gAy A: A LGBT+ Podcast About Sobriety

Recovery Isn't Microwavable ft. Daniel

August 04, 2022 Steve Bennet-Martin Season 1 Episode 95
gAy A: A LGBT+ Podcast About Sobriety
Recovery Isn't Microwavable ft. Daniel
Show Notes Transcript

Steve welcomes Daniel to share their experience, strength, and hope with you, along with advice on getting and staying sober.

Thank you for listening. Please join our Patreon family for more exclusive content at www.Patreon.com/gAyApodcast

Follow Daniel on Instagram @danielvanwaus , and follow us while you are at it @gAyApodcast

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

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Steve:

Hi everyone. And welcome to GAA. A podcast about sobriety for the LGBT plus community and our allies. I'm your host, Steve Bennett, Martin. I am an alcoholic and I am grateful for my new service positions this quarter and my home group. As of this recording, I am 409 days sober. And today we're welcoming a guest to share their experience, wisdom and hope with you. Thank you so much for reaching out and agreeing to be on the show. Daniel.

Daniel:

Thank you. Glad to do it. It's it's nice to be able to spread what happened to me and the change in my life because of sobriety. So I'm very happy to be here. Yeah. Excellent.

Steve:

Well, why don't we jump in then with kind of a introduction of what it was like during your, okay.

Daniel:

So Daniel, I'm an addict alcoholic. I. Prominently go as an alcoholic because alcohol was basically the major drug of choice throughout my life from being a kid. And what it was like, it was, you know, I'm sure that we've heard this. It was fun until it was no longer fun. And You know, I started, I, I grew up in the Midwest in a very small farm town in Iowa and coming out in the early eighties was probably not the easiest thing in the world to do as a, a gay man and a very small 900 person town. So there was a lot of animosity, lots of wanting to be liked there. And I could pass as my older brother, so I would go to the state liquor store on Friday afternoon, skip school, and literally load my car up with as much alcohol as I could push into it and go back to school and sell it. And that gave me a sense of being needed. And that's kind of what I felt you know, the very beginning of alcohol was the first drink I took was at 12 years old and I. Got completely obliterated. It was my two brothers. They were having a combined bachelor party and the combination of whiskey beer and peppermint sch shops was probably not the brightest idea in the world. I had, so it was kind of a bad situation. I ended up, you know, throwing up all over the guy's car on the way home. Me home. And it was a brand new TransAm in 1970, I guess what six or five, whatever it was for. And and then ended up getting punished by my parents the following morning and having to go to mass at seven o'clock, rather than our normal 10 o'clock hour. And after I got home I had to band cattle and I'm not gonna go into the details of that. It's just, let's put it as. You're making a bull into a steer. So anybody that understands that terminology from a farm will probably joke and go, oh my God, you had to be kidding me. But yeah, that was pretty, pretty ugly. I fell in love with a guy and moved to Southern California. I knew that I needed to get out of Iowa. So February of 83, I moved to orange county, California and was with a gentleman in college for a while as well. And then we split up and kind of life started. I started dabbling into other things other than alcohol. And you know, it was fun. I was having a great time and, you know, unfortunately that lasted several years. I was using a lot of cocaine and alcohol at the time, going to bars and, you know, being social and missed butterfly and everything that I could possibly be at the time. So So it, it, you know, back in those days, it was just kind of everybody was doing it. It was the eighties, you know, and I felt that it was pretty normal. And so I didn't think that I had a problem with alcohol or drugs, even though in the late eighties and early nineties, I had accumulated my fourth DUI. And I, at that point had to spend six months in jail which was pretty ugly as a gay man. Fortunately it was in Santa Barbara county. So it was a little bit nicer, I think in the long run. But. That still didn't tell me that I was an alcoholic. I had to go and pick up three more DUIs after that. So I've had a total of seven DUIs in my life. And even after the seventh DUI, this is how absurd our alcoholism and disease of alcoholism is. I went home and cracked a bottle of wine in the afternoon and just got out of jail and was like, okay, no problem. I'm at home, I'm drinking a bottle of wine. I was in the wrong place at the wrong time. And, you know, The story that I'm sure so many others have thought that, you know, we were just in the wrong place at the wrong time. And so that's kind of what it was like. I mean, I did a lot of geographical relocations because of alcoholism. I, I moved from, like I said, the Midwest to Southern California, Southern California, to Cape Cod, back to Southern California, back to Cape Cod to Germany, back to Cape Cod. back to Southern California. I've done enough. Geographical relocation. I finally. Back home in San Diego, I'm grounded. I have an incredible support group that is around me now, et cetera. And what, what kind of happened? I, I dunno if we're on that step yet or not, but kind of what happened was I was living in Provincetown. We all know that game Mecca and how crazy that can be in the summers. And I was managing an Inn and bar and restaurant there for about five years. My ex and I had split up. And I thought what a great place to go kind of unwind and let loose. And by I wanna say the end of the fourth year, it was just basically a bar crawl for me. I would get off work and drink myself home, which I lived on the west end of P town and get up in the morning, go to work without drinking, but. Repeat the same situation over and over every day. And finally got to the point where I felt suicidal and I had attempted suicide. Two other times. We can talk about that, cuz I do have the diagnosis of major depressive disorder and I'm not ashamed to admit it as well as PTSD. So It was kind of like the light bulb came on, but really didn't come on it. I was talking about it with friends, but I wasn't really acknowledging it yet. And some friends reach out. I ended up back here in San Diego because of them and started my journey. You know, my best friend on the east coast. I cheered off with a, a bottle of dump Perion. And I've never touched alcohol since mm-hmm I still was smoking a little weed and then I finally stopped the, we. So I've got 1,286 days. So a little over three and a half years of complete sobriety in my lifetime and almost five years of where I started recovery when I had given up alcohol at that last moment. So It was, it was pretty intense. There's a lot of things in my life and in my story, I mean, you know, that I could get into that. Would, you know, lots of fun. I can't say that it was all bad. But I think I put in some notes later, the most ugly time that I ever had you know, while drinking was spending the night on Broward county floor jail because I'd been picked up for a DUI in Fort Lauderdale. I'd been at one of the bars. I had wigs and drag clothes in the back of the car and all kinds of stuff. And I was being a total jerk to the officer. And so he was a total jerk to me, but you know, long story short, I ended up on the floor in Boward county jail. The toilets were not working, so everybody was defecating in the showers. And so that smell. Was basically pungent throughout the entire area. The entire time I was there. It was the most disgusting thing I've ever lived through in my life. I swear to God, I'd never have another DUI after that. And I did. So it's definitely a disease and I work a program one day at a time right now to make sure that. At least for today, I'm sober and clean. And I have jumped into the career of recovery and given up the corporate world. I am now a counselor at a drug and rehab center here in San Diego. It's an all men's facility and it's residential and I love it. So I've been doing that now for. About three, I wanna say a little about three years, a little over three years. So three and a half years of complete sobriety. And I wanna say that I started this career. It would've been may of 2019. So back in school for it, I'm just finishing that up. And then I'm planning on finishing an LCS step of becoming a licensed clinical social worker so that I can come back and actually Help basically with therapy in the gay community is, is the goal. So that's kind of where I'm at. yeah,

Steve:

no, that's, that's amazing. And definitely inspiring. I know that actually. I'm probably gonna pick your brain, like down the road, because I'm in the process of like, knowing that I wanna do something in the recovery field and just trying to figure out where to go or how to get started. So sure, sure. We will certainly save that for off mic though. And I mean, no worries. It, it, it sounds like you, you have a lot of amazing things going on in your life. I mean, how would you generally characterize what it's like now?

Daniel:

Oh, my God, what it's like now? Jesus. So getting sober and when I became sober, I didn't have a car. And six months into that, I ended up driving what I called the rickshaw. It was a Chinese scooter and it was falling apart and I'd have to screw the light bulbs back in and just to get down the street or anything. And I've gone from that you know, three and a half years into this to a plug-in hybrid Ford fusion that's, you know, titanium level, all of the. Bells and whistles. So the material things as far as where I live, it's beautiful. I can't my back door's a Cleveland national forest. So when I look out my window it's mountains and, you know, coyotes at night and all kinds of good stuff. And you know what it's like now on top of the material, things that come back there is such a sense of. Peace and serenity and calmness in my life, even when things are off the fricking charts. So as things go sideways, which they do in life, there's no way that we can, you know, predict what other people are gonna do or how they're gonna react. But the only thing that we could do is, you know make sure that our actions are, you know, genuine and honest and forthcoming and, you know, that's the. Life that I live today. And one of the things that I have to say that I heard this in a meeting from somebody who had, you know, 40 plus years when I first got there and I knew that it was a goal that I wanted to get to, and it was a goal where I never wanna have any regrets mm-hmm so I don't wanna regret that I've left edition the sink, or I don't wanna regret that I did something wrong to someone. I don't wanna ever have a regret or resentment or any of that anymore. And, and if I just live my life where. Any of the decisions that I make, I don't want to ever have a regret for it. It's coming from the heart. And it's really honest. You know, I believe in kindness and peace and serenity and the more I can spread of that, the better off we are as just people. So what it's like now it's beautiful. You know, I have an amazing life. I have, as I said, a, a group of support group that I. I am venturing out finally into the dating world. That took a little while because there was some crystal meth that was involved in all of this and, you know, the typical and that I had about a three year stint with that, but it's been 16 years since I've ever touched any of it. It's a long time. But you know, I have to, I, I couldn't have imagined this life for me when I was out there drinking and using, I always wanted things, but I wanted the wrong things. Mm-hmm and what I mean by that is I, I wanted all of the material things and I wanted to be liked. And I wanted to, you know, make sure that I was the house that everybody came to for the after hours party or whatever the hell it was. And those were all the wrong things. And now I am. You know, basically really content. I, I, I have a super busy schedule. I mean, I'm going to school anywhere from 15 to 17 units and I hold down a full time job and I drive 40 minutes one way to either of those. So two hours out of the day are completely gone just in, you know, travel and yet I'm able to budget. You know myself into up until this last semester, I was doing still seven to 10 meetings a week and I did 110 meetings in the first I'm sorry, 111 meetings in the first 90 days. I have a very solid, I think, foot in recovery and I just, it's so hard to describe because the content feeling that I have now, I, would've never even dreamed of having when I was drinking and using. And what it's like now is I don't have to worry about anything. You know, my bills are paid, finances are in order. My relationships are in order. I'm able to think about starting to date and kind of that starting to happen a little bit. You know, just, it's a very peaceful life now. That's I, I think the best way to describe it is it's a very peaceful life, even with the chaos that's going on in the world.

Steve:

Yeah. I mean, it's, it's amazing that, you know, especially with you being sober the past few years with everything that the world has gone through you know, that you're finding peace, that's really beautiful. And with all those amazing gifts that the program seems to have given you, what would you say is your favorite part of being. I

Daniel:

go back to just never having a regret. Yeah. I mean, I get up in the morning, I'm able to meditate. I'm able to do my prayer. I'm able to do my reading, whatever I wanna do for the morning, start my day. But my favorite part of being sober is I never have a regret anymore about anything that I trust my intuition 100%. Mm-hmm I Don. I don't have to, if the, if the gut or the heart is starting to, you know, nudge me and say, this doesn't feel comfortable. I listen to that and I wouldn't have done that before. I would've doused it with, you know alcohol, cocaine, crystal meth, you know, ketamine acid, whatever. I mean, I've done it all. So you know, my favorite part of sobriety is just actually the piece and the serenity that's come with it. It really. Yeah, for

Steve:

sure. And that's certainly a change considering how you were talking about, you know, feeling uncomfortable in your sexuality, like growing up where you did. I mean, how would you say that that, that sexuality played a role in your addiction?

Daniel:

The, a great deal. I mean, I, I think that, that goes back all the way to high school when I was, you know filling the car with alcohol to be liked, you know, I wanted to be liked because I was different and, you know, at a bar or whatever I wanted to be liked. And so I would end up. You know, buying drinks or having the after hours party. It was always, I wanted to be, I wanted to have some type of attention. I didn't get that when I was growing up. My family is, was, you know, the typical family there wasn't divorce or anything in it, but it I was the sixth child. And so by the time I came around, my parents were like, here's the keys? See you later kind of thing. I mean, it was, they really didn't wanna have a whole lot to do with me. And and all my brothers and sisters were already out of the house. So I kind of. Age 12 on up, I was on my own and you know, the alcohol played a big part in it. The meth once I I've had two really long term relationships, three actually the second one, when it split up, when we split up, I had never even touched crystal meth at that point. And when we split up all at once I was offered some and you know, the gates were open and the dragon and, you know, the, the wigs and witches and everybody came out. You know, lots of fun, but at the same time it was, that was the, I had to use that drug in order to have a sexual relationship. So I couldn't be intimate with somebody unless I was high or drunk mm-hmm so that's kind of how it affected me.

Steve:

Yeah. I mean, I, I certainly have heard, you know, other listeners share their experience. I mean, I guess at the time I thought it was the worst thing ever, but I kind of lucked out that my first experience with crystal meth, like was a bad one because it kind of turned me away from it while I would say like, yes, to almost everything else after a couple drinks. That was the one that I was like, was like, no, I can't do that. So, you know, now, now that you are sober and starting to date again, like how would you feel your sexuality plays a role in your recovery?

Daniel:

It's a good question. And I dunno how to answer that because I don't think that it does play a role in my recovery. It's just part of who I am. Mm-hmm so I'm a gay man. I'm out, I'm fine. Wearing Jimmy chew pumps in my own house and anywhere out that I want to, if I, I need to with a pair of jeans and have a good time, I don't do that often, but every once in a while I do. Yeah. And. And everybody accepts before it, so I don't have, and I haven't done it even since I've been sober, but it it's, I don't think that my sexuality is part of my sobriety. My sobriety is first it's foremost in my life. And a lot of my friends are straight. I have a lot of gay friends. It doesn't matter. But at the same time You know, I'm new to that, Steven I'm, I'm new to that intimacy again to that vulnerability. I think I put some notes down that you may have read about trust. I have a huge thing still with trust because of some PTSD when I was young and then it kind of continued on into my adult life. Some things happened that re sparked it and it just happened. So, you know, learning how to deal with all of that has been. Challenging on some days and some days rather easy, I feel like that warm blanket, like, oh, I get it now. Or that surrender when I hap when it happens, it's like, oh, that makes sense. Even if it's just on my own and I've thought it through of how to handle it. So the sexuality part of my sobriety, I guess I'm still exploring. Yeah, I think that's the best way to put it. You know, I mean, I am who I am and I have no problems with that, but I've never been a person for labels. So the, it, it, to me, I just sex to sex and you know, when it happens, it happens. Isn't great. Now, I mean before I would, you know, have ramp that up with some kind of stimulant of some type, but not anymore.

Steve:

Yeah. I understand that. And what are some practices you use in your daily life to help keep you sober?

Daniel:

Meditation's a huge one for me. And I'm gonna start off with, yes, I meditate while I drive and people are like, how do you do that? And it's called just being mindful of the fact that you're driving. That is a meditation, you know, there's walking meditation, there's moving meditation. It doesn't have to be that. You're just sitting and being quiet. I have been a practicing Buddhist for a while, but I've really gotten into that. A great deal since. I've gotten sober being very mindful about what I do and my daily practices are, you know, habitual. I get up in the morning, I read the lavender light, which is sitting on my coffee table in the middle of my coffee room. I usually read the daily reflections every few days. It's not a daily routine with me anymore. It was for the first three and a half years or three years at least. And then I have two other readings that I do. I spend at least 20 minutes in prayer or meditation before I get out the door. And you know, a healthy lifestyle as far as food is concerned, definitely. And I need more exercise, but I try to do it as, as possible. It's just the healthy food was also a big part of, you know, me being over. Trying to get that off. And you know, just being mindful of that, I, in the, in the Buddhist religion, we talk about you know, being mindful of everything and andt knock con who passed away this last year, talked about even being mindful of when you're doing the dishes. And so I find if I'm starting to get. Spun out or ramped up or the the committee in the head is starting to have too much of a conversation on me. I do something as simple as wash the dishes and just am very mindful of washing that dish and it will stop the committee in the head almost immediately. So those are some practices. I still go. To about three to four meetings a week. Right now, that's still in my practice for staying sober. And that includes different meetings. It doesn't mean just AA. I do refuge recovery. I do ACA, which is adult children of alcoholics anonymous or adult children of alcoholics. And then I do AA. I've done some NA here and there. It just depends on who I'm with, what their needs are, what I feel like need I need to do, but that's in my life as well. But the daily practices really is the being mindful of my day, the meditation, the prayer, and the readings to set myself on the right. First thing in the morning, get outta bed, make the bed, because then I've already got an accomplishment done. You know, I've accomplished making bed for the day. So one little task is done. I can check it off my list and then I move forward with the others. So that's kind of what I do.

Steve:

That's inspiring. I know that I have a really good nightly routine for like reflecting back on the day and meditating and things. But my morning, generally, if I'm able to get up in time for work, it's a blessing in its own. Right. So. I definitely admire people who are more morning people. I I've learned how much I love sleep in my recovery. Like I was. Up at like six or seven, like probably cuz I was like going through withdrawal when I was drinking, but now I can sleep until the alarm goes off and even then I'm ready to hit snooze a couple times. So

Daniel:

yeah, I, I I've been finding myself getting a lot more sleep lately too. And I, I work a lot of overnight shifts at the treatment center. So my sleep is pattern is completely disrupted right now and I just sleep when I can. And. I also will use that, you know, snooze button, except I'll just say, Hey, Alexa, you know, snooze for 30 minutes and let her do the rest.

Steve:

yes. As everyone listenings, Alexa goes off now in addition to all of our listeners that have a good amount of time under their belt and use us to kind of keep them going. We do also have a good amount of people who are either sober, curious, or newly sober. What kind of advice would you give them?

Daniel:

You know, my advice to somebody that's curious about getting sober is give yourself a few days, try it for a while. Try everything, try different meanings, try, you know, sponsors, try groups, try everything until you find something that you're completely comfortable with. And you may not be completely comfortable with anything, but what, the one that is the, I wanna say maybe the most comfortable out of all of them, which I found to be AA. So it, it, you. And don't just try one group, you know, try several you know, it is you know, where did I have something here? You know, it it's something that. Give yourself 30, 60, 90 days, try to stay clean or sober for that long of a period. If you're not able to make it that long, you know, it might be, you know, a hint that you could reach out to somebody and, you know, reach out to people. There's a ton of us out there that are so willing to help and. You know I love people and that's why I'm in the industry that I'm in. I was in the hotel industry before, but you know, this is a helping industry as well, but really on a much better beneficial level, I think for people, but try everything is my and I don't mean try drugs, try everything to stay sober, go to different meetings, go to different places, go to your doctor. It doesn't matter, therapist, try it all, you know, and talk to him about.

Steve:

That's definitely great advice. And as someone who reads so much, I'm interested to hear do you have any favorite mantras or quotes you like to try and live?

Daniel:

well, it is something that is not in any of the books, but recovery is not microwaveable mm-hmm and that is something that I heard when I walked into a room one night and the gentleman and I are still good friends to this day. But you know, getting sober and clean. I wanted everything yesterday. I wanted all of my life fixed yesterday. I wanted the bank account, the boyfriend in the house on the hill immediately. And that's just not how it works. You know? If you take the patients that you have, learn how to have more and you know, but I, I like the comment of, you know, recovery is not microwaveable. The second favorite would be, you know, your first five thoughts are not your friends.

Steve:

Those are two good ones. I, I never heard, I haven't heard either of those before, but I really like them. The recovery isn't microwaveable bit.

Daniel:

It's true. You know, I'd rather cook dinner any day than put it in the microwave.

Steve:

yeah, for sure. Now I wanna thank you for being on now. Definitely stick around because we're going to be heading on over to our Patreon page for a post show. But do you have any last bits of kind of words of wisdom or anything you'd like to say to the everyone? Listen.

Daniel:

you're not alone. Reach out. If you feel that you need to, there are several of us and so many people that are willing to help and, you know, don't be afraid to ask for it. It's okay to ask for help. You know, I didn't wanna do that. And when I did my life has changed completely because of it. So don't be afraid to ask for help.

Steve:

Perfect. Well, thank you so much for being on Daniel. It was a pleasure game to know you better.

Daniel:

thank you. It's it's been a

Steve:

pleasure. Yes. And thank you listeners for tuning into another episode of GAA. Like I mentioned, if you head on over to patreon.com/gaa podcast, we will have the after show up for you to listen to as well where we'll dive more into your recovery journey. If you're listening and interested in sharing your story, like Daniel here, do what he did reach out to me via email at GAA podcast, gmail.com. And let me know that you're interested in joining this family of guests and be sure to follow us wherever you're listening so you can get new episodes when they come out every Thursday until next time stay sober friends.