gAy A: A LGBT+ Podcast About Sobriety

Celebrating One Year Sober w/ Kristen

June 23, 2022 Steve Bennet-Martin Season 1 Episode 89
gAy A: A LGBT+ Podcast About Sobriety
Celebrating One Year Sober w/ Kristen
Show Notes Transcript

Steve welcomes back Kristen to celebrate their first full year of sobriety. Together, they reflect back on counting days, starting step work, doing service, and the power of community. 

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Steve:

Hi everyone. And welcome to gay a, a podcast about sobriety for the plus community and our allies. I'm your host, Steve Bennet-Martin. I am an alcoholic and I am grateful for all the lessons I've learned this past year of sobriety. As of this recording, I am 368 days sober. And today we're welcoming back my sober sibling. As we celebrate our one year anniversaries together. They are such a shining light in each. And every meeting that I attend, they also go to my home group and we've gotten very close. I can't imagine being on the sober journey together. So I'm very happy to have them back. Welcome back to the show. Kristen,

Kristen:

thanks so much for having me, Steve.

Steve:

I am, as I mentioned, very excited to catch up with you because it is actually your anniversary today. The day that we are recording.

Kristen:

It is, and I can't think of a better way to spend it than talking

Steve:

to you. Ah, shucks. I spent my one year anniversary eating the world's craziest milkshake, but I'll save that for it's true.

Kristen:

That might be a better way, but

Steve:

it's all right. I could be your own milkshake. Yeah, totally. And what's been news with you in your life since you were on a back in OC? No, November,

Kristen:

November. I mean, in a lot of ways, There hasn't been any dramatic news, which is the best thing, because I feel like in the run up to getting sober and then those first couple years. Or for first couple years, first, couple months of sobriety that felt like years, like just, yeah. Right. Things just were changing constantly. And so since November, I mean, I guess the one big thing is I went to LA, actually, this is big. I went to LA for a month. In January. And I met my sponsor in real life and we did a fifth step in person. So that was really cool. And since then I've worked my way through into the 10th step. So I'm doing an inventory every night, started doing amends. So yeah, progress in sobriety. Still going to meetings started going to more in-person meetings, but in terms of. Larger life events. It's been relatively chill, which is everything I could ask for.

Steve:

yeah. It's like when people ask for a burning desire in the meeting and there is none, you're like, well, that's a relief because exactly, exactly. Our lives beforehand were always burning

Kristen:

yeah. And it's nothing has burned down that's since November, which is

Steve:

great. That's awesome. And one thing that at least I've been experiencing. I shared recently and my share focus like a lot less on what it was like than my, my very first share did probably. And about nine months ago, I mean, how do you look back on kind of what it was like for you before you got sober now?

Kristen:

Oh, I don't know. I mean, it, I do really identify with that saying that's like the longer you're in. AA the longer you're sober, the lower your bottom becomes in the sense that you come in usually. And you're like, well, it's a problem, but like how bad could it be? And then the further away from it you get, oh, it was really bad. And like things that you didn't asso, or at least that I didn't associate with drinking, I. With time, it's become much clearer how much my drinking was influencing them, you know, in terms of like interpersonal relationships, my relationship with my family my health, things like that, you know, it's like if you'd asked me three months in, even I feel like I was like, Drinking. Wasn't the core of my problems. And now a year I'm like, oh my God, I was at the center of everything and I didn't know. So yeah, I mean, I also agree that people who are in, in sobriety longer tend to share less about what it was like, just cuz it feels less relevant in some ways than what it's like now. But yeah, the further I got from it, the Glader I am it's receding into

Steve:

the past. Yeah. And another thing that I've been feeling recently is not only like, does it seem like. everything was more related to alcohol than I realized, but it's also like, my hormones were bigger than alcohol than I realized. Like mm-hmm, I, while drinking was such a huge problem in my life, and I don't know how, I didn't recognize it sooner. I'm realizing that like, oh, but I was drinking because of childhood trauma. I was, you know, drinking because of this, that, and the other thing that I was trying to kind of mask or hide.

Kristen:

Right. Or like the way I think of it is like, it was. It was a layer. It was like the tide went out and you could suddenly see everyth all the shipwrecks yes. That were there, you know, it was covering it up. And then when it pulled back, you're like, oh, damn. Like, there was so much that alcohol was keeping me from dealing with.

Steve:

Yeah. And do you feel like. As you, you're looking back more on, like, what changed for you? Do you, I've noticed that I've personally associated more with a higher power than I did before at first, like when I came in, I was like, well, I'm just tired of drinking, but like the fact that everything kind of worked out the way that I did for my sobriety, I, I now attribute it to more of a higher power moment than I probably would've. When you asked me at like day 60 or day 90, if a higher power was involved.

Kristen:

Yeah, definitely. I mean, and I think I see that. Both in my own story. But also when I think about other people, like other people in my life who are still drinking or wrestling with other kinds of addiction, like what is clear to me because I understand how like deeply alcohol was sort of winding its way through my life. The more I'm like, oh, it's only a miracle. Like gets anybody sober. It's only a higher power because it just, something has to kind. Suddenly change in you and nobody else can do that for you. You know, like if you want someone else to stop drinking, there are, you can be kind to them. You can sort of show up for them in small ways, you know, but you can say, Hey, this is what I did. But ultimately the thing that will get them sober is something that. That happens kind of to them and that you can't control, you know? And that to me is a higher power moment and that's the only way anybody ever gets over is with that kind of snap. That seems like it comes from the outside.

Steve:

Yeah. And one thing that we have in common with our home group is that it is a beginner's meeting. So as we get more right under our belt, we're still constantly. Numbers, if not dozens of newcomers in each meeting, sharing their day count. I mean, how does that bring you back to like when you were first counting days?

Kristen:

Yeah, I try to remember like one thing and I feel like you and I talked about this a little bit. I feel like when I came into mustard, seed must seed. There was a way that I was capable of being totally vulnerable amongst strangers. I have since lost a little bit, even a mustard seed, like when you come in that raw and I see that it's like, there's something about it where you just like, I have to tell you the truth. Like, I can't pretend to be better than I am. And I think even just a little bit a mustard seed, like when you sort of get your feet under you, it's a little harder sometimes to open up that way. And like I shared at this in person meeting. That has become a kind of second home group for me. And I feel like afterwards, people were like, oh, you know, you, you did so well, you seem like you have like a lot of sobriety. And I was like, yeah, cuz it was a compliment. So I took it that way, but also I was like, yeah, it's cuz I don't share here the way that I shared, like I, I can't quite stop that like attempts to spin, you know, and like seem like I have it together, but. The truth is I rarely do. And those first three months semesters, he was one of the only times in my life I've ever been able to be as honest as I was about how hard things were. And when I see other people doing it, it reminds me of that and of how kind of rare and precious it is. So yeah.

Steve:

Yeah. And I mean, do you find that you do, do you do service at your other home group

Kristen:

as. I do. I am the coffee maker at my in person home group.

Steve:

very important job for in person meetings. Classic

Kristen:

job.

Steve:

Yeah. But I mean, when we talked about this, we also kind of mentioned that part of the reason, maybe why we have trouble, like being as raw and vulnerable. As we were when we first started was because we become in some ways, like what, who the newcomers look up to? Like, I, I was reminded that when I shared last night and people were like, when I was counting days, you were there and you know, now I look for you. And like, I know when we were talking about some of those concerns about being as raw and vulnerable as we maybe used to be, you know, Was kind of hand in hand with service that, you know, we'd be people come into the rooms and look for us and they're like, okay, everything's right. Kristen's there. And Steve's there. And you know, we're kind of just part of the meeting that like, people are looking up to us the same way that when we got sober, we were looking up to, you know, Lucas and Lindsay and all of them. I mean, do you think that that plays a part in your kind of difficulty being as raw and honest being that you're trying to also kind of be someone people look up.

Kristen:

Yeah. I mean, I, I think that is surely a part of it if only subconsciously I think it's just like partly too, just like an effective time and like building relationships. Like once I know you all enough to care what you think of me, there is a little bit of you that's gets involved and is like, you know, wants to sort of, and I don't feel like I don't mean to exaggerate, you know what I mean? I feel like I still show up and I talk pretty honestly about, about how I am, but. For me, there is a, like, it's like, I don't, I wanna seem consistent or I don't wanna like undermine the person that I was when everything, when I said that everything was working, if I show up and I'm like, ah, I'm a huge mess. I wanna die. And it's like, I know in my deepest self, that those two things aren't like in conflict that I can be as messy as. Sure. Like I can be honest, it's necessary to be honest, to help people. And yet I think when my ego starts like whispering in my ear and wanting me to be like, sort of have sort of like the face of sobriety, I actually think that's like the most dangerous part of me. And I think it's about, especially, maybe we'll talk about this a little later. Like if you also think about Like sponsorship and stuff. It's about like, what do I want my shares to do? Are they meant to help people? How should they help people? Like, does it help people for me to be honest? Surely yes. And yeah. Also like, does it help people for me to like, talk more about sobriety than about my problems. It also does. I don't know. It's, it's complicated. But, but it's interesting that it's cool. And I, yeah, and there are so many people that I also look up to at that meeting. And I feel so lucky to have it. So I think we're both I think we're both doing a pretty good job of it, but it is interesting. It is, it is a sort of like adolescent place to be, you know what I mean? Like having a year at a beginner's meeting and feeling both old and yeah.

Steve:

Yeah. And one thing that we've been working on, as you mentioned, in addition to just keeping up our meetings and our daily routines, but it's also been step work. What is that? What has that been like? Cuz I know before we talked, but you know, neither one of us had really started step four or five or gotten into, you know, the action phase of the step work. Yeah.

Kristen:

That's so funny to think about. Yeah, that's been huge. I mean there was going to LA meeting my sponsor, doing my fourth step with her. That was big. And I do think seeing her really, I don't know. I mean, yeah, it. Just talk about vulnerability. You know what I mean? Talk about like, letting somebody see your messiest parts. That was really hard for me though. I think much harder was ninth step eighth and nine step, much more in the sort of anticipation than'm the doing? I've only done. I I've only done two. In person. Oh, almost on the phone, but like direct demands. And I've done a couple sort of like write a letter. You don't send demands. And so my, the way my sponsor does it is like drawn out. Like you do, you start your ninth step and then you like move on to text. You don't have to do all your amends before you, before you move on. So I'm in the process of doing my ninth step and I do feel, I see. Myself and how much, like shame and anxiety I bring to interpersonal situations. When I think I haven't been perfect, you know, like I hate, hate, hate, hate looking at like, Myself and then being vulnerable to people who might judge me. Like, I just think that's like my biggest fear is being judged. And so sort of calling up someone and being like, Hey, you might have something to judge me about. Let's talk about it, which is not actually the form of men's mistake is really scary. But it has been also this, like, after both of them, it was like, really was you'd felt like you'd grown. Like three sizes, you know? Yeah. Like the Grinch or whatever. I mean, it really is. It's a big thing and it makes you realize how, or it made me realize how rarely I do that. And I think the goal probably more. Then like working through the individual amends is like to get in the habit of just being a person who, if you feel like you fucked up, instead of hiding, just goes and says, Hey, I think I fucked up. like, that is a very different way of living. I, I feel like I'm trying to do that. So that's been big. And then, and then actually 10 step I love, although I act also just yesterday, Was like, I'm doing this wrong. Like I, so a 10th of inventory to like write down, you know, re reviewer day. I'm curious actually here, how you do it. But has like a sort of traditional shape where it's like you list any resentments you list, any time, ways you've been dishonest. Fears a few other things. And I realized, and my sponsor agreed that I was using it to kind of beat myself up at the end of the day mm-hmm And she was like, that's not the point. And I was like, I know. And so I'm SHA I'm changing it a little to sort of like ma to meld it with a gratitude list, which I don't have a formal practice for and be like, these are the things in the day I wanna remember and going through it. And then if, as I do that other like resentments and whatnot, come. including them, but not trying to make the focus, looking back on the way she could up, what would they instead? Having a kind of like gentler. Look back and that's something I've wanted to do. Like my whole life. I have a morning journaling practice and I'm all about the morning routine. And then usually by the end of the day, I'm just like covered in chromes, lying on the couch, having watched television for two hours. And so like, to be able to have my life order enough to like do even the slightest bit of introspection at the end of the day is a good thing. What do you do for tone step? What's your.

Steve:

I have a gratitude journal that my wonderful husband bought me. And so I, I work in that and then I kind of self reflect without writing it out, which probably again, like I could do more structure. I actually got. When I first got sober, it's just out of reach. But like in AA, daily journal, like a reflections journal, mm-hmm that has it all set up where you do your morning and your night on each page. Yeah. And so I would say if you're struggling, maybe that might help cuz it's very structured, but I also remember like I'm not a morning person, so if I can like wake up and like stay the serenity prayer and like that will not mind be done. Like that that's, that's a good morning for me because normally it's just like, oh, I have a 8:00 AM like teams call and I'm waking up at 7 45 in my, you know, not ready at

Kristen:

all. Yeah, no, I'm lucky that my life is scheduled such that I can ease into my, into my day, but I send my 10 stuff to my sponsor every night. Oh, wow. Is, you know, Hopefully my phone doesn't get hacked. I think about that sometimes but otherwise is really good. I don't even think she reads it cause I, most of the time, cause I hand write it's really messy, but it's just a way of like checking in.

Steve:

Yeah. And then she goes and uploads them all over social media. No, just

Kristen:

kidding. Exactly. Exactly. Then she tags me on her Instagram, but I don't know because I put social media as part of fixing my life. So

Steve:

there you go. And how has that worked at fixing your life?

Kristen:

Quitting social media. Yeah, it's good. It's part of like, not to delve too much. I also, another thing I did was I started another 12 step program that I won't talk about in too much detail, but that was about sort of interpersonal relationships and like thinking about them and I would say that is. Or back to what we were talking about before. A huge thing for me, that alcohol was covering up is how like obsessive and weird and codependent all of my relationships were. And so as a way of kind of trying to take my brain back from obsession, I quit my social media and it's fucking great. I everyone took it off social media immediately. I don't know how you find out about Steve's podcast, but I guess if you're listening, you already know about it. So there's nothing more to know. Just get off, get off social media forever. I truly, it is like drinking where it's like, when you're doing it every day, you have no idea how much it's affecting you. And then when it's gone, you feel this. Grasping. And then the grasping passes and you're like, oh wait, that was really, really messing up. My life is my personal opinion. So I can

Steve:

imagine just people don't drop Instagram cuz that's where you find me at.

Kristen:

Exactly. But they already found you don't have to delete your podcast out.

Steve:

I know. I just, I went through a whole class at podcast about ways to, to make my social media game better. Mm-hmm so I only use it for the

Kristen:

good there's a lot of pressure from a lot of places. I'm sure there are consequences for me too and career wise or whatever, but I don't know. We'll see.

Steve:

Yeah. Well, that's really awesome of you. I, I am not prepared to say challenge accepted in trying it myself, but you know, you gotta do what works for you. One thing I've learned from this past year is that there's so many different ways. People not only get sober, but stay.

Kristen:

totally. And I do feel it's like with anything like anybody's relationship to anything, that's a little bit addictive. It's just like, you know, all you can do is be like, we'll cut up for yourself and then decide what's right.

Steve:

Yes. I, I, with all my, you know, addictions I've struggled with in the past, my phone addiction is like very low on that list of things I should be right now. Exactly. And what would you say are some of your takeaways from your last year of sobriety? Things you've learned

Kristen:

things I've learned. I mean, I've learned a lot about myself. It was like, I really learned something important about myself the other day and I forgot it. I feel like my biggest character defect is that I. Say things I don't mean when I'm trying to be perfect. Yeah. Like, and it makes me unreliable and I just like, see it so clearly. And it means that every. Shitty thing that I do, I do with the best of intentions, you know, mm-hmm, maybe there are other people out there being evil and being like, blah, Uhuh, I'm gonna do this bad thing. Every single thing I do that harms other people, I am like, this is the best idea I've ever had, and it will make everyone happy and that I like drop the ball and everything spirals and it turned into a disaster. So I've been trying to, you know, manage that or turn it over, not manage it. That I've learned. I mean, I've learned I have a hu I'm a human being with limits. It's another thing I don't like to acknowledge. And another thing that really trips me up yeah, I. Those are two things that come to mind. What have you learned?

Steve:

I've learned how important connection is. I know that was a big part of my share last night for the group as well, but connection between my home group and all of you, as well as the podcast community and all the listeners and everything like that. It's just been such a game changing factor of not just like keeping me sober, but just help keeping me like active and involved and awake and alert. And yeah, I have people in my life now that care about me and that's, you know, I, I had, of course some people when I was drinking, but I pushed a lot I'm away or kept them in arms length. And so now that I'm, without the isolation involved, it's been just really amazing. Just getting close with more people, being able to say, I love you to more people.

Kristen:

Totally. I actually read something. Recently about addiction and connection that resonated with me a lot, which was someone talking about how, like, it was like a theory of addiction, which I feel like is never universal, you know, it was like, but it was something about how, like, one of the things that tends to be true in most addicts is that they like struggle. They struggle when they're young to learn how to get comfort from other people. So they have to learn how to self soothe and that you were talking about that yesterday, right? With, into fantasy, into daydreaming. And you've got these strategies of self soothing that take the place of, and kind of. Like shrink down, being able to be comforted by other people and to be a, be able to be comforted by others is actually a skill that takes work. And I see that in myself that it's hard for me that like my, even now, even year in sobriety, when I feel really bad, The last thing I wanna do is reach out the first I wanna isolate. I wanna curl up. I wanna just like be by myself and like the muscles that will say, like call your sponsor. It really won't be bad, you know? Are still ones that like, I have to exercise every day and feels like a real root level change. So yeah, I agree.

Steve:

And what's the best thing about being sober?

Kristen:

I mean, just like. the clarity. Just like, why would you not wanna have a, your a brain like, you know, like I could, you can see your life. I couldn't see my life before. It's better. I, it's just the kind of thing where it's like, you can't unknow it. Right. Once you, once you've seen what alcohol's doing, like sometimes you wanna feel the way you feel, or, you know, you might miss the like sensation, but you can. Why to yourself than living that way was better. Just literally wasn't

Steve:

oh yeah. I completely agree. I would say that mine is probably that I get to be present. Like most of my time drinking was about escaping and so I get to be present now and that's been a blessing. Definitely. Yeah,

Kristen:

for

Steve:

sure. Well, thank you so much, Kristen. I would say, where can we find you on the socials? But you already shared the answers nowhere. Sorry. It's okay. But listeners stick around for our after show on Patreon, where we talk about the upcoming possibility of what sponsorship might look like for us. If you're not a member you can join today at patreon.com/gaya podcast. I wanna thank you all for listening. Please rate and review. If you found this information helpful, if you're interested in sharing your story, signing up for our new monthly newsletter or just saying hi, please email me at gay a podcast, gmail.com or find me on Instagram at gay a podcast. Be sure to follow us wherever you're listening to get new episodes every Thursday and join our Patreon. Using the link in the show notes for special exclusive episodes every Monday until next time stay sober friends.