gAy A: A Queer Sober Podcast

Every Day is New ft. Ash

September 08, 2022 Steve Bennet-Martin Season 1 Episode 101
gAy A: A Queer Sober Podcast
Every Day is New ft. Ash
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Steve welcomes Ash 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 the post-show, along with more exclusive content at www.Patreon.com/gAyApodcast

Follow Ash on Instagram @bloodstainedpodcast and follow us while you are at it @gAyApodcast

Also, check out Ash's podcast, Blood Stained, a menstruation pod, wherever you find podcasts!

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 gAy A. A podcast about sobriety for the G B T plus community and our allies. I'm your host, Steve Bennet-Martin. I am an alcoholic and I am grateful for my kakapo Remy. As of this recording, I am 4 47 days sober. And today we're welcoming a guest to share their experience, wisdom and hope with you. Welcome to the show, Ash.

Ash:

Hi. I just introduce myself. Yes, yes, please. Same way. I'm Ash. They Z as of today I am three years sober. And from a lot of different things, alcohol we've various other drugs. Yeah.

Steve:

Happy sober birthday. What a perfect day for recording.

Ash:

Yeah. Yeah, I thought so.

Steve:

Excellent. And start off. What are some of your favorite hobbies that you've discovered over these past few years in sobriety?

Ash:

Some of it was like stuff that I have always had as a hobby that have stuck throughout my whole life. And then so like essentially like hiking was always super into that. Got more into it though, like in sobriety. I'm very. Outdoorsy. So anything outdoors, I like stargazing, which is kind of more, a more like new thing, like looking out for things that are happening in the sky, or paying more attention to what NASA's doing and what space is doing and stuff like that. Dancing has always been really good for me. Love dancing. It was definitely different dancing in sobriety. So it definitely has shifted, but always a favorite. I like comedy podcasts a lot. I like listening to standup comedy. That's gotten me through like a lot of dark times and creating I like to do art projects. I've been collaging since sobriety. That's kind of something I started like when I was in rehab and but I, I am a musician. And I like that has definitely shifted in sobriety too, but like still love to do it. And yeah, that's kind of some of my

Steve:

hobbies. Excellent. And looking back, can you tell us a little bit more about like, what it was like when you were drinking and using and what happened?

Ash:

Yeah, totally. So I guess it kind of depends on how. Back you wanna go, but to give you a gist of like what it was like, if like at a snapshot is it was just like really sad. I was really self-medicating because I couldn't safely deal with my trauma. I was a, a self destructive person, so. I really like internalized all the bad things that have happened to me and made it feel like I shouldn't be here and made it worse for myself. And so it was really sad, but like it, there were some times where it looks like I was having a really fun time, but eventually, you know, it just became all sad times and it eventually was just bringing me up to a baseline where I wasn't harming myself, you know, mm-hmm but that's a gist. That's the gist of it.

Steve:

Yeah. Yeah. And one prompted the change for you to try sobriety out

Ash:

big, a big prompt. I okay. Like it might get a little dark. Is that okay? Yeah, sure. Gonna talk, trigger warning, like suicidal ideation. But so I was very suicidal. I had attempts before and have always tried various things and like medications therapy, styles all of the metaphysical things that you could possibly do to help with that. Except for going to rehab and eventually. I was getting so bad that I had my best friend be my caretaker. And she got basically like, got me to work. She got me to eat. She made sure I could be high. So that way I didn't harm myself and like got me. She threw me in a truck one day and like, this is like, this sounds so funny, but she really. Reached out to my parents because she couldn't handle taking care of me anymore. She was like, I need to get other people involved in this because I'm just like holding this person up. And so my mom immediately like flew out where we were living and like stayed with us for a month and to, to move us out of our place. And Sarah and I, my friend, Sarah we, she drove me across the country to get back. Like my mom flew back, but we had to drive back with all our stuff. And she, she basically drove me to re to go to rehab basically. And I felt like I didn't have. Any control. I felt like they were my mom and Sarah and my family. I felt like they were conspiring against me. I was like, they just wanna like put me away. Like, like they're like making me suffer through this and I just want it to be all gone. And I felt like, like no one would leave me alone. And I felt like that was a bad thing, even though it was not a bad thing, obviously. And. When I got to my parents' home, cuz they wanted to make it outta, make me go to a place that was near their home. I tried to like extend and exhaust every possible option before going to, into a place into inpatient. And so like I ended up like extending my, stay out, like at their house for like a month before they were like, we can't take this anymore. Like you need to. and I was kind of just like, I just felt, it felt so surreal, but I, I ended up going and I remember like, it was like August 16th, like 2019, and I was like drunken high. And I was just like, I can't believe this is happening tomorrow. I can't believe like what I'm about to do. Like. I felt like a unicorn could have like emerged from the floor and that would've been norm like just as normal as this was about to be. And when I got there, it sucked, I had this like image of me running away. I had this image of me not sticking with it, like, you know, just totally blowing it off. But when I got there and like, it was pretty a pretty rough, really rough transition, but I suddenly felt like safe because there wasn't, it was weird. It was like, I didn't have control. And I felt like some sort of surrender in that. And then they were doing a refuge recovery and. You know, I started feeling more confident in myself and as the days go by and they were teaching me skills and helping me confront a lot of bad stuff that I couldn't confront safely by myself. And I was started realizing, you know, I am worth having a life. I am worth getting through this stuff to see the other side. And once I do see the other side, I can be happy and want to live again. And. I went to one of the refuge recovery meetings. And we were reading part of the, the beginning of the book. And it was like, it was talking about suffering and the ways in which we exacerbate all of our suffering, because a lot of things happened to me. Like I'm very much a trauma survivor and a lot of bad shit has happened to me, but I also was exacerbating my suffering and I realized. It was asking all of these questions like it was like the guilt has the guilt of your, the guilt of your using has caused you suffering the the lack of whatever you lack is also causing you suffering or like it was like listing all of these ways. I could be causing suffering on myself and exacerbating suffering and it like a light bulb went off and I was like, whoa, I need to be sober. And I, and I wasn't sure. And I wasn't identifying as an alcoholic at that moment, but I just knew that I had to be sober. And then later as I went on in the program and I did like various different like fellowships, but as it went on, I discovered like, oh, I have a substance use disorder. Very clearly. So that's kind of, that's the story.

Steve:

Yeah. And what's it like now with your life and your favorite parts of being sober now?

Ash:

So my favorite parts of being sober, I have such a, the spiritual engagement that I have in my daily life is my favorite part about being sober. I feel. So much closer to my relationship with my spiritual practices than I ever have before. And like I, before sobriety, I would think that like drugs helped my spiritual experience. And was it a tool, but in sobriety I have like never felt closer. and I have all of these beautiful experiences and like signs and just like, you know, co coincidences like God winks or something that just makes me feel like I'm finally in the right place. And that's really what I mean. That's like the, you know, my main favorite thing, obviously, like my favorite thing is also just. Like being able to feel happy with little things, because before I was so depressed that I could be looking, I, I was living in, in Utah for a little bit, and I saw the most beautiful like landscapes and I'm an outdoorsy person. and I love like scenery and all this stuff. And I could be in the most beautiful, like sunset ever. And I would still want to have ended my life, you know, and I would still be depressed. But now in sobriety, like now I get like happy just from like seeing a flower bloom across the street, like on a sidewalk, you know? And like I think it's like my, it did take some time. Like my first year was definitely not like that at. But now, like at this place in time, I'm able to feel joy with the little things. And I think it's just really, my brain has corrected itself because before my brain needed really high highs in order to feel anything mm-hmm But now luckily with, with time and work, it doesn't take too much to, to make. To make me happy to make me smile, to make me giggle, you know, which is really nice. Yeah.

Steve:

I can certainly agree. I know on the, on the flip side as well, like I've remember, I used to be like, well, the only way that I can cry is if I drink enough and I'm like, no, I actually like cried now at like, where's like simple, like heartwarming touching things. Mm-hmm in sobriety, like. At least in our area, Florida, like there there's these public's commercials that look like basically like hallmark cards and like, they always get me every time when they come out and I'm like, oh no, I have feelings now.

Ash:

Yeah. Yeah. Big, beautiful. And sometimes not so beautiful feelings and yeah.

Steve:

Yeah. Yeah. Now we spoke a little bit about how you had trauma impact your, you know, addiction, your drinking, but how do you feel your sexuality or gender identity played a role in it?

Ash:

Yeah. Good question. So I knew I was different. My whole, my whole life, like there was no question, but I couldn't pinpoint or had the language and it was something that I always had, but pushed to the wayside because I felt like there was nothing I could do about it. In terms of my, so like, you know, my, my gender and sexuality have different tracks of kind of how it impacted me. So with my gender identity, and for listeners, I mean, I, I said that I use they them pronouns, but I'm, non-binary I'm gender fluid. Sometimes I feel more transmasculine. Sometimes I feel more non-binary or androgynous, but I didn't know what that really was, but it played out in me crying a lot as a child over small things that just looked like I was being picky. But really it was because I felt dysphoria and I saw something that made me feel euphoria and I wasn't allowed because I was assigned female at birth and that kind of tracked. And it, it, it grew and developed into the, like what, what was sought, like being a rebellious teen and like being like a punk. And like wearing all black and all this stuff, but really, it was just like me trying to be more androgynous. And that was kind of the crutch I was using and my gender expression. But my, I was still being forced with, like, I was still being forced into a box and. it made me feel really trapped and I would harm myself a lot. Like I, I would self harm a lot until I got my hands on drugs and alcohol. And then once I got my hands on drugs and alcohol weddings were the worst, I would like the most drunk I've ever gotten were at wedding. And I think a lot of that is because of the forced feminization that was put on me. And I felt like there was nothing I can do about it. The only thing I could do about it was get drunk at the free bar. And that's like exactly what I would do each time. And, and like any formal of that really, like that was like that that's, that's what that's kind of, but, but it happened in also in a bunch of other ways too, like, but it really. it really like was monumental during those times. Like that was when it was very apparent with my sexuality. Like it was. Difficult, but I was more accepting of my sexuality because I could conceptualize it. I learned about sexuality earlier than I learned about gender identity and what I, it was. So it was so much easier to put language to what I was feeling than it was to my so it was easier for me to accept, but it was, I would say. Not so much with drinking, but definitely with getting into codependent relationships and using my codependent relationships to escape my reality, the same way drugs and alcohol escaped my reality. So that's kind of how my sexuality played into it more.

Steve:

Yeah. And how would you say that that's changed in your sobriety with the way that you view those things?

Ash:

So. In like after. So I went to like three different inpatient facilities and because of insurance, like not because like it wasn't working, like it was like insurance. I had to keep like bopping around, but I felt like in such a safe bubble and I, it was so accepting and all the other, my peers. Were like, so like loving and supportive and they wanted to know more about that. And I, I was just like, wow, like I could really be out here, like, and I joined they had a gender and sexuality group and it was just so amazing for me to be able to talk about these things where I was never really, I, I had one queer friend in college. and basically we were each other's queer friend that we were able to explore with, but it was so cool to have like a safe space of like, of like adults from varying degrees of life. Just let me tell them and they accepted it. And I think after that, I was like, I need that. And I took that into real life and I started coming out to more people and I started easily. With like people who I know we're gonna have positive experiences. So that way, like with my coming out, so that way I could get more confidence. And now I feel like, like it's revolutionary for me to be out mm-hmm you know, that's how I feel. Yeah.

Steve:

That's beautiful. Yeah. And what are some practices you use in your daily life to help keep you sober

Ash:

so much? it is a lot of maintenance. Okay. I don't even wanna say it's like a lot of maintenance. It's like, it is the maintenance and it's like, Hmm. There's like small things that I do daily and then big things that I do. Like just like routinely mm-hmm So like daily is just like taking my meds, drinking enough water, taking my supple. Because like, I, I was like vitamin D deficient and not taking care of my gut health, which also really helps. So taking care of like my body every day, making sure that I get enough nutrients and water really helped. That's like the daily maintenance cause like, like before it's like, I didn't really think about. Because I couldn't because I was just so depressed and fatigued and stuff, but now I realize, like, I, I treat that as important as therapy now. And then I do therapy. I go to meetings and I pray a lot being yet just like engaging spiritually and a, and the thing, one of the. Coping skills. We learn in D B T, which is like what I need to do, because it is like depression that I'm ultimately dealing with. Like depression is a result of my trauma. I need to accumulate positive experiences. So like prioritizing positive experiences and like making note of when it happens, because like I can easily. Like have a positive experience. And then it's like, I could like switch and forget that it even happened and that I was even happy. So yeah. Those are the things that I, that I do.

Steve:

Excellent. And if you could give one piece of advice to someone who's newly sober, what would it be?

Ash:

So one thing that helped me cuz like the first little bit, it can be really tumultuous like in the first year and something find something that's grounding. In the first year, what I, I noticed like a lot of people in recovery. Always find one or two, like new hobbies that they really dig their heels into. And no matter how small or weird, just find one thing and like ma like prioritize doing that thing, cuz that's gonna get you through the cause. Like I know for me, a lot of things were temporary in the beginning of my sobriety. Like where I was staying, what job I was doing, the people I was with, a lot of these things were coming in and out and changing and I needed something to be constant for me. It was hiking. But, but I know like for some people it was like making bracelets, like, or making, or like reading books or like doing crossword puzzles. It can be like so simple or it could be so. As long as you're not hurting yourself or others just like find one thing, stick with it and that's gonna like get you through, cuz I know it's gonna be like, like, you know, it's gonna take some time before you stabilize and strengthen yourself. So in the, in that, in between time, just find it something that's grounding and also radical acceptance of like the temporariness of that time. I know for me. I, I gained weight and I, I tried to not even bat an eye at it because I was like at least I'm not suicidal anymore. So, you know, whatever, like I will take like the few extra pounds, but I know for some people it's really hard cuz it's something that people don't talk about. Is how your body changes. And I think it's important to like talk about and say like, Hey, this might change for a while. It's temporary, just radically accept it. That this is part of the process and you don't have to like it, but like, just know a lot of things are temporary in this time. And it's good to just radically accept where it is in the moment, because you're gonna get your feelings back and all of these feelings are gonna be big and. Rather than like to resist and be like pissed and regretful that it's happening. Like try to like be with it, say like, yes, this is really hard. But I know it's temporary, but I need to stick with it and stay present with it because eventually it's gonna pass. Like, I, I, you know, now I'm more, I'm more fit. and I found a good job and I found good friends and all these things that were like temporary. My first few months of recovery are now stable and I'm strengthening, you know, but that's another piece of advice is to have some radical acceptance and compassion for what's. What's happening.

Steve:

Yeah. I, I feel deeply seen there because I got weirdly obsessed with Lego. When I got sober, I was building sets every single night and it was just such a thing, but it was like, it kept my mind and my fingers busy and off of drinking and cravings and, you know, whatever it takes. And I did the weight as well when I got sober. Cuz the other thing I discovered besides Lego was ice cream. So.

Ash:

Yeah. Yeah. And especially with, with alcohol, like more often, like, than other, other drugs, like with alcohol people were a replaced with sugar because alcohol turns into sugar in our body. Yes.

Steve:

Which I was shook when I learned that, but it made so much sense.

Ash:

Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. And so it's like, you know, have some compassion for yourself before you think, like, I know a lot of people are. I hear like when I was in so I was in a sober house for a few months after recovery and a lot of people were like so hard on themself and I'm like, you just, you are giving up so much. Don't worry about giving up sugar right now. Like, don't worry about giving up caffeine right now. Like you're like, like changed your whole life just now. Like if your like, and that's how I treated myself for a while too, with like with sugar and nicotine and caffeine. Eventually, like I reduced those things in my life. Like now I don't smoke cigarettes anymore. I just drink tea now. But like, I remember just like having to talk myself down from being hard on myself about that, cuz I'm like, okay, well I don't do drugs or alcohol anymore. So I need to like chill out and just accept that right now. I'm having. Craving for some damn ice cream. And I know it's only 11 in the morning, but you know yeah.

Steve:

But it's better than the other thing. Yes, exactly. I understand. And lastly, do you have any favorite mantra or quote that you like to live by? Yeah.

Ash:

Yeah. Oh my gosh. So one thing that happened, like I, so like I had kind of like everything planned out for me up until I went to rehab and I had no idea what the rest of my life was gonna look like. And I realized every day, since every day is new and there's no other day, that's like the previous day. and so like, that's something I always like remind myself like, wow, every day is new. And for me, that's some people, some people might not find like rounding or stability in that, but I find a lot of fun and whimsy in that and realizing like how amazing my life is that like every day is different than the next. And like how much more of it there is to come. That's gonna be like, beyond my wildest dreams. whereas before sobriety, I was like, okay, I'm gonna go to school. Okay. I'm gonna get a job. Okay. I'm gonna get an apartment. And like, I just was like in such a box, you know, and now like every day is new. And like the other thing is like stop caring about what other people think, especially now like being out and. But also with little things too, like sometimes like I'll get like really in my head about something I say, or like shift shifting my position and I'll be like, it probably looks weird that I'm walking over here or probably looks weird that I'm doing something. And like, then, like I say, stop caring about what other people think and just do it, even if it looks weird. Yeah. You know, and that's one, one other thing. And then, you know, leave it better than you found. And showing and saying how much I love others because I you know, one big thing for me is like, is love and holding onto things that you love, like that are important, you know, just that are important to you. I just realized like how temporary things are and. Yeah, it's always important to show and share love and it's free, you know, it's free to share. It's free to say you love the people that you love. It's free dopamine right there. Like do it. I say

Steve:

it a lot more in my sobriety than I ever did before. And I mean it more than I ever did before, so it's beautiful. Yeah. Excellent. And lastly, I'll give you a chance to plug yourself since you also have sub not just sobriety and come in with me, but also podcast. So why don't you tell people how that, how and where they can find you? Yes.

Ash:

Okay. So I have a podcast called blood stained. You can find it on Spotify or YouTube. You could also add me on Instagram at blood stained podcast. It's a queer menstruation podcast. It's from a trans perspective. I just talk all things about. Mens administration, adjacent things, also gender affirming things and mental health things. And I'm, you know, I make all my music for it. I make all the art for it. It's just, you know, it's just a fun time for me. Mostly it's like my, one of my special interests that has helped me get through recovery is learning about my body. But yeah.

Steve:

Yeah, that's awesome. I'll be sure to link over to the show notes. and yeah, stick around. Cuz we'll have our post show coming up. Listeners, you can check that out by joining our Patreon family today. You can do that by heading over to our patreonPage@wwwdotpatreon.com slash GAA podcast. Email, if you're interested in sharing your story or hitting me, if you can find me on Instagram at GAA podcast and follow us wherever you're listening so you can get new episodes when they come out every. Until next time, stay sober friends.