. As of this recording, I am 348 days sober. And today we're welcoming back. Gabriel. Welcome back to this.

Gabriel:

Biggest deal. I'm very happy to be here again. Thank you for inviting me back.

Steve:

Of course you were, you were one of the first kind of sober inspirations I found online and it's been great senior, your journey progress.

Gabriel:

That's really sweet of you to say thank you. Yeah.

Steve:

And speaking of your journey progressing, what's been new in your life since our last episode, which was back in October of last year. Gosh,

Gabriel:

it seems like so long ago, but not so much, but I went to, I started school. I started school in January of this year. I've got about two and a half weeks left of the semester. So it kind of flew by I'm getting my associates degree in alcohol and other drug studies to become a counselor become certified in California. So that's really exciting. It's a lot of work. But yeah, I'm really enjoying it and learning a lot. I'm still working in recovery. I've I started to branch out more socially, so like, I I'm, you know, I'm putting myself out there and, you know, kind of dating and you know, I joined the recreational dodgeball league, just like, you know, now that you know, things have kind of settled down in my life. I'm kinda tipping my dipping my toe back in the socialist scene. So but yeah, it wasn't that it was just working Doing meetings focusing on where recovery school and I'm trying to have some downtime and be in between. Yeah,

Steve:

it's so interesting. Like going to school for something that we, we live every day with the alcohol and recovery, what, what's something that like you've learned in school that you didn't learn through your own recovery route?

Gabriel:

Well, that's a good question. I don't know I'm at right now because I only took two classes this semester. So. Like it's like intro to this whole program and pharmacology. So I will say the second class the pharmacology class. Definitely. Cause I had like the firsthand working knowledge of like all the substances that I've used. Yeah. But this definitely gave me like the scientific that like what it does to my body, what it does to my brain and also some substances that I've never tried. So it definitely opened my eyes to that. It's doing what I was hoping would that was that, you know, it was my firsthand life experience and my education. It all would come together and like make me a more fully formed counselor and man in recovery. So it's been a really cool that's

Steve:

awesome. And with your recovery, out of all the topics in the world that you could have chosen to speak on, you said you wanted to talk about relapse. Tell us why you chose.

Gabriel:

Yeah, whenever it gets the opportunity. I, I love talking about it. I'm that's a very big shift from the past because I am someone who has relapsed time and time and time again. And you know, as of this recording of this I think I have like 319 days, 220, I think days sober. And this is the longest amount of sobriety that I've had. Since I started using and being recovered, which is like almost 20 years. So I've worked really hard to get where I'm at, but I don't ever want to lose lose sight of all the, I don't want to say mistakes that I made, but how I got here, you know, I, I bumped and bruised, I'd fallen and gotten back up. I know that it's important for me to keep talking about it for two reasons. One it reminds me where I came from. It reminds me where I could be again, if I don't focus and keep working on myself and my recovery and also through sharing my story. I hope I humbly hope that I can help anyone else who was, is in my position of where, like, you know, I've gone to rehab so many times and I've raised my hand as a newcomer so many times, and, you know I'll have almost a year. And like, if, you know, if anyone can, if I, if I can do it, anyone can do it because I, I never thought I would get six months, let alone almost a year. And you know, I, like I said, I work in recovery and I work at the program that I, I, I graduated from. So I love talking to the current clients who are struggling or like just coming back again from relapse and just tell them like, look there's hope, man. You know, look. You know, just have faith have hope. And if they see me doing well and I'm doing this for myself, but I never would imagined that I'd be here with this time working in, going to school. And you know, again, humbly hope. I want to give people hope that it can happen because there's many times where I didn't think it would help them for me, but it's happening. So,

Steve:

yeah. I mean, speaking of those times where you didn't think it would happen, I mean, you could tell us about some of like your, your relapses and you know, what, what led you to that?

Gabriel:

Yeah. You know, I've spent many, many days, hours, weeks, months on end treatment and therapy, trying to figure out like, you know, like the relapse before the relapse, they say, right. I think there's a, there's a, there's a part of me that subscribes to the method of you know, it could have been, it could have been a day ending in Y that caused me to realize whatever. I think that there was a lot of like underlying unresolved trauma and resentment stuff that I needed to work. But I, I could think of probably pick two that are like the biggest ones for me. One has been lost when I've suffered a loss. Like, you know, I've lost both my parents. I've, I've lost friends to death, but also I've lost relationships and there's a lot of that in my story. And when I wasn't working a program or recovery, I didn't have the tools. I didn't have the fallback of the community. My go-to was to just completely numb myself out and run from them. So I remember particularly, you know, when my mom died, I was in a tailspin and I was also going through a divorce, which was another loss. And I just been fired from my job, which was another loss. So those major losses and pain and trauma have been a big trigger for me. Because I just, I don't want to deal with what I I'm experiencing. And then the other one is. Stress and anxiety. It's a huge sugar for me. My drug of choice is crystal meth. I was a big drinker as well. But the crystal meth is what took me down, took me out. And when my life gets too hectic, when my life, when I allow my life to get so bombarded with stuff, even good stuff like busy work and like, you know what, social life, all that stuff, I have to keep it balanced because of, I don't. I get all this pressure built up. Right. And the quick fix to release that pressure is drugs and alcohol. I just, as soon as I use, it's like, oh, I can breathe. And I'm not weird tweaker who like, you know, when I would use meth, I would relax. Like I could breathe again. I could just kind of chill. I don't get speedy. So yeah, it's definitely been my crutch when I'm dealing with, or not dealing with things that. I just, I should be or managing better. So I work really hard at that. I mentioned at the beginning that I've been really busy and I'm doing a lot, but I have a lot, I have a hyper awareness of of keeping a good balance and practicing self-care. And when things do get out of whack, pull it back because you know, as much as I've learned about myself and as much as I've done really. I'm the addict that can quickly forget, you know, as I'm not a complete, continually working on myself and not in therapy and calling my sponsor, I can forget really quickly. And I don't want to resort to those old coping skills that do not work.

Steve:

Yeah. I mean I'm now curious because I'm having one of those work weeks where I'm just feeling, it consumed me. So like, how do you find that balance? What do you do to balance it all out?

Gabriel:

Yeah. You know, you, you mentioned earlier about you know, working in, living in recovery. It's a challenge because you know, I've avoided this field. I'm working in recovery, being a counselor because I felt it would be too much to live and breathe recovery for myself and also do it for professional. I'm glad I chose this. I'm glad that cause I'm doing really well. And it's like, it makes sense for me, you know what I mean? Like, you know, sometimes you do something you're like, oh, okay, this is what I was missing. Right. But there's some validity to what I, my fears were a little bit. I it takes a lot of energy out of me to like focus on myself and my clients and you know, my coworkers and there's so much spiritually and emotionally that takes out of me. Right. And there's the physical part of it, of course, because I'm busy, but more spiritually, emotionally. I'm giving a lot of energy and it can be a lot for me at times. And I really focus on, you know, I'm not really good at meditation. I'll be honest. I'm really bad at it. So I try to focus on like, just day to day, like taking those moments, stealing them away. If I can like step away for like five minutes and just kind of breathe, check in with myself. Calling my sponsor's a big one. But I make mistakes. So, you know, I think it's always going to be a struggle for me at some level, but. Yeah. Some days, like, you know, before we started this, I would say has been a pretty crazy day. And like, I haven't been able to like kind of, you know, this is the first time I'm able to sit down today really. And I also have to be, you know, kind to myself when I do do that, because it's going to happen. I just have to make sure I reset as soon as possible. So it doesn't.

Steve:

Yeah. And with all of your relapses and struggles, getting and staying sober looking back, what would you say was your rock bottom? Whether that be, you know, a physical rock, bottom, a spiritual one. I know that that's kind of a term that sometimes people have trouble identifying specifically about what do you consider

Gabriel:

yours? I feel like I've probably had a few in my life. You know, cause I've kinda gone up and down, up and down in my. But I'll just, I guess, speak on the most recent one. Cause that's the last time like a lot of us dependent mic was really hard for me. I had lost my last relationship due to my using and September of 2019. And I had relapsed again. And next, you know, next thing you know, everything's shut down and I had nowhere to be nowhere to go. So I had this crazy idea of like, Maybe live a life of like doing what I want, drink, use, do whatever with no guilt, no shame, no expectations. And I'm going to do me right. Well, it's true. What they say that once you get into recovery, it kind of ruins it for you. Like, I, I, I couldn't ever like, just lose myself to my addiction. Right. So all of 2020, like it was, I became a daily user. I was just not taking care of myself. I wasn't eating, sleeping. It was a very hollow existence. And I remember it was around the holidays, 2020. And I just was sick and tired. I, I spent Thanksgiving at my drug dealer's house. I Christmas, I slept through it. I just, it was so dark and lonely. And I was like, and I just had this epiphany, like I went, I'd stopped short of like a spiritual moment. Cause I don't know how much I believe in that. But like, there was a thing where like, in me, I knew that if I. Make a change. It wasn't going to go well for me, like it was probably, I don't know. I had this awareness that I was something bad was going to happen. So I just came to treatment. I just, I went to a treatment center. I'd never been before. I, I got a recommendation and I, I just showed up. I just like called them. They arranged it. I got a ride and I showed up with no expectations. I just was like, I want my goal was to like, have a place to sleep and Sleep for one. And also I wanted to get more than a day sober, I mean, and that's, I guess, desperation and you know, I didn't have any other expectations. So the fact that I'm here at this end of it and ended up with the job and school and all that stuff, it's just I, I definitely, I don't ju diminished that, that bottom for me because that's definitely what got me in the store.

Steve:

Yeah. And, you know, catching up or coming up on one year of sobriety, what would you say is different this time then? All those past times? Oh,

Gabriel:

I can definitely answer that one. I, I may have mentioned this in my last interview with you, but I say a lot in meetings before and all my other recovery experiences. I fit my recovery into my. So I had a job boyfriend, whatever was going on in my life. Recovery had to like fit in there. Like I go to meetings when I could I'd go on that retreat. If my boyfriend would come with me, things like that this time I definitely made the effort and I'm succeeding to fit my life through the filter of recovery. So nothing, I do nothing that. Don't do, doesn't go through the filter of, is this good for my recovery first? You know, from small things to big things like major decisions and small things, or relatively small, like, you know, do I go to the movie with that group of friends this weekend is, you know, where am I at with my recovery? How am I feeling? That was a game changer for me. And I don't know if I necessarily was told any of that. I think it just kind of organically. I learned it about myself. And, and also I'm really staying away from people, places and things. I'm in San Diego California, San Diego county. But I moved to north county San Diego, which is about 30 minutes away from where I did all my using. So Nope. Being away in proximity from. All of my people, places and things in Hans is definitely a game changer because I, you know, before I would test myself to like, kinda like hang out in the area, just see if I could do it. I've just stayed away completely. So it's helped, you know, especially in that first year.

Steve:

Yeah. And over the past year, would you say you've gotten close to relapse at any point? Was there a really hard part over the last year where you, you know, considered if it was all worth it?

Gabriel:

I thought about that and no I've probably like emotionally felt like I was out of control and everything, but like using or picking up was never like an option for me. Thankfully. And I really attribute that to the fact that I completely removed myself from my triggers, like, you know, bars dealers, neighborhoods just that trigger me. And I have set my life up in a way that, you know, I live in breeze, my recovery and I, I live with addicts in recovery. My coworkers are addicts recovering my. So I live in breathe. It kind of like you said earlier so that's definitely helped me not get to that point because in the past I think that if I had that out of whack emotional feeling and I was like, you know, a five minute drive from wherever it, it probably would have turned out differently, so not being near it. It, it not really being an option is definitely, you know, Yeah.

Steve:

And not since not everyone can have like the privilege of living and breathing and working and being around, you know, people in recovery. What kind of advice would you give? Just the normal person who might be struggling with getting sober, staying sober.

Gabriel:

Yeah. I would say, you know, and maybe too, I don't know if it's too broad, but like, Faith and hope, definitely was what got me to this point because I'd also say trying not to figure it all out right now. Like just, just some advice I was given early on in this, in this recovery. At the end of the day, just focus on this, this 24 hours getting another day clean. Cause I've, I've, I've tended to be the guy that wants to figure everything out. Like where am I going to go? Where am I going to be next week? Where am I going to sober living? What's my job going to be? I see it with clients all, all the time. You know, everyone has to go through their journey, but like any advice I would give is just slow down, breathe. Everything will come in time. As long as you just keep doing what you're doing. Focusing on staying sober. It will all work out. You don't know, you may not know how it will work out, but it will work out. You know, I'm Testament to that. Like, I didn't come here saying I'm going to get a job. I'm going to work in recovery. It was, I just wanted to stay sober and I just one foot in front of the other and did a mess. The last thing I'll say is take the suggestions this time. Anything my sponsor or my boss or who my counselor told me to do. Some of them didn't work. Most of them did, but at least I tried it. So yeah. You know, maybe not do be so willful cause we addicts and alcoholics like to be willful. We

Steve:

certainly do. I know when I've gotten a little bit better, I'm pretty much now. Like my sponsor will like tell me to do something. I'll be like, okay, there's a reason why you're telling me and I can choose whether I'm going to listen to it. Yeah. But, you know, w what would, what was one thing that someone told you to try or do that you were like, this isn't going to work and you were like, oh, crap. It actually does.

Gabriel:

Oh yeah. Let me think. I can't think of anything off the top of my head. You know, what. Counselor told me to try my hand at poetry and I'm, wouldn't call myself like a creative I'm I'm more analytical, like give me an assignment. I'll do it. But when it came to create a writing, like. And when I approached it from the aspect of this is just for me and nobody else, and no one's going to read it or grade it. Cause my analytical mind wants to know, well, what's the parameters, what it's supposed to be about it. And you know, I was very hesitant. I'm just like, nah, no. And I did it and you know wasn't great, whatever that means, but like, you know, it, it helped, I was able to like kind of just when I got, when I got away from myself and stopped trying to intellectualize it. I think some, I know some important emotional stuff came up and I was able to use that to talk to my therapist about some stuff that needed to be talked about. So, so yeah, he was right.

Steve:

That's awesome. And looking ahead, like not only hitting your, your one-year very soon, but looking further into the future, what do you feel like is in store for you right now?

Gabriel:

Definitely. School is, as you know, like I said, I'm. I just, I'm finishing up my first semester. So that's a big priority for me. I'm going to summer school. So I start that like just a couple of weeks after. And I'm taking on more responsibility at work which it's taken me time to get there. And I'm glad I took the time. So I have my counselor, who's now my, my clinical supervisor. Who's I see him as a mentor. He's taken me under his wing, so I'm really excited because. Now taking on individual clients, I'm now facilitating groups, I'm doing outpatient groups. And I feel like it's been a really nice organic evolution of my career. And then other than that, just continuing to work on my recovery. I'm definitely going to continue trying to be more social because I think that's important. But also social in a safe way. Like most of my activities are either with sober people or sports and stuff. But yeah, just keep doing it one day at a time. And you know, keeping my, my goals and my, my you know, my future, you know on the horizon and just really just chip away at it and not overstress myself cause I can overthink it sometimes.

Steve:

Yeah. And I mean, thank you so much for coming back on. I know that. Like I mentioned at the start, like, you're just a huge inspiration. I know real as isn't part of my story. So it was like nice getting to like, hear what you've been through. And it kind of, as you were talking, kind of reminded me of like, I think it was in captain Marvel, but it was like in some super movie where it doesn't matter how many times you fall down, what matters is that you, you get back up and like, I imagined like little superhero gay.

Gabriel:

Yeah. I love that. Yeah, absolutely. That's what matters.

Steve:

Yes. Now, if the listeners wanted to follow you on Instagram or find you, how would they.

Gabriel:

Yeah, I'm on Instagram. My handle is at the it's at the dot Archangel Gabriel. And then on Tik TOK, I'm at the underscore Archangel Gabriel. I'm a big Marvel X-Men Archangel fans. It works out perfectly for

Steve:

me. Okay, perfect. Well, I'll be sure to put that in the show notes. Thank you for coming back. And the door's always open for another guest spot. I really

Gabriel:

appreciate it.

Steve:

Thank you so much. Thank you. And thank you listeners for tuning into another episode of Gaye, please rate and review. If you found this information helpful, and if you're interested in sharing your story, you can email me@gaypodcastatgmail.com. 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.